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Escaping boredom during the break

There are multiple activities to consider

Submitted photo
Evelyn Deal, 11, and Taylor Bohn, 3, peek outside of the fort they built at their home in Fort Dodge recently.

The presents are opened. Now what are some fun activities to do with kids until school resumes?

Malisa Rader, human sciences specialist, family life for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said there are several activities families can do together to help make the best out of the holiday vacation.

“Get back to some of those basics that perhaps we have forgotten that kids love to do, like building a fort – it’s a great fun activity,” she said.

Take a look back in the closet for some items that you may have forgotten about as well.

“You can pull out those Legos and blocks that maybe you haven’t had out for awhile and see what interesting things you can build together as a family,” said Rader.

Bristol Beschorner, 5, from Moorland enjoys playing with playdough. Making homemade playdough is fun indoor activity to do to keep busy not only during holiday break, but the winter months as well.

How about some fun family competition?

“Board games are always a win,” she said.

Families may like working on a jigsaw puzzle together as a holiday activity as well.

“You are making really good family memories during those times and that is what is important,” said Rader.

Crafts

There are a multitude of things families can make together.

“Don’t forget about good, homemade playdough,” said Rader. “It smells delicious and it’s softer than commercial playdough and just that squeezing effect, rolling effect, making different things with cut outs – kids love playdough.”

Homemade playdough recipe

With only a few simple household ingredients, kids will be entertained for hours playing with this playdough. This easy recipe takes five minutes to prep, five minutes to make, costs under $5 and, if stored properly, lasts for months. It is super soft and squishy and cuts perfectly with cookie cutters. Although homemade play playdough is non-toxic, you should always supervise young children playing.

1 cup flour

1 cup water

2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1/3 cup salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Gel food coloring, optional

Zip-top baggies or air tight containers

Stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot. Next add the water and oil. If making color dough, add in a few drop of food coloring now. Gel food coloring works best and creates more vibrant colors. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the dough has thickened and begins to form into a ball. Remove from heat and then place inside a zip-top baggie or onto wax paper. Allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth.

One batch of this recipe makes about four containers of store playdough. Once it’s all mixed together you’re ready to play.

Store the finished playdough in a sealed zip-top baggie or air-tight container. It will help to also wrap it in some saran wrap to keep the air from touching the playdough which can make it go hard. Be sure your play dough is completely cool before you put it away. If it’s not, your playdough will become musty and even mold.

For a fun play dough variation, try making scented playdough with some essential oils. Relaxing sensory play can be a calming activity for both children and adults.

Another fun craft can also be beneficial to the birds this winter.

“Make a birdfeeder using pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed and hang in the tree,” Rader said.

The holidays are especially a time to think of others.

“Write a letter to a soldier, if you don’t know one, your local Red Cross can help you with that,” said Rader. “Or, maybe put a thank you note in your mailbox for your mail carrier, or write some notes for your neighbors and slip them in their mailbox.”

Making a book with photos or maybe a coupon book for family members could also be a fun project.

“Use construction paper, and pictures and put them together in a book,” said Rader. “Kids love looking at pictures of themselves or their family.”

Keep moving

Keeping active both inside and outside of the house is always important. Rader said activities from exercise to even scavenger hunts can help burn off energy.

For a holiday scavenger hunt, Rader suggested dividing your family into teams; go around the house or perhaps outside – take pictures of different things related to Christmas or New Years.

“Try making a bingo card and look for things that way as you walk the neighborhood,” she said.

If the weather turns too cold for outdoor play, one fun active game could be the “freeze game.”

“Play holiday music. You dance until the music stops and then you freeze. When the music starts again you start dancing,” said Rader.

Yoga, she said, is another indoor exercise.

“There are some great kid yoga videos that refer to different animals,” said Rader. “That is a nice, indoor movement activity. Or just remember some of those good old exercises we used to do in P.E. – jumping jacks, touch your toes – any of those, young kids are going to enjoy.”

New Years Eve

As the countdown starts for the new year, there is time to reflect on the year gone past, but also what is ahead.

“To help bring in the new year, set some goals as a family,” said Rader. “What do you want to accomplish in 2021 as a family?”

You’re not stuck at home

Whether you are home for holiday break, or home due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic, Rader suggests cherishing those moments.

“Not all is lost. Don’t consider it being stuck at home – savor the season,” she said. “Think about spending time together as a family. There is an opportunity during COVID to perhaps have more time than we have had in the past. It’s a time to sit and watch a movie as a family, time to play silly games, read books and then, hug your kiddos every chance that you get.”

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