When children enjoy community fairs and fun days so much, it just doesn’t make sense to wait so long for the next one! With a little bit of imagination, and not a lot of preparation, you and your children can create the same sense of enjoyment at home. Seasonal themes are a great place to start and with Spring just around the corner, why not make an occasion of it by staging an old-fashioned Flower Show. You could invite another family or two to join you, or just focus on your own little ones.
guest of honour
Get your Spring Thing off to an exciting start with an official welcome to everyone, including your ‘guest of honour’ (this is a great role for a grandparent, senior neighbour, or someone in the family dressed in disguise). Seat children on the floor and tell them about the games and competitions they can look forward to. Ask a child to present the guest of honour with a tiny posy or buttonhole of flowers (these can be fresh or artificial). Your guest of honour can make a little speech about what we can look forward to in Spring or even read a short spring-themed picture book or poem. Encourage clapping from the children.
spring thing activities
Create activity spaces around the room or on the deck with small tables or cushions on the ground. Provide floor coverings such as old sheets to allow a quick clean-up at the end of the event.
Children of all ages will enjoy making sand saucers, and if you don’t have a flower garden, go gathering wild flowers such as daisies, dandelions, clover, lupins, berries and blossom from the park or roadside, or focus on sand saucers displaying pretty leaf patterns. Shells, pebbles, tiny toy animals, beads and buttons can all be used as part of the creation. Check out Google for a sand saucer image search, and be inspired!
fruit and veg creatures
Invite children to make their own animal (or other creature) from fruit and vegetable pieces. Provide toothpicks for joining pieces together, and whole cloves for eyes. This fun craft is a great learning activity as little ones count the number of legs required for their bugs and animals.
It wouldn’t be Spring without a party hat. Cut bands of card and let children decorate them with drawings of flowers, birds’ eggs and nests, and Spring animals such as lambs, calves, and chicks. Staple the card together so the children can wear their creations.
Think ahead and bake (or buy) un-iced cupcakes or biscuits. Mix up some icing, choose some cake decorations, and let the children create their own flower-topped edible treat (save the treats for judging, and eat them for afternoon tea).
Set aside a small table for children to pot-up their own living Spring Thing: a bulb, marigold or sunflower seeds, or a climbing bean. Material required can all be found around the home – yoghurt pottles with a hole snipped out of the base, a few pebbles to place in the bottom of the pottles, garden soil or potting mix. A permanent marker pen is handy to write the name of the child and their chosen plant pottle. Tip: lay an old sheet or newspaper under the table before you begin.
big kids required!
Give older children or adults the fun task of creating hand-decorated award certificates.
Steer clear of certificates for placings such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and, instead, opt for imaginative awards such as: most colourful sand saucer, most loveable vegetable animal, most creative headband.
It wouldn’t be a fun day without a few side-show games. Older children and adults can set these up in no time (and also enjoy joining in).
Toss the button: Head to the dollar shop for a basket of inexpensive little gifts: small toys, books, puzzles, notepads and crayons, a special mug. Spread a sheet out on the floor and dot the little gifts on top of it. Provide players with five buttons. The aim is for players to land a button on top of a gift (which they then claim as their prize). Adjust throwing distance to suit ages and abilities.
Pin the bumblebee on the flower: Play this game as you would ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. On a large piece of paper, draw a bright flower with petals. Tape it to a door or magnet it to the fridge. Draw a large big bumblebee onto card. Cut it out and fix a piece of blutack to the back of it. Blindfold children and ask them to stick the bumblebee onto the flower. The closer they get to the centre of the flower, the better!
Flower power: Stitch a cardboard or artificial flower to a hacky sack. Place a flower pot on the floor. Ask children to take turns throwing the flower into the flower pot.
the award ceremony
Everyone loves awards. Take the award ceremony seriously and little children will feel especially honoured to receive recognition. Ask your guest of honour (or another adult or older child) to judge the vegetable animal, headband and iced biscuit/cupcake creations. Record names on the certificates. Gather together some tiny prizes (stickers, balloons, pencils, rubbers and individual sweets, for example). Seat children on the floor. As the awards are announced, ask your guest of honour to present the certificates and prizes, accompanied by lots of clapping.
It wouldn’t be a flower show without afternoon tea – and this is the time to roll out the iced cupcakes/biscuits accompanied with drinks for everyone. It’s also the time to thank your guest of honour, all the helpers, and the children for making ‘Spring Thing’ a very happy event. Don’t let your helpers retire until the mess is cleaned up, then you can start making plans for your next next home-based fun day.
- If time permits, string up some decorations (no-one will notice if they’re the same ones you use at Christmas). Erect the Christmas tree and decorate it with artificial flowers.
- Choose some lively background music (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Spring, for instance).
- Appoint an official photographer for the day and encourage them to take plenty of photos of the children’s creations.
- Invite children to dress up to suit the spring theme (floral patterned clothing, tee-shirts with baby animals on them, simple masks decorated with flowers).
by Dianna Noonan
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