Usually in March, the public school system has a spring break – a week off of school for families to spend time together and enjoy relaxing without thinking of their educational workload. There’s no reason that homeschoolers can’t enjoy the same!
Here is a plan for the week, to help you spend quality time with your family, sneak in some learning, and enjoy the spring break together.
WHY YOU NEED A BREAK
Winter can be a time of exhaustion and just slugging along – for both you as parent / teacher, but also for your kids. With less sunshine and weather that doesn’t always make it possible for us to get outdoors, our health can be impacted. After the holidays in December, the restart back to action in January and then really not much time off since then, a March Break helps everyone have a mental break. It can be helpful to spend some time recharging before finishing up the school year.
WHEN TO HAVE SPRING BREAK
In Canada, most provinces have their spring break some time in March. It varies a little by location. As a homeschooler, you will need to decide what timing works best for you.
If you have any children using the school system, you might want to have your break at the same time so that you can enjoy it together. Friends and extended family are more likely to be available – and so are the number of activities in your community. For example, our local library has daily programs scheduled which we can sign up to participate in.
A benefit of choosing a different week than the school board, is that you will find public places less crowded so there is less wait times if you choose to go somewhere. Sometimes prices change during the spring break as well – especially for hotels, etc – if you really wanted to do something extravagant.
WHAT TO DO ON YOUR SPRING BREAK
The answer to this depends on your specific family. Some people travel – sometimes far (like Mexico) and sometimes near (like a hotel a few hours away). Some people hunker down at home and just spend time together. Some people take advantage of the spring break activities in their community to provide a variety of new experiences for their kids. Some people invite over friends and family and turn the week into a whole social event. Others combine all these things in a mix and match kind of way. It really depends on the needs and wants of your family.
BUT – if you want to spend time together and need some help coming up with a fun plan for the week – check the ideas below to create a fun and engaging week with your kids. It doesn’t need to cost much to make it memorable. It just needs to be quality time.
THEME DAYS FOR YOUR SPRING BREAK
MONDAY – BEACH DAY
Don’t look at me funny because I suggested the beach in March. For most people in Canada – actually going to the beach at this time of year would not be the enjoyable experience that you can have in the summer. Never fear! You can have a beach day at home.
STEP ONE: SET UP A BEACH.
Set up a “beach.” We use a blue blanket for the water, roll out a couple of towels, scatter some seashells on the carpet (which is our sand), set up a huge golf umbrella, and open all the blinds for as much sunlight as possible. The kids wear their bathsuits and we prep for a fun day in the living room on the beach!
STEP TWO: PLAY IN THE SAND.
Give your kids the chance to play in the sand. You can use Kinetic Sand – which is a non-drying toy kind of material that looks and feels a lot like real sand. Another option is to make cloud dough. Cloud dough is simply flour and oil mixed together at a 8:1 ratio. I usually use about 4 cups of flour and ½ cup of oil. Mix with your hands, adding more oil as needed, until the mixture can hold its shape when squished. Put it into a bin with some spoons and small containers and see if your kids can make sandcastle. I recommend putting a plastic table cloth underneath for each clean up.
Give your kids some bowls or buckets and send them on a shell hunt. You might be able to find some shells at your local dollar store in the craft section – or an actual craft store, if you don’t have any of your own shells available. If you can’t get real ones, you can print and cut out paper seashells!
Out on your beach set up, you can play beach volleyball. If you have the ability to hang a string across the space for a net – great! If not, don’t worry about it. Beach balls are usually available at the local dollar store. Toss it back and forth and try to keep it off the ground!
STEP THREE: SPEND TIME IN THE WATER.
It’s a little hard to swim in a blanket version of water, but here are some ways to include water into your beach day.
- Use a balance board in the “water” section of your beach to simulate surfing! This can be as simple as a piece of flat wood on a pool noodle or you can buy an official training balance board.
- Set up a water station and fill up a wide bin or tub. Provide some toys to play with and let the kids use their imaginations.
- You can even have the kids play in a full bath tub in their bathing suits.
STEP FOUR: RELAX.
One of the big draws of the beach is being able to just lay down and relax. Lay down on your towels and read a book together.
STEP FIVE: HAVE A TASTY TREAT.
Think of summer and the snacks you love during that season. Buy a ridiculously small and overpriced watermelon to savour that summer taste. Have an ice cream cone or a popsicle. Set up a picnic in the “sand” and enjoy your favourite lunch foods.
Adaptations If Your Kids Are Too Cool or Too Old for Beach Day Play:
- Do a beach themed art project.
- Take a trip and go to an actual beach in your winter gear – just for the novelty of it. Bring towels to sit on and a picnic lunch to eat. (But maybe stay out of the water!)
- Watch a movie about surfing.
- Have an ice cream cone together.
TUESDAY – KITCHEN DAY
Today, it’s all about spending time in the kitchen! It doesn’t matter if it’s something sweet, savoury, sensory or science! Just focus on quality time.
IF YOU HAVE YOUNG ONES
- make cookies
- make homemade playdough and the use cookie cutters to make “cookies.”
- do the world-famous baking soda and vinegar experiment
- have them help you match container lids and bottoms
IF YOU HAVE ELEMENTARY AGED KIDS
- get them to look in a family cookbook or on Pinterest to choose something they want to make together
- try some cooking classes together, especially with something like knife skills.
- play some kitchen-centred Minute-To-Win-It games like stacking apples, getting a cookie from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands, eating a hanging donut, putting an uncooked spaghetti noodle in your mouth and use it to scoop up cheerioes, etc.
IF YOU HAVE TEENS
- watch a bunch of baking / cooking competitions together then hold your own family competition (For us it would be the Great Fletcher Bakeoff!)
- Google Translate your favourite family recipe several times and then follow the instructions to see how it turns out
- have other teens over and have them make their own pizza shop / bakery
- teens would probably love some of those kitchen Minute-to-Win-it challenges too!
WEDNESDAY – MOVIE / BOOK DAY
Today is a great day to focus on the wonderful world of film and storytelling. Keep on the PJs, pull out the fuzzy blankets, and snuggle together on the couch.
- Go to the library and stock up on some great kids’ picture books. Then snuggle up and read together.
- Read a book that has a movie to go with it – like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Curious George.
- Help them write their own story. They narrate the story to you, you write it onto a folded paper book and then they illustrate it themselves.
- Make a book inspired snack – like some green eggs and ham or an alligator pie!
With Elementary Kids:
- Dress up like your favourite movie or book characters (This is also sometimes called cosplay!).
- Make a movie script and then record a movie – you can try stop motion or film live action.
- Use story starters to come up with a story together.
- Pick a family favourite or new movie and watch it together. Make sure to enjoy a popcorn snack!
- Binge watch a movie series together.
- Use a website like “Teach with Movies” to do a study around a movie together.
- Watch favourite movies from your childhood and laugh at how cheesy they are.
- Plot out a novel together.
THURSDAY – FIELD TRIP DAY
Today’s a great day to head out into the world and explore. Even if that ends up meaning staying at home by taking a virtual field trip instead of going somewhere in person.
First, decide if you are going to go somewhere or if you are going to adventure from home. This will depend on what’s available in your area, your comfort with busy spaces, and your budget. Some field trips can be costly, but also afford a lot of memories. What is right for you?
IDEAS FOR FIELD TRIPS OUTSIDE THE HOME
- March is a wonderful time to visit a sugar bush since it’s maple syrup season!
- A park, playground, or hiking trail – especially one that is new to you.
- A museum, historical building / centre, farm, or other special feature in your community.
- A popular tourist attraction you can reach as a day trip.
- Geocaching in an area you haven’t been to before.
IDEAS FOR A FIELD TRIP AT HOME
- Lots of museums and galleries offer virtual experiences to walk through their location or at least look at some of their displays. You can find places all over the world that you might never have been able to visit otherwise – like the Louvre, the Museum of Natural History, volcanoes in Hawai’i, and many more. This is a great list of places to visit: https://www.globotreks.com/tips/best-virtual-tours-world/
- Turn your house into a tourist attraction: Create your own art gallery or history museum by designing displays and themed rooms. Set up a dino dig station. Pretend you are a science centre and fill the day with science experiments.
- Watch a documentary (or a fictional movie) about a place you’ve never been. Talk about the differences you learn. There are programs that compare different cultural experiences for kids growing up, for example, which might be interesting.
FRIDAY – CAMPING DAY
Camping in the winter can be a fun experience all on its own, but today – turn your house into a campground and enjoy it from the warmth and comfort of where you live.
STEP ONE: Set up a camp site. If you have a tent that you can set up indoors – go for it. If not, can you make a fort to be your shelter? Kids can be incredibly creative when you let them loose to create a fort! Encourage them to make something you can all fit in and problem solve structure issues.
STEP TWO: Make a campfire. If you have a working gas or wood fireplace, you can use that as your campfire. If not, you can make a craft campfire out of cardboard tubes and tissue paper.
STEP THREE: Do some camping activities: go on a hike, have a scavenger hunt, practice your orienteering skills, make up silly stories, play some board games or challenge each other to your favourite game of cards.
STEP FOUR: Have smores for a snack. If you don’t have an open fire, you can toast marshmallows over the BBQ. (I’ve even put them in the microwave for a few seconds to make them soft and counted that good enough!) Another option is to buy marshmallow fluff and just spread it onto your graham crackers. Make a camping meal. (Look up foil packets for some great recipes!)
STEP FIVE: Stay up late and look out your window. Can you see any stars? If so, do you recognize any constellations?
And then, you can spend your spring break weekend getting back to your normal routines.
Love Theme Days? Check out my At Home Summer Camp for 8 weeks of ideas you can do with your kids (and their friends!)