Christmas is the perfect time for getting crafty and making presents, decorations and cards – and for encouraging children to think about others too. Here are some ideas to inspire you.
A quick and simple game to play to boost your child’s language and get them moving.
Ask you child if they can tell you an animal which flutters? And can they move like one too?
What about an animal that wiggles…swims…flies…dives…stomps…jumps…shuffles…bounces…slithers…stalks…pounces…gallops?
After you’ve played the game a few times and your child has been using the new words you can extend the game by getting them to ask you the questions.
Being woken up by my daughter at 3am this morning has got me thinking about children’s nightmares and how we can help them deal with them. It seems that children often begin to talk about their dreams around the age of three or four, but it’s understood that they have been experiencing them from birth. So what can parents do to help their children get a good night’s sleep?
A good bedtime routine can help. Following a ritual each night can be very reassuring for children and help them make the transition from busy daytime activities to a calm bedtime. The traditional routine might be bathtime, story and then being tucked in with a kiss but you might like to include aspects which are special to you and your child. We always have a conversation about what we’ve done that day and what nice things we have planned tomorrow. You might like to have a ‘guardian’ that your child takes to bed with them, to look after them ’til morning. Both my daughters have a ‘dreamtime fairy‘ who hangs above their bed and a teddy who gets tucked in with them. A friend of mine uses a Native American ‘dreamcatcher’ – made from a wooden hoop threaded with a web and decorated with feathers and beads. This is hung above her daughters bed and traps bad dreams in its web.
Some families use other methods to rid the house of bad dreams before settling down for the night. I know of one little girl who wooshes round the house with her magic wand to banish bad dreams, but you could use whatever captures your childs imagination – a trumpet to scare them away or a super hero torch perhaps? Some people check under the bad and in the wardrobe to show there are no monsters lurking but I think this tells the child you believe there might be monsters there sometimes, which is hardly reassuring.
When your child experiences a nightmare, especially the first few times, it can be very frightening for them. I think it’s important to explain what dreams are (we say they’re a story in your head, like a DVD), that everyone has them and, importantly, they’re not real. I encourage my children to talk about their dream the next day, when they are feeling calm and safe. You could help them to re-frame their dream, by taking about a different ending it could have – perhaps the monster falls into a pile of jelly. You could ask your child to draw a picture of what they dreamt about and then let them scrunch up the paper and throw it away.
Finding out what your child’s nightmare was about can give an insight into what is worrying them. One child had dreamt about a wolf and was reassured when she found out that no wolves live in our country. She wanted to see on a map where they do live, and find out whether they could swim! I think this helped her feel a measure of control about her nightmare. I also I tell my children, if they are woken up by their nightmare, they should say ‘Go away silly dream!’ – as this empowers them, helping them to feel in charge.
If you have any other tips for a good night’s sleep please post a comment, as I’d love to hear your ideas.
Let’s hope for sweet dreams tonight.
My daughter visited a real castle this half-term with her grandmother so this morning she decided to make a castle of her own. She raided our craft box to find a shoe box, toilet roll tubes and an egg box – and this is what she created.
She’s delighted with it and unbeknown to her she’s been nurturing important skills whilst making it. Lots of mathematical aspects are used when junk modeling: she has visualised in her mind what she wanted to create and had to select and put together the right three dimensional objects to realise her vision. She’s been manipulating different shapes (she said the draw bridge was a ‘semi – oval’) and sizes (she had to reduce the circumference of the tower to make the egg box spire fit on top) – and problem solving too, as she had to find an alternative to glue to stick on the towers. It also gave us the opportunity for a quick history lesson as she had lots of questions about what life would have been like in a castle.
Children really learn through doing and activities such as junk modeling give them anopportunity to be creative and to experiment, whilst having fun. And she’s still playing with it now. One of her little people has been given lots of yellow wool hair and, as Rapunzel, has been banished to the tower.
Put a rainbow in your tummy!
We often use paint or crayons when we’re teaching children about colour – but why not use food? Challenge your child to see if they can make a rainbow on a plate.
Can they think of a food for each colour in the rainbow? You could go on an treasure hunt to the market or grocers to see what you can find. This is a fun way to introduce new foods to cautious eaters and might encourage picky eaters to try something for the first time.
We used fruit this time, but our next competition will be to find a blue vegetable – any suggestions?
More Spring ideas
For more spring-time ideas, take a look at these lovely Easter crafts and activities
It’s raining, it’s pouring, kids are getting fractious! Top five ideas to lift everyone’s mood on a rainy day.
2. Go camping. Choose your site – behind the sofa or under the kitchen table perhaps? Set up base camp with old sheets or blankets. Add sleeping bags, teddies and an indoor picnic to complete the staycation.
3. Have an indoor disco. Put your favourite CD on and dance around the kitchen. Guaranteed to get everyone smiling. Spotify has all the tunes you could wish for online for free. My kids top favourite is Y.M.C.A. (or whyempseeday as they call it!) but I say you can’t beat a bit of ABBA.
4. Make an indoor cinema. Get cosy on the sofa with cushions and blankets, chill out and watch a family favourite DVD. We like Charlotte’s Web and the Jungle Book. Any other suggestions? To complete the home movie going experience why not make your own popcorn and sprinkle with some flavoured sugar. Yummy!
5. Make a life-size replica of your child! Draw round your child on a roll of paper and let them get creative designing their dream outfit.
This is a great party game and can also be used to link in with a topic you’re looking at. You need to use your fingers to feel inside a sock and guess what’s hidden inside.
Start with a few old socks -we bought some cheap men’s sports socks especially for the game. (They might get messy, depending on what you fill them with.)
Fill each sock with a different content. We used feathers, dry pasta, fir cones and jelly.
Each person has to put their hand into the sock (no peeping!) and see if they can tell what’s inside just by feeling.
You could give a sweet prize if they guess correctly, or if you have a few children playing you could work as two teams, with a prize for the team that gets the most correct answers.
You can vary the contents to fit with any theme or topic you like.
For Hallowe’en you might use cooked spaghetti (dragon’s intestines), green jelly (witch’s snot), peeled grapes (monster’s eye balls) or tomato ketchup (bat’s blood).
If you’ve been on a woodland walk you might fill each sock with conkers, acorns, fir cones, moss and so on.
Extend the game to nurture language skills
You can use this game to promote children’s language too. Have one child feel inside the sock and describe the contents to others – see if the child can give enough clues so the others can guess what’s inside without seeing or even feeling it.
Or play the game and ask all the children to see how many words they can use to describe the contents – is it slimy, squashy, soft, slippery, gentle, hard, crunchy…?