Beautiful Day Bag of Tricks

So one thing about a great routine and a good schedule is that it is such a special treat to break away from it once in a while. Spur of the moment changes and activities become rewards or exciting field trips or projects, rather than chaos in the life of a family with a routine. Recently we had a fabulous spring day around here. I mean it was one of those beautiful, bright, sweet-smelling days when all of a sudden you see green all around you again, and flowers, flowers popping out everywhere. We had plans for that day, but thanks to a few wrenches thrown in our wheels, we had to scratch our plans and work something else out. But before I reached for our lesson plan book and pulled out some worksheets and pencils, I decided we would enjoy the day first. I told the little lovelies to get on some bright spring clothes, put on some shoes, grab a book, and get in the van. Mama was reaching into her beautiful day bag of tricks.

If you spend much of your time caring for young children, whether you realize it or not, you usually develop a bag of rainy day tricks. You have go-to activities you pull out when things get boring or kids get stir crazy when stuck inside. Maybe this is an actual bag full of good stuff, or maybe this is just a group of ideas. Maybe when it rains, your kids get to play with special toys you keep hidden on most days, making the toys more exciting on those grey days, or maybe rainy days at your house mean making cupcakes or a tea party (you know rain  must equal a tea party at our house…as does sunshine and snow and windy days and pretty much any day there’s some kind of weather coming our way…). Anyway, you get what I mean by a bag of rainy day tricks. Well, once spring sprang this year I  wanted  some go-to ideas for not-so-rainy days, too.  And now I am the pleased owner of a not-so-real bag of beautiful day tricks. Okay so they aren’t exactly “tricks”‘ but it seems, for whatever reason,  I am stuck on that phrasing today. Anyway, when the weather is absolutely stunning, we get all prettied up and we go out into the day, books in hand of course, because, as my children are told on a regular basis (the poor dears), you never know when you’re gonna want a good book with you.

So back to that first stunning spring day: first out of the bag was a trip to the coffee shop, for so many reasons. One being that Mama needed a little organic iced  coffee with agave and too much cream. Mmm. So good, and honestly, I’m not sure if the energy/mood boost comes from the caffeine in the drink or from that fabulous first taste that transports me to a happier version of my morning. And another reason being that we were able to bring in our books and read them together, while soaking up the sunlight and lovely view of a little stream and new spring growth right outside the shop. The girls shared some ginger cookies and discussed their books. They were a little book club in training, complete with a few moments of disagreements and seemingly aware that literature often brings out strong and differing opinions in a group. All in all, this was a great start to our day. And their book choices weren’t too shabby either. Which leaves me wondering: Will it happen soon that I can pull my own book out of my bag and sit and read quietly while my girls do the same? Seriously, I am asking you seasoned mothers out there, even if your answer is that I should already be able to do this…

After the coffee shop, we buckled up in the van, rolled down the windows, put on some good music and then went for a drive in the country. We took some unexpected back roads and looked for spring blooms we had been learning about. How many redbuds could we find? Pear trees? Dogwoods? And then we spotted a new waterfall, which is always a treat for our family. We love waterfalls.

One trick we didn’t do after our coffee shop and waterfall excursion is a new favorite art project of ours. We’re looking forward to incorporating it into a spring day theme soon. It’s a pretty cool project because it helps us to use up crayon pieces we might not have used up with regular picture coloring. As you can surmise from the photo, we’ve been making our own crayons. Which is fun on its own, but incorporating it into a seasonal lesson is my new idea. After spending time outside and taking in the colors of the season, we can come inside and reach for our mason jars of broken or used crayon pieces, we will peel off any remaining wrapper, and then each kid will be given a muffin wrapper to fill up with colors she saw outside. We’ll then place them in a muffin tin and melt at a low temperature in the oven until they melt down into a cool new crayon to remember the day by. So simple, so useful, so easy, so not messy, and so fun. The kids loved every part of crayon making from picking out colors to coloring with the new, funny shaped crayons with ridged edges and smooth centers. And on upcoming spring days, the pictures they will color with these will become a snapshot of each of those beautiful days. So many project possibilities here!

And a third trick I want to mention from my beautiful day bag is this: We can enjoy the day in the morning when I have the most energy, the kids are ready to do something new and exciting, and when the temperature is nice and sun isn’t too impressive on the skin, saving the classroom time for the afternoon. I wouldn’t want to do this often, but every now and then it is kind of nice to mix it up. And we have discovered that school in the afternoon works pretty great for the kids when they are a little calmer and a little more in need of some one on one time with parents. Not to mention, the timing of afternoon school sets us up for preparing supper as part of a math lesson, to be followed up by a little extra reading practice at bedtime story time. In the life of a mother of young children, the little things like good timing for small tasks and a neatly wrapped up end to the day can really bring on some happiness, and happiness is something we try to require around here.

Happy Spring.