We love playing outside. Honestly, what’s not to love? So when I explained to the kids that it was Earth Day and they looked at me with blank stares, I knew I had to bring it down a level. “Today is about celebrating outside,” I sang. (This is not an exaggeration, I actually sang this line to them). And they clapped and we started yelling and singing things we love about the outdoors. Our list included: trees, birds, flowers, yellow flowers, not worms, the sun, snowmen, sandboxes. We also all agreed we liked Buzz Lightyear, even though he wasn’t quite part of the outdoors. I knew they would love Earth Day once we got rolling on comprehension, and boy was I ever right!
To make it extra special, once the kiddos went down for their nap I got busy working on their Earth Day surprise: we were going to decorate an Earth Cake. I especially love baking when I am at work because I get to plug in the Kitchen Aid Mixer of my dreams. Don’t you just love a great kitchen appliance. Anyway, I have all of these amazing memories of special cakes from my childhood. My mom was great at designing and baking cakes, and I was hoping to emulate some of that for the kids I nanny for. Unfortunately I didn’t exactly inherit that trait… so the image I had in my mind didn’t translate too well. But one of the many joys of working with toddlers is that they really don’t care too much about details and they have wicked imaginations. Which made this project thrilling for them.
So like I said, I made the cake. Then, after I made the white cake mixture, I swirled blue food coloring and green sprinkles into the batter. I was hoping for a stream and land effect. Insert toddler imagination here. When the oven timer went off, it ended up looking like this:
I also made some small, flat cupcakes. Then, I found the bag of leftover Easter candy. Hey, if we were going to do this sugar thing, we were going to do it right. Once the twins woke up from their naps, we began our cake decorating. As a disclaimer, I must admit that I let the twins do the majority of the labor involved in this process from here on out.
Like we had earlier in the morning, we talked together about nature and what facets of it we loved most. After they answered, we would then find a way to represent their appreciation onto the cake. And so it went.
They gave me their first answer: Flowers. “Dey smell so good “Da-nelle”. So we looked through all the sugared supplies on the table and they opted for dumb-dumbs as flowers. At one point, one of us got very excited about flowers and took the opportunity to create an abstract poppy field like on the Wizard of Oz atop one of the cupcakes. Then I asked them what they liked about nature again. They answered: digging in the sand. So, I helped them with the idea of using the small cupcakes to make hills. They globbed on the chocolate frosting, amply licking their fingers in between, and then added some green sprinkles for grass.
Next we talked about loving animals in nature (even the squirrel who was “quite a little stinker during our picnic”), but since we only had peeps and they wanted MORE animals, we decided to use teddy grahams because “bears are animals, too, Da-nelle”.
We didn’t actually eat the cake. Not on my watch– all that sugar?! Are you kidding me!? I threw mom and dad under the bus for that one! Instead I made a fruit salad for them to eat on the porch and we talked about all the exciting things we did that day. Earth Day really is great. And we sure do love that Spring is finally, finally, FINALLY, showing it’s face in this land!
Hope your Earth Day was JUST as fun as ours. Oh yes, and bon appetite, too!