How is it that March sneaks up on us parents every year? Just don’t hit the panic button if you don’t have any plans yet. From staging your own Canadian Idol contest to March Break camps that solve your can’t-get-the week-off woes, we’ve got 17 amazing March break ideas to share.
When the weather and the kids’ faces are gloomy, consider one of these fun activities. Better yet, let your child decide which idea she likes best and get some insight into her passions. Is she a decor diva, for example, or a mad scientist? Hey, you might even discover a future career path, and she’s not even in school. Bonus!
Keeping up with style-obsessed tweens and teens can empty a wallet fast. Instead of shopping, let your fashion mavens try embellishing a pair of jeans they already own. This Crazy Cuffs project is just one of the many crafts featured in Injeanuity, written by Ellen Warwick and illustrated by Bernice Lum (Kids Can Press).
Get your kids to invite some pals (and their moms) over for an indoor picnic. The children can develop a theme and make some dishes to bring. That’s what Toronto mom Kelly Smyth does when she’s out of ideas. While 5-year-old Nolan and 6-year-old Ella are too young to plan the menus, Ella makes a mean bowl of Goldfish.
How do you turn the afternoon into an extravaganza? Get inspired by Canadian Idol and have your junior vocalists try out some tunes. (A site like lyrics.com can help with the words…and let you know what Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit really says…)
It’s a perfect time for kids to learn new tricks—all the better to impress their friends when school resumes. Getting started is as simple as picking up a pack of cards. Many of the tricks at magic.about.com use everyday items such as crayons, coins and paper clips, and photo instructions reveal the how-to secrets behind making paper clips jump and other crafty maneuvers.
Don a white coat—your bathrobe, perhaps?—and turn your home into a lab by visiting the Science Bob website. Fun projects in the home-experiments section help kids learn about everything from making their own slime to growing rock candy. The site includes experiments that appeal to kids as young as three (though they’ll need some help from a parent or older sibling).
Got a little thespian at home? Ask her and her friends to write, direct and star in their own theatre production. For ideas, click on the website of Toronto’s Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People and download the teacher-targeted study guides for popular performances such as Where the Wild Things Are, including information on staging and costumes. Call your local theatre about March break workshops, too. “The Vancouver Arts Umbrella normally does dynamite kids programs,” says Vancouver mom of two, Ann Campbell.
Everyone has heard of pet rocks, but who actually has one? All your kids need for this craft project is acrylic paint, brushes and rocks. If your child is old enough to hold a paintbrush, they can take part. Willing to supervise? Try out the melted crayon variation found at creativekidsathome.com.
The crisp, clear skies of winter and early spring make it a perfect time for stargazing. During the day, kids can log onto NASA’s website to learn about outer space through games, factoids and interactive tools. The Big Sky Astronomical Society of Alberta has detailed information for older kids, as well as star charts that allow the whole family to navigate the heavens when the moon is not bright. Who knows—the international space station might be passing over your area. Find out at spaceflight.nasa.gov.
This is a perfect afternoon idea for your budding HGTV addict. You can find this Glow Lamp and many other great crafts in The Jumbo Book of Paper Crafts, written by Amanda Lewis and illustrated by Jane Kurisu (Kids Can Press). Recommended for kids aged eight and up.
If the thought of spending another hour in your family room makes you and the kids want to howl, get outside. We’ve got seven ideas here that range from free and easy (literally) to ambitious-but-oh-so-worth-it. Take your pick!
What child doesn’t dream about being a firefighter at some point? Call the general inquiry line of your local fire services to book a tour of the fire hall (small communities sometimes allow you to simply drop in). Often kids get a lesson in fire safety as well as the chance to sit in the shiny red engine.
Habitat for Humanity International welcomes volunteers from age five to help provide homes for families in need. Though you have to be at least 16 to work on a build, younger kids can construct mailboxes or tool sheds, help with landscaping and organize penny drives. To find out more, call 800-667-5137 or visit habitat.ca.
Act like a tourist and visit exhibitions and events. “There are plenty of fun things to see and do in Halifax,” says Moira McConnell, a Halifax mom. “What gets the kids excited is letting them become the vacation planners. We do research together and see what is going on in [local] museums, art galleries, libraries and even shopping malls.” Get older kids to contact your municipal or provincial tourism office for fun ideas.
If your family is up for an adventure that won’t blow your budget, embrace the coolness of winter camping. It’s not as difficult as you might think at least, not when you’ve got the right equipment. You’ll need a winter camping tent strong enough to withstand snow and special sleeping bags that conform to the size of your body. Contact Parks Canada (888-773-8888/pc.gc.ca) or log onto camping-canada.com for plenty of need-to-know details.
Your travel budget will go much farther if you consider a shorter trip or visit a less-expensive sunny destination, such as the Dominican Republic instead of Barbados. You can also try flying at the last minute. Reliable travel sites include Travelzoo.com, lastminute.com and priceline.ca.
Want to wander the open roads with a few kidlets in the back seat? You’re not the only one. Canadian families are known for road travel and we’re pretty darned good at it. Check out some great Canadian road trips and plan your own for March Break.
Fulfilling one child’s interests can benefit the whole family. “My 12-year-old mentioned that he wanted to learn to snowboard this year, and we have a small ski hill about a 45-minute drive outside of Fredericton,” says Mary-Anne Hurley-Corbyn. Her daughter, 4, will try skiing for the first time, too. Check out municipal parks that offer skiing and snowboarding lessons, as well as rentals.
Can’t get the week off to hang with your kids? Consider a March break day camp. This trend has really caught on and now universities, community colleges, civic centres and even public libraries host day camps for children as young as four. Costs vary widely, but $50 per day is not unusual. Here’s what you need to know to find the one for your child.