How I’ve Come To Teach My Inner Child

Inside of you, there is an inner child. Someone who is innocent, curious, energetic, creative, spontaneous, and free with emotions.

Children! I’ve been drawn to them my whole life.

Surrounded by them in my work life and now into retirement. And I thank God every day for the gift of their laughter, their free spirit, their endless joy, and their unconditional love. But why is this so important to me?

I’ve spent several years, also, reflecting on my past, in particular my childhood. At some points, I grow tired of how it crops up in my memory. It’s like I want to solve something that is done and gone so why am I constantly trying to figure it out?

Well, here is my aha moment. Just today, as I’m reading a chapter in Louise Hay’s “You can heal your life”, it occurred to me. Each of the children, I have spent time with, represent me; the inner me, the child me, the one who always wanted acceptance, encouragement, guidance, praise, and unconditional love. As a child, I didn’t get much of that. As an adult, I still have that inner child yearning. Well, maybe my constant reflections on my past had me wanting to change the messages of my childhood, my inner child.

Now, I see what I have managed to do with my life. I have been raising my inner child the way I wanted to be raised. Does that make sense? I think that maybe if a parent is raising a child with anger, they might be yelling at their own inner child for not being good enough. If they become frustrated with their child perhaps that too is inner child memories. Memories of not being able to compete with other children successfully, not being able to learn as fast, jump as high. Perhaps my mother was dealing with inner child conflicts that I could never have known. I wanted something different.

I have a new take on things, now.

Whenever I work through a project with a child demonstrating care and patience, I realize that I am demonstrating this to my inner child as well. When I read books and talk with my grand daughter about how she can be anything she wants to be, I am empowering me as well as her. When I take time to get down on the floor and play whatever it is they want to play, that’s me down there wanting someone to enjoy spending time with me. When we make up stories or draw silly pictures we are together in growing our creativity. And when we sit together on the couch just snuggling, I am holding that little girl in me who longed so much for unconditional love.

So now, I think, I am living in a constant state of creating me and that, for some reason, makes so much sense and makes me very happy. Not only does it make sense, it will help guide my activities with them now with more patience, understanding and joy.

I will celebrate, every day, my inner child.

Be Open To Joy

My youngest grandchild, just this week, saw two tulips that had finally reached a bloom; a cheerful glorious red just at that budding stage. She was drawn to their color and with toddler haste and focus, she went directly to them.

Before anyone could stop her, she plucked those bright beautiful blooms right off their stems!

Holding the dismembered petals in her little hands, she cried “Oh no! Doctor!”

I mean, how can you not laugh? How can you not be filled with joy just for having the opportunity to be present for this moment to witness a baby child experience cause and effect right before your eyes?

I could have chose anger or frustration. I could have reprimanded. Instead, I let her feel her own remorse. No doctor could put those flowers back together. Her mama picked her up and hugged her and together we were filled with overflowing joy. Joy for just being given that moment.

Pinterest Project Review

In this time of quarantine, thank God for Pinterest! This Grandma is determined to make a preschool like environment for her two grand-babies while they can’t attend their own. And Pinterest has come to save the day. But I have to tell you that sometimes things on Pinterest look so easy and reality plays out a different way. So I thought I’d start sharing what reality produces.

First of all, the process is easy:

I type in a word like “Toddler”. Then add another “Projects”

and up pops so many ideas that I have to stop and think! What do I really want to do with them. There’s so many ideas! Well, it’s springtime so why not add the word

“Spring”

and there you have it. A million more ideas.

I picked one:

“Blooming Flowers”

Up comes an idea called “Blooming Puddle Paper Flowers“. So simple, with directions that even I can follow.

So I freehanded the flowers (not too difficult) using a black marker on printer paper.

Watercolor paint was portioned out in a little paint container.

My art table is full of lots of potential project ideas but I try to keep things a bit out of reach. I could have done better here!

The end product was enough for this day. They were left to dry. The next day, I cut them out because they are too little yet to cut a shape like this.

Almost too pretty to do the next step but I told myself that we could always do this activity again.

So here’s the blooming part!
This is the result from the 3 year old
This is the result from the 2 year old

From here, things deteriorated to such a degree that I had to stop taking pictures. The two year old turned all of her flowers into pulp. The three year old tried to gently pull the flowers out only to rip them all. She then just enjoyed pouring water from the tub to the table. With a great deal of haste, I retrieved a sieve to drain the tubs and not clog the drains. So, while this was a picture perfect idea, I was not completely prepared.

We’ll have to see what Pinterest suggests next.

Planning for Toddlers – Spring Theme

Repurposed Doll Hats

My 3 year old grand-daughter stepped into my home on Friday and said “Grandma, do you have a project for us today?”

Claire, Age 3

Last week was a week of learning. Learning how to navigate life under social isolation, learning how to not watch too much news, and learning to be thankful for those little things. For me, it’s that I live next door to my daughter and her family. While they try to work from home, I am right here to take care of the 3 and 2 year old. And it’s because of this moment that I decided to change things up with them. I have been watching two grandchildren three days a week before this happened but now I am changing how I do things for two reasons:

  1. One of them had participated in a preschool program 2 out of my 3 days so I felt that she was being challenged there. While she attended that, her younger sister attended a Child Drop program at the YMCA which gave her socialization time and me a reason to exercise. Now both of these services are closed and it’s up to me to provide a different stimulation for their young quickly developing brains.
  2. I also feel as though they have reached an age where if my time with them was typical daycare, it really gave the kids full control over what we did. I was just there to play along. I have to tell you, those days sound simple but they can be exhausting. Now, after writing up plans and using coordinated play, I feel a sense of control and a renewed excitement. It is all still play based time and they still direct when and how long each planned event lasts but now I feel I have control of some of the time and I have the choice of what books are read/watched, what vocabulary is highlighted, what the fine/gross motor emphasis will be.

I’ve Made Some Changes This Week

After trying to follow my own plans this past week, I realized that I had way too many things planned for each day which put me behind immediately on day one. Then, one day, my daughter tried to follow the day’s plans and she didn’t understand it at all so I had to send her directions in an easier to follow format. And lastly, when I went to open up some of my linked documents, they didn’t save well in a pdf format, so this week, I have developed a format in Goggle Docs: one for each day of the week.

The next thing I’ve done is plan one concept for Monday, a different one for Tuesday, then a review/catch up/ or have fun repeating on Wednesday. Then Thursday, I expanded on the concepts from Monday, Tuesday, and even the previous weeks. This allows the needed repetition of words with just a slight twist. It also makes everything easier for this Grandma.

Friday, I want a blank template. Read your favorite books, bake cookies. Anything goes.

So Friday’s template is blank. Use this to make up your own themes and plans if you want. It’s fun. And it might be fun to share them back with me.

Plans for Week Three

Plans are set up one day at a time. There is no designated time limit and no intended sequence of activities. What I learned this week is that the kids need free play first when they get to my house. And, they seem to need to check out the whole house just to make sure everything is still in the same place or something. When I think the time is right, I guide them to one of the day’s activities.

Monday – this day is all about birds. Someone shared a link to 50 bird sounds. Wait till you hear that! And, I’m excited to let them make a nest out of blankets, build a bird from play dough, and (weather permitting) get outside to gather leaves and twigs and try to make a real bird nest. My other daughter also clued me in on a great little Children’s yoga video series called Cosmic Kids. We tried one last week, and the oldest could do about 15 minutes. Not bad!

Best Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 Tablespoons Alum, 1.5 cup warm water, 2 Tablespoons oil, Food Coloring, (Optional – 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil)

Cook over low heat until dry looking, Turn onto table and knead. Store in covered container

Tuesday – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Oh my goodness, this one will be fun! There are so many fun things to do with this theme. Narrowing them down was the hardest part.

Wednesday – Repeat, Review, Catch up. I’ve added a couple more links to try as well just for fun

Thursday – Brings things together on this day by going back to our seeds and then rereading books with a focus on sequence. What happens first, next, and last.

Friday – Empty Template. Free Day. This is a day to give lots of choice. Finish project, dance to the music of the week, bake cookies, watch a movie. Anything goes.

Feel free to copy and use the template to plan your own lessons.

The Reality of a "Plan"

An Honest Check In On How It Went

This weekend, I got excited about writing a couple of blogs that brought me back to my teaching days. In fact, I was feeling darn good about the fact that I pulled together ideas from many places to produce a Monday through Friday list of plans all broken down, loosely, by Multiple Intelligences. I was thinking “Wow! You still have it, girlfriend.” And so then, I took yesterday off. It was Sunday after all – the day to rest.

But Then…

Monday morning, I leisurely opened up my previous blog post so that I could simply download the little worksheets, check the art project link from Pinterest and enjoy a cup of coffee before they arrived.

I opened the first document. Selected “Print” and then looked at the sample. It was all wrong! Luckily I have the original so I quickly opened that one and printed it successfully. But my heart was racing. I didn’t save a lot of time for prep! I opened the next document and it too was showing up wrong. That one was supposed to be a sheet filled with raindrops that just needed to be cut out. Unfortunately, I had to simply freehand those. Thank god, they were just raindrops. They were, however, looking a little like teardrops by the time I cut out 24 of them! Then I went to the Pinterest link to just look at the umbrella project..Wait, more to prepare? Sure enough, I had to draw up two umbrellas and two handles – both freehand because I didn’t have time to see if they had included a free template.

Ok, ok, I had everything cut out and ready with just a little time to spare. I had forgotten that the written plan is just step one. Step two is prep! Don’t forget the prep! And prep is no joke, especially with little ones. Luckily, my basement has an art table already covered with a drop cloth and the paints were on the table from a project last week.

And Then They Arrived

In came two precious little ones but the mama already looked exhausted. The oldest one didn’t want to get dressed so she was in her pajamas but then at the last minute she wanted to add one of her princess costumes complete with a cape, tutu, a crown, and her magic wand.

Rapunzel I think but then she became Elsa later on

And her little sister apparently completely lost it because she did not want to take of her fireman pajamas. Unfortunately, they were wet so she didn’t have the option to keep her’s on.

Then, the umbrellas both came as I’d asked but one was broken and they wanted to immediately open them up and play with them even though my “plan” was to have that as a great activity for later.

So Be Flexible Went Into Place
We played beanbag toss!

And then seconds later, they simply wanted to play with the toys at grandma’s house. Time to just take a breath and let them just be.

After some time of free play, I called them over to see the book/video that I wanted them to watch. Anything that has to do with technology has them stop whatever they’re doing and run. So that was a grandma win.

The story “Rainy Day”. They watched it two times.
Finally ready for the art project

By this time, they were ready to go to the basement where I had all the things ready to do a “fun” project.

They, however, had other ideas when they saw the downstairs toys. So, relax grandma. It’s all good.

Finally, I got them over to the table and was quickly reminded of the rule of keeping everything out of reach until they were ready to do the first task. And, of course, I was the one to dump some paint.

Luckily there was paper on top of the drop cloth and that paper will come in handy again later. You’ll have to wait for that one.

We actually got through one project, kind of successfully, and that was it! They just wanted to play then and grandma was done!!!

So, we completed about 2.5 things on the overall plan for the day

Yup, that’s it. We played a little bean bag toss, watched the video about rain, and did one project. But the best part is, we can just continue the activities tomorrow and I followed my rules of:

S -imple is best

M – ake it fun

I -llustrate but…

L – et them lead

E -njoy this time with them.

And we did that! Smile after smile after smile!

And the One Finished Project?

Week Two – Plan

Well, this activity reminded me of just how long it takes to develop plans for a week. It is now nearly 4:00 and I have been working on this all day. Now I did totally get into it, I have to admit but it’s not easy to pull together connected activities even for little ones.

I pushed myself to think in terms of multiple intelligences, laying out each day with little activities focused on each intelligence. The activities are intended to be short and flexible and fun. Seriously, if something turns out to be stressful, stop. It’s not worth it.

Now I’m going to test this blog for how well it will allow me to link my plan to you.

Week Two Lesson Plan – https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A7df99e7e-6152-4962-8e27-7ec3951de8c1

Monday Activities and Links

Any book that you have about spring will work fine. I chose The Rainy Day because it is available read out loud on YouTube so you do not need to actually own the book.

Other book ideas are listed on Pinterest. In fact, I have saved other ideas for this weeks activities on this site as well.

  • Ideas for books
  • 3 D Rain drop project
  • Rain cloud Activity

I have also developed a few simple to print off sheets for you to use.

Other items needed for Monday

Umbrella, clear jar, shaving cream, blue food coloring, somethings to toss into umbrella ( I actually like the idea of using those orphan socks rolled up)

Tuesday Activities and Links

Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

Over In the Meadow – Barefoot Books

Songs can be downloaded on Apple Music or Amazon Prime. Here are links to each of them as videos.

The Garden Song – Sung my Peter, Paul and Mary

Walk Outside – Sung by Raffi

Baby Beluga – Sung by Raffi

Rockin’ Robin – Sung by Bobby Day

Other items needed for Tuesday

Old coloring books, glue or glue sticks, potting soil, peat pots or ice cream cones, and seeds.

Wednesday – Activities and Links

Moon Dough recipe

Thursday – Activities and Links

Kite Day by Will Hillenbrand

Make the kite by precutting a diamond from drawing paper. Let them see you cut it and divide it into 4 sections. Let them count the sections. Then give the free choice for how to color it. They could even choose from paint, markers, or crayons whatever you have available.

Make the tail but having colored construction paper cut into small squares with a hole punched in each color.

String the squares on a pipe cleaner that way each piece will stay instead of falling back to the bottom.

Glue the tail onto the finished kite when it is dry.

Add a string at the top of the kite to make it match a completed kite.

(This project may have to be done over the course of the day or even over two days. Little ones don’t have the attention span to to this all at once)

Other items needed for Thursday

Scarves or other items that could be pretend kites

Friday – Activities and Links

Nothing new today. Everything is an option for your child to choose to do again.

In Closing

This is, hopefully, everything you need for a week of fun activities. As I stated earlier, be flexible. Use other books if you have them or other links if you’d like. The idea is really simply to organize thoughts so that there is a repetition of vocabulary and concepts while varying the activities to meet different learning styles. Little ones have likes and dislikes already. I’m seeing that every day. So if I have varied ideas planned then if one isn’t a hit maybe the next one will be. And always, when possible give choices within the activity.

Remember to keep it:

S -imple

M -ake it fun

I -llustrate but…

E -njoy the time with them

S.M.I.L.E.

What To Do With Little Ones Now That The Daycares Are Closed

Here I am, trying to come up with ideas of things to do with my grandchildren while their parents work from home and the preschool is closed. I want to help but I need to have a plan. Just sitting on the floor and playing with them works for a good deal of time but they enjoyed being out of the house with with other little friends too and now that’s not possible. So, this grandma works to bring something new and fun in my bag. I’ve been hitting up Pinterest hot and heavy these days. So, I decided that now might be a good time to try to share my ideas to help other people who might be looking for something different to fill the child’s day.

Believe it or not it’s spring!!!

Now that my grand babies are 2 and 3 years old, I don’t have to worry about things going into their mouth so much but activities can’t be too involved because they lose interest really fast. So this idea is a combination of art, literacy, and fresh air. It was great at spreading out our conversation about spring over most of the morning.

First Project

Water color paints (just yellow at first, then green added later) were set up at a covered table along with watercolor paper which is a bit heavier and paint brushes that were a bit wide.

First add a few black dots on the paper. This helps a child follow the direction to fill the paper with yellow.
Next, give them a cup with just the color yellow. Deep cups keep it from spilling out all over the place. Then tell and show them how to paint “a straight line”. Keep repeating straight line and focus them on each black dot.
Don’t worry if the straight lines are not straight. Just let them enjoy the paint. If you keep pointing to the black dots, that will help them fill the paper with color instead of painting in one wet circle.
When they tire of the yellow, then wash out the brush and offer them green. Again, demonstrate drawing “straight lines”. Tell them that they are now drawing the stems of the flowers. Don’t worry if the lines are not straight or look nothing like stems. It’s all ok. When they finish this, it’s time to let them dry, go play for awhile.
This is a good time to go for a walk

Here where we live, there are no flowers blooming yet but we walked and looked and listened for signs of spring. We heard 1) birds singing, 2) a machine chopping up downed branches. There were few people (as expected right now). Then we saw 3) sprouts coming out of the grown that are sure to be flowers soon, 4) one bird up in the tree, 5) several squirrels busy running away from us.

And on this day, we also went by business doors and found the sign the said either “OPEN” or “CLOSED. The best part was that this is something we have never done and it allowed us to actually talk about the businesses more. For instance, there was an “OPEN” sign on a shoe store. My grand daughter asked, “What’s a shoe store?” I never would have thought to talk to her about this store. Another one that was “OPEN” was a Vet’s Clinic. We talked about how good it was that there was a place for sick pets to go.

Back Home And Ready For Part Two

Now the painting is dry and now is the perfect time to let them do part two.

Now it’s time for play dough. The direction was to 1) make a ball, 2) then poke a hole in the center
Then place a ball on each black dot. and celebrate the beauty of the daffodil. It won’t be long. The flowers will bloom even if we are still isolated in our homes. The flowers will bloom.
Time for lunch and curling up with a good book

After they played as long as they wanted with the play dough, we washed up and had lunch. Then it was time to just quiet down and share a good book. I chose this one:

This book is about the seasons of the year. It’s done in rhyme which is my favorite. The pictures were so detailed and allowed us to compare what we saw on our walk with the spring pages. And then we dreamed awhile about all the fun we are going to have when we can be outside every day playing.

And just like that the morning was over and it was bedtime. So many things went well with this activity.

  • The activities were just as long as they wanted them to be, no longer
  • No one was frustrated, left out, or exhausted
  • Prep for this project didn’t take hours
  • We didn’t watch TV

Trick Or Treat?

It started out as an idea from Pinterest, as simple as simple can be.

Grandma said, “Do you want to help me?”

The three year old, still thinking pumpkin goop, just said, “No”.

But Grandma said this would be different and so she gave it a go.

Your little sister had some fun, as babies like to do.

For sure she wanted to be involved. She likes to do things too.

She kept herself busy, trying on hat after hat.

But then she gave a signal. She’d had enough of that.

So she got an early start on the stuffing that belonged inside.

Grandma got the plate in front of her right before she cried.

That left the heavy lifting all up to the one who is three.

She lifted that spoon so perfectly and with a look of total glee.

Now some of the mixture made it into the exact right place.

But more found it’s way into this cute little face!

In the end, as these stories often go,

Grandma stuffed the peppers and the kids…

were happily full!

So was this a trick or was it a treat?

It didn’t really matter. The fun was hard to beat.

I Want Them To Know Me!

IMG_7118It’s My Goal

I Want Them To Know Me

They live far away.  I can’t see them every day.

Still I want them to know me.

In between visits, we chat on the phone but I can’t see how much they’ve grown.

I want them to know me.

So visits are as frequent as they can be and when we’re together I can actually see…

They really do know me!

 

And So I Travel Back And Forth

When I leave home, my mind is preoccupied with all the things I’ve left undone.  My home needs my attention.  My other grand-babies count on me.  There’s always a little melancholy as I pack to leave. Still, I pack that bag and hit the airport early so there is no chance I will miss that flight. And when I arrive, my home takes a back seat to this home, these babies. And sure enough, they’ve grown.  But they know me!

We pick up right where we left off.  My grandson…oh goodness, there will always be a special bond between us.  He knows just how to melt my heart.  This time, it was by moving a chair close to me and saying, “I want to sit by you, Grandma, because I love you.”  On the first night, though, he struggles with his routine.  “Can Grandma read your bedtime story?”  “No, I want mommy to…but I still love you Grandma.” By the end of this visit, he invites me to that special time of the day.  “You can come lay with us, Grandma.”  I have earned a place again.

Now, my granddaughter, she’s a little tougher.  She and I did not grow up together.  Her  connection to her mommy is deeper. I have to work to gain her trust, every single time, but last night she let me rock her to sleep. I worked my way into her heart one more time.

Making Memories

I’m trying to capture golden moments.  I’m trying to be part of their life, feel their days – the good and the bad parts.  It won’t be long and they’ll be too busy for their grandma.  Friendships and activities will consume their time and I will be relegated to periodic visits for school concerts or athletic events.  I know this.

And so, on each trip, we try to plan something that is memorable.  This time, it turned out to be as simple as setting up a wading pool and sprinkler.  They’d not done either yet. So, guess what?  We did it!  Mommy bought a new garden hose and pulled out a blow up pool that had been waiting since last summer.  Together, we made that moment happen and it was so completely joyful.  They jumped and splashed in the extraordinary May heat; laughing, screaming, and shouting out to the birds in the trees.  It was the moment I will remember from this trip.

Then, I try to take part in their events.  I want to feel their days.  This trip, it was a short little kids yoga class at their preschool, library story time, and a T-ball game. Then, mix in the play time activities.  This time, it was all about tiny legos.  Last time, it was the Super Ultimate Garage! My grandson dominates the play choices still.  His sister adores him so she gladly follows along.

And Before I Know It…

Another trip comes to an end and my eyes fill with tears…again.  It never gets easier.  It’s always the same. We talk about when the next time will be, how short a time there is to wait, but two months is a long time for all of us.  We just pretend that the time will go fast.

No Matter What

Until they are too busy, until I am no longer able to travel, I will make these trips.  I will continue to live from one memory to the next.  My days as a Grandma are still the best days of my life.  I’ll take the melancholy and the tears over and over again because in between them there is so much laughter and love.

Days With Grandma Returns

Watch out! This Grandma’s back in business. The antics will continue with the newest baby in the family. Stay tuned.

January 14, 2017

Life Reset

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I had believed that my days with my grandson would last until he went off to school.  I had four or five good years, I thought.  Then I found out that he was about to become a big brother and my heart exploded.  My contract was sure to be extended!

Instead, “Days With Grandma” stopped; moved away.

Days are now visits, some longer than others but, all of them, short. Happiness fills those visits but I’m constantly reminded that it’s a visit.  It will end. So, I’ve struggled with writing about the joy that truly fills me each time. Visits are different.  I’m a guest…a special guest for sure, but none the less a brief diversion from the new routine. And so I watch as he shows me his new skills; running, climbing, building.  I see that he has embraced other little people as well;  thrilled to have others his size to run and climb and build with too.  He talks and sings now. Words spill freely from his consciousness. How did he learn all of that?  Laughter erupts often as he shares his unique view of the world.  One day, he described his throat as a drain which was super cute and logical so why did it surprise me when he also said that he had a “poop drain”?  Logical, lovable, growing up connections.

He’s now a big brother.  He has a little sister.  I enjoy my minutes with her but I have to admit, I don’t know her as well. I haven’t watched her every movement from the day she was born.  Our relationship has been a Facetime connection.  Every time I visit, she looks at me, initially, as a stranger.  During the visit, I hold her, rock her, play with her, and love her.  But, I don’t have stories to write about her. Her brother commands more attention.  She, quietly, observes his antics and throws out big beautiful smiles when we remember that she’s there too.  I am determined to visit often so she knows me, truly know me. But, I know it will always be different.

Days With Grandma Returns

Life goes on.  Right?  Time changes things.  I adjust.

And then, I learn there’s a new baby on the way.  This baby lives three blocks from me. I’m about to be a Grandma again!   Can I help with childcare?  Are you kidding me?

Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

My Grandma duty started this week!  This time, I tell myself, “Just remember…

Enjoy the moment…the moment.