Do schools everywhere have this "early release day" thing once a month? I don't ever remember having early release days as a kid. It is a pain if you work full-time, but I suppose the teachers find the time useful? Of course, the kids love it. They get out of school about 3 hours early, and since nobody has dance, soccer, jump rope, or piano scheduled that time of day, there are plenty of kids roaming around the neighborhood. I think unscheduled, unplanned, unstructured play time often brings out the best in kids.
I was inside, reading a magazine, minding my own business when Nina came bounding in the house asking me to help her get a ladder out of the garage. I couldn't envision any scenario where kids and ladders are a particularly good combination, so I asked her why she needed it. "For our zip line!", she replied. "Zip line? What zip line?", I asked. She showed me.
That's a card table and two double dutch jump ropes turned zip line. See the blue yoga mat with the white first aid box on top? I was told that's the "first aid station." So nice that they were thinking ahead toward the injuries that might result from their make-shift zip line. I keep looking at how high up the tree that rope is tied. Given that they didn't have a ladder, I shudder to think how they were able to tie it. I'm rather glad I wasn't there to witness it. My guess (although I haven't allowed myself to confirm my fears) is that they put this step stool on top of the card table.
Good thing there was a first aid station, huh?
Once they got everything set up, it was time to try it out.
They quickly learned a lot about... gravity... and friction... and probably all sorts of other physics concepts that I don't remember from my one year of high school physics that I hated.
Over the course of the afternoon, there were many modifications made to the zip line - ropes tied higher or lower, a rope vs. a piece of wood for the handles, someone holding the rope taut. I'm pretty sure they never had a successful glide across the rope, but they had a blast trying. They were busy and active and creative and problem solving and engineering and designing and thinking and cooperating and laughing. I can't think of any project I could have given them that would have provided all that.
I'm not sure my card table will ever be the same, but what a great afternoon those kids had.
Fortunately, when I was at the grocery store earlier in the day, I had the foresight to think, "I bet we'll end up with a crowd of kids at dinner tonight since today is an early release day."
With that in mind, I stocked up on fixings for "make your own pizza" and plenty of crusts for whoever happened to land at our table.
I'm glad I did. I think we ended up with six girls at the dinner table tonight.
After dinner, we had a little dancing "gangnam style" with the Wii.
There was talk of camping out in the backyard, but they eventually wised up and realized it was going to be pretty chilly out there. I only ended up with one extra girl sleeping over tonight, but I'm sure they are all sleeping well after their zip line adventure today.