As you may or may not be aware, we here at BTBL believe in taking advantage of those spontaneous moments of play and learning that can pop up throughout the day. For instance…as we were sitting down to lunch at my daughter’s little picnic table this afternoon, my munchkin jumped up and headed into the study chanting, “Mouse, Mouse, Mouse!” For whatever reason she had suddenly decided she wanted to read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Okay. This mum can roll with that. Instead of forcing her to sit back down and eat her lunch as would probably be most parents’ first response, I extricated myself from the tiny table to help her get the beloved story down from the shelf. She knows exactly where her favorites are located as we have all of our picture books alphabetized, so they always go home to the same spot each time. Yes, we, or rather I am very OCD about my bookshelves.
Anywho…I got the book down for her and she brought it over to her picnic table and we sat back down to munch and read. Our luncheon storytime was going smoothly, eating and reading melding together beautifully, until we got to the part where Mouse wanted to draw a picture and got out some crayons. Once again, my girl was up and running, but chanting “crayons, crayons, crayons,” this time. She went straight over to the bench where the coloring supplies are stored and got out the baggie of crayons. Being a team player, I got a piece of white computer paper for her and we sat back down at the picnic table. Now we had a luncheon of coloring and reading happening, albeit there wasn’t too much eating going on anymore. My budding artist began working on her own masterpiece, while pointing out the colors of crayons that Mouse had and finding the corresponding color in her own bag.
Watching her become so inspired by the story we were reading was extremely exciting as a parent. She was interested in what we were reading, totally focused, and fully engaged in the experience. The best part of it all…? It was driven by her. She wanted to read. She wanted to color like Mouse. And I let her, rather than putting a halt to the whole moment by insisting that it was lunch time. Through this one experience we shared a story (granted we didn’t finish it, but that isn’t really always important), discussed the illustrations and what the characters were doing, we reviewed colors, drew different shapes and the alphabet all while working on fine motor skills, and we bonded with each other, making new memories we will cherish (well, I will at least, ha).
The point of all this babbling…????? Sometimes you just gotta go with it, regardless of what the plan was at the time. Sometimes you need to let those spontaneous moments of play and learning just happen, whenever they happen. Children are naturally curious and creative and they will put those natural abilities to good use when you, as the parent, allow them the time and resources to do so.
Happy playing and reading!
PS: We LOVE Laura Numeroff's If You Give A... series around here, particularly the stories of Mouse. Check them out if you haven't already!
As we all know, entertaining a toddler can sometimes seem like a Herculean task. I mean, how do you keep a pint-sized whirlwind fully engaged for more than five minutes?! Well, today inspiration hit and I remembered my Fisher-Price Briarberry Collection tucked safely away in a bin in the basement. The Briarberry Collection is a discontinued toy from Fisher-Price of plush bears and different playsets, such as a kitchen, a dining set and wardrobe.
My little one was perfectly thrilled when I opened up the bin and she caught sight of the bears, Sarahberry and Berrylynn (their names are on the bottom of their left foot). We sat down together and took out all of the furniture pieces and then began to go through the smaller containers that held all of the little pieces (place settings, clothing, pot, cookie sheet, bedding, story book etc). I helped her set everything up, explaining what all of the pieces were and chatting with her about what the bears could do. After a while, she began manipulating the toys herself, pouring the tea and giving the bears a drink, cooking up a pot of soup on the stove and then tucking the bears into bed for a nap. She even read the bears a story!
These toys are positively adorable and the best part...??? They do not have any electronics! That's right! No noises, no lights, no moving parts! Just basic toys that encourage a child's own creativity and imagination. I noticed that my little one began utilizing different voices when using each bear. She would sing and just talk, talk, talk as she had the bears going about their various activities.
Also, the bears each came with their own storybook. We were able to sit down and read about the very bears she was playing with, occasionally acting out what was happening in the story. If only there were more toys like these on the market today!
I am so glad I saved these toys and finally remembered I had them! They have offered an afternoon of genuine play, a chance to connect play with reading, and an opportunity for my little one to exercise her creative skills and imagination.
Moral of the story? Some toys should be saved and shared generation after generation!
Happy playing and reading!
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.