The sun is shining brightly in the sky.  A warm breeze is swaying the new, green leaves on the branches of our trees.  Birds are calling out to each other in the distance as I walk out onto the back deck to place some items in the recycling bin.  Ahhhhh…we need to do some activities outside today.

“Everybody get ready to go outside.  I’ve got something for us to do.”

I grab the brand new box of multi-color sidewalk chalk and a box of number fruit snacks.  I feel four pairs of eyes fixating on me now and I know I have their full attention.  I know why the kids are intrigued – I rarely ever buy fruit snacks.

I could have been the pied piper with my four children following neatly behind me in a line as we walked down the driveway to the backyard.  They weren’t going to lose sight of me.  *giggle*

I sat down in the hammock swing and pulled out a piece of chalk for each of them.  I gave a word for each of them to spell.  Justin worked on LJ (his initials – Leslie Justin) many times since he likes to put a backwards J first and then an L.  Chris worked on words like – mom, dad, at, it.  While Zach worked on words such as – play, this, went.  Niki sighs…she knows what’s coming.  Big words.  I give her words such as Glendalough, Kildare, Warwickshire.  These are all words related to our trip this summer.  After she spells them, I ask her why they are significant.  Glendalough is where St. Kevin built a monastery.  Kildare is where St. Brigid built a monastery.  Warwickshire is where we’re going for Zach’s birthday at a castle.

After filling up all the cement under our deck with spelling words, we put up the chalk for the next activity.  I tell Chris and Zach to stand next to each other.  They have to race from the deck to the bridge and back.  The winner gets two fruit snacks and the other person gets one.  But…that’s not all.  For Zach and Chris’ races, the winner has to add together the numbers on the fruit snacks (because…you guessed it, the fruit snacks are in the shape of numbers).  If you add them together correctly, then you get to eat them.  If you were in second place, then you had to add whatever number you received twice.  So if your fruit snack was a number 4, you’d add 4 + 4.  Thankfully, no one got them wrong so we didn’t have to deal with what happens if you don’t get them right.

Chris runs faster than Zach.  This is a fact.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this activity.  Zach and Justin have low muscle tone and need to do exercises to build them up.  I added the math in as a twist – I always love multi-tasking!  🙂  I was a bit nervous about how this would turn out since both of them are sore losers with games.

“On your mark, get set, GO!”

They take off and quickly return up the hill to me.  As soon as Zach realizes he’s not going to win, he stops running and starts to pout.  The pout fades after he adds and gets his fruit snack though.

Now it’s Niki and Justin’s turn to race.  Obviously, it’s an unfair match.  I don’t say anything about it to Niki and just yell out, “On your mark, get set, GO!”

They’re off!  Niki’s doing a shuffle down the hill while Justin’s running with all his might holding on to the waist of his shorts because they’re a bit too big and in danger of falling to his ankles as he runs to the bridge.  Through the whole race, Niki stays with Justin and occasionally lets him gain a little lead on her before pretending to work hard to catch up to him.  Justin kept up his motivation to win throughout the whole thing.  The two of them return to me…in a tie win.  I pull out two fruit snacks for Justin and ask him what numbers are on each then he pops them in his mouth.  I pull out two fruit snacks for Niki.  They were an 8 and a 4.  I ask her, “What is 84?”

The best part – Zach and Chris were watching what just happened.  Hmmmm…Niki and Justin tied.  They both got two fruit snacks.  Nothing was spoken.  Chris and Zach line up again.  I tell them to go.  My heart swelled with happiness!  Chris paced himself and ran along side of Zach.  They came up the hill and tied.  Again, nothing was spoken but Chris had this little smile on his face that told me he knew exactly what he did.