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Puddles are for Everyone

Spring is here! Well, at least the concept of Spring is here. While there is still the possibility that we might wake up to a few more snowy mornings here in Alberta, our mindset is beginning to shift toward summer. In my house, there’s one tried-and-true signal that this long-awaited season is upon us: puddles!

Beautiful wild water pooling onto the streets and sidewalks. Everyone begins to take note of the gradual - but noticeable - regression of snow piles, the persistently dirty car windows, and the occasional (usually accidental) shoe that gets flooded with water. While some of these things don’t typically incite joy in a person, Spring brings along with it all the lovely aspects of this season that we enjoy. Springtime brings longer days, warmer weather, nature and animals springing (literally) back to life, and more.

If you’ve never played in puddles as a child, don’t fret (although oh, boy, you’ve been missing out). One great advantage of raising children is you get to re-experience childhood!

Here, I’ve shared four fun puddle-centred ideas that my family does each year to initiate springtime. Slap on every waterproof piece of clothing you have and let’s get messy together and play in those puddles!

1. The ‘classic’ jumping and splashing contest.
This has to be the simplest yet funnest activity surrounding puddles. Not much explanation is necessary, except me urging you to try it. Additionally, if you can find a (safe) ledge to jump off, it makes the splash all the more satisfying. Activities are always more fun in (legally-allowed, socially-distanced, outdoor) groups, and puddle chaos is no exception. Get others involved in the fun and create a contest! The best days are when my family gets Grandpa running through puddles.

2. The artist’s puddle scene. Let’s get artsy and take some videos with our camera phones! This activity takes activity number 1 to a whole new level. My family loves to make slow-motion and stop-motion videos while my kiddo bounds through puddles. Don’t get me wrong, there are also a bunch of pictures that get taken (shocking, I know). The goal here is to create the splash of all splashes. This usually involves my son running or bicycling through the biggest puddle we can find! Take a video at a few different angles, too. Shoot the splash from up high (yes, we’ve packed a step-stool to our favorite puddle), at ground level, and even in the puddle’s reflection.

3. The great gutter-stream boat race. As a child, I religiously made little tin-foil boats and spent hours and hours racing them down the gutter streams. Now, as an adult, well… I still do it! When crafting your boat, make sure it’s large enough so you won’t lose it down the gutter; you don’t want to litter. If you’re more eco-conscious or don’t use tin-foil in your house, wax-paper boats, Lego boats, or any other toy boat will work just fine. To keep it engaging, my family also likes to make racing rules. For instance, we time our boat races and the best time out of five runs, wins.

You’re allowed to make small alterations to your boat (since they’re probably a little flimsy), but you’re not allowed to use a new boat until there is a new set of runs. Additionally, there’s no assisting your boat down the stream more than twice. And if your boat drowns or gets majorly stuck and you have to reposition it, you get two seconds added to your final time. Get racing! (P.S. It’s harder to make a decent tin-foil boat than you think.)

4. The puddle science experiments.

I’ve thought of two simple and educational experiments that are fun for the whole family:

Let’s learn about water filtration! All you need is three clear cups, another cup or bowl for scooping, a coffee filter, a strainer, and a decently dirty-looking puddle. Collect some water in one of the clear cups (to show what the unfiltered water looks like. AKA, the ‘control’). Then, position the coffee filter on the second cup, the strainer on the third cup, and pour some dirty water through the ‘filters’ into the two cups! Once the water is filtered, ask your kids what happened and which cup has the cleanest water. They may understand the concept of ‘mechanical filtration’ even before they know what mechanical filtration is!

Build a dam in a gutter stream. Start by collecting some naturally-sourced materials (fallen twigs, rocks, and chunks of ice and snow). Pick a spot along a gutter stream and get building! Explain to your kids the purpose of a dam and that we see them both in nature (beavers) and in industry (power and water dams). See if you can entirely block the stream and wait until you can see the difference in water level as the dam starts working its magic.

Spring is not always enjoyable due to the significantly increased wetness of the world and the resulting muck of kiddos (and floors). But with puddles, you and your family can make the messy nature of Spring more exciting! It may mean a couple more loads of laundry and rounds of floor mopping, but your children will thank you for it. Additionally, if you make puddle-hunting part of your walking routine, you may discover a world of hidden monster-sized puddles right outside your front door!

Well, folks, if you’re still even the slightest bit interested in my article on small street-side pools of dirty water, I bid you one final piece of advice: Invest in good, knee-high rubber boots. I bought a pair of rubber boots last year and wore them almost every day in Spring! I also bring them camping on the wetter trips and they’ve changed my life.

Carrie is a medical laboratory scientist, mother, writer, and amateur photographer in Edmonton, who is usually found exploring the outdoors with her family. She also loves to connect with like-minded adventurers. Check out her blog, thatoutdoorsyfamily.com, or connect on Instagram @__carrielynnn.

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