4 Quick and Easy Christmas Activities for Children
Children in nurseries and pre-schools the length and breadth of the country are starting to get increasingly excited as Christmas approaches. Here are some really useful quick and easy Christmas activities for children- so you can channel their energy into having fun!
Play Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree
This game is based on the traditional nursery game of ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’. But it’s easy to make yourself. Cut out a large Christmas tree out of green card and decorate it with glitter, felt tips and stickers. Children will love helping to do this – the shinier and gaudier the better! Then make a star for each child out of silver or gold cardboard. Hang the Christmas tree on the wall so that a child can reach the top easily.
How to Play
Blindfold a child, stand them in front of the tree and ask them to try and place the star as near to the top as possible. (The adult could pin the star with a drawing pin or something sticky.) Each child gets one turn and the winner is the child who places the star the nearest the top!
Pomanders are delightfully scented ribboned orange balls that were once carried by Tudor and Stuart ladies to mask unpleasant smells! Today, thankfully, they are no longer needed for that purpose, but a bowl of pomanders still make a seasonal decoration – and making them is beneficial for sensory development.
How to Make
To make a pomander, tie a ribbon around an orange. Then, pierce its peel repeatedly with cloves until it is completely studded and looks a bit like a hedgehog. A tray may be useful to contain the cloves. Pre-schoolers will enjoy this but may need help with the cloves which can be rather sharp. Fill a zip-lock bag with some spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and mixed spice. Add an orange, close the bag and roll it around in the spices. Then just simply leave the pomander to dry in a warm dry place such as an airing cupboard. Do this activity a few couple of weeks before Christmas to be sure it’ll be ready in time for the big day. When it has dried and no longer at risk of turning mouldy, it is ready for display – pomanders are ideal for a sensory table. Lemons, limes and even grapefruits would be an interesting alternative.
Gingerbread Tree Decorations
Making these festive and tasty tree ornaments consists of two activities that children of all ages will love; firstly making the gingerbread and cutting out the shapes, and secondly decorating them.
Recipe for Gingerbread Tree Decorations
350 g plain flour
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
125 g butter
175 g/6 oz soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
(This recipe makes about 20 biscuits, but quantities can easily be doubled or even tripled if making for a large number.)
Mix the dry ingredients together then rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Then add the beaten egg and mix until the mixture forms a soft dough. Roll into a smooth ball, wrap it with cling film and store in a cool place until needed.
Roll out the gingerbread dough and cut into festive shapes such as stars, hearts, or gingerbread men. Simple shapes are easier for little ones to cut out and decorate. Place on a greased baking tray and bake for about 12 -15 minutes, or until they are a lovely golden brown colour. Leave to cool before removing them from the tray. You could read ‘The Gingerbread Man’ as a linked activity.
Have fun beautifying the biscuits with coloured icing, edible glitter, and tiny silver edible balls. Don’t forget to make a hole at the top of the biscuits so they can be threaded with ribbon. It’s a good idea to do this activity a few weeks in advance so that the biscuits have time to harden as the decorations might fall to the floor if too soft!
Jingle Bells Game
This game is suitable for a group of more than eight children aged three and above. It’s a great activity for the end of the day when all the toys have been cleared away.
How to Play
Children sit in a circle with their legs crossed. One child is chosen to be Santa and is blindfolded whilst sitting on a chair in the middle of the circle. Some bells are placed under the chair. Another child is selected to be the thief. The object of the game is for the thief to try and steal the bells without Santa hearing. If the thief is successful, he or she takes a turn as Santa in the chair. If Santa does hear the bells, he must try and point at the thief before they return to their spot in the circle. If Santa manages to do this, he can remain in the chair for another round.
The rules of this game can easily be adapted depending on the age and size of the group. Younger children, for example, could each have a turn regardless of their success.
Do you have any go-to seasonal activities? We’d love to hear them so please comment below.