Today I hosted a playdate with some of the homeschooling families from my church. The theme was “wreath-making”. Everyone was to bring a wire hanger, a goodie to share and mud boots (as it had been rainy the day before and just a tad muddy out on the farm)…and I promised to provide Christmas music, a cozy fire, hot chocolate and an opportunity for the kids to walk our property in search of nature’s bounty for the making of our wreaths. Four moms and eight kids (ages 2 – 7) participated…down from the usual 16-19 participants. The kids absolutely LOVED being outside, playing with our big dopey (and rather muddy) dog, Eli, then chasing the chickens, turkeys & guinea hens as we moms started snipping evergreen branches. After the kids got their jollies terrorizing the barnyard animals they were instucted to look high and low for natural materials with which to decorate the wreaths (berries, nuts, acorns, etc.). To my complete surprise (because the whole chasing of the chickens thing was a tough act to follow), all the kids were rather excited to discover red holly berries, yellow holly berries, blue berries on a cedar tree, various pine cones and gum tree seeds. Nothing was more exciting to the kids, of course, than being given an opportunity to handle sharp instruments (the snippers). Well, maybe that was a close second to seeing who could get the most mud on the inside of their shoes.
After about 45 minutes of being outdoors we headed back in for our craft activity. Except that none of the kids were even remotely interested in actually assembling the wreath…not while there were plenty of toys to play with. So instead, the moms got busy crafting. At first I thought…well, this isn’t good…we’re doing the activity FOR our children…how enabling is that?!?! But then I realized that getting some (relatively) uninterrupted adult conversation wasn’t such a bad thing…in fact, I was rather starving for it. And I just love these ladies…so it was a very GOOD thing!
To my relief, my 7 year old was at least interested in helping me glue on the pinecones and gum tree seeds. This two minute effort of his apparently was sufficient in his mind to exclaim to DH when he got home “Daddy! Daddy! Look what I made today!”. Hmph.
The wreath-making idea was taken from a most excellent book “A Kid’s Winter EcoJournal” by Toni Albert. It’s one of 4 seasonal activity guides that offers lots of great ideas for nature exploration, observation, journaling and crafting. It’s published by Trickle Creek Books (www.tricklecreekbooks.com) and retails for $9.95. I highly recommend it to any mom looking for fresh ideas to help keep kids stay tuned into nature.