The real Subbuteo stuff is more suited to older children, because it's rather small and fiddly, so I thought we'd see if we could make a larger more preschooler freindly alternative from stuff around the house. For the bases I ended up trying some salt dough crammed into teeny little bowls that had been greased up with vaseline. I was going to use the egg trays from our fridge, but what do you know, they had vanished. Do let me know if you see them. I suspect they are hidden somewhere quite secret and are likely full of Polly Pocket shoes, but I digress.
You can see our salt dough in this post from Xmas last year. It's just one and a half parts hot water, one part salt and four parts all purpose flour. I snapped lolly pop sticks in half and stuck them in the dough as little posts that we could attach our footballers to. Then I took out the sticks and squelched the dough out of the little bowls and baked the resulting hemispheres in the oven for about an hour on a low heat until they were rock hard. Stuck the sticks back in them and they were ready for the kids to decorate.
I figured the easiest thing to do would be to draw some footballers that the kids could colour, cut out and glue onto the sticks, so I drew a little soccer girl and scanned her. I'd love to have had the time to draw a load of different footballers in different poses, but the kids were wanting to get making stuff, so it was one quick sharpie sketch that got scanned and repeated many times. Here's the template sheet if you'd like to do this yourself. I left the jerseys blank so that you can draw your own numbers on them. Just click on the thumbnail below to get to the full resolution image that you can print out.
My kids are three and just turned five, so there was no need for us to make a full football team to play with. Even five a side seemed overkill, so we just made three footballers for each team. My three year old opted for the blue team and my five year old wanted to be the reds. They coloured in their players and then coloured the bases with permenent markers. I would have got them to paint the bases, only I don't think they would have had the patience to wait for them to dry in this situation.
Cut out and glued the soccer kids onto the posts and then we were ready for kick off
The football pitch was some goals made from lego and towels and blankets to stop the ball from rolling under the cooker or fridge. The ball was a 25c bouncy ball from the local taqueria, and we set up a score board on the front of the dishwaser with some magnets to keep score with.
I was very relieved when they enjoyed playing with the set up as much as they did. The salt dough bases were heavy enough to have a really good weebly not falling down thing going on, just like the real subbuteo players. Being bigger, the kids had to flick them with the whole of the back of their hand, rather than just a finger, but it was the right scale for preschoolers to really get into and not be frustrated with.
It would probably work just as well and look far neater if you used plaster of paris for the bases, but I don't know how well they would stand up to being bashed into each other. The salt dough is indestructable it seems.
I'm afraid the next post that I have lined up is about more football flavoured antics. I'll try and avoid teaching them the Fabrizio Ravanelli goal celebration manouvre of pulling your tshirt up over your face and running about with your arms in the air. My oldest did that for some weird reason when she was two and ran straight into a wall.