Saturday, March 29, 2008

Avoid Temptation!

If you want to avoid the temptation of spending a bunch of money and filling your over-stuffed house with yet more stuff, stay out of the toy store. We had some time to kill today and decided to pop into an independent toy store. There was also a particular toy I was looking for that I thought would be a fun family activity for the summer. (Beamo)

I was actually a little nervous as my kids have seen basically no advertising and have rarely been in a toy store. The only exposure they have to toys besides the ones we own are when we go play at friends houses. This really limits the nagging and begging and keeps from planting the seeds of discontent. I have to say my kids did excellent in the store, although they were a little sad to leave and have to stop playing with the doll house.

I, on the other hand, experienced a lot of temptation. There are so many cool toys out there. I did buy a few things, all activities that will hopefull entertain the kids on our upcoming cross-country plane ride. So I will not be blogging for a while, but hopefully when we return I will be able to jump back into the weekly unplugged projects.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baking with Kids

The kids and I had another at-home day today! I really needed one and I think they have really benefited from it too. I just felt like we were too busy to do the things we wanted to do and just relax a little.

One thing we did this morning was a little baking. We made two things:

The muffins were a new recipe which we liked ok. The molasses flavor was very strong and I am thinking that is not my favorite flavor. I'd like to try them again and maybe use sorghum. I have never used it before so I am not sure what the flavor would be like.

The squares are a staple in our house now, I think this is the fourth batch we've made. They are not a dessert, they are a good snack food. Sorta like a graham cracker.

I realized though tat I did most the work and made the kids watch a lot. I seem to do better encouraging participation when I only have one child with me but when I have both, I get a bit ovewhelmed. I am going to work on giving them more responsibilities.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nature-Deficit Disorder?

I read an interesting book today. I'm not sure if "read" is the right term as I have to admit that I mostly skimmed it. I checked it out from the library a few weeks ago and it has just been sitting on my bedside table. I figured I'd better read it today when I realized it is almost due.

The book is Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. There were several things I thought were interesting:
  • nature inspires creativity
  • experiencing nature is not about being a spectator
  • natural outdoor play has been criminalized
  • current high-tech environment is overstimulating
  • nature is restorative
  • main reasons children play outside less are fear and lack of time

I thought he was very convincing that it is important for children to spend time in nature and to spend time in unstructured outdoor play. I believe that he is right and there is a lot of value in relaxing and enjoying nature, learning about the world around you and experincing some freedom and imagination.

But what I am still stumped on is how to accomplish this. With my tiny backyard and my lack of knowledge about nature and the flora and fauna of our region. But it has got me thinking and as I make our summer plans it helps me focus in on what I want this summer to be like.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Zoo in the Off-Season

We headed to our local zoo on Tuesday. It may have been one of my best zoo visits yet. The reason I liked it so much was that there were very few people there. In fact, we kept running into the same folks over and over again. I would say we saw about 5 other groups walking around. We kept commmenting that we were surprised it was worth it for the zoo to be open.

Anyway, we had a really awesome time. We were able to move at our own pace and spend as much time watching things like the primates showing off, and we had a great view! I will have to say that I see why there weren't many people there. It was raining on and off all day and I am not even sure if the temperature managed to hit 50 but we were prepared for it and we were totally comfortable.

Give you zoo a chance in the off-season sometime! You may be pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Weekly Unplugged Project : Shiny

The topic for this week's Unplugged Project is Shiny!

Sorry, no photos again this week.

We started off by talking quite a bit about what shiny means. I was a little surprised that my 5-year old did not really get it. I guess it is a little abstract and we are constantly bombarding them with things like colors and shapes but not attributes like shiny. So that was great!

But we had a good deal of trouble coming up with an idea for a project. I ended up just giving the kids sheets of aluminum foil to make something out of. My oldest made a shiny window and the younger made something else. I am actually not quite sure what it is, but he had fun.

Another thing we did this week was enjoy some sun-SHINY! We were so glad to see it too! Unfortunately, I believe the rain is on its way back.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Weekly Unplugged Project : Music

For this week's Unplugged project we made shakers out of toilet paper rolls. Unfortunately, my camera is not working and I could not find a picture of this activity online, although I found several descriptions like this one.

Basically you take an empty roll and staple one end shut. Then add some beans or other small item, and staple the other end (flattening it the other way.) My son did not feel like decorating so we left it bare. Then we enjoyed singing and practicing shaking and stopping, and shaking and stopping. It is amazing how it only takes a simple game and kids can have a ball.

As soon as I post this, we are off to try another music idea that I saw on Becky's blog today.