That Agape Family

Live. Love. Learn.

Month: November 2017

Forget the Flashcards

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of flashcards. Interestingly enough, this video came up on my Facebook newsfeed today, because I shared it a year ago (thank you Facebook memories). I find them an inauthentic way to learn, as they aren’t contextual. I truly feel that the best way to learn anything, is in a hands on situation, with real life examples.

We’ve got colour and sight words flashcards because I thought they’d be useful at some point. I was also concerned, at the time, that Little Miss didn’t yet know her colours (or at least many of them). I think she was about two and a half at the time. But you know what? She’s got them down pat now. And it wasn’t because I showed her cards with colours on them, but because we talked about the colours we saw around us on our daily walks. The trees, leaves, flowers, signs – everything. Don’t you think that’s more fun than sitting at the dinner table, discussing what colour the strawberry is that Scooby Doo is holding? (Yes, they were Scooby Doo flashcards…)

I tend to worry, from time to time, that Little Miss doesn’t know this or that. Yet, I tend to forget that she has a remarkable knowledge of animals (she knows what an ostrich is), flowers, and My Little Pony characters. They will learn. We want to learn. Our job to not squelch that curiosity, but to feed it and encourage it. Today, we discussed magnetization, and the difference between The North Pole and the pole firefighters slide down at their stations. Conversations will naturally ensue, as long as you’re open to them.

So, currently I’m watching Little Miss as she learns her letters and numbers. She’s just started learning to play Dutch Blitz with my mom, which I hear has been quite fun. Now, in order to play, she needs to recognize her numbers. She’s been able to count to 10 for a while, and can pretty much get to 20, except for that pesky 15 which doesn’t always make it in there. But, it will come. I just don’t think I need to show her a card with the number 5 on it, versus going to a friend’s house, and finding the 5th floor button. Context has meaning, and dare I say, longevity for learning.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. Have you ever played Dutch Blitz? It’s a Vonderful Goot game.

Dutch Blitz

Go Big or Go Gnome

Here’s a little secret you may not know about me: I Love Gnomes. I think they are cute, and fun, and all around fantastic! So, when we were at the library this week, and I happened upon this book (affiliate link), I had to pick it up:

9781250111272

It is a cute story about Al, the gnome who could not grow a beard, and how he was recognized for what he could do, instead of what he couldn’t.

The illustrations are fantastic, and we’ve read it every night since we picked it up – at her request, to boot! We highly recommend you check it out.

Blessings,

Liz

From Pinterest to Plain – A Birthday Party

Little Miss is turning 4 in a little bit, so we decided to have her first “party”. When I asked her what she would like to do, she said she wanted to go to the playground. Nice! Easy, and right within my budget. However, I must confess I was nervous. In today’s day and age of Pinterest worthy parties (you go, parents!), play places, and video game parties (that can run into the thousands), I felt like it simply wasn’t enough. I felt the need to do more.

Then I read, The Happiest Kids in the World, and I regained some perspective, and drew comfort that I didn’t have to “go big or go home”. We simply stayed home. (Actually, we went to another birthday party earlier on in the year, and my friend similarly kept it simple, and we had a great time, so that was also encouraging).

As I’ve mentioned before, we love reading The Berenstain Bears. We had been reading Too Much Birthday, and we drew some ideas from it.

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We went to the playground, as requested; yes, in Canada in November. We just bundled up, and the weather held out for us. Then we came back and played a few traditional party games. First, we played Pass the Parcel:

Pass the Parcel

Pass the Parcel

Essentially, it’s Hot Potato. I changed it up a little bit by adding a few stickers as a “prize” between each layer, so that everyone got a little something. I wrapped it up in newspaper, because I like to be Earth (and pocketbook) friendly. Next we played Going to Jerusalem, which is the name they gave a variation of Musical Chairs in the Berenstain Bear book. You have a mat (or in our case, a reusable shopping bag) on the floor, and everyone goes around in a circle. If you’re standing on the mat when the music stops, you’re out. The last one standing wins. Lastly, we played Freeze Dance. Dance, and when the music stops, freeze! If you’re caught moving, you’re out. Again, the last person standing, wins. They were simple, and fun.

We also opted to make our own birthday cake, although I was quite tempted to buy an ice cream cake, when I saw that Dairy Queen had them on sale for half price the day before. But, we’d already bought the cake mix (no, we didn’t make it from scratch…), and Little Miss was looking forward to making it. So, although I don’t think I’ll be winning any cake decorating awards, ta da!

Cake

The characters are her toys, so we just utilized them as decorations for the cake (it’s in the shape of a heart). Also, if you plan on making your own cake, I suggest buying 2 containers of icing, or the big one, otherwise you’ll be using chocolate icing to finish it off on an otherwise vanilla cake. It tasted delicious.

Lastly, the favours. I found this part to be the most stressful. I was planning on getting everyone a book (from the Dollarstore) as a thank you. Actually, I liked the idea so much that I had recommended it to other moms whenever the topic came up in my Facebook groups. However, apparently that’s easier said than done. I wasn’t fond of the book choices when we went, so there went that idea. I’m not a fan of stuff just for the sake of stuff, so I wanted something practical. In the end, we had some leather keychains at our store (spoiler: in the clearance section), and a friend of ours put each child’s initial on them in fancy writing. I figured parents could put them on a backpack, or even give their child a house key when they’re a bit older.

So, all in all, we had a great time. If you’re feeling guilty about keeping it simple, don’t. We all have different styles, and one is not more valid than the other. For us, this was right up our alley. I wonder what we’ll do next year…

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. Do you have your child open their gifts during their party, or after once everyone has left?

 

Lest We Forget

This evening, my daughters and I had the privilege of planting Canadian flags on the property of Sunnybrook Hospital here in Toronto.

Remembrance Day 2017

Raise a Flag at Sunnybrook Hospital

This is our third year participating in this project. The goal is to plant 30,000 flags across the grounds, so that on November 11th, Remembrance Day, the veterans at the hospital will wake up to fields of Canadian flags and know that we will remember.

Although we’ve been doing this for a few years, this is the first year that Little Miss has had so many questions about war. Why do we have an army? Why do people fight? Why? Questions that really make you pause, and think.

I happened to have purchased A Poppy is to Remember (affiliate link)by Heather Patterson, way back in my teaching days, so we brought it out this evening to help explain.

poppyposter

Given that Little Miss will soon be turning 4, this was right on her level, and she wanted to read it twice! Although the topic of war is tough, I think it’s important, and possible, to address it on an age appropriate level. Do you have any other suggestions for books about, or related to, Remembrance Day?

Blessings,

Liz

Nests

Fall is upon us! Or, my preferred name – Autumn. I love just about everything about fall – the smell of decaying leaves, the cooler, sweater weather, Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (don’t try the M&M’s, they’re disgusting), and of course, the leaves changing colours. Fall gives us a wonderful opportunity to see the hidden homes of our neighbourhood animals.

Here is a tree that housed both paper wasps (I’ve got an exciting post about them coming up soon!) and a squirrel, right around the corner of our home.

Nest 3

I don’t think it was only me who noticed the numerable wasps in Southern Ontario this year. It felt like they were everywhere! In fact, here’s another nest that’s clearly visible with the changing colours. I know this looks like a photoshopped image, but I assure you, I have no such skill to trick you.

Nest2

And here is a bird’s nest we found on one of our walks, again right in our immediate neighbourhood. It used to look much more pristine, but I think Little Miss has been exploring its components, hence its more disheveled look.

Nest

Fall offers the exciting opportunity to more easily observe animal habitats. With the trees bare, we can observe various types of nests in our area. Squirrels tend to have larger nests (basketball sized, or larger) made of leaves, and are also often closer to the trunk of the tree, to provide additional protection from the elements. Wasps, on the other hand, tend to have their nests on the outer perimeter of the tree, making them easier to spot throughout the year. Perhaps they do that so they’re easier to find and access? Birds nests are harder to see, as they are usually smaller (of course, depending on the bird), and are also closer to the tree’s trunk.

It’s truly fascinating to observe the intricacies that go into how nests are made. One day, I would love to be able to differentiate the different birds’ nests based on the species of bird. One day…

Blessings,

Liz

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