Friday, December 30, 2011

LC Bracelet for New Year's

Today we did a LOT of fun stuff on the Upper West Side. Let me share one of our activities. LC made a beautiful bracelet to wear on New Year's Eve/Day. She chose the beads (including a sparky L and C) and charms and then strung them onto the lace string...and a staff member helped secure the clasp.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! 2011 was AWESOME for all of us here...our family is so happy. We wish for more of the same for 2012. This weekend is going to be a lot of fun for the little one :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

best Christmas ever

Christmas Day began nicely with LC watching me hang up the Christmas tree she made (well, I cut out the shape and she decorated the tree). When she saw the light reflecting from the chandelier onto the little gemstone stickers...she said "it light up like a real Christmas tree there!"

LC planned the entire day. She had her choice of any activity in NYC (that was open on Xmas Day!)...and she chose the Mary Poppins film at Lincoln Center (only $6 per ticket). We shared a nice tub of popcorn (about $4)...then we walked to the Heckscher playground in Central Park (that's actually my childhood playground and this was LC's first time there, she insisted we go and I managed not to get lost)...we shared a hot dog ($2), then along with a bunch of tourists, in 40 degree weather, LC had a blast in the gigantic sandbox, nice swings...and we climbed real, huge rocks (free and priceless entertainment).

When we got home, I made dinner, we had Christmas cookies, we played board games, read books together and made lots of drawings. LC also had a special Christmas wish that I granted...we couldn't turn on computers, cameras, her portable DVD player, (we have no TV anyway) or use phones all day. That's right, monkey wanted 100% undivided attention from the time we woke up (8am) until the time we slept, which happened to be 8:30pm, because we were so wiped out from our day of fun and it didn't involve spending a lot of money or exchanging presents and LC told me "this was best Christmas ever!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

birdhouse + dinosaur collage

Happy holidays! Been crazy busy this month, but not too stressful this holiday season...because we decided not to exchange Christmas gifts this year. (Just like I'm opting out of a 4th birthday celebration for LC and instead we will have a travel adventure outside of NY.) We feel blessed that we are making some amazing memories together and accumulating stuff is not important to us.

This last week and a half, LC and I hit so many fun places. I can't really write about it here, since I'm writing about it for work. But let me share her outside-of-home artwork that is now proudly displayed at home:

LC thoroughly enjoyed painting the wood birdhouse in the above pic and I made the little snowman (with an orange crayon nose). For the below picture frame, LC glued bits of paper down on a board to make a collage and then a Triceratops cutout was placed on top; she decorated the frame with foam animal stickers and palm trees.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

bad guy, baby tree, flower, ode to ice cream & mama

LC: "I made a bad guy. The bad guys live in Badland. And the superhero lives in Goodland."

Mommy, baby and orange ice cream:

LC: "It's a baby tree. Tree name Clendacanda tree."

LC: "I made it because you are the sweetest mommy. Mommy and baby, they dancing."

A colorful burst of creative energy:

LC's first drawing of a flower! Exciting for us.

LC: "I made a sad mommy. Him a sad mommy, because he lost her book. It went down that way."

LC: "That's sticks on his hat. That not hair. I'm happy mommy like it. Him smiling because he going to get that chocolate ice cream. And he has green eyes like you. And a green nose."

LC is the absolute sweetest distraction, while I'm trying to get some work done. For example, she was drawing on the chalkboard and saying such cute things: "Cone and Plie, they are mommy and baby. Love your family. Taking a little break on the beach. Silly chalk!"

She also came up to me recently and convinced me to attend her "lego school," where LC teaches the fine art of building the perfect tower with the small lego pieces. She was a very good teacher.

She has become a fan of Rigatoni pasta...and tonight after dinner, she told me "thank you mother for a lovely pasta meal." That's a direct quote, ha. So polite, for a 3 year old!

Her favorite phrase now is "don't worry about it", she picked it up from me, but it sounds so cute when a 3 year old says she will take care of her mommy doesn't have to worry about it. Very considerate and helpful.

Dancing Queen & Cupcake Love

Been a very busy week for us, but lots of fun. We went to a cupcake decorating party (creative and delicious!), two live shows (LC ran up to the stage to dance with the performers on the UWS and she contributed to a story in Midtown), a studio arts workshop, a brunch, her first arcade experience, an awesome playground slide, lots of toy shops etc. A Director of a cool preschool program told us she would like LC to start in the spring, which is rare for kids to start midyear...I have to give it some thought. A lot more stuff coming up the rest of December and all of January for us. LC is making new friends, we're considering moving to a new place and I am transitioning back into the work world. So, I will try to update this creative blog weekly with some of LC's art.

Monday, November 28, 2011

collaboration - my pencil drawings + LC's crayons

This ended up being a collaborative work. My witch drawing fascinated LC and she wanted to color it. LC colored in the witch's face and part of her hair and body and I colored in the rest...then LC added a pink cloud. I thought she was done, but no...she then did something amazing...LC told me she had an idea...she wanted to add a "tree with branches and leaves and apples." She drew that all by herself, enhancing my original illustration.

Then, LC wanted to go through the rest of my 14" x 17" sketch pad. She asked if she could color in some other pages. I joined in, now and then. She enjoyed coloring in my illustrations with me more than she seems to like coloring books that we pick up. I guess she felt like we were a team, making art together.

We did this for about an hour. She made me promise that we would do it again the next day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

first letters of words fascinating LC

Just because we ditched the formal, daily, 30 min home lessons and structured lesson plans we started a couple of weeks ago...doesn't mean that LC gave up on learning how to read/write/do math. I decided that a 3 1/2 year old needs to play, explore, discover...and learn in a self-initiated manner. I like that she follows her own interests, asks questions...without any pressure from me (or anyone else).

This morning (as we were getting ready to go grocery shopping):

LC: "Brush start letter b?"

Me: "Yes."

(Sees the stuffed sea lion...)

LC: "Sea lion start letter c?"

Me: "That's a hard one...sea lion starts with the s-s-s-s-s sound, like snake."

LC: "S !"

Me: "That's right."

LC: "Pen starts with letter p. P-p-p-p-p sound."

Me: "Yes. Good job figuring that out."

LC: "Wand start letter w. Wand say w-w-w-w. That how you spell wand."

Me: "I can't believe you figured that out all by yourself."

LC: "Strange start letter s. S-s-s-s-s sound."

Me: "That was a hard one! How did you do that?...great job."

LC: "I figured out hard one. Yay. Airplane start letter a. That how you spell airplane."

Me: "WOW, I can't believe it. That's amazing."

LC: "Boots start letter b. You figured that out, mommy think that amazing. Picture start letter p. Mommy surprised I know spell. Box start letter b. B-b-b-b-b sound. Bag start letter b."

Me: "You're doing great, figuring all this out."

LC: "Tissue start letter t."

Me: "WOW..."

LC: "Jelly start letter j."

Me: "That's a hard one, good job!"

(Looking at all the objects in her spotting the outlet...)

LC: "Power...p-p-p-p...P!"

Me: "Nice job."

LC: "Paper start letter p. Duck start letter d. Diamond start letter d. Flamingo start with letter f."

Me: "All of those are are trying so hard...and I'm glad you like letters so much."

We attended a workshop last weekend. We had a great time socializing with the wonderful kids, caring parents and awesome teacher...we made art, learned some sign language, listened to live music- cello and French horn duet - and did some yoga together etc. LC told the teacher that she wanted to be an architect (while she was building a cool structure). Then, the teacher pointed up at a large ball (painted to resemble the earth) and asked the kids what it was...and LC said "that is a planet...the planet earth." When the teacher was about to start reading a book about an astronaut and the planets in our solar system...LC said "astronaut start with the letter a." Other parents, with kids a couple of months younger than LC, told us they were impressed by LC's knowledge and surprised that she is so bright since she isn't even attending school yet.

I heard her in the bathroom yesterday singing the alphabet song that she learned last year. It feels infinitely better to just let her take it at her own pace, witnessing her self-motivated discoveries and being there to help guide her along whenever she asks for help. She is one of the happiest kids on the block and I'd like to keep it that way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

collage mania - adding whatever is on hand!

She sat at the kitchen table and I gave her the materials. She went through quite a lot of drawing pads the last few months, so I decided to take off the brown cardboard backing from a couple of those old pads. So, she had a nice hard surface to work with...and I gave her the remaining Crayola Washable Kids' Paint (non-toxic, no mixing with water necessary, bright colors, and awesome washability). When she finished the painting, I gave her a new set of Crayola Washable Glitter Glue tubes. LC (explaining her painting): "A place where they have horses. Black horses and white horses and brown horses."

She is wearing the clear Alex Artist Apron with Long Sleeves, which will fit her until she is 6 years old. It doesn't look super comfy, but she hasn't complained yet...probably because she is used to wearing bibs for meals. Clean-up was just a quick wipe of the vinyl apron, the pink vinyl tablecloth and a little soap and water on her hands. Threw out a couple of styrofoam plates, rinsed the brush and put away the art supplies...and left the paintings on a shelf to dry. Yes, when we go to art workshops/classes, LC can go at it and get as messy as she wants in the studio rooms. At our home, we like to minimize mess and make clean-up fast and easy...but I would never deprive her of the pleasure of making art with her little hands.

She finished a second painting and told me she wanted glue. I took out the Elmer's Washable School Glue. She needed suggestions for a collage. I love mixed media collage art paintings, there are no rules...have fun using your imagination. I really should get some old magazines and create little tear sheets of all sorts of pictures and cut up some old fabric and wallpaper, too...and collect old buttons, stamps, metal pieces...put it all in a she can have a bunch of cool patterns, textures, images & colors to spice up a collage. She can take this further in the future and use various media (not just paint), opaque or transparent, and also layer the work a bit.

I said "how about feathers?" She liked that idea. Then, she wanted "sparkly stuff." So, I gave her a scrunched up bit of silver paper and a few sparkly shapes that she glued onto the painting. Then, she asked for "more stuff" so I gave her a yellow pipe cleaner. Then I looked in my closet and ripped off the moon & stars section of a Stayfree Maxi Pads bag (bet you didn't expect that). LC still wanted "more stuff" for the collage. So, I gave her a handful of wooden beads, then a handful of pennies. She found this fascinating and had fun sticking them to the surface and wanted more pennies. That's all I had, though. Lastly, I gave her a couple of Mickey Mouse band-aids and told her "OK, I think this is all I have for the collage, don't you think this is done now?" She nodded. There you have it. Pics below, after her artwork dried overnight.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

crayons & craft paper, a boat, a cake, the word sat

Isn't this such a lovely drawing? LC: "I making an old city."

Such simple materials, too. The wrapping paper we buy from the discount store is rolled around a large sheet of brown craft paper that normally gets thrown, I thought hmmmm....let's not throw it out...let me just tape that to the living room floor and invite LC to grab her crayons and draw.

We went to a very nice 3rd birthday outing for one of LC's friends and a Melissa & Doug watercolor paint set was given to us in the party favor bag...LC didn't waste any time making a painting at home.

Contruction paper, crayons. LC: "A fly in the jungle...a fly came from the jungle."

Crayola Model Magic. LC: "I made a boat!"

LC: "I made a cake!"

Here's LC doing a happy dance. Why?

She sounded out and read her first word. (10 lessons down for us, 90 to go.)

Added note (11/26/11): Though we were progressing well through the lessons...her joyfulness was being extinguished by the structured approach...I decided to abandon the book. I much prefer how a 3 year old (and 4 year old) learns about the world naturally...self-initiating...exploration...asking questions etc. It's not about bragging rights to's about LC remaining happy and building on knowledge as she follows her interests. She loves books. She loves letters and numbers. She still comes up to me, wide-eyed, to tell me how this word and that word start with the same letter and end with this sound etc. But I'm not going to pressure her to learn how to read, write, spell and do math & take (ugh) tests based on some arbitrary timeline. A 3 year old should PLAY, no matter how bright the 3 year old may need to school them when they should be playing...and I shouldn't feel pressured to do so by those we meet in NYC. Let's create. Let's play. Be happy.

I can't get enough of LC's crayon drawings...and neither can she :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Forest Baby

LC: "This is a baby. He is waiting for his mother to come. He is in the forest. This is a tree."

I didn't get a clear answer when I asked what this is...but I like the picture a lot. LC said something about gummy dancing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lesson #1, only 99 to go...only 20 minutes a day

Lesson #1 today. I'm following the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It's intended for preschool children. "Bright three-and-a-half-year-olds, average four and five year-olds", who haven't learned how to read and write yet. What I love most about Siegfried Engelmann's book is that the lessons require the simplest of materials: "this book and some paper (or a chalkboard) - no flash cards, lesson plans, special books, or machines." With the "love, care, and joy only a parent and child can share!"

Here's what I wrote on the chalkboard, as we practiced making the sounds of the letters: (But she mastered this months ago, for just about all the letters in the alphabet.)

I wrote the letters on paper, she practiced tracing over them a few times and then she wrote the letters herself: (I do need to research methods to teach proper pencil grip).

I do things in a methodical manner and this book suits me well. It follows the DISTAR program. I believe in teaching phonics, not memorization of words, so that when a child encounters a word she has never seen before...she can crack the code. I like that this book not only teaches phonics, but that it also teaches the skills necessary to blend sounds together...building on previously learned concepts. I believe in doing that for math, as a child learns self-contained modules and can put them together like building blocks to master more difficult concepts.

I've tried to put this off for as long as I could...but LC has been attempting to read, write, tell time and do math for many months. Might as well teach her in a more structured manner, right? there aren't gaps in the knowledge.

There's so much pressure for kids to focus on academics too early in life (and then constantly be tested)...without being allowed to play and use their imagination...I believe that "play is the work of kids." Her pediatrician agreed with me...and suggested I wait until she turns 4 years old. I have been following her interests and guiding her creatively, with hands-on experiences...answering her questions, but never initiating lessons. By 2 1/2, she mastered what most kids master by 4. She is now 3 1/2 years old.

I finally gave up and we started lesson #1 today....why?

Well...the daily conversations last week went like this:

"Lemon starts with the letter L, mommy?"
"I figure it out! Haaa....Baby start with the letter B?"
"Gate start with the letter G?"
"Why cat and kite sound same beginning, but different letter starts it?"
"I don't know."
"Flower starts with letter F?"
"Books start letter B?"
"Yes, very good."
"And Bug starts letter B, too?"
"And Bee say buh-buh-buh! A lot of things start letter B!"
"Puzzle start with letter B, too?"
"No...puzzle is pet and Petek, so that is...what letter, LC?"
"Puzzle start letter P!"
"Fire start with letter, F, too..."
"Yes. Are you ready to learn how to read, LC?"
"Uh-huh!!!! Ball start letter B, mommy?"
"Giraffe start letter G?"
"Yes...I really have to finish reading this list, so I can send it for work, OK? I will read to you soon and it's time to get ready for bed. We need to wake up early tomorrow."
She runs back into the room...
"Tomato start letter T, mommy?"
"Yes, good job figuring that out."
Starts dancing the happy dance.
She comes back into the room.
"Hand has letter A in it? AND starts A?"
"Yes, LC."
She looks thrilled, like she just broke the Da Vinci code.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LC's Top 20 Books (2011)

LC's Favorite Books (2011):

Me and My Place in Space (by Joan Sweeney)
Where The Wild Things Are (by Maurice Sendak)
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC (by June Sobel)
The Cat in the Hat (by Dr. Seuss)
Green Eggs and Ham (by Dr. Seuss)
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (by Dr. Seuss)
Llama, Llama Red Pajama (by Anna Dewdney)
Llama Llama Misses Mama (by Anna Dewdney)
Mister Seahorse (by Eric Carle)
Telling Time with Diego (by Lara Bergen)
My First Mother Goose (by Tomie dePaola)
Mr. Happy (by Roger Hargreaves)
Mr. Grumpy (by Roger Hargreaves)
Dinosaur Roar! (by Paul Stickland)
But Not The Hippopotamus (by Sandra Boynton)
Opposites (by Sandra Boynton)
The Going To Bed Book (by Sandra Boynton)
How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? (by Jane Yolen)
The Feelings Book (by Todd Parr)
Little Monster's Alphabet Book (by Mercer Mayer)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

peel-to-reveal crayon sticks delight LC

We are so excited that it's almost Halloween! We are going to have a ton of fun this weekend and on Monday.

LC broke out the new set of Melissa & Doug jumbo triangular crayons this week. She calls this drawing "Black Fish":

I might buy LC a magnetic, wooden figure dress-up set for Christmas, because now she is enjoying dressing up the Melissa & Doug stickers.

LC loves drawing happy faces:

For years, we chose not to watch a lot of TV, since it's such a passive activity and wastes so much time. Then, the TV broke down and it has been 3 months now that we have survived without a TV. Life is great! We enjoy so many activities, inside and outside the home.

Winding down before bedtime yesterday, LC and I decided to sit across from each other in the living room and draw for an hour straight. I brought out a new set of crayon pencils that do not require a sharpener...they are "peel-to-reveal" crayon sticks. You just pull the string and unwrap some of the paper to sharpen the crayon. They are the shape and size of jumbo pencils, which will help LC learn proper pencil grip. I bought these at a cool toy store in Park Slope called Toy Space. I can't find this set online yet at places like Amazon. But a place called Paper Source has them:

"Color Appeel" is touted as being "ridiculously awesome" and LC agrees. They will last a long time. We barely made a dent in the crayon sticks after an hour (and LC presses hard). LC presented me with (5) 11"x14" drawings and here are the top 3:

I managed to complete one random 14"x17" drawing (and it helped clear my mind at the end of a long day):

Thursday, October 20, 2011


LC was absolutely delighted by the intimate stage performance of White at The New Victory Theater in Manhattan. The 40 minute live show was amusing, sweet, bright and magical. She sat in the front row, on a mat (I set next to her on a bench) and she laughed and intently watched the show. A perfect hit for the intended age range of 2-5 years well as the parents lucky enough to join the kids for this show. After the show, LC interacted with the two performers.

LC posing with Cotton:

LC sitting next to Wrinkle:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

stringing make some jewelry

LC had a blast making jewelry, at home. She felt very proud choosing the wood beads, charms and strings for each necklace or bracelet that she made... & stringing the beads together...all by herself. Yes, it helps improve fine motor skills...and it's something she can do solo for an hour straight (after I make the knot for her, so the beads don't fall off)....but it also gives her great joy to make gifts.

The necklace she made for herself (doggy charm + pink & purple beads + purple string):

The necklace she made for her friend V's upcoming birthday (cat charm + blue, green, orange, purple beads + blue string):

She wore it so I could take a picture...then she helped wrap it in some silver paper...and she found a little purple ribbon.

Then, she wanted to make something for I asked for a bracelet with the cute red & black creature and only red beads...(I wanted a color combo that would work with something from my wardrobe, so I could actually wear this outside...proudly telling folks my 3 year old daughter made this for me!)

She is excited that we have enough beads leftover for like 8 more necklaces...she is telling me that she would like to make some jewelry for Christmas gifts. She said "I love making jewelries. Thank you getting these forever. I want to get these again next time, mommy."