56 winter break ideas

mountain top with skiers

Two weeks isn't much of a break if you ask most students. Nonetheless, it's better than having no time off. But these 14-plus days don't have to characterized by endless hours in front of the television or computer. They can be fun and educational if we plan activities that incorporate both. Here are 56 simple ideas people of all ages can enjoy this winter break.

  1. Hold an Eid hockey tournament. If you can arrange it at a skating rink great. If not, the backyard's fine. Have parents play against kids or teens versus uncles/aunties, etc.
  2. Organize trips to the area Masajid and teach the kids Masjid etiquette. Learn the Duas for entering and leaving the mosques, how to pray the Sunnah prayers upon entering the Masjid, as well as how to use "inside voices" and be on their best behavior, as well as keeping the House of Allah clean. While you're at it, try to learn about the mosque's history, services and activities.
  3. Have a snowball fight. Can't enjoy winter without one.
  4. Organize a puppet show for the kids in the basement that teaches the value of charity, patience, forgiveness and other Islamic values.
  5. After a big snowfall, find the nearest hill and go sledding.
  6. Memorize two new Surahs, one for every week of winter break. Learn their translation as well.
  7. Learn how to ski.
  8. Learn how to skate.
  9. Learn how to snowshoe.
  10. Hold a family reunion and throw in a good deed while you're at it. Have attendees bring canned food or cash to give to charity.
  11. At the reunion, watch and discuss an Islamic video/DVD (http://www.soundvision.com/shop/pbrowse.asp?cat=10002). One good topic is Hajj, since you may have family or friends making the pilgrimage this year.
  12. If you're having a hard time prying your child away from the computer, tie their obsession to a condition: they can have X amount of hours in front of the screen if they develop a nice flyer for the local Masjid's upcoming fundraising dinner or write an article for a non-profit organization's website.
  13. Paint a masterpiece of Islamic art. How will you know you're not the next Muslim Picasso if you don't try? If you've always loved painting or any other form of art, try to develop something in the two weeks of winter break with an Islamic theme.
  14. Complete a 1,000 piece puzzle
  15. Talk about the Islamic New Year as New Year's Day approaches. Visit a local planetarium to learn about the phases of the moon and discuss how the Islamic calendar relies on the moon to determine dates.
  16. Visit and support local museums, especially those that present the history of your city, town or suburb.
  17. Every night after dinner, over hot chocolate, cookies and dimmed lights, choose a topic to discuss. Some that would be relevant during winter break include Jesus and Mary in Islam, Prophet Abraham, how the Islamic calendar works and the Eid-ul-Adha sacrifice.
  18. Organize a display about Hajj or Eid-ul-Adha at the local library
  19. Have older kids babysit younger ones as parents enjoy a rare night out.
  20. Collect hats, scarves, mittens and canned goods for a local charity for needy children.
  21. Build a Masjid in the snow. Don't forget to take a picture of it when you're done.
  22. Teach kids the art of the thank you card. Have them make homemade ones in preparation for the Eid-ul-Adha gifts they'll probably be getting.
  23. Make cookies and hot chocolate and give them to the mailman with a note about Eid. Offer a tip too. It's customary during the holiday season to offer tips to mail carriers as well as others who offer you services on a regular basis, like the person who delivers your newspaper.
  24. Hold a pizza party to discuss the successes and disasters of the school year from August/September until December. Be fair to yourself or your child and plan how next semester can build on the good and learn from the bad.
  25. Make the Prophet come alive for your kids with these tips
  26. Talk about the importance of Udhia/Qurbani/the meat sacrifice as an example of charity.
  27. During a snowstorm, get together and make collective Dua. The Heavens are open when it rains, and what is snow but icy rain?
  28. Decorate the house for Eid
  29. Learn about Christmas trees and palm trees and the role they play in the environment. Count how often trees are mentioned in the Quran
  30. Teach your kids the Dewey Decimal system, so they have an easier time finding books on their own at the library

Especially for tweens and teens

  1. Write a poem, rap or song in praise of the Prophet.
  2. Make a video about some aspect of Islam and put it on YouTube.com. Interesting topics include calligraphy, Islamic art, an Islamic "celebrity" who's a good role model for all faiths (e.g. Salahuddin Ayyubi, Hakeem Olajuwon, etc.).
  3. Take a Babysitter's Training Course at the local Red Cross or park district
  4. Host a family talent show in the basement
  5. Host an all-women fashion show in the basement.
  6. Start a blog or website about an aspect of Islam no one has yet written about. This can include tips on how to be part of an interfaith dialog, a profile of a favorite but unknown Muslim personality, Islam and time management/personal organization, information about your Muslim community (size, number of mosques, Islamic schools, along with a short description of each, Halal restaurants, etc.), growing up Muslim in your city/tow.
  7. Write and produce a Muslim version of a favorite television show and load it up to YouTube.com
  8. Extreme Makeover your car or your room
  9. Go on a shopping spree with friends...for charity. Find out what kind of things a local charity needs and spend an afternoon together buying the stuff and dropping it off.
  10. Make a scrapbook about your visit to a local mosque or last summer's trip to a Muslim country
  11. "Clean it up, clean it up the dirty Masjid" is not just the title of a rap produced by the Muslim Youth of North America in the early 1990s. Spend an afternoon or two doing this with your pals.
  12. Arrange to shadow a person who has the career you want for a day, and don't just ask about the job but how they balance their time with prayer, deal with holidays, etc.
  13. Volunteer for a political candidate/party of your choice.
  14. Visit the campus of colleges you're considering. Check out the Muslim Students' Association and prayer area as well.
  15. Learn CPR
  16. Videorecord an interview with your grandparents about their lives as teenagers. What did they do for fun? What subject did they study? Did they pull any interesting pranks? What was their most embarrassing moment?
  17. Research one male and one female Companion of the Prophet
  18. Plan your summer vacation
  19. Learn the art of beautiful Quran recitation (Tajweed) by regularly listening to a reciter whose recitation you love or taking an online course.
  20. Brainstorm 52 Khutba topics (1 for every Friday of the year) you'd like the local Imam or Khateeb to cover in the next year and send it to him with a nice letter.
  21. Spread the spirituality with your cellphone...call or text message friends for every prayer time. If possible, meet up at the mosque for Salah.
  22. Take over storytelling for your younger siblings from your parents and recount in five fascinating minutes an interesting story from the life of the Prophet, Companions or Islamic history.
  23. Design your own mosque with different sized boxes, paper towel rolls (for minarets), carve out windows, etc.
  24. Sadaqah a day keeps the ego at bay...plan what charity you'll give every night for the next week. Remember, this includes smiling, pouring water into someone's glass and more.
  25. A few days before the break, hold a Back To School party to enjoy the last moments of winter break fun. You provide the food and everyone else brings five resolutions they want to work on during the rest of the school year to share with everyone. The resolutions should be both serious and humorous.
  26. Make loot bags for the kids in your neighborhood for Eid-ul-Adha. Include balloons, some candy, but healthy stuff too (e.g. Raisin packs).
  27. Mail Eid cards by snail mail to relatives and friends.

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