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We had our first snow this weekend, and though it didn’t cause a snow day, I’m suddenly thinking about the very real possibility that snow days are coming soon and the reality that the girl is home from school all next week and two weeks for winter break.
With all that in mind I’ve been thinking about ways to prepare for extra time with the kids at home, especially when you don’t want to be spending a lot of time playing outside. This is what I’ll be doing this week to get ready for the holiday/snow day/sick day season.
I’m a sucker for clearance arts and craft supplies at Target, and I usually keep some things hidden away in my office for the “I’m bored” or stuck in the house too long times. So I made up a box that includes things like a Sophia the First activity box (and a set of crayons she got for her birthday that we haven’t opened yet), some dollar spot coloring books, stickers, a paperboard cat from the Halloween section, some neon paints I bought on clearance an age ago, and a Lego Friends box set I probably bought on sale.
If you don’t have a lot of this sort of stuff, maybe there are some toys that haven’t been played with for a while or some different art supplies you could put where your kids might notice them. Gather up some recycling and make a found objects box for art constructions, or raid the office supplies for some fun colored pens and sticky notes and let them go wild.
2. Get Some Printables
The girl loves activity sheets for some reason, so one thing I always do before a holiday is to print out some fun coloring pages and other activities for her to have on hand. So far I have printed:
- Thanksgiving themed coloring pages, which don’t have a source on them but you can find a million different ones on Pinterest.
- Easy sewing pattern cards and the peg dolls winter wonderland from Mr. Printables. We already started on the cardboard cutouts, but ours aren’t nearly as cute as the originals.
- A workbook full of games from Education.com (that’s an affiliate link, but you can print 10 pages for free).
I need to make the sewing cards (which I may do out of foam) and then the printouts will go into folders and into the box as well.
3. Bring Out the Art/Activity Books
Some day I’m actually going to review all of them, but our favorite is Art Lab for Little Kids by Susan Schwake, which has 52 projects and lots of big pictures, so it’s easy for the girl to flip through and find something that catches her eye.
Other great options include:
- The awesomely old-school The Best of Making Things by Ann Sayre Wiseman
- Heidi Kenney’s Every Day’s a Holiday, which is broken down by month and includes well-known and less-celebrated holidays
- Teach Yourself Visually Crafting with Kids by Jennifer Casa, which is also broken up by seasons/events and has tons of pictures (this is a good one for those “non-crafty” parents)
- Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids, even though this book is way too pretty for any of the crafts to actually have been made by kids
- Emily K. Neuburger’s Show Me a Story, which has great activities for newer readers and bigger kids alike (some of these are things the grownup should put together in advance)
- I know there are other great ones I don’t have yet, including Red Ted Art, Tinkerlab and 101 Kids Activities. These are all bloggers who I love and I’m confident their books are amazing!
And good ones for parents to read to inspire creativity in everyone in the household (these also have projects but include a lot of text, too):
- The Creative Family and The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule (the second is also with her husband, Stephen), both of which are about encouraging creativity and family connections
- Mariah Bruehl’s Playful Learning, which has great ideas for activities to set up, books to read when you do those things and questions to ask your kids to held develop their own interests in reading, writing, math, science and being global citizens (this on says its for ages 4 to 8 in particular)
- The Artful Parent by Jean Van’t Hul, which has 60 projects for kids ages 1 to 8 and includes lots of tips for materials, setting up spaces and approaches to art that are great for parents who might be a little timid about giving their kids access to a lot of art supplies
I had a couple more tips but I’m pretty sure this post has gone on long enough. Do you have a favorite art/activity book or something you always do to prep for holidays and vacations? (Another one of mine: make playdough. And have lots of baking supplies in the house. And chocolate. OK, that’s three.) I’d love to hear your tips, too! And it looks like I have a lot of reading to do! (This is not even all the books I own in this genre. I’m a bit of an addict.)