Monday, September 8, 2014

Desert Island Toys

We have had a busy month because my husband got a new job that moved us from one state to another. So my posts have been few and far between but I'm getting back in the game with this story about taking a road trip with Preschool Engineers and their "Desert Island Toys."

In preparing for our move, I set aside one box for each child. They could put whatever they wanted into the box and it would be kept off the moving truck. It would travel at their feet in our car while we drove across the country, it would come in the hotels with us, it would serve as their toy box in our new empty house until the rest of our stuff arrived. My goal for these boxes was two-fold: for the kids to feel control over some aspect of their lives during an otherwise hectic time, and to give them some responsibility (relieving me) for knowing what is important to them.

The contents were interesting. Most of the stuff was from around the house - books, crayons, sticker/coloring books, magnifying glasses, tape. Some of the stuff was new - I allowed them to request some things (Pez dispensers) and I suggested some things (a roll of gift ribbon and scissors). Over the course of the 2.5 days of the car trip, all the items were used. And, as I suspected, the ribbon and scissors were used the most. My preschool engineers tied, cut, taped, and created. Admittedly, messes were created (just like at home) but cleaning up was easy (scooping up small pieces of ribbon and dumping in the trash can at a gas station).

All in all, it has been a successful trip. We will be moving into our empty house soon, finding the local library, and generally exploring our new home town. And when we need a break from the new, I have the box of Magna-Tiles stashed in the trunk....because we can ALWAYS use Magna-Tiles.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tinkerbell Movie

I have been working SO hard to cut back on screen time that I find myself being very leery to introduce new shows/characters to my kids. PBS is my favorite place to start and we have only scratched the surface with Preschool Engineering shows with Curious George and Sid the Science Kid. So I doubt I would have found Tinkerbell on my own. Lucky for me, I didn't have to.

One of my best friends explained briefly that, "Tinkerbell is a Tinker fairy." I was intrigued. I wondered if Tinkerbell would fit right alongside Rosie Revere, Engineer. Could we have another female "role model" for budding preschool engineers? Yes. Yes we do.

Tinkerbell uses tools...

...finds mechanically interesting things to put together...
...and she is curious about how stuff works. 

The first movie about Tinkerbell was great. There isn't anything too scary for toddlers and preschoolers and most of it isn't WAY too over their heads. Sure, like many fictitious media, it is full of "lies" about how nature works. Grown-ups all know that fairies don't paint the flowers in the spring, they don't teach birds to fly and they don't gently place droplets of water on spiderwebs to make dew. But biology learning isn't the point of the movie. The point is that Tinkerbell is a tinker fairy and being a tinkerer is a very valuable thing.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Your Average Coloring Book

Let's face it. Coloring is glorified scribbling. Scribbling in small spaces, with closely aligned strokes, but scribbling none-the-less.

Scribbling is about all my 5 year old son will do. My 2.5 year old daughter colors. I try to find qualities that I like in each of their work - Mikey's exuberant color, Anna's small patches of carefully drawn strokes. But Mikey's no fool and I wonder how he feels about the discrepancies. He has long avoided fine motor work and since coloring isn't interesting to him, it is the last thing he would choose to do with his time.

Enter a new coloring book. It is a coloring book unlike any coloring book we've ever seen. It is called "The Scribble Book" by Herve Tulllet. "Scribble" makes Mikey's scribbles valuable; it invites Anna to color outside the lines.
Mikey's Coloring Work from School, which is required.
Mikey's Work in "Scribble" that was voluntary.

"Add some dust, otherwise the vacuum cleaner will get bored." How silly is that?!

For a kid like mine, "Scribble" will offer a comfortable and credible place to enter the world of coloring. That invitation is invaluable to a parent like me, who has a "special" needs kid at home. It is a wonderful tool for what I have come to consider at-home occupational therapy. Otherwise, it is a pretty cool coloring book that might blow your mind. In fact, you might want to get two for you and one for your child. Or maybe check out the other coloring books by Herve Tullet like "Doodle Cook" or "The Coloring Book."

Cover of "The Scribble Book"