Two Top Kids Easter Crafts and a Story of Hope

Spring is just around the corner! Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. My signs-of-spring-checklist goes something like this:

  • Growing things: Green shoots push up from the ground, tiny buds appear on trees and tulips and daffodils are breaking ground.

  • Birds: Robins and bluebirds greet me in the morning and I hear the welcome cry of geese overhead, returning from their winter holiday in the south.

  • Daylight: The days are noticeably longer…the sun is still casting its warming rays after 6pm here in Colorado Springs.

  • Susanna Leonard Hill’s In Just Spring Contest is starting! Her holiday writing contests are infamous legendary…I wouldn’t miss one for the world. The instructions for this one are: write a children’s story with a spring theme in 350 words or less and make sure the last line says, “(Character’s name) knew spring was here at last!” There is a super prize as well…a chance to submit a picture book manuscript to KidsBooks editor Laura Galvin! WOW! I’ll be linking up on her blog where you can go to check out everyone’s stories. I hope you enjoy my entry.

spring chick

Years ago, most soldiers were men…and most of the time, if they had families, their wives tended house and home and children until they returned. But things have changed! These days, many of our brave soldiers are women…and a good number of them are mothers of young children. According to the government:

 “The demands on military members and their families are increasing and are becoming more complex. Military families sacrifice their personal comfort and experience tremendous upheaval when soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, reservists and National Guard members are called to serve our country here or abroad. Children are especially vulnerable when separated from parents due to deployments. Their unique developmental perspective and limited life experience put them at a heightened risk for emotional distress during the separation period.”

There are very few picture books out there that address this issue…I’m excited to offer this story (344 words…phew!) to little ones who are missing that special person in their lives.



“I’ll be back when it’s spring” whispered Rachel’s mom. As the old pick-up disappeared down the hot dusty road, Grandmother gave Rachel’s arm a little tug. “Come on, girl! We need to get busy making cookies for the Labor Day picnic.”

Rachel loved baking with her grandmother. The smell of fresh cinnamon tickled her nose reminding her of the fragrance of her mother’s cinnabar soap-scented skin. Mama hadn’t even been gone an hour and Rachel was already missing her.  How could she wait until spring?

The trees turned scarlet and gold as the weeks passed. Rachel’s dad pushed her in the swing…so high she thought she might touch the sky. Rachel loved her daddy and loved the sound of the wind as it whistled past her, but it made her think of her mother, laughing and singing. Rachel missed her mama’s sweet voice. Spring seemed so far away.

One morning, Rachel awoke to the sound of sleigh bells. The world outside her window was covered in snow and Rachel hurried to get dressed. She loved the snow! She built a snow princess and put her scarf around the princess’ neck. A gust of wind brushed the scarf across Rachel’s cheek…it felt like mama’s soft touch. Would spring ever come?

The yard was a muddy mess for the next few weeks. “It’s the spring thaw,” said her daddy. It can’t be spring, thought Rachel, because mama’s not home yet.

Her grandmother filled a vase with daffodils. “These are the first spring flowers,” she told Rachel. Rachel didn’t believe her because if it was spring, mama would be here.

Rachel went to the barn. “We have four spring lambs,” her dad explained. Rachel was happy to see the baby lambs, but she knew they weren’t SPRING lambs because mama wasn’t there. She walked back to the house. The scent of cinnamon reached out to Rachel. Was Grandmother baking cookies without her?

Rachel ran up the porch steps. The music of a lilting voice filled her ears. “Mama, you’re home!” Rachel knew spring was here at last!


colored easter eggs

Photo courtesy of

NATURAL DYE COLORED EASTER EGGS (a craft from my book)

Coloring Easter eggs is lots of fun…you can turn this activity into an educational one by using natural dyes. You will need three bowls. For yellow, use 1tsp turmeric in a cup of hot water. For blue, crush a bunch of blueberries and cover with hot water. For red, crush a bunch of cranberries and cover with hot water. Be careful to cool the water before the children dip their eggs. You can also use food coloring if you don’t have the time.

After the eggs are colored (or you can use plastic eggs), you can add pieces of foam and felt to make these animal-inspired Easter eggs…use a marker to draw in the lines

easter egg animals.

Photo courtesy

Here are some resources for families who have members deployed:

The Association of the US Army (for children who are experiencing separation problems)

From Sesame Street:

From the Red Cross:

From Military One Source:

Substance abuse and mental health services administration

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on March 15, 2013, in Easter Crafts for Kids, parenting, Spring Checklist, Writing Contests and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. Sweet period story. Loved the images. And, fun activities for kids.


  2. What a touching story! Love it, and much needed out there.


    • Glad you liked it, Dawn! Yes, I think they need stories like this that will help every child…but especially those affected by military deployment.


      • NO doubt! Hard stuff for kids, and yes, it’s nice to see so many topics come to light in children’s books.


        • Yes, Dawn, it is hard stuff. I guess none of us get through this journey without some grief and hard knocks and difficult times. Kids are lucky when they have parents or other significant adults around who are approachable and compassionate. Stories like this one can be a window of opportunity for honest and important airing of feelings. 🙂


  3. Oh! So sweet, Vivian! What a wonderful story. I’m so glad Mama came home safe to Rachel 🙂


  4. Lovely submission, Vivian. Glad that Rachel’s mom made it home safe and sound . . . and in time for Spring!

    Adore your eggs-cellent craft animals. 😀


  5. What a lovey story, Vivian! Sad, yet full of hope.


    • Thanks, Teresa! It’s important to validate a child’s feelings, I think…and not expect them to be smiling and happy all the time, especially when they are missing someone who is an important part of their life. Glad you liked the story.:)


  6. Catherine Johnson

    Awh, that is heart-wrenching Vivian! What a lovely story.


    • It happens every day all around the world…kids are separated from parents…and must continue on, even though they often don’t understand what is happening or why. Glad the story touched your heart, Catherine.:)


  7. Really lovely, Vivian. I hope you go on to publish this – an expanded version, please! BTW, just read Maria’s Mysterious Mission – what a neat story!!!


    • Oh yes, Julie…glad you got to read Maria’s Mysterious Mission…neat story, especially for Colorado dwellers.:)Thanks for the kind words about my Spring story…I’m glad you feel it should be a book…I’m kind of fond of it myself.:) And I think the topic is one that needs to be addressed in picture books.


  8. Beautiful story! It flowed smoothly and the imagery was just lovely. Good luck!


  9. Jennifer Young

    Hey Vivian, I loved your story. What a happy ending for Rachel. Fun crafts too, thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Making Easter eggs are always a fun activity…my kids enjoyed doing it even when they got older.:) Glad you liked the story…I’m happy so many people are joining in (loved your story)…it’s fun to read all the other entries!


  10. I love the parallel of the seasons changing and the family being “reborn” in the spring when Mama returns home. Lovely.


  11. This is a moving deployment story, Vivian. Loved the intensity of the waiting you showed.


  12. Awesome story … LOVED traveling through the seasons as we awaited spring with your protagonist …my favorite line? ” … it felt like mama’s soft touch!” Yummmmmy.


  13. What a sweet story for our soldiers’ children. I love spring and everything that comes with it. To your list, I’ll add the croaking frogs at night. That’s when we know it’s spring here, along with the cooing mourning doves.


  14. Such a lovely story! It painted a beautiful picture of spring and I especially like the line of how Papa pushed the swing so high that she thought it would touch the sky. It’s also touching that Rachel equated Spring with having mummy back and nothing else 🙂


    • Emily…how kind of you to stop by…I know how busy you are right now.:) I’m so happy you liked the story…there are so many little ones without their mothers these days…they need someone to give them a voice.:)    The part about the swinging is actually from my own childhood…when I was 4 or 5, my best friend and I would go to the park across the street with our fathers and they would push us sooooo high, I definitely felt like I could touch the sky!  


  15. Beautiful story with a tender approach. You had me invested in the story right from the opening line.


    • Hannah…now you will make me cry.:) Thank you so much…maybe I will enhance this story and it will appear for critique next month.:) The idea just appeared and the more I wrote, the more I loved it and realized that it was a topic that needed to be addressed in picture books more these days.  


  16. Vivian, I couldn’t wait for Rachel’s mother to return either. Rachel’s innocence came through. I too loved when Papa pushed the swing so high she thought she’d touch the sky.
    The colored egg craft was a nice added touch just in time for spring that hopefully, is around the corner. We’re still getting snow and it’s cold. Burr… 🙂


    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, Tracy! We have had lovely warm spring weather the last few days…but in Colorado, that can change in a flash and we could wake up to snow and freezing cold.:) Hope spring comes to you soon!   


  17. What an emotional, heart warming story. I loved it. I love Rachel’s sweet relationship with her grandparents. A very moving story. Thanks!


  18. Lovely, and so *real*… brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for this wonderful story!


  19. Awww… Cute and sad! 🙂


  20. No fair! You’re not suppose to make readers cry with a submission to a spring contest. The best thing about a picture book is that you care what happens to the mc. The last line of each “page” touched me so deeply. You had me leaning in as you described time passing, lovely. Promise you’ll continue with this and submit it. It’s timely, it’s an underserved audience, and it’s sensitvely written. I could go on and on. Such beauty, Vivian. Thank you.


    • Pamela…I am speechless…something that doesn’t happen very often, I can assure you.:)When I started writing the story, it seemed to take shape by itself…what you see posted is pretty much how it was originally…as I reread it each time to revise, there wasn’t anything I could take out…and, with only 350 words to work with, not much I could add.:)I thank you so much for your encouraging words…and yes, I agree, this is a topic that remains under-addressed and I promise to pursue this story and see that it gets out there where it can helps the thousands of little ones who are missing their mamas!


  21. Really nice. I’m glad mom came home. Hopefully for good.


  22. Wonderful, touching story, Vivian. You did a beautiful job of making this real and fascinating, with a continual line leading the reader from page to page.


  23. Great take on the topic Vivian. It was heart-wrenching and hopeful at the same time. Living near Ft. Hood army base, the subject is very real here; however, (I agree with Pamela) more folks need to know about the real sacrifices made by our fellow Americans and their families.


    • So true, Donna! I appreciate your insightful comments…I’m in Colorado Springs now…which has a huge military presence. I fear that most people don’t realize that many military families are struggling just to get by…even if neither parent is deployed. Our local Head Start program tries to reach out to help both the children AND the parents…but their resources are limited and budgets are always being cut. Adding deployment to that mix creates even more hardship…and, as you point out, sadness for the little ones.


  24. Beautiful story, Vivian. I could feel your emotional involvement with the subject. Thanks for sharing it.


  25. beautiful story! you’ve breathed life into your character 🙂
    good luck!


  26. What a sweet story, Vivian! Really nice job with your language. It has a real emotional pull.


  27. Seem to have lost a long comment bemoaning the modern trend towards mothers, in particular, regarding career as more important than providing a stable home environment. In my view one of the two should be a constant during the crucial years..


    • I’m sorry you lost the long comment…but I’m glad to see I’m not the only one it happens to.:) I know people have a right to choose the path they wish to travel…but children do suffer when there aren’t appropriate parent surrogates to step into the gap that is created when moms (or dads) are absent. I appreciate your insightful thoughts. 🙂  


  28. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it here. Very well written!


  29. I really like this. What a unique spin on a spring story!


  30. This is precious, Vivian, and so thoughtful of those children who, too, sacrifice for our country!


  31. Vivian, I loved it 🙂 It was very touching. Great job!


  1. Pingback: Spring into tradition | Expat State of Mind

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