February 25th, 2015
Reading with children
Nothing is more fulfilling than reading to a small child and watching the child's face light up as the book and story unfold. I love turning the pages and allowing the story to develop with the child's input. However, there are new tools in the reading world today - the e-books. My grandchildren, like most children, have so much technology at their fingertips and e-books and tablets to read them on are just a part of it.
All children want to be technically adept as they watch their parents and older siblings use their digital "gadgets" and my four year old granddaughter is no exception. Every time I go to dinner with her, she gets on my I-phone and, with Netflix, watches movies. She knows more about my I-phone than I do! This is the world they are growing up in.
Left: Reading to Zoe
But in early childhood reading, I and, according to surveys, 68 percent of parents and grandparents, still prefer print books to e-books on tablets for small children. There seems to be something lost in the "cuddle time" factor with an e-book and tablet no matter how easy and useful all of the digital effects of the tablet may be. There is also a temptation for busy parents and caretakers today to just leave the "digital storyteller" in the hands of the child while they get other things done.
There is room for both print books and digital books in a child's library but most researchers think that print books should be experienced first. Technology can never replace the personal reading and story telling time between an adult and a child with a traditional printed book. Studies have also shown that, even with the e-book, the child benefits more by reading it with an adult. They need to have that sense of importance and time sharing within an adult's life.
Whatever form your reading is with your child or grandchild please remember that "It Takes Two". Don't leave them on their own. Ask lots of questions, explain things and encourage your child to add to the story. Don't be in a rush; enjoy the "cuddle time". It helps to develop your special bond and their self confidence as they mature. You will enjoy it and probably learn something too. Children grow up all too fast; enjoy this special time that you now have.
Simple Moments Spark Inspiration
I have found being grateful softens the heart, produces wondrous opportunities, and brings into focus important relationships and moments between people; moments that get taken for granted, overlooked in the hurried day-to-day of living. When I reflect upon my relationships with my daughter and my mother I am grateful for the moments that bind us together, and as a result of them, have given birth to a wonderful children’s storybook character name Lae Lae. I am referring to a handcrafted and wholesome children’s book series, The Lae Lae Collection, illustrated and written by my mother based upon my daughter, Zoe, and her childhood experiences. I'm squeezed in as a blogger and promoter of the books.
This three generational collaboration of the heart was sparked by my daughter’s natural curiosity and creativeness. The collection began when my mother was already in “Act Three” of her life. As a grandmother, she was enjoying her time with her grandchildren when inspiration hit. I remember the day...
My daughter was six years old and wanted to celebrate Mother Earth by making a mud cake in her honor. She went into the backyard and collected acorns, leaves, sticks and other materials found outside. With the help of her grandmother, and alongside her older brother, he and she made their versions of earth cakes. The cakes symbolized the attention all people need to take in caring for the earth and its living creatures.
It was a profound moment to witness a beautiful childhood moment and an imperative life lesson in the making. So quintessential was this playful moment that my mother set upon becoming a children’s book author, in her sixties, to capture moments of childhood and the values taught within them.
As I reflect upon how this creative project of five years connects three generations, I realize as a family we have come together to craft stories that embrace the innocence and importance of childhood. In the process, we are shaping our moments as a family.
by Chelse Benham (Lae Lae team member)
Making a Mandala
All children love to create. Small children are not afraid to try new things and they don't fear making mistakes or doing the wrong thing. Everything can be positive with a young child.
In my expressive arts class to get ready for Valentine's Day, I made simple Valentine Mandalas with the children. Circular Mandalas are very ancient forms of artistic expression and they can be created in different ways and from various materials. They are perfect for children as they are simple, colorful and unlimited in expression.
I asked the children to think of a feeling they each wanted to express for Valentine's Day. I received answers like "love", "fun", "joy" "togetherness", "family" and "happiness". We ended up creating a whole wall of colorful Circular Mandala Valentines.
Each child started with a 12" cardboard pizza circle that had been donated from a wholesale restaurant supplier to use as a backdrop. Then from a big stash of magazines, wrapping paper, wallpaper samples and decorative stickers that I had collected, they selected things that matched their desired expression to paste on their Mandala. After the Mandalas were finished, they took them home to their parents for an early Valentine. Because of their light weight, the Mandalas could easily be mounted on the wall or sprayed with sealant and used as a pretty trivet.
Here is one that I particularly loved. It is a "Happiness" mandala full of spring flowers, butterflies, and even a bird on a nest of eggs. All of those things certainly make me feel happy.
Submitted by Laurenn (Mimi)
Ping Pong Activity Fun
Frequently, Friday evenings roll around and my husband and I are at a loss for things to do with the family. Watching movies has been a a go-to activity long over utilized and we needed to boost our together-time. As a solution, we came up with a game; Ping Pong Fun. No, it's not table tennis, although that certainly can be an activity we do together.
We have written on ping pong balls all the activities we like doing together and some new ones. For example, each ball has one activity written on it such as art (doing some artwork like drawing), tennis, walking, rock climbing, etc. there are approximately 20 activities in the bag. We can add to the activities as we think them up and we can decide on removing those activities that aren't enjoyable enough to continue doing. Being flexible is an important aspect of the game.
To start the game, we must draw out two ping pong balls. If an activity is not doable because of weather or some other interference it is put back in the bag and another one is selected. For instance we selected last Friday evening "Walk the Dogs" and "Learn A Knot" (we have a book on knots that we haven't gotten around to using until now). We can choose to draw out more than two balls if we want, but we must attempt the two activities selected. The game helps alleviate the inertia of end-of-week doldrums and the banal banter, "What do you want to do?" "No, what do you want to do?"
After 23 years of marriage, the exhaustion that sets in at the end of a long week can make the selecting of creative ideas a chore. Eating out can be tedious because of the crowds and movies at the house a bore. Ping Pong Fun creates a little surprise and spontaneity in our lives.
By Chelse Benham (Lae Lae team member)