With all the excitement, kids need some active fun Christmas Games to channel their energy. Use these ideas and add your own for outside and inside play.
- Follow Rudolph: This is a dress for the weather and spend time outdoors game. Kids take turns being Rudolph and leading the rest of the reindeer around the yard or playground. Of course, reindeer don’t usually climb the ladders and slide down the slides at the playground but this doesn’t matter to kids. At home, in a yard without any obstacles to go around, kids can spread their arms and fly, shuffle like a penguin, walk like a big polar bear, and use other actions. If there’s snow on the ground, kids can make paths that zig-zag for following Rudolph all around. They will have their own ideas for ways to play this version of Follow the Leader.
- Where is the Candy Cane? Either outside or inside, one person hides a candy cane and one or more elves find it. This can be a simple hide and seek, or kids can give clues. Warmer means getting closer to where it’s hidden. If the hider says “Colder” you are getting farther away.
- Santa Says: Like the game Simon Says, but it’s Santa that gives the instructions. To get everyone in shape for their big night, Santa might have a whole list of exercises, like jump 5 times, fly around, or balance on a very, very, very small roof. Each command needs to start with the words “Santa says…” If Santa doesn’t say them, kids don’t do that action. This is pretty tricky for little ones and they have to listen carefully. They just like to do the actions.
Santa can give other instructions like “Go touch something white.”He can also be helpful, “Go pick up 4 toys on the floor and put them on the shelf.” This makes tasks that kids don’t much like to do into more active fun Christmas games.
- Gingerbread Man: The gingerbread man game needs a long hallway or a clear path across a room. Usually, the gingerbread man runs as fast as he can, but he could also hop, hop as fast as he can, or shuffle, shuffle, or walk on all fours.
- I Spy: A less active game, this can be played anywhere, especially when waiting in line or sitting in a car or bus. One person chooses an object that everyone can see, and the other people playing try and guess what it is. For this game, you can use colors, as in I spy something red, or use shapes, like I spy something round. Giving clues isn’t easy for kids, but they quite like when adults guess silly things.
- Can the Elf Help? There is another one called Can the Elf Help. Any available elf helps vacuum or dust or put away clean laundry.This can be just as much fun as the others, especially if all the elves get to share some Christmas cookies when done.
Can you and your child think of some other active fun Christmas games?
The children’s book, The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch inspires some dragon playground activities for kids and dragons for today’s play-of-the-day.
Dragons can sleep for years and years but they also travel great distances. In this story, a dragon burns all of Princess Elizabeth’s clothes and captures her Prince Ronald. All she has left to wear is a paper bag. Elizabeth confronts this smart and fierce dragon and challenges him into showing off and performing some amazing feats. The dragon wears himself out and falls fast asleep. Elizabeth frees Ronald but instead of being grateful to be rescued, Prince Ronald objects to Elizabeth’s dirty, smoky appearance and demands she wash and change so she doesn’t marry him after all.
Like the dragon, kids can do amazing feats. They may not burn forests and fly around the world but they can run, climb, hop, jump, swing, balance, and more. One place for a number of movement activities is at the playground. Is there a playground or other available space in your neighborhood?
For a play-of-the-day, kids can dress for the weather and spend some time outside at a park or playground. Kids absolutely need to spend a good portion of their day in vigorous, physical activities. This isn’t just for bodies, it’s also for brains. As kids figure out the sequences and ways to move their bodies, they are wiring their brains. These connections and pathways are used as the basis for language, math, and other thinking.
Movement is vital for learning. Much research is now showing that kids need more time to be physically active. Many schools are finding ways to increase recess time for kids. Preschools and daycares include a good chunk of outside time in their daily routine. The most sensitive time for brain development is before the age of 5 so making sure kids have the opportunities to play with their whole bodies is critical. Can you take your dragon outside for some whole body movement play and some dragon playground activities?
There’s nothing like sun to encourage vigorous active play and that’s how L loves to play. Movement and whole body play are his play valentine.
A happy, busy 3 year old, L likes to move. His outside trampoline gets almost daily use, when weather permits, as he jumps and runs. He sometimes chooses a ball and kicks it around inside the safety net at the sides. Trying to catch bubbles is another favorite game as an adult blow bubbles his way. He flexes his knees and jumps as high as he can to reach the bubbles before they disappear or float away on the wind. Can’t see him in the photo? We’re just waiting for the rain to dry.
For inside, L likes his round jumping space. This is a much smaller version of a trampoline. It’s set up in the living/dining room at his house, close to sofa. L can jump for a few minutes whenever he likes. He proudly announces, “I jump high. I jump far.”
He also says, “I go fast, fast.” Not surprisingly, L enjoys going fast on his bike. He’s learning to balance on his new scooter that he just got for his third birthday. A wagon is for pulling behind as he goes for a walk. Close to home, there’s a path down a hill to the edge of a lake where L can throw rocks in the water.
When L does slow down for a story or a cuddle, he loves blanket mountains. These are lots of thick, soft blankets spread over him to be heavy and cozy.
Movement activities and what he can do with his body are important for L. When he’s happy, L gives big hugs and kisses. When he’s sad, besides his tears, his body shakes with sobs. Already at this age, those around him can see he will need to be in a career where he moves and uses his muscles. His love and need for vigorous active play and whole body activities give definite clues. Isn’t it fascinating to see the different ways children play and how they express who they are as they play?
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