The Fifa World Cup has begun, and there is no shortage of excitement surrounding this world-renowned tournament! Flags of varying countries adorn the cars in the streets, and crowds are gathering in their communities to cheer on their teams. It is an exciting time to be a soccer fan, so this week we would like to offer some strategies to include your little ones in the fun!
Throw a themed party!
Throwing a themed party is a great way to make your little ones excited about the world cup. The decorations, snacks and time spent with family and friends watching the game will make the day special for them and give them something to be enthusiastic about. This theme party can be done for any team you are cheering for, but we have chosen to use Brazil as an example, as this can be a great option not only if you’re cheering for Team Brazil, but also if you want to take the chance to educate your children on some things about the host country!
Firstly, everyone will need to be adorned in their fan gear for the big game. You can make “Team Brazil” shirts in a variety of different ways. One option is to use transfer paper and iron an image of the Brazil flag onto a t-shirt! The transfer paper will be fascinating for kids as they watch the image transfer from the paper to the t-shirt! Another option is to use fabric paints to decorate your shirts. Your little ones can pick what they want to decorate their shirt with, whether it be the Brazil flag, or “Team Brazil” – they can choose which way to honour their team and even help paint it onto the shirt. Fabric paints can be found at a variety of craft supply stores, here is a great set from Michael’s.
To finish off the fan outfits, you can incorporate face paint! Kids love getting messy, and the face paint will be a fun activity you can all do together.
With everyone ready to cheer, the next step is to decorate for the party. The Brazil flag will make yet another appearance here. You can make one large one out of construction paper and smaller ones for everyone to hold and wave! Green, blue and yellow balloons and streamers will also add to the excitement. To get more creative and keep your kids participating, you could make a paper chain out of blue, green and yellow construction paper and hang it up rather than purchasing streamers!
Making the decorations for the party is a great craft opportunity for your children. To add to the Brazilian theme, try this cool parrot craft with your little ones and hang them around the house! Parrots are commonly found in Brazil, so this craft is a cool way to teach your children a bit more about Brazil as well as make a fun craft! www.lonelyplanet.com is a great resource for learning about other countries, from their culture to their most famous sights to their wildlife, you can find cool things to incorporate into your themed party and educate your kids on the where the teams they cheer for come from — or even more about their own culture!
Make themed snacks!
Instead of the regular party snacks, try these delicious options with a Brazilian twist!
1) Brigadeiro Pops (Chocolate Truffles)
Instead of cake pops, try this delicious Brazilian dessert — brigadeiro in “cake pop” form! Simply cook some unsweetened cocoa, sweetened condensed milk and butter in a pan for about 10 minutes or until thickened! Remove the mix from heat and let it rest until it is cool enough to handle. Roll it into balls, and add some toppings like chocolate sprinkles or chopped walnuts! To make the “cake pop”, simply put a cake pop stick into the brigadeiro, and attach a Brazilian flag to the end of the stick and chill until serving! This is a traditional Brazilian dessert, so your little one will get some exposure to new foods but they will make great finger snacks and décor for the party!
2) Mandioca Frita (Yuca Fries) Recipe: http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/appetizersfirstcourses/r/Crispy-Yuca-Fries.htm
Mandioca Frita is another great finger food for parties with a Brazilian twist! Simply peel a fresh yuca root, cut into large pieces and remove inner core. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the yuca until it begins turning translucent and is soft enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly. Remove any left over pieces of the inner core, and cut the pieces into thick wedges. Then fry yuca in vegetable oil until golden brown. Mmm!
3) Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) Recipe: http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/breads/r/paodequeijo.htm
These cheese rolls with a chewy center are a common find in Brazilian cuisine, and they are delicious! Once again they are a great finger food for parties — and they make a great side to any meal.
If you want to get some fruits into your party meal you can try and find some fruits that are commonly found in Brazil and do a Brazilian fruit tray. Some fruits commonly eaten in Brazil are guava, passion fruit, papaya, pitanga (which can be eaten like a cherry), guarana and acai berries! You can also make any number of delicious brazilain smoothies by combining these and other fruits!
Throw a neighbourhood soccer game in the park!
Gather your little ones, their friends, family and neighbours and head to the park for a “mini world cup!” Divide everyone into teams and play ball! You can make team shirts for everyone using the same methods as we mentioned for the team Brazil shirts for the themed party. To make it more exciting, create a prize for the teams — such as a home-made trophy or gold medals. You could even get your kids involved in the making of the prizes, or perhaps leave it as a special surprise for after the big game! This will get them outside and being active, but it will also be a really exciting activity they can participate in, and it will get them more engaged in soccer and the world cup!
Whether it’s a themed party for the team of your choice, or the host country, or a friendly game of mini world cup soccer in the park, the Fifa World Cup can be an exciting time for everyone, kids included. It can be a great opportunity to educate your little one on different countries and their cultures, or perhaps to get them involved in their own culture and cheering for their team. It can also be a way to promote physical activity. Take advantage of this amazing time, and all the fun and excitement surrounding the tournament to make this world cup season one your little ones won’t forget any time soon!