It's that time of year, and fans of an American favorite—football—watch games with fervor and passion. For many families, sports and time together are intertwined, and sharing in the excitement of the game is a beloved weekend tradition.
Now that the holidays have ended, the granddaddy of all bowl games is fast approaching. And even the most casual observer is likely to join in the fun with a comfy seat on the couch and a plate of nachos nearby. With family and friends making a visit to watch the games, why not invite your child to participate in party plans? There are decorations, activities, and food to be prepared in honor of football's big game. Try these general ideas to get the family into the spirit:
- Make football pennants by cutting elongated triangles out of felt or paper. Decorate with your team's colors. Use all kinds of paint markers—some with texture and glitter.
- Invite the kids to make paper chains using your favorite team's colors.
- Cut a football shape into a potato or sponge, and decorate a plain green tablecloth with ball prints. Make sure you use fabric paints. You can also paint white lines on the cloth so it looks like a football field.
- Cook up your favorite chili; serve with the all-American hotdog and make some spicy popcorn by adding a small package of dry taco seasoning to your popped corn. You can even fold in some dry-roasted peanuts for an added crunch.
- Do some football player exercises. Jump and click heels together, run in place, and do jumping jacks.
Babies Grow up to Like Football (Babies and Toddlers)
Infancy is an excellent time to introduce football to your child. Why not make a mobile? Experts agree that mobiles are "musts" for babies; they provide color, motion, interest, and incentive for a baby's earliest reaching efforts. An easy mobile uses a coat hanger and fishing line to hang the ornaments. Make small football jerseys and footballs by cutting these shapes from thin foam or heavy construction paper. Punch a hole at the top and thread fishing line into the hole, then attach it to the hanger. Hang the shapes at varying lengths. Given the opportunity, babies will learn to control the movements of their mobiles by kicking and squirming, provided that the mobile is attached to the crib or playpen in a way that allows this to occur—just be sure the mobile is well out of a baby's reach and take it down as soon as your child begins crawling, pulling to a stand, or sitting up. An older child might enjoy this mobile too by hanging it (out of reach) in the bedroom to view before sleep.
Your toddler can enjoy playing football if you give him the opportunity to observe the real ball. He or she will enjoy chasing this unpredictable rolling ball with its funny shape and texture.
1, 2, 3 Hike! (Preschool+)
Preschool children need movement, so find a good time—like pregame or halftime—to get the "wiggles" out. Take an outdoor break, weather permitting, and play a football throw together. Tie a hula-hoop to the end of a rope. Suspend this from a swing set, clothesline, or tree, making sure it's at eye level. Have children stand an appropriate distance away and try hiking, kicking and throwing the ball through the hoop. Older kids can stand further away from the hoop and have a competition.
For those times when it's too cold or too dark to play outside, this indoor craft will make your child feel like a football hero. Photocopy and enlarge a picture of your child's face (a school portrait works best). Tape this onto the rim of a lunch size paper plate. (If a picture is not used, your child can draw a portrait of himself using crayons). Now, take another paper plate and draw and cut out a facemask. Tape the facemask you cut out onto the bottom half of the paper plate, and you have a football player in his helmet. Can you guess the name of this player?
During halftime, play this fun football toss game that you have made earlier. Use a rectangular sheet of green poster board. Help your child draw the lines across the field using a ruler. Write "goal" at one end and 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 (at the other end) on the field. To make the football, cut two pieces of brown fabric or felt in a football shape. Sew the piece together, leaving an opening to fill with rice, popcorn kernels, or birdseed. Stitch the opening closed. Stand at an appropriate distance and take turns tossing the beanbag football onto the field, trying to toss it onto the goal line. Decide how many turns each person will get and show your child how to make tally marks on paper for each goal scored and record that information.