7 Crazy Fun Family Games to Play Over the Holidays

Have you ever watched Minute to Win It types of games and thought it would be fun to play them with your family? Family games are a great way to bring everyone together over the holidays, or any time, to have a little fun! The games can be simple or complex, depending on the participants, and you can often use things you have around the house. Try to encourage all family members to play, no matter their age. Games are also a fun way to incorporate family literacy into your holiday activities by talking, following directions, counting, etc.
 
The Games:
 
Try to split everyone who would like to participate into two teams, trying to keep both sides as even as possible. The great thing about these games is that they only last for one minute, so participants only have to make it through 60 seconds.
 
img_2933-11. This first game involves stacking cups so they look like a tree. Remember you only have 60 seconds. To make this activity more difficult for adults, have them put one arm behind their back and use their non-dominant hand.

 

 

 

 
 

 

img_2936-22. This game requires mini marshmallows, straws, and cups (or other containers). Using the straw, you must get as many marshmallows into the cup as you can in one minute. To make this game harder for adults or older kids, do not allow them to hold the straw with their hands.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Our next game requires two pairs of pantyhose with the toes cut out and a hole for your face, as you will be making antlers on your head. This game takes great team effort as balloons are stuffed into the pantyhose legs. An option can be that the winner is whoever finishes first, instead of having a one minute time limit.

 

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img_2955-94. This game is about making a Christmas Tree. We used long ribbon, however you could use toilet paper and make a snowman, or wrapping paper to wrap a present (the entire person). Once again you could time the teams or just judge them after the first one is done.

 

 

 

 
 

 

5. Starting to get hungry after all this work? How about a cookie challenge? Place a cookie over one eye and try to get it into your mouth. For the younger kids, if the cookie falls off they could pick it up and try again. For adults and older kids, I suggest no hands and if they fail then another player from their team has to try until at least one person is successful.
 
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6. On to some full body movements you will need two more pairs of pantyhose without holes, two tennis balls (or heavy balls) and some targets to knock over. Putting the nylons on your head with the ball in each leg, try knocking down as many of the targets as you can. We used paper cups but water bottles or pop cans work too.
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img_2969-87. Lastly we have the candy cane pick up. Stack up a bunch of candy canes, and putting one in your mouth, hook as many candy canes as you can and transfer them into a cup. For little fingers, just let them use their hands instead of putting the candy cane in their mouth.

 

 

 

 
These are just a few of the hundreds of games available on the internet, so grab your family and friends, be creative, and have a great time!
 
Find more game ideas, as I did, with these sites:
 
 
 
 

 

Laundry Toss

We all have to do laundry, so why not get your child involved with the sorting and matching—both early numeracy ideas!

LET’S GO!

Make doing laundry a fun thing for your child to help with.

DO IT TOGETHER!

When it’s time to do laundry, give your child a job. Depending on their age, they can:

  • count how many there are of different pieces of clothing
  • put the same colours together
  • find all the socks after you unload the dryer
  • roll the clean socks into a ball and see if they can throw them into the basket

WHY?

Counting, sorting, matching, and colours are all part of early math (numeracy). These ideas can be worked into everyday routines to help you get things done and let your child feel like they are helping, while supporting learning in a fun way!

 

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Play Dough Snake Letters

Have fun rolling out play dough into long snakes with your child, then see what you can make them into together – letters, numbers, shapes, and more!

LET’S GO!

Use play dough to make letters, numbers, shapes, or words.

DO IT TOGETHER!

Together, roll out pieces of play dough into long snakes. Bend the snakes, or connect them, to make letters, words, shapes, or numbers. Spell out your child’s name using your snakes and let them copy it if they want to.

WHY?

Writing can happen in many different ways. By using something like play dough, your child can physically move and change pieces, which can help them remember the shapes of letters more easily. It’s also a fun way to do writing together.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Making Playdough

Making and playing with playdough together is fun and can lead to many conversations and creative moments!

LET’S GO!

What you need: 

  • 1 c salt
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1 c cold water
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 tbsp. corn starch
  • food colouring

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix together salt, water, oil, and food colouring (enough to make a bright colour).
  2. Add flour and corn starch.
  3. Knead the dough with your hands. Gradually add more flour if it’s too sticky, or oil if it isn’t sticking together.
  4. Store in a sealed bag in the fridge for up to 2 months.

 

DO IT TOGETHER!

Let your child help you measure and mix the ingredients. Show them the recipe and talk about how you know how much you need.

Use the playdough to make whatever you want—maybe letters, shapes, or something from a favourite book or song.

Talk about what you are doing and ask your child what they are making.

 

WHY?

Reading recipes is something that often happens in a home and not always just for cooking! Letting your child get involved will help them see how reading is used differently. Doing it together and using the end product is a great reward!

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Bring a Book to Life

Doing something to extend a book beyond just reading it will help your child to understand the book!

LET’S GO!

Take a favourite story and act it out while you read.

DO IT TOGETHER!

As you read a book together, you can build on the story by acting it out with your child.

You can play dress-up and be the characters, or use your child’s toys, stuffed animals, or puppets as props.

Make up your own story, add new characters, or change the ending!

WHY?

Books don’t just have to be read, they can be starting points for other fun activities like crafts and pretend play. Acting out a story can help your child to understand it more easily and lets them use their imagination to decide how they want to do it.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Bugs on a Branch!

This yummy snack is easy and fun to make together. Pair it with a book or a trip outside to see real bugs to make it more meaningful!

WHY?

Cooking gives you many ways to talk and build language with your child. Oral language is the foundation upon which reading and writing are built. Having fun together while using language builds a strong foundation for your child to become a reader and a writer!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Celery (branches)
  • Peanut butter, cream cheese, or processed cheese
  • Raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, or dried cranberries (bugs)

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Cut off the ends and wash and dry the celery. Slice into “branches”
  2. Spread the peanut butter or cheese on the celery
  3. Arrange the bugs along the branch
  • Talk about what you are doing as you do it!
  • Make up a story about how your bugs got on their branches. You could also count your bugs!

DO IT TOGETHER!

Depending on their age, your child can help with different parts of the recipe. If you have an older child, they can use a child-safe knife to help cut. Everyone should be able to help with the rest.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel Flit App: To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version

Colours, Counting, and Matching Fun

Have fun with early numeracy ideas in this game you can make and play together with your preschooler!

WHY?

Numbers are an important part of early math and numeracy and can be found all around us. Counting, sorting, and matching all help with learning math later.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Different coloured milk jug lids (or other big lids)
  • Stickers

  

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Choose two lids that are the same colour
  2. Choose two stickers that are the same and put one on each of the lids
  3. Repeat the process until you have used up all of the lids

 

DO IT TOGETHER! Make numbers and math fun by playing different games. You could count the lids, match the lid colours, match the stickers, or flip the lids over so you can’t see the sticker and play a game of memory.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version  

The Importance of Play

Parents do not always understand the importance of play, and, in today’s competitive world, the temptation is to have children stop “wasting time” and to put that time to what they believe is more constructive use.

But for a child, there is no more constructive activity than play. Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.

What do children learn from play? It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development and paves the way for learning. Children who play regularly tend to perform better in mathematics and reading in comparison to those who have fewer opportunities to play.

Play helps children learn about the world in which they live. They can investigate and discover, test their theories, develop spatial relationships, and explore cause and effect, societal roles, and family values in a caring and safe environment.

Play builds self-esteem and social skills. Children will often play at something they know they can do well, at which they can be successful. They will begin with solitary play using inanimate objects like dolls, stuffed animals, trucks, and blocks. Later they will play with other children as they learn to share, negotiate, and cooperate.

Play with parents should not be underestimated as research has shown children whose parents play with them ultimately develop superior social skills. When parents play or join with their children in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their children’s vantage point. They learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance.

Play helps with language development. Think of the vast number of words a child uses during play, many of them repeatedly, enhancing their language skills.

Consider the importance of pretend play in stimulating a child’s creativity and imagination. Making a castle in the sand, or a barn out of a shoe box, preparing dinner in their imaginary kitchen or playing dressing up allows children to stretch the limits of their world and experience the fun of make-believe. They are using imagination, storytelling, and problem solving skills that are the foundation of reading, writing, and communication.

Physical play provides various health benefits and promotes early brain development and learning in infants and young children. It helps a child to develop connections between the nerve cells and the brain. As these connections develop, a child’s motor skills, socialization, personal awareness, language, creativity, and problem solving are improved.

Quite simply, play is a cherished part of childhood that inspires fun and laughter and creates a happy family environment in which both children and adults thrive.

Sidewalk Scribbles

Drawing and scribbling lead to writing as your children get older, and sidewalk chalk is a great way to do it! Encourage your children to make scribbles, shapes, pictures, numbers, or letters. Let them tell you about what they have drawn. You could also do your own sidewalk art with letters and numbers so they can see how you do it.

WHY?

Creativity is a bridge to learning, and art and drawing help young children develop early writing skills. Those scribbles and drawings are their first steps to writing. Provide your children with the materials they need to practice becoming a writer. Children are great mimics so make sure they see you writing as well. Then they know it’s important!

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version

Pudding Patterns

This is a fun craft to build together and a different way to draw, scribble, and try out writing!

WHY?

Drawing and scribbles at a young age are the first steps to learning how to write later on.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 large plastic zip lock bag

1 package of instant pudding (made beforehand) or a can of shaving cream

Packing or duct tape (optional)

WHAT TO DO:

Put the pudding or shaving cream into the bag. Make sure not to fill it too full.

Finish by flattening all of the air out of the bag and close it tightly. You may want to tape the top so it doesn’t pop open.

Lay the bag on a flat surface and let the creativity begin!

DO IT TOGETHER!

Your toddler will enjoy squishing the mixture around making abstract patterns. If you have an older child, encourage them to make letters or draw pictures.

Have some fun yourself by copying their designs and talk with them about what they are doing.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version

Click here to download the Android version