Winter Clothes

It is that time of the year again – sweaters, ski pants, hats, mitts, coats and boots.  All that clothing for every one of the toddlers in my group.  Getting ready to go outside to play now takes a large chunk of time out of our morning.  For some, the arduous process of getting dressed can briefly interrupt their excitement for outdoor play.

I usually lay out all the children’s clothing and then begin with the youngest child and start dressing.  When the youngest is dressed I move on the the second youngest who may, or may not have already started getting dressed.  The oldest child always gets the most time to get dressed independently – our ultimate goal.

This year, the two youngest children in the group both really, really dislike all the bulky, ‘tight’ outerwear and resist every step of the process.  The youngest child is sometimes so worn out from the struggle to get dressed that he will fall asleep while waiting for me to dress the second child.

So, I made a slight change in the routine.  Instead of dressing the first child completely before moving on the child two, I began alternating between these two for each step of the dressing process. Ski pants on child one then ski pants on child two.  Coat & mitts on child one then coat & mitts on child two.  Hat and boots on child one then hat & boots on child two.

Several shorter battle rounds with a break between each step allows the toddlers a brief period of time to adapt to the feel of one piece of heavy outerwear before another is added.  Throughout the process of dressing the youngest two, toddler three usually sits and waits patiently singing songs but making no effort to get dressed.

The oldest in the current group is fully capable of completing the task without assistance except for the jacket zipper.  She usually dresses, undresses, and dresses again several times while the others struggle through.  Occasionally, just to add a little excitement to an otherwise boring task, she’ll do something to annoy one of the toddlers.  Sigh.

Last week I saw a small glimmer of progress.  Toddler two put on his ski pants without any assistance.  Instead of just sitting and waiting, toddler three put her ski pants on too!  The resistance to getting dressed is lessening.  The oldest now sometimes feigns helplessness because she feels I have too little work to do.

Now things will change again.  We’re welcoming a new toddler into the group so we’ll have to adjust the routine a little more.  All the struggles are worth it though – we LOVE our outdoor play in all types of weather. 🙂

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Squash

This year we got a lot of squash in our CSA box from Wild Earth Farms.  We got a lot last year too but this year there was more. Luckily squash keeps longer than the other types of fresh produce so I didn’t have to use it all at once.  Some of it made a nice addition to our Fall decor.

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I like that we got so many different kinds of squash and some I had never tried before.  I find it interesting that as I search for new recipes it doesn’t seem to matter what type of squash I use in the search I still get many similar recipes.  The only exception is the spaghetti squash which has some unique recipes that would not work as well if you used another type of squash.

I have roasted the various squash and used them in stir fries and stews.  I love squash however, it has been a challenge to get the children to eat it.  If it is not baked in a pie, loaf, or cake they will usually just leave it on their plate.

This week I tried something different.  I cut up an acorn squash, coated it with egg and a mixture of bread crumbs, flour, cornmeal, and taco seasoning.  Then I baked it until it got crispy – about 30 minutes at 425 F.  I served it along with our Mexican Chicken and Rice.

I loved it.  The baby inspected it very closely then dropped it off the side of the highchair without ever even tasting it.  The 2 year old children expertly gnawed all the breading off every squash nugget but left the innards. The three year old never even touched the squash.

After eating every last bit of her chicken and rice she pushed her plate away and announced that she was done.  The rest of our conversation went like this;

  • Me: You didn’t try your squash.
  • 3 yo: I don’t like it.
  • Me: How do you know that if you haven’t even tasted it.  It’s like a chicken nugget.
  • 3 yo: It’s not a chicken nugget.
  • Me: Try a little one.
  • 3 yo: No, I don’t like them.
  • Me: Why do you think you won’t like them?
  • 3 yo: McDonald’s doesn’t have squash nuggets.

Sigh.  No they don’t.

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Favourite Things

I always find it interesting when an old favourite toy from the play room becomes popular with a new group of children. Many of the toys once belonged to my own children and are no longer available in stores.  There are no commercials on TV to entice the children to want to play with these toys.

With a mixed age group in Family Childcare often the younger children develop a preference for certain toys based on their observations of the older children at play – a learned behaviour.  The younger children use the toys the same way the older children use the toys.  The toy itself is not necessarily the attraction – the younger children just want to be with/like the older ones.

There are some items that one or two children may love but others never show much interest in.  Of course, there are often items that are popular simply because someone else wants it.  These items are rarely actually ever played with – just hoarded for the sole purpose of being in control.

Some toys are loved by many of the children – different groups, various ages, over long periods of time.  These are the toys that interest me the most.  Why are they so popular?  One such toy is this little set of 25 year old blocks;

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Every time the Duplo/Mega blocks are out in the play room there will be at least one child in the group who will choose these nine little blocks every time they enter the room.  Of all the blocks in the bin the child/children prefer these ones.  Sometimes just one particular one – like ‘the puppy’ – which is the current favorite for this toddler.

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Yet many children have never even attempted to put the blocks together create the characters.  They don’t seem to care or even notice that there are three feet blocks, three body blocks and three head blocks that together can form 12 different characters.  Yet, of all the blocks in the bin these nine are almost always chosen first.  Some children never even play with any of the other blocks – just the white ones or none.

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There are other people/animal toys in the block bin and other areas in the room but they are not as popular.  There are other ‘rare’ blocks – there are only a few black or purple blocks compared to the plentiful red, yellow, blue or green ones yet only the occasional child will specifically seek out the other rare ones. There are other puzzle/matching toys throughout the playroom – they don’t engage any of the children the way these nine little white blocks do.

I regularly rotate the toys in and out of the playroom.  Two of the children in my current preschool group have never seen these blocks before and have not been influenced by the older children yet they still choose the little white blocks first.  Why?

I may never know the reason these toys are so popular.  There may be a different reason for each child.  I do know that I will continue to enjoy observing the children as they explore and make discoveries.  I will continue to wonder why.  I will continue to be amazed.

The Draw

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about a book I was sent to review.  As promised today I will announce the winner of the second copy of The National Geographic Kids Cook Book by Barton Seaver.

There were not nearly as many comments as I expected so I printed off a dozen of each of the names of those that did respond.  I thought that way there would be enough papers to choose from in the draw bucket to make the draw more random.

On Wednesday morning I asked the 2 year old to pick a paper from the bucket;

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Then unfold the paper;

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And show me the name of the winner;

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Congratulations Shannon!  I will be in touch to give you your prize ASAP 🙂