March Break – the planning has started!

March Break 1

You read right – I am already starting to plan for March Break and I’ll be honest with you, I enjoy it! We are more of a ‘Stay-cation’ family so I try to make the most of the week off and keep things interesting and slightly educational. My quest for fun started last year when I was raking my brains for things to do to keep my two young kids occupied so they wouldn’t bother my husband too much. His office is in our basement and the insulation between floors in this house is, well, there isn’t any, so to minimize stomping feet I had to come up with some clever and all-consuming ideas to keep the craziness at bay.

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It was while I scoured the good old internet that I started seeing a lot of activities that combined learning with fun and the more I searched, the more excited I became about getting my kids to make weird and wonderful experiments. By the time March Break arrived I had an arsenal of science based activities that could span the whole week. Due to the fun that was had the kids often ask to make stuff even if it’s only the weekend and it has also seeped into play-dates so now when a friend comes over the first thing they cry out is, “Can we do experiments?!” The current favourite is rainbow volcanoes.

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The key to having a really successful week is to plan ahead and start allocating a different activity for each day.  We would spend most of the morning and some of the early afternoon being messy, then the rest of the day the kids had their own playtime and I gotta say, it worked out brilliantly! The weather was fairly cold so being inside for a whole week straight required plenty of attention diverting cleverness. (I will pat myself on the back here!)

This year the kids have been very much a part of the planning process. They sat with me for over an hour this weekend and poured over various sites and pages filled with ideas and fun. Our starting point was Pintrest before we moved on to learning pages and finally Amazon to buy a book called ‘150+ Screen-Free Activities for kids’. It’s from a great site called Fun at Home with Kids and it has lots of really clever ideas to keep little ones occupied. We also bought some liquid watercolors because a lot of activities call for coloring of some sort and we have found food coloring to be a brilliant stainer! One play-date resulted in a friends hand being dyed blue…I’m sure I may have not been popular that night!

RainbowAs I mentioned the theme last March was Science and every day we did different ‘experiments’, taking our cue from a website called Steve Spangler Science. We found recipes for Ooblek, Borax Snowflakes, color-changing milk and more. It’s a great site and worth checking for plenty of fun ideas. (Links to sites are at the bottom of this article.) Some of the experiments call for ingredients that you may not have in your home so the bonus of planning ahead also includes being able to source out and get supplies needed.

This year the kids want to mix science and art so we have come up with a few new ideas such as watercolor ice cubes, magic snow-globes and gelatin castles. Sounds messy, right?! That’s all part of the fun! My daughter also wants to try her hand at making cosmetics and after a trip to Lush we decided to attempt to make Bath Bombs and lip gloss. While she is doing that my younger son can have a go at making Galaxy Slime. Even though it’s still under a month away, we are all getting a little excited at the fun that will happen and I can’t wait to watch my kids be enthralled by new activities and learning adventures.

If you are dreading the looming holiday and want to find something different to do then here are a few sites I would recommend to start your search for fun. Many of these activities are aimed at younger kids but a few sites also accommodate older children.

  • Two-daloo.com
  • Steve Spangler Science
  • Instructables
  • Etsy (I found plain, paintable Russian Dolls here which the kids decorated themselves. It was a really fun project and a wonderful keepsake.)
  • funathomewithkids.com As I mentioned the book can be found on Amazon although it has been very popular so it may take a while to arrive. Unfortunately for us it won’t arrive until after March Break but we figured it was worth having in the house for all holiday’s.

Robin Williams Lives and will always Live

The Comedy Awards 2012 - Arrivals

This week the world lost one of it’s most beloved actors and comedians and the effects of his passing are like the ripples on a large pond. Everyday brings further outpourings of sadness but there is also an equal amount of celebration. Yes, Robin Williams has died in body but his spirit is alive and shining brighter than ever and because of this he will never truly die.

Robin Williams impacted so many people all over the world; he made us laugh uncontrollably, breathlessly, while tears streamed down our faces. He made us sit riveted to our chairs as he quietly delivered a powerful, heartfelt monologue. He made us feel happy, sad, shocked and stunned all while dealing with powerful demons threatening to destroy him. It will never cease to amaze me how someone battling those demons could bring such happiness and laughter to the world. It was a powerful gift, for which I am very grateful. I just hope we can all focus more on the happiness he left behind rather than what took him away but at the same time recognize the powerful force behind the comedian which darkened his mind at times.

His family asked the world not to linger on his cause of death but on the life he gave. He dedicated his life to making others laugh. His sparkling eyes always shined, brimming with glee as he told his stories but they also showed a seriousness to him which changed him completely when needed.

People, both regular and celebrity, have shared amazing stories about Robin and long may those stories last because they ensure his memory continues, making his light shine bright. His family can be lifted by the happiness he brought the world even though their loss is great. Spare some time to watch your favourite movie or comedy sketch. A favourite of mine is ‘A night at the Met’ – when I was expecting my first baby a friend recommended I watch his skit about childbirth: I was in stitches! I watch it sometimes when I need a little pick-me-up. A favourite movie of mine is ‘The Birdcage.’ Those were his gifts to me and I’m thankful.

So take it minute to say thank you for the laughter, thank you for the happiness, thank you for the kindness. Thank you for giving us a brightness to life even when you were battling your demons.

(If it starts raining a lot, then take it that God is crying with laughter right now thanks to the legend that is Robin Williams.)