Summer Squeals


The air tells me, summer is almost here and no amount of recessionary blues can stop it from coming. I love that about the seasons. They come when they are supposed to and then they go. Circle of life. And life’s realities will not stop that. There is a certain joy in that predictability. I think the recession, has, in the past few months, forced us to come back to basics and concentrate on what is really important. Earlier, for example, to keep busy, I would have probably taken the kids to a store. Today I find ways to keep them happy without always involving money. Most children get bored with activities, no matter how creative or how interesting. You definitely cannot commit the cardinal sin of giving them the same activity every day. Their boredom thresholds are as low as the current financial markets.

No kidding! “Seek and thou shall find?” I have found ways to keep the children happy in simple ways. Here are some activities I am putting to test, this summer. And my kids are not easy this year. My 4-year-old son has found and perfected his rebellious streak and my 15-month-old daughter has followed suit.

Pinwheels: This is a simple craft and one that will get the kids moving.

You will need: Construction paper or colored card, thumbtack or stick pin, pencil with a new eraser, craft glue, scissors and sequins.

You can find the pattern for pinwheels on any arts and crafts internet site. Cut the square pattern out, cutting along the solid lines. Lay the pattern on top of colored paper and trace the square. Cut out the square from the colored paper. Keep the pattern square on top of the colored square. Either hold it in place with your fingers or tape it down lightly on two of the sides. Cut through the pattern and the colored paper along the dotted lines but do not cut in to the center circle. Use a thumbtack or stick pin to poke out the holes in every other corner as indicated on the pattern. Set the pattern piece aside. Take one corner (one with a hole) and fold it toward the center of the square. Fold the next corner that has a hole and fold it toward the center on top of the first holed corner. Repeat with the other two corners with holes until all four are folded into the center. Glue the folds to each other and to the center. Hold together until dry. Push the thumbtack through the center of the pinwheel and into the eraser of the pencil. Make sure the pinwheel isn’t touching the eraser or it won’t spin. Glue some sequins to the flaps of the pinwheel and let dry.

Want to get more creative: Use white paper and have your kids color the paper with crayons or markers, before cutting out the pattern. Use sequins, glitter glue or stickers to decorate. I know my son would probably like to use the batman stickers on his wheel to decorate it.

Ladybug Rocks: Children love collecting things on walks. And I can understand that. Custom officials have no idea what to do to me when we come back from holidays. Instead of artifacts, my bags are loaded with shells and rocks. I love rocks. There is something very solid and steady about them. And summer is a great time to take a walk and bring back a few round rocks home. Talk about free shopping. But now how about turning them into colorful, gorgeous ladybugs? Use them as shelf decorations or as paperweights. And don’t necessarily stick to red as the ladybug color. You can use as many colors as you like.

You will need: Smooth round or oval rocks, acrylic craft paint in various colors including black, 2 wiggle eyes, black sharpie marker, acrylic matte sealer spray and craft glue.

Now here’s how to make them. Wash the rocks, and then paint them in various colors and let dry. Paint a couple of rounds if you so desire. Paint the head using black paint. Use a black sharpie to draw the straight line down the center of the rock, start at the center of the painted black head. Dip the end of a large paint brush, or the eraser of a pencil, in black craft paint. Dot on the spots, reloading with paint after every dot. Once the paint is dry, spray the rock(s) with an acrylic sealer spray. Allow the sealer to dry completely. Using white craft glue, attach wiggle eyes and let dry. And viola, they are ready. Imagine the lengths you can take this activity: you can make ladybug families complete with mamas, papas, sisters, brothers and well, ‘pet’ lady rocks!

I believe this summer will have to be about a mindset change. The change is in the mind, and once that change happens, all will flow like the soft summer breeze. What more could one ask for? How Zen!

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