It’s really Friday? All of my days are blending together, one a repeat of the other as we continue this social distancing effort. Our kids are officially not returning to the classroom for the rest of the academic year, which takes us to mid-June. That’s three months of a new normal of attempting to balance homeschooling or just generally keeping the kids alive with working. So far, it’s working out with my husband’s support. I don’t know what we’ll do when he has to go back to the office.
But, for now, it’s Friday. My family is all together and healthy. The weather is beautiful. And there’s two days on the horizon that I can just focus on the family instead of work too.
With every event under the sun cancelled for the foreseeable future, all neighborhood and family egg hunts have been called off as well. We’ve had our own egg hunts throughout the house, but then decided to start spreading the love to our neighbors. We took all of the supplies we had of little Easter toys and stuffed them in the couple of dozen eggs we had around the house.
We then spent the afternoon hiding them in a couple of neighbors’ front yards. We even got to watch (from a safe distance) some of the kids go on their hunts because my kids were caught hiding the eggs. Apparently, my kids are impossibly loud, making it difficult to sneakily hide eggs.
Anyway, it was fun and hopefully brought some joy to the neighborhood. I know my kids enjoyed it!
This has been the talk of the neighborhood for the last few weeks. Everyone is wondering if others are comfortable with the traditional Halloween or if something else being organized, and, of course, the answer is not so clear cut. There’s no Halloween host in charge of making the decision for everyone, and everyone’s risk tolerance is different.
My vote is that we have as traditional a Halloween as possible. In our area, there are so many neighbors out trick or treating with their kids that leave a bowl of candy on the front porch anyway, so there’s not a ton of door ringing as it is. If someone doesn’t want to answer the door and be close to others, they can choose not to participate or they can leave candy outside. Online I’ve seen some people crafting PVC piping that they can deposit candy in to have it slide down to children on their stoop so they can maintain social distancing.
If parents are concerned that kids are in contact with candy others have touched, have the kids carry tongs to pick the candy out of the bowl. I’ve heard some people are creating individual baggies of treats or are planning to leave candy on a blanket in the driveway so they can spread it out.
If Halloween is not your jam this year, there are alternatives to consider and enjoy with family and friends. Here are a few ideas.
Reverse Trick-or-Treating – Instead of having costumed creatures traveling door to door, have the parents drive around the neighborhood tossing candy to the dressed up children standing in their front yards. I kind of like the idea of throwing candy at kids….. This would require coordination and buy in throughout the neighborhood though.
Candy hunt – Hide candy in your yard for the kids to find one evening, kind of like an Easter egg hunt. I’ve heard variations of this where you put glow-in-the-dark stickers on the candy wrappers to make them easier to find or arm the munchkins with flashlights on the hunt.
Decorate a haunted house – Costco is offering chocolate houses to decorate like Christmas gingerbread houses. They even have Halloween cookies you can decorate with water and food coloring. (We tried those. It was a fun activity, but the cookies were subpar.)
Scary movie night – Even if you don’t want to jump to super scary movies, Netflix (and I’m sure others) offer spooky tales that can be age appropriate for even the littlest of kiddos. Mine like the Dreamwork’s Spooky Stories with Shrek. Once mine are a little older, we’ll move to Casper and Hocus Pocus, some of my favorites from when I was little.
“Boo” your neighbors – This has been an annual tradition in our neighborhood for years anyway, and it’s fun. You put together a small gift bag of candy, crafts, or other treats and secretly deliver them to a neighbor. The bag also includes directions on how to carry the tradition forward and boo another neighbor. You leave the gift bag on the doorstep, ring the bell, and run away. Our boys LOVE booing friends every year.
I hope you are able to find a way to celebrate Halloween that works for you and your family. This 2020 year is all about being resilient, which has often required us to be creative and modify traditions. As much as we adults can sometimes be disappointed by these changes, I bet the kids remember this year as special for the very reason that it is different.
The Spring season is upon us here. More people are emerging from their homes each day to enjoy the fresh air and get outside. Our boys had a week off from school recently for Spring Break. We kept this year’s plans again low key since we’re not all vaccinated yet.
As I’m wont to do, I made a list. I asked the boys what they wanted to do over break, and they helped me craft the to-dos. Thankfully, the kids are easy to please. They added activities like rollerblading, egging a few friends, and playing soccer. Whereas, I added to mulch the front yard and plant a garden.
Having an idea of what to do helped on those afternoons where the boys just wanted to play video games all day.
I’d say, “Hey, want to dye Easter eggs?” Boom! Video games were temporarily forgotten.
Of course, we deviated from the list too. We started the process of getting passports for the family and binged several of the Marvel movies. All in all, it was a quiet and relaxing week with the family that everyone enjoyed without the need to travel anywhere.
We spontaneously decided to fish one day.
As much as I liked it, I hope to be traveling for Spring Break next year.
Our school district has made classwork available for the kids since after Spring Break and throughout the summer. I’m very appreciative of the educational support, but less for the worksheets and more for the learning objectives. I use those to figure out what topics to incorporate. I have been looking for ways to integrate key concepts from PreK and 1st grade into our daily fun as a way to spend time together. It’s all part of my strategy to get them sick of spending time with me so I can work later in the day. Here are some of our favorites.
We started with a blank journal where the kids could write about whatever they please, but I quickly learned that my now rising second grader performs better with more direction. To help with this, I wrote prompts at the top of each page. “What makes a good friend?” “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Draw it.” “If Batman and the Hulk battled each other, who would win?”
Flashlight Word Search
I printed flashcards of sight words and other vocabulary the kids are learning and hid them around their bedroom, turned off the lights, and had my little ones hunt for them. Once they found one using a flashlight, they had to read it to me.
I want the kids to be able to solve basic addition and subtraction problems quickly to help with higher-level math in the future. To practice, I give them two minutes to answer questions and get across the room. For each right answer, they take a step forward. For each wrong answer, they step back. You have to beat the clock, not your brother. This one was a huge hit!
Sight Word Toss
I used chalk to write a dozens of sight words on the driveway, then gave each kid a bean bag. They had to toss the bag onto a word, read it correctly, and then they’d earn points. They tracked their points in chalk on their claimed part of the driveway. By the end of it, Mr. 7 year old was adding his own words to the game board, so he was practicing writing and spelling too.
Nerf Blaster Phonics
I’ve played this game several times a couple of ways, and it is often requested. Basically, I put sticky notes on the wall and directed the boys to find what I said and blast it. Sometimes I ask them to find a particular letter, a letter based on a given sound, letter blends, or whole words.
Find My Errors
Mr. 7 year old loves this one! I write a couple of sentences and purposefully make mistakes that he has to find. I misspell words, forget to capitalize, or use the wrong punctuation. It’s something about finding mom’s mistakes that makes this really intriguing, I guess.
Mr. 4 year old has done this one several times independently. I give them their LEGO bin and present them with a challenge. My favorite one was when I had Mr. 4 year old build a tower taller than his water bottle that holds a plastic egg. He technically met the requirement by adding a skinny pillar on the tower to push it over the height requirement.
Don’t be fooled though. We don’t do these activities every day, and there is PLENTY of screen time built into each day so we can survive conference calls and work emergencies. These activities were just the favorites we’ve played over the last four months.