Building Fairy Castles

Yesterday, the boys and I went to a small, local farm and garden festival.  For the children, they had a spacious area designated to Fairy House construction and design.

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After being shown an example, we were to locate an empty space where we wanted to start building.  I spotted an old tree stump that had been partially hollowed out from rotting away and we agreed it would be perfect spot.  I made the first trip to the table of materials but after that, the boys made all the selections, going back and forth, at least twenty times.

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It was thrilling to watch how engaged both boys were with the whole process.  Little one loved adding tall dried flowers to the small holes in the top of the stump.  While, Older one was busy telling me a story about each piece he added.  “This is the place where they can come in and out.  And this is how they can climb up to the top.  This is a fishing pole so that they can catch fish.  These are the lights for the night time when it’s dark.”

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We had so much fun building our Fairy Castle that it was hard to leave it behind. On the way out, Older one told me he wanted to build another Fairy Castle at home.

So, after nap time, we got to work.  We started by locating some containers and then walked around the yard to collect materials.

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There’s more work to be done as it was decided that we should make a “whole Fairy Batman Village.”  We added “a blocker” so everyone would know where the village begins and so that no one can “knock it down.”

Older one also came up with a list of other must-have’s for our village.

1. People
2. Cars
3. Gates
4. A park
5. Monster truck


Reggio at Home

One of the reasons I was so excited that the boys were so interested in this activity at the farm was because I knew it would be a perfect project for us to start at home.  It is an all encompassing project topic as there are so many academic and developmental elements going on, including math (list making, counting out pieces), science (using natural materials), language and literacy (storytelling, labeling), fine motor skills (balancing pieces, fitting small items into small spaces), sensory experiences, planning, problem solving, cooperation and concentration.



Tips for a Peaceful Evening

One of the things we struggle with in our house is staying calm and peaceful in the late afternoon and evenings. Our boys take good naps and often have lots of energy at the end of the day when I am finishing up chores, making dinner and can’t always be engaged with them in play or a project.  They typically play well together but all it takes is one of them to start running laps through the kitchen, hallway and living room before it gets out of hand.  I’m all for some running around, yelling and being silly but safety (and sanity) becomes an issue as things start to escalate.

So, this is a time that I try to be proactive. Here are some of the things I have seen work in our household.

1. Dim the lights

If you don’t have a dimmer, I recommend picking one up from a hardware store.  They are easy to install and quite effective.  We use the natural light during the day but when the sun starts setting I turn the lights on low.  Another option is to only use floor lamps or table lamps but our space doesn’t allow for that so we utilize the dimmer.

2. Aromatherapy

I’ve used essential oils for some time now from lavender as a sleep aid to a variety of scents mixed together to create an all natural bug spray. Recently though, I purchased a diffuser to put in our living room.  I add pre-blended synergies that promote a calming atmosphere, straight lavender or a concoction of  my own.  “…odiferous messages barrel along dedicated pathways straight from the nose and right into the brain’s olfactory cortex, for instant processing.”  (The New York Times)

3. Music

We usually spend the day without any background noise at all but in the afternoons I often put on classical or meditation music. I like Bach and Greig for classical and I’ve discovered and love Liquid Mind meditation music.

4. Structured Play

This is a great time to put out a box with play dough and tools or beads and string, introduce new fine motor work, or even have the kids help prepare dinner by slicing tomatoes or cutting fruit. I find that open ended play or free play usually does not run smoothly at this time of day.

I hope some of these work for you and I’d love to hear suggestions and ideas that have worked for your family to maintain that peaceful and calming atmosphere, at any time of the day!



I made a connection

I believe, when regularly exposed to using natural materials as a way to play and explore that children, on their own, start to look for and seek out new ways to use items such as rocks and leaves and twigs.  I also find that when I plan activities, they are often met with resistance.   But, when provocations are left out or, better yet, an idea suddenly comes to mind during free play, amazing things can happen.

One afternoon, my oldest son, was inspired to pick up items that he found in our yard and around our cul-de-sac.  He was riding a small wooden trike that has a trailer on the back and I watched him carefully looking down on either side as he slowly went around the paved circle.  Upon returning he declared “I made a connection [collection].  So, now I can trace it.”  This was not something we’d ever done before, a pure thought and idea.

He asked for paper and pencils, selected a few particular items and got to work.