The winter break from school is often filled with travel plans and activities, but it is important to keep your elementary-age child learning over these weeks. Because kids also need a break from school and a chance to play, the best educational activities are ones where kids don’t realize they are learning. Bring on the holiday homework!
Read for pleasure. Whether your child is in the mood for holiday stories or the newest book in their favorite series, winter break provides the perfect opportunity to stash schoolbooks and read for fun. Gather in front of your fireplace to take turns reading from classic holiday stories. After reading, ask questions such as, “What was your favorite part?” or “What part didn’t you like?”
Cook up an easy lesson. Invite your child into the kitchen to help you whip up a special dish — from Christmas cookies to potato latkes. Having your child help you with a recipe involved reading, writing and measuring. As your child to help write up your shopping list before you hit the store. Once you start cooking, have your child read the recipe aloud. As you cook, talk about measurements and temperatures with your child.
Write thank you notes. Writing notes of appreciation to gift-givers teaches gratitude and helps practice writing and spelling skills. Make sure to drink a cup of hot cocoa to make this task feel more festive.
Make the most of car rides. Turn the drive to or from a holiday get-together into an opportunity to practice letter and numbers. You can look for license plates from different states, try to find the alphabet on the license plates or even count the number of red (or white, blue or green) cars you see. Try making this game even more meaningful by having your child graph the results and draw a conclusion about their observations.
Maintain reasonable bedtimes. With no school to get up for in the morning, it can be tempting to let kids become night owls. A few days before school starts up, ease back into the regular bedtime schedule so your child can start the near year bright-eyed!
Ask for grocery list help. Have your child help choose what to buy, how much you need, check your supplies to see what you have already, write the list and sort coupons. Try posing math-related problems. For example, say you need two eggs for one recipe and three for another. Ask them to determine if you currently have enough in the fridge or need to add eggs to your list.
Let kids help with online shopping. Need a last-minute gift for Grandma? Log onto your favorite shopping sites and let your child help you select presents. This helps children work on their computer and research skills.
Have a family game night. Chances are, many of your family’s favorite board and card games reinforce skills such as counting, reading and drawing. Gather the group to play games you usually don’t have time for on school nights. Some to try include: Go Fish, Spoons, Cracy 8s, 500 Rummy and Hearts.
Create a scrapbook of the holidays. Have your child create a scrapbook of what they did over the break and write sentences on each page about the activities. Use both picture that your child takes and pictures that you take of your child during the festivities.
Pick a theme. With your child, choose a theme to explore over the break. If your child has expressed interest in outer space or dinosaurs, take this opportunity to learn more about the topic together. Check out books from the library, take a field trip, conduct science experiments and create art projects all related to the theme.
Most importantly, have fun with your child over the Winter Break and enjoy your time together!
Filed Under: Family Crafts & Activities, Holidays & SeasonsTagged With: christmas break, Holiday, Homework, winter break
But ESL students, on the other hand, may disagree. Adult learners will argue that they have busy schedules and a life outside the classroom, which translates into “no time for homework”. Young learners and teens may come to terms with the fact that they have to do homework, but do we want them to do it because they are compelled to do it... or do we want them to do it because they are excited to do it? Which would you prefer?
The only way to get young students excited about doing homework, and get adults to set aside some time for it, is through highly creative and thoroughly engaging homework assignments. And here are 5 examples:
Homework Assignments That Work
A Word Book
A Word Book or Vocabulary Journal is a classic among teachers of very young learners who are not adept at using dictionaries; here they have a chance to make their own. Help them design their very own Word Book from scratch, out of construction paper, cardboard, or any materials you have on hand. At the end of a reading task or activity, make a list of the words they have learned for the day. Their homework assignment is to enter each of the new words in their Word Book. The littlest ones simply copy the word and draw a picture of it; older students can use the word in a sentence that illustrates its meaning. There is no need to copy “dictionary” definitions. They may also cut out pictures from magazines or newspapers and get as creative as they like. But one thing is certain… these will be words they won’t easily forget!
Do My Research!
This is an extremely engaging way to provide extended practice of any grammar point. Say you want your students to practice comparatives and superlatives. Tell them you need information on this year's Oscar nominations. Tell them to go to Oscar.go.com and give them a list of questions they must answer:
- Which of the nominees for Best Picture is the longest film? Which is the shortest? The most popular? Earned the most money at the box office?
- Which film has the most nominations?
- Which in your opinion is the best film?
- Compare two of the actresses nominated for Best Actress. Who is older? Younger? Taller? Prettier?
You may assign any number of research tasks: ideal places for a family vacation (LonelyPlanet.com), best restaurants in the city (Zagat.com), or anything based on local information. Just make sure you give them a website to go to, a set of questions to answer or a task to complete, and above all don't forget to plan the assignment with a grammar point or learning objective in mind.
In the News
This is an ideal assignment for adult students. Most read the newspaper anyway, right? Or watch the evening news. Ask them to choose a news story that has piqued their interest, and have them:
- Write a report on the news story
- Write a dialogue in which a journalist interviews someone involved in the story.
- Answer a question like, “What could have gone differently?”, thus prompting them to use conditionals, for example (If the truck driver had not answered his cell phone, he would not have caused the accident.)
This is clearly one of the homework assignments that works best with adult learners or those who specifically study Business English. Give them an email to read and ask them to write an appropriate reply. Or give them a situation that would require them to compose a message, like a complaint over a bad service experience or an inquiry into vacation rentals.
Choose a TV series that is shown in English, either with or without subtitles (you may ask students to cover the subtitles). Choose a show that is suitable to your students’ ages. Tell your students that their homework for that night will be to watch an episode of Modern Family, whether they usually watch the show or not. Give them a task to complete after viewing the episode: a synopsis of the episode, a character description, or a questionnaire (Do you usually watch this show? If not, would you start watching it? Why/why not?)
Another great way to get students actively engaged in their homework assignments is to ask them to come up with some ideas for creative assignments on their own and share them with the class. They may surprise you!
And if you’re still stumped as to which worksheets to assign to practice grammar, vocabulary, or reading, BusyTeacher.org is always available to help, 24/7, with wonderful ideas for activities and great ready-to-print worksheets.
If you have any ideas for other wonderfully creative homework assignments, share them below!
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