Monday, July 27, 2015

We Have Been Hard at Work


 Folks, let me tell you, we have been hard at work this summer. The entire month of June was spent turning this garage...

In to this beautiful classroom! 
 I had some great helpers!




 We spackled, we painted, we hung and aranged and rearanged and rearranged and finally...
We were able to bring this beautiful room to you! I am so excited! Please allow me to give you the grand tour!

 Bellow is our light table. This is always a classroom favorite! The children have access to a variety of materials to explore using the light table from Magna Tiles to glass beads. These materials are fun to play with on their own, but adding light and reflection adds another element to the play.



Here is our home living center. As with most of the centers in the class, mirrors are added. This serves several purposes. The first is to reflect the natural light in to all the areas of the class. Studies have shown that natural light improves both students health and mood.  The second reason to include mirrors in our play spaces is to allow the child a different way to observe themselves and their play.

Blocks and Construction. This is one of my favorite centers and the one that I personally like to play with the most! (Yes, I still play. You should too!) As with our other centers this one has a large mirror placed at ground level so children can observe their creations from many different angles.
Every class needs a nice cozy place to curl up with a book! Soft pillows and a corner away from the more active centers is the perfect spot.


A safe place for and anxious child to find peace and quiet...

 Colored pencils sorted by color families...

Natures treasures on display...


An outdoor art area...


Sensory table...


 Another cozy nook...


 A place for the fairies! We can't leave them out!

So there you have it! The grand tour of the Sense of Wonder Play School! Please tell me what you think. Would you like to spend your day here? Let me know in the comment section below.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Throw a Frankentoy Party!

My little one just turned 7! Because she loves tinkering and building, we decided to throw her a Frankentoy Birthday Party.
 What is a Frankentoy party you ask? 
Just like Dr. Frankenstein built his famous monster from lots of random parts, kids at this party build their own toys from bits and pieces of other toys.


Throw your own Frankentoy party by following these easy steps.

Step 1. Start collecting toys! 


We began searching our own toy closets, garage sales, and thrift stores for cheap toys to use for our party. Because I wanted to throw this party on a budget, I sent out a plea to Facebook friends for donations and they were happy to oblige. I ended up with way more than I needed.

Step 2. Take apart your toys

Some of the toys I was able to take apart with a screwdriver, but others I just had to saw up. I thought doing this in front of the kids might be traumatizing so I did most of it before the party. But as you can see some of the toy dismembering happened at the party and the children all thought it was great. It may have actually been their favorite part.

Step 3. Hot glue

Unfortunately there is just not another way to do this that will work as well. Hot glue is strong and fast. You have very little drying time so you don't have to worry about the toys falling apart on the way home. I only provided one glue gun and I kept an adult near by to help and supervise. You can also provide popsicle sticks to use to hold pieces together so little fingers don't get burned. It is my opinion that 7 year old children can use a glue gun, but I understand that some parents may be uncomfortable with this. Use common sense, and listen to your gut. If you feel like you would rather station an adult to do the actual gluing that is fine.

Step 4. Make your own Frankentoy creation to use as a cake topper.


Make sure you wash it thoroughly before you place it on your cake. This particular toy is made from a silver surfer, a rubber duck and a Madam Alexander doll.  I let my kids help with sprinkles and little candied googly eyes.

Step 5. Take lots of pictures of your fun creations and wait to be amazed by the creativity of kids. They are truly amazing!





Sunday, December 22, 2013

Just a thought

I have had parents in my class become horrified upon discovering that their boys were dressing up and playing in the kitchen. They would say things like, "Don't wear that! You don't want to look like a girl."

What they are actually saying is that being a girl is shameful. And that is the inner voice these boys will carry with them in to manhood. That is the voice they will hear when they become a boyfriend, a husband and a father.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't Touch Me



 I have to admit, I am an affectionate mother. I love nothing more than to cuddle with my babies. I want to smother them with kisses. I want to chew on their toes. I want to pat and pinch and squeeze and tickle them. But my children's feelings have to come first.


My oldest and youngest children seem to be just as affectionate as me. My teenager will still curl up next to me for cuddles. And my son will lean in for kisses and hugs all day. But my middle child is different.

From the time she was a little baby, Birdie didn't want to be touched too much. She didn't want to be held. She didn't want to be rocked to sleep. She would scream and cry the entire time she was in my arms. But once I laid her in her crib she would fall right to sleep. I realized that kissing and cuddling were fulfilling my needs, but ignoring hers. At a young age she had set a boundary with me and I needed to respect it.


Last night as Birdie was getting ready for bed I leaned in to kiss her goodnight. Her eyes got big and she held out her hand, "Bubble, MOM! Personal bubble!"

Just like when she was a baby, my first reaction was to be hurt. But I quickly squashed it down. This wasn't about me. "Baby," I said, "Thank you for reminding me. You have every right to not want to be kissed. You have the right to tell me, Daddy, Grandma or Grandpa, or anyone else that you don't want kisses or hugs. Your bubble is yours alone and you get to decide who can come in and who can't." She smiled at me and I saw her body relax.

My children should all have this lesson. While some may feel that they have the right to kiss and hug as much as they want, my children need to know that they have control over their bodies. They need to know that others need permission to enter their space. It is a privilege not a right.

So this holiday, remember. If a child does not want to kiss Grandma, or Uncle Joe, please don't make them. Respect your child and their caution. And they will learn to respect their own inner voices.

 A while after our discussion, Birdie came and gave me a hug. She pulled my face down to her level and kissed my cheek and said, "I love you, Mommy." And that freely given kiss was the best kiss ever.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Frustrating Trip to the Doctor

Birdie came down with a very bad case of strep throat. It came on suddenly. Saturday morning she was as well as always but by 2pm she had a fever and it hurt to swallow. This was great because the extended hours of her doctors office go until noon on Saturday. So I had to take her to a walk in clinic.

Now, as anyone who follows this blog knows, my daughter likes to wear very short hair. I understand that folks are used to seeing girls with long hair and boys with short hair and when they see the reverse some folks get confused. I usually try to avoid confusion by using her name or mentioning her being my daughter in to conversation. I don't get angry by initial droppings of the wrong pronoun. I get angry when they don't let it drop once they have been informed of their mistake.

Which is what happened at the walk in clinic. Birdie and I walked in the door and up to the receptionist's desk.

Receptionist: And who are we seeing today?
Me (placing a hand on my daughter's shoulders): My daughter is not feeling well. I think it may be strep.
Receptionist: You mean your son?
Me: No, I mean my daughter. She has a fever and a sore throat.
Receptionist: Has he been here before?
Me: No this is HER first time here.
Receptionist: And do you have his insurance card?
Me: Yes, HER insurance card is right here. There is HER name and HER social on the front.

Birdie was much too miserable to listen to anything that was going on around her and didn't hear any of the conversation. But it wouldn't have been the first time she has run in to the situation.

When my daughter decided that she wanted to start wearing her hair short, we discussed what public reaction might be. We talked about people's preconceived notions about boys and girls are and how they might not understand a girl wanting to wear their hair short, just like they might not understand why a boy might want to grow his hair long. We role played situations in which she might say something to someone who mistook her for a boy. And every time it has happened Birdie has shown grace and courage. She has not gotten angry. She has simply corrected them. Sometimes she will tell a little joke and every one will laugh. But I can't help wishing that the world we live in would just be a little more accepting of her and kids like her. I wish she didn't have to explain why she likes her hair the way she does, or why she wants to wear the clothes she wants.

I wish she could just be herself and that we didn't have to educate random strangers at walk in clinics. But that is not the world we live in. Not yet. The world we live it is still consumed with the idea that girls should wear pink, and like sparkles and play with dolls and if they don't they must be defective in some way. And as much as we attempt to educate there are still people out there who can't wrap their brain around a girl who doesn't fit in their mold.


All we can do is keep on. We will keep correcting. We will keep educating. Birdie will keep being brave in the face of small minds. And hopefully one person at a time she can start to change the world. Hopefully the woman at the clinic went home a little more enlightened. Hopefully she goes home embarrassed about how she handled the situation. Maybe she will tell the story to others, who will also think twice before assuming that a girl is only allowed to look one way. Maybe her world got a little bigger today. Here's hoping.