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May 2004:
10 Ways to Make Today Magical
By Alicia Bayer

1. Go rock hunting together. Pick any spot with lots of stones and look for ones that are particularly beautiful, sparkly or cute. Compare rocks when you're done and pick a few to bring home.

2. Make a garden sculpture. Scavenge at the garage or basement for assorted odd parts that nobody wants. Add some wire, electrical tape or anything else you fancy to hold your parts together and have the kids create something wild and wonderful.

3. Gather up old, stale spices and let the kids take them outside to "cook" with. Save empty containers to fill with sand, dirt or crushed leaves. Give them a couple of bowls to mix their creations in and spoons to stir with.

4. Go puddle stomping.

5. Go for a bird walk to see how many different birds you can find and identify. Bring a bird guide if you like, or start a journal to document how many kinds you've spotted.

6. Fill some squirt guns or spray bottles with water and have the kids spray designs on the side of the house or the driveway. Invite them to draw pictures with the water and see if they can write their names.

7. Lie on your backs in the grass and cloud watch.

8. Hold a carnival in the back yard. Rig up some easy contests (knock over pop bottles with bean bags, toss the ball into the bucket and so on) and get extra toys or stuffed animals that can be passed on. Invite friends and ask them to contribute their own games and prizes.

9. Make up your own super heroes and super villains and act out a scene together. Our girls were recently Butterfly Girl and Fashion Queen and they attacked the Evil, Messy-Haired Daddy (snort) -- the campier, the better!

10. Pick out an exotic new food from the ethnic food section of the supermarket to try together. Have you tried Grass Jelly drink from Japan? Perhaps some mango syrup from Mexico? Once a week, agree one strange new food to sample. Don't forget to get out a map to find its origin.

© Alicia Bayer. Reprinted by permission from A Magical Childhood.

NFO contributor Alicia Bayer is the publisher of A Magical Childhood, a web site celebrating the joy and simple pleasures of childhood. See more about Alicia.

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"The media have become the mainstream culture in children's lives. Parents have become the alternative. Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition to it."
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