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Category Archives: Play

Why we had a screen-free-day (and you should too)!

The day has arrived, my kids have gone back to school. I know some parents relish the time being at home with their kids over the summer, but I find it very difficult. My kids are 8, 6 and almost two, so finding activities to keep them entertained at their varying ages and interests was a challenge!

One of my biggest challenges this summer was getting my kids to play outside. After a lot of coaxing to get them out the door, they often only stayed outside for 10 minutes before announcing ‘I’M BORED’ and heading back inside. They were happy to play with lego, games or other toys when I set limits on screen time, but they wanted to be inside.  I found this extremely frustrating, but it also made me so sad. Sad that they preferred to play inside than to explore the neighbourhood and meet other kids. Sad that they weren’t experiencing nature, breathing fresh air and running freely. Sad that childhood isn’t what it used to be and that my kids are part of the statistics saying kids are leading more sedentary lives and engaging in active play less than ever before.

I decided I had had enough, and pulled the plug on screens. I announced we were having a screen-free-day. There would be no tv, iPod or iPad for the entire day. I hid the remotes, and the computer mouse, and I put away the ipad. They weren’t happy about it, and there were tears and lots of anger. But we quickly got out the door and headed to the park and screens were forgotten.

Cumberland Museum Cumberland Museum

I made a few observations throughout the day:

-They didn’t ask for screens. When I told them it wasn’t going to be an option for the whole day, they stopped asking.
-They got along! My older two kids fight constantly, but they actually played together nicely!
-They were less moody! There were no blow ups, and no one snapped or got angry like they usually do when screen time was over.
-They played outside!
-They fell asleep fast and hard! My 8 year old, who usually takes a long time to fall asleep crashed the minute his head hit the pillow!

As a child, I do remember spending days in front of the TV, but I also remember days spent running around in my neighbourhood and at the park. I remember running through sprinklers, biking with friends and exploring the little wooded area behind our neighbourhood. Part of me feels like technology is getting in the way of these childhood experiences. I understand it has it’s benefits, and we can do so much more and connect in so many ways now than ever before. But this summer, I had many moments of wanting to throw out each screen in the house if it meant my kids would just play outside!

So where does that leave me… I don’t feel like I can completely deprive them of technology, it’s not going anywhere. There are opportunities to engage and be social, opportunities to learn and be creative. Not everything online is a time suck and not everything offline is engaging and amazing. But what I need to do, and believe me it’s a constant struggle, is to find the balance between the two so that their childhood is full of all that is out there to experience.

We will be having more screen-free-days in our house, and I am trying to engage them in activities that I like to do and hope they’ll follow my lead.

How do you balance technology use and outside play in your home?

Urgency

I’ve been reading a lot about sensory issues lately, and today I came across something that made me think.

The  Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support Network posted on their page: How many kiddos here are never thirsty? Or always thirsty? Always hungry or never hungry?

My 6 year old son Joel has a sense of urgency about eating and drinking. He doesn’t seem to notice that he’s thirsty or hungry (or that he needs to pee for that matter) until it is the ABSOLUTE last second!   Just like another person who posted on the thread, I’m not sure Joel feels it until he is extremely hungry or thirsty. Today was such a roller coaster ride of ups and downs that all came down to a late breakfast, a later lunch, and not enough snacks or drinks. After I had realized that his explosive meltdown and ensuing laying under the dining room table was related to him being too hungry.  I asked him why he didn’t just ask me for a snack. His response? He wanted me to just know that he was hungry without actually telling me? I need to work on being better prepared with snacks on the weekends.

As for peeing, I think most of the time it’s just that he’s too busy playing to take the time to run to the bathroom. So when he does go, it’s a mad dash and panic to get to the toilet before he explodes!

Do your kids tend to have an urgency around eating, drinking and peeing?

Yoga for Kids … It’s Child’s Play!

Introducing Christine Bohonos, certified Yoga for Kids teacher.  Christine has been teaching yoga to both adults and children for over 4 years now and lives in Stoney Creek, Ontario where she is the owner of Cobra Yoga,  www.cobrayoga.com      Christine shares with us the benefits of yoga and play for children. So grab a cup of tea, sit back and have a read…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing yoga … rolling my spine down the hill at the side of my childhood house, or doing the splitz on the kitchen floor while my mother baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch.

But why yoga, and why am I so thrilled about sharing this ancient practice with others?  The many benefits of course, and I see them happening both on and off the mat.

On the mat, children experience improved circulation and flexibility in their bodies adding to a healthier lifestyle.  They also experience a calmness of mind which relieves stress, anxiety and a host of other health issues, but where I really see the affects of yoga come into play is off the mat, when the spirit soars in amazing ways.  Take for instance the child who has been practicing yoga and while in class, he or she learns a meditation to help deal with inner anger.  Then at home they hear their parents or older siblings fighting and they’re able to go to a quiet place, close their eyes and meditate on those feelings of anger.  Or the child who learns how to breathe long and deep and then practices this for a few minutes each night before bed to help them sleep.

Another benefit of yoga is that it inspires creativity just like play does, and when I’m teaching a kid’s yoga class, play is my top priority.

Children need opportunities both to play with other children and to play on their own. When two or more children are together many different games are possible.  In a child’s yoga class, games are often a part of the structure allowing the child to practice partner poses and explore their own creativity and imagination.

Play and physical activity within a kids’ yoga class fosters …

  •  Self esteem and confidence:  Think warrior or the archer pose.  In these poses the child stands tall.  Energy grounds their feet down strongly into the mat, while the opposing energy from their torso and arms extends up and out  — just like a Warrior ready for battle.
  • Team work:   Think partner poses like kissing tree and row your boat.  Take some time out at the end of your busy day and do these poses with your child.  For Kissing tree you both get into tree pose and then join your hands up above.  As soon as you have your balance you kiss each other on the cheek.  Working on balance together calls for teamwork.  Or sit down in a wide legged stretch and join hands across the middle.  Take turns bending forward and then bending back and don’t let go.  Row that boat to the shoreline!  Rowing a boat together takes teamwork.
  • Body awareness:   Think poses like seated forward bend and eye circles.  A child starts to become body aware around the age of 6-years-old and yoga helps to make this awareness positive rather than negative.  Before getting into a seated forward bend, many yoga teachers will ask the kids to grab hold of the fleshy parts of their behinds and pull them out to the sides.  This is so that we can feel our ischial tuberosity’s, or our sitz bones.  Kids love to learn about body parts and how they work.  They also love the funny feeling of rolling their eyes around in circles with their eyelids closed.  Normally we don’t take the time to think about our eyes and the important function of sight and navigation that they give to us.  Tip for parents:  This is good for you too, especially if you stare at a computer screen all day long J

So what’s it going to be?  Will you be suiting up with the kids this fall for a family yoga class?  Perhaps a power yoga class for yourself while your child experiences a Storytelling Yoga class down the hall (most yoga studios offer kid’s classes at the same time as adult ones so check your local yoga studio’s schedule)

Until next time … Namaste (the light in me salutes the light in you). 

Learning through dress up play

One of my favourite shows as a kid was Mr. Dressup. This Canadian classic was such a big part of so many kids’ childhoods. I loved when Mr. Dressup opened up the Tickle Trunk and pulled out a different costume. I don’t remember having many costumes as a child, but I do remember loving to play make believe!

Yesterday our family took a trip to the Museum of Civilization where there is the most amazing Children’s Museum. If you are ever in the Ottawa area, let me know and I will take you there! It’s a must see.

Photos of Canadian Children's Museum, Gatineau
This photo of Canadian Children’s Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As you walk into the Museum, your first destination is to the Theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is truly a miniature version of the real thing, with a ticket booth and play money (Joel’s first stop, he sold me a ticket for $40 and assigned me a seat), a back stage and dressing area, make up chairs and costumes gallore.

This is where all the fun happens… choosing the right costume, getting into the role and making an appearance on the stage! It was hard to leave this first area, my kids could have easily lost themselves for an hour. Here are some of their choice roles:

 

 

 

 

 

 First we have the lovely Queen Mieka, full of grace and beauty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Joel the stoic tree… .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Mieka the Ram.. taking life by the horns. I think this one suited her well. If we’d had a few more kid with us we could have put on the most grand performance with a tree, a ram, the wind, the moon, a jester and of course the Queen!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the fun didn’t stop here, the kids got to pretend to be construction works, rickshaw taxi drivers, fruit stand vendors, postal workers, shop keepers, and ship crew. By the time we finished our tour, they were wiped! What was so amazing to see was just how quickly they fell into role play; while they were building a wall as a construction worker, they talked about making sure the bricks were balanced and didn’t fall over, needing a hard hat and a vest to be safe, and when it was time to pack up the tools. When they were shop keepers, they quickly fell into roles of asking for my order and making change. When they were postal workers, they sold me some stamps and put my imaginary letters in the slot. It was so interesting to see the gravitate to parts of the museum they were most interested in.

I know my kids had a great time at the Children’s Museum, and although they may not have known it, I had just as much fun watching them learn while they played. My eyes were opened to it, and sat back and watched as they developed their ideas of the world.

Sensory Play and brain food!

My kids play so differently. My son Joel loves to zone out into his own world of makebelieve with bits of paper, receipts, calculators or knicknacks. He pretends he’s everything from a banker to a subway driver. I love watching him get lost in those worlds.

My daughter Mieka on the other hand is more into sensory play. She loves playing in the sink with bubbles. I fill the sink and give her a laddle, collander and some containers, and she’ll play happily while I make dinner. She’ll spend hours in the sandbox, or playing with playdough, and loves playing with her food!

Understanding how my kids play is helpful when it comes to putting together activities for them. I loved the explanation of Sensory Play for preschoolers over at www.notjustcute.com. It makes sense that our children are wired to receive sensory information from day one. Which explains why they dive in with their hands to explore new things. Amanda from www.notjustcute.com adds that by talking with them about what they are observing and sensing, we give them new language tools to connect with these more familiar sensory tools, building language as well as supporting cognitive concepts specific to the experience.

I took a look on Pinterest and came up with so many great ideas for sensory play. These will definitely be tried out at my house very soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How fun is this spaghetti sensory play WITH PAINT!
Source: Spaghetti Sensory Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know Mieka would love this idea! A bin full of shaving cream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Mamsmiles

How about a squishy bag? This is easy to do with some hair gel (from the dollar store), glitter and food colouring. Mix them all into a ziplock bag and let your child make letters and numbers on the bag. Hold it up against a window for a whole new tactile effect!

(Source: Play at Home Mom)

Some more ideas? A bin full of popcorn kernels, dried beans or noodles. One full of feathers or pom poms. A bucket full of plastic letters. Tools like tweezers, scoops, small cars, and sponges will also help with eye-hand coordination. How about a basket full of laundry (the other day Mieka rolled in it pretending she was covered in mud). The possibilities are endless!

Sensory play is so important in a child’s brain development. Think of it as brain food. Just say for example your child is playing in that tub of spaghetti, she is developing her sense of touch, which is the foundation for learning other skills, like being able to identify objects by touch, and using fine-motor skills. Sensory play also helps children develop new concepts; is it smooth or rough, wet or dry, bumpy or crunchy? Some questions you might ask while your child is engaged in sensory play: what does it feel like, smell like, look like. What can you do with it, how can you move it, where can you put it.

I think I’m going to take a look around the house and in the cupboards for things that are bumpy, crunchy, scratchy, soft and smooth and let the kids get dirty ! Will you join me? Let’s let our kids get right into it and messy!

Peekaboo Beans Summer Play Challenge

It’s official, Summer Vacation is HERE! The weather has been fantastic so far, lots of sunny and hot days. We are starting to settle into our summer time routine, but I’m always searching for new things to keep the kids busy! Usually we rotate through our friends’ houses for play dates, make a few trips to the splash pads or museums, and maybe even a couple of day trips outside of the city.

I’d like to invite you to take part in the Peekaboo Beans Summer Play Challenge! It’s easy to do, just print out this poster, put it on your fridge or bulletin board, and check off everything you do! Share with us your stories, which ones your kids enjoyed the most, how did you make each activity your own? Whatever you want to say, we would love to hear! Most important of all, have fun and enjoy the time you will spend with your family!

Exploring the world through play and adventures

I love creating ‘experiences’ for my children, and making that magic of childhood happen for them. I’m often inspired by other bloggers who share the amazing things they do for their kids. My friend Andrea from A Peek inside the fishbowl sets the bar high when it comes to creating those experiences. I’ll never forget the time she created a tempoary forest in her backyard out of digarded Christmas trees.

When I read about what Fan, a Toronto mom and blogger was doing to help her son develop his strengths and talents through play, I was awestruck. She chronicles the adventures she has out and about in big ol’ Toronto with her son Teddy on her blog Teddy Out-Ready. I’m really excited to share this post she wrote about she is helping Teddy Exploring the world through play and adventures!

Exploring the world through play and adventures
By Fan R.

Being a good first time mom is very difficult task that brings a lot of joy and even more responsibility. As soon as our son Teddy turned 8 months we started exposing him to different events and shows which we have so many in our megalopolis. Of course, we targeted only toddler friendly activities that can help us to learn more about our son and develop him physically and mentally the best way we can.

We created a global chart of milestones that we could achieve for a year and underlined the activities that can help us to do that. It is not written in stone and it all depends on his own abilities and desires to accomplish them, we just want to give him the opportunity to explore and find his strengths and talents. We began creating a weekly activity plan which we call adventures. Since we take a lot of pictures and videos, we decided to start blogging and post reports about Teddy’s adventures on Teddy Out-Ready.

The easiest way to reach a toddler’s heart is through play and that is what our little adventures is all about.

We decided to attend one big event every week, with the remaining days filled with routine and fun activities that Teddy loves to do. We try to balance indoor and outdoor activities, since nothing can be more beneficial for a toddler’s health than using the playground to exercise, breathe fresh air and play all at the same time.

Currently Teddy goes to MyGym twice a week. He enjoys bars, obstacle courses, balance beams, slides, ladders, ball pool and trampolines. Day 1 is a more structured class with games, gymnastic stations, separation time and puppet show. Day 2 is open play to dash around and have fun. Teddy loves to go to the swimming pool and we try and take him twice a week, the first day in Parent & Tot 3 class with instructor and second one is recreational swim to enjoy and play.

Once a week, Teddy attends art class at 4Cats Art Studio where he concentrates on painting a winter landscape– it is going to take up to six classes to complete the final painting.

The big event this week – we are going to see the Lorax in Imax3D! Teddy played with Lorax himself during Kids-Fest and the Outdoor Adventures Show and it was very exciting to finally see him in the theatre.

Here is Teddy’s sample schedule for the week:

Monday
AM: Playground at Community Centre
PM: Heading to MyGym Open Play for dance, games, gymnastics and just having fun

Tuesday
AM: Playground at Community Centre
PM: Heading to MyGym Open Play for dance, games, gymnastics and just having fun

Wednesday
AM: Playground at Community Centre
PM: Parent & Tot 3 swimming class with instructor

Thursday
Day open for any extra activities that can come up

Friday
AM: Playground at Community Centre
PM: Recreational swim at Community Centre pool

Saturday
AM: Heading to 4Cats Art Studio for first art class
PM: Out to see the movie the Lorax in Imax3D

Sunday
AM: Heading to MyGym for a structured class
PM: Playground at Community Centre
Exploring the world through play and adventures

What about you, do you have weekly activities scheduled, or do you play it by ear week by week? What works best with your kids?

Peekaboo Beans Play Stylists love playing!

This family day weekend, three Peekaboo Beans Play Stylists headed out to Funatorium Explorium Family Extravaganza, a three day long event geared to children AND parents  playing together! Funatorium could not have been a better fit for us to represent Peekaboo Beans. At Peekaboo Beans, we believe that play is integral to childhood development, and that all kids need play for optimal growth and development!

I loved watching families playing together at Funatorium this weekend.  Whether they were having stacking cup races, building lego towers, plasma car races or bouncing around in the Body zorbs, everyone had a great time!  When we play WITH our children, we are setting an example for them and encouraging them to engage in their own creative play. What better role models than parents to show our kids just how much fun it is to play!

It was a great weekend, and it was such a pleasure talking to families about the importance of play and how Peekaboo Beans can fit into their lives! How did you play this family day weekend?

Here are some great photos of the event from my friend Sara Mcconnell Photography.

A moment captured

I play this game with Mieka where I get her to pretend to be a baby. I rock her in my arms and she says ‘wah wah wah I’m a baby’. It’s cute, and I love it because it means I can pretend she’s not growing up so fast for just a few minutes. 

Tonight as I was putting her to bed, she asked for just one more huggle (a stand up hug/cuddle – it MUST be done standing, no sitting allowed.)  My back got tired, so I swung her legs into my arm and craddled her like I used to do when she was a baby. She held her bunny with one arm, the other was draped behind my back. She nestled into my chest and closed her eyes. I rocked that 30lb girl back and forth back and forth while singing her the lullabies I used to sing when I nursed her.

For a brief moment in time, a Kairos moment, she was my 8 month old baby girl all over again. And I relished it.

I first heard of a Kairos moment in a fantastic blog post by this blogger “Our Life Better Together’. I just love how she captures it here…

“And then there’s Kairos time. Those moments straight out of a storybook, straight from God Himself, when we stop, look, and melt with happiness. The moments when you feel like the luckiest woman in the world, in the absolute best place of your life. And because these moments aren’t planned and aren’t predicted, it’s critical that you see and soak ’em up. “

Peekaboo Beans and Play at Funatorium!

At Peekaboo Beans, we provide the ingredients for a playful life. Play is central to all that we do. When I first heard of Funatorium Explorium, I knew that this would be a great fit for Peekaboo Beans. This 3 day event, coming up February 18-19-20 provides an opportunity for parents and children to play together and have loads of fun doing it!

At Funatorium Explorium Family Extravaganza, EVERYONE will have a BLAST. The entire event is planned so that parents and kids play TOGETHER. There are 4 key areas at the event:

PLAY SPACE

Hands-on fun for parents and kids to play together and compete against each other. Rock climb, Bodyzorbs (how cool does that sound?!), Spider Climbing, joust, obstacle course, Lego building … and much much MORE!

SHARED EXPERIENCE CENTRES

Trying new activities couldn’t be easier. Sign up for a Shared Experience Centre and learn how to perform magic tricks, bust a Jackie Chan move, or try your hand at creating your very own cartoon… the possibilities are truly ENDLESS.

FUN CENTRAL

Visit our centre stage to watch amazing performances from science to magic. We also have feature presentations from Free The Children and Jason Kotecki will speak about his Cheap Family Fun Guide (not to be missed!) … come check out the ACTION!

MARKETPLACE
Come meet family friendly exhibitors (like Peekaboo Beans!)
Touch, taste, try and buy!

WHEN: February 18-20, 2012
WHERE: CE Centre, 4899 Uplands Drive
HOURS: Sat 9-7, Sun 10-5, Mon 9-5
WHO: Families with children ages 4+
PRICE: on-line prices $19.99/ticket or $75 for a family of 4 (+HST)

Discount code for Peekaboo Beans customers: PR6FE12 (save an extra $2 per ticket)

http://www.funatoriumexplorium.com