Yes and No

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I once knew a couple who were trying to raise their daughter without using the word “no,” the thinking being that toddlers start spitting this word back at us parents all too soon. I remember thinking this was brilliant; yet at the same time, there are moments when “no” is a very important word, especially when it comes to dangers a baby needs to learn. In fact, when my son was little I referred to outlets simply as “nope-ity nopes” for the first two years of his life!

So it is important for a baby to learn yes and no, and it’s good to start early. Today, I made a point of saying yes to all the good things Veronika did, and firmly saying no to the actions that were a little naughty. Of course, nothing she did today was terrible, usually just silly, but it’s good to set the precedent for when the real nos come along.

Whenever you say the word, you can also sign it. A fist “nodding” means yes, and your pointer pinching to your thumb means no. So, playing with toys always gets a yes.

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As does sharing with big brother.

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No, Veronika, you can’t eat big brother’s book!

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Yes, Veronika, play with your own soft book.

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No, Veronika, you can’t steal mommy’s list at the grocery store (and yes, she wants to eat this).

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Yes, Veronika, those are better toys to play with while in the cart.

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You can further highlight the difference between the two words by smiling for a yes, and frowning for a now. I definitely have an impish girl on my hands already, because she loves throwing her package of diapers off the diaper table. No, no, no sweet girl.

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But a hug from mommy or a nap on my tummy always gets a yes.

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Early Explorers Art

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Travis’s latest package from Early Explorers was, in a word, fantastic. Based on art around the world, this month’s kit was so full of ways to craft, create, explore, and learn. As always, he was excited about the usual finds like stickers for his map, flash cards, the activity booklet, and a new tag for his suitcase.

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He especially loved coloring in images of Australian rock paintings and filling in the shapes on a Native American dream catcher.

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Art Craft:

We couldn’t wait to try the booklet’s first activity: Paint Like Pollock. Wow did this make a splash, pun intended, of course. At first Travis seemed skeptical when he saw that I’d layered nearly the entire living room floor with newspapers. But when I told him we’d be splattering paint, he was intrigued.

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Lay a large piece of poster board in the center of your newspapers, and set out plates with at least 2 or 3 colors of paint. A wide paintbrush will work best. Dip the brush in one color, and show your child how to flick their wrist so the paint splatters.

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After a moment of smearing paint on normally, Travis understood, and was delighted. “Again!” he insisted, dipping in another color. We tried a few Pollock-esque tricks, like flicking the paint in a circle, seeing what happened if we flicked with more or less paint on the brush, and moving around the canvas.

The most fun though was getting up high!

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Travis climbed our step ladder, and I handed him the paint brush. Splat! He did almost the entire painting from up here.

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Messy but so worth it!

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Art Science:

For wont of an actual “science” this month, I’m using this section for the suggested sculpture project. I simply set Travis loose with a bunch of air-dry clay, a few sculpting tools, and his imagination. Soon we were etching baleen onto clay whales.

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Then: “Look mom, a three-legged turtle!” he declared, leaving this present for me on our counter.

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Art Keepsake:

This was actually what we did first, since Travis couldn’t wait to find out what his present was from “Max and Mia”. The included canvas, mini watercolor palette, and mini paintbrush did not disappoint. Instantly he became my little Monet, painting in the three landmarks depicted on the canvas.

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He loved learning a few new color combos to mix, like blue + brown = black. When the canvas was finished, he didn’t stop there.

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He immediately painted another picture which he decided was a gift for a friend, and a third which became a map. I loved that he was off and running with art, no doubt exactly the kind of play Early Explorers hopes to inspire with their kits.

Art Field Trip:

Head to your nearest museum or art gallery, of course. This doesn’t need to be anywhere big or fancy, but do challenge your child to find their three favorite pieces in the museum.

We were just in time for an exhibit featuring the best of local youth art, mostly by 11th and 12th graders. Travis enjoyed seeking out the one that had won first prize.

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And we couldn’t believe this one was done with yarn!

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Art Further Activities:

Unlike last month’s topic on food, which felt a touch one-note, this topic lent itself easily to so many activities! First, we did an imitation of French “pointillism.” After looking at paintings by Seurat, we set out to make dot pictures. Inflate a balloon just slightly, and set out a paper plate with a few colors of paint.

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Dip the balloon in the paint, then dab on the paper. I showed Travis how to make small dots by pressing the balloon on lightly, but he liked pressing hard for big dots. A very cool result! If you don’t have balloons, you could always just illustrate pointillism with some dot markers.

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Next, we became photographers! I set Travis loose with the instant camera, and challenged him to find interesting scenes or to get right up close to patterns in the apartment, like those on the carpet or fabrics.

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Then we glued them all down in a collage!

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Next up, he played with the art Constructibles set from Little Passport’s online shop.

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Travis immediately began slotting them together (each is based upon a specific textile pattern, for those interested in the designs), and soon he was building detailed creations.

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These could be buildings, animals, sculptures – whatever your child thinks they are!

You can expand the fun with research online. We followed a link from Little Passport’s blog to the Google Art Project. I was so impressed when Travis immediately recognized a painting from a magnet on our fridge!

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This is a great way to learn in depth about a specific artwork, theme, or artist.

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The library had ample offerings on art to further our learning, almost too many. We particularly liked the projects in a book about Impressionism.

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Surprisingly, the booklet said nothing about origami, which surely merits a place in any discussion of art around the world. So we thought we’d round out the lesson with some origami fun, and this origami easter basket from the blog was timely and cute.

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