Rain Rain Go Away!

Rain rain go away, come again another day

If you don’t, that’s OK, I built a blanket fort today!


Need something to do with the kids when it rains for days and days on end? Turn your cabin fever into a fun activity!

Supplies needed:

1. Imagination

2. Blankets (the more the better)

3. Furniture (coffee tables, couches, chairs, etc)

4. Rubbermaid totes, cardboard boxes, or recycled materials

5. People of all ages

6. (OPTIONAL) Flashlights, books, and teddy bears!

When I was a kid, we built many, many blanket forts. We learned so much from this activity: how to share, be creative, cooperate, compromise ideas with others, and many other skills. Some of my fondest memories are building forts or tents in the house. We had a large family so we often had boys only and girls only forts and created territories and borders. Our small stuffed animals became soldiers and sentry guards. We even learned how to booby-trap entries when the boys would invade our castle!

As much as I love to help and “take over” when my kids want to build forts, I really enjoy watching them problem solve and create their own masterpieces. It’s a great way to have fun, create memories, and bond with your kids.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?

Family Favourite Books

One of my favourite books as a young child, and also as an early reader with three younger siblings was The Monster at the End of This Book.

I loved how silly this book was, and how each page had something we could point at and talk about with even the baby of the family. No matter how many times we read it, it still seemed incredibly hilarious that Grover could be afraid of a monster, the irony we understood even as small children. That family book was so loved it was read and ripped and taped and mended and sticky with fingerprints and probably drool. I got a lot of practice changing my voice for different characters when I read it aloud to them.

As an adult, my sister and I were given a box from our parents garage when they moved. It contained our Barbies, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and other miscellaneous things from our childhood. At the bottom of the box was the book! We both went for it at the same time and fought over it. We tried to arrange custody of this book in order to share it with our children. Then we realized you can still buy the book today! It even comes in different formats – I’ve seen it in board book style, paperback style, even with buttons that make Grovers voice. To this day, I still fondly remember time spent with this book 😉

My seven year old daughter has a well-loved book that she will read over and over again to herself, to the cat, to the dog, to anyone who will listen: Harold and the Purple Crayon. She secretly wishes for a purple crayon of her own, I am sure. Its a classic. I had forgotten all about this book until she brought it home from the school library over a year ago. SInce then I have found a complete collection of all the Harold stories for her. I had no idea that Harold had more than one story to tell, but then there is no end to what a boy can do with a magic purple crayon, now is there? Does anyone else remember Harold?

A favourite author of mine in childhood was Roald Dahl. Known for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, BFG, The Twits, and Fantastic Mr. Fox to name a few.

Every year I volunteer to read to a variety of age groups in my children’s schools during wonderful Read In week (the first week in October). One year stands out to me because of the special gift I received afterwards. I had read The Twits and Esio Trot to a grade 5 class. They howled with laughter at the stories. This is not unexpected when reading Roald Dahl. What was unexpected was a few days later I received some thank you letters from the children in that class. In true Esio Trot fashion, each one was written completely backwards. What fun that must have been for the class to have to write their thank you’s and their favourite parts all backwards, and even more fun for me deciphering each one. I reflected back to when I was in school doing a book report on this author. If only I had been clever enough to compose the entire report backwards for my teacher!


Never Give Up

This is a story of never giving up…

After one year at the Africa Centre doing Rhymes That Bind, I’ve finally broken the ice with a little boy. He’s been my toughest challenge yet. Not because he’s a difficult child. He is shy, he began coming with speech difficulties, and English is not his first language. He has an older brother who comes and loves to run, and challenges his mother. Mom has her hands full with two older children in school and these two boys a year apart in age. There were many times where you could see her on the verge of tears, her older son pushed her limits to the end. She persisted in coming to RtB and other programs that ran out of the Africa Centre. With the help of staff at the Centre and some friends encouraging her not to give up, she continued doing all she could for her boys. She knew it was important for her older one to learn social skills before he starts school. She also knew it was doubly important for her younger one to have the benefits of the oral language we offer in our program.

I am so pleased with how this story has turned out. The older child now sets a better example for the younger ones. He has shown great improvements in how he talks to his mother, and other adults. He HELPS me in the program!!! but…the biggest moment for me was the little shy guy: with limited verbal skills, and mild speech delay (not sure if it was because he chose to be silent). He has begun talking to me, we have found things in common (he likes spider man), and he started giving high fives. Now he insists on hugging me and wants to be my partner for the RtB hour. I love listening to him talk, he has an adorable accent, but his speech is so clear. What a change!!!! Their mother is now beaming with pride most days. She is my most consistent participant!! Even when the weather is bad, the roads are icy, and it’s freezing cold, often the Africa Centre will not run their programs in those conditions because their families don’t come out. Not any more, this mom does! This mom wants to be there! So do her boys, and now I look forward to each week when I get to see what else they will share with me.

I know in our program we are modelling for our parents, we are helping them bring skills to their homes and encouraging them to enjoy teaching their children. However at this program, this mother has taught me so much. She is an inspiration. She is who I think of when I think, never give up…

A Spooky Halloween Treat!

So it’s Halloween, let’s have some fun! I found this on the internet and immediately wanted to try making them for my older children’s halloween parties. Just think of the possibilities! Just use sugar cookie dough, shape it to look like fingers, add toasted almonds and cinnamon or cocoa for effect and what an interesting treat!

Has anyone tried this? Or do you have another favorite Halloween treat you would like to share?

Rhyming Anytime!

I have been teaching families over the past year a rhyme that I had just learned in the springtime. I love it, kids love it and parents quickly fall in love with it as soon as their wee ones utter the words tap tap tap.
It goes like this:
One little finger, one little finger, one little finger, tap tap tap
Put your fingers UP
put your fingers DOWN
Put them on your NOSE (and you repeat changing body parts)
A mom shared their version this past week, she is a mom of 2 girls that LOVE their barbies.
While driving in their vehicle she heard the girls make up their own version, it goes like this:
One little barbie, one little barbie, one little barbie, tap tap tap (as they hold up their barbies and tap them together)
Put your Barbies up
Put your Barbies down
Put them on your toes…  (repeat with a different body part)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

Fall Rhymes

Fall brings the return of many things that fill our schedules, making life hectic once again. There is back to school, back to work, back to daycares, sports, piano lessons, etc.
Here is a favorite rhyme I share with the families in our programs. I’ve done this with my children since they were small to wind them down when they needed to get ready for bed, or even just needed some cuddle time (they still enjoyed it as they grew older and would not turn down an offer for a “treasure hunt”).
(Start by lying down next to your child, and gently rubbing their backs. then you trace your fingers up their spine as if they are “walking” fingers while saying)
We’re going on a treasure hunt,
X marks the spot (trace a giant X on child’s back)
Boulder here, boulder there (make a small circle on one side, then repeat on other)
Dot, dot, dot (trace 3 tiny circles across their back)
Crabs crawling up your back (now run hands up gently up their back like a walking crab)
Bubbles rolling down (roll hands and fingers down their back)
Tight squeeze (give them a hug)
Cool Breeze (gently blow on the top of their heads or on their backs)
Now you have the shivereeze ( now rub their whole backs like giving them goosebumps)
You will hear “again, again” every time!!!
And just for fun, here’s a Thanksgiving themed rhyme!
(this one can be similar to Round and Round the Garden)
Chickens in the barnyard (make your fingers like the chickens running circles around your childs tummy)
Staying out of trouble
Along comes the turkey(now use pointer finger and thumb like they are creeping up to get the child)
ANDDD, Gobble Gobble Gobble!! (tickle your child while saying gobble gobble-what a turkey sounds like)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

Coming Together

I had a feel good, but make you cry sort of moment with a mom recently. She began coming to one of our Rhymes That Bind programs in the beginning of the 2012 year. She quickly became a regular, and I have gotten to know her two little boys. Her older boy at first seemed like he might be shy, or perhaps had a speech delay, but the more they came the more I learned from observation that he is not shy, he is quite an observant little guy, an eager participant and very friendly. He does have a “quirk” though. It is one I am familiar with because of my own son.

I could tell that his mother has been increasingly bothered by his “quirk” and has begun asking him to stop. I can sense that she is concerned he is bothering me, or I might think he is being rude or disruptive. When they returned after our summer break his little “quirk” has become  much more noticeable. What this little boy does can be called echolalia. It can occur in speech delays of some forms, it can also occur in spectrum disorders such as Tourettes, as my son has.

After this last week, I waited until we were one on one and I approached the mom and gently offered that I really enjoy her son, I think he is brilliant, fun, and I am definitely not concerned that he “echos” me. I began to tell her that my son has done that in his own way since he was very young so I take no offense, and its ok with me if she does not try to correct him.

Well the flood gates opened and she let it all out how they have begun assessments for her son, and its all so new to her, and she doesn’t know where to begin or what to think. She said that it meant a lot to her that I let her know that I am not bothered by what her amazing little man does, and it makes him so special.

I am so blessed to have this job and get to feel like I was there for someone who really needed it at that moment. I KNOW without a doubt she will keep coming to our program and even if only in some small way it has helped her feel that she and her son have a place they can belong, without it being a “special” class for kids with “disabilities”.