School holidays are here and Christmas is on the way. Talking Matters would like share some Christmas activities that your family can enjoy together. These activities are fun but are also a way to help your kids learn valuable language, motor and communication skills.
Visit the Christmas lights. A fun free evening activity for big and little kids alike. Play and Go have put together a list of the best Christmas lights in Adelaide. If you don't mind a drive there is lots to see at the Lobethal Light Festival including food, gifts and markets. Talk to young children about the things they see, the colours shapes, characters and more. Talk with older children about the meanings of the Christmas symbols that you see. Not sure? Here is a list.
Sing some carols. Another great free activity. Why not take a picnic. Music is great for kids of all ages. Play and Go have also put together a list of all the carol events in SA. Why not get a carol CD for the car to keep the kids entertained and do some singing practice before you go.
Christmas crafts are a great way to keep kids busy in the holidays. But more than just entertaining them, crafts can help kids develop a whole range of skills. If your child needs support to develop any of the following skills, click the links for ideas on how to build skill practice into the fun activities listed below.
Some of the skills you can develop while doing craft activities with your child include:
Motor skills such as fine motor skills, motor planning, eye hand coordination, and hand and finger strength.
Language skills including listening and following instructions, concept knowledge, vocabulary and procedural language.
School readiness skills such as pre-writing skills, phonological awareness, early literacy and handwriting.
Here are some simple, fun craft activities to try:
Gift wrap ideas: We all have presents to wrap, so why not make it a fun, learning opportunity and possibly save some money in the process while developing language and motor skills. Here are some really imaginative ideas that you can use to wrap your child's gift or that they can help you make for a sibling, cousin or young friend. Here are some easy wrapping ideas you can do with the kids. I love the confetti ribbon made with double sided sticky tape.
Christmas cooking ideas: Kids love to cook. Food makes a great gift and it is a great way to develop all kinds of language and motor skills. Here is a huge collection of Christmas cooking ideas for kids to make. Here is a pile of biscuit recipes to make to leave out for Santa, and you could make a few extra as gifts for family and friends.
Christmas decorations: Home made decorations are lovely to put on your tree. Kids love making hand made and for parents, adding a few new creations to your tree each year can build a collection of family memories.
These activities build the muscle control and eye hand coordination needed for writing. Kids also develop skills in listening, concentrating and following instructions. Craft activities are also a great opportunity to talk to your child about concepts of size, shape, colour, number and texture. They develop the ability to remember and sequence a number of steps. Your child can show their creations to family and friends and talk about how they made them to develop the ability to link ideas and use social language skills. Older children could research the items they made on-line and develop vocabulary as they find out the meaning behind the Christmas symbols.
Here are loads and loads of bright, colourful decorations that kids can make, to hang on the tree or give to family and friends.
This link has a recipe for salt dough which is like play dough but can be shaped into Christmas shapes,dried and hung on the tree.
This link has all kinds of simple decorations you can print off and make out of paper including reindeers, trees, stars and angels.
Make some gifts: Here is a huge collection of great gift ideas that kids can make to give to loved ones while practicing language and motor skills.
Make some Christmas cards: Making your own cards with your kids is fun and personal. It a great way to practice fine motor, phonological awareness and early literacy skills.
Young children can begin by drawing, gluing and decorating a piece of coloured paper or card then get lots of practice writing their name. Begin by encouraging them to trace over their name written by an adult in a pale colour, then tracing a dotted version of their name, then copying from a separate piece of paper. Talk about each letter and sound as they write it.
Junior primary kids can copy other family members names and talk about letters and sounds. What is the most popular beginning sound in the names in your family. Kids can have a go at writing their own simple messages. Remember to write in lower case with a capital only for the first letter in each name and for the word Christmas.
Older kids can keep their writing skills developing by filling in cards for the family and perhaps writing out envelopes or a letter to Santa. If it seems like a big task why not make it fun with gel, glitter or scented pens. You can buy large sets of these in many colours cheaply at “cheap shops”.
You can make cards with textas, stamps, glue and glitter. You can cut pictures from catalogues, wrapping paper and last years cards. We used some of these cute simple card ideas at our recent kids Christmas party. Here are some printable cards to colour in. Want something a little tricker for older kids, how about a pop up card?
To build on the learning:
- Do the activity to together with your child talking about what you are doing and about colours, shapes, sizes, textures and actions as you go.
- Take photos of your child as they make the item and include it, with a written explanation in your gift, or make a slide show with a commentary voice over by your child.
- Video your child as they make the gift and get them to narrate the video to share with the person who receives their gift.
- Make handwritten gift tags and cards to go with your gifts.
- Have lots of fun!
Christmas Day passes so quickly, so make the lead up to Christmas part of the fun, sharing and celebrations.
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