This Nanny Loves…Despicable Me Crafts

With all of these rainy days, we’ve been watching a few more movies than our sunny schedule would include. But life is about moderation, and sometimes you just need to curl on the couch and watch a Disney movie!  One afternoon after watching our new favorite: Despicable Me, the kids and I sat down and made our own Minions. Because come on, who doesn’t want their own Minion?minion craft 1minion craft 2

And after much work, these little guys were born. Pretty cute, huh? Yes, we’re keeping them around! For as long as we can.

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minion craft 4(That guy on the right is a Minion in the mind of three year old. Do you see his hair and eye?)

minion craft 3Which movies did your charges take to this season?

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Little Chicks Making Little Chicks

Typically, I steer away from a doing any type of “cookie cutter” art projects. I think it’s really important that children come up with original ideas and use their own minds to create, rather than seeing an example and then repeating someone else’s idea. But last week, I saw a project that I knew my little chick would love so much, I had to cave in! I saw a cute sample on Pinterest (unfortunately the original link could not be found) on how to make chickens from your child’s hand.  With a quick change here and there, and without attempting to interfere, we soon had a whole hen house full of little chickens! chicks 1

To help make this project more child-focused and a little less about completing a “correct” project, I decided to help more with the inital set-up of the project, then slowly disappear from the craft scene once she got started. The thing about kids and art I have learned, is that they really don’t need as much help as we tend to think they do. To organize this project in a way that she could do it on her own, I decided to cut everythingbefore she began; including the shape of her hand, the eyes, the beak and gobbler. Then, I put them all over the table with the blank heads. At that point I didn’t say anything, I just let her decide where each of the body parts should go. Quickly and independently, she figured everything out. And although some of the eyes were off-centered here and the gobbler was upside-down there, it didn’t matter. She was doing the project exactly as she wanted. All I had to do was hang that little bird up when she was done. chicks 2

And goodness, was she ever proud when they were all done. Just in time for her Dad to come home and see them! He thought they were very cute, of course. Don’t you?

Growing Toddler Autonomy: Getting Dressed!

Today is a snow day! We didn’t get much snow, but nonetheless it will be nice to have some real conversation throughout the day with the older two kids I watch.  Unfortunately, with a nagging double ear-infection and a body still recovering from influenza I may not be the best of company for them.  But I will put on my positive face (and a little extra make-up) and prepare myself for a good day! In case there are many other nannies out there feeling snowed in themselves, here is something to do with your little ones to buy some time:  MAKE A BOOK! This is an example of one we made the other day. Enjoy! xOxO

There are no things more rewarding than the things we can do by ourselves. I don’t know who said that. Perhaps I just made it up on my own. But regardless of who said what, the truth remains the same: autonomy is empowering. And, if it’s empowering for adults when we create something & can say, “I did that”, why wouldn’t it also be empowering for toddlers to recognize their own accomplishments as well? I have said it before and I will say it a million times again “the most important thing we can give a child is a sense of autonomy”.

And I’m not always talking about big feats. Most of the time I am talking about small things– using a spoon to stir the muffin mix, knowing where to look for crayons, taking care of their blocks and the most challenging task of the day: GETTING DRESSED!

We often forget that someone took the time to show us how to put on our clothes. But it’s true. Someone did. And for the little ones I watch, we have been growing and learning all about clothes & different strategies of getting dressed. We have discovered that tags go in the back for a reason & sometimes our socks can feel funny.  And while all of these lessons sound simple, they are not. It’s lots of trying and lots of patience for everyone!

So, one thing we did a few weeks ago was make a book about getting dressed.
004 I cut out different clothing items. Then I let them each glue the clothes onto the pages.  This was exciting! The twins I watch just love using a glue stick! I explained to them as they went along that we were making a book. This was even more exciting for them now, as we spent hours reading books, but have never made books before!

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Once the pages were done, I wrote the words. I used simple, repetitive language that they could easily remember if they were looking at the book alone, and that would trigger vocabulary the next time we were getting dressed.

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This book lasted about two weeks around the house, which was a pretty good lifespan for two-year olds. Whether or not the book helped, I’m not sure, but it was fun to use the glue stick and read along with together. Why not make something they already enjoy doing into a life skills lesson without their knowing? This nanny is tricky. And isn’t that what learning is all about, the fun we have along the way?