Ways to Avoid Cabin Fever over Winter Break



Before you know it, the kids will be home for winter break.  Sure, the first few days they’ll be happy playing with toys and just hanging out, but what happens when they get bored?  How will you help the kids avoid cabin fever this winter?

how to avoid cabin fever during winter break




What to do when kids have cabin fever:

Plan an indoor camp-out with the kids, complete with s’mores!

Have a few jingle bells on hand?  Build this cute indoor obstacle course with a Christmas twist!

Use a ball of yarn to weave your own spider web maze for the kids to crawl under and through.  (Older kids will love creating their own web!)

Make craft stick catapults and see how far you can fling mini-marshmallows or paper wads.

Grab the recycling box and check out the junk drawer to make your own invention box!  (The kids may just learn something in the process!)

Raid the sock drawers and have an indoor snowball fight that will leave them giggling.

Make snow!  This simple taste-safe cloud dough looks like snow, without freezing little fingers.

Science is always a hit with kids!  There are tons of winter science experiments kids can try using ingredients you probably already have at home.

Break out the board games, or even better, let older kids design their own board game for the family to play.

Gather up your “treasure,” hide it, and send the kids on a scavenger hunt to find it.

Turn on the tunes and have a dance party!

Grab a stack of sheets/blankets and build a blanket fort.

Hand the kids some dry-erase markers and let them decorate the windows.  (This is always a hit here!)

Pop some popcorn, grab a blanket, and snuggle up to watch the movie of your kid’s choice.


Have a tip I didn’t include?  I’d love to hear it in the comments below!


Teaching Kindness with Elf on the Shelf


After much debate about the elf, both my kids know that I am the one that moves the elf each night.  For us it’s been just a fun game of hide-n-seek to play each morning before Christmas for the past couple years.

This year I decided to add a twist to our elf, inspired by The Imagination Tree’s version of The Kindness Elf.

elf on the shelf alternative


When our elf arrives on St. Nicholas Day (December 6), there will be a letter inviting the kids to come up with ways they can be kind to others over the next few weeks.

These ideas will be written on slips of paper, and each day, when the kids find the elf, they will also get one of the slips with a daily challenge to show kindness.


I am hoping most of our ideas will come from the kids, but here are 10 ways children can show kindness to others:

  • Make a thank you card for the postal worker for delivering the cards and packages this season.
  • Shop for a small toy to drop off in one of the Toys for Tots collection boxes.
  • Hold the door open for someone.
  • Donate a few toys to a children’s hospital.
  • Smile at each person you meet today.
  • Choose a couple gently loved stuffed animals to donate to the fire station (to give to kids whose homes have been destroyed) or to a local nursing home.
  • Bake cookies to share with a neighbor.
  • Make Christmas decorations to take to a local nursing home.
  • Call a grandparent and tell them you love them.
  • Make bird feeders to help our feathered friends when it gets cold.


For more great ideas, make sure to check out The Imagination Tree’s Kindness Elf post!


Do you do the Elf on the Shelf?  I’d love to hear about some of his/her adventures so far this year!

Sight Word Tic-Tac-Toe



Looking for a fun way to practice those sight words with the kids?

Make your own simple sight word game with sight word tic-tac-toe!

Halloween version of Sight Word Tic-Tac-Toe


To make your own sight word tic-tac-toe game, first draw a large tic-tac-toe board on white paper.

To re-use the game board, I slid ours into a plastic sleeve.  Then I used a dry-erase marker to write one CVC word in each square.  (You could also do sight words or even math problems!)


Next you will need some cute markers!  I used construction paper to cut out black bats and orange pumpkins for our markers.  I recommend making 5 of each; you want to have plenty for any ties you might have!


Halloween sight word tic-tac-toe


To play sight word tic-tac-toe:

Players take turns reading the words.  If they get the word correct, they get to put a marker in the square.  If they don’t read it correctly, they miss their turn and the other player gets to go.

The first player to have three of their markers in a row wins!


You could easily personalize the game using markers like princess pictures or cars (whatever your child is in to).

Since it is near Halloween, we went with the Halloween theme!

Halloween sight word tic-tac-toe

Pin it for later!

Sight Word Game: Reading Farm



I love mixing sensory play and learning opportunities!  This week  I created a simple farm-themed sensory bin that included a variety of the CVC words we’ve been practicing.


fun reading game that mixes sensory play and sight words


For our “dirt” I used the edible cloud dough we made a couple weeks ago.  (It’s been in a sealed container and is still in great shape!)

I used green construction paper to act as our crops.  On each strip I wrote a CVC word.  (Think words like hop, hat, bed, sit…) 

Because our sensory bin still had plenty of room, I added a few other farm items to explore.  The Playmobil Farm Tractor actually belonged to my husband long ago.  It was a fun surprise for the kids, along with the farm animals.

I tossed in a handful of oats for good measure.  After all, those animals have to eat!


Reading Farm:  sensory bin and sight word game



I set it up so they could take turns exploring the bin.

My son had fun using the little boy farmer to pull each “crop.”  Before he could load it on the tractor’s scoop he had to sound out the word.

Of course there was plenty of squishing the cloud dough and playing along the way!

He was proud to get through all those words, and I was proud of him, too!


Once he finished exploring the bin, I set it back up for big sister.

She flew through those words!

And then she had fun mixing those oats with the cloud dough for a whole new texture to explore!


So why a sensory bin?

The bin allowed each of them an opportunity to explore different textures while practicing early reading skills.    It also gave them that bit of time to “play” independently, which always helps them have smoother play time together afterwards.  (And my favorite reason:  giving them different textures to explore in a sensory bin seems to keep my oldest out of my lotions, soaps, and whatever else she just wants to “explore.”)



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