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Winter fun for homestead children.

In this electronic world your homestead children can still have fun, be creative and not be glued to the tv, with a minimum of cost. They can also make gifts inexpensively, which are always appreciated by grandparents and parents.

A good outdoor activity after the first snowfall is to put colored water (made with food color) in empty plastic detergent bottles (the squeeze type). Send the youngsters outside to make designs in the snow.

Coal garden

Shallow dish or bowl

Several lumps of coal

4 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons bluing

4 tablespoons water

3 drops mercurochrome

Mix above four ingredients and pour over coal in bowl. Crystals will form and each "garden" will be different.


Kids can have just as much fun mixing up their own play-dough as playing with it. They can knead in paste food coloring (the kind used in cake decorating) for a pretty streaky color(s) and then roll out and cut with seasonal cookie cutters such as pumpkins, turkeys, or Christmas trees. Before they set them out to dry have them scratch in names and they can be used for place names on the holiday table.

Here is one recipe for play-dough. You can find many others at your public library.

Heat and stir 1 cup salt and 1/2 cup water

Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water

Take salt mixture off stove, pour in cornstarch. Mix, mix, mix.

Stilts for a small child. Turn over an empty, large juice can, so the closed end is now on the top. Punch two holes opposite each other close to the top of the can. I usually use a church key. Thread baler twine or thin rope through the holes. Leave ends long enough so the child can comfortably hang on. Tie ends together to form a loop. Repeat with the second can. It's a little tricky to stand on the cans and pull the rope taut as they lift up their legs so the can will lift at the same time, but kids catch on fast.

A box for their treasures. Have the homestead child cover a sturdy cardboard or wooden box with pictures from magazines or used greeting cards. Everyone loves to cut and paste. Colorful bits of material can be used instead to give a patchwork effect. This makes a nice sewing box. If an older child is doing this they can varnish over it for a more permanent finish.

Put together a collection of dried seeds: corn, beans, rice, peas, etc., and glue them on construction paper to make fancy designs, or glue on above box.

Recycled bird feeder. Take a plastic gallon jug, leave cap on to keep out the rain, cut out the side opposite the handle, leave one inch lip at bottom. Hang from a tree with a length of baler twine strung through the handle.

Decorate a Christmas tree for the birds. Put hunks of suet in onion bags and hang from your discarded Christmas tree. Add ropes of popped corn and cranberries that they have strung themselves. They can hang pine cones that suet and/or peanut butter is pressed into.

Sewing cards are popular with young children--the kind where they sew yarn through holes punched in cardboard pictures. You can make your own out of used greeting cards. With a paper punch put holes evenly spaced 1/4" to 1/2" away from the edge. With a large yarn needle and scraps of yarn they can make a basting stitch or overcast stitch. Some of the things they can make are bookmarks, decorations for the tree or pretty scenes to hang in the window.

Coffee can drums. Remove both ends of a coffee can and cover with plastic lids. Use wooden spoons to beat on the drum.

Pet rocks. Find smooth rocks (or sea shells) and paint designs on. These make good paper weights.

More paper weights. Fill small jars with colored rocks, sea shells and/or marbles. Fill with water and put cap on tightly. Cover the printing on cap with glued paper or material.

Think twice before you throw anything out. Can it be added to the toy box?

Save empty thread spools to add to blocks.

Large caps from spray cans make colorful additions to toys.

Simple gifts children can make

Place mats. Glue greeting cards on a 12" x 18" piece of cardboard and cover with clear contact.

Padded coat hangers. Wrap heavy yarn around metal clothes hangers. Cover completely and put small ribbon or yarn bow with an artificial flower at top.

Bath salts. Fill clean jar with good cap with Epsom salts. Add a few drops of liquid food coloring. Shake well (kids will love this). Add a few drops of perfume (good way to get rid of old perfume). Cap tightly.

Fragrant soap. Wrap up homemade soap in scraps of calico, tie with yarn, sprinkle with perfume and store in a closed container such as a coffee can 'til time to give away. The soap will absorb the fragrance.

After they make all of these presents for the family, have them wrap them in the Sunday comics. Very pretty and much cheaper than store-bought gift wrap.

I hope you have found something here to keep the homestead child busy on cold and snowy days, but if all else fails put the child at the sink, give him a container with two tablespoons baking soda and another container with two tablespoons vinegar and let him pour them together. Not only will he consider himself a budding chemist but your drain will be freshened.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:activities
Author:Paul, Alycemae
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:Should we stop drinking milk?
Next Article:Make ice panels.

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