Keeping Your Kids’ Minds Sharp Over Winter Break

By Megan Nellen, Lower School Principal at The Walker School

1. Community Service - Use the break to plan community service ideas for the coming year.

  • Kids can write flyers and notes asking neighbors to save and donate any holiday décor they plan on tossing out to be used next year for a family without a tree or decorations.  

  • Any age child can help make and deliver sandwiches for a homeless mission or shelter or make cards and pictures for a local nursing home.

2. Reuse, Recycle, Entertain - Collect leftover boxes, ribbons and paper and have your kids use them to build a robot or make a game. Each year at The Walker School second graders use cardboard to make arcade games.  Visit Caine’s Arcade online for inspiration and let their imaginations go!

3. Family Book Club - We all know the benefits of reading, but too often, our kids may not see us actually reading anything other than our emails.  

  • Research some age-appropriate books, let the entire group make the decision on what to read and set a deadline for your book club meeting.  

  • If the ages of your children vary, consider pairing up similar ages with near-by cousins or friends, or select a book that the older ones can read on their own and the younger ones with a bit of help.

  • Be sure to follow through and discuss the book allowing for everyone’s opinions and feedback.

4. Learn to Code - For the tech savvy -- and those that prefer computers to books -- channel that screen time toward learning to code.  

5. Picture-A-Day Blog. This is ideal for families who will be traveling this holiday season, but can be just as effective for those staying local.  

  • Work with your children to start a blog. Any number of free sites such as Blogger ( or WordPress ( make this very easy.

  • Post a daily photo and summary, including what happened, why the photo was selected and a quick reflection.

6. Spend time outside.  Giving kids unstructured playtime in the outdoors is invaluable, but it can be tough to find the time while school is in session.

  • Allow your kids to make up their own games, find animals or tracks, do a scavenger hunt (list common items such as finding a stick shaped like a Y, something red, a beautiful leaf, or a white rock).  

  • Take a family hike.  

  • Check out this list from for ten top trails around Atlanta – several in Cobb County.

7. Challenging Games - Board games and game tournaments are a great way to entertain varying ages and generations as well as large groups of people. Consider using competitive brackets for both winners and losers for competitive two-person games like chess and Chinese checkers. Two other recommendations:

Contact: Mitch Leff, Leff & Associates, (404) 861-4769,

Sarah Douglas, Leff & Associates, (678) 521-5289,