Theraplay Advent Calendar

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Our Centre for Adoption Support wanted to share this Theraplay Advent Calendar created by Mary Kennedy, Tory Kerneen and Fiona Peacock. Theraplay is about strengthening parent-child relationships. We have included a little explanation for three of the activities included. Have fun!

Theraplay Advent Calendar

There is no right or wrong way to do these activities! Just enjoy. Activities can be printed, cut up and tucked into an advent calendar that has little boxes or pockets. Or you can put them in a jar and have a daily ‘lucky dip’. The only activities that are day specific are 24th and 25th December

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  1. Sing Jingle Bells to each other
  2. Feed each other Christmas goodies such as mini Yule Logs or chocolate coins
  3. Create a Santa’s beard on each other using washing up liquid foam or foamy soap
  4. Practice your reindeer galloping around the room, put Rudolph noses on first using lotion (noses will glow in reaction to the cold lotion!)
  5. Have a snowball fight with cotton wool balls or newspaper balls
  6. Play beep and honk but use Christmassy sounds – turkey, sleigh bell, thud as Santa come down the chimney ….
  7. Make a set of family reindeer prints by drawing round a foot for the reindeer face and round hands for the antlers
  8. As a family make or buy a present for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have one
  9. Play fish and chips but use Ho,Ho,Ho and Merry Christmas
  10. Pull a pretend Christmas cracker – it will be really HUGE and you will have to do a lot of pulling this way and that way before it goes bang
  11. Give each other a hand massage with lotion
  12. Do a Christmas themed ‘spot the difference’ i.e. both look away, add some Christmas decoration to yourself when you turn back to each other spot what has changed
  13. Bean bag drops – but use Christmas items e.g. a carrot for Rudolph, a snowflake (make it out of whatever you have to hand)
  14. Repeat the worst Christmas cracker joke you have ever heard
  15. Wrap someone up like a Christmas present (with a blanket or sheet) and have fun unwrapping them
  16. Be Santa and his sleigh – someone is Rudolph and is on their hands and knees, someone is Santa, takes the back legs of Rudolph and wheelbarrow around the room
  17. Tell the Christmas story on someone’s back (like weather report)
  18. How many bites can you take out of a …. (mince pie, marshmallow, carrot, mini yule log)
  19. Make someone in the family into a ‘pigs in blankets’ by rolling them in a blanket and pressing firmly but gently on them
  20. Do a Christmas themed Simon Says activity
  21. Build a family hand stack Christmas tree – how high can you go?
  22. Sing a Christmas song with actions and mirror each other e.g. When Santa got Stuck Up the Chimney
  23. Shake powder or flour onto each other’s hands – does the pattern look like a snow flake?
  24. Leave a snack and a drink out for Santa and a note to say what activity you’d like to do with him
  25. Sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” to each other.

Credit: Mary Kennedy, Tory Kerneen and Fiona Peacock November 2020

Just to explain few activities in more detail. These activities can be found in the book ‘Parenting the Theraplay Way by Viv Norris and Helen Rodwell.

No 9 Fish and chips

Adult says ‘Fish’ and the child says ‘chips’ in the same way.  Repeat with loudness and intonation and words can be adapted to ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ and the response “Merry Christmas”.

No 17 Weather report

Describe the weather and rub your child’s back or hand to match the weather . For example, “it’s a warm sunny day” could make a large circle. Other weather could include rain, wind etc.

No 20 Simon says

The child has to listen to adults’ commands and only respond to the ones with “Simon says in”. This could also be changed to “Mum” or “Dad” says.

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