Permission Granted to Let Your Inner Child Out!

PlayAs adults we have so many responsibilities, from our jobs to cooking and cleaning at home to tending to the children, that we tend to focus our attention on only those things. So when it comes time to play with our kids, we are in Responsible-Adult-Mode. This limits our creativity, imagination, energy, and ability to laugh and fully engage in play with our kids. For children though, play is how they learn the best.

Play is often associated with children and to adults it can seem like wasted time. However, play is some of the most important work your children can do. Play is their full time job, and as their parents you are their best teacher. Being able to join them on their terms, and in their environment, makes their play more meaningful; the connection you build with your children during play is even stronger.

For many adults, play with their children can be awkward or hard. As we get older we have more responsibilities and less time to play. We may not have actually played for several years, or see any value in it. Other adults may feel silly singing kids songs and running around the room like animals. The thing is that by joining your children in play, by saying “come play” versus “go play,” you are opening up an entirely new world.

For me, play is also the best way to get my children to listen! I try to connect first. Observe them. What are they doing? What are they playing?

A good example is if you are trying to get your children to have lunch, and calling to them over and over is not working. Maybe your children are playing racecars and zooming around the room – how could you let your inner child out? Join in the race. Find the right opportunity to enter your car into the race, and playfully be a losing, yet competitive race car. After a few laps, when you are all laughing and tired, pretend to be the commentator and call all cars to take a pit stop and refuel. This gives you the opportunity to join your children’s play, then redirect them to the table to have lunch and refuel before heading back out on the track.

Not only have you let your inner child out and connected with them as a competing race car, but you have also enhanced their depth of play and learning. Through practice we can all get better at playing with our kids and letting our inner child out!

For more ideas on how to join your kids in play, see the following books. We have them on the Edmonton C.O.W. Bus if you’d like to take a look next time you drop by!

Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
The Art of Roughhousing by Lawrence J. Cohen

The Edmonton C.O.W. bus schedule is here

hashtag: #edm_cow

Extending Stories

The MittenHow often do we read through a children’s book and just put it down and leave it? In Learn Together Grow Together, we recently shared Jan Brett’s book The Mitten. In this winter tale, a little boy dropped his mitten in the snow and it became a space to crawl into for many forest creatures.

In order to take the story further, the program facilitators decided to add activities for the parents and children based on the story.

Find the Mittens:

We had a number of different coloured mittens hidden around the classroom. The parents worked together with their children to find all of the mittens.

Rhymes and Songs:

We sang some rhymes and songs about winter and mittens.

I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”)

I’m a little snowman, short and fat 
Here are my buttons, here is my hat 
When the sun comes out, I cannot stay 
Cause I just slowly melt away!

Pet Snowball Song (to the tune of “I have a little bicycle”)
I made myself a snowball 
Just as perfect as could be. 
I thought I’d keep it as a pet 
And take it home with me. 
I gave it some pajamas 
And a pillow for its head. 
Then, last night it ran away, 
But first . . . . it wet the bed!

Snowey Pokey (to the tune of “Hokey Pokey”)
You put your right mitten in, you take your right mitten out, 
You put your right mitten in and you shake it all about. 
You do the Snowey pokey and you turn yourself around. 
That’s what it’s all about. 
Continue with additional verses:
You put your left mitten in 
You put your scarf in
You put your right boot in 
You put your left boot in
You put your hat in 
You put your snowself in
etc.

Gym Activities:

We had newspaper crunched up into balls and wrapped in packing tape. We pretended that the crunched up newspaper and tape were snowballs. The families practiced throwing their snowballs into baskets and played with them on a parachute.

For the Parents:

On 10-15 strips of paper, the parents wrote out and summarized the events of the story. We had parents whose first language is not English, so they wrote out their story summaries in other languages! By completing this activity, the parents were encouraged to use recall and comprehension skills (which is an activity the parents can do with their children with any story).

For the Parents and Children:

The children coloured in pictures of all the animals in The Mitten, and the parents helped their little ones cut out the pictures. There was also a paper cut-out of a mitten into which DSCN1033-cls-weball of the animals could go – just like in the story! The children were able to reenact the story, or make up a new one, with the animals.

These are just a few, simple ways in which a story was “extended,” and I’m sure there are many more ways to extend The Mitten. Next time you share a story with your children, try to find an activity or two to build on it. There are so many fun and interactive ways to bring a story to life!

If you have tried extending a story before, what activities did you use? We would love to hear what they were!

More about Learn Together – Grow Together or to register for the program

hashtag: #LT_GT

Celebrate the New Year with 3,2,1, FUN!

321Happy New Year! 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year for our early numeracy program – 3,2,1, FUN! We are  growing and expanding the program to three locations in Edmonton. This is very exciting both for the program and for the new families that we will learn and grow with along the way.

Here are a few things to look forward to with 3,2,1, FUN! this year:

  • 3,2,1… BLAST OFF into space with your own homemade spaceship counting game
  • bring a favourite story to life when we create a story board from scratch
  • put the recipes in order and tempt your taste buds with some sweet treats
  • explore snow like you have never done before
  • put the pieces of the puzzle together as you create your own numeracy games from recycled materials
  • get lost on a treasure hunt
  • explore numbers with all five of your senses

We are looking forward to sharing new ideas with our returning families, and meeting new families as the program expands. 3,2,1, FUN! offers your family the opportunity to explore numbers in a hands on way that is both meaningful and fun. Following is the upcoming schedule:

Brookside Community Hall
5320 143 Street NW, Edmonton
Tuesdays 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
January 12 – March 15

Primrose Place Family Centre
6311 92 Avenue NW, Edmonton
Wednesdays 10:00 am – 11:30 am
February 10 – March 16

One World… One Centre
12050 95A Street NW, Edmonton
Thursdays 9:30 am – 11:30 am
April 7 – June 16

Please phone the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323 for more information, or visit our website www.famlit.ca

hashtag: #321Fun

Reaching Out After the Season

RTBAt this time of year there is a lingering festive atmosphere as people are slow to get back into their pre-holiday routines. Many people are still with their families and friends, extending the holiday seasons.

Though the holidays are over for many of us, we still need other people in our lives to thrive and be well. Being around other people makes us happy, and when we are happy we are more fun to be around, creating an “upward spiral “of happiness! Happy people are more helpful, pleasant, and sociable.

Belonging to a group or a community gives us a sense of identity. Community helps us to understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves.

Rhymes that Bind creates both happiness and a sense of community every session. Join us for one session and you will be hooked. Our programs are beginning the week of January 12 throughout the city.

Along with our regular programming, we have Intergenerational (children, parents and seniors together) and Multicultural programming.

Our programs give newcomers an opportunity to make connections and friendships. Rhymes that Bind can help new moms build their own little community that reaches outside our programming.

Here is a great little song to help get you thinking about the week of January 12, 2016:

The More We Get Together
The more we get together, together, together.
The more we get together the happier we will be.
Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends.
The more we get together the happier we will be!

Check our website for more information about Rhymes that Bind in Edmonton and find a program near you.

hashtag: #RTB_Edm