Struggles between hockey and lego

One thing I miss since the hockey passion has taken up all our head space around here is the children’s lego. We used to, when Ben was younger, sit on the floor and put together entire lego cities complete with fire stations and houses, construction scenes, and many little vehicles for his mini figures. We built buildings and connected streets leading to the police station.  I spent many a Sunday morning, in pjs with my cup of coffee, sorting and playing with him to a point where I considered it my own hobby, too. Then the kids got bigger, the house appeared smaller, and there was less room to spread the lego we built out in the basement rec room. Also the hockey gear needed a place to dry and air out…

hockey trees Continue reading

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Imagination

Imagination is something we are all born with. This is what I believe.

Whether it is fostered in childhood is an entirely different story.

Imaginative play doesn’t have to include a whole set-up of specially purchased toys. Kids don’t need to have the latest gadget or remote-controlled vehicle or computer-enhanced game to play imaginatively.

Sometimes, the simplest objects lying around the backyard can promote their imagination. That, and a little bit of boredom.

The resulting creativity is often, um, strange, but also completely unique. I mean, has anyone ever seen an exact duplicate of this?

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Homemade homeschooling materials for toddlers

These ideas are inspired by the Montessori methods, and cost practically no money. It encourages the child to learn how to sort, and how to manipulate with her hands and fingers the different types of materials.

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To make the materials, all you have to do is keep an empty box, and some plastic containers.  Our containers are from infant food like applesauce, and they’re great because they come with little lids too, which helps tremendously when storing things. But you can use yoghurt containers as well.

You will need large pasta shells (uncooked, in case that’s not clear!), some large pebbles or rocks you can collect with your child(ren) on your next nature walk, or even large dry beans. Buttons work as well.

Word of caution: it’s always a good idea to watch your child play with items that are small enough to put in their mouth to prevent choking.

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Activity:

Place the box with the items inside on a child-sized table. Start with just one item at first, like the pasta shells.

Demonstrate to the child how you can take the shells out of the box and make a pile on the table.

Variations:

Show the child how to take the shells out of the box and place them into a plastic cup.

Observe your child. She will manipulate the items according to her own will, which is fine. There is not right or wrong way to play with these materials. Sonja, who is 14 months in this picture, started by moving the pieces in and out of the box and in and out of the containers at random. She also tried to pour them. This inspired me to show her how to pour dry rice, but that’s another post.

As boredom sets in, mix up different types of materials. In our case we placed the pasta shells and the rocks in the same box. I demonstrated how to make different piles with each item, first on the table, then in the plastic containers.

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Sonja didn’t follow suit, but that is ok. I will demonstrate again next time and observe how she may, or may not, learn to sort.

Once sorting becomes an activity, the choices are limitless. When my older boy was 2 1/2, we used an egg carton and placed different sized and different coloured lego pieces into each egg cup. We learned counting and colours that way. Dry beans of different colours work as well.

Where’s the money?

♪ Money money money
must be funny
in the rich man’s world… ♫

That’s an ABBA song…

Many of my peers delayed having children until they were well into their 30s. Money, or the perceived lack of, was often at least one significant contributing factor for this delay.

Most people are consciously aware that children cost money. There’s food, shelter, diapers, education funds, toys, stuff.

And all that stuff costs money. But it’s not until well after the offspring has integrated himself into your world that you begin to realize just how much money you spend on his well being.

Or on his entertainment.

This is because in today’s western society, batteries are a part of this entertainment.

Sure we used batteries before the kids were born. But we never used to be big battery consumers.

But now we receive things, toys in particular, requiring batteries from all kinds of people.

Some of these people do not have small children themselves, or have grown children. They do not realize that certain toys come without batteries included in the package. So when the child unwraps the toy, and wants to play with it, and can’t because of the missing batteries, it’s usually daddy that has to make a quick trip to the local convenience store to pick up some inflatedly priced batteries.

We try to be responsible battery consumers. We keep the used ones in a jar, save the jar for Environment Day, and dispose of them in the environmentally proper way as is recommended (and should be enforced in some way if you ask me). We usually had two mason jars to bring to the hazardous waste depot, which I thought was still a lot for a year’s worth of batteries.

Today, I replaced the mason jars with pickle jars. Pickle jars are much bigger. Especially those that we get at the Polish Deli.

Most toddler toys that are battery operated are crap. But some are not. Either way, we have them in the house. Gift-givers who provide the batteries with the toy may save us some initial cost, but if the toy is well-loved by the child, chances are sooner or later mommy or daddy have to go to the store to pick up more batteries.

I have now reached a point where I am reading Canadian Tire (or Walmart, or Zellers, etc) flyers more thoroughly. I am looking for a battery sale. I need some. Lots actually. And of different sizes.

I can’t control what gifts the kids receive, I can only make suggestions. And I will need those batteries anyway at some point. For things like flashlights, or digital cameras.

So perhaps the next time one of the children will receive money from a well-intentioned relative as a gift, I will take a portion of it away and put it into the battery-saving jar. And place that jar next to the pickle jar with the dead batteries in it.

Start ’em early, I say.