Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Let’s Have Some HOMEMADE FUN

Now that the weather is being cooperative and mild (we hope), we’ve been thinking about things we can do with our great/grandchildren, around, inside and outside of the house…things that are fun and provide creative recreation. All of these activities can be adjusted according to age and attention span….you be the judge! If your great/grandchildren don’t live close enough to do these things together, you can make a “kit”, with all of the things they’ll need, and send it to them as a surprise.

Plastic cookie/water jar with lid and/or plastic food container with lid
Wooden mixing spoon or chop sticks or other utensils that can be used as drum sticks
Cotton balls or bunched up tissue that you attach to the “sticks” with tape (if using chop sticks, cover the pointed ends)

Close the jar or container and beat away. Using different sized containers will give different sounds. You can also add varying amounts of water to the containers to get different sounds. Attach an old dog leash, soft rope or heavy string to make the drum “wearable” for a marching band.

Round cardboard oatmeal container and/or water bottle with lid and/or
plastic cylindrical container with lid, etc.
Dry beans and/or rice and/or course salt
Tape to seal the containers

Different sounds will be created by adding varying amounts of ingredients to the container. Shake It Up Baby!!!

Cardboard toilet paper roll or paper towel roll
Waxed paper
Rubber bands or tape

Cover one end of the “kazoo” with waxed paper, and affix with tape or a rubber band. Use a hole punch to make a small hole about ¼ in from the open end of the kazoo. Remember, blowing won’t work with kazoo’s…humming will! Hmmmmmmm!!!

Once you have the band assembled you can march around or sit and play along with your favorite song…one of ours is “76 Trombones” from The Music Man. We’ve listed a few of our favorite “rhythm band” recordings made especially for kids. NOW, let the music begin!!!*

We don’t all have those wonderful wooden unit blocks, Legos or Lincoln Logs around the house, but that shouldn’t deter you from building things. Gather up:
Cereal boxes, round oatmeal boxes with lids, gift boxes with lids, toilet and paper towel rolls, plastic food containers, shoe boxes, etc. They can be used as is, or YOU can cut them down to the shape and size desired…just be sure to close off ragged edges with tape. Violá…you have your own Home Depot. These “blocks” can be colored, painted or left au natural. Let the children design and build their own structures…and feel free to add things like people (dolls/action figures), landscaping (trees made from twigs with leaves or colored paper glued on, finely cut colored paper as grass, colored cotton ball bushes, etc.), an airport landing strip or train tracks (from construction paper), etc. Encourage the kids to look at the shapes of the “blocks” and decide which ones are best for sideways, or upright building, etc.

Nature is a wonderful thing, and there are ways to grow things inside and outside of your home. The simplest indoor plantings use a ripe avocado pit and/or black/pinto/lima beans.

Avocado: Take a clean avocado pit, from a ripe avocado, and soak it for at least 24 hours in warm water. Then stick 3 equidistance toothpicks around the thinner (or top) part of the pit. Put the pit with the picks into a jar or glass, so that the picks support the pit. (Then say this sentence three times very fast). Fill the jar or glass up to the point where the fattest (bottom) part of the pit is just touching the water. Place in a bright window and eventually the pit will produce roots and split so leaves will emerge. Then it can be planted in soil, either in a container or the ground. Be sure the water level stays correct. You may never see an avocado come from the planted tree, but your grandchildren’s children might!

Beans: Soak 4 lima beans or 4 pinto beans in warm water for several hours. Using a very well cleaned out jam/mayo or similar sized jar, add some warm water and swirl around to get the jar wet. Depending on the size of the jar, moisten multiple cotton balls and add them to the jar, so they lie as smooth as possible against the inside walls of the jar. Use as many cotton balls as you need to line the jar. Now, peel back the cotton just enough to insert one of the soaked beans, and press them (don’t crush them), a little more than halfway down the jar, between the cotton and the wall. You may need to add more cotton if the beans slip. Repeat with the other 3 beans. Fill the jar with water, and then pour out the excess. Put into a sunny window, and water to keep the cotton wet. The beans will swell, then split, and roots and stalk will grow. Try using different types of beans. The plants can eventually be put into the ground or a container outside.
Don’t be afraid to start tomato or flower seeds/small plants indoors and then transfer them to the garden or outdoor container. You can help your great/grandchildren grow things for themselves, or to give as gifts. Kids of all ages LOVE to see things grow.

Our great/grandchildren love to make lemonade from fresh lemons. Lemons seem readily available during the year, but making lemonade to sell, only works when the sun in out. There are millions of lemonade recipes available online, but we like to use the ones with the least amount of sugar. You can also make “orangeade” by squeezing fresh oranges and adding some club soda to make it fizzy. Anyhow, having a lemonade/orangeade stand is classic! BUT, it’s something to do ONLY if you have the time to sit and supervise. You can’t have young kids selling things, unsupervised. So, if you have the time and the space, go for it. You’ll need: lemon/orangeade with ice, in a pleasant, clean pouring container, small paper cups, a small table and chairs, a container or purse for the money, a decorated sign, a camera and some customers. It’s nice to turn this into a charitable event, with the proceeds going to a charity of the children’s choice. Help the kids find a comfortable selling price, and sell away. Take photos that can be shared with the charity. When the money, probably in the form of your check, is sent, ask the kids to draw or write something to that charity to bring the project full circle.

Here are some wonderful CD’s that you can use with your great/grandchildren when making a Homemade Family Band. We love these!

Rhythms on Parade(Ages 2-8) by Hap Palmer

Shake Rattle & Rock (Ages 2-8) by Greg & Steve

Diez Deditos/Ten Little Fingers (Ages 2-8) by José Luis Orozco

All For Freedom (Ages 3-10) Sweet Honey In The Rock

Music For Little People: 15th Anniversary Collection (Ages 2-8) by Various Artists