Child plays with toys in a plastic tub.

Amidst the holiday hustle, finding a balance between relaxation and keeping young minds active can be challenging. Lise Bullock-Grotting, director of Early Learning at Mesa Public Schools, shares that there are a variety of ways to keep young learners’ brains active and alert so they are ready to return to school after the holiday break. 

Bullock-Grotting shares that learning is ongoing and never stops. It’s especially important during the holidays to keep students’ minds engaged in activities that make them think.

“Children have a great capacity to learn when they are little; they absorb everything,” Bullock-Grotting shares. “Their young minds are like sponges, which is the reason it’s important to make learning fun, during the holidays and all year long.”

Children’s brains grow the fastest during the first five years of their lives, and they are built to learn new things.  Research shows that every time we learn something new, our brains make new physical connections between the brain cells, or neurons, in our brains.

Looking for ways to engage your young learner? Here are a few tips from Bullock-Grotting. 

●       Read aloud to your child every day. Reading and talking to your child creates a bond, models the love of reading and stimulates and strengthens their language and literacy skills.

●       Get out and explore. Whether going to the park, taking a day trip for a family hike, or going to the zoo, there are many things to explore in nature and a variety of ways to keep busy and engaged.

●       Go on a scavenger hunt. Children love to find things and having a list with pictures and words will keep them interested and busy for hours. 

●       Start a collection. Little ones enjoy looking for rocks, leaves, pebbles and flowers.

●       Bake sugar cookies. Use a variety of cookie cutters and decorate them using fun-colored glitter and icing.

●       Narrate your adventures in the store or car, and talk about what your child is doing.

●       Assign age-appropriate responsibilities such as watering the plants, picking up toys, making their bed and pulling weeds.

●       Do arts and crafts. Construct holiday decorations or cards using a variety of tools like chalk, pens and crayons. 

For more information regarding early learning programs, please visit