Herald Journal Columns
June 27, 2005, Herald Journal

Those wonderful dandelion bouquets


Those wonderful dandelion bouquets

How many dandelion bouquets have you received so far, picked by the sweet little hands of your precious little ones?

I’ve lost count. And every bouquet I generously receive, I must arrange in a vase filled with water to elongate their beauty.

The flower bouquets received from our children are just another reminder of how we really need to “listen” to them and continue to learn from them and how they view the world.

To our children, that bouquet of dandelions – the yard massed in yellow – is a garden full of beautiful flowers. To adults, they are pesty weeds to be rid of (and maybe if we set our little ones free on the yard, they could get a good “handful” of them).

What a wonderful way to view the world – through bright-colored “glasses,” seeing the beauty in everything. Next time you receive that bouquet of dandelions, don’t throw them away, for they were picked by the hands of our most treasured ones. Instead, treat them as a beautiful bouquet of flowers and see the beauty in them, for our children most certainly do!

Here’s a few simple ways your children can recycle assorted jars and bottles into colorful vases to display those beautiful bouquets. Line the vases up on your windowsill for a stunning display!

Tissue paper mosaic flower vases and pots

You will need assorted colors of tissue paper, scissors, white glue, glass jar, bottle or clay flower pot, and two paintbrushes.

Cut or tear the tissue paper into a variety of small shapes. Mix the glue with some water and paint the glue onto the jar, bottle or pot.

Put the tissue paper shapes onto the gluey surface. Continue layering until the pot or jar is completely covered with tissue paper, and let the glue dry overnight.

Then, paint the entire surface of the vase with another layer of the glue/water mixture to seal the tissue paper. Let dry.

Colored-sand vases

You will need newspaper, glue, plastic cup, paintbrush, clean jar or bottle, spoon, and colored sand (sold at most craft supply stores and big department stores like Wal-Mart and Target).

Cover your workspace with newspaper for easier clean-up. Pour about one-fourth cup of glue into a plastic cup and dilute it with about a teaspoon of water.

Just as in the other vase project, have your children use a paintbrush to coat the outside of the bottle or jar with the glue/water solution and then, sprinkle spoonfuls of sand over the glued surface, turning the jar to spread the sand evenly,

Allow the jar to dry completely. Encourage your kids to experiment with multicolored designs, or they may want to apply the glue in a variety of shapes –swirls, zigzags – to create different patterns.

This idea is from the FamilyFun website, jas.familyfun.go.com.

Jumping paper experiment

Try a fun experiment with your children to keep their minds “thinking” over the summer time. You will need a two-liter empty soft drink bottle and a small piece of paper.

Crumple the piece of paper into a small ball about the size of a marble and place the plastic bottle on its side. Set the piece of paper just inside the opening of the bottle.

Blow hard, fast breaths into the bottle to try and push the paper into the bottle. Observe what happens.

Explanation: the piece of paper will come shooting out of the bottle at you instead of dropping inside. This happens because as you blow air into the opening of the bottle with force, it moves past the paper and hits the bottom of the bottle. The air pressure inside the bottle increases, rushes out, and carries the piece of paper out with it.

This experiment idea is from Mad Science of Minnesota, www.madsciencemn.org, Children’s Science Education and Entertainment. We got this idea from the Children’s International Festival.

Simple summertime fun

We (my family) spent a few days at Maddens Resort by Brainerd. With some beautiful weather, a wonderful environment, and some great kids, we had some great simple summertime fun, swimming at the beach, looking for rocks and other treasures, skipping stones, roasting marshmallows, walking and hiking outside, enjoying and identifying the various plants and flowers, watching a beaver build a dam, and riding bikes (a tandem bike, too, which was my son’s favorite activity), as well as eating ice cream and sno-cones.

Watching the beaver build its dam was great fun. We initially noticed a tree branch with leaves moving quickly downstream. Giving our guesses as to what it was or what was creating the movement, we realized it was a beaver.

We would return at different times to see the progress on the beaver dam and by the last day of our little trip, the dam was quite large.

We also played some fun yard games, such as croquet, badmitten, shuffle board, and tennis. Needless to say, the trip was over way too soon for all of us, but not before we gained some exercise, sun, fresh air, a lot of fun and family cameraderie, and memories.

It was fun to spend some time enjoying simple activities with our children and just focusing on our family and time spent well together.

The vacation reminded me that you don’t need a lot of extrinsic “things” to have fun, so here are some simple spring and summertime activity ideas to make some fun with your children. These activities don’t require much, if any, preplanning or materials and can be done in your own backyard and neighborhood. Children love simple activities just as much as elaborate activities.

• With Independence Day coming, have a bicycle/tricycle parade. The children can decorate their bikes with red, white, and blue streamers. Attach a small flag to their handlebars and play some marches on your cd or cassette player. Let the parade begin!

• Read under a shady tree. (My middle child loves to read outside on the porch or just on a blanket – a change of pace.)

• Hunt for crickets and caterpillars.

• Find a gently sloping hill to roll down.

• Break out a new box of sidewalk chalk and create a mural. Make body murals, by allowing the children to trace each other’s body outlines on the sidewalk. They love this. The children can then add the details of their faces, hair, clothes, etc. Or trace the shadows of your bodies and add the fun details.

• Listen for birdsongs. Look for robins.

• Have your children wash their bikes with the hose, a bucket of water, and a sponge.

• Listen to music outside and dance – on the deck, in the backyard, front yard . . .

• Break out a new bottle of bubbles.

• Go for a walk and bring along seeds to feed the birds.

• Look at the clouds and share with each other what images you each see.

• Go out right after a rain and search for rainbows. Put on your rain boots or go barefoot and splash in the puddles.

• Take some paper, markers, and crayons outside and draw a picture or a favorite scene.

• Throw rocks in a pond and practice skipping rocks. (Children should always be accompanied by an adult.)

• Collect rocks, shells, and other treasures. Paint and decorate the rocks to make “rock pets.” (They are easy to take care of!)

Some of these ideas are from Parents Play and Learn by the editors of Parents Magazine, with Marge Kennedy and Karen White, Roundtable Press, Inc., March, 2000.

Most of these activities have been field-tested by many children, probably including your own at some time or another, but are just reminders of some simple fun we can have with our children.

The summer days are definitely longer. Enjoy each one of them!