“Water Fights and Star Watches,” Ensign, Jan. 1985, 72–73
To add variety to our family’s routine, we occasionally plan a big activity. These activities have provided an opportunity for growth and a chance to discover each other and the world around us. These are six of our favorite activities:
The Family Water Fight
For one family activity, we bought a large package of water balloons. The children filled them with water from the garden hose and carefully placed them in several buckets, balloons bursting in the process. They had as much fun in this stage as they did during the contest.
To assure safety and fairness, we set the following rules: all balloons were to remain outside; the balloons were to be divided equally; no one could throw balloons at any one person more than a set number of times; and everyone had to help clean up afterward.
Then we had a hilarious half hour of home front fun—seven people hiding behind bushes and fences, or slinking carefully around the corner of the house, only to back into an ambush.
A silly activity? Perhaps. But that water contest helped us to enjoy each other as friends, and to enjoy our association as a family.
The Family Slumber Party
We planned this activity for an evening when no one had to go to school or work the next day. We all brought our sleeping bags into the family room while dad built a fire in the fireplace. We roasted marshmallows and popped corn by the firelight. We sang camp songs and took turns telling “most” stories (most embarrassing experience, most spiritual experience, etc.)—all the ingredients for a successful campout carried on within the walls of our own home.
One summer we read in the newspaper about a display of comets. The article said that the best time to view the comets would be around midnight that night.
We all dragged our sleeping bags out onto the patio, and lay together gazing at the sky and speculating about stars. The children were intrigued with the idea that some of the stars they saw might no longer exist.
We explained how many light years had passed away since the stars’ light had begun its journey to us. We talked of God and his immeasurable creations. It was a time of closeness and learning.
Historical Family Outing
While examining our genealogy, we discovered a family connection with some members of the Donner Party. At the time we were living in San Jose, California, so we planned a weekend trip to the Donner Memorial. Together we examined the relics in the museum. Each name on the metal plaque we saw there meant something to us; after having read the histories, we were able to recall something significant about each person.
This experience triggered our curiosity, and we went on additional excursions. We explored some of the missions, forts, and museums of California, and we gained an appreciation for the early settlers of our state. Names of streets, rivers, and public buildings gained significance as we learned about them.
Now we live in another state and look forward to discovering a different historical heritage.
One spicy autumn day while living in Seattle, Washington, we went for a drive to Snoqualmie Falls. Although we had often gone there before, this time we found piles of dry leaves in the picnic area. The children tumbled and laughed and burrowed into the piles, loving their crisp smell and their crinkly sound.
This was the first of what has become our autumn picnic tradition.
We always take sandwiches, crunchy apples, cheese, and boiled raisin cake.
It has become our farewell-to-summer activity.
Family Art Experience
This activity was inspired by an announcement about a children’s art contest in the paper. I bought materials, and for several successive family home evenings we experimented with various materials and ideas. Our best creations were entered in the contest.
All year we collect ideas for art work. We save exceptional school art projects, visit exhibits, and keep a file of the ideas. Every year we spend several family home evenings preparing the entries. In addition to the fun we have, we have gained a greater appreciation for art composition and technique. These activities have been a source of togetherness and fun for our family. They create lasting memories which bind us closer together, and they keep us learning and growing. Betty Jan Murphy, Tucson, Arizona.