Sunday, November 13, 2011

Field Trip to the Fire Department

October* was National Fire Safety Prevention Month.   So to celebrate the month we took a tour of a local fire department with some of our friends.   The kids had a great time and I think they learned a lot.

*I know, I is currently mid November.  Sometimes I am a little late to download photos off of my camera. 

The kids and parents watching a film on fire prevention and safety.

Taking a tour of the fire department.  We got to see where the firefighters sleep and eat and how calls are answered.

The kids learned about some of the tools the firefighters use to fight fires and perform medical rescues.

The kids hanging out on the truck.

The kids caught an inside look of the fire truck.

Marcus jumping out

Just being silly

This is the outfit Sophie picked out and demanded to wear.  She is wearing her favorite black fur coat with her spiderman ball cap.  She found this black fur coat at the thrift store and LOVES it.  She says it is her "bear coat".

Sophie in her bear coat walking around.

After we saw the inside of the truck, the kids were invited inside to see the firefighter in his full gear.

The firefighter wanted the kids to see what he looked and sounded like in his gear.  He explaided that often times kids are frightened when they see a fire fighter coming into their room and will run and hide from them.  He wanted them to know that he was just a "regular guy" under all of this equipment, and they didn't need to be afraid of him.  Marcus pointed out that he sounded a lot like Darth Vader with the mask on. 

Sophie gave the firefighter a hug.

Marcus giving the firefighter a hug.

They all tried to lift up some of the equipment.  It was HEAVY!

Group Photo

Links to become Attached to:
Tot School
Preschool Corner
Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where are all the children?

It was 10:30AM on a beautiful fall day in November.  I walk my children, 3 and 4 years old,  to our neighborhood playground to play and enjoy an unseasonably warm day.  We arrive at the playground to find it vacant.  Completely and utterly vacant.  This is a normal experience for us.  Even though our neighborhood is home to many families with young children, seeing a child during the day is a very rare site.   "Where are all the children?"  I wonder.

After coming home, we snuggle on the couch and read some books.  Marcus enjoys playing "I spy" with me lately.
"I spy with my little eye something that begins with F on this page," I say to him.
"I know...Fox!" Marcus shouts.

Later we head to the grocery stores.  I see many men and women there.  I see no children over the age of 6 months.  We live in a community where early academics is thought of as a necessity.  A child is sent away to school at a young age and that is the norm.  It is rare for a 3 and 4 year old not to be enrolled in some type of formal schooling.  

A lady shopping for her family pushes her cart next to mine.  We are both pricing cereals.  She comments about how brave I am to "come shopping with children." 

"I never go to the grocery store with my children if I don't have to!" She tells me. 

I smile.  But to be honest with you, I am thinking that shopping with children isn't bravery at all.  It is normal and natural for me.  My children go where I go.  The more regularly and consistently a child is brought into circumstances like that, the quicker they learn what is socially acceptable to do and not to do.  

On another day I take my kids to a local science program for homeschoolers.  Today we are learning about density.  The children try to guess whether an object will sink or float and record their predictions in their science notebooks.  Finally, they test their hypotheses by placing the objects in water.  

Like most homeschool programs there is a wide range of people in this room.  There are babies.  There are school aged children.  There are toddlers.  There are parents.  There are even some grandparents who have come to see the fun.  The people in this room all converse and interact easily.  A first grader bends down to play peak-a-boo with a baby.   Another girl who is probably in third grade invites Sophie over.  "Don't you want to do the experiment too?" She asks.  Sophie nods.    "Here," she says.  "I will help you.  I used to do this same experiment when I was little."   Sophie smiles.  She enjoys getting the special attention.

One of the grandmothers comes over to the table where the kids are doing their experiment.  She picks up a penny from the table.  (One of the objects that the children are testing to see if it will sink or float.)  She says aloud, "Oh, this is a copper penny."
"How can you tell?" asks another boy.
The lady explains how to tell if the penny is made from mostly copper or zinc.  The boy listens fascinated about his "special" penny. 

This type of behavior is a common thing to see at these programs.  And yet, it still gives me a happy surprise.   I do have to admit that before I had spent much time around homeschoolers, I had this crazy notion that they were all strange, basement-dwelling-creatures who were "weird" and "unsocial".  I had this visual in my head of a bunch of girls wearing long denim jumpers with permed hair that never were around other kids or people.   I had read enough to know that children who are homeschooled out perform their public schooled peers academically.  However, I just assumed that they were all awkward and strange creatures lacking any type of social skills.  After all, they weren't in a classroom with 30 other kids all day...right?   My impressions were changed drastically after spending some time with homeschoolers.
Most homeschoolers are used to interacting and socializing with a wide variety of ages.   Not just people their exact same age.  They are used to being patient with a younger children because they are around them all day.  They enjoy hearing stories from an older generation.  They can play with children their age or younger or older.   To them, this is natural.  And you know what?  It is.

We often send our children away to be socialized.  However, perhaps being around thirty children your exact same age isn't the way we are meant to be socialized.  That isn't how real life works.  Children naturally and instinctively model their behavior after others.  Perhaps modeling their behavior off of 30 other immature beings isn't the best way to teach children how to act in life.   And research supports this.  In fact, there are numerous reports that show that the more time a child is separated from their direct care giver, the more aggressive and noncomplying they become.  Perhaps because they are modeling their behavior off of so many other immature beings.  (example)

In real life you interact with people from many different ages.  You learn to share knowledge with those younger than yourself.  You learn to listen to and learn from those who have more experience.   In fact, the last time I ever was in a group of people my exact same age was when I was in school.  Since then, whether in college, working at a career, or making friends as an adult, life has required that I interact and socialize with people from many different age groups. 

I start to think that perhaps separating children from our adult world is not the key to socialization.   Perhaps children need this interaction with the older generation.  Perhaps it is beneficial to have adult interaction and experiences modeled from them.

And you know what?  I start to realize how creepy it is to live in a world where children are so absent and separated from the adult world.  And I am not the only one coming to this realization.   

I am not saying that children in a traditional classroom environment are incapable of interacting with people who are a different age.  Please don't misunderstand.   I am just saying that the being "socialized" in a wide group of ages is not a hindrance to children.  In fact, quite the opposite, the added practice helps them to be more social and capable beings.


’You are very much older than I am,’ said Winston. ’You must have been a grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution. People of my age don’t really know anything about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that....
From 1984, by George Orwell. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thanksgiving Book Suggestions

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  For me the holiday is extra special, because it was around this time five years ago that I first became a mother.  So I have an added reason to be thankful this time of year.  I also enjoy a reminder to slow down and really savor all that I have to be grateful for.  For me this time of year means crisp, fall days; sweaters; pumpkin pie; and time spent gathered with loved ones.  It doesn't get much better than that.

To help us all get in the mood for Thanksgiving, I recently filled our book basket with some of our favorite picture books for this holiday.  I don't know of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than time spent snuggled up with your children sharing a good book.  It is a surefire way to create some cherished holiday memories for both parent and child.   So--to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, here are some great books on the topic that you can share with your children.  Some are historical fiction, others celebrate our modern day version of the holiday, and some of just silly and fun--But they are all great books and worth a read!

I hope that you will take time out to make these stories a traditon in your family too! 

The Attached Mama's Thanksgiving Book List:

1)  This is the Turkey by Abby Levin, Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
This is a very cute book and it makes a perfect read aloud for small children.  The story begins with Max picking out a turkey at the grocery store.  It goes on to celebrate all that thanksgiving has to offer:  The food, the family, the preparation, and time spent with family.  This book also reminds us that our holidays don't always have to be perfect to be wonderful!

 2)  The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Green, Paintings by Susan Baber
Written in cumulative rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.  The repetitive text is fantastic for children learning to read as it gives them a chance to help tell the story.  What makes this book unique is the way that the story is told.  The book starts out showing the very first Thanksgiving feast, and slowly backtracks to tell the story of the Pilgrim's first year in America.

3)  Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
This book tells the story of a traditional New England Thanksgiving on a cranberry farm.  The book is a great reminder that we can't always judge 'a book by its cover' and that sometimes appearances may deceive.  Children will enjoy looking for Grandmother's secret and famous recipe for Cranberry Bread which is hidden in the book.  Baking this bread will become a wonderful new tradition for you and your family.

4)  It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
We love reading poetry together as a family.  And after checking this book out of the library, I just knew that it would someday become a permanent member of our home library.  This collection of poetry talks about so many different aspects of this holiday--usually in a very humorous way.    This book contains poems about the very first Thanksgiving,  a funny poem about "Dad's football game" after the big meal, a poem about the Thanksgiving Day parade (where it is drizzling...isn't it always drizzling during the Thanksgiving Day parade?!),  and another very humorous poem about the things we do with all of those turkey leftovers. 

5)  Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, Illustrated by Doris Barrette
This is a great book for very young children.  The pictures are charming and inviting, the text is simple, but the message is a good one. 

6)  This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This book is written in a lyrical verse which makes it a joy to read aloud to children.  The illustration are meticulous and breathtaking.   Children will really get a sense of what life on the Mayflower might have been like. 

7)  The Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
This was another book that we checked out and knew that we would one day have to buy.  My little girl actually cried when it came time to return this to the library!   That is how much she loved this book.  And I enjoyed reading it as much as my children enjoyed hearing it.  The book is a historical fiction which follows a cat who jumps aboard the Mayflower as it is departing England.  The cat is befriended by a young girl named Faith.  The book is richly illustrated and a pleasure to read.  The reader really gets a feel for what life might have been like for a child aboard the mayflower.

This is just a small list of the many fantastic books available on this holiday.   My hope is that this list will help get you started on building your own Thanksgiving book basket.

Thanks for reading!

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