By: DJ Schneider Jensen
Director of Early Childhood Education
The Macks Center for Jewish Education
The recent mini snow storm may have given you a taste of what winter break will look like for your family. But without the newness of the snow or the excitement of the Ravens game as a distraction, you may find yourself looking for something to do at the last minute.
This list includes seven ideas to keep your vacation busy. Some require a little preparation; others just need a whimsical spirit and open mind. Regardless of what you choose to do, please remember you don’t have to be a rock star parent to keep them busy and happy – you just have to play!
1. Make a discovery box with endless possibilities! Put five random objects (i.e. pillow, orange, computer mouse, challah cover and a picture frame) into a box.
- Invite your children to tell a story that uses all of these items in the plot. See how creative you can be!
- Lay out all the items, have them shut their eyes while you remove one and then guess what item is missing.
- Give your children play dough and ask them to recreate one of the items in the box.
- Using recycled paper and tape, practice wrapping the items and then surprise each other with a “gift.”
- Offer them markers to decorate any of these items. Not only is decorating oranges fun but also you can eat them when you are finished!
- Invite your children to pick one item. Then come up with alternate uses for it (i.e., a pillow can be a ball, a placemat, a teddy bear, a cast for your leg, et cetera).
2. Make a winter vacation scrapbook! You only need a notebook, some tape, crayons and photos. Children can draw or record their daily events, then add photos! Google “scrapbooking” if you need any inspiration.
3. Go on the museum circuit. You can never visit the Jewish Museum of Maryland, The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland Zoo, or Port Discovery too often, can you? What about the B&O Railroad’s Festival of Trains? To see more places to visit, baltimoreschild.com/events/ or kidslovedowntownbaltimore.com/.
4. This year, with Chanukah over, you have more room for creativity. Instead of making gingerbread Chanukah Houses, why not try to create a synagogue, ark or The Kotel? Or save the calories and use popsicle sticks instead. Pinterest always has great ideas for crafts.
6. Put together a family play. Start by picking a topic, such as the Chanukah story or Noah’s Ark. Then encourage your children to make costumes, write scripts and build sets. Record and upload all the fun, including the bloopers! Make some memories just by hitting “play.”
7. Be the kind of home that everyone wants to visit! Ensure that you have enough treats on hand for a houseful of people and open your doors. Pull out the crafts, pop in a movie or make a blanket tent in the living room. Even if your home gets messy, you will know where your children are!