Thursday, May 26, 2011

Play and Learn with Mama - Handa's Surprise Part 2

The highlight of our week of activities inspired by the beautiful book Handa's Surprise, had to have been the day we made a Handa Fruit Salad!

We used the book itself as our recipe book and added the ingredients according to the order in the story.

All the fruit mentioned in the book. Guavas were the only fruit that weren't in season, so we used the tinned variety.

We practiced peeling...



...some more slicing...

...another kind of scooping...
...and more peeling. (Please notice the empty chair in the background  - our littlest helper  went MIA halfway through the salad making!)

And the best part was enjoying the fruit of our labour in the garden! (The kikoi they sat on is another treasure I bought during a trip to Kenya a few years ago)

The next day we used the left over fruit to make delicious smoothies for a snack time treat.

There was also...

transferring scented wooden fruit using an ice tongs...

transferring smaller fruit and veggies with another kind of tongs...

and we made beautiful 'stained glass' fruit from tissue and contact paper!

And finally...we visited the Mooiberge Strawberry Farm just outside Stellenbosch and although we were not able to pick our own berries, the children loved the bright and cheery junk sculptures and scarecrows in the play area!!

Play and Learn with Mama: Handa's Surprise Part 1

We had a whole week of fun with this lovely book near the end of summer, when most of the fruit in the story were in season and still plentiful. For the first time since my children's birth, though, we are really struggling with winter colds and flu, and the past month or so has been crazy, so I apologise for only getting around to posting about this now.

Handa's Surprise (we did the Afrikaans version, Handa se Verassing) is a beautifully illustrated book set in Kenya, that tells the story of a little girl named Handa, who decides to surpise her friend Akeyo with a basket full of delicious fruit. On the way to Akeyo's villiage various mischievous animals help themselves to the fruit in the basket on Handa's head, and by the time she delivers the gift to her friend, Handa is just as surprised as Akeyo to see what is inside the basket!

Here are some fun Handa-inspired activities we enjoyed: 

Making funny fruit faces courtesy of printables from Making Friends.

Practicing pre-writing skills with an apple push pin card from abc-teach. We used a piece of foam under the card and the stylus I bought from Nucleus Toys.

And one morning we had a ton of fun with apple-printing:

We printed and painted a branch from an apple tree (the sun's rays were printed using apple slices) 

Apple faces stick puppets. (While the children were enjoying lunch that afternoon, I put on an impromptu puppet show using these guys and the children laughed so much they had a hard time finishing their sandwiches)

We printed and coloured paper dolls from Making Friends and dressed them in cloth dresses. I then set up a little play scape for Sweetpea to use in retelling the story. The huts were toilet paper rolls cut in half, and we glued some packaging straw onto paper roofs.

Acting out the story with the paper dolls was such a hit, that we took it one step further and 'became' the characters ourselves! I bought the fabric that is wrapped around Sweetpea during a missions trip to Kenya in 2005 (the same trip on which I met my husband!). The animal masks were printed from Sparkle Box (see * below) and they are still a favourite plaything around here! (You can also download a full-colour version, but I had fun colouring ours myself). It was the first time I'd introduced masks into our play and the children were fascinated by it. Days later we were still acting out little conversations between the animals.

* Sparkle Box has an amazing collection of free Handa's Surprise resources to download and print, including a story pack, individual story cards, page banners and play dough mats to name just a few. Click on the link to visit their Handa page.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Umbrella Rules

I am in the middle of an eight week parenting course called Evergreen Parenting and loving every moment of it -and especially the fruits I see in our household since we started implementing many of the principles!

The course deals a lot with parenting your child according to their unique temperament and has been an amazing eye-opener for me. But most of us in this specific group have toddlers and we all appreciated it when, during the first session, we were given a very practical tool for dealing with discipline issues: we were encouraged to sit down with our children and create a set of Umbrella Rules for our household. At first I thought Sweetpea would be far too young to meaningfully participate, but this sweet three-and-a-half-year old knocked my socks off with her insight and contribution!

We had a lovely family meeting at the kitchen table where the Dad and I showed the little ones an umbrella and chatted to them about its use - to protect us from the elements! We then talked about how rules can also protect us, and together we came up with five basic rules that are appropriate - and necessary - for our family at this point in time. The rules are really super-simple and basically focuses on obedience and courtesy. They are:

1. There is a time for everything.
2. We talk nicely to each other.
3. We take care of our things.
4. We have good manners.
5. We help each other.

(A family with older children can use a more symbolic picture and the rules will obviously look very different from ours.)

We wrote the rules down on the five sections of an umbrella I had drawn beforehand, and added a simple picture as visual clues for the not-yet-reading members of the family.  Our Umbrella Rules hang low on a prominent wall in our living room and it is a fantastic tool for guiding the tots in the way of correct behaviour! Sweetpea knows the rules by heart thanks to the little picture clues and responds beautifully when she is reminded of a certain rule.

(You can also order a ready-made Umbrella Rules via the Evergreen Parenting website - click here.)


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