Friday, 29 March 2013

Crafty things to bring on Spring

Even though many schools have just finished for the Easter holidays, they have done so in a flurry of snow and sub-zero temperatures. This seems very strange. And very wrong. Where is Spring? We've been on a bit of a mission to find it; replacing anything vaguely wintry around the house with things we associate with the elusive season - from flowers and bunnies to chicks and, of course, eggs. 

A few days ago I set up an invitation to create a Spring garland and Daisy seized the opportunity. I thought she might make some egg shapes from the jolly pastel-coloured paper as I'd found an oval stencil but, as is often her way, she just used my initial prompt to get started and it took off in her own direction. So we have, as well as eggs, bunnies, hatching chicks, and Easter baskets - all arranged symmetrically. 

Daisy also wanted to make an Easter display. So I dug out our rather dusty decorations and she did the rest. She allowed her brother to hang some of the eggs on the tree but he wasn't much interested in helping with the rest of display. He went back to his Lego building project - much to her relief, I think. 

Daisy put the finishing touches to the display and I was allowed to take a photograph of it; she really did enjoy putting it together all by herself. She has since gone back to it, and made a sign for the shelf that, rather surreally, says Happy Easter! Pick eggs when ripe. And she found a spring-like picture in one of our colouring books and, as well as adding some colour with felt-tipped pens, she drew six eggs hidden in the scene. This is now proudly displayed next to the Easter tree. 

If this little lot doesn't bring on Spring I'll eat my hat; my warm woolly hat, that is - I really shouldn't be needing it now anyway.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Hands-on play: still beating high-tech hands-down?

As far as play is concerned, I've always tried to say yes to my children, however elaborate, crazy, messy or parentally time-consuming their ideas might be.

This week alone they've wanted to:

build a den - which turned into a fairy grotto...

make a fresh batch of play dough which became a special treat for Snuffy the bear...

concoct a superhero-creating potion from kitchen store cupboard basics...

show each other new cycling routes around the park...

play Pictionary...

lay out a huge train track - which is still taking up the entire floor of their room...

...and to design me a new hat at Daisy's boutique.

Whether they want to get out all their books to design a road system, to put on a show with props and costumes, to carry out a science experiment involving many different liquids or to make light-sabers - I try to say yes. I do this because every day they come up with these fabulous ideas is a day that their imaginations and creativity are still flowing. 



It's a day when they are not screen-fixated; inert and reliant on another's creativity for their entertainment. I know these playful, energetic days are numbered. I sense the lure of technology, I see their excitement and enjoyment of screen-based games. Of course they already have their share of screen-time; they watch TV occasionally, we love a good film and we have just bought a Wii, for example. But we will not just give up and give in to the screen. We have strict rules about how much TV and computer time they get. I'm desperate for play in the real world, in real time, to be their default activity for as long as possible. 

I like to think that their ability and desire to still be brilliantly imaginative in their play is, in part, due to them knowing that we have always tried to say yes, and that we always will. Long live hands-on play.