It’s Not All Mary Poppins


A game that gets them jumping!

1. Have the children crouch down in a tight squat, feet on the floor. They are being popcorn kernels.

2. Begin the rhyme:

You put the oil in the pot
And you let it get HOT!
You put the popcorn in
And you start to grin!

Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle [at this the children start to wriggle around on their feet, while still scrunched down tight]
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle …

POP!!! [here the children LEAP upward]

The game officially ends here, but I usually keep them going for a while, shouting out “Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!” for five or six or ten more jumps, but before it gets wildly out of control, I call out, “AAAaaaaand [this gets their attention] STOP!!”

And with ‘stop!’ they plop back down into the kernel position, ready for the next round.

With slightly older children, you can do “sticky popcorn”, which has them, when they bump into each other, stick together to form a popcorn ball, and then they have to jump around in a clump. I don’t do this with toddlers: the odds of everyone falling into a piece of furniture and ending up in a crying heap on the floor is too great!

It’s a great game for a stuck-inside day.

January 9, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Quintesssential Childhood Moment

It was Jazz who thought of this. A small stick, a long stretch of metal fencing. Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-TINNNNGGGG! (The large support uprights make a different, more resonant sound.)

That’s Poppy ahead, in the hat, Jazz second. All the children but NBG were doing this, but as soon as they saw the camera, they would not stop looking at it! Big cheesy — and identifying — grins all round. Little hams.

As I watched them trundle along the ping-ping-ping-ping fence, I realized I was watching an absolutely quintessential kid thing. What child has not done this when presented with a fence? A metal fence gives you a lovely ping-TING!, but a wooden slatted fence produces a nice clickety-click percussive effect, too. (Mary is very auditory. She notices this stuff.)

Little kids, short sticks, a long fence to make music. Some days my job provides me with little moments of absolute contentment. This was one. THIS is exactly what should be happening. Right here, right now. I hope your day, today, gives you one moment like this. When you see it, pause, and savour. You might even take a picture!


September 27, 2012 Posted by | Jazz, outings, Poppy | , | 4 Comments

Mis-steps and recoveries

I was a creating machine a couple of weeks ago, all methodical and assembly-line. Take three metres of red satin. Cut into 5 lengths of 60 cm. (No waste! Not a single cm! I am so proud!)

I have great instructions, capes are simple things, and I am a competant seamstress. I foresee no problems.

Fold in half (times 5)
Cut curve at lower end (times 5)
Hem all raw edges (three edges times 5)
Attach bias tape to neck (times 5)
Iron all (times 5)
(I am a model of efficiency, I tell you!)
Iron on initial and lightning bolts…

and discover…

I have SIX initials.


(ridiculous woman)

..I have SIX children.


And since I planned it sooooo well, there is NO red satin left over.

…double damn…

Happily, I have brilliant readers, extra interfacing and leftover lightning-bolt material, so I can make a wee superhero shirt for the littlest one.


And now I am making clothes-peg wreaths with the four-year olds. I prepared for two wreaths, because I have two four-year-olds. I counted.

Only, this week, because school’s out, I suddenly have FOUR four-year-olds. All of whom looooove to do crafts.


But that’s okay! I pulled rank and forced Emma off the couch and into the cold (-19C, feels like -28C) to the hardware store for two more packs of clothespegs, which, bless their hearts, they are still selling. In -19C weather.

And all day yesterday we painted and painted and painted dozens and dozens of clothes pegs. With a night to dry, we’d be all ready to assemble our wreaths today. All I needed was some duct tape, the ribbon to decorate the top, and a pair of wire-cutters. Got all those!! Oh, and a couple more wire coat-hangers. No problem. We have dozens of those things. I foresee no problems.

Only, when I’d dissassembled the first clothes-hanger, I discovered it was TOO FAT to go through the spring of the clothespeg. So I have 172 painted clothespegs, 200 metallic pony beads, a few metres of Christmas ribbon, four eager and expectant four-year-olds… and no craft.


My wonderful husband had a suggestion. “Don’t use those sturdy hangers. Find some of the flimsy ones from the drycleaner.” Brilliant!!

Except we have only ONE in the entire house. I have a vague memory of tossing a bunch into the recycle bin some months back. These things breed in the corners, I reasoned. Why don’t I just toss the flimsier ones???


But we did have one! If I cut it in half, we could make TWO smaller wreaths. There are, of course, four 4-year-olds. Time for the tough decision. Emily and Willliam, who come here daily, get to make a wreath.

And Timmy and Nigel, whose small faces are quivering… Nigel and Timmy get to… um… get to…

Nigel! And Timmy! You get to take the clothespegs home! 42 each! And 21 beads — you even get to pick which colours!! And a length of ribbon! And we’ll put them all in zipper bags, neatly labelled, and this is a KIT, you see. A KIT, so you can make your own wreath at home!!!

(Assuming your mothers haven’t tossed all the flimsy coathanger in your houses…)

This afternoon, while the middlers are napping, I plan to assemble the picture frames they’ve created. All I need are the painted and dried jigsaw puzzle pieces, the plastic frames, and the hot-melt glue gun.

I foresee no problems…

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, holidays | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quirks and the learning curve

Melissa and Doug pattern blocksNoah tackles the pattern blocks, but quickly becomes frustrated. He understands the basic idea — make a picture using the shapes — but lacks the fine motor control to place the shapes on the unfortunately slick wooden card.

We work together.

It’s interesting to note what kids can and can’t do. Some of this is their stage of life, some of it is quirky to the child. Mostly it’s a mixture of both.

I point to the diagram on the card. “I need a yellow diamond. Can you find me a yellow diamond?”

Yes, he can. Easily. Even though there are also white diamonds in the box, but I know he’s sorting by colour, not shape.

“Find me a green triangle, please.”

He immediately hands me a green triangle. (This is simple because, apart from the diamonds there is only one shape per colour. All the triangles are green. Only the triangles are green. )

“Now I need a green shape.”

I get a green shape. It’s a triangle, as it must be. “Thank you for the green triangle, Noah.”

“Now I need a triangle. Can you find me a triangle?”

Nope. Suddenly, there are no triangles in the box. Hee.

So he knows his colours, but not his shapes. Pretty straightforward. It gets quirkier than that, though.

“Look at the card. We are going to need one, two, three blue squares.” I point to the blue squares, one at a time. “Pass me a blue square, please.”

I get the first blue square.

“Thank you for that blue square.” I place it on the blue square on the card. “Now I need one of these.” I point to the next blue square on the card. “Can you find me one like this, please?”

Nope. Can’t do it. He hands me shapes at random, first a white diamond and then a purple trapezoid, and finally a red hexagon.

“This shape,” pointing to the card, “is blue. It is square. I will need a –” and he plonks the blue square onto the floor beside the card.

He knows blue. He doesn’t know square. More interesting, he cannot yet see a picture of a blue square and find the corresponding square blue tile from the box.

Interesting, I tell you. Isn’t that interesting?

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Noah, quirks and quirkiness | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments