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Play Time Ideas
Family time should be fun time and what's more fun than play? Adapt our ideas so they fit with your family and enjoy nature and each other.
Rainy Day Activities!
Even the most well planned, flexible family vacations can include rainy days and a little boredom for young family members. While a little rain doesn’t have to deter a family bent on having a good time outdoors, sometimes there is just a touch too much. Try a couple of these activities to keep the vacation fun-filled and smooth.
Wherever you’re going, whatever your plans are, bring a book the whole family will enjoy and take turns reading to one another. Some family favourites: Charlotte’s Web (of course), The Journey of Natty Gann (about one young girl’s adventures during the Great Depression), Harry Potter (always worth another read), the Secret Garden, Little Women, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Little House on the Prairie…and the list goes on.
Collage or Scrapbook
Glue, scissors, and paper, pencils…the rest can be found wherever you are. Make beach collages or vacation scrapbooks (hotel stationary, ticket stubs, pressed flowers or leaves, hand-drawn pictures of what you have seen and done, maps…)
Wherever you go, there’s sure to be some sort of trees or plants or other great textured pieces of nature. Collect a small sample (one leaf or so) of different types of natural objects to save for some downtime. When the pocket of time presents itself, bring out all you have collected and make rubbings by placing them beneath paper and lightly rubbing the paper with a crayon or pencil. All sorts of beautiful designs can be found!
On-the-Go Fun Series (play time)
Ideas for Activities for families and kids while traveling
Car and Plane Fun
Summer vacations mean fewer distractions for everyone in the family. Of course, sometimes, there’s too few distractions and boredom can threaten. Have no fear – the Earthy Family On-the-Go Fun is here! Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight fun activities to keep the whole family in good spirits as you travel.
Strapped into car seats and plane seats and nothing to do? Remember that life is all about attitude and instead of dreading this time, think of it as a great way to kick off and close down your vacation. Try some of these games and activities keep you occupied and involved with one another.
If you don’t know very many songs that you can all sing together, borrow a tape or CD from the library, or pick one up before you head out. Or, ask everyone to bring one to share with the rest of the family.
Most kids love maps and map reading is a great skill to learn on a distance trip. Give each child a map so they can keep track of where you’re going and note the towns and attractions as you pass them.
Guess What Number I’m Thinking of
Take turns picking a number between 1 and 10. Everyone else can guess which number the person who is “it” is thinking of. The person who gets it right gets to be “it”, and so on, and so on…
Books on Tape/CD
Buy or borrow a book on tape that the whole family will enjoy. Kids can draw pictures of the story they are listening to.
Practice Tongue Twisters:
Here are a few to get you started:
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He'd chop as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
She sells seashells by the seashore
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
A noisy noise annoys an oyster.
Take turns naming things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Choose a topic and the first person starts by naming something from your category that begins with A, the next person does B, the next person C, and so on. Choose from topics such as fruit (apples, bananas, cherries...); things you’ll do on your vacation (arrive at the beach, board a plane, camp...); things you’ve packed (atlas, band-aids, checkered pants...); towns in your province/state; countries of the world; things you like about summer; movie star names; songs…well, you get the idea. For long trips, let everyone have a chance to choose a topic.
I See It!
Have someone (anyone but the driver) write up a list of things you might possibly see on your trip. Think blue cars, buses, RV’s, specific animals (think wildlife and domestic), specific trees, flowers, rest stops, speed limit signs, etc. Then spend the next ½ hour (or other time limit that works for the ages of your family) all looking for your items. How many blue cars did you all see? How about pine trees or cows?
License Plate Game
Make up silly names or descriptions from the license plates of others you see on the road. For example: TJB 239 may stand for Tall Junkyard Baron; or SFH 783 may stand for Silly Fingered Harry.
Get creative, and pull out the old favourites to keep the good times rolling. Think Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, 20 Questions, Name that Tune, I Spy…
An anytime, anywhere fun
Playtime activity supplied by the Bruderhof Saving Childhood Forum
Stumped for ideas to pass the time? Here’s a fun activity for younger kids. All you need is a crayon, a piece of paper and objects with varying textures. Specify what shape or color of object the children should find or let them explore different surfaces. The children should lay the paper on the object and rub the crayon over it. They will discover exciting textures and patterns, and the papers will fill fast as they run from brick wall to leaves to asphalt.
When complete, hang the rubbings on a bulletin board or fridge door so others can guess what each object is.
Drawing on sidewalks is a ton of fun, and making your own chalk makes it even sweeter. You’ll need:
1 cup plaster of paris
4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp powdered tempera paint
empty toilet paper rolls (1 for each piece of chalk you want to make)
elastic bands (1 for each piece of chalk you want to make
Start by covering one end of the toilet paper rolls with waxed paper held in place by the elastic band. Mix the plaster of paris and powdered paint together, then stir in the water, adding more ½ Tbsp at a time until you get a smooth consistency. Pour into your toilet paper roll molds and let dry completely (this can take up to 3 or 4 days, so patience is needed). When dry, remove the toilet paper rolls and draw to your heart’s content (if you remove the mold before the chalk is totally dry, no problem; just set aside to air dry for another 12-24 hours). To make quicker drying chalk, use smaller molds such as cookie cutters placed on wax paper, or chocolate or candy molds.
The height of summer fashion
Make dandelion chains to wear with pride in celebration of the Summer Solstice, occurring on June 20 th this year. The wonderful yellow heads of the dandelion are cheery symbols of our life-giving sun and can easily be fashioned into necklaces, bracelets, anklets and even waist sashes. Start your chain by knotting the stem of one dandelion to the stem of another, then knot that stem to a 3 rd flower stem. Continue until you have a chain long enough for the jewelry you want to fashion, then close the chain by knotting the last one to the first one.
Ooey, gooey, fun!
Make a bucket of slime to play with this week! Fill a small basin with your creation and let wee hands run their fingers through this interesting texture. For older kids, hide common objects in the slime and let them guess what the found plaything is just by the feel of it through the slime.
Mix 2 cups of water and ½ cup of cornstarch in a medium pot over medium heat until gooey and slimey. Cool, pour into a basin and slime away! This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a large batch of slime, but remember to pour it into a big container to be played in. For green slime, add a few drops of food colouring, or use green water by first boiling the water with greens such as kale, spinach or even dandelions. If you do it this way, dissolve the cornstarch into a little cool water before adding to the hot green water (which you’ll want to strain first).
Pack Your Bag
A Memory Game
Kindly Provided by the Bruderhof Saving Childhood Forum
This is a memory game. The players may be seated in a circle or the game may be played on a trip while on the bus or train. The first player begins by saying, "I’m going to London (you may substitute other place names) and in my bag I packed ..........." He can say anything he likes, for example an orange, a pair of shoes, a telephone, or a pet dog. The next player in line begins the same way but adds a second object after repeating the first. The third player also begins, “I’m going to London and in my bag I packed ..........." He must repeat the first two objects and then add a third. So it goes on, but if a player can’t repeat or mixes up the order of the objects then he is out.
If you haven't got many players, the same children can keep adding more items. The game continues until one player remains or until time is up. Some lists get very long and are remembered for years by the players. A variation is to decide that the objects chosen must start with the letters of the alphabet in order, for example "apple, bat, cake...zebra." This makes it a little easier to remember.
Hopscotch is a great game to enjoy outdoors. You’ll need some sidewalk chalk to draw the hopscotch course, and a handful of stones (one for each person playing) to use as markers.
Start by drawing the course on your sidewalk. The traditional hopscotch game was over 100 feet long and was used as a Roman military training exercise. The one you draw may be a little less grueling, and perhaps a lot more fun. A hopscotch board consists of numbered squares that will be jumped through. 2 squares side by side will be jumped with the left foot in the left square, right foot in the right square, and a single square must be jumped into on only one foot. Some squares may be marked “SAFE” and can be hopped into with either or both feet. Each player takes a turn throwing their marker (small stone) into the numbered squares (first turn will be thrown into number 1, second turn into number 2, third turn will be tossed into number 3 square, etc.). They must then jump through the course, avoiding the one their marker is in. When they get to the end, they have to turn around and jump the course in the reverse order, picking up their marker as they pass it. Rules say no player can step on a line, miss a square or lose his/her balance.
This is a fun way to get to use those cheerful yellow little flowers that are hunted so mercilessly. Be sure to only use flowers from areas that are not sprayed with chemicals!
Pick a great big dandelion bouquet of varying lengths and sizes just before bringing to your art area where you’ll have paper and paints (we recommend watercolours for this project, but really, any non-toxic paint will work just fine). Now start experimenting! Create modern art by dabbing, wiping, spraying and playing with your dandelion paintbrushes, or create a picture with the same techniques. Be prepared for a bit of a mess, but a whole lot of fun.
Pen & Ink
Making your own
Make a feather pen and ink to write with. First you’ll need to go on a feather hunt, of course. Look for great big feathers for a pen with flare, or smaller feathers for itty bitty pens (you’ll need to be a lot more careful with the smaller variety as they’re not as hardy). Make ink in a small jar with watered down food colouring (you’ll need a fair amount of food colouring to make a good ink), and you can now write letters or draw pictures with a whole lot of style.
Gardens are great places for children to explore and interact with nature. Whether they have their own little plot or help with the bigger patch, have a huge place to explore, or just a windowsill garden, it helps if you know what is growing.
This is also a fun project to help extend the excitement of gardening. Because once the seeds are planted, it can sometimes feel like forever before they sprout and eons before they bear flowers or produce edibles.
What you’ll need:
Seed packets or gardening catalogue
Scrap pieces of cardboard
Start off by gluing the seed packet covers or pictures of plants you have planted from the seed catalogue onto rectangles of cardboard. Then attach the popsicle sticks to the back of the cardboard so that you have a marker that can be inserted into the soil. Let dry overnight, then mark out your garden space. These won’t withstand the elements very well, but will hold out for awhile – at least until the plants start to sprout and show themselves. You can also use permanent ink pens to write the names of the plants onto the popsicle sticks. These will help your markers last much longer and it’s always fun to write on new surfaces.
Bubble solution and wands
Spring is a great time to blow bubbles. Make up a big batch of this bubble recipe, then sit on the porch and spend an afternoon being in the moment with your family.
1 part corn syrup or glycerin
4 parts liquid dish soap
16 parts water
¼ cup corn syrup or glycerin
1 cup dish soap
4 cups water
Add the soap after the water, stir well and enjoy your bubbles. Try using different bubble wands – pipe cleaners, copper wire, jewelry wire or even old coat hangers. Shape them as large or small as you want (just make sure you have a bucket big enough to dip the whole wand head into).
Celebrate Earth Day this week by making and playing Earth Ball – a fun game made from recycled materials.
2 empty plastic jugs (milk jugs or liquid laundry detergent containers work well)
medium sized ball (an old tennis ball works great)
Wash the jugs well and cut the bottoms off of them. These will be your catchers. Now find a friend and toss the ball back and forth, catching it with your converted jugs. How many times can you toss and catch it together?
Make a Rain Gauge
Measure your weather
They say April showers bring May flowers. What a great month to enjoy with the rainy weather and make a rain gauge.
Materials you’ll need:
Wide mouth jar
Tape your ruler securely to the jar, with the starting measure at the bottom of the jar.Place it in a wide open area, away from trees and buildings. Keep an eye on it and now you can measure your rainfall!
Break a few eggs while decorating them this year? Turn trash into treasure with this easy art project. What you’ll need – broken bits of eggshell, glue and a piece of cardboard from the recycling box (cereal boxes work well with this project). Simply glue the eggshell pieces onto the cardboard base in a fabulous spring design and ta da – beautiful spring art! You may even end up wanting to break more eggs just to make your pictures more elaborate!
Embody the greening of spring with a grass person!
Felt scraps or markers
1. cut the legs off the panty hose, leaving about 8-12 inches of nylon between the toe and where you cut.
2. sprinkle a handful of grass seed into the nylons (this will be the top of your grass person’s head and will sprout into air)
3. add enough soil to shape a good head
4. tie a knot in the nylon, or secure with a rubber band
5. make eyes, lips, a nose and ears out of the felt scraps and attach with glue (or use elastic bands to shape some of the facial features)
6. place upright in a bowl of water and watch his hair grow as the days go by
7. style and cut as the mood takes you!
A Planting Party
Using those snazzy pots (try nasturtium)
Last week we made wonderful little pots to start our garden seeds in. This week, gather all the pot painters together and have a planting party. If it’s warm enough, this is an activity best done outdoors where any spilled dirt can easily be swept into the garden. If it’s not nice enough outside, just lay down lots of newspaper on the kitchen floor, and have your party there.
What you’ll need:
Nasturtium (a bigger seed easier to plant with smaller hands, and pretty fail-safe)
Sunflower (a nice size seed, an easily recognizable plant)
When they’re planted, keep them lightly watered and remember to plant the seedlings outside later in the spring.
Many gardeners like to start growing seeds inside in early spring, before transplanting them to the garden. But before you plant, you’re going to need snazzy pots to start your wonderful little gardens in. This is a great activity to start welcoming spring into your homes. You’ll need at least one small terra-cotta pot and saucer for each person, a variety of paints and brushes and of course, the magical ingredient – imagination! Paint the pots in wonderful spring colours and themes and talk about what kind of plants you’re going to start in them. Check back next week for some ideas on great indoor started plants.
It’s in the bag
The final weeks of winter can be the hardest of the year, especially if the weather is off and outdoor play isn’t a possibility. This is a good time to create a story sack. Start off by making a small bag with a rectangle of fabric folded in half and sewed on both sides of the fold. You can make a drawstring, if you have the desire, or simply use a wide ribbon to keep it closed when not in use.
Now begin the search for items to go in the story sack. Small toys and household items, little rocks and pinecones, a crystal, a bit of string, a button…use your imagination to fill your story sack with items that will inspire the creative muse in the whole family.
When your sack is complete, the story can begin. There are oodles of ways to play with your story sack:
Let each person choose one object and have one storyteller weave a story based on the chosen objects.
Choose just one object at each story session for the storyteller to weave a tale from.
Involve all family members in the telling of the story – either around just one object or one object each.
Take turns telling stories
Take another object out when the story seems to get “stuck”
Tell one leg of an adventure story each night – based on the evening’s chosen story sack object – consider weaving characters loosely based on family members or family pets.
Make up your own Story Sack rituals and guidelines
Be a Werefamily!
Almost all ancient civilizations revered the power of the moon, especially the power of a full moon. Make it a powerful family moment by getting out and enjoying a walk on the full moon of this month (March 6th). Enjoy your time together as a family and the beauty of the nature that surrounds you. Perhaps you want to pack a full moon picnic? We find it is great fun to howl at the moon.
Telling of Tales
The art of story-telling
Set some time aside this week to tell a story together. While reading is an important family pastime, it’s also a whole lot of fun to share a story straight from the imagination, too. In the days before books were common to all, story telling was a refined art form that kept memories alive and kept families entertained. Keep the memories of your family alive as you weave a tale about the days when you were young, a favourite family holiday, or an adventure of distant ancestors. Tell your stories at a time that works best for your family. Consider mealtimes – either the preparation, the sitting down to eat or the clean up after, or try incorporating this special time into your bedtime routines. Dig deep into your memories, family lore and your imaginations and share some wonderful time connecting with one another. Maybe you even want to take turns telling tales?
Make a felt board this week. Cut a variety of shapes from different coloured felt (being sure to include all who want to help). You may want to do themes (animals, people and clothes, letters, numbers, shapes, colours) or you may want to make scenes (orchards, meadows, farms, cities, forests). To make a portable background that can be tucked into a travel bag (the felt board makes a wonderful activity while out and about – just keep your shapes fairly big), cut open an empty cereal box and remove the top and bottom flaps. Cut out a piece of felt so that it is about an inch wider and longer than your prepared cereal box cardboard. Pull it taut over the edge of the cardboard on all sides and staple in place. The felt cut-outs will stick to the background and hours of creative fun will ensue.
Love in a Flowerpot
Valentine cookie containers
Make cookie containers out of a terracotta flowerpot and saucer, fill them up and share them with those you love this week!
Paint the pot and saucer while thinking of the ones you love (add hearts and your heart-felt sentiments, or anything else you want), glue a wooden ball to the saucer which will act as a handle when placed on top of the pot, fill it with healthy treats and viola! A beautiful and unique gift!
While it may be still too cold to enjoy an outdoor picnic together, the fun of sitting on the ground can still be enjoyed. Spread a blanket on the floor of your living room or family room, stretch out and enjoy picnic foods (see this month’s Kitchen Creations for a Curried Tempeh Salad recipe. Bring out your picnic supplies (you may even want to pack your picnic basket to carry all of your wonderful goodies from the kitchen) and have fun.
Maybe you even want to wear your sun hats!
Wanna share a cuppa?
These indoor days of winter are perfect for tea parties. Whether your guests are human, animal (stuffed or otherwise) or purely imaginary, the art of the tea party lies in the table setting and the type of tea served.
Ideas for decorating the table:
“Real” items can be used from the adult world, or any of the following items can be made as part of the tea party process. Use your imaginations, have fun and celebrate everything!
Of course, you’ll need a tea pot and cups (preferably with saucers). Half the fun of the tea party is pouring the tea out of the spout.
Cloth napkins, placemats and/or tablecloths lend a charm. Coordinating these to the mood will go a long way in achieving your desired effect. For example, a brightly coloured set will serve you well for celebrating birthdays, holidays, “just because” days and achievement celebrations. On the other hand, a special set in more subdued tones can be used for before-bed teatimes and can become part of your bedtime rituals.
A centerpiece can be created with flowers, tree branches, candles (lit only when adult supervision is available of course), pinecones, berries, even rocks.
The tea goodies can be made from playdough or clay, or can be healthy edible snacks (think nuts, pretzels, fruit, veggie sticks, dips, trailmix…)
And why not dress up? Fancy hats and scarves will lend all of the guests a certain amount of glamour. Of course, if your guests are real animals, remember to respect their dignity, too.
Teas to try:
Chamomile: known for its ability to mellow a crowd, chamomile is safe for all and well-loved by children. It is also a great choice if tummy’s are upset.
Peppermint: while this tea is a fabulous digestion aid, it should only be enjoyed by children over 2 and served quite weak to anyone under 5.
Red Raspberry Leaf: absolutely wonderful for pregnant moms, but often enjoyed by the whole family, this tea has anti-inflammatory properties and can also help ease diarrhea.
Lemon-Ginger: really nice for upset tummies when outside play isn’t a possibility and a tea party is served to ease the illness boredom blues
Lemon-Balm: known for raising spirits, this is a great tea to serve when feelings have been bruised or spirits low and a tea party is served to bring equilibrium back. It is also known for promoting seep, making it a great bedtime tea.
For the winter garden
When the temperatures dip to freezing, it’s a great time to work with what you have. To make an icy sun-catcher you will need the following materials:
Foil pie plate or shallow plastic dish
6 inches of string
Dried berries, pinecones, small stones, bits of evergreen, etc.
Fill your shallow dish or pie plate ¾ full of water. Add your bits of berries, pinecones, evergreen, etc and then loop your string so both ends are securely in the water with the loop hanging out. Place the entire contraption outside in a safe place and leave out for several hours (or overnight) until it is frozen through. When it is completely solid, remove it from the container and hang it from a tree or somewhere else you will be able to watch it from an inside window. As the temperatures rise and fall, your sun-catcher will melt and freeze in interesting shapes. Be sure to check it each day and enjoy your handiwork.
**Note: to avoid having the sun-catcher fall on somebody, do not stand underneath it or place it over a walkway.
Dress up time!
January is a great time to clean out the closets and make a fresh start for the year. It is traditional for many cultures to prepare for ringing in the new year with a thorough cleaning of their homes and possessions. Seems like a fantastic way to start any new year.
But who said it had to be boring? Make cleaning out your closets a fun activity by dressing up as you work. Those undesirable cast-offs are just creative treasures in disguise. Look at your pile and make believe. The polka-dot shirt may never come back into style, but match it with the ugly tie and old suspenders and you are well on your way to a clown costume. Keep a box of the junk-turned-treasures to inspire future creative play.
Inside and loving it
Playing inside can be a ton of fun with homemade playdough. Pull out the cookie cutters, the rolling pin and the garlic press, cover the table and let your imaginations run wild. Make natural dyes by boiling any of the following in water for about 15 minutes. Use the coloured water in place of the water in the recipe.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
Stir flour and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the water (using coloured water if desired) and mix thoroughly. Roll the mixture into a ball, and then knead it until a smooth dough is achieved.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Stir all ingredients together in a pot over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture achieves the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from the head and cool until ready to handle. Knead on a floured surface until you have a smooth dough.
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
11/4 cups water
Stir all ingredients together in a pot over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture achieves the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from the head and cool until ready to handle. Knead on a floured surface (if keeping your mixture gluten-free is essential, use a non-gluten flour such as chickpea flour or corn flour) until you have a smooth dough.
This dough still won’t taste good and is not intended to be ingested, but for those with gluten allergies, it won’t cause a reaction if “tasting” does occur.
There’s not better place to scavenge about then the beach! Look for different shell varieties, various seaweeds, interesting driftwood, coloured sea glass, sea-loving creatures, different types of birds, etc. A family could spend a whole day just exploring and observing and sharing their finds with one another.
Collect seashells, seaweed, sea glass, driftwood and other cool beach debris and get creative! Write messages in the sand, create 2 or 3 dimensional pictures, or just arrange it all into interesting patterns. Remember to capture a photo of your temporary art to display when you return home!
After applying your first layer of sunscreen, try decorating each other up with sunscreen (or if applying that first layer is a struggle with the younger members of the family, make it more enjoyable for all by using this method before smearing it all in). The trick with sunscreen art is to stay as simple as possible: happy faces, kitty cats, a sun, moon and stars motif, or little fishies are all pretty easy and will cover a body rather quickly.
SUMMER TIME ACTIVITIES
Mud Pie Delight
Been awhile since you’ve all gotten good and dirty together? Tired of trying to keep everyone clean? Let it go and embrace the mud by making a big pit for yourselves and have a family party in it. If it hasn’t rained lately, just grab a bucket of water and pour it on whatever patch of dirt you can find.
Let it squish between your toes and fingers, draw in it with your fingers and sticks, make mud pies and mud muffins and mud cakes, create fabulous works of art by adding stones and leaves and flowers and whatever else you can find and just enjoy it. If you’re really worried about the mess, have a bucket of water on hand to play in right after.
Make an Inukshuk
Have you ever seen those piles of carefully balanced stones and wondered what they were? Powerful symbols of the Arctic, inuksuit (plural) were traditionally built by the Inuit to represent messengers. Some have stood on the Arctic tundra for thousands of years. Recently, they've become popular outside the Arctic, where intrigued people are erecting them in a wide variety of settings. Traditionally, they were arranged in the likeness of a person and they were used to mark trails, food sources, or nearby people.
Make your own inukshuk out of rocks this summer in your garden, or, if working with younger children, make a playdough and rock inuksuk for an indoor locale.
Mother’s Day Magnets
Mother’s Day is May 13, 2012! One of our absolute favourite days of the year, because we get to celebrate mamas (which happily includes ourselves, our moms and many of our wonderful friends). While your kids make Mother’s Day Magnets for you and/or their grandmas, consider making them for your mama friends. They make a fabulous gift.
Magnetic strips (available at most craft stores)
A Picture of mama with her kids (or grandma with her grandkids)
Decorations (fabric, string, sparkles, crayons, etc.)
Cut a fun-shaped frame from the paper (a flower for the gardening mama, a sunshine for the happy mama, a camera for the photographer mama, etc.), making sure that the inside of the frame is cut just big enough to show the picture off to perfection ( and small enough that the picture can be glued onto the back). Decorate elaborately, then glue the picture in, being sure to line it up well. Attach your magnetic strips to the back and present with a flourish on Mama’s Day.
Check out these other Mother’s Day sites and be sure to check out our Mother’s Day Page!
Rain jacket and rubber boots for all, and out you go. If you’re unsure of how to thoroughly enjoy a good puddle, just follow your children’s lead.
Put dry tempura paint in an old spice jar (with big holes) and shake onto a piece of paper. Carry outside carefully and let the rain do the rest. Try different colour combinations in the same spice jar or in separate containers.
Spring is a time of planning and planting for the future. We like to acknowledge this “sewing of seeds” season by literally planting our dreams and nurturing them into growth. This is a fun activity to do after a spring Sunday brunch and gets everyone involved in celebrating the season.
What you’ll need:
Half an eggshell for each person
Wheat or sunflower seeds
Small pieces of paper
If you have eggcups, they make a great base for holding your eggs (check garage sales for fun and very economical eggcups), but if not, just cut out egg holders from an egg carton and give one to each person to hold their egg in.
Start by writing down some goals or dreams for the coming months (children who can’t yet write can draw a picture). You’ll need to write them very small, as you’ll put this piece of paper into the bottom of your eggshell and plant your seeds on top. Think about what you would like to see materialize in your life. Place this tiny piece of paper into the bottom of your eggshell, top with the potting soil and then plant your seed(s). If you are using sunflower seeds, one is all you’ll need, but if you are using wheat, scatter a few so that you’ll get lots of wheatgrass. Now place your newly planted dreams in an appropriate spot. Be sure to tend to your dreams by keeping your seeds watered and thinking about what else you need to do to actualize your goals. Enjoy the visual reminder of your ability to make your dreams come true!
Break a few eggs while decorating them this year? Turn trash into treasure with this easy art project. What you’ll need – broken bits of eggshell, glue and a piece of cardboard from the recycling box (cereal boxes work well with this project). Simply glue the eggshell pieces onto the cardboard base in a fabulous spring design and ta da! – beautiful spring art! You may even end up wanting to break more eggs just to make your pictures more elaborate!
Traditions from around the world
Many countries throughout the world celebrate the Christian holiday Easter. The roots of Easter stretch back to ancient celebrations of spring and the return of the sun. Today it is celebrated by Christians who believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead (returning the son to God).
Easter Celebrations Around the World:
Germany: Many German families decorate tree branches in vases with real eggs and brightly coloured ornaments. These “Easter trees” are usually put up about 2 weeks before Easter.
Ukraine: Pysanky is an elaborate Ukrainian method of decorating Easter eggs using dyes and beeswax to make elaborate designs on the eggs. The design traditions are handed down from generation to generation and are extremely delicate and beautiful.
Greece: Greek celebrants bake a traditional bread called Tsoureki. This braided loaf of bread has a red egg baked into it to symbolize the blood of Christ. It is a sweet bread only baked on Good Friday.
Check out the Razzle Dazzle Recipes for a Tsoureki recipe http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/easter/bread-recipes/greek-easter-bread.htm
Mexico: In Mexico entire communities get together to reenact the last days of Jesus, including his death and resurrection. Processions with drums and candlelight wind through the towns and sad songs are sung on Good Friday, as Jesus’ death is remembered.
Quilting has been done for centuries all over the world, and in almost all societies was traditionally in the realm of women’s work. Quilting bees brought women together to stitch new quilts for newlyweds, new babes or others in need of bedding and offered a much-desired chance to get together and visit. Quilting is still very popular and is still done most often by women.
Get friends or family together to make a paper quilt this International Women’s Day. Give everyone a square of paper (12” by 12” makes a nice size, but really any size will do) to decorate with pens, markers, crayons or even pastels, making sure all of the white space is filled in. This is a fun activity to all do at the same time, and to really get into the spirit of International Women’s Day, turn on some music by your favourite female artists and take the opportunity to talk about women’s rights around the world in days gone by as well as today.
When all the squares are finished, glue them side-by-side onto a large square of paper. Be sure you have enough squares to fully fill the big one (ie you’ll need 16 12” x 12” square to fill in a 4ft square of paper). When you’re done, hang it somewhere to decorate your space and remember the fun you had working together to create it.
Replace the paper in the above activity with squares of plain white fabric to be decorated with fabric paints. When the squares are done, stitch them together to create one big piece of work. If you have the time and/or skill, consider making it into a useable blanket by finishing it off with batting and a fabric backing.
Dr. Suess’ Birthday is on March 2nd. Long celebrated as a day to promote children’s literacy, it’s a great day to celebrate literacy in your family, too!
Try a couple of these fun activities and be sure to read a Dr. Suess book or two!
Bookmarks are fun and easy to make and after making one (or a dozen), you’ll want to pull out a book to read together so they can be used. If you’re really enthusiastic about making them, make extras to send to friends!
What you’ll need:
Crayons, Markers, Pens and Pencils
Tassels or yarn to make tassels
What to do:
Cut the paper into long strips about 3 inches wide, then let your child take over and decorate to their heart’s content. To make a tassel on top, punch a hole ¼ inch from the top, and thread your tassel through.
Make Cat in the Hat hats by following this link:
With the weather warming, but still not always conducive to a day outdoors, it’s nice to have the supplies for this project on hand for an indoor day. This also makes a great pajama party craft (whether it’s friends who have been invited over, or just your family having a fun family night).
You need pillowcases and fabric paint and everyone in the family can decorate a personalized pillowcase. You can use old pillowcases that you have on hand, or they can be purchased for very reasonable (cheap!) prices at second hand stores. Fabric paints are available at most craft shops.
Starting with a clean, dry pillowcase, insert a piece of cardboard into the middle to keep the paint from leaking through to the other side. Decorate as you wish (and be sure to let everyone else do the same) using paintbrushes, stencils (make these yourselves by cutting shapes from cardboard) and/or sponges. Let one side dry, then flip your creation over and do the other side.
You can turn these into Dream Pillows by putting pictures and images of what you would like to dream about (consider adding a dream catcher to keep out all the bad dreams).
Creating a spot to keep one’s precious little things – be they seashells, cards or notes from family and friends, special stones, favoured pictures, collector bits and bobs or whatnot - is a great activity for all members of the family. Start with a shoebox for each person making a special keepsake box and then let each personalize their own with fabric scraps, stickers, paint, and/or crayons and pens. Try to refrain from offering unsolicited input as this is a project where beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
If there aren’t any special odds and ends to put in right away, go for a nature walk together when you’ve finished you’re boxes and pick out a favoured nature object to tuck in to start the collections off.
Chinese New Years
In China, and in Chinese communities around the world, special decorations and foods are prepared to celebrate the beginning of the new year and communities get together to welcome in the new year with great celebration. If you can, it is a great time to visit your community’s local Chinatown and take part in the festivities.
To celebrate at home, consider hosting a potluck Chinese New Year’s party to sample some yummy foods and make some of the traditional Chinese decorations listed below:
Red paper scrolls:
Chun lian are special Chinese couplets, often written on red paper, which are hung outside the front door of houses and businesses. The sayings are meant to bring luck and fortune to the dwelling for the coming year. Check out the following pages to learn more about chun lian and how to write a common Chinese verses in the beautiful Chinese calligraphy.
Hongbao, or red packets filled with money, are given to children on Chinese New Year’s by parents, grandparents, friends and other relatives to symbolize luck and wealth. Making red packets is a fun family activity that is easy enough for even young kids and a couple of dollars put into each makes them a well-received gift.
The Spring Festival (Chinese New Year’s) lasts for 15 days and is marked at the end of it by the lantern festival (Yunxiao). Celebrating the first full moon of the year, paper lanterns were traditionally carried into the streets for a community parade and were often accompanied by fabulous folk dances, including the dragon dance. Try making paper lanterns to hang around your home as part of your Chinese New Year’s celebrations. Directions can be found at:
Groundhog’s Day, on February 2nd, is the modern equivalent of the ancient festival Imbolc. Imbolc was traditionally a time to notice the lengthening of the summer’s strength and predict coming weather patterns. When the groundhog pokes his head out to check on his shadow this year, know that it is an ancient custom to notice the level of the sun on this day.
One of the traditional activities of Imbolc was the making of candles. With the returning power of the sun, many families set aside this day to create candles they would use all the year through. We’re rather fortunate to have electric lights and candle stores abundant in our modern world, but it’s still fun to make our own candles occasionally.
These beeswax candles are easy to make with kids of all ages and they burn well, allowing all who participated in the creation to feel the satisfaction of artistic achievement.
½ sheet of beeswax per candle
wick (be sure to puchase 100% cotton wicks to avoid unnecessary indoor air pollution)
Start by cutting the full beeswax sheet in half, then lay the wick along one side. If the beeswax is stiff, warm it gently with the hair dryer (low setting is plenty warm enough). Now, just roll the beeswax tightly around the wick and viola! You have a candle. You can use cookie cutters to cut out shapes from another sheet of the beeswax and using the hair dryer to warm both the candle and your decorative accent up slightly, attach them by gently but firmly pressing them together. Beeswax sheets can be purchased in a wide variety of colours from most any craft store.
Half the fun of a good toy is creating it. Try making felt boards and felt characters with your kids this week, and watch imaginations blossom. To make a portable set that can entertain in the car as you run errands or be taken along to friends’ houses, use a shoebox to house all your creations. Simply cover the inside of the lid (or the entire box if you so desire) with felt or flannel, gluing it on to keep it secure. Then, from scraps of felt, cut out a variety of characters or animals or scenery pieces with which to create stories with. If your child is old enough to cut them out, he/she can create them him/herself. If not, little ones like to watch as their new toys take shape and remember that they don’t have to be masterpieces to be enjoyed. Some of the simplest shapes inspire the most creativity!
Ideas for felt cut-outs:
Horses, cows, hay bales, dogs, chickens, a sun, clouds, pigs, sheep, barns, tractors, fences, trees, flowers, people…
Different shaped faces, eyes, mouths, noses, beards, mustaches, ears, earings, hats, hair, glasses…
Pizza bases and toppings, salad ingredients, vegetables and fruit, plates, cutlery…
Flower stems and petals, a sun, clouds, bees, spiders, ladybugs, trees, people, rocks…
Wintry Beach Day
Facing bone chilling weather and tired of the packing everyone into snow boots, mittens, hats, scarves, and of course the dreaded snow suits? Take a break from the weather outside and create a beach inside.
Start the day by making beach decorations to hang up and create your atmosphere – a giant sun to hang in the window, pictures of boats, lighthouse and beach umbrellas to adorn the walls, great collages of sea shells, sea weed, sea creatures or other beach treasures…whatever the mood brings. Turn on beach music and practice this fun beach tongue twister as you work: She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
As lunch draws near and your artwork is ready to be hung, pack a picnic into your picnic basket or cooler, then set off to set up your beach. Bring the kiddy pool in and fill it with warm water (a garden hose hooked to tap works well for this). You’ll want to set up somewhere where water can easily be cleaned up (kitchen?), and lay down LOTS of towels or old sheets and then let go of the worry (it is only water, after all and the floors will be clean as can be when the beach is finally put away and mopped up). Bring out the beach toys, turn up the temperature in your house a couple of degrees, then climb into your beach gear and make believe. Swim, play in the water, read on the “beach” (your towels), eat your picnic and have fun.