Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When Santa (was glued together) & Got Stuck Up the Chimney

When Santa got stuck up the chimney
He began to shout
You girls and boys won't get any toys
If you don't pull me out!
My beard is black
There's soot in my sack
And my nose is tickling too!
When Santa go stuck up the chimney,
Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!

This is one of the Christmas songs that one of my client's preschool is learning. Apparently it is very well known in Britain and not so much over here. I have no idea what tune it is sung to but I found a cute video on YouTube to replay. To aid my client's learning I downloaded the cute video onto my iPhone for her to have a accurate version to learn from (I tend to change the tune every time I sing it). I also created a Santa, a sack and a chimney. I have a glue gun and I know how to use it! Also my sewing machine. It took about a hour to gather the stuff and build it, so no big time investment needed. Just have to know where your stashes are.

Stuff needed to make a simple Santa (not for heavy use):

Sock in desired skin colour (mine is tan)
White felt-trim
Black felt-boots & belt
Red felt-nose & mouth
Red flannelette (for the suit & hat)
White fake fur trim (beard)
silver paper ribbon for belt buckle (I said it wasn't for heavy use!)
white ribbon
felt pen for eyes
fiber fill or anything light enough to stuff it.
The sack is stuffed with fiber fill and a wad of loosely bunched tissue paper (for noise appeal), glued shut & tied with a narrow white ribbon
sewing material-machine or needle & thread
glue gun

I used a sock that I had used the other one for a doll. Cut it off at the ankle--or it was already cut I can't remember. Stuffed it with fiberfill (had to hunt it down) and sewed the base. I cut out a t-shaped shirt/pants combo & sewed the sides and underarms. Sewed the triangle hat. The pants are just the shirt cut to waist-the sock ends at the waist so I put fiberfill down the legs. The coat is glued shut and the white trim covers the glue mess (though it is visible on his left leg where the glue gun stuck to the fabric). Everything else is glued on. Oh, the eyes are felt pen dots. Real extravagant eh? I freehanded cutting everything. The hat white spot is only that, a spot. The belt, neck and wrist trim wrap completely around him. The neck is sucked in with button thread and held in place with the glued on neck trim.
The chimney is a one litre milk carton cut just short of Santa's height. I covered it with brick printed paper (googled "brick" & scanned through the images until I found a black & white brick pattern) then I cut & pasted to fill the letter size sheet. Printed it off and then placed it on a book with textured cover and did a red crayon rubbing, with some spots heavier than others. Cut & glued it to the milk carton to fit. Viola! A chimney for Santa to get stuck in!

She appeared to enjoy pulling Santa out--she was laughing & smiling over and over again. Today in preschool she participated and looked like she was saying some of the words. (She has a profound speech delay amid small & large motor issues but otherwise is typical).

It was easy to make and is holding up to the handling rather well. I have another client who spotted it in my workstuff bin and played with it. I can't remember any of the songs his class is learning that would relate to Santa so just "ho ho hoed" and prevented him from trying to take the hat and boots off. A success really, visual aids don't have to be expensive or etsy quality, just durable to sustain the play time. I'll be keeping this for next year because it turned out better than I thought it would and I keep things "just in case" (I refuse to call it hoarding).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas is coming!

Last night my dd and I went to our Relief Society Christmas make something evening. We made fabric flower headbands and decoupage J-O-Y wooden blocks. Each woman received a CD of Christmas music. I'm playing it in my car now.

I'm hunting for a Christmas craft that my kiddos could create for their parents. It has to be really simple since their attention span and fine motor skills are weak. Pintrest will be receiving hours of research for this project! I am thinking of making homemade Sculpty/Fimo and making earrings for mom or just an ornament from it (

The skill level of children must be taken into consideration...fine motor abilities and attention span...who wants unfinished projects lying around? Personally, I can create my own pile of unfinished projects. Sweater for my 3 year old who is now 31? Sailor suits for the 3 boys (ages 2, 4 & 6) who are now 31, 29 & 27 (this wasn't my fault I maintain, the pattern didn't fit itself!).

Merry Christmas Crafting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving-thanks to other moms & women

Today is Canada's Thanksgiving and we had our dinner/feast on Saturday in order to accommodate the two married kid's in-law schedules...that is what happens when you start planning the week before the big day! We should decide what time our Christmas meal will be so others can plan around us!

Some families have gratitude books where they record daily what they were grateful for that day. I wasn't that organized to maintain that, but the concept is workable and flexible. I like it because it lets you enjoy that moment in your life. Yesterday a mom (of 4) said me that when she first got married she started the "I can't wait" drone and realized that if she didn't stop she'd miss half her life!

We really have to remember to "flower where we're planted". There was a story years ago in a church lesson where a woman who was married to a armed forces man (therefore moved a lot) was questioned why she was planting tulips when she knew that the likelihood of her seeing them bloom was small. She replied that if she didn't enjoy them then someone else would. This wise woman believed in enjoying where she was. She enjoyed gardening and planting so she did so knowing that someone would enjoy them.

I love the thought of planting something and having a stranger discover flowers blooming in the garden of their new home. Not all moves are wanted or planned, some are forced and wouldn't it be nice to have a nice surprise in the new home?

I am thankful (and awed) by the women who blog frequently (more than once a week) and are creative and still spend time with their children. I enjoy discovering what other women/moms are doing and get so many ideas that I have to tell myself to be realistic--will it get done?

We women haven't created a "old girls club" similar to the men's "old boys club", but we still learn from each other and when their is a need, strive to help. We may not get paying jobs, but we tend to the important stuff-people.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Story Time

I'm going to two preschools for work now and am so amazed how professionals believe that 'moral' books are interesting to 3/4 year olds. The ones with titles like "I Can Share" or "Co-operation Is Fun". Gag. They are dull with very weak story lines and really, from the response of the children, aren't appealing to them either. I'm pretty sure the manner in which the 'stories' are read (definitely not told) adds to the boredom level.
My prof in Literature for Children HATES those books and I understand now why. The children have zip idea what they are saying. I love how one little girl asked "What is share?" It says it all--the kids don't get it. Weave what you want them to learn into a delightful simple story and "bing"! they understand. But no amount of reading stories is going to create a sharing child, that is done by example and by doing. Otherwise it sounds like Charlie Brown teachers "wha wha wha".

Read good stories that are well written and your child will be engaged if you also tell the story and not drone on through the words. Teach your child by example ("do as I'm doing, follow follow me").

Our family liked the Berenstain Bears "First Time" books and Robert Cosgrove's "Serendipity" series of books. Yes they would/are considered 'moral' books but like parables, they are also a good story. (Franklin books-the non-TV series ones- are good also). So is Dr. Suess' "Green Eggs & Ham", "I Will Never Eat Tomatoes" and other Lauren Child's Charlie & Lola stories. There are so many good quality children's books that those mediocre (read lame) books are just fire starters.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Enough is Enough-protect not objectify your little girls

I have to speak up on this, bras for 4-12 yr. old girls???? Why would anyone even conceive that idea? I've always though two piece bathing suits were just silly because they really aren't practical for little kids...the tops never seem to stay where they're meant to be, but really, bras???

This sexualization of our girls is gone on too long and people, men, women, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, everyone MUST stand up and say "ENOUGH!" Let our children be children, they are not little adults...that thought was debunked in the late 19th Century. At least back then children were either ignored or put to work in factories or the family farm, not wholesaled off as mini-porn stars.

CRIN-the Child's Rights Information Network has an article about the sexualization of children that is well worth reading:

This isn't just about girls either, little boys are exposed to little girls and become conditioned to seeing provocative clothing and it becomes their "normal".

" Gail Dines, a sociology professor at Wheelock College in Boston, similarly slammed the top, saying it would encourage girls to think about themselves in a sexual way before they are ready.
"It (also) sends out really bad signals to adult men about young firls being appropriate sexual objects," she told CNN affiliate WHDH. (http://edition.cnn .com/2011/BUSINESS/03/26/abercrombie.bikini.controversy/index.html)

Abercrombie & Fitch this year brought out padded & push-up bikini tops for little girls...why would someone even THINK that a 7 year old needs a padded swimsuit??? They also have sold thongs to this age group-and I'm not talking footwear either.

Another company created onesies with "MILF" printed on the front--for those babies as young as 3mos.! Some mothers on an online bulletin board actually defended this by stating that they saw it as a compliment!

What is really disturbing is that these items are not being created by only men, but women see nothing wrong with dressing little girls like hookers or porn stars. Somehow selling your body either via internet or in person has become something to aspire to. So much for all the work we've done trying to be recognized as thinking people.

Feminist say that this tolerance of sexualization is a misconstrued belief that being overtly sexual is part of being free of stereotypes. Unfortunately, it is only confining them into another stereotype, and a very dangerous one at that. What those who seen nothing wrong with being sexually objectified do not understand is that they are advertising themselves and/or their little girls as fodder for sexual predators. Which then starts (or continues) the destructive cycle of sexual abuse, which is a very difficult emotional prison to be freed from.

Considering this era of 'helicopter' parenting, it seems contradictory to encourage your girl to be an open advertisement for sexual adulation.

So sad that tolerance includes acceptance of emotionally destructive behaviours.
Lets keep our children...ALL of our children be their ours, neighbours or in another country... lets work to keep all of them safe from sexual predators.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer is finally here and now almost over

Summer 2011 throughout North America...from British Columbia to Washington D.C.

Private Campground near Prince George, B.C.

Canada Day 2011 in Hinton, Alberta:

It was a cool wet July with bursts of sun but the kids still were able to get out and play at a play yard built by the city of Spruce Grove, Alberta.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Families came to view and contemplate. And preserve memories of the visit.

Albert Einstein...a great man who as a child struggled to learn traditionally and then became a great scientist.

Make the most of what is left before formal schooling starts again (or continues for those who are doing a modified school calendar).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Attachment theory

A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar put on by the Alberta Play Therapy Association. It was on Attachment Theory as perceived/developed by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. The clips aren't long but do give a clear idea what he is about.

I was quite enthralled with it. I somehow have misplaced my notes, so no quotes. He did surmise that all behaviour issues with kids stem from a break in the attachment of the child to a parent/caregiver. I see what he means, but I also see potential for wailing and gnashing of teeth from parents that don't think or didn't really connect to their child--and especially so if that child suffers from a mental illness.
If he is correct, then what? Reconnect them. Or connect them to someone who will be a constant in their life. How to do that? It is more than bonding in the early days or months of the child's life. It needs to continue and develop further. Get to know them, play with them, eat with them, talk with them.And don't stop when they start school, be it pre-school or regular school. That is when it is even more important to remain connected to them. Dr. Neufeld suggests that we develop a relationship such that the child wants to please us, to obey rules. He states that by doing so we will be giving them the freedom to be independent. I don't think he was talking about 'helicopter' parents. That is being too involved in your child's life. If the child is secure in the knowledge that their parent(s) will always be there for them, then the child will have the confidence to try things.
What if a child still strays? I'm not sure what his stand on that is...I'm of the thought that children are born with innate characteristics...personalities that is. As long as you did the best that you could, at the very least ensure they know that you will always love them.
A scene that is often played out is when the parent(s) leave the young child someplace and the child cries when they try to leave. Some children stop shortly after the parent leaves...and gives the impression that the crying was only for the benefit of the parents. Or they continue to cry and after they stop their behaviour isn't socially acceptable.

To assist with the child's 'connectiveness' with the parents, they could give something of theirs for the child to keep. We stay connected with others by touch, smell and presence. Since presence is not an option, letting the child have something that feels or smells like (or both!) the parent that can be kept in their pocket will provide that intact contact that is so needed. I have not had a chance to try it, but isn't that similar to the security 'blankie' or stuffy some children demand to keep with them? Logic says that could also work with the straying teen, let them have something small that they can carry with them always. A necklance, ring, photograph...something that will help remind them that they have a family that unconditionally loves them. It is worth a try anyways.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Traumatized children

Trauma is one of those subjective entities, what negatively affects one person another doesn't give it much thought past the incident. Children can be the same, but how they respond to a traumatizing incident can affect them very deeply. And adversely affects their future behaviour and choices.
Children outside of Japan have seen news footage reporting on the recent earthquakes & tsunami in Japan. Unlike adults, young children cannot differentiate between a reality in their personal world and someone else's reality thousands of kilometers/miles way.
Dan Hodgins, a early childhood education specialist, offers some suggestions on helping your (or any child you have contact with) cope with disasters:
  • Let children speak freely about what scares them or puzzles them.
  • Encourage children to act out their fears through dramatic play [this is very important, as they play out their fears instead of talking about them]
  • If they ask, “Are we going to have an earthquake?” Say,“You are scared that an earthquake is going to happen to you? It is not happening right now”. Keep it in present tense.
  • Let children practice where to go in case a disaster was to occur, even if the chances are slim that it will not occur in your area. Children believe it is going to happen. So getting under tables, in door frames, all add to a sense of safety for them.
  • Maintain consistent routines, it makes children feel safe
  • Point out the acts of recovery rather than the gloom. A dog was found and given food, people are in the hospital getting better, the helicopters are ļ¬nding people, etc.
  • Remind them if there was an earthquake or other disaster that you, teacher, grandparent, etc. are there to help them.
  • Keep the talk among adults away from children’s ears.
  • Remind them if there was an earthquake or other disaster that you, teacher, grandparent, etc. are there to help them. (

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Art and Heart

The rainbows turned out soo wonderful...I tell the parents that they're 'frame-able'. They are so clean and look like the ones you see in craft books. I sponged the paint onto the kid's hands instead of letting them plop the hands into the paint. ALL the kids present that morning did one! If they're not all claimed I'm taking one home with me to scan. I think one should be kept by the daycare's director since she taught these kiddos for awhile (ok, just over a year prior to me coming in). I've decided that I'll do the same technique with my grandkiddos...and this time remember to put their names under their handprints.
The Leprechaun traps were semi-successful, lots of glitter and sparkles. Everywhere. Only one child refused to make one. Even with a partner. When the 'leprechaun' came and left a shamrock & St. Pat's day pencil in each trap he didn't get one. Thankfully he was at kindergarten when the 'visit' happened so he only saw the treats. I went looking for his lunch kit to put the stuff into but it must've been in his backpack and I couldn't get to it. He asked and I reminded him that he didn't want to make one. He didn't say anything. I felt conflicted because he needs to learn consequences and he also needs to be remembered. His overall behaviour is not endearing, which is heart wrenching in itself, but really, I can't indulge him either because he already gets that to some type of degree.
Thursday they painted Blarney Stones--Arborite samples from Home Depot. The clerk told me to take 4-5 of the ones I wanted. She thought I was looking for my house. I do but they made cheap 'stones'. I had enough from two trips for some kids to make 2 or more. They weren't 'frame-able' but not every product needs to be.
Friday's art project was more about the process than the product. Paint and wax crayons combined with paint sample chips (the Disney colours have Mickey's head shaped chips). It was a class project, meaning that there was one large sheet of paper that everyone that wanted to painted/drew on. The paint chips were glued on with paint. I found some things that when dragged across the paint left designed so that gave the project more texture. It looked better at a distance but still looked like a bunch of little kids got into the paint pots and let loose. Yes, it was more about the process than the project. I plan a few of those every couple of weeks.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Preschoolers-crafts and art

Since starting with this daycare I've done the 'craft' portion of the day and lately I've had the children whining that they don't want to do it. Granted not all the projects were mind blowing great, but I thought were interesting for their age group.
Today I only had one refuse (a six year old who runs, hides & curls up when things aren't going his way) until I told him something. I think I wouldn't let him play hockey (yes, indoors) or something. When he sat down he again whined and asked why he had to do crafts. I said that he wasn't doing a craft today, but art. His reaction was very interesting, he appeared to be now interested in participating. I wasn't conning him, it really was art--they had to mix yellow and blue paint to make the green they needed to sponge onto a piece of paper. After the paint dried they traced around a shamrock shape and then cut it out. This was an art class-learning about colour mixing (I had paint sample cards and would asked them which greens had more yellow or blue in them), they used a technique that they don't often use (using a sponge) and decided on how much of their large white paper to cover and how to apply the paint (some actually sponged and others smeared the paint with the sponge). They had to wait until it dried before doing the next two steps. We discovered that the pencil didn't really show up on top of the paint so they flipped the paper over and had to line up the template so that it took in the most painted part of the paper and then cut out the shamrock.

So, I wonder if they are tired of creating junk (they may not be able to articulate it but find themselves reluctant to do something that really isn't useful). The conundrum is a very limited budget, easily disengaged children that if not involved in something positive, will cause chaos in the classroom and I really cannot do a labour intensive project EVERY day. I can only have 4 children at a time doing the project since they seem to need a lot of guidance for these activities. I have spent most of a morning just getting everyone through a project--for example the paper making project. All they had to do was slop wet pulp onto a small screen and roll the water out and then place it on the drying rack. I could only do one at a time though I had 2 at the table. I didn't have trouble getting the whiners to do it. I only had one refuse and since by then I was tired and had miscounted the number of screens I needed, let it slide.

Tomorrow is a handprint rainbow. I think we'll just use 4 colours/4 handprints. hmmm could make this into a co-operating project, 2 kids, 4 hands = 4 colours. They each help another person create their 4 colour rainbow. Yes! That would work. Maybe.

I'll see.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Black and White Photography

Tracy's Trinkets & Treasures (blackandwhitebutton9.jpg) is having a Black & White photo linky party and I decided to play. I have always loved b&w photography, especially of people. I'm a big fan of Karsh-he was a portrait photographer based in Ottawa, Ontario. I think one of his most famous photos is of Sir Winston Churchill-scowling & without his cigar (Karsh had just pulled it out of his mouth). I believe that b&w show who the person is.

Yes, it is THE Ty Pennington...a quick shot as he kept moving around! Some of my best shots were of the top of his hat because he bent over to sign autographs.

Like Tracy, I find buildings very interesting to photograph.

I love colour also, as b&w just doesn't do Canadian sunsets/sunrises justice. And when I find one that wasn't taken from the front seat of a moving vehicle I'll post one.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What kids really need to develop

The biggest mistake the majority of daycares do is putting the same ages together instead of having mixed aged groups. In a home setting that is the natural state of affairs (with the exception of large multiples, but those children have a genetic link with each other). Because the children are the same age the developmental quirks to deal with are multiplied. Instead of having only one or two child with the "if I see it, it is mine" (ego-centric) moments, the worker has 8 to 10 children with it. All. day. long.
With mixed age groupings, the older children model maturer behaviour (for their age) and can 'scaffold' the younger ones. Scaffolding is what a Soviet developmentalist named Lev Vygotsky labeled the teaching that happens when children teach each other informally. The younger child has some rudimentary skills and sees the older child doing something that builds onto that basic skill set and tries it. That is scaffolding, building onto what is known. It doesn't happen very much with same-age children. Since children's brain development is experiential (experiences create more & stronger neuro connections), the experiences an older child could offer are not happening that muchin same age groups.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thank you to all SAHM

I'm into week three two of my career (shudder) in daycares I'd like to thank all moms/dads who stay at home raising their own children. You are doing your children a great favour by NOT putting them into a daycare. If you do have to work...please, for the sake of your child, try if at all possible to work part-time. The children are ready to go home by noon. Not at 5:30 or 6pm after being here since 7 or 8 am. They are with the same children day in and day out...and no they aren't like their brothers and sisters. These children aren't part of the family routines, the other children aren't preparing for bed with them or going shopping or traveling with your child. They get tired of them and need their own parents during the day.

That is my rant of the day. For now. I have to go back to work now. May the children be not too tired and cranky this afternoon. (BTW this is a small daycare, licenced for 31 children 3yrs.-Kindergarten).

11pm Same day: Yes, unfortunately it is like this. And this is a pretty decent daycare. And will be even better when they get into their own building this summer. They other workers (4 including the director) tell me this is the way it is. Parents aren't really involved with it or invested in it as a place that can educate their child. They HAVE to put their kid into daycare unlike a pre-school where they choose to. Personally I really don't see the difference in being involved but that is just me I suppose. Too many years at home with my own kids I guess. Parents don't want to pay a lot--which I really do appreciate, I'm cheap too--but if they pay more, they should get better care for their child. If my provincial government didn't pitch in $6.62/hour, I would be making $13/hour for being "on" for these children. No telling them to play quietly while I nap, or loosing it and telling to shut up and quit bickering. The government incentive allowance is there in hopes that better qualified people will join. I'm at the top level with the base wage of $13/hour! In some counties that would be a month's wage, but in Calgary that means you are living with roommates or at home with your parents because the wage you need to live here is a minimum $15/hour.
The children really do want to be alone sometimes. I was talking with two of the girls (separately) and they wish it were quieter sometimes (so do I) and be alone.
I remember when my eldest was in kindergarten and the school put in a daycare to boost the student numbers (it was in danger of being closed due to low enrollment). The daycare kids all went to the afternoon class. For that year only. The next year the kids were split up because their behaviour was less than stellar. Aggressive. They were tired of each other. And with only 8 days into this job I see that behaviour in these boys and the girls as well. It is sad. I feel for the children. They want to be with their parent(s) so badly. To visitors they look and behave like everything is hunky dory but it isn't. Just like us, they can rally themselves up and play after a down moment.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Adults need to play too!

I played this week...and my playmate Susan was curtesy of Wendy's Re-vamp Valentine event (

So....take one thrift shop jewelry box
Rip out its innards & pull off broken clasp and start an attempt at decoupaging.

Rip & wash paper off box and paint it instead. Sand it and attempt to cut vinyl (with Silhouette)for name on lid (font: Chocolate Box). Works except pulled and distorted said vinyl. Use as stencil instead. Spray protective coating over entire box. Let dry.

Measure once and cut out, oh, about 4 times, 3 pieces of satin (leftover from DD's high school grad gown) for the lining. Iron on lightweight interfacing onto back, serge edges & eyelet to said satin. Attempt to smear hot tepid glue over area. After ripping out cooled glue, use spray adhesive to attach it to interior. Use the vinyl hearts to cover saturated glue spots. Use hot glue for gluing edges. Glue red bow from package of socks to cover top clasp holes and loop brown ribbon through bottom clasp holes.

Admire handiwork and fill with candy & chocolates (only in Canada eh? stuff).

Pack up and arrive at post office after closing time. Now wait until Monday to post it (the deadline for doing so).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Go Hug and Play With Your Kids

There is a screening tool used by professionals to gauge the interaction between a parent and their child. It is called the Brigance Parent Child Interaction Scale. I found it really interesting to read through it and mentally mark my interactions with my kids when they were young. I don't know how to score it and I can't post it because it is owned by someone and it costs mega$$ to use. Which is probably why it isn't include in parenting books!
The diagram below is one I developed for a conference I went to with my BossLady & associate a couple of years ago. I took a chart that Dr. Bruce D. Perry created for an article on the sequential development of the brain and what the areas regulate. The two numbered items that are linked to areas are the statements from the BPCIS. I did have five initially but it became really crowded for a PowerPoint presentation.

This shows what areas of the brain are being affected when you, say, read a book or play with your child. The brain develops from the brainstem upwards and from the inside out. Our brains were undeveloped when we were born although the physical mass was all there (oh so many quips in a so inappropriate time) but the neurons and their connections is what is undeveloped and with experiences our brain, well, comes alive! The more positive experiences, the more connections being made. The vast majority of connections are created in the first few years before it slows down.
If you are interested, Trauma Academy's website is an absolute minefield of information about development and trauma. Dr. Perry is a child psychiatrist who assisted with the children from the Waco, TX incident, Oklahoma City, Columbine, September 11, Haiti and apparently is a Senior Consultant with the Alberta Mental Health Board. The man is no slouch! Every time I find out he's coming to Alberta his visit is cancelled or there is no response from the sponsoring organization. I do so want to hear him talk...nice to meet him too! He wrote "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog". (That story is sad but it wasn't a situation done with malicious intent). His newest book is "Born For Love: Why Empathy Is Essential and Endangered"

Now go hug and play with your kids!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Colouring outside the lines

A couple of posts ago I talked about colouring outside the lines and how important it is to let children have that freedom. I'd like to expand that a bit with some ideas on how.

Have paper and wax & pencil crayons/felt pens/paint handy. Having a dedicated area/table with readily available encourages the child to explore those creative outlets when the mood/idea strikes him/her. Forcing or 'heartily encouraging' a child to do something is counterproductive. If it is something they don't want to do at that time it could stifle future desires and therefore reduce the pre-literacy skill development free art offers.

Don't tell the child what to create, giving suggestions is fine, but make it a short list of different topics. If they want to create and the material is available, then they won't need to have promptings. If they just want to slap paint or scribble, let them. Ask them to tell you about it, maybe it is just scribbles-"nothing" but still comment positively on it. Comment on the colours, the use of the space ("you covered this paper really well") and ask if they like it or don't like it. Post it up on the wall or fridge. When you want to take it down, put it in a box labeled with the child's name.

I know that the artwork can really pile up in a really short time, and the labeled box gives the child the sense that you value his effort even though it is not on display anymore. Every few months (or when the box becomes full) weed out the boxed work. Depending on the child's age, you can involve them in the weeding process, remembering to emphasize that everyone needs to get rid of stuff they like. With that in mind, involve him/her in weeding something of yours. They could place your unused articles in a box/bag for charity. Most people have 'stuff' they can weed out.

This example (them helping to declutter our 'junque') can also be applied to creativity, do paint, colour or draw with your child. The dust bunnies will wait but the child's moment at that age won't and you'll never be able to capture it again. It doesn't matter if you "can't" draw--it isn't about creating a fine art piece or saleable craft, it is about helping your child to develop those very important pre-literacy skills...and developing or strengthening a bond between yourself. You two just may create similar work...remember it isn't to be sold, but to be displayed in the home to say "look what I can create!" Everyone can do art, can create or move a crayon around on a piece of paper. Can't colour within the lines? Then don't restrict yourself. And don't restrict your child to only colouring books. They do have value, but free eye-hand movement is very important.

Let's colour outside of the our inner selves!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dolls & Pillows for comfort

While cruising through blog links I came upon Carol in the state of Queensland, Australia who is making cheerfully bright pillows and Megan in Tauranga, New Zealand who is making delightful dolls for those who are affected by the massive flooding. Why is a landlocked Canadian interested in these?

1. Calgary and southern Alberta had some nasty flooding in 2005 not to forget the Manitoba/North Dakota floods of 1997

Calgary 2005

2. Two of my children spent 6 mos. based just south of Brisbane, Queensland and arrived home just before the flood hit. Their hosts are ok...which amazes me because they're a 15min. walk from the ocean. Therefore I now have an emotional tie to Queensland

3. Parents and children are affected by the flooding and well, there is nothing like something bright and clean to raise spirits. And supporting parents is important to me.

Dolls = spontaneous play, they're therapeutic: security, some"one" to talk to about what has happened to them, a sense of control--the child can control what the doll feels, says and does. Holding something soft and colourful offers comfort and gosh, just something to have just for themselves (that isn't cover with sewage or mud)

Pillows = comfort, being bright (and clean) can raise spirits and help the re-nesting of the family (is re-nesting a term?)

Megan & Carol have information about the details of getting the dolls/pillows over there.

For Carol's:
Megan's link is the button to the right.

Now that I have 'published' this, I am now committed to making at least one pillow/top and doll to send.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spontaneous play leads to making robots and discovering atoms!

Creativity and imagination are a healthy component to life, unfortunately it isn't flourishing as it should. When a child's day is full, meaning every hour has a booked activity, there leaves very little time for spontaneous play which in turns reduces the opportunity for imaginative play.
Kim over at "A Girl and a Glue Gun" gave her 4 children a chance to stimulate their brain cells when she dumped a bagful of opportunity on the floor with a roll or two of duc tape. To the untrained eye it looked like she hijacked the recycling bin, but her children thought otherwise and created some really great 'robots'. I don't know if she gave suggestions to start from, but that is alright because creative moments come from inspiration, be them verbal or visual. (as evident by the popularity of 'linky' parties among adult crafters). No two robots are identical, the same 'stuff' was used but they organized it the way they saw fit. You can see their creations here (I hope):

I could write a bunch of stuff about how creativity and imagination is being stifled with colouring pages/books and uninformed cruel teachers telling kids they coloured something wrong, but I'm only going to quote Virginia M. Axline, a pioneer in play therapy. She wrote this in 1947: during "play therapy hour the child is given the opportunity to realize this power within himself to be himself". She also said (among lots of great stuff) "his free play is an expression of what he wants to do...experiencing a period of independent thought and action".

People learn so much about themselves and the world when they are free to explore it on their terms. Giving the kids a bag of discards gives them an opportunity to do that in a safe environment. Who knows, one of Kim's kids could be a brilliant engineer one day and develops a no-burn glue gun!

Einstein had some things to say about intelligence and creativity: "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination". "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge". And we know what Einstein could do don't we? (he also said something about becoming a watchmaker if he had known that the atom wouldn't change people's thinking).
I have a pad of newsprint under my couch and crayons for my grandson to occupy himself while the grownups do whatever grownups do. He's almost 2 1/2 here. (I don't have permission from his parents so you only get to see his cute head)

Let's colour outside of the our inner selves!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year and a new year of knowledge sharing

I've been surfing blogs for the past couple of hours and have discovered a few things. One is that there are a lot of blogs out there! (Einstein here right? Like duh!) The important thing I've discovered is that we truly are not alone. We don't have to be an island unto ourselves. While I seem to (so far) follow crafting blogs (and enjoy them immensely) I've discovered ones that lead me to conferences that interest me (an up and coming addiction). So, today is a listing of conferences related to children, families and improving our interactions with them.

Calgary Alberta:
The Alberta Family Child Care Association is having Dan Hodgins be a keynote speaker. I discovered him last year at a conference for the Canadian Association for Young Children. I was blown away with him and now follow him on Facebook and receive his newsletters. While I have some questions I need to ask him, overall his opinions and concepts are well worth listening too.   He is very much into working within the child's frame of reference (within the child's abilities and knowledge of things). I especially appreciate his attitude towards boys. He really understands that boys and girls are different and in general need to be responded to in their own unique way. It is unique because active children are often told "shut up and do it my way", which is an adult's perspective. I read his book "Boys: Change the Environment and Not the Child" and found useful things that as a SAHM would've been really more supportive to my four kid's personal growth.

For events he'll be at (he does a lot in the States) in addition to getting onto his newsletter list:

The Calgary brochure:

There is another one that my alma mater is hosting but I cannot for the life of me find a link. I do have a completed proposal which does not help at all. But, it is "Celebrating Child Care Conference" and is only one day, April 6, 2011 at Mount Royal University in Calgary, AB. The organizers are on the same advisory committee that I am on for the Child & Youth Human Rights extension certificate.

Salt Lake, Utah--two of them:

I came across this conference for beginning bloggers (or those just wanting to connect in real time with other bloggers):

This one is on Early Education and Technology...probably not for the casual person but someone who is really interested/bent towards technology and children's early learning:

BYU (Provo Utah) has one coming up March 18, 2011 that looks promising. Not quite a casual conference, meaning it is geared more towards professionals in health care related organizations but could be interesting to the lay person who is bent that way.

I'm continually surprized at the resources available to parents but really aren't 'out there' and easily accessed. Here is a listing of Worldwide Conferences to do with children and families:

I find just the brief write-ups about speaker's topics to be informative. And free (a key thing for me is to learn without spending money or just a little $$).

Welcome to a great New Year!