Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Smorgasbord of Fun

So, I haven't posted much lately because, frankly, I don't have many ideas, hence the reason for creating this blog- to force me to be more creative and fun with my kids. I have done a few things lately that were fun. They're pretty simple, but maybe they'll be fun for you too. Sorry, this post is going to be long.

I went to Utah Idaho Supply (something I should have done a long time ago- what a cool store!) and bought a couple activity books for N. One was more geared for things like tracing, matching, recognition, numbers, etc. We've only worked out of it once, but N seemed to like it. The other is a Halloween activity book with puzzles, coloring pages, crafts, etc. The other day we made a spider bracelet. N had fun because he likes to cut and glue things. He didn't wear it long. It went straight to the refrigerator. Here are the instructions:

Fold a sheet of black construction paper in half.

Place four fingers along the fold and trace them with a white crayon.

Cut out and unfold. This is a spider with a eight legs.

Roll the legs around a pencil to make them curl down, and glue on googly eyes.

Staple a 1" wide strip of black paper around your wrist, big enough so it can be slipped on and off

Accordion fold a small strip of paper and glue one end to the top of the bracelet.

Glue the spider to the other end of the folded paper.

Make the spider creep and crawl with a back and forth rocking motion of the wrist.

After we made the spider bracelet N wanted to make a cat out of pink construction paper. I did most of the cutting, but he did all the gluing. He used so much glue that when we put it on the fridge, well, see for yourself.
  • N loves Hide and Seek. He watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (like 10 million times) and that got him hooked. I know this is a classic game that's been played for hundred of years I'm sure, but sometimes I forget about the simple games. Once it was introduced to N He loved it! Something they do at Kindermusik, which I'll talk more about later, is they pretend to be missing roosters. The person looking walks around crowing like a rooster. Your child is supposed to echo the rooster sound. Deliberately take a long time to find the lost rooster, and when you do, delight in making rooster sounds together. It's a fun addition to the game that N really likes.

  • Here's a game we played once that N really liked. I cut up strips of paper and on each one I put something to imitate- an animal, a flower growing, etc. I put the papers in a cup and each paper N would draw out we would imitate the animal or thing on it. He had a lot of fun, and I was really impressed with his flower impression. I think I might have gotten the idea for that game from the book The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

  • You can also use the above idea and apply it to singing time. I put the names of songs on pieces of paper and each song we draw from the cup we sing.

  • Kindermusik! It's great! N loves it! C will start it soon, and I'm sure she'll love it too. If you don't know what it is, it's kind of like a music preschool. You can find out more about it on their website. In N's class they're teaching musical concepts through the weather. Right now they're talking about the rain. Last week the kids made rainmakers. You can make one using an interesting container and fill it with small items, like paper clips, beans, rice, marbles, etc. You can tell stories using your rainmakers- "I woke up to the sound of thunder...boom! boom! (stomp your feet). I felt the wind on my face, and it started to rain (when you say "rain" have them use their rainmaker)" You can make up whatever story you want. You can talk about temp by saying it rained fast and have them shake their instrument or say it rained slow.

  • More music stuff: C likes music too. Yesterday we had some fun. The three of us all had a musical instrument: N had the classic wooden spoon and pan drum set, C had a rainmaker, and I had a small hand shaker I bought at the music store and some jingle bells. We sat down on the living room floor making music together. I talked about tempo, making fast or slow music, and we talked about dynamics, making quiet music growing into loud music. It was really fun, and all three of us had fun. C was so dang cute, I'm not going to lie!

  • Again, more music stuff (have you guessed that I'm a music nerd yet?): This is similar to the rainmaker, but we made a kind of tambourine. I remembered doing this in elementary school, you might too. N and I each had two paper plates, and we colored each one on the backside. Then we turned one right side up and put dried corn (you could use beans, or rice or whatever) inside. Then we glued (you could probably also use staples) the two sides together. We ended up with our very own tambourines. We used them in singing time for a while.

  • Last but not least, is there anything better than taking your kids to the park? N LOVES it, as I'm sure all kids do, and C is old enough now that she likes it too. She loves going down the slide, and she loves it when I help her climb things- it makes her feel so big. Today she sat in a swing and had so much fun. All three of us were swinging together, and I had a blast. I love doing things with my kids that are fun for ALL of us. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing fun things, like all the things I've talked about in this post, but sometimes those things stress me out. You know what I mean? Some activities require a lot of effort from Mom to make them fun and entertaining to a 4 year old, and that can be mentally exhausting. That's why I love doing things where I can sit back and just enjoy the moment. So, don't let this post, or this blog for that matter, fool you into thinking that I'm a mother who spends every waking moment of my day entertaining and teaching my children. If I were I would go insane. I feel pretty good about life if at the end of the day I have succeeded in not losing my patience with N, there was a somewhat smooth routine followed, I laughed with my kids, I sat down and played with them a few times, they were fed, were read some stories, and go to bed happy. Trust me, that's not an every day occurrence, but each day that is the goal. I just have to learn to not beat myself up for when my day doesn't turn out the way I hoped. Just make the best of things, I guess. Anyway...I digressed a little. Uh, parks...they're fun aren't they. Yay for parks...and children.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank You Dr. Laura

"Laaaaaaaaaaaa!" (sung high and exultantly) I was a little hasty in my last posting. After I'd vented and finished my post on what to do with a 4 year old stuck on "no!" I thought I'd check out Dr. Laura's website. I know she can be mean sometimes, but I love Dr. Laura. She's one of the few in the media that speaks up for the family and conservative values. Anyway, on her site she had a link on the left hand side that said "stay-at-home," so I clicked on it, and there was my answer: how to get through to your preschooler. "Laaaaaaaaaaa!" I clicked on it and found this. It talked about the very thing I am currently frustrated with- a 4 year old stuck on "no" and the frustrated parents that don't know what to do. Check it out here. I'm sure it will be helpful to all those going through what I'm experienceing. If you have anything of your own to add please do! Heaven knows there can never be too much help in this department!

The Wonderful Behaviors of 4 Year Olds

Our latest teaching endeavors in our house have been challenging. N really is a sweet boy, but lately he's really become an expert in the field of whining and screaming. There have been many moments where I wanted to scream too (and did), but I do think we're making progress. I tried the ignoring thing, but for N, that just made him whine and scream louder. So, now when he whines at me, I tell him "I can't hear you when you talk like that," and I think it's working! He's catching on, and sometimes he'll talk nicely before I even say anything! Yay!

Our other thing we're working on is obeying. I'm starting to think that 4 year olds are incapable of understanding that word. N can be very helpful and obedient, but only when he wants to be. The last couple of days it has gotten particularly bad. Every time I ask him to do something, he just says, "No!" I try to always ask him to do things in a kind way, but all I get is a nasty "No!" So, today he's spent more time than usual in time out. By the end of the day, I had had it! I felt like I was going to have a nervous break down, and every time he asked for something, I just wanted (and did) to say "No!" so he could get a taste of his own medicine. Spiteful, I know, but it was either that or go insane or beat him black and blue.

I really don't know what to do. Please, all you experience mothers, tell me what to do! How do you teach your children to be obedient without nagging them or punishing them all the time for when they're not obedient. When it comes to punishing, I don't know what to do because he's such a drama king. Every time he goes to time out he screams and cries and scream some more, and it takes him so long to calm down that both of us have forgotten why he was in trouble in the first place. I try to always show my gratitude for when he is obedient, but I guess it's not enough. I'm kind of wondering if part of it is an attention thing. I'm noticing that he might be getting a little jealous of the attention that C gets. I think I'm going to try really hard to give him more positive attention and more one on one time. I'm hoping that will help his overall behavior.

I didn't want this blog to me my place for venting parenting frustrations, but I really needed to do it tonight! I promise not to do this very often. Just PLEASE help me!! I need your advice! And I'm sure your advice will benefit everyone because I better not be the only one with a stubborn, strong willed child!