Monday, June 29, 2009

Spent a rainy Saturday indoors, just me and the kids. D was at a pool tournament and so the kids and I had lots of time to work on puppets-their latest fascination. A favorite destination of ours is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where there is a wonderful free-play area for kids. Among the many things my kids love to play with are the "puppets" they have in a basket under a large sprawling oak tree. The puppets are nothing more than slices of trees, round discs of tree, cut thinly. Kids can use pencils to draw faces on them or just let the design of the wood be a face. There is a stage which they can hide behind to perform puppet plays. For the longest time J delightedly referred to every piece of fallen wood he saw as a "puppet!"

This weekend, however, the puppets became so much more elaborate. Fueled by excitement from having seen a puppet show in a friends' yard (community theater at its best!) the kids wanted to make their own troupe of characters. We got out the pipe cleaners, pom poms, styrofoam balls, and I weilded the glue gun (at L's precise direction, of course) and by the time the afternoon was drawing to a close, we had a lively bunch: an octopus, a "quad-pus", a cat, and several butterflies. I was treated to several exciting puppet shows as the weekend wore on. None of the kids felt inspired to make a human puppet. (oh, they are so my children!)

Something else I'd been meaning to make with the kids that we finally tackled: treasure boxes. These are simple decorated boxes for the kids to keep their very special items in. Our house is filled with clutter and toys, and we needed someplace really special to keep our nature treasures. The kids each got a plain cardboard box with lid, and decorated it with crayons. L put her growing feather collection (which now amounts to three feathers: a woodpecker, cardinal, and turkey feather--this last one a souvenir from the puppet show), her favorite rocks and a couple of shells she scored on our last trip to the St Croix River. I'm not sure she needs to know that the shells are from Zebra Mussels, the highly invasive and absolutely harmful species that is taking over Minnesota's waterways.

For now, she's delighted to open the box and tell me the story of each treasure inside. And I'm delighted to listen.

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