The snow is melting, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Spring is here! Let’s say it again (it’s been a long winter): Spring is here! Whether you’re looking for ideas to entertain the kids on spring break or just day-to-day crafty fun, these suggestions will help you celebrate the most vibrant of seasons.
1. Plant a garden. Get down and dirty with your kids by planting your own fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re ready to dig up a portion of the yard, or prefer to keep your bounty in containers, gardening teaches kids about food, nutrition, biology, nature and responsibility. Want some easy “starter” experiments? Try tomatoes, strawberries and herbs. For tips, visit the National Gardening Association’s kid-centric site, www.kidsgardening.org.
2. Make your own kite. All it takes to create a kite is a plastic bag, string and tape. This page by National Geographic Kids can show you how. It’s up to you to cover the kite with colors and creativity, and dazzle everyone who watches as you make it soar.
3. Make your own play dough. Those little containers full of mushy modeling material are great, the first time you open them. Then, they have a tendency to mix into ugly colors and dry out, losing all kid appeal. What a waste! Why not make your own instead? It’s easy to do using all natural ingredients you have in your kitchen. You’ll need the following:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
scented oils (your choice, vanilla and peppermint work well)
Put all of the ingredients into a pot and stir over low heat. As you cook, the dough will thicken. When it begins pulling away from the sides of the pan, and resembles the consistency of the dough we all know and love, remove it from the heat and let it cool. If, after it cools, it’s too sticky to play with, simply cook it a bit longer until it has the consistency you want.
4. Build a bird feeder. You know what they say: birds of a feather stick together. And if you’re inviting enough, they just might stick together in your yard. You and your kids can build bird feeders of all levels, from simple to incredibly complex. One of our favorite feeders is actually a wreath made of seeds that you can mold and then hang in a tree. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it at your house.
5. Take a picnic to the park. It sounds so simple, but a picnic with you and your kids’ favorite foods is, truly, the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Especially if there’s a playground, lake, beach or other place to run around and get the wiggles out.
6. Make art out of Peeps. Every year, the Washington Post and other papers sponsor “Peeps diorama” contests, and every year, we get inspired to buy mass quantities of the fluorescent marshmallows…. and proceed to eat them. Still, we love the idea and encourage you to build your own Peeps project. Feeling extra inspired? You can even make your own Peeps! Martha Stewart shows you how, here.
7. Spring cleaning. We could all benefit from emptier closets and cleaner houses. Make it into a game so the kids will get into it. Dress up like maids or butlers, or try a game of “Cinderella” to get them to play along. If all else fails, assign a dollar amount to each task to sweeten the deal. A little bribery never hurt anyone. Then, turn it into a teaching moment and have your kids accompany you to charity to donate the items you no longer need.