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An Activity a Day Keeps the Boredom at Bay

With the timing of this post on the last day of November, I have prepared a December Advent Activity Calendar for families (parents and children) to use in the lead-up to Christmas. There is one suggestion for each day until Christmas. In this article, I provide a brief outline of each activity. For those who want more, I have prepared a PDF with additional details for each activity which you can download free by following this link.

1. Put up the Christmas Tree

It is traditional for Christmas trees to be put up and decorated at the beginning of December. In my family, we try to do it on, or as close to, the 1st of December. If you haven’t put your tree up yet, perhaps it’s time to think about it.

I have provided the outline of a Christmas tree which can be cut, coloured and hung on the real Christmas tree. Write the year on it. On the back, write something you wish for yourself, something you wish for others, and something you wish for the world. Hang it on the Christmas tree. If you do the same thing each year, you can reflect on changes in yourself and in the world.

2. Make Paper Chain Decorations

Paper chains are easy to make and add colour to the tree or can be hung around the room.

3. Make a Gift Day

The 3rd of December is Make a Gift Day — perfect timing to remind us that personal handmade gifts are special and to be treasured. Children can make gifts for their parents, siblings, grandparents or friends.

4. Wildlife Conservation Day

The 4th of December is Wildlife Conservation Day. While you may not be able to visit a zoo or wildlife park in person, many are open for virtual visits.

At Explore.org livecamsyou can visit animals in their natural habitat, on farms, and in zoos. You can see dogs, cats, bears, goats, manatees — there are so many different animals and environments to explore. In the PDF, I link to ten more of the many other places also live streaming animals.

5. Play a Board Game

Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Many different board games are available and adjustments can often be made to suit most numbers and ages of players, and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

In the PDF, I have provided a board for playing Ladders and Chimneys, an innovation on Snakes and Ladders. To play, all you need to add is a dice and a button or token for each player.

6. Hour of Coding

The Hour of Coding is a great way to become more computer literate as a family. Many activities are available on the website, available for all different ages and levels of experience. They take you through a coding activity step by step. Children can do it independently or have fun doing it together as a family.

Jacqui Murray at Ask a Tech Teacher also has some great suggestions for the Hour of Code.

7. Read a Christmas Story

Reading together is another great bonding activity for families and has many benefits for children. In the hectic lead up to Christmas, it is important to ensure there is still time for a story or ten, every single day.

Of course, not all stories you read need to be Christmas themed, and it is important to allow children to choose which books they would like you to read for them too.

8. Explore the Local Environment

Spend time outdoors, experiencing what your local environment has to offer. Be in the present moment, be mindful, experience, wonder and enjoy.

Discuss what can be observed with each of the senses, for example what you can hear, smell and touch as well as see.

Whether in an urban, rural or natural space, there is always much to observe.

In the PDF, I include a template for writing a poem about the sounds you hear.

9. Take a Deck of Cards

There are many fun games you can play with a deck of cards. I’m sure you have a few favourites of your own.

Here are a few suggestions, to remind you of games you may not have thought of in a while:

  • Strip Jack Naked
  • Snap
  • Happy Families
  • Cheat
  • Old Maid
  • Go Fish
  • Memory

In the PDF, I provide a set of cards you can cut to play Memory.

10. Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day provides a good opportunity to take some time out from Christmas preparations to think of others who may not have the same advantages as you.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be a little heavy for young children to fully understand, they will be able to consider the Rights of Children.

Children may like to consider actions they can take to ensure they don’t hinder the rights of others, for example to be treated fairly, to be safe, or to play and have fun.

11. Gingerbread Decorating Day

Who needs an excuse to indulge in a little gingerbread from time to time? Christmas is a perfect time to make and decorate some gingerbread cookies for Christmas.

At the very least you could read or tell the story of The Gingerbread Man.

For some inspiration, visit Robbie on her Robbie’s Inspiration blog and watch her make gingerbread dough on her YouTube channel.

12. Prepare Christmas Treats

Children love to be in the kitchen cooking with a parent or grandparent, especially when they may get to be the taste-testers.

It doesn’t really matter what recipe you follow, there is always something for the children to learn, for example:

  • Social skills
  • Literacy skills
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Safety
  • Social Studies

13. Invite Friends Over

It is always fun to have friends visit at Christmas time.

Any of the activities suggested for families are great when friends are included too, especially playing games.

It is also good to have some special Christmas treats to share to make the day more festive.

In the PDF, I have provided a recipe for one of my favourite treats to make when friends are dropping over — pinwheel sandwiches. They can be made a few days in advance and kept refrigerated until needed.

14. Christmas Lights

In many neighbourhoods, people create amazing displays of lights and other decorations for Christmas.

Going for a walk or a drive to view the beautiful displays always helps build the anticipation and excitement for Christmas.

15. Tidy Room — Sort Toys/Books

With Christmas just 10 days away, now would be a good time for children to tidy their rooms in preparation for the big event and the new toys which may be added to their collection.

16. Sing Christmas Carols

Christmas carols are fun to sing. You don’t have to go door-to-door and sing for the neighbours. You can sing together as a family right in your own home.

Even if none of you are musical and no one plays an instrument, you can find plenty of carols to sing along with on the internet or radio.

There are some carols that I just can’t help but join in with. What are your favourites?

17. Quiet Christmas Activities

Sometimes, the lead up to Christmas can be rather hectic. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time out to relax or do quiet things to refresh and rejuvenate.

18. Prepare and/or Check Lists

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to prepare and check your lists of last-minute things that need to be done or prepared before the big day.

19. Play ‘I Spy on the Christmas Tree’.

I Spy is always a fun game to play with children. It can be played anywhere, indoors or outdoors, at any time. But Christmas is the only time it can be played using the Christmas tree.

20. Charades

Charades is a fun game to play with family and friends. It requires no equipment and can be played with any number of people (well, perhaps more than four).

21. Have a Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunts are always a lot of fun. They don’t always need to lead to a prize but may involve looking for a toy or a book that is already owned.

22. Let’s Get Physical

Getting physical should not be something children need a reminder to do, but sometimes a little nudge can be required. There are many different ways of putting activity into the day. What are some of your family’s favourite ways of getting physical?

23. Track Santa’s Journey

Make sure you can access the NORAD Tracks Santa website so you can watch where Santa is travelling around the world On Christmas Eve.

Actually, you don’t need to wait until Christmas Eve. The website has lots of activities that can be accessed from 1 December.

24. Jolabokaflod

Jolabokaflod is a great Christmas tradition from Iceland. The word translates to ‘Christmas Book Flood’ in English.

In Iceland, books are popular Christmas gifts and, when they are opened on Christmas Eve, everyone immediately reads the books they have received. That’s a tradition I could certainly go for. (Thanks to Anne Goodwin of annethology for the reminder of this wonderful tradition.)

25. Enjoy Christmas Day!

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to celebrate it. Stay safe and well.

If you are still short of ideas, check out these other suggestions, all available free on readilearn (my website of teaching resources for the first three years of school). Some of them were written as part of this series of Learning at Home articles and presented as PDFs on readilearn for ease of access.

An A-Z of Holiday Activities for Families at Home

21 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the holidays

Let the children write! 20 suggestions for parents

25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays

Fine motor Christmas activities

Keep the children learning at home during lockdown

In addition to these, there are many other suggestions for parents in the Classroom Management — For Parents collection on readilearn.

There is also a new 30-page Christmas Activity Book which is available for just A$3.50 (that’s about $2.50 in the US.)

That’s it for now. Have fun!

Till next time, Norah


22 Comments

  1. HI Norah, this is a fantastic post. I love all your ideas and, as our Christmas holiday period is looking a bit Omicron overtaken [smile – trying to keep a happy face], I will adapt some of these ideas for my family. Thanks also for the shout out for Robbie’s Inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      Thank you so much, Robbie. I’m pleased you like the ideas. Not earthshatteringly new but easy and fun. I hope people pop over to check out your wonderful blog and books.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Charli Mills says:

    This is excellent, Norah! What a fun way to arrange activities into a daily advent calendar. My grand are goat-kids, but I might try out some of these activities with them. You are a wealth of inspiration. I hope families take time to enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      I do hope families find it helpful when they are looking for something to do, Charli.
      Perhaps if you print out a copy, your grands would enjoy munching on it. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  3. restlessjo says:

    Just wow, Norah! So much time and effort gone into this. Can’t fail to have a good Christmas with all of this going on. Have a wonderful festive season!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great resources here, Norah, and thanks for the mention. When did it become tradition to put up trees at the start of December, or even before? Growing up, we didn’t get a tree until a few days before the 25th. Now we have a tradition of The Conversation around now about whether to bother getting the tree down from the loft!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      Different families may have different traditions, Anne. We used to have a fresh tree when I was a child. Dad would go down to the bush and cut a sapling gum tree for our Christmas tree, so it was put up within a week of Christmas as it wouldn’t last any longer. I do remember a fir tree being bought some years and the timing for that would have been similar. With our fake trees, we can put them up anytime, but it seems that around the beginning of December, beginning of Advent or after Thanksgiving (in the US) seems to be the most common currently. Closer to Christmas was popular in Victorian times (so an internet search tells me). I think I’ve put mine up on or about the 1st of December as long as I’ve had a tree. Fortunately Hub doesn’t mind getting ours down and putting it away when finished and the grandkids enjoy decorating so it’s a fun family occasion for us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great post. Gotta keep the little one’s busy! With no kids at all, not even goats, I have managed to avoid Christmas at will but may be inspired to use some of your ideas with my young friends.
    When we retailed Christmas trees people would have bought them before Thanksgiving, and I always refused to start sales until after that day had had its day. We’d go home carrying a fair amount of needles in our clothing and smelling of balsam fir so had our fill. I’ve never brought a tree inside in my adult life, though a friend once snuck one into my home.
    As a kid I did enjoy the walk in the woods with a hatchet looking for the perfect tree. It’s a good way to learn trees. Not all evergreens make a good Christmas tree. There’s a spruce called cat spruce. Want to guess why?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jules says:

    When one is retired without children at home… everyday can be a challenge to keep boredom at bay… (which is why I write everyday!)

    The holidays are different. Interfaith families help each celebrating different traditions. It was also nice to see some of my neighbors celebrate their ‘Festival of Lights’ of Diwali (is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, notably Newar Buddhists. The festival usually lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika.)

    I am sure some of your suggestions can be easy to adapt to other winter holidays! Thanks

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      Writing is a good way to keep the boredom at Bay, Jules.
      You are right. There are a lot of different traditions at this time of year. It has been my goal to write about them, but I haven’t achieved that yet. Ideally, I would like those from differnt cultures to share their own stories rather than me write about them from gathered rather than experienced knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. SueSpitulnik says:

    Norah,
    Thanks for the great suggestions. I did not recognize the names of the first three card games. It will give me something to look up.
    We have a crazy small cat that we believe would destroy a tree, so I get out a table-top ceramic one to look at then light our multi-colored stained glass lamp and enjoy the colors. It saves a lot of work.
    May all my friends have a wonderful, healthy, holiday season whatever days you celebrate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      You probably know the card games under other names, Sue.
      Your ceramic tree lit by a stained glass lamp sounds beautiful.
      Wishing you a wonderful. healthy, holiday season too! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  8. noelleg44 says:

    Perfect activities – I know a few adults who could use these. My grandkids are too young yet but I will tuck this away.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] article was written for and first published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. Although it is now the 3rd […]

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  10. […] article was written for and first published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. Although it is now the 3rd […]

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  11. Jennie says:

    I love this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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