5 Home-Based Educational & Thanks-Worthy Activities

Early education teacher and picture book author, Vivian, offers up 5 alternatives if you’re interested in bumping Black Friday and swapping shopping retail time for family quality time.

5 home based holiday educational activities

In 2020, we are living in unprecedented times. Whether hybrid, remote or homeschooling, teachers and parents alike are feeling more fried than fried turkey with Thanksgiving around the corner. Maybe your family or your students' families planned on taking a family trip to a place like Disney, or perhaps family always gathered at a grandparent’s or older relative’s home to celebrate this treasured holiday. Unfortunately this year, most of us won’t be traveling during the holidays. And, because of COVID concerns, diving into the frenzy of marathon shopping feet first isn’t a good idea either. So, what else can your family or your students' families do in place of the circus that has become Black Friday?

Here are some great ways to enjoy family time together that doesn't focus on the material world—try them out yourself, or pass along to your students' parents in a Thanksgiving classroom newsletter next week!

  • If making it to Disney in person is not in the cards this year, host a home-based Disney day! Rent a bunch of the original animated Disney classics – or current ones on Disney+, if you and your children prefer those. Replicate some of the activities that you may have done, or sights you may have visited right in your own home. Pretend you’re at Epcot Center and go “around the world” by cooking up cuisines from different countries. Draw caricatures of each other and frame them (those would make great gifts for the grandparents!) Play charades, guessing Disney characters and movie titles. Or, if you are feeling really nostalgic, dress up as Mickey and Donald and the rest of the crew and have a Thanksgiving parade. Finally, make some popcorn or other favorite treat, get into comfy PJs, and watch a movie until it’s time for the kids to wish upon a star and go to sleep!

  • Discover the beauty that is America! If you're up for a car ride and don’t live too far away, you may be able to visit one of the national parks. Before you go though, make sure the area you want to walk/hike/drive isn’t closed for the season. Visiting a national park is entertaining, educational, and inspiring. For more info, you can visit the National Park government website. With many kids learning remotely, this may be the perfect time for a vacation that doesn’t break the bank and provides opportunities for sparking your child’s curiosity. If you cannot make it physically to a park, many national parks are offering virtual field trips online instead.
  • Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count! Don’t have a car? Don’t have time to take a few days off? Your family can check out local parks within walking distance. The 24th annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2021 [which is also often February vacation week in many states]. You can visit the GBBC website for details. On Black Friday, walk over to the park of your choice and look for birds and other wildlife. Give each kid a small notebook so they can record everything they observe – keeping an illustrated journal is a wonderful habit and good practice for the annual Bird Count event.
  • Clear clutter and donate! Studies like this one show that clutter causes stress and with the current health crisis, we definitely have enough stress and anxiety already. On Black Friday, take an inventory of accumulated “stuff” in your home and set goals. The kids can go through toys they don’t use and clothes they’ve outgrown. Bag and box what can be given away and donate to a nonprofit like Goodwill or The Salvation Army, or find a local shelter or food pantry.
  • If shopping is something you simply must do, shop online if at all possible! Museums, local shops, and bookstores often have websites where you can browse catalogs to find unique gifts. All of the big retailers make online shopping a breeze — Amazon Prime, anyone?! And, don’t forget that even your weekly trip to the supermarket or drugstore can net items to fill gift bags, baskets or Christmas stockings for friends and family!
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