In our part of the Midwest the wind from the north has been fiercely blowing since early morning, swaying the evergreens and rattling the windows in our old farmhouse. The calendar says April, but somehow, it feels more like winter. When the afternoon came around, it finally sounded as if the wind had slowed, but a quick look outside and I knew I was wrong. That fickle north wind had stirred up a dust cloud in a newly plowed field, and as I watched, the cloud whirled, went higher, quickly turned, and then raced out of sight toward the woods.
Yes, it’s windy and there’s a lingering chill in the air, but after all, it is an April wind and somehow it hints of spring…of planting, of freshly-turned fields, of cheery daffodils, and the scent of just-mowed grass. Flowers are popping up, puddles are drying, grass is growing…it’s a gentle reminder of springtime.
However; this spring is like no other…like all of you, we’ve altered our school and work routines and we’re learning how to better care for ourselves and minister to others. While distance learning for our kids fills most of the day, there should also be time for fun, for exploring, for curiosity, and not only for the kids, but for parents, too!
Last week a friend asked me if I would share some of the things our family has been doing to pass the time. I jotted down a list of what we’re doing now, then added a few ideas of what our kids did when they were younger (they’re both teenagers now.)
And since Spring + Stay-in-Place = Activities for the Family, I hope some of my ideas will give your family something new to enjoy together…play in the dirt, make bubbles, plant a pizza garden! It doesn’t matter how young or how old we are…there’s still joy in celebrating the simple things.
1. Spring means rains showers…perfect for making rain paintings.
Oh-so easy…paint a picture using watercolors or poster paint (any water-soluble paint will work) then set the picture outside…the raindrops will soon make all sorts of pretty patterns. Leave it outside as long as you’d like, but not so long that the picture washes away!
2. Whip up homemade bubbles…kids big & little love blowing bubbles, and this DIY recipe is ready in no time.
Combine 6 cups of water with 1 cup of liquid dish soap; stir slowly, trying not to let bubbles form. Add 1/4 cup corn syrup, stir gently. No wands? No Problem! You can use cookie cutters or twist pipe cleaners into clever shapes.
3. Amazing oobleck slime – is it a solid or a liquid? You decide!
Our kids had a terrific 5th teacher (thanks Mrs. White!) who shared this “recipe” with her class…it’s great!
Add 1 cup of cornstarch to a bowl; slowly add 1/2 cup water. Mix with your fingers…you might want to wear gloves! And food coloring may stain some surfaces…so mixing it on a paper plate is perfect. Soon the slime should begin to feel like a liquid. If it feels too dry, add a little more water, if it’s too wet, add more cornstarch. When it’s just right, pick up the slime and roll it between your hands until it becomes a solid ball, but watch out…if you stop rolling, it begins to drip!
4. Grow a yummy pizza garden.
Whether you have a roomy back yard or an apartment patio that’s just right for container gardening, you can grow your favorite pizza toppings. Kids will love this! Start off with easy-to-grow onion, bell pepper, plum tomatoes, or jalapeno plants. Why not grow your own salad, too? Scatter seeds for lettuce, kale, tomato, cucumber, carrot, and spinach.
Finish off your pizza garden with some fragrant herbs…chives, basil, coriander, then pull out paints or paint pens and create a sign. We always seem to have scraps of wood from a leftover project, or for this one, I found some old pieces of slate a friend had given me.
5. Create a rainy-day cupboard.
It can truly be a cupboard, or a plastic tote, or a big basket…it doesn’t matter what it is; it’s what’s inside that matters. There’s just something kids love about opening up a door or lid and seeing all the magic right at their fingertips.
Fill the cupboard with all the things that make imaginations run wild…colorful paper, sketch pads, wrapping paper, tape, glue, stickers, buttons, scissors, beads, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, fabric scraps, yarn, colored pencils, crayons, watercolors, markers, and finger paints. Kids big & little love looking through all the goodies and coming up with their own creations. Trust me…you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one!
I hope these ideas will spark some fun in your own family. I’ll be sharing more in the days to come!
Photos by (top to bottom): Unsplash; Mary, Windy Meadows Farm; Mary, Windy Meadows Farm.
Mary is a Midwest farm girl who will tell you, “I love simple, old-fashioned ways ... tying on an apron for Sunday dinner, barn sales & auctions, farmers' markets, county fairs, porch swings, and slow train ridhes. Add to these the laughter of children, and I couldn't be happier!” You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.