Friday, February 15, 2013

The Nature Box

Nature. It's hard to beat. N and I are lucky to have a lot of natural spaces to play in - wonderful nearby parks, a great outdoor garden at our local children's museum, the lake at our cabin. But there are rainy days. And really cold days. And days when we need something awesome to do just before lunch.

Enter, our nature box. Right now it has a big shell, some coral (N's favorite, by far), a sawed out section of our Christmas tree, a coconut shell, different colored rocks, and a tile washed up on the beach in Mexico.

N likes to touch each one, carry them on little laps around the living room, and sometimes stack them together. I showed him how to hide items under the coconut shell and the big shell, and he returns to this fairly often.

There is something about this box. N is always interested. And it's fun to be on the lookout for the next addition - a great piece of driftwood, a big pinecone, a seed pod. We've only played with our current box for a week or so, but I plan to keep the contents shifting.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Find a Campus near you

One of our favorite activities is visiting the campuses of local colleges. Here are a few of the things we've enjoyed at the ones near us, and may I suggest you check out one near you!

1. Picking up a vegan brownie at a college cafe while every one in sight cooed over N in his stroller.
2. Playing ball on a vast quadrangle, pausing only to admire passing students biking and skateboarding
3. Picnicking under a huge tree before practicing walking up and down the steps of a nearby theater over and over and over
4. Transferring rocks from one part of a cactus garden to another part of the same cactus garden
5. Checking out new kinds of leaves and trees
6. Toddling through a dorm lobby and checking out the couch
7. Walking down secret paths between high hedges
8. Admiring fountains from afar and very close up

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cardboard Blocks

It's so easy. Plus, you start getting really excited every time you finish a box of waffles, cereal, pasta, whatever. 

Cardboard blocks!

I just cover the ends in duct tape and then cut out a piece of contact paper to wrap around the whole main part of the block. I'm not too careful about it and usually end up double wrapping a bit with my long sheet, and that way there are no rulers involved. Each block takes a couple of minutes - it'd be a good activity while watching a movie. 

N can stack them easily, and he likes carrying them around too. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ongoing Story

In those first few sleep-deprived months of cuddly constant night feedings, I began to tell N a story. An ongoing story. The hero of the story is also named N, but he has a special magical ability - flight. And a best friend, named Michael, who is a mouse from Paris. Together, N and Michael have adventures all across the world. They have been horse back riding, kite surfing and canoeing. They have gone on a Belgian chocolate tasting tour and hiked the Swiss Alps. They have been to an amazing park called "The Great Swing Park" and they once met Santa and his elves in their secret workshop above Prague.

I love to tell N this story. It begins anytime he is feeling a little sad or bored, like in the last twenty minutes of a stroller ride or a car ride at the end of the day. Each one starts as N and Michael decide what they want to do that day and each one ends with them going to sleep that night, happily dreaming of the nice day they had.

Though N may not always understand the story, it seems to help him relax for a while, and meanwhile I am learning a lot about the characters and how to tell a good story, so as it continues and he grows to understand it more, I will have a lot to draw on.

One final note. One way I make the story fun to tell for me is to weave in some of my memories - places I've been that I've loved, activities I enjoy, foods I like. It's fun to tell N a story where the heroes visit my favorite places, do my favorite things, and eat my favorite foods. And as he continues to develop his own interests, the characters will undoubtedly dabble in those things too.