Holidays: Making holiday memories with your kids

I want to involve my children in the holiday preparations this year to make the season especially memorable. Please suggest some ways that we can make this a fun and learning time.


Children learn best when they are provided with experiences that have true meaning and emotional value. That makes the holiday season an ideal time to learn. Try incorporating some of these ideas with your own family traditions. You might find that some of the activities continue when your children have children of their own.

One of the best parts of the holidays, is the anticipation. Help younger children keep track of the days by creating a holiday chain or a calendar. Here's how:

  • Paper Chain. Cut out construction paper strips (1 inch by 8 inches) in appropriate colors. Glue the strips together to make a paper chain counting one link for each day until the special event. Then have your child subtract one link each morning until the special day arrives.
  • Calendar Page. Provide your child with a large sheet of paper. Have him use a ruler to measure and draw a calendar grid, leaving space to draw or paint a holiday picture at the top. Use a commercial calendar to model where and how to write the days of the week and to show where the first of the month begins. Ask him if he notices patterns in the numbers. After your child has made and decorated his calendar, post it in a prominent place. Each day invite him to draw or write a holiday symbol to mark the passing of time.

Reading and writing are two events that naturally increase during the holidays. Just think of all the cards that you send and receive at this time! Here are some ways to get your kids involved in the sharing of sentiments, too.

  • Visit your local library. Most libraries have special displays of holiday books. Check out books to read aloud as a family. You will want to find books that relate to your holiday rituals, but you may also want to explore the holiday traditions of other religions and cultures. Talk about how holiday practices are similar and how they differ.
  • Create a Family Newsletter. Many families share news during the holiday season. Ask your child if she would like to create an extended family newsletter. She could call, write, or email family members and interview them. Questions she might ask are: What has everyone in your family been up to? How will you spend the holidays (if family members cannot get together)? What is your favorite holiday memory? What are you hoping for in the new year? Your child can use your home computer, a computer at school or the local library to compose and layout the newsletter. In addition she might want to include drawings or photographs (scanned or photocopied) or special recipes. You can help your child send the newsletter, email it to family members online, or even setup a family webpage.
  • Holiday Cards. Ask your child to add a line or two of writing to the holiday cards you send. Even the youngest child might like to add a drawing, which is writing in their young minds.

And don't forget to include your child in the cooking preparations! Whether your child is helping to make potato latkes or fruit cake, he will get good practice in following directions, measuring and working with fractions. Perhaps your child will invent a yummy holiday recipe of his own!

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