We've been doing lots of gardening, cleaning and hiding from tornadoes. We spent the weekend hosting a big, wacky party for a lot of friends and had a wonderful time. On the downside, I'm still sunburned!
The weather has been scary for a lot of people lately. I hope you and your loved ones have stayed safe.
And now, on with the yammering...... ;)
Here's a great activity to do with little ones to prepare them for reading or help them if they're just learning. Get some blank address labels or masking tape and print the names of objects from all around the house in big block letters. For instance, write MAT, WINDOW, CHAIR, BOOK, BALL.... toss in some big words like REFRIGERATOR too. It's not important that your children be able to read them, this is to give them a feel for the way words look.
Now help your child attach the labels to objects. Sound each word out while pointing to the letters and then say the word. Ask your child to put it where it belongs (make sure your address labels aren't permanent!).
If you can, leave the labels on the objects for a while to get your child used to seeing the object and its name. Then, print out the words on big pieces of paper for the second part of the game. Give your child each word and have her bring it to the matching object and word. For example, you have a mat in the kitchen with a MAT label on it. Hand her a piece of paper that says MAT and have her go to each object until she finds one with the same word.
There are some neat ideas on this page....
10 ways to show gratitude as a family
By Mimi Doe, author of 10 Principles For Spiritual Parenting
I purchased the book through half.com and it has some really neat rituals and ideas for bringing children up spiritually. It is very inclusive, giving ideas that can be used in all different faiths.
From The Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin.
27. Fan the Spark
Your children plan
their own education,
Like it or not.
You must learn to cooperate with that plan.
If they are drawing,
They become artists.
If they are reading,
They become students.
If they are investigating something,
They become scientists.
If they are helping prepare a meal,
They become chefs.
Whatever they are doing,
They are learning.
And it is, for them,
Can you refrain
from judging their interests?
Can you give them room to explore?
Schools do not often do this.
You may be the only one
who can fan the spark of their creativity
into a flame of joy.
Crafts from Aunt Leslie: Picture frame
Cut a picture frame from a piece of cardboard. Have kids glue macaroni (shells or other shapes) to cover the frame. Spray paint with gold or silver paint and dry.
Lazy mama tricks....
Want to buy a few minutes online? Here's some nontraditional ways to occupy little ones.
Band Aids-- Get a cheap box for 50 cents and keep it for emergencies like this. When you need to occupy your munchkins, allow them to be doctors and put band aids all over you, themselves, dolls, etc. It takes a long time to unwrap each one, so they're much more cost effective than stickers! Let them use enough on them on your legs and you won't even have to shave. <VBG>
Piggy banks-- we have a big jar of pennies and a marvelous musical music box. It was a gift and I love it. Every time you drop a coin in, it plays "You are my sunshine." My girls will sit for fifteen minutes plunking pennies into it. The only other way to get those kids to sit still for that long involve duct tape, so that's saying a lot! Even if your piggy bank doesn't play music, I'm betting it'll occupy them for a bit.
Address labels-- whenever you get junk mail with address labels inside, save them for cranky days. When you need a few minutes, just dole out pages of rose-covered, misspelled address labels and a few sheets of paper. Victoria tends to cover her sister with labels, but Anna doesn't mind. Another 15 minutes, easy. (Note: to get a supply of labels, send a donation to the March of Dimes. You'll get periodic mailings of address labels and do good for babies.)
Ice and water-- Hand out a couple of ice cubes and a half cup of warm water, plus various containers. Sit little ones in high chairs, or just let them sit at the table or on the floor. They'll have fun seeing how fast the ice melts in the warm water (give out cold water too if you like).
Cheerios etc. -- Give toddlers an assortment of finger foods and objects to try to fit together. Cheerios are great for stringing onto pipe cleaners, or you can use raw spaghetti pieces to slip them onto (stop up one end by impaling a marshmallow or cheese cube on it so the cheerios won't slide off).
Before you toss or recycle anything, look at it through crafty eyes and see if it can be used to entertain a child first. I love this sort of toy because my kids can demolish them since they're going to be trashed anyway. Besides, toys tend to lose their appeal so quickly. This way they get a "new" toy each time.
Some ways to use trash include cutting slits in toilet paper and paper towel tubes so kids can fit them together, making houses and cars out of cardboard boxes, cutting masks out of cereal boxes, tearing up flyers and dunking them in water to "paste" mosaics on walls (outside or the bathtub is best, and use washable walls in case things bleed), letting kids sculpt with tin foil, cutting a slit in the top of a yogurt container and letting tots fit poker chips or handmade shapes in, and on and on. After all, if they don't like it you can just throw it away!
"How did I get to be a hundred years old?
Well, when I moves, I moves slow.
When I sits, I sets loose.
And when I worries, I go to sleep."
- - Attributed to an old Appalachian mountain woman
Now is prime garden season, and even if you live on the thirtieth floor you can still garden something. My girls and I love to garden! It's messy and magical at once, plus teaches some neat little lessons.
Here's some garden ideas from our back yard....
~ Give your plants treats! We save all of our vegetable peels, coffee grounds and other compostable materials (not meat or fat) for our gardens. Besides using our compost ball, we dig holes and bury the goodies several inches from our plants. I've explained to Victoria how nutrients in the peels make the plants strong the same way they make our bodies strong, and she loves helping the plants this way. Roses love banana peels since they're so high in potassium, and acid loving plants will appreciate those coffee grounds. This is a great way to easily turn nasty soil into the good stuff, plus help reduce the landfills.
~ Get a mint plant to make your own mint tea. You may want to keep it in a pot, since it spreads like the dickens. I let it go crazy and my girls like to just chomp on stalks of it. To make tea, just pick a few leaves, wash, and cover with boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes and sweeten with sugar or honey (for older kids). It's so easy and so tasty, plus kids love that it came right from their yard!
~ Get some ladybugs. If you have an insect problem on your plants, why not head to your garden center and ask about beneficial insects? We have a yard full of ladybugs who devour aphids and other rude bugs. I would much rather have my kids play with ladybugs than insecticide covered plants. You can order ladybugs mail order as well (write me if you want more details).
~Do flower magic. I let my girls have my flowers from arrangements after they've died. We go outside and we shake them all over the yard to scatter the petals. We just use it to cheer up grumpy girls, but you could attach a meaning to it if you liked (like scattering them on new plants and calling them flower kisses to help them grow, or making wishes and then shaking the petals out and so on).
~Mulch your plants as much as you can. It holds the water in the soil and keeps weeds down, plus if you use natural materials (leaves, pine cones, grass clippings, bark) it will break down and enrich the soil. The girls and I are always adding to the mulch in little fun ways. We pick up grass clippings and toss it on the flowers-- and each other. We also have a routine where whenever we go on a walk or to a fun place, we try to bring home something for the garden. We make sure we don't take something that would be missed, so we wouldn't take purchased rock filler but we would pick up a rock from the street, for instance. Our gardens are full of driftwood, pretty rocks, funny looking sticks, shells, and hundreds of other memories.
~If you have a picky eater, you might want to try growing a few veggies and letting him "steal" them from the plants to nibble. A friend of mine used this trick on her son and to this day he loves most garden vegetables.
~Make sure to plant some things to feed the birds!
On the subject of gardening, there's something I've been meaning to share with you. I've been meaning to tell you about my roses.
The other day, a friend wrote me that someone had told her that people who were abused as children should not be allowed to have kids of their own. This ignorant soul had been unaware that my friend is a survivor of childhood abuse. He said that parents would be unable to keep from being abusers themselves.
I must really live in a bubble sometimes, because it really surprised me that people exist who are still this stupid and insensitive at once. ;)
When we moved into our house a few years ago, it had been neglected for years. On the north side, there were some straggly, thorny "weeds" that our neighbor grumpily told us he'd mowed down again and again, that just wouldn't die. He had sprayed them with insecticide, chopped them down to the ground, and finally given up.
They intrigued me. I left them to see what would bloom.
Sometime in late June that first year, I wandered around the corner to find a whole row of beautiful, light pink double roses. In full shade, in zone 4 Minnesota, after having no protection or coddling or care for years, these tough plants lived despite the world. I loved them on sight.
That first summer, we discovered that our roses spread by runners. My husband and I carefully dug up a half dozen tiny offsprings and transplanted them to a sunny strip along our driveway. By the next year, they were several feet tall and thriving.
It's been a few years now, and our roses are taller than I am. Every June they burst forth with hundreds of soft pink, heavily scented, gorgeous roses. I call them my bulletproof roses, because they are so tough.
I have roses throughout our yard now, but those are my favorite. I've learned not to pay attention to what everybody else is buying or doing. I've studied a lot and worked a lot to make my roses thrive. People stop and compliment me on them as they're walking by now. I'm pretty proud of them.
This weekend, I had the priviledge of having two little girls visiting with their mom and I gave them a tour of the garden. Later on we were on a walk and both girls said that they wanted to have roses in their yards. I told them most people like hybrid tea roses, but I like the old fashioned kind. They both piped up saying that they didn't like hybrid teas at all and they wanted roses just like mine.
If you're a survivor of a less than perfect childhood, never for a minute believe that you are doomed to repeat any cycle. I think of us as those roses-- surviving despite the odds, with a strength we can pass on to our children.
I have had the pleasure of knowing a lot of incredible mothers who survived horrible childhoods and grew up resolved to make things different for their own children. They read more, listened more, took classes and sought out the advice of mothers they admired. In fact, most of the mothers I know who were the absolute best were ones that I later found out had lived through awful childhoods and made the choice to give their kids all that they had missed out on.
My bulletproof roses are in full bloom right now, and they perfume the whole yard. This new generation is getting the light, the attention and the love that the original plants never did, and they're thriving. In a yard full of roses, they're the biggest of all.
Pretty cool for coming from a thorny bunch of weeds. ;)
That's it for this edition. There's so much I've been meaning to write, but it's so nice out and we're so busy that most of it stays in my head. This is the kind of busy that I love though, when it's okay to leave the dishes undone because there are fireflies outside and June doesn't last forever.
Till next time.........
A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer
A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and love the people who are good to them. To subscribe, send any message to email@example.com. We do not use ads. It's not about money. ;)
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