• Dr. Ghilain

Stir Crazy to Crazy Fun! Creative Activities the Whole Family Can Enjoy While Home Together!

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Children await the holiday season with eager anticipation. School is out for nearly two weeks, and that translates to nonstop fun at home! So what can you do as a family that keeps kids away from their electronics and enhances creativity? Below are a few games and suggestions to keep everyone engaged this holiday season!

Imaginative or creative play is one of the best ways to foster cognitive development in a growing child. It allows a child to hone cognitive skills such as language, visuospatial reasoning, speed of processing (among others). It also allows them to grow socially and emotionally as they engage with peers or family members. Through modeling, parents provide the structure to make games fun while simultaneously encouraging their child to think outside the box. It allows children to explore and understand feelings of excitement, anticipation, and the joy of winning, while also providing opportunities to experience and understand feelings of disappointment, frustration and possible anxiety in a safe and supportive environment.

We are often told that screen time (TV, iPad, movies, video games) increases dramatically for some families during the holiday season. Parents are frustrated with their child's seemingly endless sources of energy, and parents want their children to occupy their time with "something" beyond bothering a sibling. Therefore, we discuss 10 different games to try during the holidays, in hopes of bolstering cognitive, social and emotional maturation, and hopefully stirring up a little fun in the process!

Simon Says: A classic that can be played at any age! This game is played by having one person ("the caller") give commands to the other members of the family. Family members should execute the comment only if "Simon says..." For example, "Simon says touch your toes... Simon says stand on your left foot... stand on your right foot!"). Anyone who switched to their right foot would be out, because Simon didn't say! This game can be made competitive by having people sit out if they respond incorrectly. Or, family members can earn points- one point for each correct command they follow! The game is won when there is only one family member left, or by the family member with the most points!

Couch Fort: creative and imaginative play is wonderful for children! Put down the iPad, and build a fort using blankets and pillows! Have a secret passcode to enter? A secret handshake to exit? Once inside, perhaps the fort turns into a rocket ship! Have each family member share where their rocket ship would go, and who they would meet along the way! For example: "My rocket ship would go to Disney World, and I would pick up Grandma on the way!"

Musical Chairs: Line up chairs in a row, one for each member of the family. Alternate the position of the chair so that the front of the chair faces the opposite direction. Put on your favorite music, and have the family walk in a circle around the chairs. When the music stops, everyone takes a seat! Remove one chair, and begin the process again. When the music stops for the second round, one person will be without a chair, and that person is out! Continue to remove a chair each round until the last person is victorious! If walking forward gets boring, try walking backward, side stepping or skipping!

I Spy: This game requires the individual to say "I spy with my little eye, something..." and then name a color. The other members of the family attempt to guess what the person sees. Family members can take turns guessing, or can be allowed to blurt out the answers as quickly as they can! This is especially great on long car rides, or when visiting friends at unfamiliar homes!

Detective!: We were recently at a holiday party, and a friend of ours brought his son. Bored of the iPad, he came to see what the adults were doing. We decided to play detective with him, and it was a huge hit! For example, we asked him to go around the house to find the two people with the same birthdays. We asked him to figure out how many bows were in the living room, or how many people were wearing brown shoes. This helped our little buddy get to know some of the other people at the party, and kept him entertained for hours! This tends to work best with a group of friends, but family members work, too!

Charades: This requires families to get creative! Make a list of different movies, hobbies, actions, sports (whatever category you choose!), and have folks gather together. Each person will choose a clue (for example, "swimming"), and then will act it out. The family's goal is to guess what the person is trying to convey!

Pictionary: A classic game, this game is just like charades, but instead of acting the person has to draw the clues. The individual cannot say anything, but attempts to draw the clue for others to guess.

Make Your Own Word Search: As the name implies, create your own word search using graph paper. Fill in the letters around the words you choose, and be sure to give your family either a list of the words or (at least) the number of words to find! Once created, see if fellow family members can find your words!

Create Your Own Crossword: Using a particular theme, have family members create their own crossword puzzles. This is best when made on graph paper, but any scrap paper will do. Once each family member creates one, pass them around and see who can solve it the fastest!

Nature Walk/Scavenger Hunt: Take a walk with your family. Often there are local parks or county trails to explore. You could even give your child a list of things to "find" on the walk, such as a leaf, a stick that is longer than 2 feet, a duck, or a water source (get creative if you know some of the unique things on your trail!). Physical activity is essential at every age, so why not make it a fun exploratory journey!

No matter how you choose to spend your time this holiday season, we wish you a wonderful time filled with joy and laughter!

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