Monday, November 30, 2009

Bringing a Little Nature Inside

It's amazing how fast time flies when it gets so close to the holidays. My last post was over two weeks ago and I have been so busy I haven't even had a chance to realize that it's been that long. Although we don't have many trees around us that drop leaves, we have had the chance to hit some good parks with beautiful trees. During our walks through the park I have encouraged Stinky to notice the changes (very slight changes as we don't have much of a fall here in California, it's still in the 70's) in our environment. We have collected leaves, twigs, acorns and other interesting items we have come across on the ground. As our collection grew I decided we needed to use some of the items in some art work.

This project was a two step process. First Stinky crumbled up leaves and smashed egg shells I had washed and dried. I put both items into little bowls after she had finished. This was a perfect sensory experience as she used her hands and then tried a few different tools to crush and crumble both materials. Then I put out a piece of contact paper on a tray. We haven't begun working with glue yet and this is a great age appropriate material to use to obtain stickiness. Stinky then proceeded to create using the artistic juices children use so freely. I included a small shaker of glitter I had made by punching tiny holes in a baby food jar. I wanted her to use the glitter freely but not so freely that we saw glitter for days. A mixture of natural and man made materials added a calming piece of art work with a little sparkle to catch the eye. When she was finished I backed it with more contact paper and hung it at her level on the window. Stinky is able to admire her own artwork and remember all those walks we took looking at the nature with in our environment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the Love of Animals, but Particulary Goats

I grew up in the country surrounded by farm animals. It was a regular occurrence to see someone riding their horse down the street or walking their lambs in the pasture behind my house. I raised rabbits and pigs and saw these animals as just part of daily life. Moving to a large city as an adult made realize that such experiences aren't everyday occurrences for all children. It is important to me to give Stinky every opportunity to engage with animals as often as she can. I want her to be comfortable around animals and appreciate how animals contribute to the world. When we visit Momo and Grandpa I try to make sure we visit a local farm so she can play with the animals. Her particular favorite is the goats. She thinks they are so funny and she sits with them feeding them, talking to them and even dancing with them.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Serving for You and A Serving for Me.

Stinky is very particular in how she sets the table. If you move items she gets very frustrated. She prefers to use the napkins, placing items just so on top of each napkin and usually leaves the table cloth in the basket. I suspect this is done because we use place mats instead of table cloths at most meals.
Stinky's great aunt brought her a gift of a picnic basket with table settings for four on her last visit up. This has been one of Stinky's favorite activity. She has really enjoyed setting the table and serving guest. This activity has been her first attempts at pretend play and roll playing. It is amazing to watch Stinky play out what she sees her parents do. Often when I am carrying out my normal daily duties I am unaware that my little human is standing or sitting or even playing just close enough to me so she can observe my actions and input the information into her memory so that later she can practice all my moves.

What a great job it is being a parent and a little scary. (They are inputting everything with no filter which means it's time for us to start filtering.) Children want nothing else but to be with us and do whatever we are doing. Where else does one get to experience such unconditional love and admiration. Something to remember next time she is standing at my leg whining "up, up, up" while I am trying to cook dinner.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I had been saving these animals for Stinky when she was a little older. As I observed her interest in animals grow I decided it was time to pull them out. The introduction of a toy is just as important as the toy itself. The way a toy is introduced sets the stage for how the toy will be played with, how the play will evolve and how well the toy will be taken care of. To bring the animals into Stinky's world I put them on her table lined up in a row and prompted her to sit down. She was amazed as the animals looked at her. They were right at eye level and larger than she was used to. She sat staring at them for an extended amount of time before she began to interact with them through touch. Initially she wanted to move them around keeping them lined up in front of her. Eventually she began mimicking the noises that each animal made.

Environment is key in children's development and how they interact with the world around them. If you set up a play area with aesthetics and simplicity in mind children are more likely to use the area and to have a desire to keep the area clean. This in turn leads to the perception that toys are important and it is important to take care of them giving toys a longer life in the home.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Playdough Fun

Our next adventure into sensory exploration was play dough. Again Stinky was not fond of the feeling/texture at first. I had to pull some of the play dough apart, roll it into balls and prompt her into play. Once she had observed it in action she began to do some exploring on her own.
Her first interaction with the play dough was to poke holes in it. She was intrigued by the dents and how the dents stayed in the play dough after she made them.
Her next step was to pull chunks of the play dough off a large piece. This was pretty much the extent of her exploration in her first play dough experience. I will continue to offer more experiences leaving out other tools so she can focus specifically on the play dough. I will introduce other tools when she becomes bored with just the play dough.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I wanted to introduce Stinky to different sensory experiences and to engage her in some measuring, hand eye coordination, and spacial awareness like activities. I put flour in a container and added some scooper's and some small containers to scoop in. At first she wasn't so sure about the texture. She would put her finger in the bucket, touch the flower and then look at it.
Eventually she decided she was ready to try out one of the scooper's. She started by scooping up the flower and then dumping it back into the container.
Eventually she found the small container and began filling it up.
She really enjoyed this activity and I will be adding different parts to it as it evolves. Eventually we will experiment with other materials such as corn starch and water, play dough and different types of bean.

This is a great activity for developing spatial awareness in building mounds and dumping the flour. It helps children understand volume and how much space certain amounts of volume take up. It also gives them an introduction to measurement, how much of a certain substance can fit into another substance, and different types of matter. And of course hand eye coordination through picking up the flour using certain tools and transferring it to containers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tea for Me

When we were in Portland at a wedding Stinky really enjoyed the little cappuccino cup that they gave her to drink out of. While I was at a consignment event I saw this little tea set and thought it would be a great set for Stinky to practice her pouring and drinking.
She really enjoyed the pouring part and a little of the drinking. However I did find that I had to continually put more water into the tea pot and the pan filled up quickly with water.
I looked away for a moment and the little tea cup was dropped on the floor falling into a million little pieces. I had bought the set for a very good price knowing that at this age there is a high probability that it would not make it too long. I felt a little guilty because I am sure at one time this set was barely played with for fear from some parent that it would get broken. In less than an hour my little Stinky broke one of the cups. I had to remind myself that I had bought the set knowing full well that this was going to happen. There are still five more cups for Stinky to explore and there was a lesson learned. As she looked down and saw all the pieces she was disturbed that she could not play with the cup anymore. Her action in throwing the cup caused a direct reaction in that it broke and was no longer usable. Hopefully next time she will attempt to be more careful as she learns that not all materials are indestructible.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wedding's: Stinky is an old pro!

Stinky has attended five weddings so far this year and has become quite a pro. When we tell her we are going to a "party" she jumps up and down and does the sign for dancing. She is really good with the late nights and the long hours of sitting. Most of the weddings we have attended have been Chinese banquets which consist of about three hours of eating. (My DH's favorite part) The tables are very close together and with waiters serving food non stop it makes it hard to get up and down. So we bring toys and she enjoys entertaining the people at our table with her cute gestures and little performances. With promises of cake and dancing at the end she is really patient and able to sit through the meal.

The preparation for these weddings has become just as fun for her. She loves to get her hair curled. She sits so well while I curl her hair and when I am done she touches her hair, poofs it up a little, and looks in the merror with approval.
We attended an Indian wedding so Stinky was able to wear her beautiful Indian dress a friend brought her back from India. She thought she looked so good that she kissed herself. My daughter is quite the little princess.
Her favorite part of this wedding was the little cup she was able to drink out of when she was eating cake. It is a cappuccino cup but perfect for her size. I think she drank more water than usual just because she could use this cup.