Want to make the most of your outdoor play space in the run up to Christmas?
We are lucky here in Hawaii to have weather that is almost always wonderfully warm – even in December! So to help you make the most of it, we’ve put together a few simple outdoor activities that can easily be squeezed into any hectic pre-school schedule prior to Christmas.
1. Go on a present hunt
Wrap up a box in gift paper and take turns at hiding the box in different places outside for other children to find with clues. Your class might even enjoy making their own gift boxes and deciding what free and found treasures should go in them.
2. Set up an outdoor nativity scene for small world play
Once the children have heard the Christmas story, make animals or use toy farm animals and buy some hay from a pet shop. If there’s anything you don’t have, ask the children to think of substitution ideas – they may enjoy creating animals from natural materials such as clay, sticks and cones, for example. A large cardboard box turned on its side with flaps for the doors would make a simple stable that can easily be taken outside.
3. Look for Santa’s beard
Ever heard of lichen? Lichen is a slow growing white organism which grows in hairy tufts. To the keiki, it can be traces of Santa! When Santa’s beard hair falls out, it lands all over the Earth and creates lichen. Have a hunt for some in the school grounds or nearby green space – find it growing on rocks, old wall, trees, roofs and fences. You can even give the children magnifying glasses to help them see it better. We love this article from Maui Magazine about the origins of lichen on the island.
4. Decorate a tree or bush outside as a bird feeding tree
- Smear pine cones in peanut butter and dip in bird seed
- Make strings of popcorn
- Create birdseed balls to hang up
Enjoy watching quietly to see if birds come and visit! If you don’t have a tree in your play space, buy a plastic one or put a branch in a pot filled with stones or compost.
5. Sing Christmas carols outside
If you don’t have time to organize a visit to a community group, don’t worry! You can brainstorm with your class to find songs to sing in different places. Think:
- Deck the Halls in the hall or a corridor
- The Holly and the Ivy beside a holly bush if you have one in your grounds. If you don’t, find the thorniest bush or one with berries on it instead.
- Oh Christmas Tree! near an evergreen tree.
6. Follow the star
Set up a star trail around the school grounds. The keiki have to look for laminated stars hung in different places and complete the activities written on each star, for example:
- Do 10 star jumps
- Touch the grounds six times
- Walk backward 5 paces, etc.
Better still, the children could create their own ideas for a star trail!
7. Create natural decorations and hang outside
Spend a lesson creating simple stars from sticks and other natural materials – this can be really useful for practising tying ribbon, weaving and other motor skills. Think about where would be a good place to put the decorations and who would want to enjoy seeing them!
8. Have a special Christmas outdoor snack
Provide festive food and drinks such as warm spicy apple juice and mince pies outside.
9. Reindeer prints
Look online to find the pattern and spacing of reindeer hooves, then create a set of prints in the ground. If you don’t have the right sort of surface for this, spread a little flour with some glitter inside it to resemble snow and leave the prints within.
10. Learn about plants associated with Christmas
Spend some time teaching the children about the different kinds of Christmas flora and fauna. Evergreen trees, poinsettias and holly are all good places to start!
These few ideas are truly just the start of all the Christmas magic you can make with pre-school aged children outdoors. And speaking of magic… Do you need help sprucing up your playground or outdoor space in the new year? Drop us a message and let’s make magic together! Mele Kalikimaka!