An inside look at poetry and tea time.

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Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and began asking that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon.

This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her. This pause for tea became a fashionable social event.

During the 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.  source 

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Afternoon tea. What a lovely concept. A way to come together as a family or friends and reconnect.

While I love the idea of tea time, their was no way I was going to get 3 kids all dolled up for afternoon tea everyday.

I came across Poetry tea time  and their sweet version of poetry combined with tea seemed perfect for our family. We decided Tuesday tea was perfect a perfect place to start.

It would be a lovely afternoon tradition, but starting once a week was a good fit for us. They took to it right away.

My oldest chooses poems he likes and reads them aloud and my younger two find poems they want read to them based on the pictures.

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I highly recommend having poetry books that include lovely artwork, it really adds to the experience for the younger ones.

If you want more inspiration, Learning From my Kids shares what tea time looks like for their family here .

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This time will look different for each family. Perhaps everyone gets dressed up, you bake a treat, put down a fancy table cloth and get out the nice china.

Maybe you all just come as you are and grab a snack from the pantry. The idea is to make it a special time in whatever way works for your family.

Oh, and most importantly, tea is optional. Don’t worry if your kiddos don’t like tea, or even poetry.

Perhaps you start with a short poem you choose while the kids sip some milk, and then they take turns choosing a book to read together. Just make it fun and meaningful. That is what really matters!

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Read more to see inside Tasha Tudors, Springs of Joy.

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Continue reading “An inside look at poetry and tea time.”

The repurposed napkin holder.

Today I am taking just a moment to share with you how much I adore my napkin holder, but not for napkins. It makes an awesome book and art display, even leaving room for some nature accents.

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Napkin holder

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This particular style is meant to hold napkins along with a salt and pepper shaker. It was a .50 cent thrift store find, and has certainly become a favorite!

We used it here in an invitation to draw trees with chalk.

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Seen with the following books:

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Taking risks in nature. Is it worth it?

I have briefly been following the story of the two 14 year old boys lost at sea last July.

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According to people.com,

The Tequesta teens, both of whom grew up on the water and were considered skilled outdoorsmen, set out from southeast Florida’s Jupiter Inlet for a boating excursion on the afternoon of July 24.  They were never seen again.

As a parent who encourages risk taking, this article hit me hard. For a moment it made me think, “Is the danger worth the risk?” Would I ever be able to forgive myself If something happened to one of my kids? Should I let them climb mountains knowing they could fall? Of course I should.

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I quickly put those fears aside and re-read these beautiful words from Jackie Semmens. I couldn’t agree with her more!

We go outside to learn, explore, and accomplish things we never dreamed possible. Playing outdoors has taught my children that they are capable of accomplishing difficult tasks, and as we are staring down the reality of climate change, this is what our world needs. We need people who are not afraid to challenge themselves, who look at a hill and refuse to believe they are too small to conquer it. We need children who have played and lived in the world outdoors and who will fall in love with the challenge of protecting it.

I cannot expect my children to care about an earth they have never felt seep between their toes or to protect the life of a bird they have never heard sing. I am arranging a romance, hoping they will fall in love with the world they live in.

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Continue reading “Taking risks in nature. Is it worth it?”

ART~ recycled paper painting.

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This week we received our package of Usborne books in the mail.

(It was my first time purchasing from Usborne and we had a great experience. I have no relation to the company, but we are definitely enjoying our new books, and I enjoyed working with Sara and Emilee.)

The kids were immediately drawn to the ART Lift-the-flap book, while I was immediately drawn to the large amount of packaging paper in the box! Pairing the paper with paint and our new book had everyone feeling inspired in no time.

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We try and combine our art with nature whenever possible. We truly believe that nature itself is the most exquisite art. Today we chose to do our art outside and I also added some natural elements to the painting invitation.

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Continue reading “ART~ recycled paper painting.”

Raising kids with Courage, Compassion and Connection- link to free printable.

 

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I was listening to one of my favorite audio books today. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting – Raising kids with Courage, Compassion and Connection, by Brené Brown. This woman is amazing to listen to. Every time I listen to her speak I feel like I am in her live audience and she is having a passionate conversation that feels nothing but genuine and real. Her real life stories are so captivating. Some are heartfelt, some are funny and some really hit home.

“Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail.” ― Brené BrownDaring Greatly

Focusing on the niche of my blog for a moment, I can certainly say I have seen disappointment, conflict and failure in my kids through exploring nature and art. When the kids use the hammer for small building projects they are sometimes faced with these challenges. When they build a fort in the woods using tree limbs, they come across challenges and disappointments when things don’t go as planned, or the fort falls down. My daughter experiences disappointment when she works really hard on an art piece and it doesn’t turn out how she wanted or perhaps she spills paint over her work and has to start all over. Life is FULL of these scenarios. The main point here is how we as parents or caregivers handle these challenges. 

We are constantly wanting to save our children from rejection, disappointment, conflict and failure. However, these are the very challenges that will give them courage, confidence and a sense of belonging. 

 

    

Continue reading “Raising kids with Courage, Compassion and Connection- link to free printable.”

Super simple food painting

 

Last week we enjoyed burning almonds to write with by the fire pit. You can see that post here. This week we decided to experiment with more food. 

Helpful tip: If you ask a grocery store manager they may donate some expiring fruit and vegetables for your art project! 

 

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I have seen people create beautiful colors by cooking fruits and vegetables, but I wanted something simple that we could do quickly and without the mess of the extra dishes. 

Red– Strawberries – either cut off the tip and use as is or crush it and apply with a brush or q-tip. 

Orange– Paprika combined with water and olive oil.

Yellow– Turmeric combined with water and olive oil.

Green– Spinach- I just balled it up and rubbed it to the paper.

Blue– Blueberries mixed with burnt almonds

Violet– Blueberries crushed. Add a bit of water to lighten the shade or mix with strawberries to darken it up. 

Black– Burt almonds mixed with oil. We tried both coconut oil and olive oil. The olive oil spread better. 

 

 

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Burning the almonds was the only step that took a few extra minutes, but the kids really wanted to do this again so we did. Next time, I will do it outside, because burning almonds do not smell great! Using tongs or tweezers hold the almond over the flame until it catches fire and burns completely. Next crush the almond and add a bit of oil. We got the idea after watching this short video on making homemade eyeliner with burnt almonds. You could also mix water/oil with cocoa powder or another form of charcoal to achieve a similar and quicker result. The kid’s LOVE to burn things of course, but I don’t always feel up for taking that on! 

 

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Last week we collected nature items and framed them. The art definitely needed a little something extra. Adding the rainbow picture one of the kid’s painted, was the perfect touch. Now I love it!

BEFORE:

 

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AFTER:

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So if you have some expiring berries or a bag of spinach going bad, make sure and create some art before you toss them out!

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Fire pit cooking, math, writing and more.

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We had a lot of fun tonight by the fire pit!

The kids peeled and sliced some apples – easy peasy with this apple peeler/slicer/corer. Sprinkle on some brown sugar and cinnamon and you have a yummy treat cooked over the fire in no time.

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The kids had fun burning almonds to write with. Burn the tips just enough to make them black and they give off a dark brown color to write and draw with.

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Once the fire had been going for awhile the almonds were traded for writing with the burnt ends of sticks. SO much fun for kids!

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I asked my 6 year old to spell the word HOT and write it out for me along with writing his name. I then used nature items to do a little math with both my 6 and 7 year old.

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With younger ones you can use nature items to count, sort, add small numbers, build shapes with rocks and sticks and so much more. It was a fun night of mostly free play, but we enjoyed sneaking in some fun learning experiences too!

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5 ways to extend backyard exploring.

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One of our favorite ways to explore nature is in our own backyard. We don’t have much land, but this time of year you can find plenty of beautiful plants growing wild in the grass and woods- (aka weeds.) I happen to think they are beautiful though! We give our kids plenty of time to explore without any adult interference, but we also enjoying bringing our learning outside and spending time in nature as a family.

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  1. The first step is to walk around the yard on a nature hunt. Sometimes we look for new plant growth, wildlife and animal habitats, drawing our findings as we go.  Most of the time however, we like to either each carry a small basket or pull around our wagon and work together collecting nature. This way we can display them on our nature table later. We have a classic red wagon, but this small toy wagon would be SO cute for a toddler to collect nature with! Don’t forget the rocks and sticks! They add to the play in so many ways.

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2. Include paper or a notebook for documenting. I LOVE seeing the kid’s ideas! They each choose to document and journal in such unique ways. You won’t want to miss this step!

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3. Add some books for reading helpful facts, identifying or getting nature craft ideas. Nature Anatomy is our go-to for identifying nature. You will notice it often as you read through my posts. I love that my son wanted to know what kind of moss he had found so he brought some in for our nature table. He was extra careful not to take too much from its natural habitat. Next he researched the moss examples in the book discovering he had came across haircap moss. For nature craft inspiration we keep our Nature’s Art Box book on hand. It has so many ideas and projects. We aren’t really the follow directions type, but we love looking at the ideas and making them our own!

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Downloads

4. Include a magnifying glass.  Looking at nature up-close reveals depth and detail that would otherwise be missed. We have a simple glass magnifying glass but this Melissa and Doug one looks great for the younger crowd.

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5. Add a few small toy animals or people to extend the play and watch the many beautiful ways your kids choose to create with nature!

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Nature exploring as a family is so much fun, and a wonderful way to learn and discover together. However, free play in nature is even more important. You can read more about the kids nature play here

 

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Anything else your family likes to include when exploring your backyard? Feel free to comment, share or PIN for later! 

 

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Why you should visit your child’s world

 

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This quote had such meaning to me this week.

One day in particular stands out. This day we had planned a museum trip. The hour drive was very difficult for my sensory kiddo.  Between the car drive, the many sounds and all of the new things to look at, she was clearly over stimulated and not handling herself well. Her whining and arguing were exhausting me and her behavior was embarrassing at times.  We had a good time overall, but the day was long. It ended after a car ride home with 4 kids bickering and with all of us feeling emotionally drained. I felt discouraged that my child could behave the way she did, and then I felt guilty for feeling angry towards her. 

Later at home the TRUTH was revealed in the calm hours following our trip. The kids played quietly in their rooms and I reflected on the day. This inspirational photo below came to my mind.

 

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It was a hard day for me, but I needed to remember, it was also a hard day for her.

Tomorrow will be better I promised myself….and it was.

The following day I chose to live in her world. Her beautiful world. Luckily it is my world too, and both of us find such peace and happiness here. It was a wonderful family day spent OUTSIDE. “Our happy place.” The boys played disc golf with their dad and Savannah and I explored the woods. It was perfect! 

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I cherish these simple moments in nature. Moments when my children have my full attention and they know there is nowhere I would rather be and nothing I would rather be doing.

Today I saw exploration, imagination and peace.  I held my daughter’s hand as we talked together. We walked across logs, found alphabet letters in nature and literally stopped to smell the flowers.  She was such a calm and soft spoken child in these moments. A completely different child from the day before.  The beauty of her personality was shining and the radiance was contagious.  I felt encouraged as a parent, knowing that sometimes our best moments are the simple ones.

Our kids need these moments and so do we. My oldest son and I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes to watch meteor showers. It is one of our favorite ways to spend time together. My youngest loves to sit on the front porch rocking chairs with me and share his thoughts….while getting back tickles of course.  Each child is so special and unique. I am so blessed for each moment I get to spend in “their world.” 

What special ways do your children enjoy spending time with you?

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Creating a natural toddler space

 

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I had the opportunity to spend the day with these 2 cuties recently! At the age of 1 they are interested in everything and ready to explore. They were great toy testers!

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I decided to set up a simple play area for them. I wanted to include many natural materials, while making it fun and engaging, yet simple.

I am a huge advocate of minimalism when it comes to toys….. now my craft supplies and books are another story! My daughter may occasionally give me grief that many of her friends have playrooms full of toys, but the fact that her 6 year old brother sat in a wheel-barrel of dirt the other day happily playing with nothing but a stick for an hour, gives me such satisfaction. OK, maybe that sounds totally weird and doesn’t appeal to everyone…..but I announce our weirdness to tell you that the experts are right on this one.

According to www.becomingminimalist.com,  kids with fewer toys are more creative, have longer attention spans, argue less, take better care of things, experience more nature (as seen in photo below), become more resourceful (as seen below), and are more social. The last one makes me laugh because my sweet boy is SUPER social, but sitting in a wagon talking to a stick for an hour certainly doesn’t sell that point well. (Some serious laughter going on over here.)

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OK, back to the good stuff. What should you include in your child’s play space?

Don’t feel like you have to create a picture perfect play-space or spend a fortune. A simple blanket on the floor, some thrift store silk scarfs, an empty oatmeal container to satisfy the desire to fill and dump, a few library books and your child’s favorite toys in a basket will be perfect! They really don’t need much. What toys they do have, will be un-touched half of the day in search of what is under your kitchen cabinets or to push buttons and slobber on the remote. TRUTH. However, if you are looking to add some select items to your play space, I am apart of a wonderful online community of crafters and I am going to link up to some highly recommended shops.

Guidelines for Choosing Toys for Toddlers

(some of these tips are from the website Zero to Three)

  1. Select toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving.  Toys that give kids a chance to figure something out on their own—or with a little coaching, are great for building problem-solving skills. Stick with open ended toys that can used in a variety of ways.

We used play silks and napkins rings in our space!

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Napkin rings are great because they can be stacked or lined up. Toddlers can also begin the process of stringing a silk scarf through the rings. There is so much hand-eye coordination and thinking that can go on with a simple open ended set like this. The large size peg people, (see picture below), are also perfect for taking in and out of the rings! These guys aren’t quite old enough for some of those task, but luckily these toys are great for teething too! A nice block set would also be a great option to give you years of hands-on creative play!

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We love playsilks for open-ended play!

What is a playsilk? Renee Kitchen of KitchenDyeworks says~ “Playsilks are a wonderful toy for open-ended play…they can be used as blankets, bandannas, capes, curtains, doll carriers, doll hammocks, costumes, skirts, flags, anything your child can imagine, they can become! They’re also a wonderful addition to your Waldorf nature table and can be used as water, grass, ice, dirt, or any other surface your child can imagine!”

I have personally seen the many uses in my own kids who have been using silks since they were little. Our favorite size is 35″ x 35″.

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The twins can totally agree! They love the silks as snuggle buddies to fall asleep and they are so much fun for peek-a-boo! 

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Montessori-re store is a wonderful place to shop for open-ended wooden toys and beautifully crafted sets.

Check out this napkin ring and scarf set she offers!

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2. Look for toys that spark your child’s imagination.  Pretend play builds language and literacy skills. “Real-life” accessories such as a toilet paper roll “fire hose” for your little fire fighter or a large cardboard box are always a big hit for toddlers and are free. (Call an appliance store about picking up one of their refrigerator boxes). Boxes become houses, pirate ships, barns, tunnels—anything your child’s imagination can come up with!  Other great choices are play dishes and food, toy keys, musical instruments, child-size brooms, mops, brushes and dustpans.

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This is another great set from Montessori-re store that would fit this category.

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3. Include wooden people, cars and animals. As a child’s imagination is growing these items will really extend their play. Just today my daughter was bored at her Grandpa’s house. She had been playing creatively with a set of blocks for an hour when she came over to us and requested people for her play. Grandpa took a wooden dowel and cut it into 2″ and 3″ sized pieces and off she went for another hour setting up her “people.” It was awesome. Your child will enjoy making animal sounds, pushing the cars around and pretending with the toy. Once again, keep it simple and rotate toys as needed. No need to take away favorites, but if your child seems bored with the play changing the toys or even the location of the play corner can make a huge difference. 

Our wooden animals came from Wooden ya Play.

The vehicles are from Mama Made Them.

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This natural seedlings doll is no longer made and next to impossible to find, but Mimi designs makes gorgeous dolls! Check out the organic teething doll here

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Below is a thrift store breadbox I used to store some of the kids wooden toys. It was perfect because they could take the toys in and out, use the top for play and then hide them all inside for clean-up! 

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4. Include various textures and sounds.  We used silk, wood slices, and a wool rug to really allow for the twins to explore  textures and satisfy those sensory needs. For sound we avoid toys that “perform” for the child with flashing lights and sounds. These can actually do more harm then good. Pots and pans with a spoon or a wooden instrument set are wonderful choices!

The twins had a ton of fun with this gourd drum set made by the talented Annie White. We also had a thrift store tambourine and rhythm stick. Another option would be this beautiful 7-piece instrument set.

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……….and lastly

5. BOOKS, of course books. Lots of them even! I have a weakness for books. I do however recommend that you keep only a few on display and facing forward. We have several areas in the house where we store books this way, and the rest are tucked in a basket. The ones on display definitely get read more by the kids.

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I have these pallet shelves in several spots in our play/learning area. They are great for facing books forward for easy access. 

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I hope this guide was helpful! Coming soon ~ Setting up an outdoor play space! 

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