WHILE the festive period is the perfect time to spend with loved ones and family, it can also be quite a daunting period for parents.
With kids off school, many mums and dads will be racking their brains to think of creative ways to help keep their kids entertained during the festive holidays.
From indoor camping to tape playscaping, fun activities can really help to pass the time and help kids thrive.
Here, the experts at Lovevery have exclusively shared with Fabulous their top eight winter play activities to help fill that awkward time between Christmas and New Year.
And the best part of all? They're completely free!
Roads and tape playscape
"Your child may be into pretend play these days, and giving them little boosts helps them go deeper (and play longer).
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Setting up a road map with tape and little cars – on the ground, a table, or even the wall – gives them a landscape on which creates a whole world of pretend play.
Although you can buy tape with road patterns on it, you can also do it yourself: using low-tack tape, create a series of roads on a large surface—a table, driveway, or the floor indoors.
The wall can also be a particularly fun space for new or on-the-verge walkers who may take a car and push it along the wall as they try out their new walking skills.
Draw lines on the tape and create intersections, roundabouts, freeway on-ramps and off-ramps, driveways, and more.
Add small vehicles throughout the road map (cars, trains, trucks, planes—anything that moves) as well as other items that might appear in the road, like bridges, tunnels, and signs.
You can use blocks to augment the landscape.
Make a gift out of anything
Unwrapping something – anything – can help give your child a feeling of accomplishment, joy, and satisfaction – and it’s really fun.
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It also lets them practice fine motor skills, using a manipulative grasp and using both hands cooperatively.
Young children delight in not only ripping paper, but also discovering something they love hidden within.
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Now is the perfect time to find fun objects around the home to wrap and offer as a gift!
Safety reminders: Be extra cautious with tape, strings or ribbons, and don’t let your little ones play with those.
Never let them play with or unwrap items wrapped in cellophane, plastic wrap, or plastic sheeting.
Fine motor threading activity
This activity is a great way for your child to strengthen fine motor skills needed for precision in their grasp, manipulation, and release.
What you need: Dry spaghetti noodle or long craft stick, craft beads or pony beads, play dough or molding clay, simply stick a noodle or stick, standing upright, into a small mound of play dough or molding clay, then have your child start threading with the beads!
Classic outdoor activities like having a picnic or camping provide so many benefits to your child: they help develop language, enhance sensory development, and improve gross and fine motor skills.
The good news is, you can bring many of these activities inside when the weather turns.
You can use a real tent if you have the space, a kids’ indoor tent, or even blankets draped over tables and chairs (washing line clothes pegs and snack bag clips are effective for securing the blankets).
Once you’ve set up your tent, make the inside of the space cosy with pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and even sleeping bags. Don’t forget books and flashlights too.
Pretend to cook dinner, read a book by flashlight, and sing songs. If your toddler is up for it, you can even spend the night in the tent.
Bonus: if they wake up and want to go back to their bed, you won’t have to pack up and drive all the way home!
When you’re outside with your child – or even indoors watching a storm from the comfort of a warm room – notice branches waving, the rustling of the leaves, and the drips of rainwater forming on the window and sliding down.
Help your child imitate the natural world around them in rhythmic ways, and if you’re able, try to get your own body moving as well.
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Sway like a tree, drip like water on a pane of glass (you can act like the window, and they can be the drops—then switch!), chirp the sounds of a bird and drum (on any available surface) to the rhythm of the rain.
Take a “sleigh” ride
Babies around 6-months-old are likely working on advanced sitting skills, such as reaching, leaning, turning, and rotating their body from a seated position.
Help them develop the necessary strength, balance, and head and neck control with a “sleigh ride.”
Use a laundry basket or a cardboard box big enough for your baby to sit in.
You can surround them with pillows and blankets if they need some support.
Take them on a tour around the room, narrating what you see.
As you pull your baby in their 'sleigh,' they’ll have an opportunity to practice sitting, turning, and leaning, all while responding to changes in direction and speed.
Sticky note wall
Sticky notes are all you need for this fun activity. This encourages fine motor and gross motor skills, builds core strength, strengthens hand-eye coordination, and improves grasping skills.
You can place sticky notes on a wall, kitchen island, or any safe vertical surface in your house.
Try sticking the notes at different levels so your baby can reach them while sitting or pull up to stand to reach the higher ones. We love this for around 11-12 months.
Enjoy time outside – even if it’s cold or rainy
It may be cold, the thinking goes, but time outdoors is so valuable for a baby’s health that there are benefits despite—and maybe even because of—the conditions.
Prepare for the weather: Before you head out, talk about the weather and how to dress for it: 'today is cold so we need a coat and gloves.'
Paint with water: In any conditions other than snow or rain, your child can paint pavement with a tub of water and a brush.
Go on a rain walk: Going on a “rain walk” can be exciting if everyone is dressed for the weather.
Look for puddles, bugs, worms, and gutters overflowing with water.
Practice balance: Your toddler may not be ready to balance on their own, but they will love balancing on a curb or a rock with your help.
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Lovevery’s mission is to give families a support system for a brighter future through their stage-based early learning system.
The brand is best-known for its subscription Play Kits program, which delivers award-winning play essentials and resources for parents designed by experts for a child's developing brain.
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