Make learning fun and memories that will last forever over the holidays! We’ve curated a list of experiences and gifts that are fun and educational for kids ages two to six years old. After all, spending time together is the best part of the holiday season.
Experiences you can share together at home
Cooking and baking family recipes are great ways to enjoy family traditions with young children. Whether you’re making cookies, pie, or a traditional classic dinner for the whole family to enjoy, kids can be a big help in the process.
No matter what recipe you try, there are opportunities for even the youngest kids to practice measuring ingredients. For younger children, this will be an educational and fun experience with motor skills - scooping, leveling and dumping. And kids of all ages love stirring. Older children can learn basic math skills while helping with measuring and keeping track of the cook time. You can even get them the gift of “My First Cookbook” so they can learn right alongside you and pick out new recipes to make in the future.
Holiday break can also be spent making crafts at home! Consider spending the day inside and away from the cold, making snowmen out of craft sticks, or using their handprints to create colorful holiday wreaths. These crafts are great practice with motor skills and learning colors and shapes.
Hands-on activities are an excellent way for kids to spend their time during the holidays. Not only does it promote creativity and enrich their skills, you also get beautiful decor and delicious home cooked recipes out of the experience!
Local places to go and sites to see
Looking to do something out of the house? New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill has crafting and gardening events scheduled all December long! Plus, they’re showing a beautiful light display, Night Lights: Starry Skies now through December 31st.
The Ecotarium in Worcester is a great place for kids to learn about science and nature, and they’re hosting a free admission day on Christmas Eve. Kids can explore various seasonal displays and programs, such as Snowflake Symmetry and Animals in Winter.
The Worcester Public Library is offering events for children all month, including The Polar Express Watch Party, Winter Solstice Storytime, and the opportunity to build your own gingerbread houses!
Read them books they’ll love
Reading with children is a great activity for bonding and learning. The Child Mind Institute says, “Reading to young children is an important way to help them build language skills…it also helps them learn general information about the world,” and that, “Books also help children build empathy and learn how to handle challenging feelings.”
“Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” by Oliver Jeffers is a book that introduces toddlers to the planet, so that they can learn more about their surroundings and how to treat others. It teaches valuable lessons about caring for our planet and the things on it, all with beautiful illustrations and charming text that makes the message fun.
“Press Here” by Herve Tullet is an interactive picture book that allows kids to follow instructions and see the results of their actions, teaching cause and effect, which is a fundamental concept for future learning in older ages.
For more fun activities that encourage learning and play, sign up for the Day of Play newsletter!
If you know a child who loves cooking, “Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book (Cook In A Book)” by Lotta Nieminen is a perfect gift that you can watch them play along with. The interactive story allows kids to follow directions and whip up their own “tacos” within the pages of the book.
And for a classic, sit down and discover “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. Kids will love exploring the world of animals and mischief, and learning to read the story alongside you will create a special bond and memories for both of you.
Games to play together
Consider playing make believe and simple card or board games together for indoor fun. Learning the rules to basic games is a great way for children to practice following directions and retaining information.
If you have a deck of cards, you can teach young children how to sort based on shapes and colors, or play a simple matching game of “Go Fish”.
Board games can be a great way to involve multiple children at once in a sit-down activity. They will also help teach kids to stay engaged for periods of time and how to follow simple rules to either win or finish the game. The Ladybug Game and Candy Land are both examples of preschool age board games where children are tasked with following instructions given to them on cards and moving across the board.
Another engaging activity is acting out the lyrics to songs with kids. Ms. Rachel has a playlist full of action and movement songs that toddlers can release energy to, and The Laurie Berkner Band’s song called “The Goldfish (Let’s Go Swimming)” is perfect for kids to dance, pretend to swim, and sing along with.
For a holiday-themed example, dance along to “Frosty the Snowman”. Children can “run here and there all around the square” and mime placing a hat on their heads and dance around when the song calls for it.
Educational toys to give as gifts
If you’re looking for gifts that will provide plenty of fun times together in the months to come, here are some options that provide plenty of experiential learning through the power of play.
KiwiCo offers monthly subscriptions to hands-on learning activities, with different crates for various age groups. Each crate includes educational toys such as sensory items, puzzles, games, and stories. Plus, each crate comes with a guide for adults to help lead play-based learning.
For a gift that you and the children in your life can play with together in endless ways, consider gifting them with Melissa and Doug’s Wooden Building Blocks Set. The colorful building blocks will give you and your child the opportunity to be creative and for them to develop their fine motor skills.
We’re committed to sharing fun, engaging activities to do both locally and at home with the little ones in your life this holiday season. The holidays are a wonderful occasion for creating quality experiences with children, and we hope this list gives plenty of inspiration for how to spend this precious time.