Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Do you know how to make your own invisible ink, teacup candles, hummingbird habitat or a stand for an outdoors movie screen? All these activities are fun to make, cheap or free, and will keep your kids busy the good old-fashioned way – hands on, no electronics involved.
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Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, the nature family equivalent to the Slow Food movement, was written by my gifted friend Suz Lipman. Inspired by Suz’s blog Slow Family Online, Fed Up with Frenzy is a call to arms against crazy schedules, rushed lives and digital insanity.
Take the time to live. Sit down. Relax. Featuring family activities, timeless games, crafts, recipes and more, this book should be on every family’s book shelf, just to remember that it’s OK to slow down and that by slowing down, you will reconnect with your true selves.
“Let’s find an activity for your cousins when they come for Thanksgiving!” I told my girls when this book arrived by mail. Since we’ll have 9 kids from age 3 months to 9 years with a majority of preschoolers, I needed to find an activity that would be accessible yet interesting whatever the age group.
To get my girls involved and excited about the activity, I walked my girls to school. Normally we’d be riding our bikes or taking the bus but I knew I’d have their full attention if we walked half an hour. That was 6 weeks ago and we browsed as I read out loud: felt mushrooms, teacup candles, safety-pin bracelet, homemade lip balm, muffin-tin crayons, melt-and-pour soap. I was getting lots of “ooohs” and “aaahs” and “let’s save this for a sleepover” comments but I still hadn’t found the one-size-fits-all activity.
Since we were in early October, I jumped to the chapter called “Embrace Fall.” There, we found: stuff a scarecrow, roast pumpkin seeds and the grand winner of our walk, make a fall leaf placemat! Now that, was something easy to do that would keep the kids busy while the turkey was cooking.
For the three following weeks, looking for leaves became our mission. The girls even insisted to walk to school a few times and pointed to a variety of leaves that would be the right size for the project. They pulled Lois Ehlert’s book Leaf Man off our shelves and took it along on hikes. Each time we collected leaves, we lay them flat in heavy books to dry for a week. Thanksgiving is next week. We now have a good collection of dry autumn leaves. They are all for the kids next week but I used a handful today to make the example they can follow. You can read the tutorial on How To Make An Easy Fall Leaf Placemat.
Now I’ll be able to concentrate on the rest of the book. Some of the projects that really tickle me include making a rain gauge (a great winter activity), making edible campfires, making lemon invisible ink or telling fortunes with snack foods. For my little nephews and nieces, I can see making a juice box train as a great summer activity.
The good news is, Suz also thought of kid milestones and how you can celebrate them in fun ways. Whether you’re going to make tooth fairy pouches, make a lavender sachet for kids who have nightmares or make tube kazoos to celebrate the New Year, Suz tips you off in the right direction with easy DIYs.
My great hope is that the second edition of the book will include color photographs too because I love having a visual idea of what I’m making. In the meantime, you can search on Slow Family Online with the activity name and it’s possible you’ll find an illustrated version. If not, be patient and creative!
Now, won’t the book make a great stocking-stuffer for family and friends?