Fantastic Friday: The Journey

Like many parents, I have been scouring the Internet for ideas to keep kids entertained while still providing some educational value. We have made cardboard boats, bead people (a throwback to my childhood), necklaces, drawings; we have gardened, weeded, cared for the lawn…

But perhaps my favorite activity so far was inspired by several posts I saw pop up on social media in which a (very professional) artist took findings from nature, such as wild grass, flowers, etc., and created landscapes and other artwork.

So, with the weather entering that “perfect” space between spring and summer, I took the kids on a nature walk with the goal of finding things with interesting shapes and textures. I hoped to kill maybe ten minutes with the endeavor. But they loved it. They each walked around with a bucket, gathering way more than I knew we could use.

In fact, they were disappointed to have to come inside, asking if we could search for more.

But when we finally did come inside (as a settle down activity prior to lunch), both kids had fun arranging items onto the paper. And because they didn’t want any help, I was able to create my own pieces.

I took a picture right away—just in case (you never know, with preschoolers). But I told myself I would come back later, to take another picture after all the glue dried (some of it was glued down, other was simply sitting on the page).

When I finally remembered to come back the next day, several of the pieces I used were wilted already, and I realize that the picture I took the day before was the best I would have. But I wasn’t upset about that at all. It reinforced the lesson of the activity. The activity was about the journey, about finding the zen in taking a walk, looking closely at nature for colors and textures that might otherwise be overlooked.

And indeed it was. I (honestly) couldn’t care less about the actual artwork the almost-two-year-old created on the paper. But I will remember that when I handed him a glue stick, he thought it was chap-stick. I will remember that my daughter said she was making a dragonfly, but it turned out to be a Picasso-type thing, with tiny wings and giant eyes, and all the parts scattered around the paper.

And in a situation like a lockdown, where it seems we’re biding time and waiting for some unforeseen and uncertain goal, it seems that appreciating life for its journey is the best thing we can focus on. I am posting this week’s “Fantastic Friday” on a Saturday night—and that’s just how “quarantine” life is going. Days blend together, with work’s boundaries blurring into personal life and vice versa. And that’s okay. Everyone will read it on Saturday night instead of Friday, or maybe on Monday instead of today. But maybe someone will like the idea, and take their kids on a nature walk to create a similar project, and maybe through this late Friday post, someone else, somewhere, sometime, will discover a journey of their own.

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