Tag Archive for: Christmas

10 Festive Activities to Get Your Family in the Holiday Spirit

You’d have to be crazy to say you live in Chicago for the winters, but you’re not crazy to say you love the holiday season in the city. From light parades to ice skating rinks, there are plenty of blog-holiday-activities-2-main-landscapeholiday activities to help get your family feeling festive.

Here is a list of 10 holiday activities around the city for a classic Chicago holiday season:

  1. Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Christkindlmarket is an open-air, European holiday market in Daley Plaza featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, beer, hot spiced wine, choirs, and carolers. Free admission!
  2. The Great Tree at Macy’s Walnut Room. Expect to wait to get a table in the Walnut Room. You can see the Great Tree from the eighth floor of the store.
  3. Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park. ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel rides, train rides, food, and gift shopping. Free entry.
  4. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park. Admission is free, but skate rental is $12 during the week and $14 on the weekend. The ice ribbon will be open through the first week of March.
  5. Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Expect crowds. Free entry.
  6. Shopping on Michigan Avenue. View the festive lights, people watch the tourists and get some shopping done before stopping for a delicious holiday lunch at one of the city’s many restaurants in the area.
  7. A Christmas Carol. The Goodman Theatre’s annual holiday production of the Charles Dickens classic enters its 39th year with seasonal charm intact.
  8. Christmas Around the World. View more than 50 trees and displays at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World exhibit, a Chicago tradition since 1942. Each tree is decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s many communities, representing their diverse culture and holiday customs.
  9. Morton Arboretum Holiday Lights. Parents and children alike will love the 50 acres of vibrant LED lights that are hung on the Morton Arboretum’s vast treescape, creating a kaleidoscopic winter wonderland. This year’s “Illumination: Tree Lights” is wowing audiences already; it’s absolutely worth the drive out to Lisle.
  10. A Charlie Brown Christmas. With The Peanuts Movie introducing Charles M. Schulz’s characters to a new generation of kids, Emerald City Theatre and Broadway in Chicago bring the classic TV special about the true meaning of Christmas to the stage.

We wish you a happy holiday season and a happy new year!

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Top 5 Toys for Speech and Language Development: School-Aged Edition

With Hanukkah only a few weeks away and Christmas right around the corner, parents need to be on the lookout for fun and educational gift ideas. If your child’s speech and language development is one of your concerns, read on for our list of the top 5 toys/gifts for enhancing speech and language skills in school-aged children.

Parents can also help develop these skills by playing with their children and modeling appropriate language, encouraging turn taking, and requesting. Parents can also help children with articulation difficulties through play by modeling accurate speech sound production and correcting their child’s inaccurate productions.

Top 5 Toys for Enhancing Speech and Language Skills in School-Aged Children:



Apples to Apples
  • Appropriate play with peers
  • Turn taking
  • Direction following
  • Same/different (e.g., explain why the cards go together)
Board Games (e.g., Candyland)
  • Turn taking
  • Direction following
  • Articulation (e.g., say a word before you take your turn)
  • Appropriate play with peers/parents
  • Sequencing steps to play
  • Word finding (e.g., object description)
  • Object function (e.g., “you sleep on it, and it is soft”)
  • Asking/answering “wh”-questions (e.g., “where is it used for?”)
  • Articulation (e.g.,  monitor sound production, target specific sounds)
Memory Games
  • Turn taking
  • Direction following
  • Memory skills
  • Articulation (e.g., can use pictures of target words)
Story Cubes
  • Sequencing (e.g., story building, temporal relationships)
  • Verb tenses (e.g., make the story in present/past/future tenses)
  • Turn taking
  • Opposites (e.g., say the opposite of what is on each dice)
  • Auditory comprehension (e.g., retell a peer/parent’s story)

Decorating for Christmas | 5 Activities to Improve Handwriting Skills

All children may benefit from exercising their fine motor muscles. Fine motor skills (coordination, grasping, precision) as well as fine stringing ornamentsmotor strength and endurance are strongly associated with handwriting legibility, endurance and speed. Additional skills, such as bilateral coordination, visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination) and manual dexterity (manipulation speed) contribute to producing legible writing as well. Legible handwriting, of course, is pertinent in order to successfully complete written schoolwork and assignments. The holidays offer a plethora of opportunities to exercise little hands—here are just a few!

Holiday Activities To Improve Handwriting Skills:

  • Stringing popcorn—this activity can strengthen your child’s fine pincher grasp abilities and improve bilateral coordination—both of which are vital skills for handwriting. If your child is too young to use a needle, have him or her string holiday colored beads onto a shoelace to add a bit of homemade flair to your tree. This will also provide a finger flexion frenzy for your child.
  • Stringing ribbon or hooks onto ornaments—This activity requires a significant amount of visual motor coordination as well as fine motor control. Use ribbon to increase the difficulty—tying the string in a knot requires additional fine motor control, bilateral coordination and visual-motor control. In order to work on manipulation speed, make this into a game and see who can string the fastest!
  • Hanging ornaments on the tree—this activity requires your child’s visual and motor systems to cooperate together in order to successfully place an ornament on the desired branch. You may provide verbal directions to your child, such as “hang this ornament on the branch that is below the yellow light and above the green bulb ornament” in order to work on visual perception as well as discrimination skills!
  • Replacing light bulbs on light strings—this activity requires fine motor control and strength to grip the light-bulb (various sizes may be appropriate—the smaller the bulb, the more difficult it is to grip!) and twist it into place. It’s also fun to watch the lights pop on when all of the new bulbs are in place!
  • Wrapping presents—Wrapping is an activity that requires a lot of fine motor precision (correctly folding the paper and fine motor endurance) holding the paper in place for taping. In addition, wrapping requires bilateral coordination (cutting the paper and working with both hands to hold the paper down and tape). You may increase the difficulty of the activity by having your child tie ribbons on the package and work with two hands to curl the ribbon with scissors or peel the backing off of stick-on bows (which requires a lot of control). The gifts may not look perfect, but with the assistance of your little elves, you’ll have them wrapped in no time at all!

There is a wide selection of activities that you’re already planning on doing for the holidays that can help to fine-tune your child’s individual muscles. Not only are these activities fun, but your child will always remember how she helped you decorate the tree—memories in the making. Happy Decorating!