Saturday, 29 September 2012

Homemade Toy: Baking Soda & Vinegar

This is an incredibly simple activity and great fun for kids of all ages. This was a quick, last-minute set up so it's very basic. Felix was tired and I needed to get dinner organised. He and Jonny did this one together. I took a few photos and left them to it.

I put a small box of baking soda in the bottom of an oven dish, you can use any type of dish you like and just use enough baking soda to line the bottom, it doesn't have to be too thick. I put a little vinegar in two ramekins; to one I added red food colouring, to the other I added blue food colouring.

We used a medicine syringe since that's what we had on hand. I've since bought a dropper so we can mix things up a little. Jonny showed Felix how to hold the syringe, making sure the tip was in the liquid, pull up the stopper to suck the liquid into the syringe and then squirt it onto the baking soda.

Felix was fascinated with figuring out how to use the syringe. It took a few goes to get the hang of sucking up the vinegar but he got the hang of squirting it out straight away (of course!). He enjoyed watching the vinegar squirt out and learned to aim at a dry area of the baking soda. Jonny showed him how to put the tip of the syringe into the baking soda and then squirt so it would bubble from underneath.

They talked about colours; white baking soda, red vinegar and blue vinegar. This naturally led to talking about purple once Felix used up the red and started adding blue. They talked about bubbles and fizzing, sucking and squirting.

But they also sat there in silence. Felix lost in concentration on his work and Jonny watching him and being there to support his learning, offering explanations or help when needed. I love seeing my boys like this.

Simple activities, like this one, are great for the evenings. It's an opportunity for Felix and Jonny to spend some quality time together after work and on those days when Felix is fractious, it gives him something with purpose to concentrate on, helping him work though whatever it is that's upsetting him.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Toddler Chores: Doing Laundry

Felix adores doing, all the better if doing involves helping either me or his Dad. His favourite phrase of all time is "I do" which often comes out as "IdoIdoIdoIdoIdoIdo" in his enthusiasm. Fantastic. I am going to jump on that, embrace it and milk it for all it's worth. Sure, if Felix helps me do chores, it's going to take twice as long. But if I plan for that in advance and allow that extra time I can teach him a new skill, have some lovely bonding time and make him happy all at once. How could I resist that.

Instead of doing everything for Felix and have him say "Oh, Mum thinks I'm not capable of doing that, I must not be able", I would rather set the bar (relatively) high for him, so he instead thinks "Oh, Mum who is amazing and knows everything there is to know in this world believes I can do it so I must be able to." There is an age old quote "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a toddler to do his own laundry and you can relax on the couch and eat truffles"... well, maybe that's not exactly how it goes but you get the idea!

I've mentioned before on this blog about my slight aversion to kids toys. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for kids having toys but I think that in many, many houses, the toy situation gets out of control. I've seen entire rooms just obliterated with an explosion of plastic. And 90% of those toys are completely pointless. Why on earth would I spend $200 on a toy kitchen when Felix can help me in the real kitchen? Why would I buy a magnetic food cutting toy when Felix can help me cut real food that we will then cook and eat?

Yes, we start small. Yes, we start slow. And yes, in the beginning, little gets accomplished. But Felix practices and in time, gets more and more accomplished. And in time, he needs less supervision. And eventually I will be able to entrust entire tasks to him without having to worry. That will be a sweet, sweet day for both of us.

One task we have been working on for a while is doing the laundry. Felix first showed interest because of the lights on the front of the machine and all he wanted to do was press them. So I explained to him what each button did, its name and how to turn the dial. He would press the buttons I would point to and be delighted. Then he moved on to emptying the machine and soon he was doing everything.

Now he can and does happily help me sort the laundry, puts it in the machine, measures and puts the powder in the correct drawer, closes the drawer and door, turns the dial but I direct him to which setting, adjusts the temperature and wash settings for the nappy washes and turns the machine on. Not to shabby for a just turned 2 year old. So many guys haven't acquired this skill by the time the move out of home!

I really enjoy spending this time with Felix, teaching him new things. It's so lovely to see the look of concentration as he takes it all in, when he stops himself from making a mistake and corrects it without my help and the look of pride when he's finished is heartmelting.