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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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)