Day Dreaming and Free Play

I’m taking some time this weekend reflecting on how we’ll spend our ‘free’ time in the upcoming weeks and months over winter.  I like the idea of getting V involved in activities like swimming and gymnastics to get her moving but I’m torn because I like the free play that she engages with on her own. She comes up with the most random little activities almost like mini science experiments or musical and dance performances. It’s amazing.

I came across this passage from Naomi Aldort in response to a mother’s question about her child seeming bored at home and it’s encouraged me to reconsider scheduling activities (in the mornings anyway).

Know that day dreaming and doing “nothing” is when the greatest learning takes place. What you call “bored” comes from believing the idea that he should play and be busy externally. Yet, just because we are trained to expect play and activities does not mean that it is best for the child. It is not. Keep in mind Einstein’s famous words, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” When free to be themselves, and without parental expectations hovering over their heads, children spend much time daydreaming, imagining things and stories, listening and gazing at nature. This is an amazing learning tool that you don’t want to interrupt.

… Expose him to life opportunities, and let him take what he is drawn to in his own time and his own way. And, cherish his hours of pondering and inner work.

The Joy of Books

There’s nothing quite like a real book.

There really isn’t.

Just when I was seriously considering an E-reader…

DIY – Personalized Towels

This little project was inspired by my two little girls and their colds!  It kept occurring to me that I didn’t want them sharing towels or anyone else using towels they were using for that matter! So it came to me that I should peronalize towels with their first initial in attempt to keep germs at bay. (Don’t get me wrong, I wash them frequently!)

Fitting that I just learned how to applique in my quilting class recently and picked up sets of adorable holiday fabric.

Materials: Hand towels (Scored some nice ones at my local dollar store for $2 each. Note to self: when you see a deal like that grab a bunch! They’ve since sold out in the white.), holiday fabric, fluffy fabric trim of hat, steam a seam and the obvious: tread and a sewing machine.

I looked up font styles on my favourite free font site dafont and was inspired by a cute font with santa hats on top. It was the perfect thing to cute-sy up my boring ‘go to’ block font.

I didn’t take photos along the way but it’s fairly straight-forward. …apart from when I burned the fluffy fabric when I tried pressing it using the steam a seam. I discovered the hard way it doesn’t iron well so on my second try I pressed quickly and lightly then hand stitched Santa’s fur trim on.

I’m really proud of how they turned out! I think I may love appliqué .

Hallowe’en Jack-o’-lantern Inspiration!

Hallowe’en was a blast! I want to share a bit of inspiration that came over me yesterday as we were carving and decorating our pumpkin at the eleventh hour!

While Violet was at school yesterday afternoon I went out and picked up a pumpkin. (Note to self: next year get a pumpkin early so that you don’t pay a premium at the local overpriced fruit market to get one of the last pumpkins in town.) Before I picked her up from school I did a quick search on Pinterest for Jack-o’-lantern carving ideas. (I’m completely addicted to Pinterest!) Then I came up with an idea that was inspired by a brilliant creative idea from Child’s Own Studio that I heard about last year but saw again here a few days ago: stuffed toys made based on kid’s drawings.

I particularly like what creator, Wendy Tsao, of Child’s Own Studio says about her main inspiration:

…children draw to please themselves. They don’t care if the arms are too long or the legs are too skinny or if the eyes are mismatched. They’re more interested in the message of the drawing. These drawings are often very original. As adults, we can’t draw like children anymore.

Getting back to our pumpkin.. With the idea of letting my child design our Jack-o’-lantern, we pulled out her sketchbook.

She chose the design.  She’s really into drawing V’s and zig zags these days.

We scooped the inside saving the seeds.

Lastly, Violet went to town painting it.

Watching her concentrate on painting the entire pumpkin was amazing. She carefully chose her colours and covered the entire thing.

The final masterpiece! Ta – Da!

We’ll definitely do this again next year. Will be fun to see what she comes up with next!

Imagination vs. Reality

I drafted this post several months ago when Violet was just about three and a half. I still chuckle over this story…

Violet’s 3 year old imagination has been exploding lately. It’s fascinating to see her come up with all of these ideas.. only I’m realizing that with that comes a responsibility as the parent to maintain balance between what is make believe and what is real.

For example, the other day Violet decided she would plant some beans (jelly beans) in the garden to grow a giant bean stalk (a la Jack and the Beanstalk, we’ve been reading a lot of stories lately). In attempt to foster her imagination and creativity I asked her what would be at the top of the beanstalk? She firmly decided that there would not be a scary giant up there but instead there would be a princess named Ivy (a la The Princess and the Frog). Great! So I gave her the little pack of jelly beans. She ate a couple then made her way out to the back garden and threw the jelly beans down just like in the story! Pretty harmless right?

Well, a little while later Violet decided that she would be going to Dora’s house for the afternoon to attend a party. Cute right? I asked how she would get there and she told me that she planned on jumping into the tv… which she later edited and said that daddy would have to give her a great big push to get into the tv. She was pumped about the party in which she said there would be balloons (her favourite), cupcakes, presents etc. and that she would meet Dora’s mom and grandma. She proceeded to pack her backpack with her swimsuit and all sorts of things. She picked fresh flowers from a vase in our living room and put them into a gift bag and made her way down to the basement, where we have our big tv and tried to ‘jump in’. The disappointment that ensued all came to a head when she realized that ‘IT’S NOT WORKING!!!’ Oh the disappointment!  I certainly learned my lesson in leading her on too far without explaining the difference between imagination and reality.

I was sort of enjoying the innocence but it was time to explain the difference between make believe and real life and that the stories we read and see on tv are not real. Part of me didn’t want to squash that imaginary world – it was so refreshing.. but I can’t have my kid thinking she can bust into the tv either! 🙂


Peter Catalonotto

Just a follow up to my last post…

Love this statement Peter Catalonotto makes in his bio:

I believe a good book doesn’t explain everything. It’s a springboard, an open door and it gives readers some space to make their own choices and connections. To laugh. To cry. To be affected.

He certainly opens the door to a great discussion with Emily’s Art. I also found this Guideline for Philosophical Discussion which includes fabulous conversation starters. In fact this website is an incredible resource for other children’s stories that contain powerful messages.

Book Review 005: Emily’s Art

Evaluating art is a dicey topic – particularly in relation to how teachers evaluate and assess the visual arts in elementary school classrooms and how that affects our children. Peter Catalanotto’s book Emily’s Art covers this subject appropriately by illustrating a story of a young inspired artist encounter a less than inspiring art contest experience.

The short story before the story sets the stage for what is about to happen.  The appropriately named teacher, Ms. Fair asks “Can anyone tell me what a contest is?” After a few guesses it’s agreed that a contest  is “to see who is the best”. Then it is announced that the school is having an art contest in which there will be prize ribbons to the best painting in each grade. The teacher goes on to explain that a judge will decide the winners based on which she thinks is the best. One of my favourite lines in the book is: “If I lose the art contest will the judge put me in jail?” But even better might be the line: “No, of course not. Losing an art contest does not make you a bad person… just a bad artist.”

Emily’s story is compelling and heart breaking. The principal’s mother is brought in to judge the art work. She justifies her qualifications by declaring “My cousin is married to an artist” – hilarious! She falls in love with Emily’s painting until she learns it’s a dog (not a beautiful rabbit as she thought) and proceeds to dismiss the art based on a bad experience she had with a dog!

When you consider all of the little kids out there that have been turned off of art because they don’t think they’re good enough or that their painting of a tree doesn’t look like a realist representation of a tree, it’s really sad.

This is most definitely a story worth sharing with your kids. My library copy is overdue. I most definitely will be buying this book for our collection.

I’ll leave with Catalanotto’s dedication which I just love: For all children who paint with their hearts.

A New Start

Last year I was inspired and inspired to document my little girl’s first day of school…

On our way out the door this morning I made sure to capture the moment this year as well. My oh my, how quickly they grow!

Driveway Art

There’s something very freeing about drawing with sidewalk chalk. Maybe it’s the large canvas or perhaps it’s knowing that it’s not permanent. Whatever it is, I have to say I was kind of impressed with the graphic nature of my husbands drawings!  They’re expressive yet so simple.

If I’m not mistaken, this one is called ‘Scary Monster’. Art Directed by Violet. Illustrated by Daddy.

Big Sister Bracelets

I’ve been dying to post about this but didn’t since we didn’t make our baby’s gender public prior to her birth. It’s a long and complicated story.. husband didn’t want to know, I did.. which made for a bit of a dilemma until we decided I would take a peak into the envelop provided by my midwives and keep it a secret unless he decided he’d like to find out. It was hard but I became accustomed to referring to baby as ‘baby’.

What was strange, however, was that I’d sneakily buy some things for the baby at which point I’d be at the cash register with my big pregnant belly and the sales clerk would say “So! You’re having a GIRL!?” In which case there was no point in hiding it.

One such situation was at a local bead store where I picked up beads to make customized bracelets for my big sister and little sister. I’m so please with how these turned out that I decided to also make bracelets with their names on them. They loved them! Especially big sister ;).