Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online (playaway.com or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Get Ready for Summer Reading: Encourage “WILD READERS”

Are your kids “wild readers”?  Are you?  I know I am!  For one, I read a book about reading.  But how do I share that love of books with my children?

I just finished Donalyn Miller’s “Reading in the Wild.”  A perfect book to get ready for summer reading!  This book is about how to cultivate lifelong reading habits.  Although Miller specifically talks about her experiences teaching 6th graders to love reading (beyond her classroom), I thought her insights applied to everyone, including me (mom).

I have to admit that I grabbed this book simply based on the title.  WILD READERS!  I want that for my kids!  Wild readers read because they love reading.  Nothing can stop them from reading.  They read whenever they get the chance.  They know what they want to read next.  They have favorite authors and series.  They are confident in their book selections.  They seek out reading communities and enjoy talking with over readers.

If you have a house full of wild readers or you want to help your kids become wild readers, this is the book for you.  There are an AMAZING number of things we do that we think encourage reading but instead squash our children’s interest in reading.  Do we give our children enough opportunities to read?  Do we allow them the opportunity for self-selection?

If you want to kick off summer reading with a BANG, I recommend checking this book out first!  Then hit the library.

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Interesting Articles on Parenting

Are you a free-range or helicopter parent?  How do you create a play space for your neighborhood?

I read two interesting articles on parenting this week.

1.) The first one, “What does it mean to be a good parent?“, addresses the issue of providing opportunities for your child’s independence without alerting the authorities.  Seriously – it happens.  What are the benefits of providing independence, such as walking to school alone?  Are our ideas of danger over-exaggerated?  Is it right to judge other parents and their parenting styles?  When is it okay to intervene?

I was also very interested in the shorter article joined with it entitled “How to create play spaces.”  This talks about creating a safe, playful community with play spaces – not just playgrounds – in your backyard.  Very cool examples and video!

2.) The second article, “The Overbooked Generation“, questions whether families are overburdened with extracurricular activities.  I can answer that.  Yes, we are.  But is that okay?  What are the benefits and the alternatives?  Is your (meaning your kids’) schedule out of control?  Is that how you like it?

Read any other good articles this week that you want to share?

 


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Labor Day Weekend

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What did you see and explore this weekend?  Hot?  Cool?  Beach?  Mountains?  Picnic?  Movies?

We took a boat ride around Manhattan one day and a long subway ride to the beach another day.  One day was spent mainly in the bookstore and watching movies while trying to stay dry and cool.

What I find amazing about NYC:  Diversity – of people, languages, cultures, and activities!

 


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Exploring History with Kids and Toddlers

As we begin the new school year I wonder: When is the right time to start teaching my toddler about history?  I did not expect to introduce my toddler, now 2 1/2 years old, to history so soon but we stumbled upon this theme because it was of interest to us (my husband and I).  I recall history being a boring topic for me as a child but I was pleasantly surprised that my toddler was interested in the historical places we visited last week.  Admittedly, everything is an adventure to a toddler but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning.  Learning for them is like breathing.  They just inhale the world around them.  And I love seeing things through my toddlers eyes – all new again.  During our explorations, B was completed captivated by a 30 minute movie on the history of NY City at the Historical Society and played for hours on the Intrepid.  I’m not sure he understood what the 9/11 Memorial was but he took it all in.  I think hands-on exploration is one of the best ways to learn, don’t you?

Are you teaching history to your children?  If so, how?  Movies?  Field trips?  Books?

Below you will find pictures of our trips to the following places:

1.) USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier, docked off the Hudson River and museum.

2.) Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial

We also visited:

3.) New York Historical Society 

Other Resources about history for kids:

Fun Books about History for Kids from The Measured Mom

Apples4theTeacher on Social Studies

Other favorites?

 

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Homebody or World Traveler? With Kids?

 

Are you are traveler or a homebody?  Do you prefer a staycation or a trip to a new country?  Have kids changed our perspective?  

I find myself traveling WAY more with my toddler than I ever did or wanted to before I had a baby.  This is the COMPLETE opposite of what I expected.  I still would not categorize myself as a globetrotter.  I don’t enjoy traveling like I know some people do.  And I really haven’t traveled very much.  But now I kind of want to that change.  I never had that urge before.

It is WAY more fun, at least for me, to explore and sightsee with my child.  My toddler (almost 2 1/2) is still an unconscious learner.  That means he absorbs his environment.  It’s not something you can quiz him on.  It just becomes a part of him.  I have the amazing job of showing him new environments.  That makes traveling for me pretty exciting.  Where before I focused on the hassle and inconvenience associated with travel, now I think of the sights and sounds my toddler feels – the wonder and richness.

I am the first to admit that we haven’t traveled very much and I still consider myself a homebody.  And yet, we HAVE visited Miami, St. Louis, Savanna, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands).  Now, we’re in New York City.  Where should we go next?  I’m thinking Costa Rica.  Then, Europe?

Do you LOVE to travel?  What are your secrets for a success trip?  How far would you go with your children?

Below is a bit of a collage of our exploration of NY city.  A hodgepodge of what we have been up to recently.  You’ll see that we visited a beautiful church near Central Park, biked across the Brooklyn Bridge, visited the fountain and carousel in Bryant Park (near Times Square and the Mid-Manhattan Library), and learned to cook and make art projects in a tiny apartment.

 


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Art Around the Home

I’ve noticed my almost 26-month old toddler is spending more time on art projects.  Maybe it’s a boy thing, but he wasn’t that interested before now.  In the past, he would spent only a couple of minutes painting or coloring.  Just last week he asked for his paints and worked on filling up the entire paper with two colors!  He was very proud of his art work and quickly showed Daddy as soon as he came home.  Recently, we also filled water bottles and added food coloring.  We watched the dye disperse into the water and looked at the bottles held up to the light.  B will often go over to the chalkboard and doodle.  I love seeing him drawing circles.  We make sure to display his artwork around the home, as well as posters of famous pieces of artwork.  I have the Mono Lisa and some Van Gogh up in his bedroom.  I’m looking for new ideas.  What is your favorite way to support an interest in art around the home?

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