Christmas break

Today is the first day of Christmas break at our house– oh the loveliness of it! Last night I was thinking how nice it would be to sleep in. But at 7:45 a kitten ran across my pillow, and two more thundered across my bedroom floor on the way to my bathroom where they like to play in the tub. I decided sleep was done.

We took it slow and lazy for the morning. Kids showered, read the paper or watched PBS, and had cereal when they felt like it. But over the years I’ve found that doesn’t work well for my kids to truly do nothing. Over break, along with an hour of quiet reading each day, I’ll be giving kids a few projects.

Today my 6 and 8 year old daughters came up with their own ideas: first an hour-long bath complete with Barbies in the tub, making a floor-mopping also necessary. Then came a craft of their own design involving construction paper, tape and crayons. I let them have at it.

I gave my 15 year old daughter the task of sewing a couple of cloth gift bags for me. I think she’s only used the sewing machine once since she came to America, and I’d like her to get comfortable with the machine. As I write, she is mid-task, looking happily occupied, and talking about a Christmas gift idea she has that also involves sewing. Hooray!

My 12 year old sons did a map project. I gave them a google map and a roll of masking tape and asked them to make a scale map of the route to a friend’s house on the carpet. They were a little disappointed to learn that they task involved math, ie: if the scale of the map is 1 foot = 1 mile, how many inches is .3 miles? But they quickly discovered that it was easy math, and actually had fun making their map. I think I’ll leave it on the carpet til tomorrow and let some of the girls do some mapping too.

My almost-13 year old daughter is going to make some banana bread today, doubling the recipe for some fraction practice. Everyone is likely to enjoy that project. Later this week I’ll also give her a turn or two on the sewing machine.

Other plans for the next few weeks: more holiday baking, puzzles, some time with foreign language games (we’ve got Korean and Spanish Rosetta Stone that I don’t usually get to on an average school day), music practice, and reading. Hopefully we’ll end up with a good mix of lazing around and interesting activities.

What about at your house? Is Christmas break a free-for-all, or do you try for a little structure?


  1. oohh! I love the idea of using a recipe for fraction practice. So simple, so fun– but yet so useful in life. Great idea!

  2. We have one more week of school here at our house. Though this week will be mixed in with a few crafts and some baking. During the break we mainly relax and don’t do much of anything structured. My husband will be home for the second week of our break, so there will be lots of play time outside while he works on some projects! Merry Christmas!

  3. We’re not quite on Christmas break yet. My college daughter is just home but our 2nd grade foster should be at school this week. Today was a snow day and I do think a bit of structure was good. We decorated the tree this morning and made peanut butter kiss cookies this afternoon. The 7 yr old and 2 yr old fosters helped. My 4 yr old helped make meatballs with me. Laundry and dishes of course too. The day was pretty calm. My college daughter made fudge too. Our internet has been out most of the day too. I will admit I likely have been more available to them.

  4. I’ve put many hours into my Christmas preparations, and can actually see the end of the tunnel. Now it’s time to enjoy the lack of stress.
    Still lots to do, but all the “must do” projects are done.

    Have a nice day!

  5. thriftymomma says:

    We still have a week left till holidays but it’s a slow one. The kids are finishing chapters but not starting anything new till after the holidays. Some structure works for us here too, quiet reading, baking, board games, that sort of thing. It’s too stormy right now to do much outside.

  6. While the workbooks are in hibernation, we will focus on our advent calendar full of crafts and community events. There will also be lots of baking and computer games (El Pato Paco and PBS Kids games) as well as some PBS Kids television and Christmas movies. If I left them without anything to do, they would beat each other up and wreck their rooms beyond recognition. (Ages 7, 4, and 2)

  7. I would love to have unstructured days for our Christmas break but my oldest (4 1/2 years old) has a few special needs and if he gets out of routine his behavior is awful. I hope to relax the routine a bit but we will still have to have some kind of structure or neither of us will survive until he goes back to school.

  8. Well, we did the fraction thing with granola on Saturday, it’s a great trick 🙂 Over our break, we will be transitioning, mid-school year, from traditional school to home-school. We have taken the plunge from completely typical with two kids, to home-schooling, and having a bunch of kids!

  9. Sounds fun and great ideas! I was a fair bit leanient with my kids today and we glued and painted and even glittered. (oh how I love to hate the glitter) Then they used masking tape and sheets of computer paper and made a ‘map’ of our house. Of course they are the only ones that can read it, but I find that it is always nice to have something structured – even loosely, so they don’t get too crazy!
    On Deck: making playdoh – which usually means at least an hour of play followed by sweeping and washing the bin of playdoh toys in the sink, followed by mopping the floor, etc…:)

  10. Rebecca Wallis says:

    As a full time working Mum I always take around 10 days off at Christmas. This year myself, my partner and our 5 kids will be spending our first Christmas as a blended family. We will be playing with dough and moonsand, watching movies and going for walks as we live near a boating lake and park. Our oldest girl is having a scrapbooking set,make your own perfume kit and a knitting dolly amongst other things. I have made them all sockmonkey kits too. I’m sure you have heard of these but if not follow this link for some fun sewing projects from socks and gloves

  11. We will mostly be relaxing with a few fun things scheduled. We will be making and decorating Christmas cookies, watching some new movies that we have been saving for that time off, painting some sun catchers that I got on sale at Michael’s a while ago, reading, etc. I hope it will be a nice time of relaxation as we all can use some.

  12. We live in the NE and we were blessed with plenty of snow for sledding for break! We also belong to a YMCA with a pool with “family swim” and “open gym” so we got lots of exercise.

    Just to add to the education, I take the girls to COSTCO and we roam through the electronic department and I have the girls read the numbers (the 3yo) and the prices to me (for the 5yo). As there are so many opportunities for repetition, it really helps to cement the ideas. Plus, we get to see some giant tvs!