Snapdragon Fun

I love nature. I love God’s creation, and I think it’s beautiful, marvelous, and I often stand, or sit, in awe of it. And sometimes (often) I interact with it. Since I was a child, one of my favourite flowers has been the snapdragon. If you’ve never experienced snapdragons, you don’t know what you’re missing! These flowers begin to bloom in the month of August. In our neighbourhood, we they are scattered along the walkway in our ravine. Each year, I anxiously await their emergence.

What, you might ask, makes these flowers so special? They are TONS of fun! Fun? How can flowers be fun? Well, because they “pop”! Take a look at the three photos below:

Snapdragon Flower

Snapdragon Seed Pod

Popped Snapdragon Seed Pod

The first photo is of the snapdragon flower itself. It’s a brilliant orange, with specks of red. The second photo shows a seed pod. It looks kind of like a bean. A ripe seed pod is longer, and rather plump. These are the ideal pods. The third photo shows a popped seed pod. That is where the magic happens!

Once you find a ripe pod, very gently squeeze it. I can’t emphasize “gently” enough. Once you give it a gentle squeeze – POP! If they are particularly ready, even just brushing it with your hand will cause the pod to explode.

It’s a little alarming at first, but it is a LOT of fun 🙂 I promise!

Do you have a different name for snapdragons?

Elephant & Piggie

I promised in my last post that I would come back to our beloved Mo Willems.  Former writer and animator for Sesame Street, Willems has gone on to write and illustrate the AMAZING Elephant & Piggie series, as well as the Knuffle Bunny series, to name a few.

Little Miss (3.5) has loved these books so much, for about the last year (since 2.5). The books are simply, funny, and engaging. In fact, the above pictured book, Can I Play Too? has left me laughing out loud. Whenever someone asks for a book recommendation for a preschooler, Willems’ stories are my first recommendation.

We also all got attached to Trixie and her Knuffle Bunny (Kuh-Nuffle). So much so that I can rarely read Knuffle Bunny Free without tearing up. (To be fair, my first time reading it, I was pregnant, so I will happily blame pregnancy hormones on my teary eyes, which were so bad that my husband still teases me about it).

I cannot more highly recommend these books for preschoolers and early readers. Elephant & Piggie are perfect for those who are just learning to read, and you as a parent won’t mind reading through them again and again.

Which is your favourite Elephant & Piggie book?

Who Needs Toys, Anyway?

My mom (who is amazing, and helps us out whenever we need it) came over on Saturday so that I could hopefully get some cleaning done. Little Miss C (3.5) decided that our roof had a leak (likely inspired by the Berenstain Bear book Too Much Vacation). So, she took every plastic cup, bowl and Tupperwear container we had in the house, and placed them around our living room.

As you can see, we weren’t very far into our cleaning efforts 😀

My mom turned to me and said, “who needs toys?” And it’s true. We don’t have a lot of toys, comparatively speaking. And, because of this, her imagination is allowed to run wild! Next, she created a fort with our freshly washed sheets. Why can’t they use the dirty laundry, right?

And, for the hat trick, she played for half an hour in the dish water – we washed the dishes and the floor!

 

Children don’t need a lot of toys to be entertained. They can, and will, take every day items and see them in a new light, stretching their imaginations, and yours.

What everyday items do your children play with?

Chopped! (Kids Edition)

While at one of our co-ops a couple of weeks ago, Little Miss had the opportunity to try out some nylon knives by Curious Chef. I was so enamoured with the idea, that I bought a set for her. We tried it out the evening we got them, and they were a hit! They are really neat because they will cut through fruits and veggies, but won’t cut skin. Here she is prepping some of the green peppers for our fajitas:

She also chopped up mushrooms and my avocado. She was so eager to continue helping that she suggested making lemonade:

The beautiful part? She ate it. Woot! Because, you know, when children participate in food prep, they are more likely to give it a shot when it lands on the dinner table. (Yes, I said “more likely”. There are no guarantees in life.)

Just like that time we made pizza, and she added all the toppings herself. She never eats the whole thing, but she did this time!

How do you include your children in the kitchen?

Mr. Postmouse

We love reading in our household, so I thought it would be fun to share some of our favourites as we go along. We utilize our local public library, and refresh our borrowed collection every 3 weeks. I feel as though I’m betraying our current favourite author by not mentioning him in our debut book post. You’ll get the next one, Mo! Promise!

This last trip we picked up 3 books by author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc. Her stories are absolutely delightful, and her illustrations are fun and detailed. I can guarantee you, you’ll find new subtle details every time you read them.

Miss C (3.5 years old) enjoyed The Bus Ride so much that we read it 3 times in a row! It was a hit! Who are some of your favourite children’s authors?

Look Up, Way Up

I love and adore experiential learning (learning through experience). You will notice that most of our meaningful learning happens in a casual fashion, through curiosity. So, I am always looking out for situations that occur in our day to day lives, where we can observe, and learn, about the world around us.

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the construction site by my parent’s home was active on a Saturday (a rare occurrence). They were removing a large crane that they had built the condo around, and therefore had to remove in a strategic way. It was fascinating to watch the construction workers disassemble the crane piece by piece, and lower the pieces onto large flatbeds like this:

We watched as they precisely lowered the pieces, using hydraulics, onto the trucks, then secured them into place. We discussed physics and engineering in a meaningful context. When have you experienced experiential learning?

Sorting Colours

Have you ever searched Pinterest for educational toy ideas? You know, the DIY ones that are “so easy” to make, and are guaranteed to entertain your child for hours? I have. And I’ve saved them all. I’ve even made a few, including my beloved Quiet Book, which truth be told, does not see nearly as much action as I thought it would. But, lately, I’ve started to have a shift in my thinking: What if kids learn things, even if we don’t sit down and formally teach them? What if their natural curiosity will lead them to learn the things they want to, and they’ll enjoy doing it all on their own? What if I stood back, and guided when needed, as opposed to creating more work for myself, and stressing myself out that she should be learning “this”? Or be able to recite “that”? Well, this morning, I was reassured that she will “get it” when she’s ready, and without all my Pinterest projects to help her along. Meet the Paw Patrol!

Have you seen the show? We like it in our house. Ryder (a boy who loves to help people) and his team of pups (are you singing the song yet?) are here to save the day! My beloved husband bought a set of 6 action figures (the pups) for our daughter last week. We have tried VERY hard not to go overboard on branded toys, but these cute, small figures were too hard to resist.

This morning I was getting ready for the day, and came across Little Miss playing with her figures and her rings, the ones from the classic Fisher Price toy that go on a yellow cone. She had put the pups in their own life savers (I think that’s what she was playing) based on their colour. Rocky in green (Green Means Go!), Rubble in yellow, etc. She wasn’t taking yellow pom poms, and putting them in the yellow container while I coached her. She was doing this all on her own. Naturally she dismantled it all just as I was about to take a picture, but I’m sure you get the idea 😉

But surely, Liz, it was a one off, no? Nope. She then proceeded to the kitchen where she wanted to give them all water, and a bath. My hubby reported this back to me at the end of the day, when he came home before me to a puddle of water and cups all over the floor (I was in a rush!).

Again, the pups were all designated their own bath and water bowl based on their colour. Can you guess what colour cup Skye got?

They’ll do it. And you know what, does it really matter in the long run if your child never puts the red bead on the red string? Probably not. But, if they do, they’ll enjoy it more if they do it in their time, based on their own curiosity, not ours.

Blessings,

Liz

A Hairy Situation

A few years ago, I was swimming at a public pool, long before I had children. I had just gotten out of the pool, along with all the other patrons, and I was in the change room. A gaggle of girls were also getting changed, around the age of 7 or 8 years old. I believe it was a birthday party.

In any case, after the girls were dressed, one of the girls started brushing her hair. No biggie, right? Well, apparently it was. Did you know that if you brush just the ends of your hair (you know, when you’re trying to get a knot out of your hair), that it can damage your hair and cause split ends? Well, I learned that little tidbit that day, and so did everyone else in the change room. This girl’s mom started yelling at her, explaining what she was doing wrong – in front of all her friends. She then proceeded to take the brush from her, and do it for her.

What caused me to remember this scene, nearly 10 years later? I was embarrassed and sad for her daughter. We try our very best to practice peaceful, respectful parenting. This one instance (maybe the mom was having an off day?) is one of the reasons why. I felt so bad that she was chastised in front of her friends, for such a silly, insignificant reason.

I want my daughters to have autonomy over their bodies. It’s our job to guide them. Sure, she could have calmly and quietly explained to her daughter why she should brush from the top down, but to demean her, then do it for her, stripped her of her autonomy, in that situation.

It is not uncommon for Little Miss to be walking around in a dress regardless of the weather. I encourage her to wear long sleeves and pants underneath in the winter. Today, a chilly, rainy day, she didn’t want to wear pants.  I asked her if she wanted to check to see how cold it was, and once she had done that, she changed her mind. But I let her choose.

Giving them autonomy over their bodies means that if someone tries to coerce them to do something they don’t want to, they will be more comfortable speaking up, and saying no. It also helps them understand why we dress a certain way for various climates, and helps them in their decision making process, allowing them to become more confident.

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Here is a photo of Little Miss with her first French braids 🙂 They were, of course, at her request 😉

Learning To Line Up

Do we need school to learn basic courtesies? Sitting still? Lining up? Taking turns? When I asked a friend what her child learned in Kindergarten, that was it. Basic courtesies. Here in Ontario, our Kindergarten program is a full day of play-based learning. But, would my children (we have 2 daughters now!) not know how to politely interact with other children without being formally taught? Nope!

We had a wonderful opportunity to join in with a Forest Playgroup back in September. It was their inaugural meeting, and we had never met any of these families before. There were about 15 families and their children. My daughter was just over 2 and a half. And you know what? They lined up. Without any adult interference or interruption! Can you believe it?

Let me set the scene for you. There we are, enjoying a pot luck snack, getting to know one another. A couple of children find a log lying on the ground, and they begin to use it like a balance beam. Well, this, naturally, catches the attention of some of the other children (including my own), and they start practicing their balancing techniques. It was a little disorderly until a fantastic, spunky, young five year old encouraged them to line up. And they did it! No fuss, no muss. They obliged, everyone got a turn (multiple, actually), and they had fun. All without an adult interrupting their process. It was beautiful.

They can do it. They are completely capable of learning from, and respecting, one another. And they don’t need us to “teach” them. Stand back, and watch, because amazing things unfold.

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. They also fell off the log, got back up, and tried again. Some really got the hang of it this time, and some gained skills for their go at it. No one got hurt, as they trusted their expertise and weren’t pushed, nor dissuaded.  They just got to be kids.

Taking Flight

It’s a long weekend here in Canada. We took this opportunity to visit a lovely petting zoo near Stouffville, ON. Lionel’s Farm is a family owned farm, and it has a wide range of animals that you can feed. You are also able to bring your own food, which is a nice treat. The price is completely reasonable, and the animals are very happy to see you.

Interestingly, on our way to the farm, we happened to see a model airplane club flying their airplanes. On our way home, we stopped by (they welcome visitors anytime members are present), and boy, oh boy, did Little Miss have a wonderful time. She’s been asking us to take her to watch the planes land for quite some time. Our store is close to the airport, so we regularly see planes preparing to land. We were there for half an hour, and she probably would have happily stayed for an hour more if we had the time. The members there were more than happy to answer our questions, and were obviously passionate about their hobby.

I love random adventures. It’s so neat to be able to experience something you couldn’t have imagined earlier on in the day.

As they say, “Blessed are the flexible, for they won’t get bent out of shape”. (Author unknown).

Model Airplane Club WM