Edmonds Kind of Play: Art, storytelling and nature exploration ideas for your stay-at-home life

City of Edmonds Backyard Nature Bingo

Back home, my sister organized a drive-by birthday party for my nephew where teachers, friends, and family drove by with their birthday wishes. They even rigged up a pulley system to lift presents to their deck, which is right above the sidewalk.

Last week, we celebrated our anniversary with dinner from Salt & Iron. Of course we ate the food in the car while parked at Stamm Overlook Park, but the view was great, the food was delicious, and there were no kids in the van. While every spot wasn’t taken while we were there, we weren’t the only people with that idea — we think the people next to us ordered their car dinner from Market. We are really lucky that the kids are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours comfortably, though I don’t know that we were even gone for 90 minutes.

We finished the night off watching some of the Washington State Parks Great Washington Camp-In, (you can still find it on WAParks.org or you can join the next installment on May 1) and a few rounds of poker that involved some players needing to buy back into the game with chores that I am fairly certain I didn’t enforce.

While so much has changed, the steady stream of virtual options continues.Kids can enjoy art, stories, crafts and music, oftentimes taught and/or performed by the artist themselves. Before we get to the newest options, many of which are local, there is an update from the Edmonds School District. This week, ESD announced that every Friday they would be providing breakfast and lunch to feed each kid through Saturday and Sunday until they resume daily meal service on Monday. A weekend meal kit will be available for free for all kids ages 1 to 18, not just ESD students, at the pick-up sites and for those receiving home deliveries. Per the Edmonds School District Food and Nutrition Services Facebook page, they prepared 15,000 meals to distribute this week for their weekend kits.

Cascadia Art Museum has announced Studio Cascadia, to bring “the joy of education through creativity right to your home.” The first lesson in this six-part series will be presented by local artist Mona Fairbanks. Fairbanks will guide people of all ages through a hands-on project using common materials that can easily be found at home: “These projects will help us build our own artistic skills and learn about the seven elements of art.”

I took a look at the first installment, and it truly is a project that can be done at all levels and since it starts with a trace of your own hand, it is one of those that you can save if you love nostalgia like I do. You can find the video for the first installment HERE. The museum’s Family Art Exploration Workshops are also now virtual! May 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can participate via Zoom or Facebook Live to create a hygge tea light jar with artist Lynn Hanson. Participants can register on CascadiaArtMuseum.org and arrange to pick up the free materials for the class beforehand. The project includes painting patterns and designs on Japanese paper and adhering the designs to the glass jar. For additional information, including how to virtually visit the museum, head to CascadiaArtMuseum.org

The Edmonds City Bulletin, a “bi-weekly update of news from the City of Edmonds,” was introduced this week. Among other announcements, including a plan for a modified Garden Market starting May 9, the city shared that the Beach Ranger program is headed online with a series of outdoor learning activities for students to complete in their own backyards and neighborhoods. The Beach Ranger program, which was forced to cancel the 150 in-person classes at local schools and parks this spring, is now free for anyone to use and “you don’t need to go to a park or a beach to learn.”

Activities are designed for ages 5 and up, and adult guidance is recommended for some of the activities, particularly for the younger students. In addition, “as with all activities during the COVID-19 outbreak, be sure to follow all recommendations for adequate social distancing and personal protection.” You can find the first two activities, “Backyard Nature Bingo” and “How and Why do Birds Build Nests?” by going to the Edmonds Discovery Programs page on the City of Edmonds website, EdmondsWA.gov.

I am a huge fan of the Edmonds Discovery Programs and the Beach Rangers as they were a big part of my oldest’s elementary school years and he can’t wait until he is old enough to volunteer. Both of these activities would have been a big hit with him and given the robin’s egg we found in the yard this week, they’re right on time. I checked in with Jennifer Leach, Environmental Education & Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Edmonds, and she told me that their plan is to post activities every two weeks.

Most of us are tired of hearing about toilet paper, but with more time at home, comes more leftover toilet paper tubes. The Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department announced an Earth Day contest asking that you bring your creative energy to re-use your toilet paper tubes. Entries must use toilet paper rolls and other household items and prizes will be awarded to the top three entries in each of the age brackets: 5 & under, 6-10, 11-15, and 16 and over. To enter, send a picture of your creation to kim.anderson@edmondswa.gov by 5pm Sunday, May 3 to be judged by a panel of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Service employees with winners announced on Friday, May 15. For more information and future activities you can follow their new Facebook page at Facebook.com/EdmondsRecZone. 

After using leftover toilet paper tubes for a Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems (I know, I can’t stop talking about it even though he only did three weeks worth, but the episodes we watched were so fun) we started saving them. That worked out since my youngest has used a few rolls for an Earth Day art project assigned during distance learning. The Bellevue Art Museum posted a toilet paper tube art project this week too. I am a big fan of BAM and have been to one of their Free Family Days and enjoyed making a project and then looking around. They posted a quick tutorial, led by BAM’s Education Manager, Mary Kate, on how to make “BAMtastic” binoculars using old toilet paper tubes. You can find that video HERE. While scrolling endlessly through social media, I also saw an option to make a flashlight of shapes or letters or dandelion art out of the recycled item.

Sno-Isle Libraries continued to post Storytime Snippets on Tuesday and Thursdays this week, which you can find on their Facebook page or YouTube channel, and the Mountlake Terrace Library even did a live storytime on Facebook. Pretty quickly after it was clear kids wouldn’t be in school for a while, authors and celebrities and maybe the most universally comforting, LeVar Burton, formerly of Reading Rainbow, started reading to kids online, and in Burton’s case young adults and adults too. Some very familiar faces will be reading to kids this coming week. Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, is hosting Mondays with Michelle which you can find on the PBS Kids YouTube channel each Monday at 9 a.m. This four-week series, which debuted last week will feature Michelle. Obama reading The Gruffalo, There’s A Dragon In Your Book, Mrs. Maple’s Seeds, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You can find “activities, tips, and resources for each of the books that Mrs. Obama will read are available at www.readtogetherbetogether.com, and companion literacy resources are available on pbskidsforparents.org.”

Kwame Alexander, author of Crossover and Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, is being joined by his friend Rooster to host a week of picture books. Rooster and Kwame Present Picture Book Week April 27 through May 1, which will feature nine authors reading their picture books. Authors in addition to Alexander include Jacqueline Woodson reading Pecan Pie Baby and Raul III reading Vamos, Let’s Go Eat. You can visit Facebook.com/KwameAlexanderBooks for a schedule and how to watch the stories.

Play-Well TEKnologies, who offer many after school programs and summer camps, has a lot of options for activity, including virtual programming classes and Facebook Live Lego tutorials. They’re also offering classes and workshops with lessons on techniques, STEM concepts, and the ability to build and share with other kids. Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. on Play-Well’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/PlaywellTEK, they are doing Lego Tutorials, the latest is how to build a Lego arch. They also have Scratch programming classes which include five to seven hours of activity, for $18, and can be done at any time. You can head to their Vimeo page and find options for classes for students ages 7 to 9 and 10 to 12. For more information, and a list of mini-builds including a tutorial on how to make a Lego Baby Yoda, you can head to Play-Well.org

The Seattle Symphony, on top of broadcasting previous performances on social media, is offering Seattle symphony Meet the Instrument on Wednesdays and Tiny Clips for Tiny Tots on Fridays via social media. “Meet the Instrument introduces an instrument in the orchestra to viewers through short excerpts performed by the Seattle Symphony musician hosting that week’s video” – the program has already featured a tuba, French horn and violin with all video available on their YouTube channel. After the “musical exploration,” there are instructions available on the Symphony’s website to make an instrument inspired craft. Tiny Clips for Tiny Tots is modeled after the Symphony’s Tiny Tots Concerts and builds on each week’s Meet the Instrument by exploring the related orchestral section. Kids learn through songs and performances by orchestra musicians. You can find more information and links to their offerings on Facebook.com/SeattleSymphony and SeattleSymphony.org/live

In the spirit of continuing to end this column with a goofy option, I saw on social media that an idea that made the rounds early last year came back around now that we are home and are toilet paper roll minded. People use a toilet paper roll to take a selfie, which results in their faces looking like the moon in a night’s sky. You can find some examples HERE.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.


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