Anyone else utterly amazed at the court jester-like activities we're willing to engage in to educate/entertain our children?
Anyone else half expect a hidden camera crew to jump out when you're singing a completely original number about potty, or how cool it is to obey? Someone reflected to me this weekend how motherhood makes poop no longer a topic of taboo. Huh. So true... Funny how the whole pregnancy process itself gets us ready to bare all, suffer all, and do it in the name of love, baby.
So I will invite you into Janel's little world of creative craziness. Actually, only preschoolers and possibly their mothers feel comfortable there. You read all these articles about the wonder of music for kids' brains, you see how it works to help them remember things and laugh and actually do what you ask them to, and you start morphing your personality with, say, The Backyardigans. Suddenly song or rhyme bursts forth (some of you are like, is she for real? If you are asking, the answer is no. If you do it, too, the answer is you bet). You make up songs (okay, I make up songs) about your kids with their very own name and how much God/you love them, about where you're going grocery shopping, and manners. True story: My newest song could justifiably be titled, Don't You Ever Pick Your Nose (period, not question mark! That was the manners talk after the grocery shopping). My kids laugh at this song every time...sometimes the laughter is a little nasally...it rhymes, and thankfully no artist can condemn me on this one for a horrifying cover; the tune is original, too. (If you want the lyrics, you have to post a comment.) Choreography is optional--no, not on the Nose one--but personally I can look like I'm having a seizure or being attacked by a bee, so I tend to do that behind closed doors.
So. Back to the point of this. I have developed new games that my kids (ta-da!) love to play and actually learn character. I love it. Even beats the "Nose" song.
1) The Thankfulness Game. Rules: Take turns finishing the sentence, "I'm thankful for..." That's it. Everybody wants a turn, and we play as long as they're interested. My two-year-old always has the same first answer ("GRANDMA!"), so at least we have someone to get the ball rolling. My kids actually ask to play this a lot--!
2) The Encouragement Game. Rules: Every person picks someone in the room and says something you really like about them, or something great they do/have done. The two-year-old, who drops everything for food: "Mommy, you're a good cooker!"
3) The Things We Like About God Game. Rules: Well, yeah. We take turns saying things we like about God.
4) Say It in Rhythm. Agreeably not really a game, but if I think of a verse that has to do with a current conflict, I try to teach it with a little ditty or setting it to natural rhythm. Yes, I am a musical person (the Nose thing probably gave it away), but there are a lot of verses put to song out there: Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart CD's, Max Lucado's Hermie Scripture memory CD's, the old G.T. and the Halo Express or even (has anybody heard of this?) Critter County (yeah...those last two you'll have to find on Ebay if you want 'em), songs your children learn if they go to Community Bible Study with you--and that last one sets their verses to plain old children's songs like "The Farmer in the Dell." C'mon. We can do that!
4) As for less spiritual games but great imagination games/time killers, try "Wouldn't it be silly if...?" or "If I were a (fruit/animal/cartoon character/different person/piece of furniture/whatever) for a day, I'd be..."
5) "I wonder if Heaven will have..." Great conversation starter.
6) Let's call them! I am really trying to teach the kiddos phone skills and how to ask people questions about themselves (as opposed to my children only being aware of themselves!) so if they mention a relative, if it's a good time, we try to call them and tell them we were thinking of them, etc. (Did I just let the cat out of the bag, o Loved Ones?)
Okay, I broke the ice--silliness/creative character ideas welcome.