Imaginative Play Ideas for Christmas
Make your holidays magical with a North Pole Imaginative Play Center.
Imaginative play benefits a child's social, emotional and cognitive development and allows for social studies and science topics to be explored in a fun way. Literacy and math standards practice can be a part of any imaginative play center, and should be! Set the scene with some fun props and decorations, and make a task list for the kids.
I always make a task list when I set up an imaginative play center, for my own benefit as well as for the children. It helps me to think about what I want the kiddos to learn from the center. What are the learning objectives? What skills will they practice? I want the center to be meaningful, and I want to be ready to defend this activity to the person that says,"Oh, I guess they are just playing today."
I never introduce the task list as a list of things they "must-do." I introduce it as a list of options, and I model the various ways to play in that center. If you want your imaginative play center to be meaningful and for children to make good choices there, always model how to play in that space. They need to see what it looks like.
SET THE SCENE
Hang icicle lights and snowflakes from the ceiling, drape the imaginative play furniture in white sheets to make "snow banks", fashion a North Pole house with cardboard and let the kiddos paint it, and set up small plastic christmas trees for a forest. Use your imagination, and have fun! Give the children ownership by letting them help you to create the North Pole.
1. Write a Letter to Santa.
Offer students markers, pens, paper, and envelopes. They can use phonetic spelling, sight words and drawings to write letters to Santa, and make Christmas cards for friends and family. They can practice addressing an envelope (give them Santa's address), and they can use a sticker as a stamp.
2. Make a List and Check it Twice.
Provide clipboards, paper and pens and let students conducts surveys among their peers.
Who likes snow, who doesn't like snow? Who wants what for christmas? Making lists and surveys is good, authentic writing practice for children.
Save up your cardboard tubes, cereal boxes and scrap paper. Students can use these materials, along with scissors and glue and string and other tools, to make Christmas presents for friends and family. Building structures is good math work for children. They build spatial awareness and understanding of solid attributes.
Provide string and tissue paper and wrapping paper in a variety of sizes. Children can practice good math skills by wrapping classroom toys and items that they make. Wrapping presents requires children to fold paper to cover a 3-dimensional solid's sides and bases. Understanding the attributes of shapes and solids is a Common Core Standard.
5. Weigh the packages
Place a kitchen scale in the North Pole center and show students how to use it to weigh presents. They can keep track of the weights on the clipboard. They will have fun seeing which items weigh more or less and which ones weigh the same.
6. Act out a story from a Christmas book.
Provide Children with props and an assortment of holiday books to delight and inspire them. Retelling a story is a Common Core Standard and it builds reading comprehension. Children might like to practice a retelling to perform for the class later in the day. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner and Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett are good choices.
Teach the standards with imaginative play! Young children benefit from this type of learning. Imaginative play can meet the standards and the developmental needs of young children.