Once your child passes three they’re ready to really enjoy Christmas to the full. And the anticipation is half the fun. With all that excitement and energy to channel before the big day, here are some easy creative ideas to help your growing child get the most out of their Christmas season.

Countdown to Christmas

Is it Christmas yet? Is Father Christmas coming tonight? It’s tricky for your child to understand days, weeks and months. As your child grows, you can help them begin to understand time. You can start with helping them think about a day. Talk together about what happens in the morning, afternoon and evening. Talk about the differences between the weekdays and weekends. Understanding bigger time concepts such as next week is trickier. Advent Calendars are a great help of course, but you can make a simple homemade countdown to Christmas, birthdays and any other special occasion on a piece of paper, and give your child the job of crossing off the day. They can decorate it too. Count the days left together for useful number practice.

On with the show

Christmas Day tends to be busy, and if you’ve relations who need a little break or who find it tricky to play on the floor, suggesting your child puts on a show is a great idea. They can use puppets, socks or wooden spoons or enjoy dressing up to play a part. If you’re being pestered while trying to peel potatoes, suggest a rehearsal. Help your child pick a story to tell – a favourite fairy tale or one of their own inspired by their favourite characters. If they’re feeling creative they can even draw a poster or make programmes. Granny will love it.

Fun family games

Once your child starts to understand taking turns, they can start to enjoy playing family games. Playing a family game together is as much a part of Christmas as roast potatoes! Try simple games to start with two players (so your little one doesn’t have to wait too long for their turn), or try working in teams. Games are a great way for your child to learn to take turns, understand simple strategy, and finding out that taking part is the fun bit. Simple snap, active games such as manic martians or jitterbugs or something that everyone can build together such as a marble run are all great options for quality family time. And don’t forget old favourites like Chinese Whispers or Hide and Seek too.

This play idea is great for...

  Creative play
Creating Christmassy pictures, decorating a homemade Christmas countdown or drawing a poster for a Christmas show are great outlets for festive creative energy. ELC catalogues are great for toy collages too.
     
  Building confidence
Creating Christmassy pictures, decorating a homemade Christmas countdown or drawing a poster for a Christmas show are great outlets for festive creative energy. ELC catalogues are great for toy collages too.
     
  Thinking skills
Learning to play simple games – such as snakes and ladders, matching pairs or snap – helps your child focus on working out problems, and builds skills such as counting, memory and fast reaction times.