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Spring break takes planning

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
I've had several people ask me how I keep my sanity over spring break. Well, since locking children in closets is seriously frowned upon, and if I locked myself in the closet I probably wouldn't have a house left, I decided to try and look on these times as opportunities to spend time and share some fun activities with my kids. (Attitude helps a lot!)
What also helps is that I try to go into a school break with a general idea of things to do. For example, I plan our meals in advance so I don't have to stand and stare at the pantry at 11:30 a.m. wondering what on earth I'm fixing for lunch.
I'm not suggesting that you should plan every minute or even every hour, but just have a general idea of something to do each day. This is what I have in mind: Monday–Movie day (Let everyone pick a favorite movie. Get out the popcorn and have some fun.); Tuesday–Park and picnic; Wednesday–Have a friend over; Thursday–Craft day; Friday–Make cookies.
I also try to plan stuff around the weather. (Like I have a choice anyway!) If it's going to be a pretty day, I'll try to get us outside even if I have to totally change our plans for that day. If you can't get to the park, you can always take lunch outside in your own yard. This is also a great day to look for things in nature that you can use in crafts on another day.
Speaking of crafts, my kids love them. The problem I have is the mess that tends to come with the crafts. I haven't been able to completely alleviate the problem, but I've found if I keep the crafts confined to one area and make the children take turns, it helps control the disaster, a little. Occasionally, I will do one craft in the kitchen and another on the dining room table, but one or the other has to be a craft the children can do alone with minimal supervision.
My kids love to make collages, play clay, rubbings, craft kits (I don't use these often due to the expense), sock puppets, Popsicle stick crafts (these are fairly inexpensive), and homemade bubbles.
I don't always tell my children what to make. In fact, I rarely do. I want them to think it through and come up with their own ideas. I provide materials and then let the children see what they can make from them.
You can easily expand on these activities to help children with academics, as well. Let me explain.
Have the children make a collage, then have them write a short story about it.
They might choose to tell a story that goes along with the picture or they might just tell you why they picked what they did.
The important thing is they are practicing skills that will help them in school and throughout life.
Speaking of throughout life, I believe a good parent works themself out of a job. Therefore, I try to encourage living skills, like cooking.
Fortunately, my kids love to cook and it's never too early to start teaching the basics. Even children as young as two can help if you divide the ingredients into little bits for little hands. Obviously, you don't want them to add the spaghetti to a boiling pot of water, but they can add the sugar in a cookie recipe (turn off the beaters!). Cooking is another activity that can be used to help with academics. Cooking involves reading, reading comprehension, math, and you can even work in some history. Huh? Yep, history.
We often talk about what it was like "back in the olden days." I like to make bread with the kids. In making bread you can use reading for the recipe, math for the measurements, science for why it rises, and history of how and why the pioneers made their own bread.
I hope you enjoy your spring break.
Here's a recipes to try:
HOMEMADE ICE CREAM; In a container that has a lid, mix 1 can evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt. Put the lid on and set it in the freezer. Stir every 1/2 hour until its ready to eat. This can be kept in the freezer just like regular ice cream–that is if you have any left!
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