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Summer's Busy Bodies

Hey, kids, find out how these cool creatures can inspire your own summer fun!

Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

—Proverbs 30:25-28

Close Encounters

Build an ant farm and get close to a few ants this summer. First, fill a clean glass jar halfway with dirt. Now search for an anthill. With a large spoon, scoop up as much as you can in order to include the worker ants, the queen, and the eggs. Place it all in a self-locking plastic bag. Put this in the refrigerator for an hour, so the ants are sluggish and easier to handle. Transfer the ants into the jar. Stretch a piece of old nylon stocking over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. If you keep the jar in a tray of water, the ants will not be able to escape. Feed the ants bits of fruit, bread, or drops of jam. You may also want to try giving them a dead fly or peanuts. (Don’t leave food in the jar to spoil.) What happens? What surprised you? What did you learn?

Capture the Coney

Play this outdoor game with your family or friends just before sundown when the shadows are long and it’s growing dark. In a central location, spread out a blanket. In the center of the blanket place a bowl with bags of popcorn or another favorite treat. One person will be the hawk and the others will be the coneys, who must hide from the hawk. The hawk covers his eyes and counts to 100 while the coneys find hiding places. After the hawk finishes counting he searches for the coneys. The coneys come out when it looks safe and try to reach the blanket without getting caught by the hawk. If the hawk finds a coney in hiding, the coney can make a run for it. If the coney reaches the blanket before being tagged, she is safe. All coneys caught by the hawk must help the hawk capture other coneys. The game ends when all are safe or caught. If you want to play again, the first coney caught will become the next hawk. If none of the coneys are caught, the hawk remains the same. At the end of the playing time, everyone can sit on the blanket to enjoy the treats.

Ants can walk while holding in their mouth an object weighing five times their body weight. And they can drag objects 25 times heavier than their weight.

The coney mentioned in the Bible is similar to a North American creature called a pika. Pikas can be found in the Rocky Mountains. They are small (7 inches or 18 centimeters long) grayish-brown creatures that look a little like rabbits. They live high up on the mountainsides above the tree line, where rocks are plentiful. All summer long they gather grasses to store in their rock caves. Hawks, eagles, and weasels are their enemies. If pikas spy an enemy, they give loud, squeaking calls to warn each other, then dart into their rocky hideaways.

Think about how God is your rock, your hiding place.

Locust Lesson

Locusts can spread their wings and fly so close together that they appear as one large mass. Moving together, they descend on a tree, garden, or field and eat every living thing. We don’t admire them for how they can destroy.

But they do show us that a group working together can accomplish big things.

How can you accomplish more when working with others? Gather your family together and brainstorm one thing that you could do together to help someone outside your family. Is there a new family in your neighborhood? Is there someone who lives alone and might be lonely? Is there a nursing home or hospital nearby? For a new family, you could make a list of favorite places and things your family enjoys. If someone is lonely in your neighborhood, make cookies or bread or pick some flowers to share. For a visit to a nursing home, plan a short program of entertainment. You could sing, play an instrument, or read a poem. The important thing is that you plan together and share together. For more ideas, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering by Jenny Friedman (Robbins Lane Press, 2003).

Lizard Surprise

Put a small plastic lizard inside a soap ball and surprise someone.

You’ll need 1 bar of Ivory soap, grated; 1⁄4 cup of warm water; and a small plastic lizard.

  1. Grate the soap over a medium-sized bowl. (Graters can be very sharp--ask an adult for help.)
  2. Add the water to the soap. Mix until it becomes stiff.
  3. Set aside a small portion and gather the rest into a ball with your hands. Squish it with both hands until you can make a smooth ball.
  4. Poke a hole into the ball and press your toy lizard into it.
  5. Repair the hole with the saved soap.
  6. Allow to dry overnight.
  7. Wrap in colored plastic wrap or tissue paper and tie with a ribbon. Give it to someone. When that person discovers the surprise, tell him or her about Proverbs 30:28. Think about how we have been washed clean from sin and invited to be with the King of all kings.

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