When school is out for short holiday breaks, but parents don't have time off work, holiday playschemes provide a place within the local community for children to play, learn and explore. Instead of leaving the children to organise their own board games or watch TV, plan a content-rich week around a theme that gets everyone participating.
Decorate your play area in a tropical theme. Use a roll of butcher paper and paint to paint a tree mural. Once dry, attach the mural to a wall. Give the children pictures of tropical birds to colour, cut out and paste to the trees on the mural. For physical activity, teach the children to "prowl" like a jaguar, walking on hands and feet around the room, and "leap" like a monkey, swinging their arms in the air as they jump. Find directions online to make rain sticks out of cardboard tubes for music-making. Teach the children about endangered animals, showing them pictures of near-extinct species in the rainforests. Food ideas include beans and rice, a staple food in rainforest regions, and tropical fruits such as bananas, kiwi and starfruit.
Decorate the room with black and white pictures of old film stars and old-style cameras. Begin the week by having the children collaborate with the adults to write a play. Set aside an hour or more each day to work on learning the lines and practicing the scenes of the play. Perform the play at the end of the week. Play a game where each child gets a costume (blindly chosen from a bin) and must act out an impromptu skit using the costume. Teach about the different careers in theatre and movie making by taking a field trip to a theatre or asking a stage technician to come in and talk about his work. For snacks, air-pop popcorn and allow the children to come up with their own topping combinations. Provide topping options such as butter, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, dried fruits and garlic powder.
Design a playscheme around athletics to get your children moving all week. Plan to teach a new sport each day. Soccer, flag football, track and field, gym hockey and baseball or kickball are games with basic rules that can be learnt quickly. Give children a black outline of a sports jersey on white paper and let them use crayons or markers to create a unique team jersey to hang on the wall. Teach about sportsmanship and respecting other players, teams and coaches. Talk about the kinds of consequences professional sports have for poor behaviour, such as being carded in soccer or suspended in baseball. Serve healthy snacks that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Discuss how those healthy snacks benefit bodies by providing essential nutrients and building muscle. Finish the session with a "championship" game of the children's choosing.