Monday, October 20

Art Journal & Art Play

I was working on something else when this guy just appeared...

It was the start of a sweet whimsy face, but this little lost fellow came out of no where.

When I plot a story I usually start with one scene, one idea.  When I work on a page that will go into my art journal, I do the same.  The idea was to practice making cute, adorable girl faces, but what I ended up with reminds my boys a little too much of this character called Slenderman.  He's some freaky guy from a video game they are not allowed to play but still know all about.

He looks like a bit like a skeleton to me.  Or a forgotten harlequin doll lost in the attic, or the Moon Man looking for a friend.  So what do you think.  Want to play?

How To Teach The Writing Process to Pre-Schoolers

Can a child who neither writes, read, or spell words write a story? YES!

Will practicing story writing with my pre-school age child help later in school?  YES!

Writing, The Writing Process, teach writing, pre-school
Just because your child doesn't read or write, doesn't mean he can't tell stories!  In fact, most pre-schoolers I have encountered love to tell stories.  At the most basic level a story only has three components: 
  • A beginning
  • A middle 
  • An ending 

 Mastering the skill of sequencing, or "follow the leader," will be necessary for success all the way through college.  There is no reason parents and caregivers can't help with this skill before a child ever steps foot in a school.

A simple story needs to only have one idea (the leader) combined with a series of events that follow the leader - the beginning, middle and end. 

When can a child start telling stories?  Most children who are beginning to communicate are already telling some type of story- He tells you what happened that day, he tells you what he did, he tells you what his big brother did to him--All of that IS A STORY.

All you need to do is write it down for him and ask questions to flesh it out. 

Steps to Story Writing, Writing, Writing Process, Dapoppins

When you write down the child's story and read it back to them - they begin to make a new connection with the power of their words.  

It's that simple.

Story Writing, Writing, Writing Process Pictures, Dapoppins

When your child starts scribbling on paper with the intention of drawing, he will bring you images and say, "This is a truck."  

It doesn't look like a truck, but you stay, "Oh, what a wonderful turck!"

Instead turn it into a teachable story writing moment.  Write on the paper, "This is a truck."
    This is the the leader, or main idea. This story will be about a truck.  

Ask: "Where is the truck going?"  

The answer could be anything.
    If you can, write the answer down on the paper using part of the question to form a complete sentence.         Instead of: "..going to grandpa's house."  Write, "The truck is going to grandpa's house."  

Ask: "What will the truck do when it gets to grandpa's?"

Answer: "Take a nap."
    Write a complete sentence.  "When the truck got to grandpa's house, he took a nap.  The End."

Read the story back to the child.

This is a truck.  The truck is going to grandpa's house.  When the truck got to grandpa's house, he took a nap.  The end. 

Beware, sometimes he will want you to read it back ten times.  

Praise the child for making an illustrated story.

Early story writing helps makes "connections."

As babies change into toddlers and their brains begin to make connections incredible things start to happen. I've been blessed to see it happen over and over as little one's begin to learn.  They begin to think, problem solve, form ideas, and develop opinions.

I think one of the keys to success later in life is not limiting a child's opportunities to learn, but instead offering a variety of experiences.   Any Nanny will tell you that one of the best ways to avoid a child becoming a picky eater is to offer a huge variety of foods to taste and try while the child is still young enough to want to try everything.

This is one reason reading aloud to babies has such a big pay off later in life.  By reading aloud you offer a limitless possibilities in the mix of ideas and visual stimulus.  You offer a "variety" of brain food.

It is the same with many life skills.

The whole writing process is an educational milestone all kids will face in school.  It can be hugely daunting.  In my opinion, it can be frustrating and creativity killing because of all the required "show-your-work" steps. But understanding that the main idea of a story is always the leader, and the rest of the story must follow the leader, with a beginning, middle and end will help break down some of the later mechanics.

I will try to dig up some of the "stories" I wrote with my kids when they were very young to share with you, but in the mean time, I would love to see what you and your child (or the children you work with,) come up with.  Usually storytelling with three and four year olds ends up with some really hilarious little bits of  writing you will want to save forever. 

Wednesday, October 15

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak : The Nanny Reads

Next pay check, I am putting this book on order.  It's not really a story, but yet it is amazing, and sends a simple message about the power of words that every kids who hears it will understand.

 I think it would change the way kids look at books,

I think it will change they way think about words and writing.

I think it will make reading fun again.

I must have this book in my Nanny Tool Bag.

(watch out Mary Poppins!)

Tuesday, October 14

Scrapbooking Old Family Photos part 3 - Scrapping Photos Of a Marriage that Didn't Make It.

The Bride
I have a lot of photos of my Mom and Dad's wedding.  It seems that many of the pictures taken at the time, by both sides of the family, even the professional ones, ended up in my possession.  I'm not sure how long my parents were together, but when I was about five they separated, and by third grade they had divorced and my dad remarried.

They said, "We just can't be together anymore."

Or something like that.

I've forgiven and let go of all the hurt the divorce caused me, but I'm not going to lie and say that my parents choices didn't effect me in a very negative way.  It's of my opinion that too many people get divorced and run away from their issues instead of facing them.   In running away they bequeath painful issues for their children.

I don't want to judge.  I've only walked in my shoes after all, but with so many happy matches ending in divorce, they can't all be blamed on infidelity or physical abuse.  As a Nanny I've seen couples just "give-up."  And I've watched how it devastates their children. 

I wanted the page I made with these old unwanted pictures to be pretty, but "broken."  I wanted them to reflect hopes and failures. 

My mom was a gorgeous bride.  She wore a dress worthy of Jakie Kenady made of heavy cream satin, with seed pearls, light gray beads, a sweetheart neckline and a princess skirt. She bought it from Nodstorm.  It stood the test of time so well I wore it at my wedding and no one thought it was old fashioned or out of date. 

I layered printed papers over a white page, then painted over them all with gesso.  I used a stencil for the circles with the heavy gesso and then spritzed with several different mists.  Under the photo is a simple chipboard circle, painted with gesso then mists and randomly stamped.  I wrapped wire around three sections also to add a little more  interest.   The little flowers, originally white, are are spritzed with mist.  I added faux pearls from a broken some broken vintage necklaces, and some scroll bling from my stash.  I had a couple of corner scroll chip board pieces that I used some gold enamel on.  I love how they turned out. 

This layout is one of the Anything Goes challenge examples over at Party Time Tuesdays this week.  I am so privileged to be able to post all my stuff over there.  Be sure to click on over there and join this weeks challenge.  I'd love to see what you come up with.

Monday, October 13

DAPOPPIN'S RECIPE for WITCH REPELLENT and Extra Strong and Useful Magic Brew

So, if you didn't know and I hadn't told you already a hundred times, my day job besides being a mom and an adult in-home caregiver, is as a Nanny.

I'd much rather be Mary Poppins then that girl from Adventures in Babysitting.  There is something so much more dignified in an umbrella.   A nanny is an educated woman who comes to your home with a purpose.  A babysitter is a girl who comes to your house because she didn't have a date.

Anyway, as a Nanny, I not only put kids to bed on time I also bring creative ideas to teach and entertain.

Surrounded by beautiful Autumn colors and brisk Autumn air it is so easy to be inspired.

One day a certain four year old and I were talking about Halloween costumes, (she's going to be a kitty cat ballerina) and I said something about witches.

"Do you think there are real witches?  Will I see any on Halloween?   Will she look all ugly like the witch from Hansel and Gretel?"  asked the big eyed 4 year old.

This is such a great age.  Stories are still so real.  Santa still comes down the chimney and toys still talk.  I love this precious magic of childhood.

"Well, I know this story of this young girl and her little black dog who came home one day.  Everyone else was gone, her Mom and Dad, and the house was empty.  But there was this big wind and horrible storm, a tornado and she didn't know what to do - so the girl and the little dog ran into the house and hid under the bed.  The tornado picked the house up and twisted it through the air and took the girl and her little dog to another world. When they got their a beautiful good witch gave the girl a pair of sparkly ruby slippers, but an ugly green witch wanted them so much she captured the girl and her dog to try and take them.  The girl was so frightened and upset, she picked a pail of water and threw it at the green witch, and that mean ugly green witch melted.  Good clean water always makes an evil witch melt. So...we should make witch repellent. "   (credit where credit is due)

So we did.



Extra Strong and Useful Magic Brew

This is such an easy project to do with preschoolers.  You could go way out and get very elaborate (in which case it becomes less of a preschool project) or keep it simple. 

 A story should accompany the project, one like the shortened version of an old favorite above, or Hansel and Gretel, or the fun and slightly scary Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood.   The actual craft doesn't take very long and Witch Repellent is something a Nanny (or parent or other caregiver) should savor for an entire afternoon.

The labels are an extra fun touch to personalize the craft and so easy.  Here is the link from Just Something I Made.  (I love every graphic and idea this woman has!)

I got the bottles from the dollar store.  They sell a travel set that has one little spray bottle and three extra little bottles, which is why we also made Magic Brew. (Target has the same kit only for more $$) Keeping in mind that I don't want to plug up the spray bottle, or use any toxic or staining substances, we just went from there and offered as many creative choices to delight the senses that I could imagine.  Notice there is something to taste, touch, and smell for each bottle. 

The Witch Repellent is :
Colored sugar sprinkles
One drop of any kind of smelly extract (I had almond, lemon, and banana to choose from)
Assorted beads
Assorted sequins
Two of those capsules that turn into tiny sponge animals - purchased via the dollar store. 

The Magic Brew is:
Assorted sequins
Dish soap

To be honest my family doesn't celebrate Halloween, but I had a fun time making this at work.  To keep clean up simple we did most of the pouring of things, (like the glitter and the sequins) over a large pan, which was set on a towel (newspaper would work.)

Also, it doesn't have to be witch repellent.  It can be Monster Spray, Zombie Go Away or Ghost Perfume. I do however, recommend finding a great story book to go with it, whatever you choose. 

Let me know if you make some!  I would love to see the pictures!  

Saturday, October 11

How long Should I Read Aloud To My Baby, Infant, or Toddler?

How long should a parent read aloud to a baby, infant, toddler or child?  Start s small.  Try to read for at least fifteen minutes every day.  You can break that up in to just mini-sessions of five minutes each, or in any amount that works for you.  But to "Feed Your Child's Brain", you should do at least 15 minutes Every Day.

Read Aloud, Read, Children's Books. The Nanny Reads
Click to download printable copy
Start small. You might find you enjoy it so much that your reading for more than fifteen minutes.  And the more you read, the more you will get:

  • Bonding Time
  • Vocabulary Building
  • Empathy 
  • Knowledge Building
  • Pre-Literacy Skills
  • Love of Reading

Wednesday, October 8

French Horses

My Mom just got back from more overseas travels. This time it was Greece.  About this time last year she took me along for the ride on one of her trips.

 I'm still talking about it to whoever will listen.

These are some photos of my favorite animal - and related equipage, that I snapped on my cell phone while we were there.  I had meant to post this back then and never got around to it for some reason or another.

The above were all from this wonderful carriage house.
 I think I lost some of the photos. I know I took a ton, but-  (sigh)

these beauties hosted tours...I believe one of them is blind. 

Asian horse art from  Musee de Guimet

A giant head from the Luvre


It was an amazing trip.