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Posts Tagged ‘makeshift sandbox’

The Southwest Homeschool Network asked me to give a presentation for parents of Reluctant Readers for their conference last weekend. I don’t live with a reluctant reader anymore (he turned into a book-lover, grew up and left home) so I am lucky to have one who comes and visits me to remind me all about it. J is a first-generation American 12-year-old from a Spanish-speaking home, and he recently had to make the switch from a bilingual program at school to all-English. He told me once how discouraged he felt with it, so I said he could come once a week and we’d see what we could do.

J spent the whole evening here last Wednesday. A lot of that time didn’t seem to have a thing to do with reading, but as I recalled that evening in the light of preparing for my presentation, really it ALL had a lot to do with reading. For example, when J’s mom drove him to my house, she had most of the family with her – four kids and her 80-year-old father. She and her teenage daughter needed to talk to me in the kitchen, so Grandpa stretched out on the grass under the mulberry tree in the front yard, and J ran off to the back yard with his two little sisters. There they found our granddaughters’ abandoned makeshift sandbox, their plastic containers, and a bucket of water. So they made a fancy cake out of wet sand in one of the plastic containers. They smoothed it and decorated it with pinecones – very artistic. And then of course, they had to show it to me when I finished talking to their mom. And of course, we conversed about it.

That’s where the first reading connection came in. (more…)

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Playing in the rocks in the driveway or messing around in a little makeshift sandbox that Dennis made for them in an old plastic drawer are other activities that keep our visiting 4-year-old Tweety and 2-year-old Doodle absorbed and happy for hours. I bought them some little trowels and rakes at Wal-Mart, and it was money well spent. But if I hadn’t made the trip to Wal-Mart, they would have stayed just as happy with old spoons and plastic containers. They got pretty dirty, of course. That’s one thing about pre-schoolers…the activities that keep them happiest seem to be messy.

I remember when my own kids were preschoolers, on rainy days I used to let them play in an indoor “sand”box, which I made by pouring 5 or 10 pounds of cornmeal into a plastic dishpan. It kept them happily occupied for long spells. When they finished playing in it, I had a little sweeping to do to clean up, but I thought a little sweeping was a small price to pay for the luxury of being able to focus on my own project for a half hour without interruptions. Later, after my kids had outgrown indoor sandboxes, a friend showed me her version, which used unpopped popcorn kernels for the sand. Running my fingers through that popcorn was a tactile delight. I think if I had small children around a lot today, I’d go for the popcorn sandbox.

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