Take a Walk – with a child. . .

One of my very favorite things – with my kids and grand kids, when they were toddlers to about age 6 -was going for a walk. It can be around the block, in a park or just out in the backyard garden.

Take along a little note pad and maybe a collection container – then make it an adventure, not just a ‘walk’. Throw some ideas out to the child, then listen/encourage/play.

What do I mean by that? Well, tell the child to listen to all the sounds they hear and then to tell you about them. “Shhh. Let’s be very quiet and listen to the sounds. What do you hear? What do you think is making that sound? Can you tell me what it looks like? big or little? bird or bug or ?”

Or try “Let’s see how many animals and bugs we can see on this adventure” and when the child sees something then ask “what is that bee doing?” or “where do you think that bird is going?” or “where does that squirrel live?”

You get the idea! Listen closely to their answers. Don’t be at all critical -just go with what they tell you and ask questions that encourage more ideas and imagination.

A walk/adventure like this was the foundation of a story – about a ladybug. Walking with my 4 year old granddaughter, looking for animals and bugs, she found a little red bug on a flower leaf.

We looked at it and I asked her what it was. She said it was a ladybug. “But don’t ladybugs have spots on them? I asked.

Little Meg cocked her head, put a finger to her chin, and said to me, very seriously “Yes, but this one lost them.”

“Oh,” I said. “How would a ladybug lose her spots?”

“I don’t know!” replied Megan with a big grin. “She just did. And now they’re all gone.”

“Well,” I continued the dialog, “What is she going to do with no spots?”

“I don’t know,” said Megan. “She’s very sad.”

“Oh dear,” I said. “Shall we put her in our little jar and help her look for her spots?”

Megan thought that was a wonderful idea and, carefully, we put the leaf with the ladybug into out little jar. It was ‘game on’ for the two of us!

We saw bees on some flowers. “Do you have the ladybug’s spots?” Megan asked them as they busily flew from flower to flower.

“What did the bees say?” I asked Meg.

“They just said buzzzzz! No spots!” she answered.

We saw a big cobweb with a spider hanging from a mailbox. Megan went right over to it and said “Did you take the ladybug’s spots? euuuu – you are a scary spider.” -and she ran back to me.

“No spots!” Meg said. “Let’s go.”

So on we went … and we saw birds, a big toad, a (plastic bunny who was no help at all!) lots of bugs – and, of course, every new creature we came to got asked if it had the ladybug spots.

We arrived back home with the ladybug but no spots. “Now what shall we do?” I asked. “Can we paint some spots on her?”

That made Megan laugh. “That wouldn’t work on a Bug – silly gramma!”

“Hey,” I asked. “Would it work if a Fairy did it? Maybe we can find a fairy garden.”

That idea hit home with Meg so our next mission was to find someone who had a fairy garden. It turned out that there was a house with a sweet little fairy garden not too far away – so off we went.

When we arrived, there were no fairies at home, so we left the little ladybug, still on her leaf, right on the tiny table in front of the fairy house.

“You tell the fairies to paint you some new spots,” Megan instructed the ladybug before we left her there. “Then you can fly away home and be happy.”

That night we told Megan’s mom and daddy about our adventure walk – and later we sat down and wrote a story about it.

And now, with some new little twists and turns, the story of “Lily The Ladybug Who Had No Spots” lives forever in the pages of the book!

Share some stories with us that you have made up with your kids or grand children! If you have such a story – and would like to see it turn into a little children’s book – send me an email at jytalk2me@gmail.com

Perhaps we can make it happen – and dedicate it to your child!

Here’s the link to our Ladybug story. Enjoy!


PS: We still love to walk – but the stories are very different now! (16 years later)

A garden adventure for Lily.
Lily the Ladybug – Will she find her spots?



Imagination . . . Use It!

Nice word – imagination. It has “image” in it and allows us to ‘see’ things in our minds. They can be beautiful things, funny things, fantastical things -and they can be scary things too.

Children have great imaginations, at least most of them do. I believe they should be encouraged to use their imaginations in play and stories as they grow.

We used to play imagination games: can you see a funny animal? and then have the child describe what they imagined – color, features, size, sound it makes, where does it live, etc.

And then we would all go on to make up stories about this new ‘creature’ of ours . . . what was it’s name, what food did it like, what games could it play, and so forth.

If they imagined a scary or mean creature we would do the same thing. Find out all about it. Why was it scary and then, of course, we’d learn that things we just make up are not ‘real’ and certainly won’t harm us. How could we make friends with “scary” and why was it mean? Perhaps it had a toothache? Maybe it was just lonely. Maybe it wanted a friend!

I am quite astounded by the toys these days and all of the things that they do. My granddaughter has a complete (child sized) kitchen with pots, pans, dishes and even plastic food! Good grief. We “pretended” all of that – and had lots of fun without the huge financial commitment to loads of plastic junk.

When my daughter was old enough to want an “easy bake oven” I bought her a box of Jiffy mixes and let her whip up little cakes and brownies that were big enough for the whole family to have a piece. It took more interaction and supervision, yes, but the end result was rewarding for everyone – and cheaper than the easy bake stuff!

Here’s a smile memory: My oldest son wanted to bake too, and would have fun with mixes. One time when he was in 5th grade or so, he decided to bake a cake ‘from scratch’ as we were all out of mixes. He did a fine job – EXCEPT, he put in a cup of SALT instead of a cup of SUGAR!! Needless to say … that was one cake that never got eaten. đŸ™‚

These days many families have an entire room just devoted to the children’s toys. Every other object blinks with colored lights, talks, roars or makes music. Not much is left for the children to imagine!

However, bring in a nice big empty box to cut openings and make a ‘house’ – or some old blankets to drape over chairs and make a ‘tent’ and watch the kids abandon the fancy stuff and go for the box or blankets! (Plain old wooden blocks are great too)

Truth be told, children don’t need a room full of toys. They need a few special things that they enjoy and they need the interaction of their families – play with them. Read  with them. Have tea-parties or road races with the little cars. Do puzzles. Play board games or card games. Go for walks. Let them help in the garden. Collect bugs together. . . have fun!

Teach your children that there are marvelous things to learn and do. Keep the TV watching time and computer game time to a minimal.

Life is calling – nature, friends, pets, family – it’s a wonderful life! Now, use YOUR IMAGINATION to help your children learn and grow!

If you haven’t gotten your copy of Danny’s Magic Monster yet, be sure to get it now! http://jcy.me/mgge