Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Let the Children Play and Follow their lead!

Today was one of those rare but wonderful days. A day to do whatever we pleased, no kindy, no gym, no playgroup, grocery shopping, appointments nothing... Bliss!!

I have to admit I did have some guilt. Guilt that I hadn't organised something amazing for the kids to do on this empty day, some cool activity that I could even perhaps blog about, I hadn't set out any 'invitations' not even organised some sort of baking, by golly what kind of mother was I??? I've wasted a day! Don't you love a mothers brain!!
However, by about midday I began to see that this day was far far from wasted. On this day with no expectations the children played and I observed. I stepped in when appropriate to guide, question, extend and I realised this, THIS is what is important! THIS is what I should share. THIS is far more valuable than some activity!!
THIS is what mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers are doing with children all over the world all day, everyday and THIS is what matters!
So here is our day highlighting how I tuned into my children.

With the glorious sunny weather we had gone outside to play I had some washing to hang out (Miss M enjoys helping me with this) and Bubba was having his morning nap. Miss M and Hman enjoyed a swing and a bounce on the trampoline the usual stuff. Then Miss M found an orange growing on our orange tree. It's only a young tree and this is the first of two oranges on it. She wanted to know what it was growing on the tree. I asked her what she thought it was and she replied a lime". A great suggestion! We talked about what made her decide it was a lime and then I asked her what type of tree it was and she laughed when I said do you think a lime would grow on an orange tree hehehe!!

 Hman came to look

She wanted to pick it. I said it wasn't ready, it still had more growing to do, we can tell that cause it is still green and hasn't turned orange yet.
We compared it's colour, size and smell to a fully grown orange from the fridge (lucky I had some). 

 While returning the orange to the fridge Hman succeeded in pulling the orange off the tree!! At least there is still another one growing!  Hman threw it, "that's right it's round like a ball". We described it's physical properties - colour, shape, texture, weight and smell. I modelled new vocabulary for them such as bumpy, waxy, citrus, round.

I asked if they wanted to see what it looked like inside which was answered with yes, yes, yes! We made some predictions, such as, what do you think it will look like? Will it be orange? Will it look like an orange etc. 
I cut it through it's diameter so they could see the segments. Wow look at the shapes! They both happily smelled the orange but weren't keen to taste it, perhaps it was it's colour??

 I suggested we could explore the shapes and pattern of the inside more by taking some prints of the orange. "Yeah, yeah mummy!" With lots of jumping up and down.
When I asked what colour we should use Miss M said green and Hman said yes!

As they were making the prints Miss M was chatting, I was listening - "these are the leaves, this is a big big tree".
I quietly added a small tub of brown paint and a brush. 
Together they made lots of trees. I was encouraging Hman to say 'tree' as he has not yet used this word by getting down to his level and gaining his eye contact while modellingI encouraged Miss M to extend her language by describing the trees she had made- 'this tree is tall and skinny,' 'this one is short and round'.

After they were done we cleaned up and had some morning tea. Oranges of course!!

Bubba woke from his morning nap and I suggested we go for a walk and have a look at some trees and see if we could find 'the biggest tree ever'!!
We could go on a tree hunt!!
We did see lots of trees but we also found something that totally enthralled them.
 A construction site. 

We watched the bulldozers, diggers and the trucks digging, scooping, dumping and coming and going for quiet awhile. It was incredibly entertaining and the children were in awe of these big machines at work! 

After awhile it was time to come back home and have lunch. Before the boys nap time we all snuggled on the bed in Hmans room and read 'Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site' by Sherri Duskey Rinker. The children were able to see all the machines from the site in the story and it has such beautiful language. I also remembered a construction puzzle Hman had been given as a gift from his Gran which was the perfect quiet time activity for Miss M while the boys napped.

I quickly did some mopping while she busied herself with the puzzle! 

In the afternoon after the boys had woken up it wasn't long before they were all eager to get back outside. With all the big machines from the construction site still fresh in their minds we couldn't resist turning our sandpit into our own construction site!

Even Princesses in Tiara's couldn't resist this fun!

Bubba enjoyed an orange slice I had put in the freezer for him. His first try of orange and he pulled some funny faces but it was perfect for his poor teething gums!!

And before we knew it, our day was nearing it's end. The best bit and I really love it when this happens was, Daddy made it home in time for dinner and the children, well really just Miss M, was able to tell him all about our day. He wasn't too happy about his precious orange getting picked but he did like the trees we painted with it ;)
Before bed Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site was requested again and we made up some silly little songs about some of the big machines which caused many giggles.
So there you have it, our day summed up and I've no doubt missed loads. A day with no pre thought, no expectations, no set up activities but filled to over flowing with learning and wonder and curiosity from simply following my children's lead. I could have ignored their interest in the orange, kept walking straight passed the construction site and often when we are so busy with activities, outings, errands this can happen. I hope this inspires you to occasionally stop, step back,
let your children play and follow their lead.
Play and Learn

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