Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Skill Builder: Reindeer Games

Holiday fun for the family can be found outdoors.

By Nancy Herron

This time of year often means big meals and homes full of people. For your family gathering this year, how about taking some of it outside? Here are few tips for keeping it fun with kids.

» Use all your senses. Don’t forget your sense of humor, too. Be generous with your time and attention. Be flexible with your schedule and lighten up on expectations.

» Take a hike. If you take a nice long walk, expect to stop a lot. Rather than set a destination as your goal, let discovery be your goal. Look at bugs or skip stones. The more flexible and easygoing you are, the better time you’ll all have. Along the way, you can sing, make up rhymes and play “I spy.” If you are tackling a longer hike, by all means, bribe children with the snacks you’ve brought. Let the children carry the snacks and plan two snack breaks of their choosing.

As parents know, there’s always one kid who’s going to be unhappy about something. Don’t worry, however. It won’t last long. It’ll just switch to another kid. It’s really no different than being indoors in that respect.

» Play games. Get the children started on some old-fashioned outside games. Remember Red Rover? How about changing it to “Red Rudolph, Red Rudolph, send Abby on over?” It may not rhyme, but if you’re having fun wearing those silly reindeer headbands, who’s going to notice?

» Create your own story. What’s the story of your family outdoors? Go outside together, and look around for things that jog your memory. Write down your memories together or make up a fanciful tale using what you see outside in nature as the players in your story. How many of the world’s best stories were inspired by nature? Let it inspire everyone’s imagination. How did the rabbit get its tail? Why does the tree lose its leaves in winter? Tell the stories in words and pictures, utilizing anything from crayons to digital photographs. If you can find long pieces of paper, you can make a banner for everyone to draw on.

» Make it a treasure hunt. Who can find evidence of an animal home above their heads, at eye level and under their feet? Who can spot something in nature that starts with the letters in his or her name or contains some of the colors in the rainbow, even in winter? Who can find a stone with the most colors in it? Arm children with small sacks, egg cartons, paper or cameras to collect the treasures.

» Make a gift. Create a feeder for wildlife and put it outside. Make a bouquet or art project from nature and give it to the oldest person in the family or surprise a neighbor.

» Make it a time of reflection, too. How grateful we are for the gifts in nature, for each other and the time we can spend together outside!

Related stories

Skill Builder: Camp Cooking with Kids

Skill Builder: Turning Kids into Birders


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