We have done a whole bunch of reading and playing centered around the letter B this week. I broke out our old favorites “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” and we also found “Baby Bear” on our most recent trip to the library. Lucien has gotten out his counting bears to work with sorting and scooping. I have also been delighted to overhear him singing the “Brown Bear” song.
We have been doing a lot of reading, talking, and playing related to buses as well. as I have mentioned before, Lucien is very taken with the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, so we have been reading a lot about Thomas and his friend Bertie the bus. Another new favorite is “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” For those of you not familiar with the book, the whole idea is that the reader is supposed to tell the pigeon “No!” when he asks to drive the bus. Because children love being able to say no. Lucien loves saying no. But whenever we read this book, his big joke is to say “Yes!” right away on the first page. He thinks that the pigeon should be able to drive the bus.
Lucien loves riding the bus. A few weeks ago his dad had the very inspired idea to take him for a ride on he city bus. This is now a new favorite weekend activity for father and son. Lucien also talks about riding on a coach bus. He remembers the bus we took to O’Hare airport when we moved here to Honolulu. I recently booked tickets for us to visit Wisconsin in May, and he knows that we will be taking the bus again, from the airport to Grandma and Grandpa’s. He is so excited. We spent one morning sitting in our chair in the living room, pretending to ride on the airplane and the bus. For over two hours, he never broke the story line. When it was time for breakfast we pretended to be flight attendants working in the galley. He pretended to serve me styrofoam cups of coffee. We sat and read books to pass the time on the long bus ride. When he used the bathroom he pretended it was a cramped and noisy airplane bathroom. It was some serious creative genius he displayed that morning.
Letter B was also for birds this week. I had promised Lucien that I would take him back to the state park he enjoyed so much, this time with treats for the chickens and other birds. What a fun morning he had! (He insisted on wearing the water wings he got for a gift this past weekend – he loves them so much! – and periodically asked me to pick him up and help him “fly like a bird” with his wings.)
And letter B was for belly button. Lucien has taken a serious interest lately in his birth story and the earliest months of his life, when he was an “itty bitty baby.” We have looked at all the pictures of his birth in our scrapbook and he has been asking questions about his belly button and umbilical cord – what they are for, what they looked like when he was born, why he doesn’t need the cord any more. I explained to him in my own words, but I also found an exceptional book at the library, “Contemplating Your Belly Button,” which talks about pregnancy and birth in toddler-friendly terms, and even portrays immediate skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby and breastfeeding. We also found some lighter reading material – “Belly Button Book” by Sandra Boynton is a fun, silly read that Lucien requests again and again. And, for those of you familiar with the book, he thinks that the broccoli stew actually sounds yummy. Score!
B was for bags, too. Lucien spied some old gift bags on a high shelf in the closet and asked me to get them down for him to investigate. I obliged, and he set to work using the bags to build a house for his stuffed animals – the two bears. They continue to be very well-loved. I love his creative use of materials! It took a bit of tinkering, but he managed to construct a sturdy roof for them so that they would “stay warm and dry.”
B was also for butterfly. As I have mentioned before, Lucien enjoys taking care of caterpillars, feeding them, and watching them make cocoons and become butterflies. Our last butterfly came out of his cocoon on Friday, and Lucien lovingly helped him onto the bushes outside our house.
And, of course, B was for baby dolls. We made a trip to the Discovery Center, where Lucien spent the bulk of his time caring for them. He even washed their clothes and made them lunch at the diner!
Inspired by Lucien’s love of pouring and mixing liquids, I set up a simple invitation to pour colored water. It was not tied into our letter B theme (unless you count that one of the containers held blue water?), but he had a lot of fun.
Another exciting new development is that Lucien is asking me to “play school” on an almost daily basis. (He knows that the older children in the neighborhood go to school every day, and he wants to understand just what exactly they do there.) He sits down in front of the freezer with his magnetic number set and requests “Mama teach!” I put on a silly hat and make up a silly name (Mrs. Blockmeister was the most recent) and sit down with my pupils. There are generally several toys or stuffed animals that also wish to be taught. We play with the numbers a bit …. Can you find a green number to match the green cootie bug? Does the cootie bug know what number that is? I have two bears and one little boy sitting here – how many students do I have total? Bonus points for silliness if I direct my questions at the toys and then hold them up to my ear to “listen” to their responses. The toys generally get the answers wrong, and Lucien generally laughs and corrects them.
He will play happily like this for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then he will get up and declare, “Student ran away!” I will gasp in mock horror and say something like “Oh no, I had five students but one ran away. [sob] I only have four left, whatever will I do?” Then I get up and chase him around the house. Recess time!