When spring rolls around, the itch to play and be outside is all-consuming. And, given that we stayed inside a lot this winter because of a new baby, our itch to be out and about is even greater.
With about six weeks of "official" school left for this year, my boys are finishing up final pages in workbooks and last chapters in books. They've had their state-required standardized testing and we've almost met the 180-day rule. Since technical protocols are in place, it's time to play! And, it seems some of the best learning happens while playing. It's spontaneous. It's relevant. It's discovery.
The past few weeks have involved lots of field trips and park dates and picnic lunches. Many of them with friends, because apparently the spring itch is contagious.
As if playing for "school purposes" wasn't enough, my boys have the alarms on their watches set to 3:30 because that means the neighborhood kids are getting off the school bus at the end of our street. And obviously that means more outside play until the last possible second before dinner.
On any given afternoon, you'll find my boys playing basketball in the driveway; throwing a football and dashing through connecting front lawns; running around the culdesac with toy guns playing war; racing bikes to catch up with the ice cream truck; and hammering away at creative wood projects in the garage. All with their little sister close in tow. And all this with a conglomerate of neighborhood kids. I counted 11 kids in my driveway the other day, all older than my kids but happily playing with every.single.toy we have in our garage.
I usually wander in and out of the house checking on things and facilitating squabbles, and I wait for the inevitable plea from one of my kids asking if "we have any popsicles that we can share with all of our friends?" There's also been a couple of "Mom! We need a band-aid out here!" to alleviate tears from somebody's fall.
My kids have already had pink noses and shoulders from afternoons in the sun - a result of a mom who forgot to put sunscreen on. They've gotten the beginning-of-the-season-blisters from sporting new sandals. They've rung the doorbell and took off running before I opened the door so that I could discover a mysterious bouquet of dandelions left for me. They've caught a fair share of lizards and small toads - some that still seem rather groggy and just coming to from a winter slumber.