By Shannon Cannon

      You know that "Oh no!" feeling you get when it's too quiet upstairs? One time it was a Barbie Jeep full of lotion. Another time it was Vaseline-coated bathroom fixtures. My personal favorite was the time when one of my toddlers tried to help with dinner by emptying every box of Jell-O, cake mix, and muffin mix we owned into a big bowl, stirring well and then making individual servings by wrapping the mix up in tinfoil packages and putting them in the fridge for future use, all during her naptime.

      Today it was permanent marker on the comforter while I was putting the other kids to bed. I guess you just can't get too attached to stuff when you're raising kids. For instance, two weeks after we moved into our new house, everybody got the stomach flu and broke in the new carpet. I sometimes dream of the day when I will have a spotless house, but for now my piano is engraved with, "I love Tara" and I don't need curtains on my French doors, because they're covered in peanut butter fingerprints. That's just the way it is. And I wouldn't want to miss it for the world. In the meantime, we'll keep ourselves entertained with these activities for "L week".

      • Take a drive to see the fall leaves and collect a few that have recently fallen to use in making leaf prints. Sort the leaves by size, color and shape. Then spread a thin layer of finger paint on the rough side of the leaf, lay the leaf, paint-side down on a clean sheet of paper and gently press the paint onto the paper. Carefully peel the leaf off of the paper to see the print. Make the paper into fun fall cards or bookmarks.

      • After the children have seen leaves falling off of a tree, if you can find a tree, put on some soft music and have them pretend to be falling leaves. Practice different ways a leaf might flutter to the ground.

      • Have the children help you do a batch of laundry; sorting is a fun learning activity. Talk about some basic rules of laundry, like why you don't pour Clorox into a washer full of jeans without water, or how it's not a good idea to throw the brand new red baby blanket in with the whites. As you are looking at your mounds of dirty laundry, ask the kids what they think would happen if we never did laundry.

      • Make a lariat and practice doing rope tricks, such as jumping through the loop, swinging it around over your head or roping a pretend cow. Don't forget to practice your "YEEEEEEEHAH!"

      • Gather several different liquids, such as oil, milk, vinegar, dish soap, and food coloring and, one at a time, add a few drops of one of the liquids to a cup of water in a glass jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake it, then let the liquids stand for a minute to settle and find out if they will mix or not. Have the children make a hypothesis about whether or not each combination will mix, then test their hypothesis to see if they are right.

      • Draw big colorful flowers on paper and then cut them out with a hole in the middle and string them together to make paper leis. Just for fun, do the hula.

      • Make lemonade from scratch.

Real Lemonade
Yield: 8 servings

Juice of 5 lemons
5 C cold water
3/4 C sugar water*
1 lemon; cut in paper thin-slices
1 tray ice cubes

Squeeze the juice from 5 fresh lemons and pour it thru a coarse strainer into a pitcher. Add 4c cold water and sugar water to taste, adding another cup of water if the lemons are particularly juicy. Add lemon slices and ice cubes and stir to blend and bruise the lemon a bit. Pour into tall glass and enjoy.

*Sugar water--1/2 c sugar to 1c hot water. Pour water over the sugar and stir until dissolved. Store in covered jar in the refrigerator. Taste the sour lemons first and then taste the sweet lemonade and compare them. For a philosophical (and most likely dead-end) discussion, talk about the saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade".

      • Write letters to someone special and mail them. Have the children tell you what to write in the letter and then have them draw a picture to go with it.

      • Talk about litter and go on a walk and pick up all the litter you can find. With small pieces of litter, make a collage about how the world would look if everyone littered and no one ever picked it up.


Few things in life are more fun and rewarding than curling up on the couch with your kids and a good book. If you truly want your kids to learn to read well, then READ TO THEM EVERY DAY! There is no better way to teach your kids that reading is fun and interesting.
Click here to see a list of ALL the books we have read to our children.

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