What is more American than a good egg roll? Confused? We don’t mean the deep-fried, Chinese appetizer; we mean the good, old Easter Egg Roll. Our first egg roll started more as parental quick thinking than an act of patriotism, though. We had a lot of fun mixing the dye, gently (or not so gently) placing eggs in the colorful liquid and watching them transform. We even threw an introductory physics lesson in the mix while boiling the eggs. It was magic, really.
Once the magic show ended, though, our daughter asked, "What do we do with the eggs now?" Every suggestion we gave was met with disappointment. Put them in a bowl and look at them? That's it? Pretty boring. Wait a week to put them in the Easter Basket? Delayed gratification=no fun. Eat them? Eat my pretty eggs?!
Fortunately, we remembered that U.S. presidents host Easter egg rolling parties at the White House. In fact, we learned that they've been doing it since 1878. With over 100 years of presidential approval, this game must have some magic to it. They wouldn't still be rolling eggs on the South Lawn every Easter if it didn't challenge and delight.
Hours later, we rallied some equally kooky friends, packed up our eggs, a few large spoons and a few other props. Then, we headed to a local patch of grass, and a new tradition was born. That’s all it takes. Dye some eggs, gather some friends or family and hatch your own egg roll this year!
- Dye eggs: Dye enough soft-boiled eggs for each child to have about three shots at it, and maybe make extra in case you attract a few new friends who want to play.
- Gather your materials: Each egg roller needs a long-handled, flat-headed spoon. You may also want to bring something to indicate the start and finish line, like some ribbon or big “START” and “FINISH” signs. To help little ones stay focused, we also placed a stuffed bunny at the finish line and told them to roll the eggs to the bunny.
- Get outside: Find a patch of grass long enough for a roll. About 20 yards is more than enough for kids 3 and younger. Go longer as kids get older.
- Line players up and demonstrate: After a quick egg rolling demonstration, line up the players, spoons in hand, on the start line. Emphasize how delicate these eggs are before you start. You may even want to demonstrate how easy it is to crush an egg so kids know to be careful.
- Ready, set, race!: Whoever reaches the finish line first with no damage to their egg wins! With preschoolers, you might just be looking for the egg that is most intact or simply cheering if they manage to go in the right direction.
- While you’re at it try some other games too—
- Slalom—Set up “cones” (anything works, including upside-down yogurt containers) and challenge rollers to weave around the cones on their way to the finish. You can also include trees, rocks or other objects already part of your course.
- Egg spoon race—Put eggs on a spoon and race to see who can finish without dropping or cracking their eggs.
- Egg toss—Just as in a water balloon toss, partners toss an egg back and forth trying not to break it. After each successful round-trip toss, they take a giant step backwards, making the next toss even more harrowing for the delicate egg. The last pair with an unharmed egg wins.
Why is this activity great for kids?
Trying to use a spoon to roll a soft-boiled egg across grass without breaking it demands that kids’ eyes and hands work together, making it great for developing eye-hand coordination and essential fine-motor skills
Fun as it is (and, it really is), kids also get a lesson in sportsmanship
. Today, many adults work hard to shield kids from disappointment, leaving them under prepared to cope with life. But, there is no mistaking when you crush a soft boiled egg in the grass—you see and feel real results. The egg roll is meant to be fun, so go ahead and give kids as many mulligans as you want. But, you can also feel good knowing that, if and when their egg breaks, they will get some valuable practice with picking up the pieces and rolling on.
Perhaps most importantly, the egg roll is an exercise in self control
. Anyone who rolls has to balance the desire to rush with the delicate nature of task. Even those too young not
to break the egg are learning about their own limits as they play. Childhood self-control far exceeds intelligence as a predictor academic achievement, and provides the basis for mental flexibility, social skills and discipline. It predicts success in education, career and even marriage. Pretty sophisticated stuff for such a silly and fun Easter tradition!