This past weekend we paused to honor those who have served our country and unlock the ocean, welcoming the unofficial start of summer. After a long and never-ending winter in many areas (the Northeast comes to mind), this will be a welcome change. Warm weather, barbeques, swimming, camping, family time, kids out of school. Wait … kids are out of school! That’s 8 to 10 weeks of “What are we doing today?”, “I’m bored”, “Mom, can you please come sit by the pool again so we can swim?”. Sure, for some of us there will be working, vacations (if we’re lucky), summer homework (if we’re not lucky), but inevitably, there will be down time that he have to fill. Why not fill it with some of these Disney ideas?
I love writing stories, especially fanfiction. Fanfiction is when you take characters or a world – usually both – that have already been created and just twist the plot. For example, I could write about the characters from Alice in Wonderland, but put them in a modern world, or maybe, write about what I would do in Wonderland. What would happen if Ariel ended up in Neverland or Peter Pan landed in Snow White’s forest? I like this rather than creating your own characters or worlds because you have already fallen in love with these people and places. It’s fun to take what someone else has created and twist it to be your own. However, if fanfiction is not your style, you can write your own original story! In fact, in 2005, I got my own book published. I may have only been 7 years old, but I knew that I had something special when it came to writing (or at least my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to get a book published, get multiple copies made, autograph them and give them as Christmas gifts!). You can get one published too, no matter WHAT the age! The kit that I used when I was younger was the IlluStory Kit, which even allows “dedication” and “about the author” pages. You make your own art, write the story and even choose the cover color. If you would like to use more than the 20 pages offered, you can purchase extenders so your book can be longer. Even as an adult, you can use a kit. For example, my parents purchased another kit, which I didn’t use when I was still in elementary school, so I still have it. This kit is for a larger book, starts with more pages, has more words to a page and you can add photographs instead of drawings. I was planning on using it to write about my Disney adventures when I get older, and I think now would be a good time to cash in on this promise I made to myself. With the extenders, my book can be up to 200 pages, and I know I will be able to fill up each and every one! It’s a little pricey but well worth it to have your own hardcover book in your bookcase.
It’s a simple process, really. Thread a hook through your canvas, wrap a piece of yarn around it and pull it back through your material. Pull the yarn to make it snug and, voila, one piece done! After working on it for a year, I recently finished a large latch hook of Orcas. It is a project that I started a few summers ago and would take out to work on whenever I had small window of downtime. The best part about finishing my whale latch hook is that now I can start another one. On a recent craft store visit, I found Thomas Kinkade latch hook kits featuring Tinker Bell, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid. If Thomas Kinkade isn’t something that appeals to you, you can also get smaller latch hook kits of Disney characters. I know what you’re thinking: after you’re finished making it, what can you possibly do with a latch hook? Well, if you don’t have wall space to hang it up, you can follow simple instructions to make either a rug or a pillow.
Love the idea of starting a craft that you can come back to month after month until you’re finished, but not quite sure if latch hook is what you’re looking for, try a Disney cross stitch. Thread a needle with a piece of colored floss, stitch all of that color in an area then move on to the next color and watch your picture take shape. Like latch hook, you can choose from various levels of difficulty and size. Even small hands can make their own cross stitch. I completed my first Disney cross stitch when I was in kindergarten. It was Eeyore with very large stitches in a 4 inch hoop. To tell the truth, it isn’t spectacular (most of the stitches don’t even touch) but I will treasure it forever. Of course, as you get more advanced patterns, the stitches are smaller and some even stray from the standard “x” stitch, but it is a project that you won’t feel guilty about starting, putting away and coming back to over time until it’s done. The best thing about cross stitch may be that you don’t have to make something to hang on the wall or turn into a pillow (although both of these ideas are great). You can create a baby blanket, a bib, a bookmark or even a book cover. If you’re a parent, the best part about cross stitch may be that it is a fun way to introduce your children to sewing. True, the stitches are different, but at least it will get them used to using a needle and “thread”.
You’ve probably seen them in your local craft store. Perler® Beads are small, multi-colored plastic beads that you place together to form patterns on a peg board. After completion, an adult (or responsible teen) uses an iron (don’t forget the parchment paper) to melt the beads together to create a permanent “picture”. I know it sounds like a super easy, quick project, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. The beads are tiny, the work is tedious and not too easy for little children (mom and dad’s help may be needed). My family found Perler® Beads a few years ago; my brother and I used them to make Disney Christmas ornaments for one of our trees. Trust me when I say, Perler® Beads will keep you occupied for days. The only limit to what you can make is your patience. You don’t even have to be very creative because patterns for almost anything can be found online. Our craft store even carries Disney kits that come with patterns for Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, princesses, fairies, Pooh and even some characters from popular movies like Cars. Personally, I say to buy the starter kit, a huge container of beads and look for the Disney patterns online. You will get a lot more bang for your buck that way.
Read a Book
You may recall that I had this on last year’s list of summer fun ideas, but come on, it’s always great to read a book. Live your adventure, visit faraway lands, have a summer romance (it’s a book!), relive history or learn something new. The choices are endless, and guess what, you can find books that cover all of these topics in the Disney section of your local bookstore (if you’re wondering about the romance part, hello, Disney princesses). I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent with a Disney book in my hand sitting by the pool. The Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson is great for adventure; learn about the man we all admire in the 633 page Walt Disney- The Triumph of The American Imagination by Neal Gabler; brush up on your Disney facts by reading a Disney trivia book; or cook up the meal of your dreams when you find the perfect menu in a Disney cook book. If you’re not a huge fan of reading or want to try to sneak reading into your family’s summer fun, why not try a comic book? Since Disney now owns Marvel, there’s a whole new world of comics to choose from. If you have a child that’s still not buying the reading angle because they are “gamers” who don’t want to read, trick them into reading by buying a “Game Guide” for a favorite video game. The Disney Infinity Game Guide or Epic Mickey Game Guide are just a few examples. There is a book out there for everyone –you just have to look for it.
Appetizer to Dessert
Maybe you’ve just read through some new Disney cook books or maybe you remember that you collected those recipes on your last Disney cruise, put all of that to good use and create an entire Disney meal – appetizer to dessert. This is a great family activity. For my family, someone can choose the appetizer, main course, dessert and drink (there are four of us). Plan your menu, make a shopping list, grab what you need from the food store, and have fun making a Disney inspired meal. Family cooking time can be loud and messy, but it’s also fun. You can even have the kids make Disney place cards or placemats for the dinner table. I’m thinking that the next meal the Wolcott Disney Café will serve is: Cucumber, Tomato and Red Onion Salad (Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), Crab and Artichoke Cakes (Flying Fish Café – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn), Grapefruit Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (The Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney Hollywood Studios®) and Jungle Juice (The Tusker House – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park).
All of these things are perfect ways to spend a day off, be productive throughout the summer or even pass time on a rainy day. Nowadays, children (including myself) are chained to their phones, computers, and televisions. You may have noticed already, but none of these things involve an electronic device. It would be an interesting experiment to see if you can go a whole day entertaining yourself without using a screen. These activities can get you through the day, week or even months. In addition, natural disasters can sometimes take out your electric, cable or internet connection. Therefore, you don’t HAVE a choice regarding whether or not you could use an electronic! All of these pastimes can help take away the nervousness from an event like a thunderstorm, give you a challenge, and get rid of the boredom on a summer day.
(All images from the author’s personal collection.)
See ya REAL soon!
Quote of the Week: “Come spirit, help us sing the story of our land. ” ~Pocahontas
Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott). Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.