Yes, I’m a little behind here. My official excuse is that I didn’t want you to be overwhelmed by the number of posts going up; but if I’m being honest it’s more that I was too busy doing these things to blog about them.
Here’s how we kept busy this week:
In preparation for the Great American Backyard Campout, the kids built several temporary shelters; fort-like structures, tents suspended from ropes that were tied to trees, and teepees. The boys took this task very seriously, consulting their library copy of Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters . (Those who have read Last Child in the Woods will remember this as the book Richard Louv consulted as a child. The kids found it not very practical, as many of the structures involved “stuff like nails” that their father wouldn’t let them have.)
In the end, it was decided that the best option was to sleep in an actual tent that came from a store, because it could be zipped up against the mosquitoes that were feasting on our blood.
Day Ten: Camp Out! We made s’mores, caught lightening bugs, read Little House on the Prairie by solar flashlight, talked about my childhood camping trips. Cassidy was not so crazy about the chirping of crickets, and when the screech owl came screaming around, she was done; inside she went to find refuge with Daddy. Around midnight the wind whipped up out of nowhere. There was thunder and lightening, the tree tops were swaying dramatically. It was wild.
We had to de-camp, hollering to be heard over the wind (probably just talking loudly, but outside at that time of night it felt like hollering); Jacob found that pretty exciting. Mav was dead asleep and had to be led inside, he had no memory of it in the morning. All in all a fun experience and one we’ll try again.
The next day in the paper they ran an article about the Great American Backyard Campout; turns out only 13 families in our area registered for the event. Hmm, maybe next year they’ll run an article the day before, rather than the day after?
Day Eleven: Sew something.
I taught my kids the bare basics of sewing about a year ago, and they’ve been off and running with it ever since. They particularly like to make sock creatures. I encourage this creative outlet for a number of reasons; Jacob is more proficient than Maverick, so there is a working together; it puts our scrap fabrics and lone socks to good use (even the rattiest, most tattered fabric can be used as stuffing), and they wind up with a surplus of toys so I rarely hear any pleas for new ones. They make so many, in fact, that they often give them away, and are surprised when people praise their “puppets”- after all, they have twenty just like it at home.
Some excellent books for sock critter inspiration:
- Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves
- The Cute Book (this is the only one our library had, but this author has published several craft books. If you come across any others, let me know what’s good, and we’ll get them from Half.com)
- Toys to Sew: Dozens of Patterns for Dolls, Animals, Doll Clothes, and Accessories
- Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks (this book is also available as a kit for a few dollars more, with starter socks. I find this hilarious- what kid doesn’t already have loner socks in his sock drawer?)
Day Twelve: Tell a story and share it. One creature made of socks this week was created in the likeness of Indiana Jones, and a story was mapped out and photographed. It’s still under construction, but Jacob started a blog to showcase The Adventures of Sockiana Jones and his fellow sock friends. If you have kids, have them check the blog out, (keeping in mind it’s brand new). If they are inspired to make creatures of their own, they can email Jake pictures and he’ll incorporate them into the ongoing saga.
Day Thirteen: Go on safari. Get out your magnifying glass and see how many bugs you can find in ten minutes for Mommy to take pictures of! Ready, set…go!!! OK, now take this Field Guide to Insects and Spiders and identify them! (This is actually an everyday thing at our house, but somehow the kids are much happier when I call it bug safari. Or leaf safari. Or whatever. This particular day, we couldn’t find the magnifying glass, so I created a makeshift one with cardboard and plastic wrap. The point isn’t the magnification, but the prop, so they can hunt Sherlock Holmes-style.)
Day Fourteen: Clean out your closet, your desk, your toy box, and under your bed. Wow! It’s like Christmas all over again! All these toys you didn’t know you had!
Day Fifteen: Make Sun Prints. Sun prints are achieved with special paper that changes in the sun. The paper comes out of the package blue; you put an item on it (we like ferns and keys best), sandwich a piece of clear acrylic (included in the kit) on top, and leave out in the sun for a few minutes until it is bleached nearly white. Then you “develop” your picture by swirling it in water (we used a pie pan so we wouldn’t have to go inside), and presto change-o, the paper turns back to blue while leaving the area covered by your object white.
You can achieve a similar effect by wetting down construction paper and leaving it in bright sun, but this will take longer, of course. I think it’s worth buying the sun print paper at least once for the high drama of the waterbath color change- the kids totally do not expect it and the results are very pretty. The refill papers are fairly inexpensive and I don’t think the acrylic is necessary if the sun is bright.
We’ll probably use these on Cassidy’s birthday thank-you cards.
OK, I think I’m caught up…
What’s everybody else up to? How’s your summer going?
Any good, inexpensive ideas to keep my kids busy?