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Holidays 2020 - A new experience

By Maureen Penko

I read through my gift list last year and realized with sadness that strolling in the stores to select the items as a lead to the holidays will be different. Perhaps this year as families you will find as I have that I am mailing parcels for some members of my family or ordering the gifts online for those in your designated in person circle.

The holidays this year may not see the extended family gatherings and with reduced travel and the need to exercise rigorous precautions, grandparents may not get to join their grandchildren.

So, it is important to not let this restriction get in the way but instead get creative and try to think of how it still can be a special time to experience and build language. There will be a chance to walk in large outdoor spaces and appreciate the lights and decorations. Support and ìvisitî the local florists and greenhouses to get that fresh wreath and get that lovely pine scent.

There will be no school concerts where we all get dressed in sparkle to listen to our sweethearts sing. So why not prepare for the holidays by listening to music to get everyone in the ìmoodî. Learning the words to traditional songs, or watching and singing along with a television show or YouTube is the option. There are also songs recorded from other cultural traditions.

Homemade crafts are always appreciated. The children can draw, paint or colour pre- drawn pictures that represent the holidays. Use craft materials such as sparkles, threads and paints while you talk about colour and textures and what should be coloured gives the child vocabulary that is associated with the holidays. Different cultures and religions celebrate in different ways and will have symbols that represent the holiday. You can easily draw references across the traditions and open up childís understanding of the worldís celebrations. Use Canada Post as much as possible and send the family the creative works by mail. Your family will appreciate getting a personal note from the children. Writing a note can be practiced and allows for learning letters and sounds.

Count down the days on the calendar, as a fun way to build excitement, counting skills and do something different each day. Draw, colour or paint a card for the teacher. Perhaps giving a small treat as a gift will be a cost effective but a thoughtful idea from your child. Some of these can be baking cookies, making popcorn and or supporting local and ordering from your favourite bakery. Recently a neighbour emailed about gourmet ice cream as a gift that was being promoted as a fundraiser.

Baking is always a nurturing activity. Focus on how you can teach math, following directions in a recipe, team work and helping skills while sampling as you go along. Have your child watch their cookies bake and donít forgot to have a warm drink ready.

This is a wonderful time to choose a story a day. Big pictures and repetitious sentences allow your child to participate in the story and start to memorize the sequence of the story.

Ready slowly to work on articulation, tone of voice and volume. Read with intonation to show surprise, danger, delight and excitement. Read with pause to allow for anticipation and perhaps your child filling in a word or two. Flap books always allow for anticipation regardless of the age.

This year technology has crept into our lives and is a big presence. We can still monitor what our children watch as when you watch with them so you know what they are talking about.

Todayís Parent Magazine listed the following new Netflix releases for the holidays as a "great watch."

Go!Go! Rescue Riders Carsons, Wonderoos, and Spookely and the Christmas Kittens. As always it is important to review these productions yourself to make sure they are suitable. My all-time favourite is still the Charlie Brown Christmas. Donít forget the classic Disney movies as well.

Creativity in play drives a child to explore and to produce something that receives our feedback. Creativity also allows for children to participate with one another. In essence creativity builds language skills, social exchange and higher-level thinking. Toys such as Leggo, Brio, and Magnex, sets allow for creative building. Setting up various theme centres as ìthe kitchenî or the ìtools stationî are wonderful for promoting creativity.

I realized in writing this article that the jigsaw puzzle is something that all ages can enjoy and one that we did as a family throughout the holidays. Setting up the puzzle allows for all to participate in creating the final picture. We spent time talking, sharing, describing, matching and thinking about where do the pieces fit.

Decorating your home will make the holidays special. Going outside and playing on those milder snowy days in the yard or exploring at Fort Whyte or snuggling up daily to read a book are some of the many things that can be done. Do read about activities to do in the November issue of the Scoop Magazine.

In closing I wish you a special time this season, stay within your family bubble so we can combat this virus together. Take photos of your moments together, they make for wonderful memories.

Feature Articles:

100 Winter Break Family Fun Ideas!

Holidays 2020 - A new experience

Winter Break Crafty Family Fun!

Enhancing Academic Confidence During the Pandemic

Recognizing the early signs of a learning disability

Pandemic Resource Directory for Families

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