craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Monday, June 6, 2011

Travel Plans

Hi all! I hope you had a great weekend! I am so excited to kick off our week of imaginary Mexican travel. Today, we are going to start working on a papier mache pinata. It takes a little bit of work every day for several days, so if we start today it should be ready to fill with candy in time for our Mexican fiesta at the end of the week. If you want to make a pinata with your kids, you can find great instructions on DLTK's website. There is a wealth of information over there. Lots of craft ideas for every occasion under the sun. So fun!

We're going to keep our pinata pretty simple. I'm going to blow up a 12" balloon to use as our form, then we'll add a layer of papier mache everyday for a few days, letting it dry overnight between layers. Then the kids can have a day or two to decorate it before our fiesta.

On DLTK's website you can also find instructions  for a craft to simulate Aztec pottery. You use paper plates for the base and the kids draw or paint decorations onto them. Awesome! For both the pinata and the pottery craft I had most of the supplies around the house and only needed to purchase paper plates and balloons from the dollar store. Two dollars for a few hours of crafting fun! Not bad!

I picked up a book at the library about Mexican holidays. It's written for kids and has lots of great photos. Plus it gives a lot of cultural information as a background to the different holidays. It has a pretty delicious-looking recipe for Mexican hot chocolate, too. I'm sure we'll be drinking some of that despite the 95 degree temps :)

We'll spend a little bit of time looking at the globe and talking about geography and other basic facts - money, language, and of course food. Then we'll wrap up our week with a Mexican fiesta. I'm going to attempt to make tamales using a recipe from allrecipes. For our side dishes we'll have tropical fruits and Nopalitos con Papas. Nopalitos (cactus) in a jar are in the Mexican food section at the grocery store. I've had them once before and they taste a lot like green beans...yum! For dessert we'll have Tres Leches cake (made from a Duncan Hines mix) and then we'll bust into the pinata.

Can you tell I'm a little excited about all of this? Summer is my favorite time of the year. Having all the kids home can be challenging, I'm not going to lie about that, but we get to have so much fun too! I like for most of the time to be pretty loose and unstructured - the school year feels so scheduled all the time and I often feel that there just aren't enough hours in a day to do all of the things that need to be done. Summer is so different! If something doesn't get done, there's always tomorrow! Didn't make it to the library today? No bigs - we'll just do it tomorrow. Didn't make it to the store today? No prob - we'll have pancakes for dinner. See? Love it!

And I think unstructured time is good for the kids, too. So I don't want to give the impression that this is a curriculum designed to fill every hour of every day. It's more like a framework. I find it helpful to have a few structured activities in my back pocket to fill in the holes when things get a little too loose. So our imaginary trip around the world just gives me sort of a theme to work with to plan a couple of activities a week. It also serves as a fun way to sneak in (Ha! The kids don't even know about this part!) a little bit of learning so the kids don't go back to school in August with mashed potatoes for brains. Plus, let's face it, I'm a geek. If something involves crafting, cooking, and doing some research on the web - count me in.

We would love for you to come along! Feel free to add suggestions!

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