By Tabitha Wilkes – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

Spring Break is the perfect time for families to create memories and spend quality time together. However, in today’s economy, many people are looking for cost-effective options for entertainment. Luckily, with a little creativity, there are plenty of fun staycation ideas that won’t break the bank.
Have a Great Outdoors Themed Day:
Begin the day with a hike or nature walk in a local park or at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area, which features several hiking trails and a variety of wildlife, or the Corsicana Wildlife Management Area, which offers hiking trails through wooded areas and around ponds. Lake Halbert Park features hiking trails around the lake, as well as a playground, picnic areas, and a fishing pier, and Navarro Mills Lake offers several hiking trails around the shoreline and through the woods.

Before the hike, prepare by making a list of “I Spy” or “Scavenger Hunt” items such as pine cones, rocks, flowers, and insects. You can also try a “Rainbow Hunt” where kids look for an item in each color of the rainbow. Involve the kids in preparing nature inspired snacks like trail mix made of your favorite nuts, dried fruits, dry cereal, pretzels, and seeds or ants on a log made of celery sticks, carrot sticks, or apple slices topped with raisins or other dried fruit. For no-cook s’mores, dump mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and mini graham crackers or cookies into a bag and shake. End the day gazing at the night sky and trying to find constellations.

Have a Book Lovers-Themed day: Foster a love of reading by setting up a cozy reading nook, create a family book, design bookmarks, visit the local library, and host a book swap. Write and illustrate a family story or fiction using blank paper, pencils, and crayons or perhaps use a blank spiral. Set up the book swap. Plan to invite friends and parents to participate by encouraging them to bring books they no longer want. Set rules such as the number of books each child can bring and swap. Allow children to sort the books into categories, then browse and select the ones they want to take home.

Create and serve literary snacks inspired by the books you are reading, such as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” fruit skewers which are simply your favorite fruits threaded onto skewers to create a colorful and healthy snack. “Winnie the Pooh” honey snacks, where you drizzle honey on toast, graham crackers, or rice cakes then top with sliced bananas or strawberries. Try “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” cookie bars with chocolate chips and “Peter Rabbit” carrot sticks served with a side of hummus or ranch dip, just to name a few.

Note: When planning a Book Lover’s Day, check with your local library. The Corsicana Public Library is featuring an assortment of free Spring Break activities including:

* 2 p.m. Tuesday March 14- Mini Golf and Snow cones
* 2 p.m.Wednesday, March 15 – A Puppet Show
* 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16 – Lego Time
* Ongoing – If You Give a Mouse A Cookie story walk at Community Park Trail 
Have a Cooking Themed Day: Cooking together promotes creativity, teamwork, and math skills. Start the day with “Cupcake Wars” where you bake a batch of plain cupcakes, making sure to involve the kids in the measuring (that’s the math part), and set out a variety of toppings like frosting, sprinkles, raisins, dried fruit, dry cereal, and fresh fruit for the kids to get creative with their decorating. Enjoy your treats while watching kids’ cooking shows like Master Chef Junior, Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, or Chopped Junior Kids Baking Championship. If you are in the mood for a field trip, visit a local farm or farmer’s market so the kids can see where their food really comes from.

For “Family Pizza Night,” purchase pre-made pizza dough or make your own from scratch and set out a variety of toppings. Encourage everyone to make their own unique pizza creations and enjoy the homemade pizzas together as a family while watching Ratatouille or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Have a Superhero-Themed Day: Dress up as your favorite superhero and create superhero costumes for the whole family. For example, wear a blue shirt, a red cape, and red shorts to dress up as Superman or wear a black shirt, black pants or shorts, a bat mask, cape, and utility belt to dress up as Batman.

Host a costume contest or fashion show where family members can pose as their character. As the day goes on, have a superhero movie marathon, and read your favorite superhero comic books while enjoying superhero-themed snacks and treats. Start with a Hulk green smoothie, which is a blend of your favorite fruits with just enough spinach to turn it green. Add a splash of fruit juice, milk, or yogurt to make it delicious.

For lunch, you might want to try a Spider-Man web pizza. Create a spiderweb pattern with tomato sauce and cheese on top of your
pizza crust, then add toppings to create spiders. Superman energy balls are a blend of peanut butter, oats, and honey. Add seeds, chocolate chips, and more to customize. Shape the mixture into small balls and chill before eating.
Have a Spa-Themed Day: Make a day with friends, DIY spa treatments, and a dress-up tea party. Create a coconut or olive oil sugar scrub with 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of oil, and vanilla extract. Make a nourishing and hydrating face mask by mixing 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt. Apply it to the face, leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

To rejuvenate your tootsies, fill a bowl with warm water, add 1/4 cup of Epsom salt, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to create a refreshing and rejuvenating foot soak. Serve cucumber tea sandwiches, fruit kabobs, and herbal tea at your tea party. Don’t forget sugar or honey and lemon wedges. Encourage guests to bring (or perhaps have some on hand) hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other silly yet elegant dress-up items to wear while at your fancy tea party. 
There are plenty of fun and cost-effective options for families to enjoy during spring break. You could just as easily sub mermaid day for superhero day or board game day for book day. The possibilities are endless. Whatever themes you choose, go all in. Wear the themed clothes, play the themed music, eat the themed snacks, get outside, invite friends, and have a big time!

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