As we wind down for the holidays, the thought of entertaining your already bored children can be daunting, and you may be already yearning for the start of the new school year before the holiday season has started. 😥
Travelling long distances to reach your holiday destination can put a damper on the holiday spirit because of squabbling/bored children.
Here are some suggestions for language games and activities that you can play. Most of these activities are suitable for children from age 5 and up.
Games for the Road Trip
This classic game can be modified for younger children by limiting it to things inside the car. The game can be made more interesting by playing ‘I spy something that rhymes with….’
More of a math game but fun nonetheless. Decide on the number value of a car. For example, cars are a single run, and motorbikes are a 4, and yellow cars a 6. Trucks are out. Each person tallies their score until they are out. Decide beforehand how long to play for, or you risk a never ending game.
Number Plate Game
This can be played as a maths game where each person gets a chance to add the digits of the number plates for a certain period of time and the winner is the person with the highest number after a pre-determined time.
It can be played as a word game where each person has to think of a word corresponding to the letters on the number plate. You can either tally the number of words each person accumulates and the person with the highest number of words wins, or you are out when you can’t think of a word. This is great for memory too!
One person thinks of a word and the next person has to give a word that is associated with it in some way. It gets tricky because repetition is not allowed.
I went to market
This one needs no explanation and is great for memory.
Pick a category or a letter and each person has to name as many items in that category as possible within a 30 second or 1 minute time frame. No repetitions are allowed, so everyone needs to listen attentively.
Team Story Telling
Get the creative juices flowing by composing a group story. One person in the car starts by creating the first line of the story. You can start with a simple “Once upon a time, there was…” or come up with something more unconventional like, “Peter the Pig had the longest tail on the farm.” Each person in the car adds a line, and the story builds and builds. Retelling the story at the end is a fantastic way to work on story telling and language skills.
After you’ve reached your destination, your kids could write and illustrate the story.
If your child has an iPod or mp3 device, then you can subscribe to www.audible.com and there is a great selection of audiobooks available for every age. Listening to stories and songs is a great way to stimulate language development and listening skills. The Listeners Library also has a fantastic selection of books that can be rented at a minimal cost.
Activities and Board Games
I love this game for developing questioning skills, categorisation, visual discrimination and problem solving.
Pass the Bomb
This game is best played with many people. It is a categorization and rapid naming game but with the added excitement of a toy bomb that makes an exploding sound at random intervals.
This is a game that is similar to 20 Questions.
Guess what object the Gardener hides by asking yes or no questions to stop him from reaching the castle. Solving the mystery facilitates deductive reasoning and the process of articulating questions!
30 Seconds Junior
Players generally play in teams. One player must guess a word from their teammate’s explanation, with the aim to guess as many possible answers in 30 seconds. The main restriction on the explanation is that it may not contain the actual word or part of the word. This is great for providing explanations, sentence structure and vocabulary.
Various categories are chosen e.g. cars, animals, fruit, vegetables. Each player draws columns on a piece of paper with the categories at the top. A random letter of the alphabet is chosen, and each player has to write down a word in the category that starts with that letter. Once someone has finished, everyone has to stop writing, and words are tallied. This is a great game for vocabulary and word retrieval.
Make your own Board Game
I love this kind of activity as it integrates all the different language skills. Get the children to make a basic game board using some A4 cardboard with squares that they can colour in. (The OT’s will love this one too). Cut up some cards and the children have to write down different things to do when they land on a specific colour. For example, bark like a dog, move forward/backwards two spaces, sing a song etc. They may need some help with this, but nevertheless they are creating and reading and writing. Don’t forget to take some counters and dice with you.
The temptation and pressure to vegetate in front of the TV or become addicted to mindless iPad games is huge. Both the TV and the iPad have their place, and they can be used positively to promote language and listening skills. You can view my post on using TV in a positive way over here
Hope I’ve given you some ideas. Happy Holidays 🙂