It's April already and it's Easter! 2020 feels like it is on pause whilst the world is forced to stay home due to the virus that we will not name (sorry but every time we see those terms we get a little anxious). BUT the world is still turning and the little ones in our lives don’t know any better and still need nurturing & entertained. Kids are kids no matter where you are in the world and they have so much energy (we wish we could bottle it for ourselves) to burn and the last few weeks for parents, grandparents and carers has likely been harder than most with everyone cooped up at home. Easter presents us with an opportunity to change up ways to tire them out physically and mentally. With that in mind we want to share a few activities that we do with our family each Easter.
Egg Painting / Decorating
This is a tradition as old as the bible - some historians actually believe that it predates Christianity. The debate aside, painting eggs is a great activity to do as a family. This activity is great because it gets us all (young & old) around the table as a group to focus on the task at hand. It's fun but also allows parents and grandparents to engage and help children which is amazing for all generations. For grandparents it engages their cognitive processes and therefore their cognitive scores get better, which helps with longevity. On the flip side, children who spend quality time with parents and grandparents in particular, increase their resilience because they are able to identify themselves through intergeneration. Children spending time with older adults are also less likely to suffer depression. All the generations around the table generally result in a lot of laughs too and hopefully memories that last a lifetime. We feel this last point is the biggest “win".
Painting eggs can be done numerous ways depending on what culture or even family you have been brought up in. Most families opt for hard boiling the eggs. The benefit of doing this is you get to snack on them on Easter Sunday :-) When using this method we prefer to use natural food dyes to paint the eggs otherwise you run the risk of contaminating the egg which could cause some health issues if you (or your little ones) decide to eat the eggs!
You can purchase natural food dyes from the supermarket but the last few years we've been combining our method with a Martha Steward recipe (see below) to make our own food dyes using foods and spices such as red cabbage and turmeric. The set up can take a little bit longer but the results are worth it!
To make the dye color select a dyeing agent, and place it in the pot using the color guide listed below. Add 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to the pot. (Note: If more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar.) Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl to use later.
Next is the fun, family part of the day where we all sit down at the table with (non-toxic) crayons to create our designs. Parental supervision is an absolute must just in case the kiddies get the urge to snack on the crayons or are a little rough with the uncooked eggs. I.e. break the egg(s) all over the place. To be fair this is inevitable and does lead to a lot of laughs. Your designs can be as simple or elaborate as you wish to make them. FYI - we also leave a bunch without any designs. Once done, place safely to one side whilst you prepare the dye mixture(s) for the eggs to be submerged as per the color guide instructions below. You can include the kids in this step as well (obviously with adult supervision) depending on how comfortable you are with them in the kitchen with you.
Remove the eggs after the suggested times for the color you’re after and leave to dry on a rack. Once the eggs are dry, let the kids arrange them in an Easter basket, bowl for the table or have them place them as decorations around the house or use them in combination with chocolate Easter eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt.
Egg + spoon race
This is so much fun and the more involved the better it is. Although this year (Easter 2020) the participants will be a little light on due to social distancing requirements. However, our family will still be having it. Now, depending on how “brave” you are or how you play the rules, you can either use hard boiled eggs or natural eggs straight from the carton. When we were younger, our family always used uncooked eggs straight from the carton and the loser(s) who dropped their egg during the race had to clean up the mess :-) Alternatively you can use some of the beautifully decorated and colored eggs you and the family have just made!
Now for the rules, pretty simple, you need a start and finish line, as well as matching spoons for each of the competitors - we wouldn’t want anyone getting an unfair advantage :-) We like to use standard spoons (not soup spoons, that would make it too easy and teaspoons too hard). Line up the competitors, have them hold out their spoon in readiness for the “starter” to place the egg on the spoon to balance - no part of the competitors hand can be touching the egg. Purists will say that you can only use one hand to hold the spoon (and egg is balanced, no touching) and the other “spare” hand + arm placed behind your back, but you may want to relax the rules for the kids depending on how young they are, this is meant to be fun after all. Perhaps you could allow them to use two (2) hands to hold the spoon, we repeat, the spoon only! Then it's ready, set, GO! The first competitor to reach the finish line with their egg still balanced on the spoon is considered the winner!
Easter Egg Hunt
This is fun for all ages and we don’t think it needs much explaining. Again, families have different approaches to this in terms of what “types” of eggs one might use. Those that are worried about not all the eggs being found generally suggest using wooden or plastic eggs to hide around the house and garden. In times before social distancing some families used to join together in the neighborhood and hide them in multiple neighbors gardens and or the local park (obviously all done under parental supervision). The wooden or plastic eggs are then swapped out for chocolate eggs (or any treat) when the kids return with their finds. Alternatively you can hide the chocolate Easter eggs or the decorated Easter eggs you made earlier. If you’re like us and want to ensure that eggs not found are collected afterwards (to avoid attracting nasties or undesirable odors) then we suggest creating a little map (or list) of where all the eggs are hidden.
Mini Easter chocolate eggs or jelly bean guessing
A fun game that you will find at most school or county fairs but is also fun at home for birthday parties and we’ve bought it into our Easter celebrations too! Choose a jar, large or small, depending on how much sugar you want the winning little one to be having haha! Once you have chosen the jar, simply fill with your mini Easter eggs, or if you want to keep it traditional, jellybeans (they kinda look like eggs anyway), making sure to count how many you place in the jar. It's then over to the table with the kids (and those adults who don’t have access to the final count) to write down on a piece of paper (with their name) how many they think are in the jar. We like to keep it relaxed and fun by letting each of the kids have three (3) guesses. The winner is the person who either guesses the exact number or at least has the closest number to the actual total. The prize - all the candy in the jar haha! Hopefully the winner will share but we’ve heard stories of winners who hoard… Surely it won’t be one of your kids, big or little.
Happy Easter from the team at bug + bean kids
*Source: Egg painting recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart