Learning Through Play

Momma Tip: Get Messy and MIU!

As a teacher, I’ve had many experiences where lessons did not go as planned; students did not find the activities interesting and so chaos broke out in the classroom. It is at these moments when you pack everything up, put it all away, and MIU: Make. It. Up.

This happened over the weekend with my kids. I was all set on getting some projects done around the house when arguments broke out, tears were shed, and toys were everywhere. So we cleaned it all up and went outside.

Sidewalk chalk is always a good go-to for us, but we had a bunch of tiny pieces that were too small to hold. We gathered them all up in a bowl and used small dowel rods to crush them up. We added some water to help. Many of our pieces were black, so that became the dominate color.

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Once everything was crushed up, it was pretty thick but not chunky. It was a good texture for finger paint!

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Emma did not want to get messy at first. She’s always been neat and tidy, never liking much mess. As a former Pre-K teacher and creative type, “mess,” to me, is usually a side effect of discovery, creativity, and ingenuity. I always encourage my children to get messy  as long as we clean up when we’re finished.

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It didn’t take long for both of them to really dive in!

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I mean, who doesn’t want their entire hand painted???

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I was surprised to see the black handprints dried a light gray on our driveway. Emma bear-crawled up and down the driveway with her hands covered in chalk!

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They were having so much fun, all I did was sit back and take pictures!

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…because who doesn’t love these faces?!

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Once we had exhausted our homemade chalk paint, I did find some old chalk paint markers. We decided to try them out. The colors were beautiful!

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The consistency was much thinner than our homemade version, but extremely vibrant. Both kids loved the drip patterns.

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I loved that the driveway started to look like a Jackson Pollock painting!

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The sense of joy that radiated from this little one as the colors dripped onto the driveway was amazing to witness!

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They both had so much fun! I could go through and tell you all of the wonderful educational aspects they were gaining out of it, but honestly, I was a momma that was simply happy that they were happy! We were outside enjoying the sunshine and some time together making art and getting messy. Our neighbor even came over to join in on the fun!

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I’m sure we looked crazy with the kids completely a mess, both sets of shoes, clothing, and faces covered in liquid chalk, and our driveway covered…

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…but I loved every second of it! Matt came home from work right in the middle of our little project. After being married to me for 7 years he’s learned to just roll with the punches when it comes to stuff like this. 🙂

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I’ll be sad when the rain washes all of it away. I’ve definitely taken plenty of pictures, and we can always mix up another batch in the future.

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So the next time you are in your classroom or at home with the kids and the chaos train starts rolling into the station, remember to MIU! I promise you the experiences will be much more meaningful and engaging when the children are interested in what they are doing. And who knows, you may end up with priceless art on your driveway in the process. 🙂

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Wishing you well,

Heather

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Family Outings, Parenting

Our First MLS Game

We took some time last week for a weeknight family outing! With Matt’s new job we actually have some time in the evenings to spend as a family of 4 and we’ve been taking advantage of every minute! Although Matt and I were both music majors, since we’ve been married we have followed Columbus sports (and sports in general) pretty closely. Soccer is a game that is easily played in the backyard and one both Emma and Lee love! Always trying to give our children real life experiences, we found a great deal on Columbus Crew tickets and decided to take the kids to their first game. To say Lee had fun is an understatement! We thoroughly enjoyed watching him and interacting with him all night!

(I do have to put a quick disclaimer in that Emma was running a fever for the entire game. She didn’t complain a bit even though we could tell she was miserable. Poor girly!)

Of course we picked up some new gear for the occasion from Homage. Matt and I have a shirt for just about every sports team in our state. We call them “Just In Case” shirts for that moment when we randomly pick up tickets and need something to wear!

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We had amazing seats for $20! We ended up right above the tunnel where the players entered/exited but far enough way from the infamous Nordecke that the kids weren’t covering their ears the entire time. Here you can see Lee standing in front of our seats with a perfect view of the pitch and the players entering the field.

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It was also Star Wars night, hence the Wookie and Darth Vader leading the team out! Emma did get a kick out of hearing John Williams music played over the speakers in the stadium. It was one of the few times she perked up.

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You can tell from the video here that Lee wasn’t hindered by the chanting at all! In fact he LOVED it! He is so responsive to music and a strong beat; I’m interested to see if he has inherited any musical abilities from Matt or myself.

Not only did Lee have fun chanting and clapping along with the Hudson Street Hooligans, he loved the food! The following is a picture montage of my sweet 15-month old eating a giant pretzel.

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Pure. Joy.

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After all of the cheering, all of the clapping, all of the eating, and following the ball across the field, the little guy had to have a souvenir! He is now in love with his soccer ball and always tries to get us to play with him! “Ball” was one of his first words, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume he’s going to be a sports kid! Even though he’s not walking yet, he’ll push the soccer ball toward one of us and shout until we roll it back to him. We then rinse and repeat until someone gets too tired to play (usually the adult).

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Needless to say, our family had an amazing time at the Columbus Crew game! It was a great family friendly event that both of our kids enjoyed. Although Emma was not feeling well, she got first-hand experience at what a professional soccer game looks like and witnessed some of the rules in action.

Professional sports and Columbus go hand-in-hand. Our family experience here is one many families enjoy throughout the season at a Crew SC game. The city of Columbus is fiercely loyal to its teams, and I would be extremely saddened if our MLS team was moved to another city. If you’re from the Columbus area, or just an avid MLS fan, take a look at the website and see how you can help #SaveTheCrew.

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Wishing you well,

Heather

Parenting

It’s Okay for Kids to Feel Disappointment

It's Okay for Kids to Feel Disappointment

 

This past weekend my little guy turned one. We are so lucky because he also shares a birthday with my sister, so it’s twice the fun! My sister and I are three years apart just like my kids, Emma and Lee. When birthdays come around in my family there has been a tradition that the other sibling would also receive a small present so they wouldn’t feel left out. The thought here was that it would be hard for a younger child to understand why their sibling was receiving gifts but they were not. This way no one was left out and everyone felt included.

So when Lee’s birthday came around, I’m not sure why I was surprised that every member of my family also bought Emma a present. While I know that my parents always meant well, I’m not sure I agree with the tradition when it comes to my own children. In this world of “everyone gets a trophy” there’s not much room for teaching children compassion and generosity for others.

Before Lee’s birthday, we spent time talking with Emma about how we were going to celebrate the day Lee was born with family, cake, and giving him and her Aunt presents. The day after Lee’s party, she asked my husband why she had also received presents from everyone. “It wasn’t my birthday, daddy,” she said. “When I went to my friend’s birthday party, I gave him a present, but I didn’t get one. It was his birthday.” Emma was genuinely confused. She was also 100% right.

As parents (and educators) our instinct is to try to save our children from any sort of discomfort. So in an effort to save Emma from feelings of sadness, she was actually robbed of the experience to work through those emotions and learn from the situation. Our ultimate goal is to teach her compassion and generosity for others, so why not give her as many opportunities to do so? If we were to wait until she were at an age to be able to “handle” being left out, what age would that be? When infants learn to walk do we not work with them several times each day until they finally master the skill? We also work with our children on learning letters, colors, and shapes until it is completely ingrained. Social-emotional skills are no different. The more opportunities we give our children to identify and work through their emotions the more adept they will become. Being able to function socially in everyday situations is an important life skill that definitely outweighs my need to “protect” my child from disappointment. Giving children the skills they need to cope with emotions can only result in more well-rounded, compassionate human beings for the future.

Our ultimate goal is to teach her compassion and generosity for others, so why not give her as many opportunities to do so? If we were to wait until she were at an age to be able to “handle” being left out, what age would that be? When infants learn to walk do we not work with them several times each day until they finally master the skill? We also work with our children on learning letters, colors, and shapes until it is completely ingrained. Social-emotional skills are no different. The more opportunities we give our children to identify and work through their emotions the more adept they will become. Being able to function socially in everyday situations is an important life skill that definitely outweighs my need to protect my child from disappointment. Giving children the tools they need to cope with emotions can only result in more well-rounded, compassionate human beings for the future.

Wishing you well,

Heather