Christmas is a funny time in Queensland. The day brings a satisfyingly silly mix of snowy Christmas trees, mangoes, Santa hats, swimmers and relatives sweating through wildly illogical hot hams and flaming puddings in tissue paper crowns.
Our weather has created Queensland Christmassy traditions that are all our own, and really quite outdoorsy - BBQs, trips to the nearest body of water (we're not fussy) with boogie boards in tow, family cricket in the backyard with at least four 'umpires' and, inevitably, the Christmas feast itself on the back deck.
The Nature Play team are getting into the Christmas spirit for another swelteringly jolly holiday, so we've done what we do best and put together a list of 12 nature play ideas inspired by the joy of Queensland Christmas:
1. On the first day of Christmas - try your hand at some nature craft by creating your own natural Christmas tree decorations from the wealth of natural resources in your local park or bush reserve.
2. On the second day of Christmas - make Rudolf and friends feel welcome by creating some reindeer tracks in the dirt or sand. You'll need to investigate what reindeer tracks look like and invent the best way of recreating them with whatever natural materials you can find.
3. On the third day of Christmas - make a Santa tree face on your favourite tree trunk with some mud, sticks, leaves, flowers, feathers, bark, gumnuts and seedpods.
We think Santa would look pretty dashing with a feather beard!
4. On the fourth day of Christmas - make your very own 'snow' angels in the sand, in piles of leaves, or on the bush floor.
5. On the fifth day of Christmas - spread your Christmas cheer to the world by spelling out Christmas messages with sticks and leaves in the park, or by writing in the sand!
6. On the sixth day of Christmas - go for a discovery walk around your local area with all your senses on alert to pick up the sounds, sights and smells of a QLD Christmas. Some we’ve thought of are the smell of big, juicy mangoes, the sound of crickets chirping dreamily in the hot sun, and the sight of purple jacaranda flowers covering the ground like magical fairy snow.
7. On the seventh day of Christmas - find the native flowering plants that live nearby, find out the names for each and say hello and merry Christmas to them all!
8. On the eighth day of Christmas - look up and see what the clouds are saying about Christmas. Does one look like a reindeer? Does another look like a Christmas pudding? Or can you see a big Christmas tree in the sky?!
9. On the ninth day of Christmas - go looking for Christmas Beetles. These little chaps just love Christmas and are bound to be out and about. They wear shimmery coats of green and like to be admired in the sunshine.
10. On the tenth day of Christmas - knock on all the doors on your street to say Merry Christmas to the neighbours and invite them to a Christmas party in the local park.
Christmas is a great time of year to meet the neighbours!
11. On the eleventh day of Christmas - get all your friends together and figure out how to form a human pyramid, which at Christmas time we call a human Christmas tree!
12. On the twelth day of Christmas - make some homemade gifts like Christmas card art, 'snow' men made of gumnuts and seedpods, or Christmas biscuits, or anything else you can think of, and bring them to your neighbours to thank them for coming to your Christmas party!
While it’s fun celebrating Christmas, at Nature Play QLD we love celebrating all holidays and finding the opportunities for play in every one! Sadly we have a very small team without any experts on Haukkah or Eid-al-Fitr or Diwali or other festive holidays which we would love to feature more frequently.
We would be very grateful if any of our audience would like to tell us about their favourite holidays and/or festivities, the meaning behind them and how they think we could best celebrate them in respectful and appropriate ways which incorporate nature play and QLD's natural environment.
Send an email through to [email protected] so we can bring the magic of your favourite celebration to nature players around Queensland!