Monday, November 26, 2012

Power of Pretend

 Doll Train

It takes a lot of my energy, to sit back and do nothing.
But the better I get at allowing O to lead the show, the more I see how powerful 'doing nothing' can be.
The basis of unschooling is to follow a childs lead in terms of their interests and intent to learn in their surroundings, but what a concept for a society that has been raised to believe the only place to learn, is an institute. 

O loves pretend play and "pretend" is not a small ordeal.
There are props, characters and various degrees of role-playing. 
Every day objects are transformed. Toys come to life. Child's play.

"Mama, 'tend Dabby." she requests.
Then I have to (pre)tend to be her father; walking and talking the way he does.
This elicits a great response from her and I continue filling people's shoe's at her request.
"Mama, 'tend Karin's mommy."
I do my best impression of Santa Clause, because this is how Karin's mommy makes O laugh.

 Photo Op
When O ran to get her chairs and make a train, I had an instant flashback. My little sister and I used to line up the dining room chairs, when my mother moved them into the living room to wash the floor. We would then spend hours playing train. No fancy toys necessary.
All children naturally play all day (if given the space and freedom.)
And play is work.

 Yes. Elmo is nursing!
She incorporates the every day, such as nursing.
The things that are important and crucial to her.

Chatting up the passengers!
She has the opportunity to be whomever she wants.
She is usually everyone's (referring to dolls) mommy.

She incorporates things she knows from a different angle.

 Her Style

Dress-up is another way to express herself!

Play Spaces. Play kitchens. Mock Shops. Bank teller. Post person. Mechanic. Simple activities that involve a lot of role-playing and imagination can be created with items easily found at home. Childhood 101 gives the low-down on a friendly playspace.
Playful Learning has amazing idea's on how to create inviting corners.

Don't Cramp Your Toddlers Style. Article by Janet Lansbury, based on philosophy of Magda Gerber.
“If the infant seems to ignore you and is doing something completely on his own, don’t leave.  It is very comforting for him to know you are there, really there, without any pressure to have to do something to keep your attention.” –Gerber

“Do less, enjoy more.” -Gerber
 “In play, there’s no time.” –Flinsch

Lantern Fruit

 Paper Lanterns
 Peel & Separate

Lantern Fruit is actually called Physalis Fruit (but Lantern Fruit sounds so much more appealing!)
Their paper is easy to peel for little hands, making this a great sensory experience.
After O peeled them, she was able to separate them into a  "garbage" and "fruit" pile.
There were a couple that were mouldy, so we even learned a new word.

Results are in.
Lantern fruit taste somewhat like a sweet & sour tomato
O tends to chew and spit a lot of things, so I am not sure the final consensus on the fruit rating.

Toddler Tales: Birthday Wish of a To-Be Twobie

Wishin' & Hopin'

"How old are you, Lida?" Mama asks.
"How old will you be on your birthday?"
"What would you like for your birthday?"
"Beach swing. Purple."

(She is talking about a hammock, like she used on the beach last August. Purple is her favourite colour!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Parenting Picks: Janet Lansbury

Always in need of inspiring articles in the Attachment Parenting department, I chanced upon Janet Lansbury on Pinterest.
I am definitely a Pinterest Groupie, but even moreso when I find fabulous links like Ms Lansbury's website full of articles I could not read quickly enough.

Connect. Create. Acknowledge.
Incredibly inspiring reads.

Don't Waste an Opportunity to Connect with your Kids

Are You Putting the Kibosh on Creativity?

The Key to Your Childs Heart

Good, solid gentle reminders for parents practicing gentle discipline.
I am always learning how to behave as a parent.
But my child is a natural expert at being a kid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pizza Busy Bag

 Early Friendships

O and I were prepping for a playdate with our friends. So we brought out the Pizza Busy Bag. 
I first learned about Busy Bags while perusing the brilliant Playdough to Plato
With several previously crafted activities randomly scattered in a tote, I made a few bags and sorted them for easy travel.

 O sneaking a Busy Bag Peek

O is all about including her dolls in every game of the day, so she hurried to get one for each of us.
Although the pizza has several toppings available, O decided she would sort through her Fruit Stand and choose her own special toppings (read: grapes & a tomatoe)!

 Enjoying Grape Pizza together
 Pizza Busy Bag contents

The base of the pizza is two, round brown felt circles with a "stuffed crust" edge.
Then we cut out the 'dippy sauce' (or tomatoe sauce), square green peppers, circular pepperoni and triangle cheese slices. We also have dark brown half circles that serve as mushrooms, but O hid them.
This game suits various age levels. As a toddler, O could help recognize the shapes and colours. She could also help me build the pizza based on her likes & dislikes.

Children learning basic math skills can look at a more advanced lesson in shapes (how two isosceles triangles makes a square or two half circles make a whole) as well as basic addition and subtraction.

Since we have two sets of pizza's, it also helps practice our sharing and dividing skills.

 Letter & Shape Pizza

When little T and her mom joined us for lunch the next day, neither T or O showed much interest for eating any pizza, but they were very keen on sharing hugs;)

I love this picture!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where You Are

 Tying the Hairy Crabs
 Poor Frabbies
 Eating Red Bean Mantou
Mmm Mmm

Life is one big field trip.
Amoung the many things I am learning from my toddler, this one pops up every day.
We live in Shanghai, China and there is no lack of interesting things to see and do. 
Mind you, there is more bustling city life than I would opt for, but it's still rich in Chinese culture.

We were en route to visit Dabby at the office when we came across a shop tying hairy crabs. 
'Tis the season in Shanghai to find hairy crabs at every corner, so we stayed a while and watched. 
A few steps further and we ran into teeming, steaming bamboo baskets of 'mantou'; steamed rice bun filled with red bean. O is new to 'street food', so she was thrilled to have the chance to try.

We stood on the corner near the traveling flower vendor while O watched the busy street and had her snack.

Life gets very busy and I often forget to look around and be where we are.
(Total cost for this field trip: 1.2rmb)

Vegan Bites: Two Versions of Squash Soup

Simply Soup

Soup has become a staple in our house.
We throw a mixture of veggie's & legumes into a pot, top it with water and spices and simmer.
It covers most of our nutrients, is inexpensive, quick to put together and available on the stove all day.

Autumn Soup
~1 squash, cubed (dense winter squash has best flavour for soup)
~1 cup red lentils
~2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
~10-15 cups water
~2-3 gloves garlic, minced
~2-3 T each rosemary & oregano
~1 T salt

Boil then bring to a simmer. Cook until veggies are tender.
Add various other veggies for a Clean-Out-the-Fridge day!
Puree for a smoother flavour.
Combine with salad, toast, sandwich or pour over various types of rice for a heartier fare.

White Bean & Avocado Winter Soup
Similar to soup above, give and take, but immensely different flavour! YUM!
~1-2 cups pureed squash (more puree just adds density. We went for medium-thick!)
~1-2 cups white beans (pre-cooked or canned)
~1 large potatoe, peeled and cubed
~1 large zucchini, cubed
~3 T oregano
~3 t salt
~6-8 cups water
Boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoe is tender.
~1-2 cups greens (we added mystery Chinese greens from the wet market)
Simmer until greens slightly wilted. Remove from heat.
~1/2 cubed avocado to each bowl before serving

Avocado makes all the difference in this rich soup.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sound Jars

Intro to the Sound Jars

Super simple sound jars are Montessori-inspired play you can (economically) make with stuff around the house. 
All you need is...
~kitchen staples (dried beans, rice, salt and any other items that will hold uo with loads of shaking.)

This set was made years ago for one of my kindergarten classes with some recycled tin cans. The lids were easily placed permanently on with hot glue. The advantage of tin is the great sound it makes when the contents are shaking around.

The cans are marked red or orange on the sides and top...

..while the undersides are marked by the colour of their match.

The idea of this activity is to take one of each colour (red & orange) and shake them separately to see if their sounds match. However, the target age group for this activity is around 3 or 4 years old.

The two-year olds in kindergarten, just liked watching me fumble with making a match. The more funny faces and mistakes I made, the better!
And my two-year old at home, liked putting the cans in their place, according to their colour.

Later they became giant candles for a 'cake', complete with a few rounds of "Happy Birthday!"
As with most things around our house, O finds unique uses for rather plain objects!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Toddler Tales: Daddy Did It

The Culprit

O was flipping through one of my books the other day.
Out popped the bookmarks onto the floor. 
She looked up at me and without hesitation shouted "Daddy did it!"
"Where is Daddy?" I laughed.
"Work." she replied.

In short, we don't have a dog. 
So in all cases, "Daddy did it!"

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Little Orange Sweater

"Lida" in Orange & Red Man

When O is not hiding from the camera (as seen in top picture!) she is having her picture taken!
We bought a great camera and we use it...often!

Grandma Jean passed along this little orange sweater to us when O was born. This sweater was made by the late Great Grandma Fleming and worn by Olivia's Auntie's, Daddy and cousins before her, when they were all wee things. I asked for a picture so I could send it to Grandma Jean, but O hid behind the fruit stand (with a lime that was her best friend that day!)

Yesterday we went on a family hike through the Fall streets of Shanghai, so there were ample opportunities to click away!

 Bum on Blue
 Beloved Juice
 Three's Company
 Going in for the lick!
 Intercepted by Mama!
Love from Dabby