Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What we’ve been up to – monthly roundup

We’ve had another busy month with lots of play and learning at our place. This month, most of the key activities have been centred around some of our favourite books we’ve been reading. Here’s a little roundup of a few of my favourite activities we’ve been up to this month.


~ The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse ~

Eric Carle books are always a big favourite at our place. The children really enjoyed identifying the various animals pictured in the ‘The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse’ and naming the surprising colours of each animal. A blue horse? A green lion? A purple fox? I personally found this book to be a great tool for reinforcing learning the names of colours through identifying the unusual colours of each familiar animal in the story.

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I prompted the children to share and talk about what animal they would choose to paint and what colour they would paint it. Each child eagerly shared their choice of animals and colour to come up with really fantastic and unusual animal colours—- A PINK RABBIT! AN ORANGE LION! A YELLOW CHICKEN!

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As a follow on activity, we did some painting (of course). We experimented with some colour mixing with primary colours, as well as painting with unusual objects such as toothbrushes, sponges, forks and even matchbox cars. We used the various tools to create patterns and lines on our paint to create some textured coloured paper. Afterwards, we snipped and tore the painted textured paper to make animal collages just like the multi-coloured animals painted by Eric Carle in his book.

*****

~ Humpty Dumpty ~

What child is not familiar with this classic tale of this clumsy little egg. My children all know this rhyme by heart but never tire of reading and singing it again and again with me. They would always ask to stop at the page showing poor Humpty all fallen down and cracked, so concerned over his broken state. “He needs sticky tape!” Grace would usually tell me matter-of-factly (NB: sticky tape happens to be her personal favourite magic solution for anything and everything).

humptydumpty

I’ve always played the rhyme out with all my children since they were babies with my own made up actions: bouncing them gently on a cushion or chair (as Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall), then bounce them off gently onto the floor (as Humpty had a great fall), and tickling them heartily (as the King’s Horses and King’s Men tried to put Humpty together again). They absolutely loved this game. And still do.

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We played the story out with some toy plastic eggs and a wall we made from jumbo blocks. They children played it out countless times and laughed every time they made the eggs go tumbling off the wall. Then I took things to the next level by bringing out some REAL eggs (with drawn on character faces) for them to play out the story. You can just imagine their excitement. For easy clean up, I placed a large bowl below a wooden chopping board which I stood upright as a wall. Then the children took turns to hold the egg at the edge of the board and let it fall on cue as we chanted the rhyme together. It was a huge hit. Figuratively and literally. They were so fascinated to observe the effect of the egg cracking to pieces each time they let one drop. Now they understand for sure why all the King’s Horses and Men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

After the egg cracking ceremony, I let the children take turns to whisk the eggs up, then we carried them over to the kitchen and they watched as I poured the whisked eggs into a pan with some potatoes I had precooked to make some Spanish tortillas to eat for lunch later.

That week also happened to be the one leading up to Easter, so everything tied in together nicely to do some egg painting and decorating (with hardboiled eggs) to make our own little Humpty Dumpty eggs to take home.

*****

~ Go Away Big Green Monster ~

This particular book was my personal favourite this month. Ever since the dawn of Sesame Street, monsters have kept growing cuter and funnier than ever over time. This book by Ed Emberly ‘Go Away Big Green Monster’ is so simple yet engaging. The story is also a great tool for teaching and reinforcing learning the names and positions of facial features.

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I have to admit that the whole monster theme idea stemmed from the children themselves. One morning as we were enjoying some outdoor play time, A couple of the children, together with my Gracie, came up with this elaborate story about a monster in the cubby house and ran over to report it to me. They described it in detail (with a bit of prompting from me) from it’s colour, to the number of eyes and ears it had, down to it’s favourite food. They even gave it a name: Dabbick Monster. They kept going on and on about it and later on even drew pictures of it to show me.

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So I took the bait. Let’s have some monster fun! I discovered the Ed Emberly book through some research and even found a terrific read-along YouTube video of the book. We practiced putting together the monster face and placing each facial feature in the correct position using the feltboard and chalkboard.

I set up a create-your-own-monster activity with play dough, laminated monster features and various loose parts. We made monster masks with some ‘Go Away Big Green Monster’ printables and rounded off the activity with a dance session of ‘Four little monsters jumping on the bed’. Our place was literally crawling with little monsters!

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If you enjoyed this post, you can check out last month’s roundup of activities and more of my other play and learning ideas. Stay tuned for next month’s roundup!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Life and its ebbs and flows

Many, many years ago, at a small group meeting of one of the previous churches I attended before I was married, the group leader called out the usual invitation for people to ‘share’ any personal testimonies or words of encouragement with the group. As each person jumped in to share one after another, each sharing was received with applause or jubilant ‘hallelujahs’. God is good. Life is good. So-and-so were having a tough time recently but their prayers were answered and life is fantastic now.

I was still very new to the group, but that evening I plucked up my courage and raised my hand. “Yes, sister? What would you like to share?” the leader piped up exuberantly. All eyes were upon me, looking at me expectantly. I took a deep breath and decided to go out on a limb and share something a bit different – a personal difficulty I was going through in my life at that time. I cannot recall the details exactly, but I knew it had something to do with work. And I was going through a really tough time. After all, this was a church group. A support network, right? The best way to connect with others is to open up and be yourself.

Wrong move.

As I ended my short monologue. All I received was dead silence. Not even the sound of crickets singing in the background.

“Errrrr… ooooookie… thank you, sister… let’s move on shall we?” the group leader finally chimed in awkwardly.

I have never forgotten that very awkward and stinging episode.

But over the years. I grew to learn the truth.

People rarely open up.

People rarely share the truth.

They rarely share bad news. Even if they do. Its often cushioned and cloaked in positivity. Or it is shared only after the worst is over and they can look back in retrospect over what they learnt or gained from the experience.

Bottom line. No one likes being vulnerable.

On the other hand…

We are often encouraged to ‘be authentic’… ‘keep it real’… ‘be yourself’…

Of course there are many versions of ‘self’ you can have. Especially as adults. With kids, you pretty much get just the one version, until the complexities of adolescence emerge. The trick is knowing and deciding which version to display at what time and where and with who... read more »