Article supplied by Claire Russell, Early Years Specialist and founder of playHOORAY!
Oh what a wonderful time of year! The countdown to Christmas has officially begun! We can now look forward to lots of festive family fun from winter walks followed by hot chocolate, carol singing under glittering lights and an abundance of sparkly sweaters.
Why not get in to the holiday spirit, keep little ones entertained in the run up to the big day and support their development with some fun festive play (maybe giving you ten minutes to enjoy a cheeky glass of mulled wine!). Here are a few of my favourite ways to play at Christmastime, all using everyday items found around the house or sourced cheaply from a pound store:
- Countdown to Santa’s arrival with a book advent calendar. Wrap up 25 themed books and every night in December, unwrap a book to add a festive surprise to your bedtime story reading! Don’t forget you can use charity shops, libraries and second hand websites to build your collection.
- Set up a wintery small world with blocks of ice and little plastic people for lots of pretend play!
- Make a cone of green felt for little ones to decorate with stickers, sequins and sparkles to create their own miniature Christmas tree
- Handprint wreaths make a lovely homemade decoration for your front door. Cover a sponge in green paint, press hands in to the sponge and then on to large sheets of paper (have a bowl of water, towel and wipes to hand). Once dried, cut out the paper hands and arrange in a wreath shape, taping at the back. Add a red ribbon bow to make it extra special!
- Turn gingerbread men biscuits upside down to create reindeer biscuits with a red nose and icing!
- Cut basic Christmas shapes into potatoes such as holly, Christmas trees or stars before encouraging budding artists to dip into paint and print all over brown parcel paper. Once dried, you can use it to wrap gifts for friends and family!
- Collect pine cones on a winter walk. Once home, roll the cones in a tray of paint, wait to dry then glue on colourful pom poms and add a sprinkle of glitter! Why not tie on some ribbon and hang them on your tree or around the home.
- Play your own game of ‘stick the nose on the reindeer’ using red pom poms and brown paper!
- A super quick activity for very little ones is adding a collection of shiny baubles to an egg box for them to wonder at and touch.
- Turn a plastic container into your very own snow shaker, by sticking a small figure inside the lid, add water and glitter and give it a good shake!!
Hopefully you’ve found these ideas inspiring but please remember you know you child better than anybody so do adapt and change to suit them, their interests and needs as you see fit.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas and happy playing!