Tips and Tricks to Keeping your Child Active Over the Holidays

Here are a few tips and tricks to keeping your child active over
the holiday break or when the weather is making it difficult to get outside to play:

Music and Movement
These activities and games are flexible for different ages. There’s no winning or losing; the point
is just to get moving. Don’t feel silly joining in!

1. Freeze dance. A classic! All you need is music, and the only guideline is to freeze when the
music is paused. Encourage kids to "freeze" in fun poses or with funny faces. Use a variety of
musical styles and tempos. Tip: An older child can do the music while you dance with younger

2. The sleeping song. Here are the short lyrics "Sleeping, sleeping, all the children are sleeping.
And when they woke up, they were all ---." Fill in the blank with various animals, insects, or even
inanimate objects and lets their imaginations run wild. Kids love acting like cats, snakes, and even robots or babies! As soon as one thing has run its course, begin the song again in a quiet voice as the children stop and pretend to sleep until the next thing is called. Keep cue cards for yourself, or let the kids be the "caller." They can even help make the flash cards (ex. write "snake" on one side, and on the other draw a picture of a snake). Keep the cards handy; they’ll want to play again and again.

3. Indoor obstacle course. Push aside some furniture, and practice gross motor skills without
breaking any priceless antiques! Set out a laundry basket and use balled up socks to practice
throwing and accuracy. Tape down some yarn or string for a makeshift balance beam. Do moves in place, like running, jumping, and hopping. Add yoga moves, use a timer, and cheer them on. There are an infinite number of possibilities here.

4. Scavenger hunt. Take any theme, such as patterns, letters, or colors and hunt around the
house. Make it official with a clipboard and check off items as you go. Crawl around, reach up
high, and get down low!

5. Yoga for kids. If you enjoy yoga, your kids probably do, too! Just remember, they won’t stay
quiet and breathe; expect laughter at the names of animal poses and even make up songs as
you go. For added literacy practice, make flash cards with the names of the poses and a picture. Classroom favorites are usually airplane (flying warrior), lion, and table top. It’s incredible to hear a five-year-old say, “Yoga calms me down!”

6. Copy dancing. I think a 4-year-old named this game that originated from a preschool dance
party. This game can be played with two to twenty participants, and it’s as simple as it sounds. One  person dances while the others copy their moves. Kids love being the leaders, and imitation is, after all, the highest form of flattery. So put on some dancing tunes and show off those moves!

7. Make up a dance. Five, six, seven, eight! Didn’t everyone do this as kids? I was constantly
making up dances with my buddies, and now I do it in the classroom. My organized method is
for each participant to choreograph eight counts of movement, and put them together, practicing
them in sequence. You can really work up a sweat this way. If this sounds too complicated, just
make a Soul Train; no counting required, and it only takes three people!

8. Story go-round. This is the same concept as the dance-making game. Make up a cooperative
story by letting each person add one sentence. Start with characters and a simple plot, like “a dog and cat went to the beach,” and let the children take it from there. The sillier, the better!

Arts and Crafts
If your child is 4 or 5 or older, let them take the lead on most of these projects; if younger, help
them get started. Show your interest in their ideas, encourage their suggestions, and ask open ended question to keep the momentum going!

1. Homemade collage with reusable materials. Simply provide a few items that can be
rearranged again and again. Arrange them on a tray or placemat to make patterns, designs, and objects. Since the materials are reusable, take a picture to commemorate each creation. Ideas: craft sticks, buttons, paint samples, fabric swatches, spare keys.

2. DIY stuffed animals. You really can make a loveable stuffed animal (or insect!) with only
four things: markers, construction paper, a stapler and recycled newspaper. It’s so easy and gets the kids excited every time. Put two pieces of paper together, draw your animal’s outline, and cut it out, making two identical shapes. Decorate, color, and add as much detail as desired. Then staple the two pieces together about halfway. Now for the fun part — stuffing! Use pillow
stuffing from a craft store, or just rip and ball up newspaper, and begin stuffing it into your
creation. When fully stuffed, staple closed, and you’ve got a keeper!

3. Self-portraits. Using a mirror, let the child draw themselves. Point out facial features like
eyebrows and eyelashes. If they draw their whole body, add in some fashion design! Don’t be
surprised if your child takes some liberties, i.e. “Yes, I do have purple hair!”

4. Shapes. Help your child learn their shapes by tracing common household items. Turn over a
cup to make circles, and trace your cell phone for rectangles. Hunting is part of the fun. Kids may want to decorate their shapes, cut them out, and glue them on to larger paper for fancy art

5. Abacus. Use art supplies to practice math and fine motor skills. You just need string, scissors,
tape, paper and beads. Cut a piece of string, tape one end of the string onto the paper, and
begin stringing the beads. String 10 beads on and tape down the other end of the string. That
makes one row. Your child can make as many rows as they like. Tip: Circle-shaped cereal (like
Cheerios) or candies (like Lifesavers) can replace beads in a pinch. Keep the abacus for counting practice.

6. Ice cube tray sorting and pattern making. Here’s another way to mix math, art, and fine
motor skills. You’ll need an ice cube tray, egg container or muffin tin, plus small items to play with, such as various dried beans, buttons, coins or marbles. Jewelry, like plastic rings or earrings have that lost their partner, makes it extra exciting. Your child can sort the items (by color, size, pattern or any way they like), make patterns with them, or invent their own game. There are tons of possibilities and no right answers; this type of play blends logical thinking and mathematical reasoning with creativity. For extra fun and challenge, use tweezers or clothespins to pick up the items.

7. Dyed paper. Art, science, or interior design? This project is so versatile and produces such
attractive results you may want to use it as decoration. Similar to tie-dye, but without the tying, just use paper towels and a few colors of either diluted food coloring or liquid tempera paint to make fantastic designs.

Steps: Fold a paper towel until it’s the size of cracker, then dip it into the paint until saturated,
dipping each corner into a different color. Then carefully unfold it and let dry, preferably on a
tablecloth or anything you don’t mind staining. Be prepared for repetition as children experiment
with different ways to fold the paper and marvel at the lovely results. When dry, the paper towels
can be strung together and hung up, or taped to windows for a stained glass-like effect.

8. Squiggle art. Each player gets a piece of paper, makes a squiggle on it, then trades with
someone. Then make a picture out of the squiggle. The beauty is in the simplicity, as children see that you can turn any mark into art. It’s fun for the adults to see what kids come up with, too!

9. Book making. Yep, just make your own books. Children have so many stories to tell, and only
need help writing it all down. Fold paper in half and staple at the crease to make pages. After the story is written, go back and read it to the child so they can illustrate each page. This simple
activity builds confidence, self-esteem, and literacy skills.

10. Collage. Recycle your old magazines and exercise the imagination, all in one! Let children
choose and cut their favorite pictures out of magazines (or help them). Then they glue them on
paper, then draw and decorate all around it. Scissors and glue are a must; markers, crayons, oil pastels, stickers and glitter are optional. In addition to magazines, recycle wrapping paper, post cards (you know, like the ones for take-out pizza), tissue paper and (clean) cotton balls to make even grander creations.

11. Melted crayons. If you have old, broken crayons hanging around, then you have an instant
craft project! Reuse those old crayons by making them new again. Unwrap the crayons, arrange
them in a muffin tin in a single layer, and cook in the oven on 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Let cool, then stick them in the freezer to make it easier to pop them out. Just turn the pan over
and you’ll have new cool, round crayons. Note: When the crayons are fresh out of the freezer,
they may not color well. Warm them up in your hands to get them going.

12. Masks. Homemade masks are fairly easy to make, yet are highly covetable. There are so
many possibilities for characters, from animals to superheroes, and lots of variations in how to
make them. Children’s masks can be made out of different types of paper or fabrics, and either tied with elastic or glued on to a craft stick to hold up. The adult will probably need to measure where the eyes should be cut out of the paper or fabric, and how long the elastic should be to go around the child’s head. No matter how it’s done, it’s likely to get a big smile when the child wears it and peeks in the mirror.

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