Family Literacy Day is on Jan. 27th and all over schools, libraries and families will be holding activities for reading (and pre-reading) kids. And when I first thought of activities to share with you to mark the day...well, I thought Robert Munsch (and some other Great Canadian Writers)...
Now, before you read any further - I'm all teary writing this...because when I think of Robert Munsch...I think of "I'll Love You Forever"...and that book makes me cry. Every. Time.
What you might not know is that Mr. Munsch made up "I'll Love You Forever" after he and his wife had two babies born dead. (lordy, I need a tissue) When I read the lines "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be" just touches my parental soul (and having experienced miscarriage myself - well - those lines mean everything).
If you are looking for a book for Family Literacy Day...start with reading "I'll Love You Forever " to your kids.
Then read (with your kids) Mélanie Watt - either her "Chester" series or "Scaredy Squirrel". Super funny books with great pictures.
As a recovering English Lit. major - I have a special addiction to literacy in all its forms. But as a busy parent, I have a tough time finding time to read (confession: I no longer read bedtime stories - either to myself or the kids - now it's hurry up and just go to bed!).
But as a family activity we incorporate literacy into daily living: like reading a recipe and baking together (hey - it's math too!), like playing bingo on family game night and having the kids read me their homework while I make dinner.
And recently, I have started making my own literacy time. Too busy to dive into "Pride & Prejudice" (I am sorry Mr. Darcy) - I gifted myself several magazine subscriptions. I throw the latest mag in my bag and it's ready for me when I wait at the doc's office, school parking lot or wherever. I am lovin' how reading a smart article or new recipe makes me feel a little more human.
Literacy is an important thing. Supporting Canadian authors is important. And doing activities as a family is the mostest important. Marry all these together on Family Literacy Day. I know I will...starting with "I'll Love You Forever"."
There is only so much one can do with a babe on the breast (or hooked up to a pump or busy with a bottle). Just when you get the baby latched (or machine attached or water boiling) the big kids have instant needs. "I'm hungry" "I'm bored" "I need to pee". Here are some "mom-hands-off activities" for big kids; keeping them occupied while you feed baby.
And this is all from experience, as over the past weeks I have had to come up with activity suggestions for the bigger kids that don't include my hands (or any other body parts). I've also noticed that if one ignores the call for attention during babe's feeding times - jealousy and regression ensues (recent 7 yr old quotes: "Can you put my socks on for me?", "Dumb baby!" ,"Can you put him down - I think I have lice - can you check?")
I realized the need for these activities when (the genius that I am) I rented a breast pump...on a Saturday...when the kids were home (friggin' genius right?!). Murphy's Law: close a door to do something private and the kids immediately want to know what's going on.
"Can I play with it next?" they asked through that closed door.
Me: "Um...kids...why don't you...
- Get yourself a juice box - I've put them at the front on the lower shelf of the fridge.
- Get yourself some fruit - I've put some cut apples in the green container on the lower shelf of the fridge.
- Colour me a picture - I've put your crayons and some paper on the kitchen table.
- Go choose a book and when I'm done you can read to me or I can read to you. Whatever you prefer!
- Why don't you read your magazine - the one Santa subscribed to for you?...you were so excited to see it in the mail yesterday...did I see a recipe for something with chocolate in there?
- You know all those toys in your room? Could you find something to play with (just not the paint-by-numbers please! *insert visions of paint splatter here*) while Mommy's busy...
What finally got them away from the door
- Yes, you can watch TV. (ah, the electronic babysitter)
All those suggestions up there? I like to think that they grow independence, self-reliance and a bit of creativity (whether you are feeding a baby or not.) It's good to have some go-to activities that don't include Mom or Dad.
And re. the lice - it's lice check week at school and the child knows that say "lice" and my attention is quickly gotten.
And re. breast pump - been there, done that, not my favourite thing. Kuddos to those who pump regularly.
This is a great activity to re-purpose all those broken, unloved crayons every family has in their art closet. And having done it as a rainy-day activity myself with my kids - I have the dos and don'ts for...making recycled crayons.
What you need
An assortment of previously loved crayons
paper cupcake liners
Turn on some music (Michael Jackson's "HisStory" was our choice), settle round the kitchen table and have kids peel paper off crayons.
Then have kids break crayons into smaller bits (depending on how much you love your tablecloth - you might want to put down an art mat).
Have kids place paper cupcake liners in muffin tins. (Note: we originally made recycled crayons in a snowman shaped silicone pan. We found most of the crayons broked when popped out. The paper liners are much easier to peel).
Have kids fill the paper cupcake liners with the broken crayon bits. Mix colours, mix shades or keep to the same colour. Your choice.
Bake in the oven at 275F for 8 -10 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is).
Let cool entirely (at least an hour) on the cooling rack.
Then have kids peel off paper liners.
Voila! New Crayons. Now, send the kids and new crayons off to colour together...while you check e-mail, tweet with me and google.
Also good for a homemade #Birthday present or #TeacherGift."