Sometimes we drift along in a repetition of the same old activities – reading, playing out back, building Legos, etc. – and sometimes I have a sudden idea to do something new (or forgotten and recycled). I’ve found that often just a small taste of novelty can make an activity seem exciting and engaging for the kids, so I can come up with iterations on a theme when I’m not bursting with enough creativity to imagine something completely new! For example, today, as everyone was ambling around not sure of what to do, I decided we should take advantage of the beautiful Arizona spring weather by going on a walk. Then, I looked around the kitchen and saw the empty egg carton in the recycle bin, and had an epiphany. Instead of just walking, which we do fairly frequently, we could walk with an egg carton each, and use each of the twelve small compartments to collect a different small natural treasure.
We had a few difficulties (Limerick collected a clump of dirt and it disintegrated in his carton, and then he found a thirteenth treasure and couldn’t decide how to make it fit; Aubade got all the way through the walk without filling her carton), but overall all three kids had a really good time exploring the neighborhood with a fresh goal in mind. We found dappled arugula-like weeds, and wild red lettuce, and juniper cones under a neighbor’s tree; palm fronds (which they cut small enough to fit in the egg carton), huge black prickly seed pods, and petals from our own Hong Kong orchids; pink rocks, flakes of clay, and small spherical ficus seeds.
When we arrived back at the house I had another epiphany. We had a huge piece of paper currently lying on the floor, having just been taken down from the wall after serving another purpose, which I spread out on the wooden patio table. This was our canvas; our treasures were the medium of our art.
Rondel instantly knew that he wanted to create a tree with his treasures (he supplemented his small egg carton collection with several large objects from our yard, like the grapefruit and the dried broccoli leaf):
Limerick started by setting his treasures one by one onto the paper, moving them around semi-randomly until he noticed the shape of a person forming; he then added ground, and a sun, and then an avalanche starting to fall on the person’s head… it became quite the story!
Aubade thought Limerick had an excellent idea and copied it, avalanche and all 🙂 But her person looked quite different, as she had different treasures to use and her own interpretation to lend to the concept.
We played around with the art a bit more after the initial creations – Limerick made a rocket ship using rocks from the yard, and Rondel took apart his tree and made a person of his own – but I think the nicest thing about the whole experience was realizing how much natural beauty was waiting in our own city neighborhood for us to discover and explore. We just had to look in a different way.