Santa’s Workshop Pretend Play

christmas pretend play

I love having a project set up for my son when he gets home from school before he gets involved in his own play . Yesterday he arrived home to this simple Santa’s Workshop set up. This wasn’t a long afternoon of play , but it was 30 minutes of smiles and giggles and pretending he was an elf! He also did some crafting, some deep thinking , reading,  a little writing and of course imaginative play. Remember that your set up need not be worthy of a Broadway production, just good enough to support play.

  1. Gather your materials. I made 3 stations in this workshop a building station, a toy testing station and a wrap station.  My materials included paper bag, glue ( I switched it to a glue stick), scissors, wrapping paper, construction paper, markers , plain paper , a clip board and some toys.
  2. For the Duplo Building Station I used black construction paper down the middle of the table to act as a conveyer belt, made simple buildings with the duplo and provided duplicate blocks in containers for my son to build. There is actually a really great lesson in duplication here. Following directions is an important skill and lego type toys are a great way to work on the skills non verbally.
  3. The Wrap Station is our craft component – I provided glue, scissors, markers , snowflake confetti, wraping paper scraps to cut and glue and paper bags.
  4. The Toy Testing Station had some reading for him to do , and questions to answer after he tested the toy. I snuck some circle drawing in too!
  5. Think he was excited to see it? He said to me ” Do I really get to pretend to be an elf? Really?”
  6. Getting into the elf character .Building the duplo !
  7. Making the gift bags.
  8. All wrapped up.
  9. Off to test a toy.
  10. Test results.
  11. Happy, busy and at the North Pole … at least in his imagination!

Santa Book

How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow is a great book to go along with this activity. The book is styled as an expose about how Santa and his many many elves get all the work for Christmas done. I will caution you now that this is a long book, with even longer asides. I made my son head up to bed with me and the book early inorder to get it read and still have time to chat about it after. I love the “insider” feel about this book and so did my son. There were many asides thta made both of us giggle especially the comment about how many requests Santa gets for ponies each year. I loved that it encouraged kids to write to Santa but I have to say I sorta miss that it didn’t include much about magic. Still I can’t tell you how much my son loved this book ( I knew he would) and how impressed I was when he asked me if I thought this was how it worked. That opened a great discussion about how we imagine the North Pole and how stories andmovies are just one person’s imagination and no one knows the truth . This is a completely secular view of Christmas too so if you are looking for a religious book this is not for you but you can try these ones.

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Pretend Play Grocery Store

This isn’t the first time we have made a grocery store for pretend play , but it was the first time with both kids and because it was such a hit the 2nd time around I thought I may as well post about what made it so much fun.

I started by clearing out some of our toys from the playroom. In the past I have done this in a bedroom and kitchen. In a bedroom I used the low bed for main aisles/ produce section. In the kitchen I used a shelf on an island. It doesn’t matter what you use it matters if it’s in their line of sight.  My son reached for the grocery items on the windowsill and my daughter went straight for the ones on the shelf ( well after the baby in the cart ).  If you don’t have a shopping cart grab a basket or small bag for your shoppers to put their purchases in.

For food and grocery items just raid your pantry. Last time I used real produce but my son was old enough to tell him not to eat it while playing ( which you could encourage also depending on if you need the fruit or vegetable later for a meal), my daughter is a muncher and I knew if I put any real produce out each and every piece would have little baby girl bites out of them, so I opted for our play food.

For an added layer of learning I placed the produce/ fresh food  in food groups. My son has been interested in this lately and immediately when my daughter would place an egg into the vegetable basket he’d correct her. Play like this is a natural opportunity to talk about nutrition too.

We added an old lap top and a desk for the checkout, one of our own cloth grocery bags and a simple sign on the door – then the kids!

They had a blast!  Especially my daughter who went shopping multiple times yesterday.

This time I added some labels and other print like this weekly specials board for my son to read, but both children benefit from a print rich environment so even if your child is not starting to read don’t skip them.

 Labels are a great way to boost print awareness and help show children how people use reading skills in everything we do not just reading stories.  We were crunched for time so I threw it all together but guess what things don’t need to be perfect for the play to be fantastic! Please remember that, so often I see wonderful beautiful things on pinterest and think that as pretty as those things are for the average parent trying to manage a family and throw together some fun things for their kids those perfect pretty things might not be attainable. Perfect isn’t the goal , play is.

 Now play!

Bubble Wand Lightsaber Craft

lightsaber craft star wars party favor

Are your kids crazy for Star Wars?  It is just creeping in to our house but it’s taken over playtime at some friends’ house . With an upcoming play date I knew I had to turn the extra bubble wands from my daughter’s birthday party into some bubble wand lightsabers . This would be a great lightsaber craft for a Star Wars themed birthday party. My son was happily playing batman and politely declined playing with the finished craft because ” Batman doesn’t play with lightsabers mom.” Oh how silly of me.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need an empty bubble wand, black duct or electrical tape, a silver pipe cleaner and a round sticker/ label.
  2. Start by taking the wand out of the handle, throw it away or recycle it if you are able to.
  3. Next wrap the silver pipe cleaner around the handle.
  4. Add tape, make sure to secure the ends of the pipe cleaner under a few layers of tape.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Add the circle label.
  7. Ready to play …just not with Batman

DIY Creature Power Suit

by Kim

My house loves animals. We love learning about them. So it is no wonder that the favorite show in our house is Wild Kratts on PBS. If you are not familiar with it I will give you a brief description. The Kratt brothers learn about different animals and how amazing they are by using their creature power suits. They push a button on the suit and touch that animal to essentially become that animal. They will talk about the neat things the animals do for the ecosystem, what amazing abilities they have, etc. They have been lions, cheetahs, honey badgers, and even made earthworms look cool.

So I made my son an easy version of a creature power suit. Now he can be just like the Wild Kratts!

You will need poster board (or card stock), markers, scissors, elastic, stapler, and self adhesive velcro.

First I took a small bowl and traced circles onto the posterboard. I had my son cut out the circles. I made 5 circles, but you can make however many you would like.

After he cut out the circles I had him write his name on one of the circles.

Then I asked him what animals he would like to become with his creature power suit. He was eager to draw each animal on their own circle.

While he was drawing, I cut a piece of elastic just a little bit over a yard (probably by about 4-5 inches). I tied the ends together in a knot.

I made the elastic loop into a figure 8 shape. Then I stapled the center where the elastic crosses over each other. You can hot glue or sew this, but I did stapling because it is easy, fast, and there is no hot things lying around for my kids to try to grab.

I took the circle with his name on it and stapled it to the crossover part I had just stapled. Then I put a piece of the rough/hard velcro in the middle of the circle.

Your power suit is complete. Just have your kids put an arm into each opening and make sure the name emblem is on their chest. It is easy for them to slide on and off by themselves.

Put a piece of the fluffy velcro on the back of each of the animal circles your child created. Now they can attach that animal to their power suit and become that animal!

We made a lion, “Jesus” lizard, Tasmanian devil, and a falcon emblem. Here is my son being a falcon. Doesn’t the puppy look impressed?

He ran through the house so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot. :) We had fun talking about what those animals ate, where they lived, what they would be afraid of, and how they would talk and play with their friends. Man, I love little kids! This is a great activity/craft for learning about animals and using your imagination while getting the kids active.

Just so you know: The opinions about Wild Kratts is strictly my own and does not reflect any views Allie or No Time for Flash Cards may have regarding the show or PBS. This show is wildly popular at my house and this craft was a huge hit, so I thought I would share it with others. Neither this craft or this post was sponsored in any way. PBS and Wild Kratts have no idea who I am and never contacted me about this.

**If you do choose to use staples in this craft like I did, then you need to make sure the ends are curved in to ensure no scratching or cutting will occur. Obviously staples can be sharp and need to be used with caution. You can always use the alternatives mentioned in the post if you are uncomfortable using the staples.**

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Pizza Parlor Pretend Play & Craft

My son is all about pretend play and we had so much fun yesterday mixing art and pretend playtime as we played Pizza Parlor. I hope this post shows how low key pretend play can be and still be fun . I know that sometimes pretend play can be hard for some parents to get into but when you play scenarios like this one it’s easy to be a customer and the play helps kids try on different roles, get comfy with social interactions and be in control of things they are normally not.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper plates, sticky back foam, crayons and scissors for the pizzas. The extra props like the pizza box came from our local store and the oven was made from a box, a marker , a sheet of construction paper and tape.
  2. Start by cutting or having your child cut the foam into pizza toppings. We made pineapple, peperoni, green peppers and olives.
  3. I made the oven by flipping a box over, cutting one side out and adding some buttons and clock on a sheet of construction paper and taping it on.
  4. First call in the order
  5. Start making some pizza – my son started by throwing the dough.
  6. Add the sauce with crayons.
  7. Add the toppings.
  8. Pop it in the oven!
  9. Into the box and into the delivery car.We played for a long time calling in different types of pizzas. He never made me pay for my orders saying pizza was free every Monday, Tuesday and all weekend.  Now that is my kind of pizza!

Book

Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed.  Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation.  My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza!  A lovely book!