Survey says…

customer_feedbackI have taken advice from some business savvy mentors and developed a survey to help focus Peekaboos’ development requirements. Lately I have had to force myself to take a breath and be more patient in this business development process. A lot needs to get done and I want to do it all NOW. My almost 5 year old daughter is so excited about the idea of Peekaboos and I can identify with her questions, “When can we invite kids and their parents to come and play at Peekaboos?” and “Can we open Peekaboos today?”
It is important to me that Peekaboos be built on a firm foundation with a clear plan and attainable goals, so I’m willing myself to be patient. Even so, I really want to open Peekaboos today with my 5 year old.
Starting today I will be touring my area, with my three children in tow, asking caregivers to fill out the survey. Help Peekaboos get closer to opening by taking a moment to answer a few questions.
Thank you!
And if you’re an entrepreneur, I would really appreciate a comment on how you discipline yourself to make your passion a success.


07 2009

Reading about play

young-girl-with-stack-of-booksThe lag in my posting has been due to my tremendous stack of reading that I’ve been trying to whittle down. The problem is, the more I read, the more I find to read. Here’s a list of a few things that have been keeping me busy thinking about play:

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a report out on the importance of play, particularly “free and unstructured play”, which our society has been eradicating. Here’s a quick summary of the report, and it also links to the full report (pdf) if you’re interested.

A few weeks ago, the blog PhD in Parenting had a carnival of play for which other bloggers wrote posts pertaining to play. These have been wonderful, quick reads and the book reviews have added to my to-read stack.

Another blog that is on my must-read list is The Grass Stain Guru. Bethe has wonderful posts and supports play whole-heartedly! She also has added to my list with her book recommendations.

There are also a lot of organizations promoting play. The Alliance for Childhood has a great Play Resource List. The National Institute for Play looks more into the science of play. Founder Dr. Stuart Brown and his co-author Christopher Vaughan wrote Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Needless to say, I will be reading that this summer. I’m also intrigued by the organization KaBoom! They help communities come together to create play spaces. A little birdie, named Twitter, told me that Michelle Obama has met with them recently!

So now you know what I’ve been up to. All of this reading has been great research to develop Peekaboos upon. It’s encouraging to me that I’m not the only one wanting more unstructured play for children and parents.

What have you been reading about play lately?


06 2009

Read, Reuse, Recycle

not-a-box1Last week my daughter was “Star of the Week” in preschool. She was second to last to have her turn, so she had been planning for a long time. The “Star” could bring in whatever and whomever they wanted – and their time to share would preempt all other planned activities. One of the many things she wanted me to come in and do with her and the class was read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. This book is beautiful in it’s simplicity. It goes through the many things the little bunny imagines the box to be, such as a mountain peak, hot air balloon, and robot costume. We brought in an actual box so that she and her classmates could imagine the box into their own creation. (The most original idea was that the child was a book inside the box, which was a shelf!) My daughter was adamant that we send her friends home with something, and since I didn’t want to bring in 11 boxes, we sent each child home with a paper towel roll. As the class was dismissed and each child walked to their respective cars with their parent, I apologized as a symphony of horns and megaphones erupted. Luckily, it seems that all the other parents appreciate good imaginations  – even when they get loud.

oatmeal1Another way I recycle cardboard in our house is to give my kids actual food containers to use in their play kitchen. Their favorite is the Quaker Oatmeal cylinder, which my mom used to give to me when I was little. It’s such a fun shape. My little ones use it for the play kitchen, but also make it a drum, log bridge for their block buildings, or a container for small toys.

When your child is done playing with your boxes and containers, turn them into a book. We see our children identify branding before they can read the label – especially with food. My daughter shocked us when she identified Starbucks as “the coffee store” since we rarely go there. But she knew that everytime we went into the store with the green letters and “fancy girl” cheerios1logo, we came out with coffee. Many kids can identify their favorite cereal boxes. Just as they can identify that a Stop sign says “Stop” before they can read, it is an important step of reading to assign meaning to groups of letters, especially when those groups of letters are in their daily environment. Cut the front side off of your Cheerios box, put it inside a slip page insert, and pop it into a binder. This book is one your child can read to themselves and you can continually add to it making it fresh and new. A fun thing to do is have them read it out loud to you. Do they identify the brand name (Cheerios) or the items (cereal, milk, etc.)? Do they tell a story with each page (This morning I ate Cheerios…)?  Maybe they identify the letters they see and ask you what they spell.

Recycling cardboard in these playful ways can be enjoyed by all ages. What are some ways you reuse your cardboard for play?


04 2009

An apple a day…

healthy_child_heathy_worldpng…doesn’t always keep the doctor away.

I just recieved notice that Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home is now out in paperback! I’m so excited because I’ve been wanting to read it but I prefer the feel (and price) of paperback. I receive email updates from the organization. With all the information floating around out there, it can feel overwhelming as a parent to stay on top of it all. Check out how these pocket guides can make all this information practical in our busy lives. I’m hoping to use their information and advice to make Peekaboos a clean, green, and safe place for young children to play.

To learn more about this organization, visit Healthy Child Healthy World.


04 2009

Ready to read

abc-blocksI was sent an extremely interesting Lilipoh article written by Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Susan Johnson. She argues that we push our children to read and write before they are developmentally ready – and I agree. For a multitude of reasons, our curriculum has changed over the years. We are now expecting Kindergartners to do what First Graders used to do. The problem is the children are not ready, and in the end we are creating learning and behavioral issues by pushing them before they are ready (more on that another time).

When you have time, read the article because it is fascinating and really explains the physical and neurological link to learning to read and write. When I first started teaching, I heard a mentor ask parents who were concerned about their children’s reading if their children’s teeth had fallen out yet. I was as skeptical as the parents when she explained that there was a link between physical maturity and readiness to read. Despite my skepticism, I came to agree. Johnson doesn’t mention teeth, but does use other developmental markers as indicators of reading readiness.

Parents need to be put at ease. Too many are stressed that their 3 year old can’t read or that their 2 year old doesn’t recognize all of the letters of the alphabet. In Teaching our Children to Read, Write and Spell, Johnson says:

“Our preschools and kindergartens need to fill their curriculums with play consisting of lots of sensory integration activities that will strengthen fine motor movements, visual motor abilities, balance, muscle tone, proprioception, as well as strengthen children’s social and emotional development. Activities like imaginary play, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, walking the balance beam, playing circle games, singing, playing catch, doing meaningful chores, painting, coloring, playing hand-clapping games, doing string games, and finger knitting will strengthen their minds for learning. Children need these healthy, harmonious, rhythmic, and noncompetitive movements to develop their brains. For it is the movements of their body that create the pathways in their mind for reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, and creative thinking.”

Amen! This article is a great reminder that a child’s play is one of the greatest pathways for them to become future readers and writers.


04 2009

The doctor is in

drsearsRecently, my son had his two-month-old vaccinations. After 4 hours of being his smiley self, he started screaming and writhing in pain. My heart was breaking for him as he made it very clear that his legs were hurting. Neither of my girls had this problem before, so I was unprepared. I ran upstairs to find that I only had children’s rather than infant’s medicine. I couldn’t run out to the pharmacy because my 2 year old was napping. Thankfully, my sister-in-law is a pharmacist, so I called her and explained the dilemma while the baby screamed through the phone at her. She reminded me of one of my favorite websites that has a dosage conversion table for just this sort of an occasion. She told me the right dosage of children’s medicine and I relieved her from listening to the unbearable crying. Thanks to her and Dr. Sears, my boy was sleeping peacefully 15 minutes later.

If you haven’t already, bookmark It has anything that a parent could possibly need to know. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to look up the rash descriptions on the site.

The Sears family has published several helpful books. I particularly like The Pregnancy Book, The Birth Book, and The Baby Book. I have been wanting to get to The Vaccine Book. If you’ve read that one, let me know what you thought.


03 2009

Whoa Mama

mamasourceI’ve never been into forums or online groups. But when a friend sent me an email with a link to Mamasource, I was hooked instantly. It seems easier to me than other forums and I like the way it’s organized. It has a list of mom-owned businesses and special offers. I even met two people in my area that were looking to find a playgroup.

It seems harder as an adult, and more so as a parent, to make new friends. I never thought I would find a friend online. Have you made new friendships in ways you never would have expected?


03 2009

Shall we dance?

mabeldancingThis winter we had many days that were just too cold to do anything outside. All of these days posed a real threat that my 4 year old and 2 year old would gather all their pent up physical energy and literally spin out of control. So almost every night this winter around 5 pm (the universal time a young child starts behaving in such a way that caregivers begin to count down the minutes until bedtime) I would turn on “ballet” music. To my children, any classical music qualifies as “ballet” music. The rounds of interpretive dance that ensued helped my children get out all that pent up energy in a way that was manageable indoors. Of course, switching up the genre of music is always fine with my little ones, as long as we all bow and applaud each other with the reverence of ballet dancers.

I’ve been wanting to get silk play scarves to add to the dancing (oh, and all the possibilities one can imagine when playing with silk scarves…). But I still haven’t bought any, and I’m not as proactive as my best friend who made her own. Instead, we have made-do with my winter and spring scarves as well as my children’s favorite blankets.

Maybe this is why my kids love Mabel Dancing by Amy Hest so much. I have loved this story and Christine Davenier’s beautiful illustrations for years now. The book brings me back to all the times as a child I sat at the top of the stairs, when I was supposed to be in bed, because I didn’t want to miss the grown-up party downstairs. Don’t be deterred if you have sons. I first found this book when I was teaching 5 – 6 year old boys. They loved it because they could relate too. (As a side note, I find it quite important that boys as well as girls are exposed to books that have strong female main characters.)

Dancing is a fantastic indoor activity that children of all ages can enjoy. My 2 month old prefers I sing while I dance with him cheek-to-cheek. I’m taking advantage of that before it changes!


03 2009

Pop into a chalk pavement picture

chalkRemember that scene in Mary Poppins? Burt’s chalk drawing created a world where they could have a jolly holiday. These new spring days are such a tease for parents and children alike. This past weekend was gloriously sunny, but frigid. My daughters and their cousins wanted to spend some time outside. They immediately gravitated toward the clear bin sitting on the picnic table containing well-used sidewalk chalk. Four girls, ages 2, 4, 7, and 10, were all able to enjoy the same activity on their own level. Next time I’ll bundle up my 2 month old so he can enjoy witnessing the creations being made outdoors too.

Drawing with sidewalk chalk is a fun outdoor activity for all ages, even when it’s too cold to stay outside for an extended time. Don’t have any chalk? Try drawing with rocks and pebbles. Or draw in the dirt with rocks and sticks. Don’t forget to use your Outside Voice!


03 2009

Bored with board games?

Candy Land

My husband sent me this blog post featured on Boing Boing a while back. It’s an interesting read, but one that got me all fired up. This article is a clear example of how parenting and play has changed over the years in America. I contend that there is a place for “random” games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders just as there is a place for Wii. I’ll spare you my rantings on how parents need to expand on the play experience as children become more capable and that repetition, although boring for adults, is absolutely necessary for pre-schoolers. Instead, read the post and tell me what you think.


03 2009