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Sharing Leisurely Meals & Lively Conversation

Spending time together playing board games can be an enjoyable way to create cherished memories. Another way is to make a leisurely meal time into a getting to know you better time. Granted those around the table are likely family and friends, but we can always learn something new about those nearest and dearest to us.

Getting to Know You Better

Begin by coming up with a list of questions. What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite book? and why? work for everyone. So does what’s your favorite food? What do you most like to do for fun?

Comparing Notes Across Generations

Other questions can include intergenerational explorations. Without a doubt, different generations will have different memories of common experiences. What was your first school like? What’s your fondest memory of school? I know how different the answers to these questions would be in my family. Our matriarch, my mother, is 90 years old and grew up on a farm in central Virginia. The great grandchildren likely would be amazed by her memories of the one room, rural schoolhouse she attended as a first grader: multi-age classmates, one teacher, a wood burning stove for heat, a common ladle for drinking water, and a wooden privy for “relieving one’s self.” There’s lots to learn when elders and youngsters get together and “compare notes.”

Travel Notes

Well traveled folks might pose questions around the theme of places they’ve been. What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? What place do you like best of all the places you’ve been? What place that you’ve never been would you most like to go? Why?

The beauty of this game is everyone is a winner. That are no right or wrong answers, and everyone gets to know each other better.

Our family enjoys the discussions that ensue from these random queries, and often one question is all we need to get a lively and far ranging conversation underway. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn and how relaxing and enjoyable the time spent in friendly chatter with family and friends can be.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Art Walks

Fall is in the air, bringing us renewed energy after the high heat of summer. Now, briefly, we have time to indulge in arts and culture. At least that’s what happens around here. Our city sponsors Art Weekend~three days, six events, all free. How cool is that?

On ArtNight, participants enjoy an evening of art, music, and entertainment as 14 prominent arts and cultural institutions swing open their doors. Foodies, history buffs, artists and art lovers, musicians and music aficinados spend Saturday exploring the Art of Food, ArtHeritage, ArtWalk, and ArtRhythm. On Sunday ArtPerformance presents a cultural dance festival featuring dances from around the world. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Adjacent cities and towns have sidewalk art shows and arts and crafts street fairs that find people outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather and admiring the creativity of the artists and craftspeople showing their creations. You never know who you will meet or what you will discover.

Our own Heidi Floren is a fine artist who has exhibited her oil paintings at ArtWalk and shows year round at Heidi Floren Gallery. Indulge yourself: take a virtual stroll through her gallery and savor the beauty.

Heidi Floren oil painting of water lilies

Creativity takes many forms, and encouraging children to experiment and discover what happens is essential. Offering multiple avenues of exploration enhances the creative process. Think about the many ways a child can experiment in the process of expressing an idea. One might draw a stick person with a crayon, marker or pencil. With each medium, the product will be different. She might bend and shape Wikki Stix, pipe cleaners, or Brain Noodles into a person. Although the process is similar, the products will be different. She might roll out play dough or clay, slice thin strips and fashion a person. Again the materials are similar, and the products different one from the other. Imagine the possibilities. Immerse yourself in the joy of creative expression.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Stacking Toys for Toddlers

Stacking toys provide opportunities for learning about relative size as well as for refining eye-hand coordination and motor skills. Developing the ability to distinguish relative size takes time and practice, and toys that invite exploration and allow variations in play work best.

Uniform Dowel Is the Better Choice

We have all seen stacking toys with conical posts and rings of graduated diameter designed to fit only one way ~ from largest on the bottom to smallest on the top. How frustrating that is when initially what a toddler will be figuring out is how to put a ring ~ any ring ~ on the post and take it off again.

Far better to offer a stacking toy with a uniform dowel that allows all the rings to fit in any order desired. Once successful in placing and removing the rings, the toddler becomes aware of their different sizes, and further experimentation will lead to success at placing the rings in consecutive order. Keep in mind, however, that successive size goes both ways. Rings can be stacked from largest to smallest or smallest to largest and still be “in proper order.”

Single Post Stacker

Most stacking toys have a single round dowel and rings, and these are the easiest for beginning stackers. Holgate Toys began making its classic six piece wooden stacking set in 1938. Featuring a single uniform dowel and graduated rings in the colors of a rainbow, Rocky Color Cone facilitates learning about color and size while developing eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Double Post Stacker

Once the traditional single post, round dowel and rings stacker becomes too simple to keep the interest of a developing toddler, a more complex stacker offers new challenges. Double Rainbow Stacker with its two square wooden dowels and blossom and star shapes introduces new shapes, shades, and possibilities. The unique placement of the center opening of the blossoms and stars allows children to mix shapes on either or both pillars.

Stay tuned for more about stacking and nesting….

Meanwhile, share your ideas about what makes your favorite stacking toy a great choice for toddler play.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Infant and Toddler Toys to Avoid: Beware of Branding

Our exploration of quality play started with Throw Away the Script and Engage the Imagination. Now TRUCE shares even more reasons we ought to avoid toys and other items based on TV shows…

Even though children want toys that are based on characters from TV shows or movies, these toys encourage consumerism, unhealthy food choices, and limit your child’s imagination.

Serena received a Baby Elmo stuffed animal as a baby gift and her parents had placed it in her crib where she had slept with it every night since. Now at age 18 months, when she and her mother are in the grocery store, and she sees Elmo’s face on a box of unhealthy snack food, she cries when her mother will not buy the product.

Toys, clothing and foods often use a TV character, like from Disney or Sesame Street, to capture young children’s attention. Why is this a problem? Whenever kids see it, they want it because it’s familiar. These kinds of licensing agreements, which support branding efforts, can lead to unwise buying choices, unhealthy eating habits and nagging.

to be continued next week…

With permission from the Child Life Council,  PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section. TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play