Crafts and Hobbies
On Christmas Eve, a young girl dreams her beloved toy comes to life. He becomes her Nutcracker Prince and dances his Clara through the land of sweets and defeats the wicked Mouse King. Perhaps you've seen the ballet-- it's so popular that many ballet schools make it their featured holiday production year after year. The music is amazing-- from the wild Russian dance to the slow and mysterious Arabian dance. It all flows together to create a magical night of exhilarating performances.
When winter skies turn gray, and the air thickens with chill, life becomes harder for the feathered ones. Food is scarcer, and handouts from us humans can make a difference to them. Take just a few minutes to create a place for the birds to hang out on a frosty day. Once you've got your feeder hung, check out a bird identification book from the library to learn the names of your grateful guests.
An aquarium is a watery world in miniature. It can be as complicated as you want or just a simple and safe place to keep a beautiful and patient pet. If you're new to fish keeping, you should start with the basics, but even beginners can have a terrific aquarium. Both beta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish or bettas) and goldfish are good for first-timers. They're attractive and not so demanding of a special environment in order to thrive.
Officially, May Day is the 1st of May, but really anytime during this splendid spring month is a perfect opportunity to share small gifts of the season with everyone: teachers, friends, neighbors, and family. You can do that with May baskets—a wonderful, old-fashioned tradition.
Outside the wind is lifting just so, ruffling the new leaves on the trees and chasing the old ones away. It's spring, a time to celebrate the rebirth of the flowers and the greening of the trees. It's time to go fly a kite and watch it buck and soar in the breeze.
You can make a simple kite all by yourself, paint it or color it with markers, and let it fly up in the air.
"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider
to the fly;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you
--Mary Howitt's classic poem, The Spider and the Fly
From this spider's dread invitation to the silly fly to J.R.R. Tolkien's mammoth spider-being Shelob, these eight-legged wonders have developed a nasty reputation. But spiders are a part of nature and have many fine qualities.
Have you ever been in a place where there were lots of buildings but no trees? New housing developments or parts of a city that have been neglected for a long time may not have the shady spots and fresh air that trees give. As trees breathe, they let out oxygen that humans and animals need to survive. Their roots hold the ground together, making sure the soil doesn't blow away in the wind. When a tree dies naturally in the forest, its wood becomes a home for insects and a cafeteria for the hungry birds who eat those insects. Trees provide so many good things for the Earth.
Whether it's filled with mossy rocks and ferns or sands and cactus, a terrarium is an amazingly fun way to learn more about nature. With a terrarium in your room, something of the outdoors can always be inside.
Terrariums that feature plants (not animals!) lock water inside to keep the soil moist. When the plants transpire, they let out water vapor. When the soil gets warm, it lets out water vapor. All this vapor collects against the top and falls back as rain.
Free. Everybody likes free. I mean, what’s not to like about free? It’s free! Free, free, free - use the word often enough, however, and it begins to lose its meaning. “Free special offer (some rules and restrictions apply)!” “Free entree (with purchase of equal or greater value entree)!” “Free ski trip (after we badger you into investing in a timeshare over the course of an eight-hour 'seminar')!” Free just isn’t what it used to be, and nowhere is this more evident than the world of electronic games. Users are steeped in phrases like “free-to-play” and “freemium” to a degree that free really does start to sound like a four-letter-word. Free they say? Nonsense, we say. Let’s take a look.
May is the perfect time to visit a zoo. It's not too hot or crowded, and the animals are at their springtime best. If your kids are begging for pandas, then the National Zoo in Washington is the place to go, but there are some places about an hour's drive from our area where kids can get a different kind of beastly experience.