Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I haven't posted much recently because we are in the process of moving.  Like, today the movers loaded almost all our boxes and furniture on a truck.  It is a 3 day move, though, and so we have 2 days to go... Here are some of the activities we've done with our little one through this hectic process.

Ball down the stairs:
I completely trust my daughter with the stairs, and so I suggested she throw her ball down the stairs and run get it.  Then she did it again.  She loved the game and it was a great way for her to be physically active at a time when I couldn't be outside with her.  We added another ball to the excitement after awhile, and it was double the fun.

Washing walls:
I gave her a cleaning cloth and told her to wipe down the walls.  I was going over the walls at that point, wiping away marks from tiny sticky fingers, and she was eager to help.  Her attention didn't last terribly long with this activity, but it was just enough to get the creative juices flowing in her brain again at a rather testy moment, and she soared away to entertain herself soon afterward.

A! B! C!:
We've been in the car a lot, and when she'd get bored we'd play the A-B-C game.  I'd say A!  Then she'd say B!  We go back and forth through the alphabet.  Sometimes to get her going I'd have to do A! B! C!, but she usually chimed in after awhile.  It was good alphabet practice and it focused her mind on something other than getting out of the car.

Playing in the car's front:
Ironically, as much as she wants out of the car when she has to be in it for a long time, when we're at home she has developed a real desire to play inside the car.  Not so much the car seat, but in the front, where she never gets to be on the road.  She can entertain herself for about 45 minutes nonstop in the car, which was good when we were working on loading it up.  And it was good exploratory for her.  Lots of new things to touch and consider.

I hope to get back on track soon with my postings!  Take care.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Challenge: Eliminate "Good job"

I read a thought-provoking article on the internet the other day.  It is a summary of parenting book by Kohn that argues parents should stop saying "good job" to their children.  I, frankly, disagreed with most of it.  But I did take one really helpful idea from it.  I had never noticed this before, but I say "good job" all the time for just about every positive thing my daughter does.  I decided to try not using that phrase, forcing myself instead to really think about the particularities of each situation and my daughter's perspective on what had happened.  The result was really positive - over the course of the first day of practicing this I became much more in tune with my daughter, because I was paying more attention to the significance of the individual actions.  

Here is an example - My daughter has become an avid door-closer over the past week or so.  I found "good job" about to roll off my tongue the first night of my experiment as she was closing a door, but I stopped myself.  I realized she was being a big girl, doing a little job that she experiences as being important at this stage of her development.  She looked to me to notice - "I closed the door!" she said.  Because she saw herself as a big girl, I treated her like one.  "Thank you," I said sincerely.  She was quite happy with this response.

Another example - We went to the playground, and she finally succeeded in climbing up the slide portion of one of the bigger slides.  I've never helped her with this, because I don't think its a particularly good thing to do, and once she realized she couldn't do it she would give up and climb up the stairs instead.  Well, she finally did it.  A part of me swelled with pride, and "good job" just slipped out.  Then I followed it up with an observation of what she had just accomplished (Kohn suggests this) - "You did it!  You climbed up that really big slide!"  She repeated, "I did it!  I did it!" 

One more - We were playing with her sticker book.  I typically experience this as a rather boring activity from my end.  But this time, instead of saying "good job" every time she put the sticker on the page, I observed where she was putting the stickers - "You put the bear on the grass!," "That bear is swimming in the water!," etc.  My observations got her thinking, and she started putting more thought into where the stickers went on the page, doing some really silly things with the scene.  It turned an otherwise dry activity into fun.

So even if the article is a little over-the-top, I do recommend trying it.  If nothing else, its a challenge to spice up the day! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cooking Fun

My little one is really into pouring and putting things into new containers right now.  So today we made chocolate chip cookies.  That is an activity that involves almost nothing but pouring, stirring, and exchanging containers.  She helped me pour everything - flour, sugar, egg, etc.  I would get things ready on the counter (where she can't reach), and then I'd put the bowl on the floor and let her help hold and pour the sugar or whatever into the bowl.  When we needed to soften the butter, we put the cup of butter into the microwave together, and I had her fingers touch the buttons to make it go.  When it was time to stir, I gave her a spoon and she stirred with me.  The best was gradually adding the flour/baking soda/salt mixture (in one bowl) into the sugar mixture in a different bowl.  I put both bowls on the floor next to each other, and she used her table spoon to put little spoon-fulls of flour into the sugar mixture.  She got clever at one point and started putting the sugar mixture back into the flour!  It didn't really make things more difficult, and so I let her play.  The only difficult part was when it came time to pour in the chocolate chips - "I want chocolate!  I want chocolate!"  We had to do a new Signing Time DVD diversion at that point.  Overall, though, she enjoyed herself so much, using those skills she is most excited about right now in such a grown up way!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cleaning up Potty Accident

My daughter just had a potty accident.  As I was getting a change of clothes for her, she grabbed some sweat pants and took them to the place where she had the accident, saying, "Clean it up. Clean it up."  She then proceeded to clean up the accident with her sweat pants.  I've never suggested she clean up her potty accident mess before - it never even occurred to me.  Now she is trying to put her new clothes on by herself.  This is too precious!  

Hand Fun

These are some of our favorite sing-song rhymes that occupy our hands and work on fine motor skills:

Open, Shut Them: (hands follow the instructions in the rhyme)
Open, shut them; open, shut them.
Give a little clap!
Open, shut them; open, shut them.
Put them in you lap!
Creep them, creep them, slowly creep them
Right up to your cheek!
Cover up your little eyes 
And through your fingers peak!

This is the Church:
This is the church, (fold the hands "church", with fingers linked together pointing down and thumbs facing you)
This is the steeple, (point the pinkies "steeple" straight up)
Open the door, (open the thumb "doors" in front)
And here are the people! (turn hand upside down and wiggle the finger "people")

We do others, too, but I'm drawing a blank.  I'd love to hear what others do!

Fun Christian Education Songs with Motions

Growing up I learned a ton of Christian songs (my dad was a pastor, and he liked to sing).  I didn't always get the words at the time, but we sang them so much that I learned the words really well, and they became a part of who I became.  So I like to sing songs with my daughter to give her that gift.  These are some of our favorites:

I like this one so much, because when I revisited it as an adult it said so well the truth of what had happened in my life:
I thank you, Lord, your word is sown 
into my life, and there its grown.
The roots are deep where living waters are known.

The Lord has a will, and I have a need
To follow that will, 
To humbly be still,
To rest in it, nest in it, 
Fully be blessed in it
Following my Father's will.

This one is a fun energy-burner.  
I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing.
I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing.
I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing,
And obey the Spirit of the Lord.

I'm gonna run when the Spirit says run....
I'm gonna dance when the Spirit says dance....
I'm gonna jump when the Spirit says jump....
I'm gonna spin when the Spirit says spin...
I'm gonna march when the Spirit says march...
Then to calm things down:
I'm gonna sit when the Spirit says sit...
I'm gonna yawn when the Spirit says yawn...
I'm gonna lie down when the Spirit says lie down...

The one teaches the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians (to the tune of the Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Song).  We sign the words using American Sign Language:
Love and joy and peace
Patience, kindness, goodness
Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control

These are the fruit, these are the fruit.
The fruit of the Spirit of God.
These are the fruit, its the fruit.
Of Jesus Christ.

We start out slowly with this one, and sing it over and over getting faster and faster until it is so fast we can't do it anymore:
I am a C
I am a C-h
I am a C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n.
And I have C-h-r-i-s-t in my H-e-a-r-t
And I will L-i-v-e E-t-e-r-n-a-l-l-y.

This one is about prayer.  We do hand motions for knock, talk, and stop:
I keep knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door
I keep talk-talk-talking cause you answer, Lord
Won't be stop-stop-stopping, so be listening for me
I'm knocking-knock-knocking on heaven's door 

An old classic.  We do this one with hand motions, too.
I am the church (point to me)
You are the church (point to you)
We are the church together. (use hand to gesture like there are lots of people)
All who follow Jesus all around the world.
Yes, we're the church together. (hand gestures like there are lots of people)

The church is not a building.
The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is the people.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tea Party

We are in the process of moving, and today I discovered a tiny tea set that my mom gave to me when I was a child.  I set it up for my daughter, and we played tea.  She pretended to pour the tea, and then I added the sugar and milk.  There are 4 place settings, and so she, I, her doll, and a stuffed animal enjoyed the tea together.  After awhile, my daughter decided we needed to wash the the dishes.  I brought a pan of water into her room and placed it on a towel.  Then I got a hand towel from the kitchen, and we put the dishes in and out of the water, washing and drying them.  When we were done, we had fun just playing with the water.  I don't remember ever really wanting to playing tea when I was a child.  I think I was too old by the time I received the set.  But my 21 month old loved it.   

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wiping and Drying

The other day my daughter spilled a bottle of water all over one of her little push-toys in the playroom.  I got a towel, and I handed it to her.  "Wipe it dry!" I said - not like I was punishing her, like "You spilled it, now you have to clean it up."  But more like I positively viewed her as old enough to get to wipe it up herself.  The look on her face as I handed her the towel was priceless.  She eagerly grabbed the towel and went to work wiping it up.  When she was finished, she even put the towel back into the drawer where it belongs, opening and closing the drawer all by herself.  

This gave me the idea of letting her help dry the dishes after I've cleaned them.  She loves this job.  And she is learning as drying techniques as she does it.  I've never really thought about drying a dish as a skill, but it is clear she is working on figuring it out.  This also gives me a chance to work in the kitchen more easily, and I think it is fantastic that she is establishing habits of thinking positively about work like this as we do it together, singing and laughing.

Macaroni Pouring Play

Today I made a simple balancing scale to play with the concept of weight.  I tied and taped a small container to one end of a string and an identical container to the other end.  Then I supported the middle of the string by taping it to one of her longer blocks (I'll get pictures up).  I held the block at its middle with my finger and thumb.  We put macaroni in one of the containers, and that side, now heavier than the other, tilted downward.  Then we added macaroni to the other container, and the scale balanced.  

I was really excited about my little invention, but my daughter's greatest delight in the project actually came from playing with the macaroni.  She poured them into the containers, onto the floor, back into the macaroni box where they came from, etc., etc.  Watching her play confirmed to me that she is at a stage of development where she is both (1) really excited about pouring, and (2) really excited about cleaning up messes (depending upon the mess).  It was delightful to watch her work on both of these interests with the macaroni.  

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hotel Activities

My family just spent several days away on vacation.  Okay, so actually it was a work conference for my husband, but my daughter and I were invited along.  We ended up having to spend almost the entire time inside the hotel, and I hadn't brought our bathing suits.  I had half intended to use the childcare and participate in the conference with my husband, but I couldn't bring myself to do it (see my other blog).  So there we were in the hotel, mommy and toddler, with hours to spend...   We actually came up with some activities for this different environment.  They may not sound as fun as they were, but we actually had a blast with them.  Here were our favorites:

Mirror play
The entrance to the hotel restaurant had big, full-size mirrors connected at their corners.  It was the effect of walking into a dressing room - you could see 4 of you.  My daughter was delighted by this.  We watched the 4 of both of us dance, played peek-a-boo-type games with our reflexions, and she just jabbered away.  When we were in our room, there was a single full-size mirror, and that wasn't exactly as neat, but she still had a lot of fun watching herself in the mirror.

There were several rather large sets of stairs, and we went up and down, up and down, up and down.  This was great physical activity.

When we needed to actually go somewhere and she was cranky about leaving wherever we were, all I had to say was, "Elevator?" and she was ready to go!  I didn't let her push the buttons, but she noticed that the little circle had to be red in order for the elevator to come, and she would say, "Red? Red?" when we got close to the elevator.  And then inside the elevator the button needed to turn orange, and she would say knowingly, "Orange," when I pushed the button.

The bathtub in our room honestly wasn't anything special.  But she was delighted by it.  I had a few moments to myself in the middle of the day by taking her into our room and letting her sit, fully clothed with no water, in the bathtub.  

Foam soap
We use mostly bar soap at home.  The hotel had super fun foam soap in its public restrooms.  She so liked the soap that we had zero potty accidents the entire trip.  (She only got to wash her hands with the soap when she went potty.  She eagerly went to potty, squeezing at least a little bit out almost once and hour for the sake of washing her hands with the soap).  

Hallway Play
The walk to our room was really, really long.  I hadn't remembered the stroller, and she didn't want to be carried... and so we had to do the long walk together every time.  So, to keep each stage of the walk interesting, I found something in the next hallway ahead of us to peak her interest and keep us moving forward.  One hallway was sloped upward, and so we went "up the hill!"  Then there were the telephones, which we used to "call" grandma and grandpa.  And then was the long hallway with chairs along one side all along hallway - yes, we sat on every single one every time.  It was the easiest way to keep her moving forward.  We'd sit on one together, and then say, "Next one!" and go to the next... 

We also spent time with the other children in the childcare rooms.  And there were tons of fabulous people at the conference.  Just being around them at times was delightful to my daughter.  All in all, the days went quickly and felt full of fun and bonding time.  It is nice to be home again, but I have to admit that today I missed being able to say, "Elevator!" and have everything suddenly be okay.