‘Tis the season to learn through play!
Teamwork, negotiation, observation, winning and losing are just a few of the skills that can be cultivated through play; but simply spending time hanging out and having fun with family and friends is just as important because it helps build strong relationships — a key ingredient for developing resilience and confidence in children.
Let the good times roll
When you’re planning what to do when the cousins or grandparents are over, it’s fun to think beyond traditional board games, after all, who needs another argument about whether throwing a double gets you an extra turn, or the banker’s got a hand in the till?!
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to organise a few seasonal games that score high on the fun factor, deliver some essential ‘unplugged’ time with your kids, and support their learning and development to boot.
So here at Parentkind, we say: get creative, throw yourself into the mayhem, and you’ll find the iPads and smart phones are soon forgotten (for a while) as kids of all ages join you in a bit of seasonal silliness.
Eight funtastic seasonal games for all the family
Roll a snowman
This is a really fun and simple dice game that everyone can play. Roll a dice and place the corresponding snowman piece on the snowman’s body. The first person (or team) to build their snowman wins.
Fun skills: taking turns, recognising numbers and objects, counting.
Bingo is one of those easy games that everyone knows, so we’ve given it a Christmas makeover with ten unique cards for you to download and print. If you’ve got lots of friends and family coming over, why not play in teams?
You know how it works, the ‘caller’ picks Christmassy items from a hat one by one, and the first player to match five in a row on their bingo card wins a prize. If you struggle to get older kids to join in, chuck in some prizes they won’t be able to resist, like a ‘get out of doing the washing up’ voucher!
Fun skills: reading, object recognition, winning and losing.
Christmas trivia quiz
Trivia games are great to play during the after-dinner lull while you’re still digesting large amounts of turkey and trifle! Keep it light by making your questions easy, or have different questions for older and younger players. Award a small prize for the person or team that answers the most questions correctly.
You could set older kids the challenge of writing the questions and being quiz master (they’ll love trying to outwit the gown-ups!). Or pick and choose questions from the many you’ll find online, here are a few we’ve found that have free downloads:
Fun skills: general knowledge, taking turns, teamwork.
Give charades a Christmassy twist. Put together a list of Christmas TV shows, films, books and songs and write them on cards to be picked from a hat. If you’re playing with little ones, include seasonal objects too — print out pictures of things like a turkey, reindeer, snowman, Christmas tree etc.
Fun skills: imagination, following rules (no talking!), vocabulary building (think about the parts of words you need to act out).
Christmas ‘Who Am I’?
You might know this one as the post-it note game, and your kids might recognise it as Headbandz. Younger children might find it difficult to come up with questions (and have trouble not letting on who the other players are) but that’s all part of the fun. If you’re playing with sticky notes, every player writes a Christmas themed person, character or object on a sticky note and places it on another player’s forehead without them seeing. Each player then takes in turns to ask questions to get a yes or no answer. When the answer is no, it’s the next player’s turn.
Fun skills: memory, language skills, thinking (to make associations and eliminate options).
If you already have the game Headbandz, why not print off some Christmas themed cards to use with it? We found this free printable download from Childhood101.
Xmas lights scavenger hunt
This is a great way to get everyone up and out when cabin fever sets in! There’s a little advance preparation required as you’ll need to scour your neighbourhood for items to put on your spotting list (the chance that things may have moved before your hunt simply adds an element of jeopardy). Look out for things like, Santa climbing a chimney, inflatable snowman, a tree with blue flashing lights etc.
If it you plan a walking hunt, make sure you have plenty torches (with batteries) and willing adults. If you’re driving, you’ll need a Christmas playlist too.
Fun skills: observation, recognising and naming objects.
The Human christmas tree
This party game is not for the faint-hearted! You’ll need at least 6 players so you can split into teams of three or more plus someone to judge. Each team chooses one person to be turned into a Christmas tree (step forward ‘fun Uncle Bob’) and the rest of the team have one minute to decorate their ‘tree’ with wrapping paper, tinsel, baubles or whatever else you choose to make available. The team with the best dressed tree wins.
Fun skills: creativity, teamwork, time-keeping.
Jingle bell shake
And finally, a game that’s seasonal silliness at its very best. Here’s what you’ll need for three players:
- 15 small jingle bells (the kind elves have on their shoes)
- 3 empty rectangular tissue boxes
- String or elastic
- Christmas music
Thread some string or elastic through each box so they can be tied around players waists. Position the box on the players back, with the hole facing outwards. Place 5 jingle bells in each box. Start the music and the player who dances the most bells out of their box in a minute wins!
Fun skills: keeping score, persistence (it’s not as easy as it sounds!).
Is there a Christmas game your family loves to play every year? Tell us about it on our Facebook page.