Painting On A Sunny Sunday

How was your weekend? Ours was relaxing, quiet, low-key, lovely.

Sunday was a chilly but sunny day here in Melbourne and, inspired by a recent post by SquiggleMum, called "Playing Whatever the Weather", I decided to let the children play outside despite the cold. I am what my family refers to as a 'cold body', so I really don't like being outside in winter, but thankfully my kids are big enough (and the windows looking out the back are large enough) that I don't necessarily have to be out there with them.

They had a ball. They spent the morning chasing each other up and down the hill we have in the yard on their bikes. Then, after some lunch and a much-needed rest, Em asked to do some painting (Ed had fallen asleep).

I try to minimise mess and cleaning up after the kids paint, so I headed straight to my very messy art cupboard to raid the recycling items I keep there. I grabbed an egg carton to pour the paint into and a large glass jar to hold the water for the brushes.

Next I set up a plastic table I bought from a cheapy shop that can get as painty and grotty as it likes because it lives outside. That's where I put the paint, the jar and a dishwashing cloth for Em to dab her brush onto after she had finished washing it off. I set all of this up alongside her easel.

I took my clothes airer and some pegs out too to hang the wet paintings on.

Em asked for a pencil and eraser to sketch what she wanted to paint.

She must have been inspired by her beautiful outlook.

It wasn't long before sleepy Ed came out from his room and Em decided she wanted to paint his portrait. But Ed just wouldn't stand still long enough.

Then surprise, surprise, Ed wanted to paint too.

I was a bit stuck because I don't have 2 easels, but he soon decided he wanted to do "foldy" paintings, so we didn't need an extra easel after all.

I made a makeshift table for him using an upside down storage container with an esky lid as a table top.

I got him some cotton tips, a bag to throw the tips into when he had finished and some plain white paper which I pre-folded. Once they were set up, I headed back to my ironing.

It wasn't long before hands were being painted, so I went back out with some warm soapy water, a facewasher and an old hand towel.

The two of them painted outside by themselves for over an hour. Because the activity was so open ended, it suited both of their developmental needs and abilities. Em painted masterpieces and her hands and started to fold her large paper in half. Ed mostly experimented with colour mixing and colour squishing.

Cleaning up was easy, most of it went straight into the bin, then we left the paintings to dry outside. A simple, creative, fun afternoon.

Don't forget to checkout my "You Tube" video if you haven't already and play along at the Childhood 101 "We Play" link up.

We Play

"everydayplay" on You Tube - Pt 1

I'm not sure how many of you remember the play segments I taped for "9am with David and Kim" last year. Well, since the show was axed (nothing to do with my segments, I'm sure!), I've got permission to put the videos onto You Tube. You can hopefully view the first one by clicking onto my sidebar here or, you can click on this link to take you there

I'm not the most tech-savvy person, so it's taken me a little while to get them on (it's supposed to be simple, I know!). I have three more so I'll hopefully get them up and going in the next week or so.

Hope you stop by to have a look. I had so much fun taping them and it's great to look back on my little ones and see how much they've grown. Ed wasn't even 2 when this first one was taped. My how time flies ........

Tall Stories

Amanda (over at "HomeAge") has written a great post this week for the Childhood 101 "We Play" link up about a story her daughter told involving a make-believe cat who had gone missing. Her daughter made up stories about where he could have gone and even made some 'missing' posters to try and find him.

I am such a sucker for these sorts of stories. I just love the way a childs' imagination works and the novel, interesting details they put into their stories just make my heart sing.

My own boy was making up stories when we were all on holidays together. It seemed that while he had his dad to himself for a change, he wanted to fill dad in on all the ins-and-outs of the life of his favourite bear - Yarji.

Here are some of the wonderful facts he shared:

- Em is Yarji's mum and Ed is Yarji's dad
- Hamley (Em's bear) is his best friend
- He loves to eat nuts and apples
- He only drinks milk and boo-boo juice. Boo-boo juice is only for grey bears.
- He loves to make carrot soup. That's the soup he really loves. He doesn't like coconut soup or anything.
- He learnt to fly from a chicken (!!)

I've written these 'facts' down and I'm going to write them up on a sheet of paper, then print out some pictures of "Yarj" that Ed can cut and paste. It will be a custom-made Yarji fact sheet that I'm sure will be enjoyed for years to come. This is going to make a great addition to his "Learning Book"

What wonderful "Tall Stories" are being told by the kids you love? ....

Different Types of Play

When observing kids at play, I've always thought in terms of the developmental benefits of the play (cognitive, language, motor, social or emotional), or the kind of play being carried out (eg. art and craft, building, imaginative, dramatic etc.) As a Kindergarten Teacher (and a mum), these classifications really work when it comes to identifying play and it's benefits and planning for future activities.

I've just read a book by Dr David Elkind called "The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children ", which categorises play in a different way to what I've read before. It's really helped me to look at play a little differently and value it even more (which I didn't really think was possible!). Of course, the book raises a lot of important, valuable points about play, but these classifications have really stuck with me.

Dr Elkind categorises play into the 'types' of play children engage in and what I like about these categories is that they look at play from the child's perspective and why the child is personally motivated to play in that particular way.

The types of play Dr Elkind outlines are
1) Mastery Play
2) Innovative Play
3) Kinship Play and
4) Therapeutic Play

I've been looking at my kids' play with different eyes over the last couple of weeks as I bear these in mind and it really has helped me to value play even more.

For example, Ed was turning the 'lazy susan' (a rotating plate) I have on my dining room table a couple of weeks ago. He asked if he could play with it and I said yes. He started to experiment with it, turning it quickly and then slowly. This was "Mastery Play" at work.

Mastery play is when a child is using play to help them to master a new skill or object and this is what Ed was doing here. He was experimenting with the 'lazy susan' to find out how it worked.

Once he had that worked out, he moved on to "Innovative Play". Innovative play is what children do once they have mastered a skill or object. They then engage in play that is imaginative and creative, with new variations on what they have already learnt. Ed started to put things onto the 'lazy susan' and spin it really fast so that the objects (cars mostly of course) would fly off in all directions. Then he would load on as many as he could and see if he could get them all off with a spin.

Normally I would have looked at this play in terms of the cognitive and motor benefits this kind of play was providing, but seeing it as Ed's way to master something new and then innovate with what he had learned, made me value the play even more.

"Kinship Play" is something I'm seeing with my children more and more as they get older. Kinship play is when children invent games or play for the purpose of developing a friendship or relationship. If you watch children who don't know each other, you can see this type of play in action. Often the play doesn't involve talking, but will involve some kind of gesture to get a friendship up and running.

With children who know each other, you can hear it in the games they develop to just be together. Looking at this type of play in this way has really helped me with my two kids. As they get older, they play more and more games that to this grown up looking in, seem a bit silly really.

Their current favourite is to play "Tom and Jerry" or "Tweety and Sylvester" (they love the cartoons). I have to admit, this play was driving me a little crazy before I read this book. It all seemed a little pointless and just involved a lot of screaming, loud noises, running and talking in funny voices. Looking at the play as their way of bonding and strengthening their relationship has given me a new tolerance for it and even helped me to encourage it along.

I love the classification of "Therapeutic Play". I've often watched kids at play and thought about how peaceful and happy and 'in the moment' they looked. I've also listened to a lot of dramatic and imaginative play and marvelled at the social and emotional insights and development going on. I love that Dr Elkind has identified the value of this and called it children's therapy.

When Ed lies on his car mat and just brrmms his cars backwards and forwards or when Em comes home from school and plays out her day in her own pretend 'school' or when they sit in a lovely warm bath at the end of the day and gently pour water from one cup into another, they're undergoing a type of therapy that helps them. What a lovely thought. Hopefully all these hours of therapy I've provided them in their Early Years will save them from hours of therapy when they grow up.

So, there you have it, Dr Elkind's ideas about the types of play children engage in. What do you think and what types of play are going on at your house?

If you'd like to read a review of Dr Elkind's book, I like this one.

A Shoe Box Garage

Over the weekend, Ed was 'brrming' his cars around his car mat and had invented a story about how the cars were all looking for parks.

I remembered a garage I had made back when I was doing my teaching rounds for some other little boys who were car-mad and decided to make one for my boy.

It really couldn't be simpler. I turned a sturdy shoe box upside down and made two parallel cuts into it at a couple of centimetre intervals (6 cuts in all). I then lifted the piece of cardboard between the cuts and presto!, instant garage doors and ample parking space for cars.

When I originally made the garages for those boys all those years ago, I made the garage openings different widths and heights and gave the boys a selection of different cars so they could experiment with size and fit.

This eventuated with Ed too because he wanted a garage for his long rocket-launcher truck and "Charlie" (as he is called) wouldn't fit in the original garages I made.

So, after a bit of discussion and problem solving, we found a fit for "Charlie".

Find other great play ideas at the Childhood 101 We Play link up

Link is Working

The link to my "Learning Book" guest post wasn't working thanks to holiday-brain and a very dodgy computer I was working on in Far North Queensland. I'm back in Melbourne and out of holiday mode (and very cold!), so I've got the link working. You can click on "here"in my earlier post to read my post over at "Little People Books" or click here now!

Guest Post - Little People Books

I'm a guest at "Little People Books". I've written a post about making a "Learning Book", a great thing to do for kids aged 2 and up. Click here to visit and have a read.