I’m normally very diligent about “screen time” for my toddler. I heed the warnings about potential ill effects such as obesity and hampering brain development from not engaging with your child. I do, however, confess to calling for reinforcements from Dora the Explorer when I have nothing left to give my daughter after a full day of coloring, reading books, playing outside, building block towers, reading more books, playing restaurant, kicking a ball, puzzles and dress up (each activity of course lasting only 5 minutes.) I explain to her that TV is a privilege and only watched for a short period when the day was full of good behavior. Many mothers do the same.
So what is a soccer- crazy mommy or daddy to do now that the world’s largest team sports tournament, soccer’s World Cup, has arrived along with half a day’s worth of games being shown on TV? How can we enjoy this exciting sporting event without feeling we deserve the wagging fingers of the entire American Academy of Pediatrics?
Enter Halftime Craft-Time: Making national flags out of felt for each team playing in the tournament! It’s a fun way to make the World Cup educational and enjoyable while keeping a little one engaged.
My daughter is working on her colors. She happily points to her pink pants when we ask her where blue is and proudly hands us a red sock when we ask for the green. Definitely needs some work. The flags of the countries playing in the World Cup are composed of primary colors which creates the perfect educational opportunity!
We pick a team’s flag to make during each game we watch. I bought some felt with a sticky backing & thin poster board to adhere the felt to. I pre-cut the shapes for the flags and at halftime we make the flag together, one color at a time.
The first flag we crafted was Brazil, the host nation of this year’s tournament. “Hand me the green piece! Well that is yellow…..close….where is the green. Green. Yes THAT’s the green….well done! Now where is the blue? Those are your pink pants again….where is blue?”
It goes on like that until the flag is complete!
Here are some other enjoyable activities to celebrate the excitement of World Cup with your kids:
Samba Dance Party!
I don’t think there’s anyone out there that can resist moving and grooving when the Samba music synonymous with Brazil is playing. Download some tunes and crank it up before or after the game for a crazy dance party!
A great way for little ones to practice numbers! Make a large visual chart for your favorite teams and award them 3 points for each win, 1 point for each tie or 0 points for each loss.
How about Pasta for lunch when Italy is playing, Quesadillas for Mexico and of course Burgers and Fries for the USA! (Because you deserve it: Chocolate for mom when any team from Europe is playing.)
Turns out the sticky backing on the felt for the flags was not strong enough to thwart a toddler trying to dismantle them. Mine enjoys taking them apart and sticking them back together…So Voila…..Flag puzzles!
Use Google Translate to learn a couple of words in the language of the team playing. Brazilian Portuguese is a fun one: Soccer = Futebol (Foo-chee-bowl) and Thank you = Obrigado- for males or Obrigada- for females (Oh-bree-gah-dah)
My personal favorite on some days…if you have a toddler this one probably doesn’t need explaining.
Integrating these activities has turned watching the World Cup into a fabulous bonding experience with my daughter. We practice the colors, we dance while waving our flags, we make pasta and kick a ball to each other. The other day when I turned on the TV she smiled at me, pointed excitedly and said “Saaa!” (Toddler translation: “Soccer!”) *Big hug* “Yes honey…..soccer!” *Big Smile!*