Fun Stuff for Kids

No School – Winter Break Fun

Can you believe that the holiday break is right around the corner?  Whether you are a parent or a child care provider, you are about to get inundated with school-age children.    To help you prepare, I have invited a guest blogger to share some holiday fun ideas.

Child Care Providers, are you prepared for the upcoming days out-of-school? If your school-agers get bored easily during a full day in your care, schedule an onsite technical assistance visit with Karin Gilbert, our School-Age Specialist. Together you’ll customize a diverse and dynamic full day schedule that’ll keep your SA’gers engaged and wanting more.  Contact Karin at 574-360-3070 or

Have a Great Week!




From Karin Gilbert

Like it or not, winter is now upon us! There’s no need to get the winter blues when there are so many wonderful outdoor activities to enjoy with your school-agers during the wintertime. Remember to think safety, first. Kids and adults alike should dress in warm layers. Don’t forget your hat, gloves, scarf, boots, snow pants and winter coat. Here is a winter wonderland of cures for cabin fever:

  • Sledding-There’s nothing better than gliding through the cool air on a sled. Find a good hill and grab your tube, toboggan, saucer, or even a piece of cardboard for hours of entertainment. For a more challenging adventure, build hills and ramps.  Bundle in layers to stay warm and to cushion tumbles.
  • Make Snow Angels-Fluffy snow? Check. Snow suit? Check. That’s all the gear you need to lie down and create a snow angel.  (Lie in the snow and make a jumping jack motion.) Make this simple activity extra fun by using materials to decorate your angel, such as food coloring to draw on a face, and old clothes and accessories to dress it up. Why should snowmen have all the fun?
  • Build a Snowman-After stacking a few big snowballs to make the body, kids can use their imagination to find fruits, vegetables, sticks, berries, clothes, and other materials to bring their snowman to life. For a bigger adventure, encourage school-agers to use their imagination and build other snow figures, characters, or animals.
  • Build an Igloo or Snow Fort-School-agers who have graduated from building snowmen can spend hours constructing an igloo or snow fort. Use a shovel, bucket, or tote to help build and construct one of these arctic domes or fortresses. Use a food coloring/water mixture in a spray bottle to color your creation.
  • Ice Skating-This slippery activity will be tricky for newcomers. But once they get the hang of it, they might get addicted. For advanced skaters, try speed skating, ice dancing, figure skating, or hockey.
  • Skiing-School-agers are now more coordinated and less afraid of falling, which makes downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding great active activities during the winter months. Beginner downhill skiers can hit the bunny slopes or green circle trails but should have an adult with them. Lessons can help your child learn the ropes. It’s wise to invest in a helmet in case of falls or collisions.
  • Snowboarding- Snowboarding is a popular winter sport. School-agers now have more strength and skills to stay upright and try more tricks. Lessons and safety gear, including a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and hip pads, are recommended because snowboarders of all ages have their share of spills.
  • Winter Picnic-Take blankets, snacks, warm hot cocoa or soup in a thermos and enjoy an outdoor picnic! Be sure to dress warm!
  • Outdoor Photo Expedition-School-agers love to take pictures! Dress warm and head outside with disposable cameras for a photo expedition.  Take pictures of the wintry landscape, animals in their winter habitats, or snowmen in your neighborhood. Then, create a photo collage or poster.  For a group challenge, create a photo scavenger hunt!  For a quick resource, download this Winter Scavenger Hunt List
  • Outdoor Obstacle Course-Set up an obstacle course in the yard with jumps, tunnels, and other challenges.
  • Snow Painting/Snow Graffiti-Simply add food coloring to water in a spray bottle; then go out and decorate the white canvas in your yard.
  • Ice Bubbles- When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, blow bubbles and watch them freeze on the wand. Challenge your friends and see who can create the biggest ice bubble.
  • Snow Tic-Tac-Toe-Two players go for the championship in this classic game. Use crisscrossed sticks and pinecones as game pieces.
  • Frosty Toss-Have a snowball-throwing contest! Make a target by creating a bright circle in the snow with colored water in a squirt bottle.
  • Miniature Golf Snow Course-Make a golf course by packing down a section of snow every few feet. Bury tin cans halfway down in the snow to create holes, and mark them with mini flagsticks.
  • Pin the Nose on the Snowman-Pass out carrots, then blindfold each child and let him try to get the nose in place.
  • Practice Your Pitch-Paint a bull’s-eye target on a piece of cardboard, giving each colored ring a point value. Attach it to a tree, and keep score as the kids try to hit the target with snowballs.


Karin Gilbert is ECA’s School-Age Specialist, serving Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, Whitley Counties.  Karin has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University-South Bend and an Indiana Youth Development Credential.  She has 15 years of experience in school-age youth work.  Karin provides support for providers of SA programs to increase the quality of SA care.



Whether you spend time outdoors or indoors during the winter break, here are some additional ideas to keep your school-age kids busy.

Incorporating School Age Fun!

School age programs provide activities that encourage independence, social skills and cooperation.  It is also important to offer a variety of activities to choose from in a safe structured environment, allowing fun independent learning.

ECA’s school age specialist, Karin Gilbert, suggested you might want to create a Y.O.T Box, (pronounced “yacht” and stands for “Your Own Time”) for each child. This is where kids can store and work on individual hobbies and projects – such as collections, scrap books, journals, sketch books, craft projects, etc.  Although the intent is for individual work, one child’s interest often sparks a similar interest in others, and they then become co-creators of special projects together.

Karin also emphasized that even if you create a Y.O.T. Box, it is important to remember that in quality school-age child care, many activities are happening at the same time in an organized way so that kids with different interests, abilities, needs can choose different ways to use their time. School-agers who help to shape their out-of-school time experiences will stay engaged, longer; so give them a say on what they do, when they do it, and with whom. Choice, flexibility, and wide-variety are key. Find out what they’re interested in by observing and asking them.  You can ask them through child interest surveys, point out ideas in magazines and books, or make a trip to the local hobby store. Or, just ask them!

  • What are your favorite things to do?
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What have you always wanted to try?
  • What are you really good at? What would you like to be better at?
  • What do you want to do when you grow up?

She encourages you have a variety of areas and materials that promote exploring, learning, and creating. Your areas might include: creative art; blocks and building; dramatic play; cooking; games; music and movement; sensory play; quiet social area; media and technology, math, literacy and science; and homework assistance.

Materials for these areas might include;

  • Variety of art materials that school-agers can choose between, get out and put away on their own
  • Variety of blocks and boxes of all kinds and sizes
  • Legos, Lincoln Logs, K’Nex
  • Vehicles: cars, boats, planes, trucks and trains
  • Animals and dinosaurs
  • Variety of dramatic play themes, such as: camping, castle, pet shop, veterinarian’s clinic, restaurant, mall, grocery store, flower shop, etc.
  • Variety of dramatic play materials, such as: aprons, computer keyboards, costumes, dress up clothes and uniforms, mirror, etc.
  • Cooking tools and utensils, for supervised cooking projects
  • Board games, card games, dice games and game tables (air-hockey, pool, fooseball, and table tennis)  Here are some sample resources:
  • CD Player, MP3 player, headphones, karaoke machine, and musical instruments
  • Playdough, sand, weaving loom, fuzebeads, jewelry-making, bubble liquid and bubble wands, etc.
  • Age-appropriate books, magazines, journals and writing tools
  • Computer, iPads, camera, printer, scanner, video camera, tripod, etc.
  • Magnets, magnifying glasses, microscope and slides, tangrams, compass, protractor, ruler, measuring tape, play money, prisms, etc.

Karin also recommended the book, Great Afterschool Programs and Spaces That Wow! by Linda J. Armstrong and Christine A. Schmidt – a great resource for quality school-age spaces and materials that includes child-interest surveys.

If you have questions about setting up a great learning environment to include school age children, contact Karin at or call her at 574-360-3070.

Have a Great Week!


No School – Building Kit

If you are like me, you will soon be scurrying to find activities for your school-age child to keep him occupied and out of trouble during the upcoming time off of school.  Following is a Building Challenge Kit that I assembled to help alleviate some of the stress that potentially comes with school breaks and 24/7 time together.  Enjoy!

Building Challenge Kit

Have a Great Week!



No School – No Problem


If your child’s schedule is like mine, we just got back into the school routine, and now we have a couple of scheduled days off in the near future.  Here are some activities that I plan to use to give my son something to look forward to for the days at home.



Icy Monsters from Best Toys 4 Toddlers



Art Bot from Hands On As We Grow



Lego Challenge Cards from Playdough to Plato



Paper Cup Party Popper Craft from Red Ted Art



21 Fun And Delicious Recipes You Can Make With Your Kids from Buzzfeed Life


Snowstorm in a Jar from Growing a Jeweled Rose



Jingle and Seek Game from Fantastic Fun and Learning


Indoor Picnic from Hoosier Homemade


Do you have a special activity planned for your child?

Have a Great Week!