Kids may rejoice when school’s out of session, but as a mom, you may be wondering how you can balance their day’s activities between guilty pleasures (hello, screen time!) and wholesome activities. Whether your kiddo is under the weather, or you’re stay-cationing this Spring Break, here are 4 mom-approved activities that feed your child’s brain AND are easy to do when you’re staying in.

Fine Motor Foto Fun

Are your kiddo’s scissor skills just OK? Here’s a fun way to practice the fine motor movements that help them make the cut, with the added benefit of puzzle play that enhances critical thinking and problem solving.

Here’s how:

  1. Find a collection of photos from magazines or family snapshots, or even by printing images from your computer. If you wish, glue the photos to cardstock or laminate them for extra durability.
  2. Help your child draw guide lines on the photos to divide them into two or more large pieces, depending on their age and skill level. Lines can be freehanded or traced using stencils, like those included in our Trace Ace Scissor Skills Set.
  3. Have your child cut the pieces out using child-safe scissors, practicing following the guidelines.
  4. Have fun playing with your new puzzles. The more photos in your collection, the more of a challenge it will be to put each individual puzzle together!

Scissor Skills for Tiny Tots Materials 2

(Photo Credit: Lina Awshee)

Letter Look and Learn

Reinforce letter recognition and sounds while building critical thinking skills with a letter scavenger hunt around the house. Plus, this activity will get them up and moving! Here’s how:

  1. Give your child a set of letters A-Z. Use Letter Blocks, Magnetic Letters or DIY your own set by writing each letter on an index card.
  2. Set your child loose inside the house to find items that start with each letter of the alphabet and mark them with the corresponding letter.
  3. Have your child take you or another family member on a tour of their letter hunt as they collect up their letters from A to Z.

Other ways to play:

  • If you have more than one child to play, challenge them to complete their letter hunt first. Once an item has been marked with a letter, it can’t be used again, so they’ll have to find another item for that letter!
  • To make the activity a little more challenging if your child is ready, have them carry a notebook and write out the name of the items they find to practice handwriting and spelling skills. Then, ask them to use each word to write a complete sentence or create a story using all of the words!

Dual Dice Duel

Everyone’s played the card game War – time to give it a math-tastic twist. If you have four dice around the house, you can have yourself a math duel. Here’s how to play:

  1. Give each player two dice – or for extra fun, try using one Jumbo Dice In Dice per player instead!
  2. Depending on the player’s math skill level, decide if you’ll be practicing number recognition/value, addition or multiplication.
  3. Each player rolls their dice.
    • If playing for number recognition and value, each player calls out their number rolled from left to right. For example, if you roll a 4 and a 5, your number for that round is 45. The player with the higher number wins that round.
    • If playing for addition or multiplication, add or multiply your two dice together. The player with the higher total wins that round.
  4. The first player to get 10 points wins!

Other ways to play:

  • Add more dice to the game to make it even more of a challenge!
  • Try Polyhedral Dice with 8, 10 or more sides for more complex challenges!
  • Use multi-colored dice, and assign each color a function – Add your red dice number, subtract your blue dice number, and so on, to get your total for the round.

Magnet Match

While the kids are circling the kitchen for their fourth round of snacks, put them to work at the fridge with Magnetic Uppercase & Lowercase Letters and a homemade worksheet! Here’s how:

  1. Using a blank sheet of construction paper, write the alphabet A-Z in marker. Create one sheet with the letters in order and another jumbling them up at random. You can also create and print this out on your computer!
  2. Attach the paper to your fridge using a magnet, clip or removable tape.
  3. Using magnetic letters, have your child match the letter to a magnet, covering the letter on the paper with the corresponding letter magnet.

Other ways to play:

  • Ready to learn upper and lower case letters? Mix in both cases using our Magnetic Uppercase and Lowercase Letter set.
  • Take the game to the next level by creating additional sheets spelling out short words, or print out photos of words and have your child spell them in letter magnets.