Teachers and kids are looking forward to it but many parents hate when it rolls around…Yes, it’s Spring Break time again. How can families remove some of the STRESS of Spring Breaks? Many working parents must take time off to care for their children and they want this free week from school and work to be a happy, family event. How to plan Spring Break activities for kids without breaking the bank? Should you be looking for educational, scheduled, paid for activities or just enjoy free from routine, spur of the moment, fun things to do?
Each family’s needs and situations are different and some children with special needs must keep as close as possible to their routine. Having a child with special needs with unstructured time can be anything but a vacation and these families need to have a plan of activities for kids. However for other families, I believe that Spring Breaks should be a time for unstructured, creative play and just time to relax, chill out, ‘veg’ out, do nothing but rest body and mind. It should be a time for kids and parents to recharge their batteries from the demands of their regular routine, homework, studying for tests and extra curricular school activities.
Help Child with Autism Prepare for a Break in Routine
Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have greater difficulty in accepting changes of routine. This may be due to their greater need for predictability or difficulty when a pattern of routine is disrupted. If this is the case with your child, prepare BEFORE the Spring Break occurs and offer lots of support during the week when his safe schedule is disrupted. Get your child involved in planning your activities. Spring Break could be a good time to learn more about your child’s special interests by visiting museums or libraries.
Long before the Spring Break, so your child can prepare the coming changes in his head, have a visual schedule at home and at school with events and activities that are coming up. Prepare “Social Stories” about these activities so your child will know what to expect. One of these “Social Stories” should be about how to accept a change in plans because events or activities are sometimes cancelled or a family cannot attend them because of sickness or other family emergencies.
Strategies to prepare your child’s break in routine may be presented verbally or visually or both. Use what works best for your child depending if he is a visual or auditory learner. During the Spring Break be sure to use these techniques before a transition occurs, during a transition if needed, and/or after a transition so your child can express how he feels.
Allow lots of “down time” between activities so your child can decompress. Carry with you items that comfort, rest, and relax your child so you can lessen or prevent meltdowns altogether. It can be an age-appropriate chew necklace like KidCompanions Chewelry or SentioCHEWS. These are also available as Clip-ons to attach to a seat belt or safely inside a pocket to be used when the need occurs.
How to Prepare Free Family Fun for Spring Breaks
I do not mean to completely ‘wing it’ because preparation before the break can arm you with lots of options and save you last minute scrambling and missing out on worthwhile free activities for kids in your area.
What Can You Do BEFORE Spring Break To Plan for Activities for Kids?
- Start collecting recyclables… boxes of all sizes, egg cartons, buttons, paper, and cloth items to be cut up…
- Buy arts and craft supplies… glue, markers, glitter, scissors, tape…
- Borrow library books, music CD’s and videos on crafts, cooking with kids, topics of interests, hobbies, collections…
- Stock up on basic baking supplies and ingredients for kids to help you prepare healthy snacks and meals.
- Check web sites, newspapers and community bulletin boards for schedules or free kid activities in libraries, community centers, sport centers (often skating rinks and pools have free hours during Spring Breaks)…
- Get in touch with parents of friends, grandparents, and other extended family to know if they will be around and if they are open to do things together IF that is what your kids would want.
List of Fun Activities for Kids During Spring Break
There are great ideas and links about activities for kids for March Break, Spring Break, Easter Break, etc online. Involve your children in the planning of activities. When the time comes and they are having trouble entertaining themselves, then you just decide what they can do from the long list you have already prepared!
20 FUN, Frugal, Indoor Spring Break Activities for Kids
- Keep a quick list of easy activities: build a fort, playdoh, Legos, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a new DVD, easy – quick
- Do crafts – bring out markers, glitter, glue, recycables, odds and ends – and they create.
- Bring out packs of cards. Teach them games like Solitaire you play alone and teach them easy card games they can play with others. Invite friends for a “Card Game Night”.
- Search online for fun activities using “Pool Noodles”.
- Bring out balloons for “House Volleyball”.
- Make “Bean Bags” and invent games using them. Throwing them in a box so many feet away. Then make it harder by getting a smaller box to throw in and placing it further away.
- Cook together. Try new foods and old favorites. Share meals with friends.
- Organize homemade obstacle courses (inside or out) under the table, behind the couch, around the chairs, bunny hop…
- Make homemade play dough with flour and salt…recipe here.
- For older kids make homemade flubber, slime, magic mud, etc.
- Bring out folding tables or sturdy flat surfaces and bring out those Jigsaw puzzles or model sets.
- Play charades.
- Bring out old Halloween costumes and the kids imagine all kinds of amazing things… making skits, dances, plays of their favorite stories.
- Video tape these creative productions with your iPhone – kids can do that for HOURS!
- Go to the Monarch Butterfly web site and track their migration journeys.
- Redecorate a child’s room and let the kids paint a mural on the wall.
- Do not want to try painting the room, try instead giving it a new look by rearranging the furniture and adding a bulletin board to hang all those art projects.
- Make Vlogs…for kids who love to read and watch movies.
- Make crafts with any of these: Popsicle sticks, marshmallows and toothpicks, dried pasta, buttons, used wrapping paper or greeting cards, murals with pictures cut out of old magazines or catalogs.
- Make finger puppets or puppets with mittens or socks. You can also use dolls or stuffed animals. Get the kids to make a puppet theater with a cardboard box. Have them prepare a puppet show. If they seem at a lost to find a story line, suggest a story from a favorite book or TV show. They can add dance moves and songs.
Fun Activities for Kids and Their Friends
- Band together with other parents to fight spring break boredom… “house hop” playdates – every day same group different home.
- Try Teddy Bear Tea Parties – baking play dates.
- Play tourist for day, road trips with friends to local places, parks or beaches.
- Have a scavenger walk. Think of things to look for, then go find them. Easy. Fun!
- Try variations of scavenger walk using a camera to take photos of what you are looking for – then you can search for bigger things (‘red cars’ or ‘tall tree’).
- Start seeds for your Rural Sensory Garden or Urban Sensory Garden, ..an activitiy that keeps giving.
- Get yard and wardrobes ready for Spring.
- Invite friends for sleep overs with a theme like movie night, pizza night, painting nails…
- Have a gaming night… a video game tournament with assigned teams, team names and prizes for winners.
- Volunteer to help out in your community…great for bored, older kids.
To get the most from a Spring break, parents must allow their children to play. Unscheduled play is so important and too many parents are so busy thinking of what they want their child to become they forget to enjoy the child he is today. A little preparation, a lot of patience, and the right attitude about a one week Spring break can go a long way in making this week fun for all… even for those who stay at home and spend little money on Spring break fun.