Last Minute Ideas for a Great Winter Break

ImageDorina Sackman

2014 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of The Year

Recently, I had a garage sale to accomplish my December goal of getting rid of all my “stuff” and preparing for a clutter-free 2014. Not only did I make more money than expected, I also made a few new friends. During the sale, neighborhood kids from six to 16 stopped by to “hang out.” Perhaps it is the teacher in me that made these young boys and girls gravitate to my driveway. However, my fiancé, Dez, believed it was the hundreds of video games listed for a dollar.

Either way, both days of the sale random kids came by to box up items, help older couples to their cars with their treasures and walk down the street to ensure the city didn’t take down our signs. When I asked Dez what he thought was motivating the kids to help us, he encouraged me to ask them.

There answers ranged from “I’m bored” to “I don’t want to be inside” to “You’re funny to be around.”  Others told me that I kept them busy and that their mom knows where they were and “I guess that means she trust you…and me, too!”

I was ashamed of my fossilized ideology that this generation of kids doesn’t want to do much. Perhaps it is my teaching experience and hearing from my students what they like to do when they go home after school: play video games, go on Youtube or Facebook, and take selfies to put on Instagram. When I talked to the neighborhood kids about this they told me “Yes, after school that is all we want to do. But on the weekends it gets old.”

From their feedback, I decided to create this blog to assist parents and students with fun, exciting and educational ideas for our holiday break.

1. Get crafty. Check out www.familyeducation.com and http://www.craftprojectideas.com/index.php/how-to/teachers-corner to keep your children learning with fun crafts. The first website is a resourceful site for parents with kids of all ages, including wonderful tips on how to engage reluctant readers. Both sites dive into great craft ideas for the whole family.

2. Staycations! A day trip is inexpensive but can be quite the educational adventure. The Authentic Florida website offers wonderful ways to make the most of the sunshine state. I am also quite partial to the Single Vision Animal Sanctuary. It is a safe, friendly and educational animal sanctuary run by one man and his endangered tigers. It is worth a trip if you are in the area and something you will NEVER forget.

3. Treasure Hunts. My favorite educational projects I do with my niece and nephew are treasure hunts. Depending on the age, either you can create the treasure hunt for your children or THEY can create it for you. I found http://handsonaswegrow.com/32-ways-kids-can-go-on-scavenger-hunts/ and   http://www.wikihow.com/Make-an-Amazing-Treasure-Hunt-for-Kids to be the most helpful! May the hunting begin!

4. Run a 5K. I just recently ran in a 5K with my fellow educator and her tots. It is a GREAT way to get exercise while supporting a great cause. It is also a way to introduce community events as a wonderful social tool for your teens. I LOVE to dress up for the races, as it is encouraged by most organizations and it makes wonderful memories. If you don’t see anything close to you on the following link, you can always Google “5K”and the name of your city.http://www.roadracerunner.com/Races/RunningCalendar.aspx?state=fl&year=2013&month=12&d=5k%2c1+Mile%2c2+Miles%2c4+Miles%2c5+Miles%2cFun+Run%2cKids+Run&page=2

Image5. Cook with the kids. I love the website, She Knows, as it shares “teen cooking tips.” Cooking with my niece and nephew has become one of the most memorable times while instilling responsibility and organization! 

6. Have your child start a blog or video blog. Find something that is of interest to you and your child that would benefit others and give them the autonomy to create something fantastic. Examples include makeup tutorials, football tips, organization tips and homework videos. Perhaps you can create your own teen cooking show after you share the joys of cooking with your children. The video doesn’t need to go immediately onto YouTube. It could be a process where they learn editing and filmmaking.’

7. Have a garage sale. This was a GREAT test for my niece. I told her in advance that the money from the sale would be my contribution to her Florida college tuition in August. I never saw a 17- year-old girl work harder. Parents, it worked! She made $800 and learned a lot about the value of hard work, being kind to customers, negotiating prices, handling money and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Teaching kids to sell their unwanted items on eBay or selling them to consignment shops is also a fantastic business lesson on fiscal responsibility. However, be sure to balance the money making with donating. My niece had to research where she wanted to donate all the items not sold at the garage sale. Although reluctant at first, she found one that spoke to her called “Pick Up Please.” Having kids research the organization spreads awareness and opens their eyes to what charities are out there!

For more ideas on how to make the most of your child’s winter break, check out www.notimeforflashcards.com. Read the post “31 Things for Kids to Do During Winter Break.” When you click on each suggestion, it takes you to a step-by-step process on how to do it.

May you all have a wonderful and educational holiday break. See you in a clutter-free 2014!

 

 

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