June 27, 2009

Soulemama = Creative Family

WOW!  I couldn't believe it when I opened Creative Family and realized it was written by one of the blogs I follow.  It is listed to the right of this post.  I haven't been there in a while so I guess I didn't put 2 and 2 together.

More Books

I am getting a lot more reading done these days.  It is so nice to be able to get through a book in a decent amount of time.  Today I went to the library and got 4 books:

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination & Nurture Family Connections

I Love Dirt (nature activities)

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (on the MDC GD booklist)

And a book on teaching preschool - I thought i might get some ideas from it.

I think I will start the the Creative Family book.  It looks really good.  I opened it up to a picture of a wooden kitchen all set up with places to hang dish towels, aprons.  It looked like what we are going for with Pookie's kitchen.  

I just finished Under Pressure by Carl Honore.  I just LOVED it.  Although I read a review claiming he was too extreme, I actually thought he wasn't as extreme as other books I have read.  It is the kind of book a more mainstream person could get through.  I feel like I got so much out of it.  I will definitely be reading his other books.  I also like that he is Canadian!

June 26, 2009

Big & Teeny... shapes and colours

I couldn't resist posting this picture. This was taken at my mom's house.  As usual Everly was full of her usual antics. :P

I always read over at MDC how children learn without being taught.  Just by working thing like, colours & shapes into your everyday conversation can be enough.  There are times when I feel like I am not doing enough, but then something will happen to take the pressure off.  I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Everly was starting to refer to some things as "teeny".  I didn't think much of it.  Then it dawned on me that she might really get the difference between big and little.  I started asking her some easy questions like "what is bigger a flower or a tree".  I kept making the questions harder.  It amazed me that she could distinguish slight differences in sizes.  My husband was skeptical but she can easily say which person is bigger.  My husband and I are only 3 inches difference in height with similar builds and she knew he was bigger.  I also wondered what she would do with someone tall and slim, versus someone shorter and rounder.  She always picked the person that was truly bigger, not just taller. 

This has really inspired me to make sure I refer to thing by their size, shape and colour etc.  I have found the best way to help her learn colours is painting.  I let her pick the colour of paper she works on and ask her what colour she would like more of, etc... she seems on the verge of really knowing the colours.  For the most part she can point to the right colour if you ask but she can't always think of the name on her own.  

We have also been painting shapes on the sidewalk with water.  I was also surprised that she seems to be starting to grasp shapes.  These things really don't interest her but she loves having me paint the shapes and she doesn't mind a couple of questions like "which one is the triangle".

June 22, 2009

Nothing is more fun than water play

I love reading Chasing Cheerio's blog but sometimes I just have to accept that Everly isn't that interested in a lot of "activities".  She LOVES painting these days, and will sometimes do a puzzle with me but for the most part the most fun thing is playing with water. 

I try to offer her different ways and places to play with it.  Sometimes we will her baby bath that we never used up out front and she splashes in there and pours water everywhere.  This morning I had her out back on our deck (our backyard is only a deck), with a bowl and she watered the deck for a good hour.   She will play with it at the kitchen sink and pour and pour and pour, or she will play with it at her kitchen.  She also loves painting the sidewalk with water, as do the neighbourhood girls.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is OK to let her do what she loves, and that there is lots to learn from water play.  One of the great things about going out front is one of the other neighbour girls often comes out and will play with her and playing with other big kids tops water in terms of fun!

New Job

I think I mentioned before that my aunt had to let me go as she decided not to continue with her business for now, while she adjusts to the death of her husband.  I had about a month off and then got a call from her that a friend of hers was looking for someone.

This friend is such a upbeat, positive, go-getter.  She hired me after talking on the phone and I have been working for her for the past month.  What is SO wonderful is that she works from home and has no room for a desk for me so I have to work from home too!   I am adjusting to it.  It is hard to be diligent and work when Everly is napping or any spare chance I get.  I am thinking that once my mom gets back from the cottage I will ask her to continue to watch Everly on Tuesday's so that I can have a day to work, every week or so.  I also like the idea of Everly staying close to my mom.  My mom has been basically her sole "babysitter" since she was a few months old, and they have a real bond. 

The only downside to this arrangement is blogging time is hugely down!!  I should be working right now actually but I figure a few minutes to blog isn't the end of the world.

June 17, 2009

Back to being TV Free

My husband has been working so hard to get our new bamboo flooring put in upstairs.  Somewhere along the way I started letting Everly watch more and more TV because it enabled me to help Jeff.  Then it started becoming a habit.  Suddenly Everly turned into a TV monster and wanted to watch it endlessly.  I felt SICK.  I never intended for her to watch it at all.  She would scream TTTTVVVVVVVV, and I would just give in.

Anyways now that the weather is so nice it has been SO easy to put a stop to her TV viewing.  My goal is to keep her TV free during the week, and if needed she can watch a bit on the weekend.  If she asks for it I let her try and turn it on.  I turn off the PVR/ TIVO box so when she switches it on nothing happens.  She has been excepting this and we go off and do other fun stuff.

It feels so good to be back to no TV.  She seems happier and I know I am.  I don't think that letting your child watch some appropriate TV is a horrible thing, but the problem I have with it is limiting it.  It seems much easier to make it a once in a while thing, rather than a daily activity.   Also the bottom line is there are so many wonderful things you can do instead of watching TV.

Gross Motor Skills

It just dawned on me that Everly seems to be focusing on improving her gross motor skills.  Once she mastered walking, she became very interested in fine motor activities.  Now she has mastered many of those activities and seems to be moving back to gross motor.  Of course I always try to offer her lots of opportunities to use both, but since the GM seem to interesting to her, I have been trying to come up with fresh activities for her.

Being a ballet teacher I have been the huge difference in motor skill abilities of children.  Especially very young ones.  I have had 4 year olds who can barely jump off the ground, or run, and 4 year olds who can do single skips easily... and with pointed toes.  I think as with most things part of this is nature and part is nurture.   Being well coordinated and athletic to some extent are important to me and I want give Everly a chance to develop these skills.  

Here are some ideas I have come up with to do with Everly.

1./  Couch Balance Beam - I remove the back pillows of our basement couch and let Everly walk along the narrow (about 2 inches) hard back of the couch.  I hold onto her pants so she can basically do it on her own.   This is obviously great for developing balance and core muscle strength.  As well it works on trust between us because she has to trust that I will be there to catch her if she loses her balance.

2./ Forward Roll - A year ago my young cousin showed me the way the gymnastics couch taught her to do a forward roll (somersault).  I put down a mat and tell Everly to reach to the sky.  Then she puts her hands on the floor near her toes and I tell her to look at her belly button.  I assist her with the impetus to get the roll started.  By using the hands on the floor it protects the neck.  She did about 10 today.  She especially likes watching me show her! 

3./ Scissor Kick - I showed her how to put your hands on the floor and then kick your feet one at a time off the floor, so that for a brief time both feet are off.  She loved doing this one.  This is great for upper body strength and will help with learning a cartwheel later on.

4./ Pony Galops or double skips -  This is a ballet step, and is how most children "galop" when they are little.  Basically you jump into the air and one foot and then the other come up a kick your seat (or in the case of little ones come just off the floor).   With young children we pretend to ride pony's and jump over fences.  I usually say "up up" to help them get the rhythm.  I was surprised to notice that Everly is starting to do pony galops. 

5./ Run and Jump - She LOVES this!  I throw on some ballet music, roll up a small rug and have her run and then LEAP over the rug.  At first she just ran over the rug but after a day of practicing she started really jumping over it.  She has been requesting to do this one daily.

6./ Basketball - All you need is a laundry basket and a ball.  I also use a  little chair on its side and have Everly stand behind it.  She just throws the ball in and then I throw it back and encourage her to try catching it.  It is important to set it up so that they get the majority in.  Once she gets 3 or more in a row, I move the basket a bit further away.  This one was great fun!

More to come!

June 15, 2009

Fine Motor Skills are Fun

 One night I stayed up late writing down activities from the Chasing Cheerio's blog.  One was using an eyedropper to transfer coloured water into a watercolour tray. 

The next day my neighbour brought me over a little pink icecube tray.  I was so excited because it was exactly what I needed for this!  Unfortunately I couldn't find the eyedroppers I bought months ago, so Everly had to use a medicine dispenser.  

She really liked this, but needed my help since the medicine dispenser was stiff.  I can't wait to find the eyedroppers so she can try this again. 

Painting with water outside/ mud pies

All you need is a paintbrush, some water, and a sidewalk, rock, fence etc... I took Everly outside on Saturday morning armed with a couple of paintbrushes and a cup of water.  She loved this immediately.  Then our neighbour came out - she is 4.  The two of them had so much fun painting trees, lamp posts, and the sidewalk.  Another neighbour who is 7 showed up with her paintbrush and joined in the fun.  I honestly think this kept them busy for at least 1.5 hours if not 2!  Later in the afternoon they went at it again.

They also had fun digging in some dirt by a tree.  They made a huge muddy mess, and had a blast.  I will be sad when the dirt gets covered with grass.

I love how much we are getting outside now that it is finally warm.  I think we spent almost the entire day on Saturday outside. 

June 12, 2009

Walks & Hikes

We have started going on a walk (or two) around our neighbourhood everyday.   At first I told Everly that on this walk there would be no "ups".  The first time we went she asked a few times.  Now when we go she walks the whole way on her own and really gets into it.  She picks up leaves, grass, dandelions.  We talk about the cars going by, the types of plants we see  I try to go at her pace as much as possible.  We have always walked a lot but never a specific route and never with the intention that these ones do.  

The best part is when we get back one of her little friends is always outside digging in his garden, so Everly joins him and they have so much fun getting all muddy.

My husband and I have also been trying to take her on a "hike" each weekend.  She gets really excited to do this.  She gets to play by a river, try to climb trees, and be away from cars, people etc..  

Scissors & drawing

We were at the play centre one day and Everly saw another child using scissors.  She had a go and she did GREAT!  I ran out right away and bought her a pair or kids scissors.  We have been cutting a few times a week and she is getting really good!  She can cut paper into pieces and seems to totally understand to keep her other hand away.  I have started showing her how to cut and then more the scissors to make the cut longer.  I do this a couple times and say "open, cut, open, MOVE, CUT!!"  She is starting to try.  

Using scissors is great for fine motor development and helps them build strength in their hands, which helps with drawing and writing.  We also cut foam tongue depressors, and straws.  
She has become interested in drawing again.  One day I drew a happy face on her paper, and now she always wants me to draw one.  She loves scribbling on it and trying to add arms and legs.  I help her draw her own as well because she wants to.  I read on MDC that to encourage creativity you shouldn't show kids how to draw things and just let them do it on their own.  I was planning to do that but now here we are.  :P  When she is adding arms and legs or eyes, I don't tell her if she is doing it right or not.  I just let her do it her own way. To me this seems like a good balance.

The Pressure to Teach

Lately I have been feeling pressure to teach Everly things like the ABC song, or rote counting etc.  No one is pressuring me, but when I hear other mom's and Nanny's going on about how their 2 year olds can count to 20 or sing their ABC's for spell their names it starts to get to me.

I have finished and am currently reading another book that really encourage you not to push those types of skills at an early age.  It makes sense to me.  Everly is interested in exploring the world, not being drilled with rote learning.  She loves to do anything physical, so I try to encourage that.  Still when you have a little girl who many people say seems very bright, I do start to feel like I am failing since she doesn't know her ABCs.  She does recognize numbers and does know part of the song. 

With counting she actually really enjoys it!  She can count to 2 and I think that is great.  She can count if something is one, or if it is two.  We are "working on 3", but I guess I am more interested in her actually understanding what a number represents than being able to count to some high number.