Saturday, April 12, 2014

Learning through PLAY every day; every way

FYI: This post is LONG and contains LOTS of pictures as once again we have been busy, busy, busy learning every day in every way!

This week SPRING has been showing her wonderfully warm face. We are breaking out of our cocoons, emerging full of a new found life once again and loving our time outside!

There have been excavations of pebbles from the depths of giant puddles which of course eventually ended in puddle jumping! It all started out as a search for the perfect know that great pebble...the one that is perfect to give to your true love like in The Pebble and the Penguin?

Armed with shovels they headed to the large puddle in our driveway...a gift left from the melting snow.
 Digging up pebbles that are masked in mud, washing them in a bowl of water so their true colours shine bright.
But it didn't take long... nope not long at all before that big, beautiful puddle decided to call Aayla. She heard it loud and clear, and was obliged to answer.

Back and forth, again and again; and no those aren't rain boots she is wearing...those are fuzzy warm boots but no where near water resistant even. Does she care? Nope! Do I? Nope! This is what Spring is all about! This is what being a kid is all about! This is what every child should be allowed to experience and heck so should every adult!

Sierra got her first pair of boots wet quickly and ran inside to change as the wetness on her feet bothers her. She came back out to explore some more, she just did so from the edge of the puddle from then on.

 Directly Aayla where to dig.
 Will this be the perfect pebble?
 Yes it is!
 Ha Ha no that's a pinecone
But the puddle called again to Aayla...and by the time she had enough in the puddle her clothes were barely recognizable. I thought her shirt would never come clean but believed that was a small price to pay for the enjoyment had out in that puddle searching for pebbles.

In case you are wondering we got lucky though and it came as clean as it was new.

The Spring rains have visited us and we have embraced them, loved them and enjoyed playing in them. The trampoline is always more fun when it is wet.
 You slip and slide and bounce so high.

There have also been play dates with neighbours...Kodey is like part of our family as my girls are like part of hers in their household. All three girls have the freedom to roam between houses to play what they choose together. Sometime they all play nicely together and other days one of them chooses something else to do. On this day Aayla chose to stay inside to watch NetFlix and Sierra and Kodey played with some toys out on the trampoline. Bouncing so crazily I couldn't seem to focus on them both with my phone... but they are cute shots anyway.

We've been thrift store shopping. Finding treasures, adding and subtracting prices, making decisions on purchases, letting some things go and finding others. One of our favourite finds this past couple of weeks is this simple Popsicle maker. I was drawn to it because we want to have a pirate party to welcome summer and this jewel shaped ring pop popsicle mold will be just perfect for the occasion.
We of course had to try them out to make sure they worked...and they did.
 And of course you can'y have only one!
Our treasure hunting isn't just reserved for thrift stores and mud puddles...treasures can be found everywhere and the possibilities are endless as to what they will someday become.

We had a visit with Nana and of course played lots of cards and other games.

We of course play dress up on almost a daily basis and watching videos to uncover trains in play dough eggs is always more fun when one does it as a princess. Aayla also has a fascination with watching her videos in Spanish and German sometimes and actually chooses other languages to listen to and doesn't just stumble upon them by accident. If Sierra tries to 'help' her and put an English version on Aayla gets quite upset. She loves the different sounds of other languages.

We enjoyed our first walk of the Spring with Sissy Meadow and Loki to this park in Barrie.
Loki had a lot of fun chasing her rope toy...I swear she's part kangaroo!

The park visit included our first park play day. A day to climb and use muscles we almost forgot we had during this long cold winter.

This day at the park, like all our days was a learning and growing experience. Aayla has emerged this spring with confidence. She doesn't need help with that first slide any more. She's able to yell to me from the top to watch and slide down with out needing encouragement to do so. She has always loved slides but in the past she would take close to 15 minutes to get comfortable before going down. Once comfortable she would race round to climb up and slide down again. Not this Spring...this Spring, this day, there was no hesitation at all.

Sierra mastered the fire pole a couple years ago but this day she learned how to propel herself around and around the pole as she slides to the bottom; hair flying in the wind created from her speed.
 By watching Sierra slide down the pole again and again Aayla was determined to do the same herself and for her very first time ever she grabbed a hold of the fireman's pole, wrapped her legs around it and slide down all by herself.
She was so happy and I was so proud of her for working through her desire to do this activity, trying to figure out how to succeed at it and accomplishing it in time...all by herself!
Playing in the dark is another activity we like to do. Aayla especially loves to play with flash lights any chance she gets.

The light table is a great way to play with shapes and THESE egg tangrams were a lot of fun. Play matters in our house and we see the benefit of learning while playing. There is so much being learned while playing on the light table...colour recognition, hand eye coordination, visual perception, matching, freedom to explore, creativity, curiosity, colour mixing and even responsibility as we clean up when we are finished.

We've been very creative lately including a homeschool group trip to Creative Cafe in Barrie. As well as the creative experience the girls had lots of choices to make. They had to decide on the pieces they wanted to paint that fit in the budget I gave them. This meant they could choose one bigger piece or two little pieces and both chose to do two little pieces. You can just see the concentration on their faces here as they paint their pieces.
They also chose their paint colours while here. The paints are organized by a colour code of two or three digit numbers. Recognizing the numbers from the plaques above them, finding the correct colour bottle by the little lids is great two and three digit number recognition. Remembering the placement of each number within the bigger digit so to choose the right colour. 305 might be a totally different colour then 350. Some of the rows were too high and they needed help but they searched the lower rows first and if they couldn't find it I'd look up top for them. A simple showcase of how learning opportunities are in front of us every day of our lives if we only choose to embrace them.
We also got to sit and paint with some other homeschooling friends and catch up since we last saw each other.

We met a couple other families there too but socializing at these 'task based' events is generally hard when you're all focused on your individual table. I know that with the arrival of spring there will be more and more events and get together's and we are looking forward to meeting new families, catching up with friends and just getting together for future fun.

We have been creating a lot lately, mainly Easter crafts. Creating to me is so valuable for life learning.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will”- George Bernard Shaw

Those words are so true and they speak volumes to me. Successful people are generally those who imagine a desire and make it come true by creating it for themselves...not stopping at anything until their dreams become a reality.

To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” -Osho

Or in our case...a little more art to it!

Here are some of the beauty we have been creating:

-Egg Animals (fun to make and play with)

-Easter chicks dioramas in Mason Jars

-Painting Wooden Eggs
-Littlest Pet Shop Eggs
-Colouring HOT Eggs
Sometimes our art is as simple as putting an egg shape, markers and plasticine on the table to see what happens...

And other days it using mediums in different ways like colouring on the hot plate. Our art doesn't always have to be just needs to provide opportunity to create.

Playing with the play dough is a regular activity for us too and these play dough eggs were lots of fun and turned out beautifully.

Recipe HERE
And remember this little sweetie I won...well she arrived! I was so excited that I couldn't even wait to get her home to open her and see her for the first time. Thanks Mamaroots! We Love her.

We had another surprise in the mail this week from Grammy handmade dish clothes (which I was needing as I threw out two this week that got holes and unravelled in the wash) and a couple knitted rugs for Sierras doll house; when we get back to it's renovation.

The creation of the fake door to a working door was a bit complicated and took us awhile to complete. The doors didn't line up and the tools were all packed away in storage. As you can see in the picture below the sides were cut from the front but you can see the drill hole in the bottom corner which is where the door frame is inside the house...they don't quite match. So we waited till daddy solved the problem for us and created Easter crafts lately instead. We will be back to this project soon enough I am sure. It's not forgotten it is just waiting...

As the warmer weather finally melted the ice in the river we have been playing spot the largest iceburg and counting them all as they float by.
With the melting of the ice we have seen the river at it's highest point since we have been here, coming up over the banks. I'm sending positive thoughts out to those up around the bend whose land is low and is probably flooding right now. I hope it doesn't do much damage to their cottages and homes. We knew when we bought our place that flooding would never be an issue for us as we are up so high...thankfully.
Now that the sun is here it makes me secretly hope our house doesn't sell as we love the summers here and can barely wait to get the seadoos in the water. The reality though...the Ontario winters are too brutal for our likings and the positive energy now surrounding us with the few warm spring days we have had, lets me know our choice to move to warmer winter lands is the best one for our family.

Funny how life changes day by day...sometimes you reach for things you want, only to realize they aren't as perfect as you imagined. Sometimes the greatness of the good doesn't out weigh the depth the negative can travel. Some people just except things as a way of life...we almost did this time; because we love the summers so much here. The pros and cons of each choice needed to be be weighed and choices needed to be made.

We came to realize that 3 months of bliss are not worth 5 months of bitter cold and misery. I am not a winter person. I can survive in it, but I do not thrive in it. As much as I tried to embrace winter for my children, 5 months is a long time to fake it and inevitably my dislike for winter has spread to my children and that saddens me. Alot of negativity can set in on a person during the winter when one does not like the cold. We have to choose where we want to live; where benefits our family the most. We have to seek it out so we can create our own true happiness through choices; which are there for us to choose.

To create the life we want to live.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” -Andy Warhol

I believe this quote to be true. Things don't just happen to you in life. Life is a journey full of choices. Full of learning. Full of decisions to be made and each one can alter your path. Happiness isn't to be found. Happiness is to be created.

How will you create your own happiness today?

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