Monday, August 15, 2016

Ladybug Camp!

Grandma Camp was served up in two parts this year. I was delighted that a trio of little girl cousins, all age three, were anxious to take a turn with me. Ava, one of the twins involved, took special care to emphasize to her brothers that they would not be present during "Ladybug Camp." Only girls this time! Only Ava, sister Angeline, and cousin Kaylee! "No boyz allowed!"

And so it happened! Ladybugs enjoyed a two day, overnight camp that specialized in things little girls like to do. We baked and we crafted, but our biggest excitement was preparing for the puppet show that would follow a display of magic demonstrated by the "big kids" - older twin brothers and cousin Brielle. That entertainment package wrapped up a solid week of Grandma Camping for two groups of three each!

Puppet Making Workshop ingredients: a generous supply of yarn and pom poms and wiggle eyes and glue - and a colorful sock for everybody! At this age, the girls chose colors and I attached yarn hair with a few hand stitches. But gluing was a job for the ladies - one they relish!

We practiced a little skit once each sock developed a personality of its own. Accompanied by a pre-school song, our show was stage-ready!

While I flipped the header on our home made stage during a brief intermission that followed the magic show, parents, aunties and uncles, cousins, and siblings engaged in the energetic sale of tickets that precedes all of our talent productions!

Introductions before stepping behind the stage for a vigorous performance......

Tee hee hee! Giggles galore accompanied a charming showcase of three year old talent; an adoring audience rewarded the effort with wild applause!

And grandma's review? So proud! Just very, very, very proud of them all!

Monday, August 1, 2016

It's Magic!

Oh, the magic! It's everywhere when home is a haven for grandchildren! Here, kids sparkle and shine - they're the center of the universe, and boy, do they know it! It's where they come to be shamelessly hovered over, doted upon, mindlessly spoiled, showered with kisses and compliments, and adored and indulged to excess! And I'm not apologizing either! Loving parents have taken care of the good behavior building that makes it possible for me to sweep them all away into a space of unlimited, unconditional magic that every child deserves to experience - grandma's house!

Annual Grandma Camp week is the most magical one on my calendar. And planning for it extends the fun well before and beyond the actual experience. I am challenged to arrange a mix of activities that will keep the kids engaged for the entire string of days they'll spend with me. This year, I ventured into "real" magic! Would the kids enjoy learning tricks? Would they want to practice them until they performed flawlessly? Would they want to showcase their new skills at a show for parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles? I was surprised and delighted with their response. Yes! Yes! and Yes! To all of the above!

Ideally, we'd use "organic" tricks - those that amaze with manipulation of ordinary household items or ones that we construct by ourselves. That day is coming, I'm certain, but for now we learned from a purchased kit* that adequately served our elementary needs.

I gave a demo to the kids. I made items disappear, reappear, and multiply! I expertly guessed a secret number they chose from a set of cards! They were impressed and very eager to duplicate each trick. We divided them up evenly and the mini-magicians were on their own to practice until perfect! Just wait until that audience shows up! We're gonna "wow 'em outta their seats!"

Finally! Show Time! There's always a wrap-up extravaganza at the conclusion of Grandma Camp. Maybe an art show - or a bake sale. We like to share what we accomplished during our camp time. This year called for a two-part display of talent; "big kids" presented first on the magic stage!

I constructed a frame from pvc tubes. It's seven feet tall, lightweight, and portable. Silky red fabric was a bargain purchase at $2 per yard - seven required. The best part is how interchangeable headers accommodate different productions. When the magic was over, a quick intermission gave me a moment to morph the venue into a puppet theater for the little girls' show that followed.

We opened with introductions - and an amazing feat of "now you see it, now you don't!" The kids flourished their top hats, demonstrating that they contained nothing but empty space. Or so we thought! But the wave of a wand, a shout of "abracadabra!" and a deeper dig into the depths produced a trio of cute stuffed rabbits!** These were distributed to three little girl cousins sitting front row center - and they were delighted!

Kids performing in front of an adoring audience gain confidence in themselves.

Here's Sae, proving that the two silk scarves he put inside a velvet bag are no longer there!

Nick carefully demonstrates how only he can make part of a wand disappear inside a wooden box! Bree effortlessly made a red rubber ball disappear and reappear. She turned a single quarter into a handful of change! Ten illusions completed our repertoire, all to the wild applause of an enthusiastic and delighted audience!

"That's all folks!"

The kids clamored to keep their props; they've since entertained other grandparents and cousins with such enthusiasm that I know my "grandma bag of tricks" is going to continue to fill with more and more of them - and they won't disappear with the flick of a wand, either!

*The magic set we used is made of quality wood, packed inside a box suitable for stage use. It is a Melissa and Doug product available at Amazon.

**Do you think those hats might have been hiding rabbits beneath a piece of black foam cut to match the shape of the opening?'s possible!

Here's another resource for magical entertainment for kids. Ken Kelly hosts a delightful website that offers free tutorials and YouTube links for cool tricks and instructions for the home made props you'll need. We'll use his ideas next summer, when the kids are a bit older.

My next post will show what happened when our stage magically became a theater for.........

But now, with a final flourish.....

POOF! I've vanished!