A child’s imagination is unlimited and should be encouraged and celebrated. Reading to children and asking questions like, “I wonder what will happen next,” allows them to construct their own scenarios. Children learn through repetition and exposure to a variety of experiences.
Books that become familiar are like the foundation of a house. Once a child finds a book that sparks their imagination, they see wonderful possibilities that didn’t exist before. A trip to the library can open a world of possibilities to a growing mind. Reading aloud is especially important in that it helps children equate reading with caring and enjoyment.
Fairy Tales offer an opportunity to go outside reality and explore a creative world where animals talk, a lesson is bestowed and magical things happen. My granddaughter in the photo above is looking for fairies or leprechauns. That beautiful gift of imagination grows through books. Here are some books that are fantasy and fairy tales. Check with your local library to see if they are available.
I learn so much from my grandchildren. They teach me how to enjoy the moment. They teach me to be still and absorb sights and sounds that I have taken for granted. I have learned to see nature through their eyes. It fills me with optimism and hope that the new generation will not take for granted the splendor that is all around them. My grandson is fortunate to live close to a nature preserve that he and his dad walk to often. On this particular day he was very still and watched as a deer crossed his path. He noticed everything about the deer, but knew to be very quiet and very still. He just stood there and looked on with awe at this beautiful animal. Such restraint from a two year old! I would have scrambled for my phone if I had been there. Obviously my son did just that. Not my grandson. That moment is in his memory bank.
Children learn through experiences. New information is stored in longterm memory when it is connected to multi-sensory experiences. These walks to nature are such good learning opportunities. Perhaps next time I will join them and leave my phone in the car.
This picture brought to mind how my cousins and I would make do with whatever was handy to create our own environment for play. We didn’t need expensive toys or electronic devices to entertain us, our imaginations did the work. Our creativity flourished in our grandmother’s garage that housed boxes of old clothes that we used to put on plays. We draped a sheet across the wire that held the garage door and it instantly became a theater. We didn’t care if we had an audience or not. A refrigerator box became a puppet theater.
I remember learning about the lifecycle of frogs long before second grade. The little stream near our home was host to tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. We were keen observers and had conversations about our discoveries. Holding a caterpillar or a snail was a science lesson. The lessons and experiences gained from outdoor play are stored in longterm memory. I think the most important aspect of outdoor play is that it supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
Nature promotes the use of executive function skills.Executive function skills are the life skills we use at every age, and that help us stay organized and independent. With unstructured play in nature, children are using creativity to solve problems and working memory to make up stories. They work their flexible thinking skills by testing boundaries and learning how to stay safe while exploring, creating, and having fun. They are strengthening and challenging their own life skills just by playing!
My son took his family to see the area where he attended college. They packed up their camping gear and headed for Humboldt in their newly acquired travel trailer. He told his wife and children about his adventures rowing crew, climbing rocks at Patrick’s Point, and how his path to class was through the forest behind a house he shared with friends. He wanted them to see very tall Redwoods, float on a river, and walk through a tree. The kids learned how wonderful s’mores are after a campfire dinner. To share your most precious memories with your wife and children is a gift they will treasure.
I made them promise to take pictures and come back with stories to tell. The grandmother in me took Kaia (3 years old) aside before they left for their adventure, and gave her a coach’s whistle, telling her to wear it if she goes outside the trailer. I showed her how to blow it hard if she can’t see her mom and dad. I should have known they would have walkie-talkies, and never let the kids out of their sight.
When was the last time you picked a dandelion and blew the seeds while you made a wish? Why is it so easy for children to embrace simple joys, while adults rarely give themselves permission to engage in a nature moment for the soul?
At a friend’s house recently, I noticed a group of red flowers that I’d never seen before. I stopped to admire them and asked her what they were. She said they were poppies, yet my image of a poppy was limited to small, orange, roadside flowers. The flowers I was looking at were tall, red and majestic. I asked if she planted them and she told me the birds carried the seeds. She hadn’t planted any of them. I can’t remember the last time I was so mesmerized by a flower. I was overcome with gratitude for the beauty of the day.
On the way to my car I picked a dandelion, blew the seeds and made a wish.
I saw the ad for a used golf cart in my Nextdoor app. There were two available, a red and a blue. The owner was storing them in a horse corral. I was saving money for a golf cart (even though I don’t golf) because I live in a small beach town with one main street and gorgeous scenery. As a recent retiree, it seemed to be a good idea. I would be one of many golf cart owners in my little town.
I can’t believe I was able to convince my husband to drive out to a horse ranch to take a look. The owner was a gregarious lady who raises thoroughbreds and uses the golf carts to get around her property. I wanted the red one, but it was out of my budget. The blue one looked like it needed a lot of care, but it was affordable. The owner even delivered it. I couldn’t wait to try it out. It gets plenty of use on weekends and on nice summer days. We have a lot of those.
What joy it brings to take in the often overlooked sights on the way into town. Feeling the air on my face and smelling the salt air while going 22 miles per hour helps me appreciate that I am alive during a pandemic. I realize that a walk would very likely achieve the same results. Yet there was something about saving for a goal, visualizing me riding in it, and then actually finding one.
I know how important it is to slow down. My brain needed to disconnect from the bombardment of negative thoughts that don’t serve me. If a golf cart can remind me to get outdoors, it was worth my small savings. I call it The Bluebird of Happiness.
No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness-or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it. ~Henry Ward Beecher
Did you know: •Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. •Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. •Students do not learn vocabulary words based on their age or their grade. •They learn words based on their experiences , (Beck, et al, 2002) •Academic demands are high •Everyday speech consists of […]
I thought this needed to be said loud and clear. If you can put one foot in front of the other, and smile while doing it, you are a champion in my opinion. These last two-plus years have been horrendous. It is not only the pandemic, but the atrocities occurring daily in Ukraine. There have […]
These are great books for budding scientists. Children are fascinated by animals and nature. Nurture and celebrate their curiosity through books that give them information and new vocabulary. The following are great for inquisitive minds.