Grandma and Grandpa sent Lucien a package in the mail! He was so excited to find train activities inside! The first order of business was to make a train engine and cars with his new Duplo blocks and stack a tower as high as he could – using only the yellow. The next order of business was to break out the Thomas the Tank Engine play mat and train engines. We have spent much of our week chugging around the island of Sodor and reading (and rereading) a massive stack of Thomas books we borrowed from the library. We have also been doing a surprising amount of math together, thanks to the trains…
The Duplo train has three cars. The tower is ten blocks high. If we add another block it will be eleven blocks high. There are seven doors at Tidmouth Sheds. There are seven train engines, so each engine can have its own door. There are not enough doors for Annie and Clarabel to have their own. But if we set them on the track with Thomas, then we have nine cars on the play mat. Thomas has a number one on his side. Percy is the number six engine and James is number five. Lucien is so interested and engaged and motivated to learn, especially when we are dealing with trains. “Read that word what it says!” and “Read that number what it says!” Did I mention that the play set came with a Harold the Helicopter? Lucien now knows letter H for helipad.
We have also been spending a lot of time in the great outdoors this week. We visited several different parks with a new playgroup we just joined. It is a fantastic opportunity for Lucien to interact with other children his age. I feel like he has been a bit lonely for the company of other children lately, and these play times have really cheered him up! And he loves climbing, swinging, hanging, jumping, sliding ….
We also visited a state park this week. It was beautiful and peaceful and cool and breezy. Lucien loved it because there were sticks and pinecones and wooden steps to climb. And feral chickens – hens, a rooster, and even baby chicks! They were the highlight. Some other folks at the park brought food for them. Lucien told me that we should come back again and bring “treats” for them, too. This led to a discussion about what treats chickens would like. Lucien knows all about the chickens on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, how they like the leftover vegetables and melon rinds from the kitchen, and how they hunt for bugs and worms, and even how they will sometimes eat toads. We contrasted their diet with Percy’s diet, and talked about how chickens and guinea pigs (who are obligate herbivores) might like different “treats.” Lucien knows what herbivorous and omnivorous mean.
We have been plowing through lots of science, math, reading, and physical education, just by following Lucien’s interests. I did, however, want to offer a few mom-inspired opportunities, so at the beginning of the week I set up an “A is for Apple and Art” table for him. He enjoyed both of the counting books; he asked to read them several times. He also looked through his own, personalized ABC book that I made for him, in which A is also for apple. We looked in the scrapbooks at pictures of the apple trees at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm and talked about the varieties of apples they grow. We also took a trip to the grocery store and selected several varieties of apples to taste test.
Helping Mama in the kitchen – preparing food or cleaning up – is always a fun activity. I think he might even like the dish washing part best of all – the water and bubbles and sponge make for fun sensory play. And he is doing some meaningful, helpful work! I am trying to encourage him to do more independent, meaningful work in the kitchen, since he seems to enjoy it so much and feel such a sense of accomplishment. I found a wavy chopper that he can use to help prepare his own snacks, and was he ever excited! He chopped not only his apple, but also his hard-boiled egg.
I also prepared an a-themed snack for him, featuring apple “fries,” seaweed snacks, and another hard-boiled egg (his current favorite!).
Lucien is less interested in art than in food preparation, but he did reach for his art materials a couple of times this week. He colored with markers, and we also got out letter A stamps, and ink pad, and some play doh. He did some ink stamping but then decided he would rather put the play doh away and organize all of his play doh containers (he has many). The mini containers have to be stacked separately from the large containers which need to be stacked separately from the play doh plus containers. He tells me the play doh plus containers are his favorites because the lids have tabs. This makes them easier to open.
Much to my surprise, he also asked to finger paint. So we broke out the finger paints. He asked me to make a few letters, so I obliged. I think that he kept his hands cleaner than I did! And afterwards, he had a grand time washing his hands (very thoroughly!) at the kitchen sink.