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I might have left it a little long since my last #familyplay blog post, but this one is right on time – Christmas time! Here I have curated a few of my favourite Christmas activities and games that the whole family can play and do together, no matter their age, over the festive period.
The first is my personal favourite and one that we play all the time, no matter how young or old. Pictionary. Now the twist is that you create the object and actions appropriate to the level of the player. You can present these within different envelopes, bags or differentiated with different coloured card (ie know that your 8 year old should mostly pick blue, whereas you four year old should stick to yellow card). By doing this, you can keep up the pace of game and therefore not lose the attention of the players. Not sure what you should include for the different ages? In general, keep it related to their interests and their learnings at school. For EYFS you could include letters and sounds, for KS1 relate it to common stories that they cover early on in the term at school (like the Gingerbread Man and Billy Goats Gruff), whereas KS2 children you could link to their topic in History or Science, or you could give them actions, which can be a great way of making the drawing hard but the guessing easy enough for your younger children. And the beauty is, you know all the answers!
But what about the really young ones? This is great for them too. Involve your older children in making some, or just let the babes loose on the shop bought ones. The beauty of chalk is that it is tactile, it creates colour no matter what edge, and is chunky enough for young hands to get a grip on them.
Image from Pinterest
The second is a bit silly, and definitely when you don’t mind the family getting a little energetic! All you need is an empty rectangular tissue box (the classic shape) with a belt weaved through two slits, so it effectively becomes a bumbag. Stuff the tissue box with ping pong balls and attach to the player, so that the tissue box is behind them (younger children may want the box in front and I would suggest they go after an older child or adult to see what happens). The aim of the game is to bounce around until all the balls have been shaken out of the box. It gets even more hysterical when you have two players racing at the same time. Little ones can still join in to varying levels, but please keep an eye on children who may put a ping pong in their mouths. Your babies will just love playing with a box of ping pong balls. Hide a toy inside and get them to reach in and pull it out. Or place one coloured ball in. There are so many sensory games you can play with ping pong balls.
Okay, now you have a load of ping pong balls and you’re thinking about what you can do with them? Don’t worry, I have thought about this one, and this time I have a quieter game! The best bit about this is recruiting your older children to help set this up, and again this can be differentiated for their interests and their skills. The aim is to set up an assault course or maze for the children to get a ping pong through, moving their ping pong along by blowing through a straw. Youngest children may just be rolling the ball, or stacking a tower as part of the course. If your eldest is interested in lego, then get them building. Maybe duplo is more appropriate or even stacking wooden blocks. You can use playdough to create alleys and include toys to create blocks.
Did you know that most wrapping paper is not recyclable? It is only recently that I discovered the extent of this problem as wrapping paper has increasingly evolved with sheen finishes, glitter 3D effects. It haunts me the amount of wrapping paper we have personally sent off to the recycling centres to be sorted unnecessarily.
How do you check? Try to scrunch up the paper into a ball. If it scrunches, and stays scrunched, it can probably be recycled.
This year I have been checking the recyclability of the wrapping paper bought and we have been making some of our own with some messy play.
All you need is brown paper (available from all stationary shops including WHSmith and Amazon), some potatoes, washi tape and some water-based paints.
First tape the brown paper so that it lies flat and still. The next step can be done by older children with supervision – children can carve a Christmas shape into a halved potato, to form a stamp. Leaving this out over- night will help dry it out but don’t worry too much if you want to get on with making, though having some blotting kitchen roll to hand will help.
The next step is easy; dip and stamp! Leave to try and voila, you have your home made, recyclable wrapping paper.