Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Trip to the Farm - At Home

We're not even quite into Summer yet, but it's already started...

"I'm bored! May we go outside?"

"I'm hot! May we go inside?"

"I'm bored"

Whether you home educate or your children are home for summer vacation, there will be challenges to keeping your (and their) sanity. Here's an idea for when hot weather hits and you think that you will completely melt if you participate in one more outdoor activity.

Think outside the box (or house) for some anti-boredom, melt-down relief. What kid doesn't like going on a field trip and picnic? Using the toys that have long ago become 'business as usual', create an outdoor environment - inside. Here's what we did:

Different Kids Like Different Things

So Rachel is a fan of My Little Pony and Simon can't get enough John Deere tractor play, so I combined the two. Covering the coffee table with a green throw, I created a 'pasture' for the ponies. I added a pony castle and Little People barn (yes, that's how we roll) and viola!, Rachel had an imaginary kingdom. Next I shoved an ottoman flush to the 'pasture' and added a doormat to represent 'hay'. Now both kids were playing out the own favorite scenarios, yet they were collaborating. Since Rachel's ponies kept getting into Simon's 'hay', a fence was built and with that bit of assistance, their imaginations did the rest.

But It's Lunchtime

OK, so we're playing in tandem kingdoms and the bellies start to rumble. What to do? Extending the outdoor, farm theme I simply created a picnic right next to the play area. Tablecloth, plastic tray and glasses provided the effect. Since I had cut some flowers from the garden a few days ago, these were employed to give a bit of 'nature' to the scene. Peanut butter sandwiches, apple slices, and mini Vanilla Wafers were the picnic fare. With a cool glass of lemonade, they were all set.

                                   Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are 
                                   about to receive;  from Thy bounty through Christ 
                                   our Lord. Amen!


But It's Nap Time

For 'resting' time (we're too big for naps now), I created an 'outdoor' theater. One on the couch, the other on the love seat - each with a pillow, favorite snuggle creature (one pink, one blue Glow Bug) and a blanket thrown over the back and draped, tent-style, over little legs created a soothing environment for resting and perhaps - an accidental nap with sleep and all (hey, I can dream!). Meanwhile, I'm here at the computer sharing our day with orders to the farm crew that resting time becomes golden with a little bit of silence. 

This type of entertainment doesn't have to be elaborate and create a terrible mess - needing endless clean up and creating horrific clutter. I simply employ our 'one toy' rule. Each child is allowed one 'set' of toys at a time. They know where they go and how to put them away. Lunch is on a tray for easy transport back to the kitchen. Yet with a bit of a kick start to their imaginations, old playthings become brand new.

Ah, nothing like a little fresh air and farm livin' - even if you find it in your own livin' room!