Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 4
May 9, 2001

Hi again moms!  Hope you and your family are having a great week!  We've been spending lots of time enjoying springtime, planting flowers, playing with rocks and mud, climbing on the swingset and going on walks.  I've been getting lots of spring cleaning done, too.  I swear I even caught a glimpse of floor the other day.  <G>  Have a great week!


Another magical mom I know was recently bemoaning the lack of good crafts to hold her one year old's attention.  I realized I often focus on crafts for older toddlers so here's a list just for the itty bitties.  Next time I'll do a list for preschool and school aged kids.  These are just fun things we've come up with around here that entertained my kids...

Art for young toddlers:

Stamping: put some finger paint in a yogurt lid and give her a couple of potato halves with shapes cut in them.  Tape a paper to the high chair and show her how to stamp.  This can also be done outside on a piece of butcher paper taped down.  Magical mama Claire does this outside and lets her baby do footprints and handprint stamps.

Pattern crayons:  put paper over a variety of textured objects and rub back and forth to make the pattern show through.  Bigger crayons are easier to get results with. You can put coins under, a screen, a dimpled pan (my springform pan is bumpy like that), some pieces of uncooked spaghetti.... anything relatively thin and hard enough to rub over.

Use finger paints and watercolors in the tub, straight onto the wall during bathtime.  Just hose it all off with baby when done!

Glitter and glue: Spread out newspaper on the table.  Give your toddler a bottle of white glue and tape down a sheet of paper.  Let her draw designs with the glue (it's so hard to squeeze that very little comes out-- perfect for babies!).  Then give her a jar of glitter with most of the holes covered so she can shake, shake, shake glitter onto her design.  Show her how to shake the paper to make her picture stand out in glitter.  Watch closely--  Annalee eats her glitter.  ;)  Alternately, use sugar tinted with a few drops of food coloring, or salt if you don't want her to eat it but want it to be non-toxic!

For a quick craft project to keep little ones busy while you're fixing supper, plop them in a high chair and fill a squeeze bottle or ziploc bag with a tiny snip cut in the corner with a mixture of flour, water and a few drops of food coloring.  Let them "paint" right onto the high chair and smear around in it as you cook.  Just hose off the tray afterwards.

Wet paper and a wall: Give little ones a few pieces of colored tissue paper and some water.  You can do this in the bath, outside, or by any wall that can be washed easily.  Show baby how to tear the paper into strips, then dunk the strips in water and "paste" them to the wall.  Victoria loved to do this one.  We did it in the bath when I was pregnant and she would even put mosaics on my huge belly.  :)  Best of all it just peels off and gets dumped in the recycling.  Careful with tissue paper that may bleed on your walls though.  Mine never did, but I used cheap stuff I found around the house (or even magazine pages).

Magic drawing:  Using a white crayon or candle, have baby scribble all over a white paper.  Then give him watercolor paint or just a cup of tinted water and a big paintbrush and have him paint the paper.  The designs show up like magic!

Paint with water: Give little ones a chalkboard or piece of construction paper or even a box, and a paintbrush with water.  Let them paint with the water.  The design will show up on many surfaces and they can't hurt anything.

Telephone book:  Kids love to write in books.  Let them color all they want in the phone book.  Give them an old one that they can tear, color and deface at will.  Make the front clearly theirs so they don't confuse it with all phone books.

Pudding:  It's a classic for a reason.  :)  It makes a great fingerpaint and snack!  I also use tinted oatmeal or mashed potatoes.  Dinner is craft time whether you like it or not, so why not capitalize on it?  <G>


Surprising sanity saver-- We bought a $2.99 cassette tape of children's songs for the car and it has been the best investment this year!  It's merely children singing classics like "Baa baa black sheep" and "I'm a little teapot" but both of our girls love it.  They listen and sing along, making car trips much more bearable since they used to go stir crazy and whine to get out all the time.


The Children's Literature website has links to all sorts of best lists for children's books, plus resources for parents, teachers and kids.  I love it for browsing for books to buy as gifts or borrow from the library.  Great stuff!

A tough subject but an important one:  Abuse

The other night my husband fell asleep with the TV on and I was trapped in bed without the remote, buried in sleeping babies and forced to sit through "The Justice Files" on A&E.  One of the segments showed a home video that upset me so much I sat in bed and cried.  I felt traumatized by what I saw, and I am literally haunted by the images.  I don't know if I've ever felt so sad and hopeless.

Yes, we know we can protect our babies to an extent.  We can do our best to be there for them and give them happy childhoods.  Bad stuff will happen.  It's a given.  But hopefully we can give them enough love, strength and happiness to compensate.

But what of the children whose parents are the ones doing the bad things?  Can you imagine how many children go to bed every night feeling scared and sad, without a single person in the world who makes them feel absolutely safe and loved?  It's such an intensely painful thing to think about, but they need for us to think about it!  We can't just bury our heads in the sand and love our own children.  Those other children need us most of all.

I decided that night to do whatever I can in my community to be there for children who need a loving adult in their lives.  Some ways that I've thought of are volunteering at the local school and Girl Scouts, the crisis nursery in a nearby city, and talking to the city's Women's Club to see what we can put in place in the city to encourage parenting support groups and such.  I'm also going to make an even bigger effort to be nice to the mom at ECFE who is so horrid to her children, because she's not going to get any better as a mom just by being glared at by other moms.  I'm going to look for other ideas online and I'll keep you updated on ways that I find to make a difference.

I'd like to challenge each of you to make the same commitment, and to talk to your friends and family to challenge them as well.  Can you imagine being a small child and having your own parents beating you and screaming hateful things at you?  Can you imagine not having anybody in the world who makes you feel special and loved?  As mothers, we have a responsibility towards all children.  Let's find a way to make a real difference!
Thanks for being the magical moms that you are.  :)
I'll close with this classic poem that was on my wall during my childhood.  After so many years, it's still the best parenting advice I know of.   Although the web seems to have created 100 new versions of it, this is the version I know (though somebody has changed it to include girls).

                       CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE

If a child lives with criticism,
  She learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
  He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
  She learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
  He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
  She learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
  He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
  She learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
  He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
  She learns to have faith.
If a child live with approval,
  He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
  He learns to find love in the world.

--Dorothy Law Noite


The Magical Childhood Newsletter comes out whenever I get a bit of free time to throw it together, usually about twice a week.
Feel free to pass this on.  Don't steal it-- that would be rude.  ;)

Alicia Bayer, Copyright 2001, All rights reserved