Father’s Day: Creative, fun and inclusive celebrations
Published on Tuesday, 01 September 2020
Last updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Father’s Day is a time to focus on fun and family and a chance for children to create gifts that express their love. To help with your celebrations we’ve put together a collection of inclusive ideas to mark the occasion and recognise the diversity among different family structures so all children can enjoy this special event on Sunday 6 September.
Inclusive celebrations provide an opportunity to discuss and acknowledge the many kinds of families in our communities and the many caregivers in a child’s life. In addition to heterosexual two-parent households, some children live in homes with a single parent, grandparent or other family guardians, same-sex parents, adoptive or foster parents or stepparents.
Traditions like Father’s Day may cause anxiety for children who don’t have a ‘traditional’ family structure and adapting activities to be more inclusive ensures all children feel involved and part of the celebration, even if they don’t have a dad at home.
For the purpose of this article, the term father includes all of the father figures in a child’s life, from Grandad to Godfather through to a special male friend of the family who has a role in raising a child.
Father’s Day offers a valuable opportunity to engage and consult with your families to build a collaborative relationship and a deeper understanding of each child and their family structure. By understanding a child’s unique family circumstances educators can ensure children without a ‘traditional’ father figure feel included in the classroom activities.
Ensuring an inclusive approach also provides an opportunity for children to develop awareness and respect for different family structures and to appreciate that not all families are the same.
Ideas for fun and learning
Books about diverse family structures are an invaluable resource to shape discussions with children. These stories allow children to see themselves reflected in the pages while for others they offer windows into other children’s experiences.
Shared discussions of books allows educators to explore ideas with children using questions like:
- How do families take care of each other?
- How do families express love for each other?
- What do we admire about our family members?
Other ideas and resources:
- Sesame Street offers a credible resource for exploring inclusive practices and children will love this five minute clip of Elmo’s World as he explores the meaning of Father’s Day.
- Consider creating a special wall to celebrate fathers and families. Write things children have said about the father figure in their life on the wall and add drawings, pictures and creations. Display crafts on your wall. Be sure to place this wall where everyone is sure to see it. If you wish, you could also hang a clothesline in front of your wall and ask children to use it as a display for showing different items related to the family theme.
- Another inclusive practice is to teach children to say ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and ‘Happy Family Day’ in several languages – make sure you use the language of every child in your group – and write it up for all to see.
- Instead of the game of Simon Says, consider playing Father Says! Be sure to include instructions that will get children moving and shaking their body to exercise all their muscles. Staying with the movement theme, pull together a collection of family songs for children to learn and dance to.
- Initiate a sociodramatic play. This creative process can engage children in expressing their ideas about family. Provide children with prompts, props, costumes and pictures to stimulate re-enacting of stories from books or storytelling experiences. Ideas could be bathing the baby or a family camping trip. Encourage children to create their own stories, including new characters and new actions or events.
Get crafty with Father’s Day gifts to make
Gifts don’t get any yummier than these clever homemade treats, and kids will have fun creating them. Multiply the ingredients by the number of children and then extra. Organise a production line of children and ingredients so they can measure and tip out a nominated ingredient. It’s great for their fine motor skills, they’ll learn measurements such as cups, teaspoons and tablespoons, and by following directions they’ll enhance their receptive language skills.
Using everything you already hold in the craft cupboard. Let children go wild with decorating. Supply them with a natural selection of twigs, pasta, cut out love hearts or any recycled materials you have handy. Fill the frame with a special photo or an artwork.
For a pop of creative colour and painting fun you can’t go past these ‘tape resistant’ artworks. Purchase a bulk lot of canvas at a suitable size and be prepared to tape up a range of word or image options such as ‘Dad Rocks’, a love heart outline or ‘I love you’. The painted handprint is a bit messy for educators but it’s a not to be missed step.
Thumb painting is a fun style of sensory play and the tactile colour blobs will stimulate a child’s creativity and imagination. Similar to the tape resist canvas, provide different messages such as ‘I love you’, ‘I love dad’ or use a cut out handprint of each child then add a love heart in the palm when you peel it off. You can even make your own homemade finger paint.
Resources and further reading
Professional Support Coordinator Alliance: Understanding inclusion
Te Whāriki online: Inclusive practice
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