My Little Grasshopper

Dancing is big in this house. Almost every night there is some form or other of dancing as a family. Jukebox oldies never fail to get the kids (and daddy – who is normally a metal-head) moving.  Usually we all sleep better when we’ve gotten the “shakies” out. And then, when we rise, we play classical music and a version of dancing often happens as we listen to the pieces. I suppose it’s more “movement to music” than anything else and, depending on the piece, it can be quite an event! I’ll just say this: delicate objects get put well out of swinging, leaping, and twirling range.

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Last week, Britten’s “The Grasshopper” came on and it offered the perfect opportunity to ask Althea, “How does this make you feel like moving?” Guess what? Jumping was part of the answer. Once she knew the title of the piece we really got into it. We pretended to be grasshoppers hopping through the meadow and running away from birds and cats who were anxious to end our little dance.

 

Easel Starters

poem

Do you know what I love about this poem? It’s basically two separate images set side by side without any explanation. Ezra Pound doesn’t say the faces are petals or the crowd is like a wet black bough but by putting these two concepts next to each other, he elicits in our minds a greater overall sense of the scene at the station than if he had used the words “like a wet black bough.” I think it is just the most lovely poetry in existence because it suggests and doesn’t insist.

This same kind of artistic expression is at work in what underpins the idea of a preschool “easel starter”. Basically you do not insist or even suggest that your child create art. You simply provide the opportunity for poetry to happen! Here is a step by step set of instructions for how to do an easel starter with your little one:

  1. Prepare the easel or work surface.

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2. Set out the materials of choice.

3. Say nothing. Wait.

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4. When your child stumbles upon the materials, pretend ignorance.

Unsure woman shrugs her shoulders in a questioning gesture of un

5. Watch the poetry in motion.

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Dinos in the Snow

Are we ever happy to be able to explore outside again!!! There was a while there where it was just cruelty to even suggest taking a walk around the block at this house.  Cooping up kids who are used to observing and exploring nature in the great outdoors is so painful. However, even when we were down with colds and the wind howled at our door, we found a fun way to play in the snow: we brought it in!

It’s amazing how, even the most familiar of toys, got new life when they played in the snow. We’ve done this with our avengers, our farm animals and, most recently, our dinosaurs! ROAR!

Why we don’t Sugar Coat the Timeless Tales

If you have decided to introduce your little one to fairy and folk tales there is no better place to start than with Paul Galdone’s collection of Folktale Classics. Galdone’s illustrations are both warming and so intensely expressive that they connect immediately to both child and parent.

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In this house, we have made it a practice to take out one Galdone book from the library at each visit. His versions of the classics are consistently true to the original tellings and, unlike other abridged versions, they do not omit the scarier parts of the tales. This matters to me since I’m not a huge fan of altering the stories for the sensibilities of my little ones’ minds. Although it is true that some parts of the story are disturbing – like the fact that Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is eaten by the wolf – I prefer her to ask questions and be exposed to the tale as it was intended to be read than to sugar coat it.

A friend and I were recently talking about the terror of nursery rhymes and the hilarity of reading them before bed since they are filled with references to drowning children and beheadings of political figures. She joked with me that perhaps parents in the middle ages tucked their children in with a kiss, a hug and a, “Good night, Sleep Tight, Hope you don’t get the plague…” I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

But in all seriousness, I want my child to learn about different times and places and when I modernize and insert today’s values into those stories, I close the window that it could have opened for my little one to see the world as it was. Also – I really do want to re-read Little Red Riding Hood to her when she gets her period to talk to her about what many believe the “red hood” symbolizes in this story. There is so much richness and timeless messaging in the fairy tale world that I want to share with my little ones throughout their lives. But for right now, Galdone is a good place to start!

We will be coming back to his illustrations when we begin reading Eve Titus’ “Anatole” series which is an enchanting set of  first chapter books! Can’t wait! Until then next week’s Galdone selection is on hold for us on a library shelf nearby.

galdone-anatole-covers