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
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.
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.
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
A wonderful woman and friend once told me that the best way to help your little ones fall in love with art is to purchase quality materials. Now. My eldest was two years old when I first heard these words of wisdom and, at that time, I was happy enough to purchase art supplies at the dollar store but, of late, I’ve become really aware of what she was referring to. The masterpieces that my daughter creates have so much more impact when we are working with quality brushes, paint and paper. But I will stand by this statement too: nowhere can you get such awesome sparkle glue as the dollar store and it’s the only place I’ve yet to track down contact paper (without which we would be lost)! So it’s a balance I suppose.
I’ve also discovered another lovely truth about art in preschool. It is so much more meaningful for a child to work on a piece while keeping in mind the individual for whom it is being created. The last two weeks, we puttered away at our watercolour valentines with doilies (guess where I found those…) and she literally sang a song for each of her friends as she painted. Afterwards, she made sure I properly labeled each work so that the correct valentine would go to the intended recipient. She absolutely was injecting her heart into each of the pieces she made.
Althea also received the most lovely gift from her friend Morgan who worked with her mother to make these pretty little rainbow crayons in the shape of hearts. Nothing compares to creating art for a friend with materials made by a friend!
Well my heart is full as we start into this Valentine’s weekend! If you are thinking of starting a new medium with your little one, here are a few quality materials I can strongly recommend for beginning watercolour. In the case of the paints, a little dab’ll do ya and you will have these tubes for, well, in my case, it’s been over a decade. With respect to the brushes – remember always to use them with watercolour only since they are costly but worth every cent.
My recommendation with respect to technique is to wet the paper itself in a sink of warm water and squeegie out the excess with a sponge on your painting surface. This way the colour itself stays relatively dry in the paint pot and mixing colours on paper becomes more of an organic process than a concerted effort. At the preschool stage, colour mixing in this way becomes a lovely process of discovery. We work with primary colours only right now and with these we are beginning to learn about the different secondary colours – orange, green and purple as they suddenly appear in our masterpiece!
Keep refreshing a glass of warm water for your little artist so as to keep the paints themselves from getting muddled together and also because it’s fun to periodically check on how the work is progressing. Hopefully, each time you enter the room you will see your little one falling deeper in love with art and with the pride of self-expression it permits.
Today is the day! I’m relaunching the new and improved Spring Semester of Artsy Startsy and it is entirely focused around the ROAM curriculum and the feedback I’ve received from stay-at-home parents, caregivers, working parents, and preschool instructors. ROAM stands for Readers, Outdoor Explorers, Artists and Musicians. Why these areas in particular? I truly believe that preschoolers have each of these personas inside of them and they require only a bit of time each day with their caregiver to tap into each of these areas of the liberal arts and the natural world around them.
Also, as a caregiver, I have come to recognize that more than any other time, I most enjoy the moments in our day that are spent together with books, in nature, creatively expressing ourselves with art, and listening to classical music. By bringing these joys into our home I believe that I am creating both a peaceful and adventurous environment for my child and for myself. Quality time with my children is priority number one and this curriculum allows me to focus our days around that!
If you’re like me, you like to plan ahead and get yourself prepared for the season well in advance! For this reason, I am offering a sale on the Spring ROAM curriculum from now until March 31st! I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this sale which offers 20% off the Spring Semester and includes 8 full weeks of lesson plans for you and your little one!
I hope you will join us as we ROAM around learning about all sorts of wonderful subjects this spring! Making nature bracelets as the flowers begin to bloom, listening to Vivaldi, exploring the different sounds that the rain makes, touring the acropolis, keeping track of outdoor explorations with nature journals, sculpting with soap and so much more!!!
When we are not out in the woods near our home, here is where we will be undertaking much of this exploration of the liberal arts together. Our little solarium is where so much learning and quality time together takes place. It is a sacred little space for us! I will share regular updates with you as we undertake the lessons alongside you and your little one this spring.
Spring is right around the corner. So cozy up and start planning the upcoming season with us!