Today, my bigs had their third consecutive snow day since winter break officially ended. Freezing temperatures have kept us cooped up indoors, battling cabin fever. It was time for me to take action. I had to think quickly, before the bigs and littles I babysit arrived. Times like these require creativity and a little nonsensical humor to keep kids from developing “tablet time stiff neck.”
While you’ve probably never heard of “tablet time stiff neck”, it’s name is self explanatory. I allow the bigs to have their tablets and to join worlds in Minecraft. I believe the game to be educational and in it’s own way, helps the kids to develop social skills. Either way, playing on their tablets for hours at a time is not good for their neck, back, eyes, or brains. Everything in moderation! My own kids will give themselves a sore, stiff neck if they are not careful and ignore my tablet time limit.
To get the kids moving, I needed something new and fun. The kids had only one day back to school, after eleven days of vacation. Over break, we played with new Christmas toys, made party hats for New Year’s Eve, pulled sticks and twigs from the woods for crafting, and more. Break was supposed to be over for the bigs, so I planned and prepped my CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) word lesson for the littles. I was not prepared for another snow day.
I spent time I had before drop off, scanning Pinterest for indoor activity ideas. I thought, “I need a glass of wine for this” out of sarcasm, of course. That’s when it hit me, I need the opposite of wine which must be coffee, right? Okay, so this was just me laughing at myself when I remembered just how goofy and fun playing “Opposite Day” can be for kids and grown ups. The concept of opposite day is easy, but I needed to build activities to go with it.
The first activity I discovered in my book my middle son was given for Christmas. I had each of the kids line up and have their photo taken. The photo had to look something like a mug shot. The kids had to stand against a blank background or a solid colored wall, with their backs and heads facing forward and as straight as possible. After snapping the photos on my phone, I sent them to enjoy tablet time while I hopped on the computer.
These are not great pictures of my kids and the lighting could have been better. Still, I had what I needed. The purpose of this activity is to teach kids that no one is perfect. Or more specifically, humans are not perfectly symmetrical. I took the above photos, synced to Google Photos, downloaded to my desktop, and opened these files in Adobe Photoshop Elements. I could have printed them and then cut them in halves… but I needed to also flip the pictures to be a mirrored or reversed image, to pull off the illusion.
So basically, if you have this feature on your computer or printer, use a copy of the original with a copy in mirrored or reversed orientation and then cut them both in half, right down the middle. I used the center of the nose to determine middle of face. Next, I took the two halves and switched them, so the right side and it’s mirrored right side are together and the same with lefts. Here is what you get:
The kids loved these photos of themselves. They found them hysterical and interesting. While the littles were seeing how “right” is the opposite of “left” the bigs were learning that not one of them is a perfect person. Every human has different sized eyes, cheeks, hairlines, eyebrows, and smiles on either side of their face. I love it when I find a lesson that works for both age groups and this one a truly fruitful experiment.
When starting with “Opposite Day”, I asked the littles if they knew what the word opposite means. Generally, if you ask preschoolers if they know what is the meaning of a word, they will always say “Yes”. I don’t know if that is because they have already developed a sense of pride or just because they don’t yet understand what it is that I am asking, in the first place. It is better to ask, “Can you tell me what it means to be opposite?”
Of my three littles (all are now age 4 and at or above a preschool education), none could tell me the meaning of the word opposite. I explained with examples and turn taking. I told the kids, “the opposite of cold is hot, so if that is true what then is the opposite of up?” I had to tell them it was down, but that was all they needed. After, they could tell me the opposite of hard is soft and the opposite of off is on, and so on.
My lunch menu for today suggested hot dogs and cheese sticks with sliced apples and caramel dip. Therefore, I announced at noon that lunch was “not ready” and that we were “not having cold kitties, round milk, and oranges with no dip“. Even after all the Opposite Day playtime we had by noon, the kids still looked at me in disbelief. Yet, when I shouted, “DO NOT GO DOWNSTAIRS!” in a high pitched, chipmunk voice to the littles who were playing with toys in the basement, they giggled all the way up to the dining room to see what was waiting at the table for lunch.
For an afternoon activity I choose to paint the snow outside. I asked the kids “what is the opposite of white?” All three of the bigs said the opposite of white is black. I wasn’t sure if that is true. I assumed the opposite of white is color, but didn’t see the need to debate. Instead, I told the kids to get undressed and head outside into the hot, sunny weather.
While they scurried about, trying to gather boots, gloves, coats, hats, and snow pants, I took a bucket, some food coloring, silver glitter, and a funnel to the bathroom sink. I used the funnel to pour silver glitter into the balloons. I had exactly 12 balloons and 6 kids, so enough for each to have 2 chances at coloring the snow. After adding the glitter, I added about 3 drops of food coloring to each balloon before using the bathroom sink to fill them with water. Finally, I carefully placed all 12 balloons into the bucket I also brought to the bathroom.
The kids were ready to head out to into the yard by the time I had finished filling the balloons. Once outside, I had the kids form a line and handed them each a balloon. On the count of three, they were to throw the balloons as far and as hard as they could to try to get them to pop. Sadly, the balloons didn’t pop right away. However, the kids weren’t too sad because this just meant they had more time to play with the balloons in the snow.
Before pick-up, the kids always have an afternoon snack. I was not going to let go of Opposite Day before play time was over and I had to find a gluten free afternoon snack for the one big I have with a GF diet. I had to scrap my menu plan and rummage the cupboard. I found a mostly full box of Honey Nut Cheerios, some peanut butter, and chocolate chips. These ingredients reminded me of the Cheerios snack bars (similar to Rice Crispies Treats) that I usually make during the summer when I have the bigs everyday.
I started referring to the kids as my puppies (to be the opposite of kids) while I mixed their afternoon snack together, their Puppy Chow. I used the ingredients I found in the cupboards, plus some butter and powdered sugar and made a delicious, sweet afternoon snack.
Puppy Chow Recipe
8 C Honey Nut Cheerios Cereal
1 C Chocolate Chips
1/2 C Peanut Butter
1/2 C Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
Step 1: In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter for 1 minute
Step 2: Remove chocolate and peanut butter mixture from microwave, add vanilla and stir until all ingredients are well blended and smooth
Step 3: In a large mixing bowl, pour melted chocolate and peanut butter mixture over Cheerios and stir gently until the Cheerios are well coated.
Step 4: Spoon powdered sugar over in 1/2 cup quantities and shake in bowl to get sugar to cover the chocolate covered cheerios. Store covered so Cheerios will not become stale.
Thank you and happy reading!