Sunday, September 27, 2009

Extending Play

I had a great time last Friday morning on WLDY’s talk line program. We were talking about following a child’s lead in play. Julie Reinaas called in to share a few of her strategies for providing a structure and then following a child’s lead in a few favorite nursery rhymes.

She told us about doing the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme with a little boy. After he heard the story and pretended to jump down from a wall, he asked her for band-aides. He taped himself up with them and then pretended to sleep. When he ‘woke up’ he pretended to be all back together and ready to play Humpty Dumpty again.

This is a fantastic example of how to encourage children to extend their play. This little boy extended the play by using language to ask for bandaides. Next, he taped himself up, fixing Humpty Dumpty. Lastly, he extended the play by pretending to sleep and then woke up as though Humpty Dumpty was all back together again. He stayed focused for a very long time and because he was in charge of the play, he was excited to keep playing. Extending play is important because it helps children stay focused for longer and longer periods of time. The extension of play is one way that we can help children practice staying focused, an important learning tool.

Julie gave another example using the nursery rhyme, Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick. In this little rhyme, children can pretend to jump over a candlestick. When you play this game with your little one, be sure to use a 'safe' candlestick, such as a pretend one you might make out of a toilet paper roll.

Can you think of other ways of extending play in songs, fingerplays, nursery rhymes, or stories? Please send your ideas to or by calling 532-3209. I will save a musical toad for you that you can pick up at Janelle Thompson's Mad Cat Studio in Ladysmith! For ideas for songs and fingerplays, visit our little website, or visit the children's section of our beautiful library.

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Competent and Capable Babies

Active play teaches our baby that he is competent and capable. If we direct our baby’s play, our baby will become a passive bystander. On the other hand, if we allow our baby to organize and direct his own play (and we become the very interested audience and safety watchman!) he will learn that he is an amazingly skillful person. He will learn that he is capable of creating imaginative works of play and capable of engaging and directing us in social interactions. When you interact with your baby in this way, he will have confidence in his own skills and the ability to take on whatever life offers in the future.

Here are two sample parent-child interactions. Which parent is more like you? Which one would you like to be?

Susie is 10 months old. She has just been given a set of beautiful alphabet blocks. Susie takes a block in each hand and knocks them together. She scoots across the living room floor with a block in each hand dropping the blocks along the way. She pulls herself up to standing on the couch.

Parent A: Mom picks Susie up and places her back in the pile of beautiful blocks. “See the pretty blocks? Can you build a tall tower?” Mom builds a tall tower as Susie looks on. Susie swipes at the blocks. Mom steadies the tower. “No, no, Susie. See. Put one block on top of another.” Susie puts one block on top of mom’s tower, knocking the tower down. “Oops we have to be careful”, says mom as she gently moves Susie aside and starts to build the tower again. Susie sits passively for a while and then scoots away from the block activity.

Parent B: Mom retrieves a small handful of blocks. She places them on the floor near Susie. Susie moves around the sofa and steps on a block. Mom looks surprised and Susie looks to mom before reaching down to pick up a block and hand it to her mother. “Oh thank-you!” mom says. Mom places the block further down the sofa and looks at Susie expectantly. Susie smiles back at mom and searches for another block. She stoops to retrieve it and quickly rights herself moving with the support of the sofa to mom. She hands the block to mom and mom thanks Susie, putting the block on top of the other block. The third time this happens, the block tower tumbles over. Mom laughs and Susie laughs. Susie picks up two blocks and tries to build a tower. Mom steadies the blocks. When Susie has finished the two-block tower, mom removes her hand and Susie swipes at the blocks, knocking the tower down. Susie giggles and looks at mom. “You knocked them down!” says mom as she gives Susie a hug and a tickle.

Your own little Susie will become a more self-directed learner if you can be more like parent B.

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Settling Down for a Nap

The September broadcast of the WLDY Talk Line show version of Bringing Up Baby produced some great conversation with two grandmothers who called in their ideas for settling babies down for naps or bedtime. Their suggestions were very good and so I would like to use today's Ladysmith News column to share and comment on the different kinds of strategies they presented.

We need both pro-active and re-active strategies in our repetoire to meet the challenges of raising young children. Pro-active strategies are those that are consciously built into parenting. We think about them ahead of time and we decided to use them. We use pro-active strategies because they are good, they work, and we use them whether or not anything goes wrong.

Re-active strategies can be good or can be not so good. They are the strategies we turn to when everything else seems to be failing. We sometimes use them appropriately when children are sick or fussy. We sometimes use inappropriate re-active strategies when we are overtired or sick and have lost our patience. If we rely only on re-active strategies, we may be driven to do them all the time and this will make it harder for us and our children.

Both callers provided good strategies. One was a pro-active strategy and one was a re-active strategy. See if you can understand which was which and how and when you would consider using them. The first caller's strategy was to take a fussy baby for a car ride around the block a few times and play the radio to lull the baby to sleep. The second caller's strategy was to develop a naptime/bedtime routine that could involve a warm bath, lowering the lights, reading or singing, and most importantly to keep a daily consistancy in the routine. Which strategy is best to rely on every day? Which strategy could you use when you are at the end of your rope?

Thank-you readers and listeners for your great contributions to the column. The next WLDY talk-line edition of Bringing Up Baby will be September 25th at 8:30. I hope readers of the column will listen and call in suggestions for great parenting ideas.

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print