It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Rainbow Month!

November. Oh, how I hate November. My second least favourite month is March, and I dislike them for essentially the same reason: They are Eeyore months, grey, gloomy and sloooow to pass. Add damp and chilly. There may or may not be snow in November in Ottawa, but there’s certainly chilling, icy-cold rain, and endless grey, grey, grey, grey, grey.

I truly loathe November weather.

So! What does a sunny little optimist like me do when such a bleak month looms over her? She defies reality, that’s what!!

Well, now. Denial? Not really. I know it’s a stinky month. Didn’t I just say that? No, what a sunny little optimist does is create an alternative focus. Why fixate on the gloom — the gloom which is undeniably there, I know, but you don’t have to fixate on it! Why fixate on the gloom, I say again, when you can give yourself something else, something nicer, something FUN and PRETTY and COLOURFUL and FULL OF LIGHT to focus on?

November is a rotten, bleak month. Sooooo… in the daycare, we are having RAINBOW MONTH!

Four weeks of colour! Four weeks of all the colours! Four weeks of pretty! Fun! Light!

(And then doesn’t this turn out to be the sunniest November I can recall, ever. I will be astonished if we don’t break records for the hours of brilliant sunshine this month. It’s been SPECTACULAR!!! I attribute this, of course, to all the positive vibes coming from my little House of Rainbows. Of course.) 😀

Here’s a peek at some of the activities we’ve enjoyed this month:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll tell you about them in more detail, and add a couple that didn’t make it to the slide show, tomorrow.

Fun, fun.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | crafts | , , , , | 1 Comment

Non-toy playthings

When my eldest was three, she had a “doctor box”. I’m not quite sure how it earned that name, but that’s what it was.

The doctor box was in fact a shoe box, filled with … oh, this and that. A lot of it came from the kitchen: plastic measuring cups and spoons, a funnel or two, a mesh strainer. There was often a (carefully washed) pill-bottle or two in there. (Maybe that’s where the name came from?) Fabric scraps, a belt buckle, a handful of jigsaw puzzle pieces, a couple of polished rocks, a feather. You get the idea. It was just a collection of interesting stuff. Interesting to a three-year-old, at any rate.

The contents of the box were not static. Some things were returned to their orginal spots, or used in crafts, or just lost somewhere. Other things were put in.

Whatever its contents, the doctor box was the favourite plaything for months and months. I could take it on car trips or trips to the doctor (maybe that explains the name?) or anywhere there’d be an otherwise boring downtime, knowing that the wonders of the doctor box would keep her happily occupied for as long as necessary.

Sometimes she was a doctor (name?), sometimes she was a chef, sometimes she was a fireman. (Not “fighter”. She was a fireman.) Sometimes the items in the box had personas and characters: they tended to squabble amongst themselves a lot, the strainers and the feather and the rocks. A lot of chatter, a lot of imagination, a lot of very happy hours were passed with the doctor box.

It was the best money I never spent.

I take a similar approach to the daycare. People often assume that, as a daycare home, I must be overrun with toys. It’s true, I have more toys stored in my dining room than the average mother of teens and a twenty-something! But I’m quite, quite sure I have far fewer toys kicking around than many (most?) homes with only one toddler. In part, that’s simply practicality: I have a small house. I do not want piles of multi-coloured clutter toys littering my home. I do not want them, but, even more to the point, children do not need them.

Children do not need great mounds of toys. I am convinced that children with shelves and closets and cupboards full of toys are poorer at amusing themselves, and more in need of distraction, than children accustomed to fewer toys. Just because they have fewer toys does not mean they play less! They just play differently. One might argue, more creatively, using more imagination.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s discovered the glories of the non-toy. I know I’m not because the writers and commenters over at Unclutterer have come up with a lovely long list of toy alternatives. Don’t stop with the post. The commenters have a ton of good ideas!

One might note that a significant number of these non-toy playthings look to the adult eyes like work: sorting socks, making cookies, straightening the fringe on the carpet. Not to the child! With these kinds of activities, the children’s play is not something remote and unconnected with the Real Life of the household, but is, instead, part of it. This sort of children’s play models adult behaviour, helps children feel part of the family, gives them real, productive tasks in which to take pride. It builds self-esteem.

It is we adults who have decided that “play” is by definition frivolous, with no agenda but the activity itself. For children, play is how they make sense of the world around them. Everything and anything is play fodder: colouring, singing, sorting socks, putting dirty dishes in the sink (non-breakable, at this age!), blocks, puzzles, washing the car, counting to ten, sweeping up the dried leaves that fell off their leaf belts. Play is not frivolous, it is practicing life.

Life. Work, recreation, even conflict. It’s all fodder for play.

My, I’ve wandered from my original idea… All right, given that we needn’t feel guilty for “only” baking with our kids and “only” letting them help with chores, rather than playing with them; given that you can choose not to spend a heap of money on a mound of toys… Given all that, how does this manifest in your home? What are some non-toy playthings or activities that your child particularly enjoys?

October 9, 2008 Posted by | crafts, daycare, Developmental stuff, socializing | , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments