Friday, December 10, 2010

"Mom, I'm bored!"

Summer in Seattle is absolutely glorious. The sun is shining, everything is lush and green, there's the beach nearby and the mountains, and the lakes. Each day we breath in the endless possibilities, run out to greet the limitless world, holding hands and smiling.
Then there is fall and winter, which are basically one long, dark rain storm. It can get a person down. It can make a kid cranky and bored. Which is why, after a couple weeks of whining by a certain six-year-old, I resorted to this:

The events calendar.
Each month I print out a blank one, along with a sheet of clip art, and have the kids decide what we will do and when. I can cater the clip art to things that are available that month. For example, this month we are going ice skating, making Christmas cookies, and having a bonfire on the beach. Then there are our regular monthly activities: game night, pizza night, movie night, library day. The kids get to decide when we do things, which they love, but I get to limit how many things we do and what kind. Win-win.
That six-year-old loves going over to the calendar and counting how many days until our next special event. Since we started doing it she rarely complains about boredom! Ye-haw!
What ideas do you have for fighting the winter doldrums?

Thursday, December 2, 2010


After my complaint last month about how toys enter my house, I thought I'd give you a peek at one of our favorite toys around here. It came to us as a hand-me-down (the best way to get toys) and contained the classic tinker toys, plus a compatible set of plastic parts. Here they are, if anyone knows what they are called or who makes them, please let me know.

From this sundry we make all kinds of fabulous things, from cars to space ships to flowers and flags. The wooden dowels require just a slight amount of pressure and pinching to fit into place so the kids (ages 3 and 6) can do it themselves. My daughter prefers fanciful, detailed creations

while my son prefers simple dramatic shapes.

We leave the big box out in the living room so they can access it any time. I think they have played with them every day for the last three weeks. Gradually all the pieces get spread throughout the house and we have to round them up every week but then it is like discovering them all over again.

I love that these toys leave plenty of room for the imagination and mood of the kid. The teacher in me (and my Occupational Therapist mom) knows that they are great for fine motor skill. Plus, there is no wrong way to play with them or put them together. They just feel nice in your hand. Solid, you know? Real. I like that.