First Day of Spring Playground Hop

A playground hop is just how it sounds: you go from one playground to the next and then another until you are all playground-ed out. I originally thought of doing this adventure for my daughter a couple of years back. We have so many great playgrounds around that are all so different, it would be a shame to not try them all out. But the thought of bringing her baby brother, a nursing baby, all over town was not the adventure I had envisioned. So, present day, here we are with two little runners who love to play outside and a mommy who enjoys a change of scenery – it’s time to go on this little expedition.

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The first day of Spring will be a fabulous day to do this playground hop thing: playing at one playground, then another, then another. We’ll bring a bag lunch and celebrate the arrival of Spring by being outside all day. This fresh air and sunshine is much needed after all that snow and frigid cold.

My daughter knows about the seasons and last year I made a point to make it to the beach on the first day of Summer. She has already put in a request to do that again. I don’t think it would be all that bad of a tradition to be outside celebrating the first day of a new season, at least while the kiddos are young when they appreciate that sort of thing.

The first day of fall is always a great day to go apple picking. This is my personal favorite. I love fall. We make caramel apples, apple pie, and starting this year I will be making homemade applesauce – and canning it! I have been a little reluctant to learn because I didn’t grow up in a home where canning was done. In fact, I don’t believe I really knew what canning was until I saw jars of homemade sauce being used at my in-laws. They have a garden every year and then they can their bounty; I have always seen it as scary and overwhelming. Not this year, I am making it my mission to learn this wonderful art form of preserving food.

This year the first day of Winter didn’t get any notoriety. It sneaked up on us during the holiday season. But, when it comes around again we’ll have to do something to treasure the last bit of outside time. It typically doesn’t start snowing yet for us, so I can’t count on making a snowman or going sledding every year.

Come to think of it… my plans for a Spring celebration may have to be a celebration of the last day of Winter with sledding or snowman making in the forecast. We are expecting snow on Friday and Saturday! This has definitely been quite the wintery Winter! Well, maybe next week we’ll see some 40 degree weather and make a day of playground hopping happen. I have really been looking forward to taking the kids and tiring them out with some good old fashioned climbing, sliding, and running.

What are you doing to celebrate the first day of Spring?

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My Top 5 Reasons Why Playing is Learning

Playing is a big part of our day around here. We play all sorts of things like dinosaurs and baby dolls. I am all about pretending and using our imagination. It’s great! But aside from fun, playing has other wonderful benefits to our little people.

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1. Speech development
Elle has been going to speech therapy since the beginning of the year. Playtime is a great time to naturally focus on the sounds on which she needs to work. For example, when we play babies Elle becomes Dr. Elle and we can /f/igure out i/f/ the baby has a /f/ever and what we need to do to /f/ix her booboo. Can you tell we are now working on the /f/ sound? I try to incorporate words that have the sound and as we have our conversation she repeats some of those words; it’s a great way to practice.
2. Vocabulary expansion
When we play together we talk a lot. And this is a fabulous time for me to add in “big” words. In fact the other week while playing dinosaurs I asked if the dinosaurs were going to battle. Elle immediately perked up and asked what battle meant. “It means to fight,” I told her. Since then I have heard her use that word several times in conversation, and she has correctly used the word.
3. Problem solving
One thing my kiddos love to pretend is being different animals. They also like to pretend being a scientist who is looking for a particular animal so they can observe or help the animal. This opens up the door to their creativity: how can we help the fox find its home? Let’s build a den! And there you have it, now we are figuring out how to build a fort and make it have the characteristics of a fox’s den. There are so many ways to incorporate this skill. Playing with blocks automatically puts this skill to use.
4. Modeling manners
Playing with my children gives me a chance not only to reinforce please and thank you but to show how to act or behave in different situations. If Elle is being the mommy and I am the daughter and my “mommy” doesn’t give me the candy I asked for, I don’t throw a fit. This is my opportunity to show her how to accept a negative response to her requests. Sometimes, I will behave badly and we later talk about why it’s not okay to behave in that way.
5. Learning something new
I love it when we come to a part in our game when it takes on a new direction, I can explain how something works. The other day while playing pet shop we eventually came to a point where we were learning how money is made. As the pet shop owner of 16 triceratops, I wanted to make sure that the purchaser of 6 triceratops had enough land and money to care for these creatures. I asked Elle “how do you make money?” She explained that she takes paper and cuts it into rectangles then draws on it to make her money. (I tried really hard not to laugh, she took my question so literal.) I proceeded to be upset that she would dare use counterfeit money and that I wouldn’t be able to sell her any animals. Then I took this as a learning opportunity and explained what counterfeit was and showed her a video from the mint so she could see how money is printed.
We have fun playing. We are learning while playing. And for this homeschool mom, learning when it doesn’t feel like learning is the absolute best.

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How Did You Get Your Job?

4460629019_6c760a18a5“How did you get your job?” was quite the interesting question posed by my daughter. It came out of the blue and I have been a stay at home mom for the last two years.

I began asking her what she meant and she wanted to know about the job that I had at the restaurant. I explained that I needed a job to pay for where I was living, to pay for food, clothes, and other things that I needed and wanted. Then I told her that I applied for jobs and that I was interviewed and they liked me, so they hired me. “Does that answer your question?” I was still wondering why she wanted to know.

She seemed satisfied with my answer and proceeded to tell me that when she gets older she’s going to “get a job in a place where they fix animals.” “Oh, you’re going to work as a veterinarian?” “Yes!”

It all made sense. We had just come from the store where she saw a toy vet set that came with an interactive dog you help to get better. She really wants that toy. Maybe I allow the perusal of the toy aisle too often, maybe she’s just five and wants everything she sees. Either way this will be a great learning opportunity in responsibility, earning and saving money to buy what she wants.

Two things that are now on my to do list: help Elle set money goals to earn what she wants and find books about being a veterinarian. This was not the first time I saw this veterinarian interest. I’m wondering what is to come.

How do you encourage your child’s curiosities?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/4460629019″>Clean Bill Of Health</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Tinker Toy Delight and Old Treasures

Finn’s 2nd birthday landed him with a Tinker Toy set from the grandparents. I really don’t care for the kids accumulating too many toys and things. Even though it does seem to be difficult for me to actually purge their things. I keep saying I’m going to get rid of some toys or at least put some away and try to rotate. Somehow I just can’t seem to make it happen –yet. I really do believe that less is more and when the kiddos have less to play with than they have more imagination.

Case in point… I have already seen flowers, vacuum cleaners, cars, and lawnmowers put together using the Tinker Toys. Elle was busy “vacuuming” for quite some time. All of those building type toys are great. I showed Elle how to make furniture with the wooden blocks and arrange it like a living room or bedroom. Another “building” toy we love in our house is the train set. We like to make different configurations and pretend it travels around doing different jobs or picking up people at the airport and dropping them off at the zoo.

I noticed lately that Elle has been interested in Barbies… well the Disney Princess Barbie dolls to be exact. I enlisted my Mom, who is famous for saving everything, to find just one or two of my Barbies and just a few outfits. She was awesome! She found a small stash of Barbies and stuff and brought it up when she came to visit. We went through the things together after the kids were in bed. I decided I couldn’t let Elle have all that stuff, I knew it would be too much. So we left out one Barbie, one fancy dress, three other outfits, the bed and sheets, and the dog. Everything else is put away for another day. Some of the other items were a picnic table, a gym locker, couch and chair, and more clothes and shoes for the Barbies. Elle was so excited when she found the few pieces on the table in the morning. And there were plenty of hours of play with just those few things.

Mwpid-20150211_180458.jpgy Mom also found a little plastic lunchbox sized container with matchbox cars and McDonald toy cars. These were the Chip & Dale and Looney Toon cars. I LOVED playing with cars as a kid. And I didn’t have a fancy carpet that had the roads mapped out, although I wanted one. But I did have paper and markers and tape. That was one of my favorite ways to play. I built my own “city” by drawing roads and parking lots and houses and there were stores, a church, and a school. It was awesome! When I finally finished taping together my map I played for days making this car go here and that car go there. When the kids opened the box to find these treasures they immediately were driving the cars to the store, the zoo, and back home. I don’t know what it is about those silly little plastic novelty toys but they have truly gotten a lot of use in our house.

Are there any toys you deem timeless and worthy of hours of playtime?