Archive for the ‘Inside Voice’Category

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

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

Oh the places you’ll go

pleasetouchIf you find yourself in Philly, I highly recommend you visit the Please Touch Museum. I’m so sad that The Center for Creative Play in Pittsburgh closed before I could experience it with my kids. What is your favorite place to bring your children to play?


03 2009