Posts Tagged "The Boy"

Quintessential Childhood Gifts

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 2 comments

Quintessential Childhood Gifts

My son Rain, having recently turned seven, received some classic gifts that inspired my sister and I to brainstorm a list of the quintessential childhood gifts. Here is our suggested list of gifts for every boy and girl up to the age of ten. These items have been proven to inspire and delight and it is our feeling that they awaken the curious mind of the child to all types of creativity, without pretense and without self-consciousness. In every case, a real working item should be gifted, not a toy version. In addition, I’ve listed a classic book to be read aloud at each age. A hardcover edition of each of the suggested books would also make lovely gifts.   One Year Old A ball to encourage give and take, and laughter. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown               Two Year Old A set of wooden blocks to awaken the builder, planner, dreamer. A Baby’s Catalogue by Janet & Allan Ahlberg               Three Year Old An apron (for kitchen and workshop) and a small tape measure to share the joy of creating, working with our hands, and accomplishing tasks around the home and to teach that everyone, no matter how small, can lend a helping hand. The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne               Four Year Old An instrument (smallest size djembe drum, a harmonica, a recorder, or a small ukelele) to kindle a love of music and introduce the idea that music can come from anyone. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White               Five Year Old A hardcover 4×6 inch sketch pad, travel set of pencils or crayons in a proper tin, wooden box or case, a flashlight to encourage freedom of expression without limits (on paper consumption or seeing in the dark). Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl                 Six Year Old A magnifying glass and a compass to encourage exploring the world with an open heart. Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie               Seven Year Old Binoculars and the classic Swiss Army Knife, a small messenger-style bag for excursions (over the shoulder, many pockets, preferably used) to facilitate adventures. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder                 Eight Year Old A watercolour paint set and a pad of watercolour paper to delight in colour, shape, and light, and to instill a love of making art. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis                 Nine Year Old A game set with more than one game such as chess, checkers, backgammon (preferably in a wooden case) to teach strategy, sportsmanship, companionship, and the care and appreciation of all things finely crafted. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien                 Ten Year Old A hammock to embrace one’s inner world, inspire imagination, and to while away the lazy days of childhood. Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling             Tell me – what would you...

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Five

Posted on Sep 21, 2010 in Birth Stories, Featured, Parenting | 4 comments

Five

Last night, before tucking Rain in bed, we read him this poem from our new Gateways book: When I have said my evening prayer, And my clothes are folded on the chair, And mother switches off the light, I’ll still be four years old tonight. But, from the very break of day, Before the children rise and play, Before the greenness turns to gold, Tomorrow, I’ll be five years old. Five kisses when I wake, Five candles on my cake. Five years ago today, Rain was born at sunrise, on the last day of summer. It was a glorious sunny morning and Trout Lake was still and calm, reflecting the golds and greens of the park. When I think of the day he was born, I cherish that vision of the lake, even though I saw it because I was on my way into an ambulance for a retained placenta. At the time, I thought we’d be back in a few short hours to soak up that sunshine with our new gorgeous baby. Unfortunately, within an hour, my infant son and I were seperated for the first time and I spent the next few hours unconscious. We spent the remainder of that day in a window-less recovery room at BC Women’s hospital and didn’t get home until dinner time the next day. That glimpse of the lake as I stepped out to the ambulance is the only moment I had of that beautiful last day of summer in 2005, the day Rain joined us. That moment of blinding sun after a long hard night is the way I think of Rain, who, despite his name, really is a ray of sunshine. He is wild and tender, a great story teller, a brilliant inventor, an infectious laugh and a barrel full of energy. And he is five. How things have changed in these last five years. As I feel this new baby fluttering in my belly, I find it amazing to think of the person I was when I first felt Rain kicking. I still feel very much like I’m just a novice at this game called parenting, yet I’ve learned so much since those early days with baby Rain. Five years certainly is a respectable start. Looking at my boy, so big and still so little, I can’t help but feel that five is a bit of a milestone. Perhaps because five is often associated with heading off to Kindergarten, five feels like the beginning of a long slow letting go. Granted, I truly believe that letting go begins the moment you feel that first contraction. Nevertheless, five seems to mark the time when our kids will begin to go out into the world, at least for parts of the day, without mom & dad. That part fills me with wonder and pride and sadness and my heart swells and I get just a tiny bit choked up as I give him five kisses when he...

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Finally, A Decision

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 in Featured, Learning | 10 comments

Finally, A Decision

This is Part X of the series Kindergarten Considerations in which I have been discussing (and wrestling with) the considerations behind the seemingly innocuous decision of where to send my four year old son to school. I will tentatively call this the last post in the series but can’t promise that I won’t ramble on about this in the future. Apparently I can’t stop myself. Last week I formally committed to a decision about what to do for Kindergarten. Not bad, two weeks before Back-To-School. The decision had been gradually unfolding over the course of the summer and in some ways was precipitated by the news of our pregnancy but it was only last week that I finally signed up for a homelearning program. Maybe part of me always wanted to make this decision, but I was scared. I’ve been looking forward to a bit of a break. I do feel sheepish saying this but it is true. Aside from a 6 month contract doing part-time work for Environment Canada, I’ve been home with my kids for 4.5 years. In that time, I went back to University to complete my degree, wrote two business plans, participated in a year long self-employment program through Service Canada and BCIT, ran my own business, moved to a new community (and changed houses twice), and helped my husband start his own business for which I now run the office. On top of that, I’ve had about 1 year of decent sleep since Rain was born and 9 months of that was pregnant sleep. I’m tired. I was looking for some time to think about what I want to do, to think about self-care. I’m tired of trying to fit work in during nap times. Kindergarten looked like a realistic time when I could accomplish some of these things. Not to mention, we all get along better when we occasionally hang out with other people. Sometimes we need to miss each other. It’s good for Rain to do some things without me and for me to be away long enough to remember that he’s just a wild four year old, not someone intent on driving me crazy. Thankfully, there are enough positive things about homelearning to make me commit to it and to commit to us finding mutual breaks as a means of making homelearning successful too! So, putting the fears aside, here’s why I’m excited to embark on homelearning: For a variety of reasons, I don’t think that Rain would really enjoy certain aspects of school as we know it. He would probably surprise me and do better than I imagine, but I think that homeschool is the better choice for him right now. The implementation of Full-Day Kindergarten was the catalyst that made me think long and hard about Rain’s learning style and about how Rain does for long periods of time in large groups. I am confident he will be happier and more excited to learn by facilitating small group social activities and by following his lead and interests when it comes to formal learning. I am excited that the process means I get to learn with him. I am really looking forward to the things I will learn both along side Rain and in my role as facilitator.  This is an adventure we are embarking on as a family and we will all grow and learn through it. Through this process I have the opportunity to learn more about parenting, marine life, learning philosophies, wet felting, math, our family relationship, discipline and more. Basically, I get to learn everything Rain is learning PLUS I get to learn through the experience itself. How awesome is that?! I am looking forward to exploring the varied ways there are to learn including mentor relationships, classes, hands on, or more formal learning like reading or doing worksheets. I hope to encourage a love of learning by focusing on child-led learning, exploration and play. I want Rain to know learning doesn’t just happen within the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm and within the...

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Outdoor Education

Posted on Jun 8, 2010 in Featured, Learning, Parenting | 17 comments

Outdoor Education

Living in the Pacific Northwest means that the winter is dark, gray, rainy, and wet. As you can imagine, we have rubber boots and rain gear so that we can still get outside in the middle of winter, but I will be honest with you: we really don’t do it a lot. Come summer though, we practically live outside. The days are long and bright. The weather is warm, not hot enough for my liking, but we make up for that with the lack of bugs. There are plenty of opportunities for fun in our backyard and around our lovely corner of the world. There are so many amazing things about outdoor play: the opportunity to blend play with exercise and fresh air, the ability to create unique and imaginative play spaces with fewer restrictions than you might have indoors, the possibilities for open-ended play because there are fewer toys outdoors.  One of my favourite things about outdoor play is the way that being in nature inspires learning. From the time he could walk, Rain loved bugs. This is probably where his outdoor education began as we started turning over rocks in the back yard to find pill bugs, snails, banana slugs, ants, ladybugs and spiders. He learned their names and where they were most likely to be found. He has an observation jar (clean peanut butter jar with holes in the lid and the labels removed) where he keeps the specimens he catches so he can watch them. We do enforce one observation jar rule that all critters be released at bedtime each day so they don’t starve or miss their mothers too much. From there he started learning plant identification. Daddy is an arborist so we tend to notice and talk about trees quite a bit. By the time Rain was two and a half, he knew how to spot a weeping willow, a mountain ash (rowan tree) and a Japanese maple. Some great books to incorporate when learning about trees and shrubs are the Flower Fairies series by Cicely Mary Barker. We have the Flower Fairies of the Autumn book which has lovely illustrations and poems for Oak tree, Rowan tree, Dogwood, Blackberry, Rosehips and more. He would point and call out the names of trees he noticed when we drove around town. There are many tree related learning activities you can use to continue the conversation after you move indoors or as you explore the forest. You can: Talk about the shapes of leaves. Gather a whole bunch of different ones and paint them and use them to make prints on paper. Discuss the difference between conifers and deciduous. A fun story to listen to at the same time is The Evergreens by Odds Bodkin (find it at your local library on CD). Compare the size of a seed to the size of a mature tree. Talk about the different types of tree seeds/flowers there are: samaras, catkins, cones, acorns or other nuts like horse chestnuts etc. (Oh and by the way, they aren’t called pine cones if they’ve fallen from a hemlock or a cedar tree. My husband has pointed this out to me more times than I care to admit.) You can also compare the size of cones from different evergreen trees. Identify the shapes of different trees. Are they triangular, oval shaped, bell shaped, globe shaped? Talk about the life cycle of plants over the seasons – this is particularly obvious for trees in fall and spring of course. When Rain was 3.5 years old we moved to a new house where we had a yard that was big enough to plant a veggie garden. This created many new opportunities for outdoor learning as he helped us plant seeds. He learned that they need warmth and water to grow, that when they first sprout there are usually only two leaves and that sometimes the sprout is still wearing the seed case like a hat. (A great book that talks about seeds in called A Seed is Sleepy).  He learned about transplanting bedding...

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Briefly May

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 in Featured, From The Mouths of Babes | 10 comments

Briefly May

What I learned in May 2010: If either of my children intends to pursue dance in the long term I have to be prepared for a ridiculous schedule of rehearsals at recital time. Rain has to be at dance 11 times over the course of two weeks, which involves hauling a squirming toddler inside and trying to corral her while wrestling Rain into dance shoes and ushering him into class in a sea of parents and preschoolers in a room the size of a closet. Run I mean, fun! Making butter from raw cream straight from the farm is not as straightforward as using store bought whipping cream, but tasty nonetheless and Rain loves kneading bread. I love working at the midwifery clinic as office administrator and when I put my mind to it, I CAN write a bio. I love Sir Ken Robinson, love his TED talks and I am currently loving his new book, The Element. I would sew a lot more if I could leave my sewing machine set up permanently. I can get a lot of sewing done while my daughter naps and having all the pieces cut and ready to go ahead of time makes sewing much more enjoyable. The weather in May is much more unpredictable than I would have predicted. Hello summer? Where are you? The steps to being awesome are easy to come up with but following them is not. Burt’s Bees avocado butter pre-shampoo hair treatment makes my hair happy. Rain is a comedian, an artist and has a flair for showmanship: Rain came out of the bathroom calling “Mom, you have to come see the treat I made you!!” I replied, “Promise me it’s not poop.” He said, “I promise.” As I entered the bathroom, he pulled a towel off the towel bar with much fanfare to reveal his masterpiece: a drawing of himself picking his nose! I can assure you that I was NOT able to keep a straight face as I explained that we do not write on the walls of our rental...

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