Help, it’s winter break!

By Heather Camlot

Unless you have the means and opportunity to put your kids in winter camp for the two-week break, you have some planning to do to keep them entertained this holiday season.

What’s a parent to do for 14 days? Here are our best digital bets:

Online distractions

Kids can’t get enough of the computer. Boy, do we know. Let them play all they want at the following sites. Educational fun…but we’re not telling.

Discovery Kids: Build or solve puzzles, play games related to volcanoes, mummies, dinosaurs and more, or head to the “Yucky” site, where they’ll find joy in the grossest science stuff, from barfing to toxic waste.

National Geographic Kids: Play hockey with polar bears, upload and narrate photos, conduct science experiments, watch crazy videos and whip up some interesting treats – snow cream, anyone?

PBS Kids: Pick a favourite character and watch videos or play games, like rhyming with Grover, drawing with Arthur or saving the day with Word Girl.

Crafty ideas

Sitting in front of the computer is like sitting in front of the television all day, a definite no-no.  Check out the following sites to find fun, hands-on activities.

Kaboose: While the site has a lot of articles on a variety of topics, we like its craft section best. Nicely organized by season and theme, you’re sure to find something to please even the most stubborn, foot-stomping, “I don’t like crafts” kid.

Martha Stewart Kids: We miss the paper version of Kids magazine, but we find solace in the fact that it’s still alive and well online. Nature crafts, paper crafts, art projects, even homemade toys and games – astro lovers will flip over the cardboard tube space ship — all with Martha’s signature style.

Michaels: The art-supply store has hundreds of projects just for kids, from Penguin tote bags to barnyard birdhouses. Accompanying each craft is the age range, the time it takes to complete and a messy rating.

App days

Whether you’re in the car on a long drive to the in-laws or need five minutes to finish the laundry, the cooking, the gift-wrapping….these apps will keep kids busy.

My Coloring Book: Perfect for the car, this colouring app lets kids fill in the black and white pictures with their fingers. Beats markers all over the backseat – even if they are washable. iTunes, free.

Memory Kids: Set the difficulty level and let kids sharpen their little minds with the classic game. BlackBerry, free.

Image Puzzle: Drag the pieces around the board to return the image to normal. Just like the handheld game you used to have as a kid. Android, free.

Don’t forget to dress warmly and head outdoors, too! Tobogganing, skiing, skating building ice castles and throwing snowballs will keep kids busy and active. And warrant a hard-earned hot chocolate afterwards.

First published December 9, 2010, on


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