I can't imagine a better time of year to talk about the letter "T" and trees, tape, and twigs. What a perfect example of springtime than to be able to see a birds nest built with twigs up close!
Let me back up a bit so that no one thinks we robbed a momma bird of her little babes!! Over the past winter and early spring a friendly wood pecker decide that the side of our house was the perfect place to display his expertise. Night and day we could hear him drilling holes in the siding of our house. It sounded like a jack hammer in the walls, especially at 5am! But, not quite knowing what to do, we waited him out, figuring he would tire and move on...that he did. However, other critters opportunistically commandeered the space and took up residence. Specifically, robins... Once the little eggs hatched the chirping in the walls became quite LOUD...at...all...hours...of ...the...night... At this point a very nice man came out of professionally removed the nests, fixed the holes in the siding and in the process allowed our little preschoolers to have a peak at the downy covered babies. We looked at the nest and observed all the twigs intertwined together. We talked about how mother birds build their nests with spit, dirt, twigs, and weeds. We talked about the importance of trees keeping the babies safe from animals that might hurt them. We listened to them chirp and watched them wiggle around the nest. We talked about how the momma feeds her babies and then the hunt for worms was ON! This was a great introduction to our letter "T", tape, twigs, and trees study and the children were EXCITED! We were so thankful for the time we were allowed to see these babies up close (careful not to touch) until they were place in a location safe and close to their original "hole in my wall" habitat.
We will also report that the mother found the babies and immediately began her care for them again...
Natural play...and why it's important
"Children learn by constructing their own knowledge about the world, not by memorizing facts." (Piaget 1962). Getting children out to play is not an effort to take a break from them, but rather a very important part of their education. Digging for worms, finding the bugs, roots, and different types of rocks in the ground and the discovery of birds, bushes, growing plants, nests and grasses are all a necessary element of child development. I have attached a link to a long, but good article in the importance of nature for children. Click on the title below to direct you to this informative article by fellow Kansas Citian, Randy White
Young Children's Relationship with Nature:
Its Importance to Children's Development & the Earth's Future by Randy White
"The toy in the child's hand is alive."
If you have a preschool aged child you have certainly read the book series by Laura Numeroff, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." This is our take on it. This is one of my personal favorite activities for a child.
A box is a world of imagination to a young child. If you give a child a gift, and it comes in a box large enough for them to crawl into, they will likely ditch the gift and go for the box. The box is a boat, a ship, a cave, a car, a rocket, a house, a bed, a safe place. It is always, in my observations, a place of safety for a child, a refuse and a help for whatever scenario they have conjured.
Feeding and caring for ten children requires purchases to be made in bulk, so thankfully, usually by months end, we have an ample supply of boxes. I do try to make certain I have enough boxes for each child to have their own. Sharing at this age is very difficult. At times, we can utilize them as objects of sharing, but along comes one of our little 1's and share time is over... :)
Why is playing with boxes is an important part of the learning process?
We know it's fun. We know it's the nature of young children to toss the toy and play with the box. We have all felt that little sting as well meaning parents, grandparents, and yes preschool teachers when we have spent quite a lot of money on a new toy and the box is what they have a BLAST with until it's unrecognizable and tossed into pieces into the recycle bin. Why, though? What is the draw that young children have to the box?
They desire to create the world around them...just like we do. Think about it, we decorate our homes (big boxes), our cars (sometimes big boxes), even our coffee mugs (little boxes) at a pottery class with our own style, with the things that touch our hearts and speak to us emotionally. Creative, imaginative play is practice for later adult world events like homemaking. We each desire to have our own "box" or space that is uniquely ours; something that speaks to us and others and says, "This is me, what I like, and what's important to me."
This type of imaginative play is vital to the self-confidence. It is an essential building block in the foundation of thinking. This "thinking" teaches children to problem solve emotionally/socially with other children; to think about spatial relations in reference to ALL the stacks of toys or friends they attempt to put into their box space; to redesign and redirect their materials for to meet their goals for a variety of play that will ensue individually or as a group.
So...the next time you are trying to decide how to spend $20 on a fun new toy that will keep your child busy for hours, go to your local moving store and pick up a big box, step back, and watch the fun confident that your decision is appropriate, imaginative, and GREAT for their development!
As always...we wish you well - L
"Be careful what you teach, it might get in the way of what they are learning...Magda Gerber"
The above quote from Magda Gerber is definitely what we have been experiencing around here lately. There are times when, as a homeschool momma, a pre-k teacher, and an all around servant of small children (I wear that proudly!!) that I have to take a step back and see what's working and what isn't. As our little group grows and changes from season to season and our old routines become...well...old...I am posed to put my thinking cap on and determine what our best, next course is.
During the winter months the children have been content with arts and crafts, letters and numbers, playdough and cooking, parties and paints, but as the temperature's rise, so does their longing for the outdoors. Their natural inclination for the undiscovered and yet to be touched. They need...NEED...to own their time, their activity, their autonomy. Part of this is the age of the children, moving from 1's and 2's to 2's and 3's, this is a natural progression of development. Autonomy, the ability to choose, to think, to reason, to be under no "man's" or "preschool teacher's" clock. Ms. Melissa and I have discussed how rowdy our storytime's have become, how they just want to PLAY! We still fit in our storytime, but it has morphed more into group-story-making-up. Their recognition of the world around them, their own creativity, and how they can imagine a story is much more exciting now than sitting around listening to a book. So, group-story-making-up it is... This happens indepently of me some of the time, as an extension of their peer to peer play, and at other times, I have learned to utilize it as a means of teaching the days lessons.
Not a day goes by with these children that I am not their student. They teach me far more than a classroom, more than a mentor, more than a book ever could or ever has. All they ask is that I listen with my heart rather than my ears to what they are wanting to learn, to what they need. And...on the days that I remember this, we have grand success. On the days that I allow "what I am teaching to interfere with what they are learning" even though we may have measurable academic advancement, I have not touched their heart with learning. When I do, what they learn becomes so ingrained in them, that they will never forget it. They may forget the subject matter or the situation, but they will never forget the kindness, the love, the life lessons of friendship, sharing, caring for one another, or the ease of childhood that they experienced while under my watchful eye.
This will be a LONG blog post. I am going to attempt to catch everyone up on all the activities we have engaged in over the past several weeks. And, I hope, you will see between the lines of the A,b,c,'s and 1,2,3's and see the joy, the looks, the excitement for learning. THIS is my #1 goal as a "student" and "teacher" of and to these sweet children; a love for learning...
"Today I shall behave as though this is the day I shall be remembered." Dr. Suess
If you follow us on Facebook, you know many of the fun, educational and all around messy activities we do on a daily basis, but if you don't and rely on our blog I have absolutely NOT been on the ball recently. I LOVE to write about what the children are doing, how they are growing, how they see the world around them, and why we do what we do. But, from time to time, the needs of my children supersede all else. This has been such a time.
As a homeschool momma, business owner, blogger (wanna-be), toddler climbing post, and all around multi-hat juggler (as we all are!!), my time to actually sit down and write seems to be thrust to the wee hours when all are sleeping. Recently, my little girl has been in a "NO SLEEP" zone and pushed the limits of caffeine consumption to a record high for the adults in her life. She, like many 2's and 3's, wants our full devotion, especially when all her little friends have gone home for the evening. Recently, as I sat with my computer lap and asking her for "Just one more minute, honey and Mommy will be done," it hit me...THIS TOO SHALL PASS...
All too often I have heard that phrase quoted as a means to encourage someone to just keep going despite the odds, that the life event they are experiencing will not last forever and that they can endure it with persistence. But, this season of her little life will be gone in the blink of an eye. This time to enjoy each season as though it was her first, to taste the snowflakes, jump in the puddles, make dirt soup, draw letters in the sand, look for animals in the clouds...this too shall pass...and I don't want to miss a beat, not a single look, discovery, or experience.
Sometimes, it does me well to remember that she just wants me...perfect or not, prepared or not, fully caught up on my work or not...me...just...me...
and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This blog is not only for our daily activities, but also to view each child as a gift...and some pictures capture that quality so well, that I have no choice but to pause and take a moment to appreciate it.
Originally, I snapped this quick picture as my little girl sweetly picked yet another handful of her favorite "flowers." I say that loosely as we all, as adults, know these are weeds, lawn pests that we diligently seek to exterminate and scowl at our neighbor's yards for possessing. Well, like most pre-school aged children, she LOVES these bright yellow, easy to pick, readily available supply of Dandelions. She usually can't remember the name so she lovingly squeals "Lion FLOWERS!!!" And, no matter where we are or what we are doing, we are subject to wait for her as she delicately picks to her fill, each...one...she...can...find... As you can imagine, this can be quite a wait.
It is so precious, she will only love these for so long until her tastes for "real" flowers develop and she is "educated" to the fact that most consider these "good for nothing" weeds.
But not today...
Today we will pick the "flowers" and appreciate them through her eyes. Today we will give them a place of high esteem in a small vase with fresh water among the other flowers we have on our windowsill. Today we will revel in her innocence and recognize that this stage passes far too quickly. In her right hand, she holds her brightly bloomed "lion flowers" and in her left she named these her "ball flowers." I had to ask her several times until I fully understood what she was saying (she is still a card carrying member of TotTown and hard to understand at times..) She said, "Look! These are just wike a ball!" "Day are wound, just wike a ball!" OHHHHHH!!!!! Ball flowers! Of course!!! Yes, I knew that!?! So, in the vase also sit the "ball flowers." Anytime a well meaning older child has attempted to explain to her that "Those are just weeds, honey." I quickly point out to her how yellow and fluffy and pretty her flowers are and she happily continues picking her prize.
At times we are all childlike, aren't we?? We hold onto something that others see as silly, insignificant or trivial. And isn't it better, in those times, to uphold the person and their values rather than to tear down what they hold so dear? What seems like a weed to be destroyed to one may be the only bright yellow fluffy flower that someone has left to hold.
And you know what? God sees beauty, just like my little girl...beauty in the bloom at each stage, each phase, each age; it still has beauty and purpose.
Luke 12:27 (NIV)
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell
you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these...
I wish you well...
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com