8 Virtual Winter Activities for Winter Break
These whimsical, fun, and educational options will keep your kids engaged while school's out.
Finding ways to keep kids entertained and engaged has been a constant struggle for parents during the pandemic. Now, with winter break here and schoolwork on hold, having fun while staying safer at home could feel daunting on a whole new level. Thankfully, there is a bevy of virtual, winter-themed activities for kids of all ages to enjoy during their time off. (And yes, they'll be lifesavers if you have to work or simply need a moment to breathe.)
Here, eight virtual activities to help kids stay entertained and occupied this winter break.
1. Camp Christmas
Last year, families in Denver, Colorado had the opportunity to visit Camp Christmas—a Santa's Village experience, imagined by installation artist Lonnie Hanzon and Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Off-Center—filled with Instagrammable moments and peppered with live performances. But with large in-person gatherings off the table this year, Hanzon’s solution is a 2020 Camp Christmas event.
Attendees will enjoy a virtual, interactive fictional "camp" through a web-based app as well as receive supplies to do activities like garland-making, paper snowflake folding, and crafting DIY Christmas tree ornaments. General access to the camp starts at $10, but with additional packages, like the $59 "Sweets Adventure Bundle," you'll receive materials in the mail to do certain activities, like make a gingerbread house. The experience goes through January 5. For more information, head over to Camp-Christmas.com.
2. Read Winter-Themed Titles With a Virtual Book Club
With extra headspace for reading, thanks to a break from homework, kids might enjoy diving into recreational reading and then connecting with friends or family over video chat. Keira Pride, a librarian for Stratford School, a private, California-based institution, suggests the following titles:
For grades 3-4:
Belly Rubbins for Bubbins: The Story of a Rescue Dog written by Jason Kraus, illustrated by Connor DeHaan. This picture book is part of the mission of the Bubbins Book Series is to spread humane education to children and adults in a fun and entertaining manner. They also donate 51% of the profits to animal-related charities, says Pride.
For grades 5-8:
Winterhouse written by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol. This is magical, mysterious book in a new trilogy is about a magical hotel full of secrets, and fittingly, it takes place during the holiday season.
The Elementals: Ice Wolves written by Amie Kaufman, illustrated by Levente Szabo. This fantastical, adventure-packed story follows a 12-year-old orphan named Anders and his twin sister, Rayna as they enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else.
3. Virtual Snowboard Lessons
Older kids might want to check out Flowing Freeride, a professional online snowboard training led by an AASI Level 3 certified snowboard instructor with 16 years experience teaching at top resorts. The company's Virtual Pro Video Movement Analysis also enables students to submit clips from their smartphone or computer to get professional feedback of their footage.
4. Do a Holiday-Themed Virtual Escape Room
Ali Fields, a teacher and the editor of Cut, Cut, Craft, loves virtual escape rooms for kids. "You can invite all of their friends and come up with a series of puzzles," she suggests. "Use Google Forms to keep everything organized and instead of distributing a link to each kid have one parent be the "game master' and go through the form, puzzle-by-puzzle. This keeps everyone on the same page and collaborating."
For an example or one to try, check out this free Christmas Virtual Escape Room from TheSuburbanMom.com or a Home Alone-themed one ($16 for a 55-minute experience for 9- to 14-year-olds) on Outschool.com.
5. Take a Wintry Online Art Class
Outschool.com makes it easy for kids to hop on and tap into their imagination while picking up new skills. They offer classes taught over the course of one or multiple sessions. Frozen fans could learn how to draw Elsa during an $8 one-time session while Nightmare Before Christmas lovers can learn how to draw Jack Skellington, Sally, and Oogie Boogie with pencil, markers, and color pencil over the course of three weeks for $45.
And the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) is hosting young artists ages 6-13, virtually via Zoom, this winter break for a series of creative and interactive art workshops, titled "MOCA’s Winter Workshops" from December 21-23 and 28-31. Participants can sign up for as many sessions as they please, or for a full session, and registration includes art packs with all the creative tools needed to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces. A full session of classes costs $270.
6. Learn About Winter Weather
Aspiring meteorologists or kids who are simply curious about science might love to attend AccuWeather School. The site offers a variety of free videos and other content meant to teach kids about various weather and science topics in fun and engaging ways. Recent classes have been focused on winter weather. For instance, kids can learn about subjects like frostnip, how blubber helps animals stay warm in the ocean, and how ice cream can help us understand freezing rain and sleet.
You can scroll through the full set of classes here.
7. Play Winter-Themed Online Games
For an educational and fun experience for kids aged 2-8, check out the new Family Time Pack from "playlearning" app Lingokids, which boasts all teacher-approved content. The winter-themed collection offers games and activities that aim to help kids develop skills like communication, responsibility, collaboration, and critical thinking through topics related to the holidays like:
8. Take an Online Baking Class
Kids who love to experiment in the kitchen might enjoy learning how to bake toasty, comforting winter treats via online instruction. For instance, King Arthur Baking Company has online resources for kids through their Bake for Kids Program.