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Tips to Spark Students’ Curiosity During Winter Break

Tips to Spark Students’ Curiosity During Winter Break

You may be busy with the holidays over winter break, but just because class is out, doesn’t mean learning stops. Parents and caregivers can encourage curiosity and wonder by reminding children to look around their world and invite them to talk about and interact with what they see or experience. 

“While everyone has a different experience at home, children are learning wherever and whenever,” said Audrey Mendivil, SDCOE district advisor, curriculum and instruction. “Parents and caregivers can enhance that learning by having conversations, asking them to wonder. Children’s curiosity is pretty amazing.”

Here are a few ideas to support your student’s learning during school breaks. These use free printables or materials usually found at home or outside and can be used any time during the year.


Play Math Anywhere

Turn a walk into a seek and find game, or see objects in your house in a new light with shape finder cards. Download and print the shape finder cards, then cut out the shape to make it easier for young children to compare shapes. 

The number game is a scavenger hunt-style activity that helps children of all ages see their world in a different way. Download and print number game cards or easily create your own with paper and markers. 

Combine the two ideas and search for shapes, colors, sounds, and mathematical patterns while outside observing nature! Does what you see change if you’re outside in the morning compared to just after dark?


Think Like a Scientist

Two powerful questions you can ask your child:

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder? 

It doesn’t matter where you are, injecting a sense of curiosity can help your child no matter their age think like a scientist.

View this video playlist for more than 50 ideas for connecting science and nature from SDCOE's 6th Grade Camp team at Cuyamaca Outdoor School

Observation Project for All Ages

Pick a household object, could be a kitchen gadget, a toy, a pet, or even a bug outside, then have writing materials for your child to make observations.

Grades TK-3

What do you notice? What do you like most about it? Are there any patterns? How does it move or work? What is it made of?

Grades 4-8

What do you notice or wonder? How do the different parts work within the system? Does it move on its own? What does it do and how? If it’s a gadget or a toy, do you have to interact with it for it to perform its function?

Grades 9-12

How was it manufactured? Where did the materials come from? Think about it’s carbon footprint. If it’s an animal, how does it interact with its environment? Does it rely on humans for survival? Focus on one part of your object or animal and try to make close observations you didn’t see when looking at the whole. Try drawing it. 


Cozy Up with a Good Book

Local and state library systems are vast! Visit a location near you or explore the San Diego Library or San Diego County Library online and find out how to access e-books, audio books, or e-magazines.

Both sites' e-library sections have links to free tutoring, free access to ABC Mouse, and more. 

On the state library website, adults and young adults can explore career pathways and free access to learning opportunities, such as Coursera. There are also free student resources, such as live online tutoring, digital resources, and ask a librarian program. 

Additional Resources

Learning at Home Bingo

SDCOE curriculum and instruction experts partnered with The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2020 to create learning activities that would help students continue learning during stay-at-home measures. Each Learning at Home Bingo card features activities students can do while at home and with minimal materials. They are based on California state standards and featured integrated subjects and learning. 

What's Happening

SDCOE's What's Happening webpage has free and low-cost opportunities for students, families, and educators. Winter break is a great time for graduating high school students to complete the FAFSA/CAADA and San Diego County scholarships. 

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