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"


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Vintage Legos

A friend of ours found eight sets of vintage Legos at the local thrift store. After sorting through all the pieces there were six full sets and, being a generous friend, he gave a set to us. My husband and I are pretty nerdy nerds and we were excited for ourselves to come by this treasure. My preschool engineer was even more excited by the gift - levers, pulleys, gears, and loads of mechanically interesting images enticed him.
Box and Manuals
The front page of each manual includes pictures of related mechanical devices. There are conveyor belts and slides, windmills, and sewing machines, and the list goes on. Inside each manual are Lego-style picture instructions for building a single tool and on the back is the image of a Lego tool that is similar to the one built using the instructions but different enough to require some serious tweaking.

Now my son is only four years old and, at first, the toys seemed to be WAY over his paygrade. But my husband took his time to sit down, patiently guiding and redirecting my son, doing next to none of the building himself. Six months later, these Legos have proven to be some of the best "play" therapy tools in the house, and my son is building on his own. All that time and effort my husband put in to teaching Mikey how to play (see my post "On Teaching Preschoolers") with a difficult thing has paid off in spades!

The First Creation
So now we are into Legos. The Ninjago series is pretty fun and offers lots of mechanically interesting things to build but it is missing the open-endedness the Dacta provideds. This vintage Lego set hits a sweet spot that balances opportunity for open-ended building and closed map/direction-following spatial learning. If you see one at the thrift store then snag it!