Friday, December 31, 2010

Dino Days

The Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
It has happened.  The time has come.  It seems like most kids have phases of interest and one phase that is particularly strong for many boys are their Dino Days.  The Little Guy has started showing an interest in dinosaurs.  He received a set of dinos at a Christmas party. I must admit that I'm surprised it has taken him almost 2 weeks before starting the "why" and "how" questions!
We are starting the exploration of dinosaurs slowly by identifying the dinos he already has and learning a little bit about each one.  Have you seen the PBS (American Public TV - like NHK-E) show Dinosaur Train?  I downloaded a few episodes a while back on iTunes.  It is a starting point for little kids who know basically nothing of dinosaurs - or parents who remember very little from school!
Here are our dinosaur figures and flashcards that I printed, laminated and put on a ring.  The cards are from the Dinosaur Train Field Guide.  Over the next few weeks I plan to prepare the cards for the dinosaurs that we don't have and add them to the set.  We'll use them for identifying various dinosaurs in books, DVDs, posters, etc.
I'm also hunting for a few good dinosaur books.  There are so many to choose from but most that I've seen are too difficult for a 3 year old. I have ordered "What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?" by John D. Morris and "The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible" by Paul S. Taylor from Amazon.  The DK Publishing dinosaur books look interesting too but I think they are a bit too difficult right now.
In my search for information I found some other good dino info on the Answers In Genesis page that you may be interested in too.

Biker Boy

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
We have a biker boy!
I've been wondering when this day would come... the trike has been one of the most loved toys at our home but until yesterday the peddles were always neglected.

Learning to ride a bike is one of those things I tried to be patient about.  I knew the Little Guy would figure it out when the time was right.

I think we will need to get a bigger bike come spring as the Little Guy has rather long legs!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2 Good Questions

Angels fly so why do they have feet?

How to candles get shorter?

Who says that little kids don't pay attention in church...

The Christmas Story - Retold

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
During the past month of Advent the Christmas story has been retold and acted out many different times and in many different ways. Perhaps one of the best renditions of the season is the one that happened after church on Christmas Eve.
 Here is what the set looked like during the church service.  

Baby Jesus and friends were just hanging out, minding their own business when... 

 The Little Guy decided to help the angels get closer to the action.

 He carefully flew each angel closer to the manger scene while blowing on their wings to make them flap so they could fly.

The gifts from the Wise Men were put within Baby Jesus reach so he could open them. 

After "fixing" the manger scene the Little Guy brought each person one-by-one to come and see what he had done.  He also spent a few minutes explaining the improvements.  His joy and excitement was overflowing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

 Today and tomorrow are filled with Christmas celebrations at church.  We're having fun celebrating Christ's birth.  Above is the manger scene Advent calendar which was put together by the Bible Study students.  Below are trees the kids made at their party today.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How Things Work

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
For the past few weeks my days have been filled with "Why, Mommy, why?"
It is the answer to just about every question....
It is the question which drives me crazy!!!

The Little Guy is really into knowing everything about everything.
"How does the elevator work?"  "Why do we have to stand behind the yellow line?" "Why do we need a ticket?"  "Where does the money go?" "How does the train work?" "Why are you carrying my sister?" 
These are just a few of the questions from the 5 minutes we spent waiting to get on the train.  Can you imagine this going on all day long?!?!

Ok, I don't mind the questions most of the time and I try my best to give understandable answers... but there are some things I simply don't know.  Of course if I say that I don't know the answer the next question is "Why don't you know?" "Why don't you find the answer and tell me?"  "Why, Mommy, Why?"

So, I am on the search for books that will help a 3 yr. old to understand things.  I came across "How Things Work" by Conrad Mason on Amazon.  If you click on the link you can take a peek inside.  The lift-the-flap format works great for showing the inside of various machines.  Also, the explanations are simple yet detailed enough for even me to understand how an engine works.

If you have a curious preschooler this book may be just the thing to satisfy a bit of the curiosity!  (For a day at least...)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All Aboard!

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
Little Lady is 4 months old
You are invited to ride on the Little Guy's train!
Little Lady gets to ride in the caboose.
The kids have been fighting the first colds of the seaon which means we are having more indoor time than normal.  The kitchen/dining room has been rearranged a number of times during the past week.  As you can see, a bit of creativity can keep them from getting bored!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Importance of Tummy Time

I read this article today about the importance of tummy time.  It does a good job of explaining things in a way that is easy to understand.

I have copied the article below for those of you who need the help of Google Translate to read it.
この以下はGoogle Translateという翻訳のページに入れると(ちょっと変な)日本語で読める。
Tummy Time
Why babies need more of it than they're getting.
By Brian Mossop
Posted Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at 2:29 PM ET

In the early 1940s, Dr. Harold Abramson, a New York pediatrician, pored over heartrending reports of babies who accidentally suffocated while they slept. As he reviewed case after case, he noticed that a vast majority of the deaths occurred when babies slept on their stomachs. In a commentary in the Journal of Pediatrics, Abramson suggested that the many case reports of infant suffocation hinted that a newborn's sleeping position might contribute to so-called "crib death," later called SIDS. In the following decades, other researchers noticed that SIDS was less common in countries where infants typically slept on their backs. Fifty years after Abramson's study, the American Academy of Pediatrics formally launched a "Back to Sleep" campaign, instructing parents to put babies to sleep on their backs during their first year. The campaign has been hugely successful: Since it started in 1992, the SIDS rate in the United States has been cut in half.
There's a drawback, however: Telling parents not to put babies to sleep on their stomachs has scared them away from placing babies on their bellies altogether. And taking away "tummy time," it turns out, cuts off a pivotal avenue of development. The less time infants spend on their stomachs, the slower they generally are to acquire motor skills during their first year, which means the potential delay of simple feats like lifting their heads as well as more-complicated movements like rolling over, crawling, and pulling to stand. Doctors have hesitated to sound the alarm about this, since children usually walk shortly after their first birthday regardless of how much tummy time they've had. But a growing body of evidence now suggests that the timing of the motor-skill milestones that precede walking is crucial and can even factor into long-term health and cognitive ability.

Four years after the Back to Sleep campaign launched, its inadvertent effects started trickling into the clinic. Most notably, some infants had disfiguring flat spots on the back soft crowns of their heads. It took a few years for researchers and doctors to realize that the change in sleeping position also affected prewalking motor skills (whether or not a baby had a misshaped head). Then in 2004, a research team led by Bradley Thach at the Washington University School of Medicine studied the difference in head movements between stomach and back sleepers. Thach showed that babies who spent nights on their bellies quickly developed the brain connections and muscle strength to turn their heads from side to side—one of the first motor-skill hurdles. Babies who consistently slept on their backs, on the other hand, were less likely to have sufficient head mobility at 3 to 5 months.

Next a research group at McGill University, directed by Annette Majnemer, weighed in on the effect of sleeping position on development at six months. They found continuing motor setbacks. A larger fraction of the back sleepers than the tummy sleepers couldn't roll over, touch their toes, or sit upright with arm support.

Pediatricians have had mixed reactions to these clinical observations. Some have passed off the flat heads as a passing cosmetic issue and the lag in prewalking motor-skill development as inconsequential. Others, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, champion of the Back to Sleep campaign, have seen the head shapes and motor hang-ups as a harbinger of future problems and recommended supervised tummy time when a baby is awake.

Still, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 90 percent of new mothers receive the proper instructions to put their newborns to sleep on their backs, but only 55 percent are counseled on the importance of having their children spend supervised playtime on their stomachs. Even when parents get the tummy-time instructions, they don't necessarily heed them. Instead, they complain that it's hard to get their babies to play on their tummies. That's understandable, because before a baby can pull himself up, lying face down often isn't much fun. Frustrated by their kids' frustration, parents often give up.

How do we know that the babies who miss out on tummy time are at a lasting as opposed to temporary disadvantage? Looking at data from thousands of people born in 1966 in Northern Finland, a research group led by Charlotte Ridgway at the Institute of Metabolic Sciences, Cambridge, has shown that a one-month delay in infant motor development had the same detrimental effect on how a 14-year-old performs in physical education class as a one-unit increase in the same child's body-mass index. Using the same Northern Finland cohort, Ridgway and her co-authors also mapped a one-to-one link between the age at which infants stand unaided in their first year—another critical prewalking milestone—and their muscle strength and endurance, as well as cardiovascular fitness, at age 31.

Another team of researchers, led by Graham Murray at the University of Cambridge, has been looking into how early motor lags could affect other parts of the brain, like the areas responsible for cognitive functions. Using Northern Finland data as well as stats from a second group of Brits born in 1946, this group found that the sooner children passed their prewalking motor-development marks, the better the more-complicated areas of their brains performed in later life. Every month in advance of the group average that a child learned to stand on his or her own translated to a half an IQ point increase at age 8. By age 26, early motor developers had higher reading comprehension. And by the time they hit their 30s, they had achieved a higher level of education and scored better on executive-function tasks like categorization—how fast they could group objects of similar shape and color.

What's the best way to make sure that babies who sleep on their backs get their share of tummy time? Dr. John Graham, a pediatrician and director of the Dysmophology Program at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, suggests parents get started soon after they bring their babies home from the hospital. (The exceptions to the tummy-time rule, Graham notes, are babies with weak or stiff necks, an occasional side effect of birth.) With babies who are too young to support their own heads, parents can lie down and cradle them on their chest, introducing the stomach position in a comforting way. When infants get older and get the head-lifting thing down, regularly placing toys around their field of view encourages them to look around and stretch. It's pretty basic, really. And if babies cry because they're not used to the stomach position, stick with it for a bit anyway. The long-term benefit is worth the short-term fuss.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2 Wooden Toys

Today the kids each received a special gift from a friend of the family.  I think we were all equally excited.  I had actually wanted the second one but wasn't sure about the timing of getting it and the price.  I'm so pleased that we now have it!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I have a strong preference for wooden toys.  I would rather buy one well-made wooden toy then 4 or 5 plastic ones (with the exception of Lego).  I also shy away from cartoon character toys, electronic toys and anything that only has one way to use it.  If a toy can not stimulate the imagination it won't be played with for long.  
 Today we had a fire brigade hard at work in the living room. The 森の消防隊 has little people that "climb" down the ladder on their own which is a real hit!
This is the 森のうんどう会. The original use is that of a car ramp.  As you can see even a baby can enjoy this - as long as big brother keeps the cars going!  They played together like this for about a half hour this morning.
Both of these toys come from エド・インター and can be found on  If you are looking for a toddler gift one of these might work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kids Know...

In the wee hours of the morning Little Guy came to my bed.  He wanted to snuggle and after a bit he said "Mommy, please get me medicine and the white thermometer". 

The fact that he was asking for medicine was a pretty good clue to how unwell he felt.  Also, asking for the white thermometer - that is the "real" one  - meant he wanted to have his temperature taken and not just play doctor.

Little Guy spent the day on the couch.  He slept most of the morning and turned it into a boat in the afternoon/evening.  By bedtime he seemed to be getting back to normal.

I don't enjoy having sick kids but it is interesting to see how they handle sickness differently as they get older!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nativity Preschool Pack

It's naptime for the kids, well at least one of them is actually sleeping... so I am getting a few Christmas activities ready.  Have you seen the Nativity Preschool Pack from 1+1+1=1 ?
You can downlaod it here...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Start of Advent

We are off to a bit of a slow start this year but we are preparing for Christmas.  I love the month (give or take) of Advent because it allows us to really take time to prepare for the 12 days of Christmas.  
The first thing we do is put up the tree.  This usually happens the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving so the tree is ready for the first Sunday of Advent.  If time allows I like to have a tree decorating party.  We will have cookies and hot cocoa with music to set the mood as we prepare the tree.  
 Once the tree is up we put out the manger scene.  The whole holiday is about the babe in the manger so we try to keep the focus on that.
 Here is our Advent Calendar.  The little sheep moves from pocket to pocket as we count the days until Christmas.  I like to start from the bottom and have the sheep move up as the days pass.
 I've collected a number of devotion books over the years but this is one of my favorites.  We have used it for Bible Studies at church as well as devotions at home.  Each day connects a symbol to the message of the season.  The symbols are ornaments which can be added to the tree.
Of course one thing that the kids really get into is the Advent Wreath.  This is the fabric one which has been well loved (used a lot).  There is a similar one here.  When the kids get bigger we'll have a wreath/arrangement with real candles to light at mealtimes but for now I'm happy with the fabric one.

There are more things that we do so I'll post again sometime soon with more ideas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

50% off today at!

OK, so I'm not one for posting sales but this is too good to pass up.  It is a great time to buy gifts for some of the kids on your list!
Go to: and shop your heart out!!!
Let me know if you'd like a product recommendation to get you started!

Friday, Nov. 26: 50% off purchases over $50 
Saturday, Nov. 27: $15 off purchases over $50 
Sunday, Nov. 28: FREE SHIPPING with purchases over $50 (*within the U.S. only)
Monday, Nov. 29: 20% off all collections, bundles, and sets

Please keep in mind that the sale dates are based on the date in the U.S.
This is copied from:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exploring the Senses

The time has come to enjoy the new smells of the season.  As December arrives the smell of yuzu once again returns to brighten up the winter.  Little Lady had a chance to explore and play with a yuzu this week.  She smelled it, rolled it and licked it.  Even at 3 months old it was clear that she enjoyed being able to learn about yuzu in her own way.
Soon she'll get to learn about apples!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Japan Vaccination Information

Did you know that the vaccination information book for Japan is avalible in English as well as many other languages?

 Here is the link:

The first link in the line of downloads are at the bottom of the page is the English copy.

My, How the Children Grow!

This past week has been filled with much thankfulness as we celebrate the health of our kids.  Both kids had check-ups at the health center and in church last Sunday we a special Children's Blessing at church.  It is a Christian response to the Shinto 7-5-3 (blessing on children). 
 Since we are always thankful for the kids, no matter their age, all children are welcome for the church blessing.  Our two little ones were being shy at church that day (very strange!) so we didn't make it to the front with everyone else!

Here's how they measured up at the check-ups:

Little Guy
102 cm / 40 in. tall, weighs 17 kg / 37.5 lbs

Little Lady
62.5 cm / 24in. tall, weighs 6 kg / 13.2 lbs.

Both are healthy and a little bit ahead with milestones for their age.  For that we are very thankful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gingerbread Man

Run, run as fast as you can.
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread man!
I love to have a birthday party with a theme but detest the overcomercialized brand name parties in a box.  A theme can be inspired by something as simple as a balloon or as involved as a story.  Last year it was the Bremen Town Musicians
This year the theme was taken from one of our favorite books - the Gingerbread Man, also known as しょうがパンぼうや or Der Lebkuchenmann.  We started out with reading the story.
After the book we decorated gingerbread people.  A few of them were tasted right away just to make sure they were good.
This homemade pillow was a gift for the birthday boy.  He loves making it run when we read the book!
Of course no party would be complete without a birthday cake.  I made this gingerbread man and served him on an oven tray just like the one in the story.  This one didn't have a chance to run away though!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Work and Eat

Little Guy is 3 years and 0 months old
The Little guy loves doing transfer activities.  The little bowl with spoon set is perfect for him to practice with.  Last week at snack time he served up the snack for us.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Playing in the Kitchen

Little Guy is 3 years and 0 months old
Little Lady is 2 months and 3 weeks old
I am hesitant to say that these two play together so perhaps it could be called parallel play?
While I was making lunch today I had the company of my two little ones on the kitchen floor.  The Little Guy wanted to give his dog a bath and the Little Lady just wanted to be where the action was.  I have to admit that having them both within my site made it much easier to get the cooking done!  Our old house had a kitchen/dining/living room which made family life a bit easier.  In this place the kitchen/dining is across a hall from the living room/play space so I feel a bit disconnected at times while working in the kitchen.

At one point I heard the Little Guy praying and I turned to see this...
He was thanking God for his little sister and telling the Lord how wonderful she is.  He then proceeded to pray for the various great-grandparents in the hospital.  It was so cute! And a great reminder that even at 3 years old kids can have faith.  They are never to young to learn to worship, praise and pray!

Seriously though, when was the last time you got on your knees in the middle of the kitchen to thank the Lord for something?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nature Detectives Site

I was reading another blog this week and one of the activities mentioned came from this site:

It is a AWESOME site!  If you haven't bookmared it yet I would highly suggest you do!

There are so many great ideas for activities and wonderful resources.  I guess I should buy more paper for the printer so I can put together a few things as the leaves start the change solors and temps cool off enough for trips to the park!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Little Guy is 3 years 0 months old
Little Lady is 2 months 2 weeks old
My lesson this week has been one of patience.  Being a parent sure takes a lot of it!
The Little Guy wants so much to be independent and gets so very frustrated when he can't do something by himself.  Today the challenge was clothing.  We had a fit in the genkan this morning over putting on socks, a time out at nap time for not taking off his shorts to use the toilet and in the evening there was finally success when he was able to change to the shirt he wanted, all by himself.
Last week matching things was his "I want to do it myself" topic of choice.  With the U-Play mat we set out V-Z, 1-5 and 5 categories of subject cards to be sorted and matched.  After a short time Little Guy decided he'd rather be the teacher and I should be the student who does the matching.  He's a very hands-on teacher though, taking the cards from me to show me how to match things correctly.  Guess I wasn't fast enough for him!

The other tester of my patience is still too cute to intentionally test my patience... but I still caught myself wanting to do things for/with her when she should be given the chance to try on her own.
The intentional use of her hands is her current skill of choice to practice.  Last week it was trying to roll to her side.  There are times when I want to just put something in her hands for her because I can see she is struggling to grab... but usually I will stop myself and let her do the reaching.  At supper last night she touched the bowl, chopsticks, napkin, my shirt and even made a go for her brother's hair.  Earlier in the day she had grabbed a lego that we set on her tummy and the rattle that we held in front of her.
It is fun to see the day-to-day progress but it is equally hard to see the frustration when the hands don't move as intended!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Marble Tower

Ok, so I have no idea what this toy would be called in English so I made up a name that seems to fit.  I'm calling it the marble tower because you build a tower to let the marbles go through. The Japanese name is くみくみスロープ from Kumon.  In general I'm not a fan of plastic toys but I make an exception when the wooden counterpart is over $200 and this set is about $30.
Yes, there are small pieces so you have to count your marbles (catch the pun?) and make sure they are all accounted for.  I think four at a time is enough for normal play.
For the Little Guy's birthday we wanted to find something he would enjoy for hours, not minutes.  When looking around online we came across this marble tower.  I remember having one as a kid and loving it.  It wasn't nearly as fancy as this one but it was just as much fun!
The most difficult thing about this toy is sitting back and letting the kids play.  It is so tempting to take over!  After bedtime I have my fun and leave a newly arranged tower to be "tested" in the morning.  The only thing I can think of that would make it better would be getting a 2nd set for Christmas!  

Monday, October 4, 2010


There isn't much in the way of activities for a 2 month old to do. This is one thing though that our baby seems to enjoy.  When placed under a mobile she coos and smiles.  Mr. Big Brother says she's talking to the hanging critters.  Could be!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tokyo / Japan Books

For the past month or so the Little Guy has been napping in a room where I keep our *extra* books. In his efforts to avoid sleep he has been exploring the bookshelves. These 4 books surfaced so we read one at naptime each day.
All of them explore various aspects of life in Japan or Tokyo from a child's view point.  There is much an adult can also learn by looking through a child's eyes.  I think part of whey these books are so popular in our home is that the situations fatured cover topics from our daily life.

Here they are:
I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi

Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds

The Way We Do It In Japan by Geneva Cobb Iijima

How My Parents Learned To Eat by Ina R. Friedman

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guess the Baby!

Some of these babies are mine.  Some are not.  Would you like to take a guess?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Living Room Soccer

It was too hot to play outside and once it cooled off it was too rainy!  We've resorted to indoor sports to burn off a bit of energy.
This is soccer in the living room.  The ball, from Ikea, is soft enough that I don't need to worry about it in the house.  Another great aspect of the gave is that we can play after supper, when it's dark out and Daddy is home to join in!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Train on the Brain

During the past month we've had some great train experiences, including the chance to ride the shinkansen (bullet train). However, the experience that amazes me the most is seeing the leaps and bounds that have been made in train building at home.
At the beginning of the month the Little Guy started making simple circles by himself. Previously he always waited for help.

During the past week though he has expanded to larger loops and even including bridges.
I love the way this simple wooden set from Ikea has survived the past year.  It is one of those toys I could see keeping until we have grandkids one day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bubbles are Back

In between heat waves we did sneak outside for a little bit.  Let me tell you, bubbles are back!  In the spring the novelty started to wear off but we are over that now.  The Little Guy is all about taking his turn to blow bubbles and then having a turn to catch them.  His sister, however, was not so keen on the bubbles.  Maybe that's because a few landed on her head?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Boredom Buster

This week has been very stressful and it is only Tuesday.  Some of the stress is a carry-over from Saturday when we had an "everything that can go wrong, will" kind of day.
The main reason for the stress is toddler boredom.  The main reason for the boredom seems to be that the Little Guy has mastered all of the activities I have on hand.  Until I have time to make/get some new ones I'm pulling out a few of the classics to keep him occupied.

balance moon game
This is great because you can play it by yourself or with a group.

magnifying match
I saw this on another blog but can't remember where.  The idea is to use to magnifying glass to look at a small picture and them match it to the corresponding large picture.

pattern practice - using colored spools to follow a pattern on the card and the recreate it on a b/w card (this counts as preschool math... I wish algebra had been this much fun!)

Having something new to do made such a huge difference in the way we started our day.  It set the tone and pace for a nice, productive day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Children's Bible こどもバイブル

Bilingual Children's Bible バイリンガルこどもバイブル

I was looking around on and came across one of our favorite books.  It is the Beginner's Bible Japanese-English edition.  The same book is on here.

My son loves the pictures.  He's noticed that the characters keep wearing the same colors even as they age.  An example would be David from boyhood to becoming king he is pictured wearing red.  He also enjoys taking the Children's Bible to church to read along with the rest of us.

I like that the book has hiragana on any of the kanji that appear so even young or inexperienced readers can follow along.  Being bilingual makes this a great way to practice your Japanese, English or both!

Brother Teacher

Big Brother has taken over supervising tummy time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Very Hungry

We recently came across these in a store.  My first thought was "Why didn't I think of that?"  They would make a great treat for someone who is reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  

This pastry has a little bit of each fruit jam in it.  It is formed with little circles with the jam in the middle so it looks a little like a caterpillar.

This is the butterfly bread.

Here's what the butterfly bread looked like.  

Anyone want to try and make their own?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Different View, Different Use

Tummy time with big brother's things...
The Little Guy was using the lacing cards when the Little Lady came over to "watch". She seemed very interested in the patterns and designs on the cards.

She's so small!!!

This is the Little Guy's activity rug. He uses it when doing an activity on the floor or to keep his toys in out from under our feet (contained to the mat) when playing in the living room.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making Room for Kids

One of the ideas Maria Montessori had was that spaces for kids should be arranged in a way that the kids can use the space without adult help. Our house is small so there isn't a play room but the kids are welcome to enjoy using the whole place for their leaning and exploring.
Here are pictures of two of our activity areas.
This is the bottom half of the kitchen/dining room shelf.
On the floor are boxes with supplies that are too big/heavy to store elsewhere.
The 1st shelf from the bottom has "baby books" on the left. They are board books which are very durable. I rotate these according to season and interests. The tan containers with brown handles are CD cases. Our CD player is in the same room as the shelf so in addition to adding weight to the bottom to stop the shelf from tipping, it also makes changing music an activity that the kids can help with.
The second and third shelves from the bottom are home to various activities. Each one has a basket or tray of some kind. When the Little Guy wants to do an activity he takes the tray/basket to his work table, lays everything out, does the activity, cleans everything up and finally returns the tray to the shelf.
My husband once asked "how do you know where everything goes?". Since you only take one tray out at a time it is easy to figure out that it goes into the open space on the shelf. No labels needed!

This is part of our tatami room. It is about half of the living room so again, this is a shared and multipurpose space. The basic rule here is that toys stay on the tatami. The other side of the room has a lot of foot traffic so we try to limit the number of things to trip over.
On the left you can see the keyboard and guitars. This part of our house is where I feel we can be the loudest without disturbing our neighbors so we use the space for music times.
Next to the guitars is the bookshelf. The books are arranged generally by topic and series with the *special* books on the top shelf. I have a number of books which are fragile so they are kept up top where they can be requested and enjoyed with adult supervision.
The four wooden boxes are home to three cloth boxes numbered 1,2,3 and a space for books. The contents of the boxes are rotated according to interests at the time. On top of the boxes is a lamp which the the Little Guy is in charge of turning on/off and a box with various kid size instruments.

We have other kid-friendly spaces throughout the house. As I have time I'll take pictures of those too.

As a mom with a newborn and a toddler I can tell you that having a prepared environment has made my life much easier. Since the toddler can reach most things he is able to be independent rather than relying on me to do/reach everything for him.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Painting with Watercolors

It's been hot outside, too hot to play on most days so we've been enjoying some inside activities. One of the Little Guy's favorite is painting.
These paints came with a Care Bear painting book from Grandma and Grandpa. We don't have an art corner set up right now so art activities are usually on request at the table after supper. The Little Guy can see where some of the art supplies are kept so he is very comfortable asking for them. Eventually I hope to get a full art area arranged.