I originally intended to post all of our insect books (see the Learning About Ants post) throughout the summer. But keeping things according to a plan while being a parent to two little toddlers has not been my strength 🙂 . Fortunately for me, September is a great month for the butterfly study and thus this post, as Monarch butterfly migration happens around mid-September, at least here in Colorado. So instead of completely missing the right time to post this, I happened to accidentally wrap it up at a perfect time to discuss these fascinating natural aviators!
Interesting butterfly facts:
If a human baby grew as fast as a caterpillar, it would weigh about 8 tons when it was only two weeks old.
Their eyes are made of 6,000 lenses and can see ultraviolet light.
Many adult butterflies never excrete waste — they use up all they eat for energy.
Butterfly wings move in a figure “8” motion.
Monarch butterflies journey from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of about 2,000 miles, and return to the north again in the spring.
Few years ago we got this container from To-Go Ware. I was attracted to it for being stainless steel rather than plastic, and also being an upright container. Over these few years it’s been such great and integral part of our outings with the boys, so I wanted to share it with you.
One thing that has always been a bit of an inconvinience for me with regular rectangular broad-base containers is that when placed in a bag they pretty much always end up getting on their side and the contents are at risk of leaking some liquid out into the bag. And that is if the lid doesn’t come ajar from all the shaking and rattling in the bag. And when they do stay put the way you had them they always take up more room than I wished.
This container is made in the style of Indian tiffins — Indian style lunch container. They have been around for ever in India, but are apparently a cool new thing in our cutting edge Western world 😉
“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato
In my own words — learning through play is the only way. Truly, I think it is very important to let children learn at their own speed and only with their own desire and games is the perfect way to lure them into such learning. I also think learning should be a very lively activity. After all, children are just not meant for sitting. 🙂
I introduced the letters to both boys from the earliest age — we have little letters from HABA for them just to play with in whichever way they choose, we discuss letters a little bit while reading books at night, we have a very large alphabet chart (see the DIY instructions here) in their play room. I just try to keep the letters there for them to see, to become familiar with and when they have interest learn about. At times I casually talk about the letters on the chart, or pick up some letter cubes and start looking at pictures, looking very engrossed and fascinated. Of course they want to see what all that interest is about. Target achieved! 🙂 One thing they both always really like are these little alphabet cards with animals I got a while back. These are the same cards we used to make our alphabet chart. I really like them, so I got 2 sets. And recently Ale and I came up with a little game using these cards that he enjoyed playing many times over.
I always mean to share more simple cooking recipes from my mom, as they are always very wholesome and don’t require a lot of time and work. Yet finding time to document it hasn’t been easy as Eleon shifted to only 1 nap a day and Ale is now rarely have naps at all. Fortunately, I managed to put together this little post while the cucumbers are still in season. 🙂 I think you will really enjoy this recipe. It tastes quite different from the pickles you normally find in the supermarkets in America as instead of vinegar we use salt, lemon juice and spices. I think in vinegar-based recipes the taste of vinegar is often over-powering. Here the flavor of spices and herbs compliments the cukes and neither overcomes the other. It is exceptionally quick and simple. And so so delicious!
In this short post I wanted to share a beautiful game my mom brought for the boys from Russia. This game is a sort of puzzle game, but is very different from the usual puzzle games. You can order the game from online here (although it seems like there is new packaging for it now) or you can probably DIY it from colored card stock paper.
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
– Colors of the Wind song
Recently I saw a post on the NextDoor about a coyote sighting in the area. Some people were scared for their pets, others argued whether or not hunting and trapping was legal within city limit. It is always very sad to see these discussions. Surely we can do better than that. Especially considering that it is us who came to their turf and destroyed their habitat, in which they’ve lived for thousands of years, to build our homes.
Most of us living in urban areas are rather detached from wildlife, knowing very little about it. And to make things worse the news channels only love airing things that are shocking and terrifying (ideally both) while Hollywood specilizes in creating ridiculous and most unscientific concoctions about wildlife such as ‘The Grey’. In all of these the wildlife is always presented as a canning beasts always searching for its next victim and eating anything that moves or breathes, humans included. [Big sigh…]
As a result of these misconception peddled from the TV screens people are scared and seek the ‘removal’ of the wildlife to safeguard their beloved pets. Co-existence doesn’t seem an option. And at the end of the day the coyote, one of the most native animals of America, is killed in astronomical numbers. It is estimated that about 500,000 of these animals are killed annually. A half a million of beautiful native sentient creatures who lived here and served this land well long before us.
With so much time spent outside during our most beloved summer months you can’t help but to observe all the different little creatures living alongside with us. In any case, I try to encourage boys to observe and teach them what I know. In general we try to never give boys a negative opinion about a living thing. I tell them that everything has a role to play to keep all that surrounds us healthy and thriving. Even flies, whom I personally really dislike… 🙂 Although to be perfectly honest there are few bugs that boys don’t view so positively (mostly those destroying plants in then garden) and that’s of course due to our own attitudes to them.
Recently we’ve discovered a new serious of beautiful children’s books about insects. Each book has great little bits of information about the respected creature and the illustrations are just most beautiful and realistic. And so I was going to do a post about this series. But it turned out that on some of the insects we’ve already accumulated a little bit of a collection of other good books and even little plastic insect models. So, to give them proper spotlight, I’m doing a post on some of these books separately and then will share all of the other books together.
FUN ANT FACTS:
• Ants have specifics jobs they perform
• The ants we see out and about are all females
• Some ants live as long as 30 years!
So here is our little ants collection. Each of these little books is quite different from the other ones and together they give great overview about these industrious little creatures.
Here is the next post in my series on children’s animated films. This beautiful film is another favorite from my own childhood and something my children love as well. It was created in Hungary in 1981. And in Hungary it is called just Vuk and is based on the novel by István Fekete. I was happy to find it with English translation, so I could share it here with you. I hope you and your children enjoy it very much.
This post is something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, as I feel it is of utmost importance. It is about letting children be children. Or rather, creating an environment for them where they can do so.
One of the things I feel our modern society really lacks is the environment for children to explore the world on their own — to go off to places of their choosing, to run, to climb, get muddy and so on! Yes, there are special children’s gyms and classes and playgrounds. Some more fun than others, but neither is something a child can have access to on their own whenever they feel like it. I think it is sad that our children can’t freely go on exploring the world around them, leaving house after breakfast and coming back at dark as many of us and our parents did growing up.
On the other side, I’ve been seeing a number of educators expressing their concerns that more and more parents are very interested in getting their children some early academic development which implies sit-down classes, structured actives, etc. I’m not saying I’m against academic development, by any means. But I believe that a lot of it is best achieved in an environment where children can be free to explore, where they reach and withdraw on their own from objects, subjects and activities.
This is a vast topic of course and I don’t intend to cover it all in one post 🙂 … Instead I wanted to share with you some of my inspiration and a few practical things we’ve implemented that enriched lives of our children right here at home and I hope it can help your family as well.
In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air. — Charlotte Mason
The very first outdoor play spot we added was this sandbox back when Ale was just 1 year old. And it has been continuously a popular play space for both boys. As Ale has grown his games around the sandbox have changed, but he still loves it. And of course, anything that Ale is interested in Eleon is there as well!
With the long awaited summer being upon us I wanted to do this little post about children’s sandals that are so loved in our family. One of the main reasons for this blog was to share the products for children that are non-toxic, comfortable and sustainably made. I found such items hard to find in US, unfortunately. I think it is sad that craftsmen and boutiques have hard time staying in business due to competition with big corporations that flood the market with cheap, low quality merchandise which is often toxic and was produced at great cost to our environment and people making them. So when I find yet another brand, store, maker who offers us a different choice — I’m particularly excited to get it for my children and to share it with others.
This is not a sponsored post in any way. Just sharing the good things, since they aren’t easy to find in the ocean of the internet.
Alexandros turned 3 years this weekend! Few weeks before I asked him what he’d like for his birthday. This is how our conversation went:
— Me: “Ale, what would you like for your birthday?”
— Ale: “Garbage track! Yellow one. No, blue. No, white. No, red!”
— Me: “But you already have 2 garbage tracks…three actually.”
— Ale: “I want GARBAGE TRACK!” Big beaming smile! 🙂
So, we got him this big beautiful Fagus wooden garbage track from Wooden Wagon.
These three products, or their variations, are all that we use. No shampoos, no fancy lotions and special baby things…none of it. It saddens me to see all the chemically laden, plastic wrapped so called baby products all over the internet, magazines, not to mention supermaket shelves. Parents are made to believe that they need those to take care of their most loved little ones. But in truth our children need none of that. And with these basic products they could be cared for in a healthy, simple and sustainable way. 🙂
This isn’t a sponsored post. These products are just the ones we are using. You could use other similar ones. There are many small businesses offering great natural care products. You could also make your own.
A few months ago I came across these charming alphabet cards. I particularly liked them as they introduce both capital and small letters in a very associative and visual way. Ale already knows many Russian and English letters as we often talk about them a bit while reading our bed time stories. But the idea that same letter can have two different versions was rather confusing for him. And while in Montessori approach it is recommended to only introduce small letters at first, I found this to be impractical as all the books have both letters on their covers and naturally the subject of small and capital letters would always come into our discussions when we would start reading our bedtime stories.
So in these cards a small and a big version of the same letter is very nicely tied together through the same animal — the grown up one for the capital letter and a baby one for the small letter.