Monday, April 5, 2010

Backyard Treasures

Outside playing with the kids they showed me some old broken in half walnut shells that were all over their yard; no doubt about it, these expertly broken shells were the dinner remnants of busy squirrels that lived in the back yard.  The kids thought they were yukky, but I convinced them that these were not yukky at all.  I told them that these were treasures and in no time at all I had them collecting them for me by the dozens.  But with having them convinced they were treasures, I then had to come up with  reason they should be considered treasure. 

Fortunately, it was not only fun to see how many we could find, but I had a few ideas.  The first was to make and decorate a little tree with the shells.

I found an old branch in the grass that looked a little bit like it was a tree trunk with a few branches, and I stuck it in the ground so that it looked a lot ike a very small tree with branches.  Then we proceeded to place the walnuts on the branches delicately balancing each one.  That was fun.

Here is a photo of our little tree.

Then, tired of playing with the walnuts we found,  we went scouting for purple flowers.

These were everywhere and quite a sight to see.  We counted bunches of flowers rather than individual flowers... and there were at least thirty groups that got our attention.  After a little hike around the perimeter of the yard we discovered much more... everywhere.  This to us was a definite sign of spring's arrival and we took not of new buds here and there on all kinds of things that were growing all over the place.

Alas, it was getting cold and time to go inside.... but we took our treasures in with us.  This was when the real fun began.  We made little walnut sailboats and floated them on water.

To make our little walnut boats we broke tiny sticks for a mast and made sails of papar.  We apes the sails to the sticks like little flags and then we used small pieces of playdough, which we smooshed into the hull of the nutshell, to hold our stick flags up in the air by poking the stick into the  doughy clay.  Tupperware containers filled with water served our our personal lakes and we set sail!

This pictured walnut ship is not one we made that day, but the photo is enclose to give you an idea of what our little boats looked like. 

Ahoy!  Land Ho!

When the time came to end this game, we played one more...  the shell game!  In this game you use several identical half shells.   Three or four is a good amount.  You simply hide a small objects under one of the shells, mix them around and try to guess what shell the item is hidden under. 

What a fun spring day!

As a side note, I read an article recently about how a family that was too poor to buy cake, put little candles in the walnuts with clay and lit them aglow and sailed them on water to be blown-out like the candles on a birthday cake for their little girl.  It is quite neat to blow around the little sailing vessels too.

Other ideas for walnut treasures are:
walnut ships 
secret compartments and surprise gifts
Christmas mousies sleeping in their beds
walnut animals
mouse magnet
pin cushion
carved basket
baby bassinet

they are tiny treasures after all.

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