I’m old. How do I know that I’m old? Because to my mind Elmo is still an imposter on Sesame Street. Will you permit me a short rant? Ok! How on earth did Elmo get to run the whole show when there were so many better characters to feature? His voice continues to grate even after all these years. Several key characters don’t even get any stage time anymore on that show. Hello? Sherlock Hemlock, Mumford the Magician, Biff and Sully, the guy who carried Oscar around, Herry Monster and (glack!) even dear sweet enormous Snuffy who apparently is seen by people other than Big Bird all the damn time! Ah well, I suppose we had to throw poor Bird a bone after he lost his friend Mr. Hooper. (I will take this opportunity to also strongly recommend that you do not under any circumstances google what happened to David. Just don’t do it). Deep breath. Ok. I’m ok.
Now. Let’s go back… waaaaaaay back into the vault and see what we can find. And to do this we have to go to my mom’s house since she kept so many things from our childhood! And look what comes out of the tickle trunk! Taadaaaa! The Sesame Street Library! All 15 Volumes beautifully preserved and fresh and entirely loved by my little preschooler!
Want more blasts from the past and ideas for classic reads that will entertain both you and your little one?
Check out the ROAM Curriculum at Artsy Startsy
Why do I believe in harping with your kids? Because it is entirely healing and calming for everyone. Er… what?? Let me explain. I’ve discovered there are two methods of trying to attain calm in this household. The first is what I like to call:
The “Serenity Now!” Method: This is the one where I “harp” at everyone, telling themto calm down a million times until I am absolutely a completely disheveled mess. The only thing I’ve learned from this method is that telling someone to calm down is like telling someone “not to take offense but…” You immediately end up eliciting the exact response you are trying to avoid and you end up looking and sounding like this:
The second method, and the one which I strongly recommend, helps everyone come out the other side with their dignity and a sense of true peace. It is called:
The Classical Music Method: This week we started to discover harp compositions since the harp is our instrument for the week as we delve deeper into the ROAM curriculum’s spring semester! Just having these pieces playing in the background while we went about our regular routines had an enormously calming effect on everyone. I swear! Try it!
Want to inject more moments of calm into your day all while introducing your children to orchestral instruments and classical composers?
Check out the spring semester of the ROAM Curriculum at
This past week we were learning about the prehistoric era in art. Part of that exploration included the creation of rock people as masterpieces since so much of the work of the prehistoric artists involved creative use of stone as canvas.
First, we took a look at the Lascaux caves to get a sense of the way in which rock was used as a surface for creating art. Next, we went on a nature walk and gathered stones that attracted our attention. Finally, we went into the craft cupboard and pulled out yarn, googley eyes and any other materials that seemed relevant.
As you can see, it was really the cotton balls that brought our rock person to the next level. Suddenly one of our rocks was transformed into a particularly hard-headed political figure. After completing her work, Althea said “Look mama! It’s ‘Mister Trunk’!” Is it just us? Do you see the likeness?
Want to join us on our artistic adventures? Check out the spring semester at www.artsystartsy.com
What do you do when it snows in the spring? You act like your kid does. You accept it and just be. I snapped this shot from our back window. My wistful girl having a moment alone in the snow – saying a fond farewell.
Meditation is very important for little ones. The ability to just check out for about 20 minutes or so can really help re-energize your preschooler. This is where sensory bins come in. After five minutes of delving into one of these bins, you can see calm and focus descending upon your little one.
This week my preschooler sat still sorting through this bin and retelling the nursery rhyme for “Hey Diddle Diddle; The Cat and the Fiddle.” For this one I grabbed random items from our kitchen play dishes, dried goods, some craft pom poms, and various animal figures from different sets. The only splurge was on the colourful stars found at Michael’s. The simpler the better. I’ve found the fancier I try to get with these things the less the kids are interested in them. Take a peek!
Why do we do Nursery Rhymes in the ROAM curriculum? Because – I strongly believe nursery rhymes are a great jumping off point for literacy. Their staying power alone indicates that they are culturally valuable and they continue to be excellent initiations into literacy for little ones. The rhythm and rhyming language encourage your child to think about creative subject matter within a poetic framework. Moreover, even though the historical context of these rhymes may be lost to most of us now, we recognize that these verses connect us in some way to the past and to childhood as it was in other times and places. Exposure to rhyming and tempo in verse provide an excellent opportunity to draw your child into the world of poetry and literature generally. Movement and creative activities like this sensory bin offer opportunities for your child to explore related themes or ideas and to reenact moments that will help to solidify the poem in the mind’s eye.
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.
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.
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:
- Prepare the easel or work surface.
2. Set out the materials of choice.
3. Say nothing. Wait.
4. When your child stumbles upon the materials, pretend ignorance.
5. Watch the poetry in motion.
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!
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.
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.
Until we started studying a new classical composer each week as part of the ROAM curriculum, I truly believed that all classical music would have a calming effect on my little ones. Ha! How wrong was I? Chopin yes. Stravinsky – decidedly – no. And then again it also depends on the piece. So much of Tchaikovsky’s work is energizing and then, on occasion, one of his pieces will put us all right to sleep. I have been learning to use classical music strategically in our home as both sedative and stimulant – with excellent effect! I must be honest and say that I trend toward the calming pieces more often recently. Obviously, we are seeking out more peaceful time together of late.
Here is a little compilation of compositions that have recently brought moments of calm into our day. Something that all parents and little ones truly require. This set is also a small tribute to my dear friend’s little babe who has now departed from this world.
Looking for more moments of calm like this with your little Reader, Outdoor Explorer, Artist and Musician? Check out the ROAM curriculum at www.artsystartsy.com