Just at that point when winter cabin fever has taken over the entire house with symptoms of too many phone calls, eating too much chocolate, and the kids constant never-ending squabbling, spring comes and everyone breathes a sigh of relief – until the spring rain starts. And with the rain comes mud. Red clay soil the color of old brick, gone wet, sticky, slippery. Reaching up over the toes of my boots, passing my ankles, climbing over the hem of my jeans and up the backs of my legs, it sticks to everything and travels with me into the kitchen, the office, the grocery store – just everywhere! And the kids want to go out and play in this! They are clamoring for something to do, something fun and new. So, I take off my rain hat and put on my thinking cap.
Food. Kids love food. Bugs. Kids love bugs. Quickly, I gather the kids together and we all start creating a beautiful snack tray filled with Ants on a Log, Edible Worms and Apple ladybugs.
The first thing to do is to clear the kitchen table and cover it with an old tablecloth so the kids have a good work space. Next, out comes a huge snack tray for them to fill up with their buggy creations.
Ants on a Log
This is the first creation to keep the little hands busy with. You will need celery, peanut butter and raisins plus enough butter knives for the children. After you clean the celery, allow the kids to fill their ‘logs’ with peanut butter and then arrange the ‘ants’ (raisins) over it. While they are busy creating armies of marching ants I work on the preparations for the second part.
For the second bug to enter the snack tray, you will need peanut butter, powdered milk and honey. While the kids are busy with the armies of ants, mix two cups of dry powdered milk, 2 cups of peanut butter (creamy works best) and one-half cup of honey in a large mixing bowl. When the dough reaches a smooth consistency, give each child a small ball and watch them transform the ball into worms that wiggle around the Ants on Logs.
Apple Lady Bugs
The last bug to crawl onto this fun snack tray is the ladybug. You will need apples (one apple make two ladybugs), raisins, grapes (one per ladybug), pretzel sticks and of course the peanut butter (again creamy works best). After coring, cut the apples in half and lay then down skin side up. Have the children add spots to their ladybug with raisins held onto the apples with dabs of peanut butter. The eyes can be created the same way. Stick one end of each pretzel stick into a raisin, and then press the other end into the apples to make antennae. Using another dab of peanut butter, stick the grape in between the antennae for the ladybug’s head.
Now that the snack tray is filled, everyone can troop out onto the front porch and watch the rain – or mud – while enjoying eating their tasty buggy snacks.