Doing It Their Way

My son surprises me constantly because he thinks so differently to me. When I asked him to sweep up the cornflakes he spilled on the floor recently, he ran off to his toybox to find a truck.  Just as I was about to rouse on him for going to play instead of cleaning the mess – I realised what he was doing.  Continue reading

Lions and Tigers and Tea – oh my!

There are lots of gorgeous teasets available for little girls, but ones that are gender-neutral, or suitable for boys, are quite hard to find.  I don’t want my son to think that kitchen things are just for girls!  Mr 2 loves to make “cups of coffee” for visitors (or for his Dad) and this wooden set is perfect for him.

This week I helped him to take his “cup of coffee” play a step further, and set up a little table in his room.  The R-O-A-R sign was already on his bedroom wall so seemed the logical place for lions and tigers to catch up for coffee!  I must say the Big Cats were very well mannered. They even blew on their coffee to cool it down.

We might follow up this play with a trip to the library to see if we can find the classic 60’s picture book “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” as well.  It seems rather appropriate, don’t you think? (For another post related to this picture book, jump over to Childhood101).

Don’t forget to enter the Hi-5 Competition! Entries close this Sunday 30/1/11

Outdoor Multi-Age Play

Thanks to a recent pupil-free day, my children had the opportunity to have a play date in our backyard with a group of kids of varying ages (from 2 – 12).  I encouraged them to make cubby houses, and gave them them access to the following materials:

  • one sheet
  • string
  • scissors
  • anything already in the backyard (rocks, sticks, bamboo, etc)

It was amazing to watch the kids interact.  The boys and girls naturally split into two “teams” and worked to make two separate cubbies.

The Girls

This cubby was built mainly by a 4 year old and 12 year old who worked together, sharing ideas and workload.  They identified “areas” in their cubby such as the storage area, entrance way, living area and even a toilet area!  They decorated their cubby with strips of palm leaves lashed to fabric which hung down over the entrance.  There was even a doorbell!  All over the cubby were labels either written on pieces of cardboard or directly onto rocks.  I especially loved the rocks at the front door (pictured above) welcoming visitors to the Girls’ Cubby House – with one rock scrawled in the emergent writing of a 4yr old and the other by a 12yr old’s hand.  Precious.

The Boys

The boys were brilliant at sourcing materials from their environment.  It was their idea to cut down some bamboo to use, so I showed them how to work the large secateurs safely and then let them chop down what they needed.  It was fantastic to see their careful and intelligent use of the tools.  They stripped the leaves from the bamboo, leaving sturdy sticks which they then used for structures in and around their cubby.  They lashed together a fence to identify the boundaries of their space, and built an impressive teepee shaped entrance way.  The entrance was marked by a bamboo arrow on the ground, and a circle of rocks sourced from the creek bed.

*  *  *  *  *

I was both challenged and encouraged by the differences between the girls’ and boys’ cubby houses.  Sometimes in my desire to give equal opportunities to both boys and girls, I neglect to celebrate the unique differences between them.  Watching these kids served as an excellent reminder.  But best of all, I just loved that for TWO WHOLE HOURS, seven children between the ages of 2 and 12 worked cooperatively, creatively, intelligently, safely, and with minimal adult interference – without a “toy” in sight.

Do your kids have the opportunity to play with children of varying ages?  And have you noticed differences in the ways boys and girls play outdoors?

Birthday Boy (and Bear)

Birthdays are special.  They are all about…

Inviting friends (and their bears) to share in the fun.  I chose these fun invitations and thank you tags from Nomie Boutique Stationery.  (I kind of left ordering the invites til the last minute, but Naomi had the invites ready in less than two days, and offered express postage. Phew!  I was delighted with the service I received from Nomie.)

Opening presents. One year olds don’t really get the whole present thing, but two year olds?  Bring it on!  We hung a green mosquito net to create a jungle present tent for the party.

Party food. Jelly in jungle colours, fruit skewers, banana lollies, fairy bread and teddy cupcakes.  The jelly was a hit with the adults too…

Cake!! I think I’m improving.  Yes, I baked the cake from scratch.  Yes, I made the icing from scratch too.  Yes, I did it all by my own self.  Yes, I was a teensy bit proud.

Blowing out candles. Despite practising ALL week, he needed a little help from big sis to blow the candle out.  She was only too happy to oblige, of course.

Individuality.  I think a party should reflect the person being celebrated.  It’s not about putting on the best show for the guests.  It’s about saying “we love the things that make you unique and special.”   My son loves his bear, so bears were part of the jungle fun.  Kids could make their bear some morning tea out of playdough, and give their bear a ride in the shoe-box swings.  We didn’t have games, because it’s not his style.  Instead we had balls to kick around, the bear activities, and jungle vines (crepe paper with leaves) hanging for decoration.  He loved it.

Learning to say thank you. This is really important to me.  Receiving gifts shouldn’t be an expectation, and thanks shouldn’t be dependent on the size of the gift.  Every gift is appreciated and my son hugged everyone after opening their gift.  We also gave out party boxes to kids as they left.  We decorated noodle boxes with jungle vines and attached the swing tags from Nomie.

Celebrating together.  I was able to enjoy this party too, because it was so low stress.  (Nothing worse than a party where the mum is stressed out!)  Simple decorations, simple food, simple activities, but so much fun.

Yes, you’re 2! Happy birthday my little man.

Disclaimer: I received my invitations from Nomie Boutique Stationery free of charge. Thank you Naomi!

Buckets and Strings

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, aren’t they?  This week I put a piece of string up and over the branch of a tree, and tied a coloured bucked to each end.  Genius.  Mr Almost-Two has played with these buckets constantly.

Blue bucket down, yellow bucket up.

Yellow bucket down, blue bucket up, up, up!

And if you’re very, very clever – you can get both buckets to stop half way

and fill them up with



fairy stones


your morning tea…

Pasting Pictures

My little man watches his big sister construct all manner of creations with boxes, junk mail, scissors and glue.  She can whip up anything from a bird to a robot in no time.  The other day while watching her create some masterpiece, Mr-Almost-Two discovered glue.  Glorious, magical glue.

I grabbed a junk mail catalogue and chopped  out pictures of items he knows and can identify.  Truck, shoe, camera, train, baby, guitar, ball…

This made it a great language learning experience as well as a fun fine motor activity.  We talked about the objects as he pasted them on.  He would babble: “Ball, stick stick.  Stick ball.  Mummy.  Ball.  Stick, stick.”  And I would respond, “Yes, you’re sticking the ball onto your page.  It’s a yellow ball.  Good sticking.  What will you stick next?”

I was impressed he continued with the activity for as long as he did, given that he is an outdoorsy boy who would usually rather stick things with mud than stick with glue!  He enjoyed using the page after it dried as well, and we played lots of “Can you find the…?” games with the page.  Big sister liked playing too, and it was lovely to hear her mimicking the kind of language I had been modeling.

Do you or did you let your little ones loose with glue?  At what age…?

PS – It’s my birthday. You can make my day by voting here: I’m in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers list! Just click to vote – nothing tricky to it.  There are some pretty big bloggers in the list and I’m pleased just to be included.

Big Boy Bed

As I write this post I have two sleeping kids – in their BEDS.  We dismantled the cot today, and my not-so-baby-boy is fast asleep in his big boy bed.  So far so good.  The only sound I’ve heard is snoring!

We talked a lot about the transition, so he was very well prepared for the move and very excited about it all.  He loves his new jungle quilt and striped sheets, he loves climbing up and down himself, and he just loved introducing his much loved bear to their new abode!  The first thing they did was lie down on the big new pillow together and pretend to sleep, then shout “Wake up!” and do it all over again.  Too cute.

To help with a smooth transition we also kept routine as normal as possible.  The bathtime-teethtime-storytime-prayertime-cuddletime-sleeptime routine is well established for both kids.  So tonight, everything was the same as normal, except that we had stories together on his new bed.

I was hoping we might be able to ditch the dummy with the cot.  I did give it a try but conceded defeat, as in all honesty it’s another familiarity which will aid the transition.  I guess he’ll give the dummy up when he’s ready.  Right??

I must admit I had a little sentimental moment today.  As we packed the cot away I realised that we are probably through the “baby phase” and are onto a new stage as a family.  I’m not sad really.  I love seeing my kids grow and change and embrace new things.  It’s just that they grow so fast.

I think I’ll go and check him one more time before I turn in myself.  It’s funny how he seems such a big boy in his bed, yet at the same time still so very little with all those covers around him!

Raising Readers with Literacy Lava

If you’re a parent with young kids, and you’re interested in raising readers – you’ll definitely want to check this out.  Literacy Lava is a FREE publication put together by Susan Stephensen (aka The Book Chook) and a bunch of teachers, writers, bloggers and literacy advocates.  I have contributed an article on Book Loving Boys to this issue, full of practical suggestions for reading aloud with boys under 5.  (There’s also a super cute photo of the two men in my life reading together.)

In this fourth edition of Literacy Lava, you’ll find ideas for nurturing creative thinking, ways to use magazines with your kids, ideas for raising book-loving boys, what to do if your child is not into writing, how to encourage your child to love reading, ways to promote inquisitiveness through hands-on learning, how to help kids make connections through story extensions, and all about getting kids to tell stories through moviemaking. Don’t forget to check out the Online Extras page, and the Activity page for kids.

I’d love you to go and download your own copy.  Read it on the screen, or print it off if you like and read it over a cuppa!  I really enjoyed many of the articles in Literacy Lava 4 and I know it will be a useful resource for parents, teachers, aunts & uncles, grandparents and carers.  Happy reading (for you and your kids)!

PS – if there’s anything you’d like to read about in the next issue of Literacy Lava let me know in the comments below.