Dec 6, 2010

Baby's First Christmas

Ahhh....the joy of a first Christmas with a little one. The wide eyes filled with wonderment as they watch the twinkling Christmas tree lights and the little smile on their face as they hear the tinkling bells of ornaments and holiday songs... Every new experience with a new baby is wonderful, but there is something especially precious about a baby's first Christmas.

Here is a picture of Ethan with our little dog Kayla for his first Christmas:

It was so much fun that first Christmas to watch his face as he explored all the new sights and sounds in the world. To see those little arms and legs waving and kicking with excitement. To see him gaze into the face of each friend or family member as they held him for the first time. Ethan was just a few months old that first Christmas and what a wonderful time to share the joy of our new baby!

Our first Christmas with Ethan was wonderful...simple and beautiful. It was about time with family and friends...and time to explore new things together as a family...a special time as we began to establish our own family traditions. Our gift giving to Ethan was and still is simple...something beautifully crafted that will last for years. Some of my favorites: a lovely wooden rattle (now tucked away in a box for safekeeping), a special huggable bear (still snuggled at night), a handpainted wooden giraffe (still played with over and over again)...

Many of the items that you will find at are some of the favorite gifts that we chose for Ethan that first year...or were given to him by friends or family.

So, I hope you find something truly wonderful for the new baby and/or little one in your life...something they will treasure for years.

This little one loved the baby toys at Rosie Hippo:

Sooooo cute! The baby tumbler and big rollie car are long time customer favorites!

Wishing you a holiday season filled with precious moments. Because it's really about the moments...

Happy as can be mom to now 5 year old Ethan

Nov 25, 2010

Have a Happy Thanksgiving with Your Little Pumpkin(s)!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful time with your family and friends --- and precious moments with your children.

Thanksgiving is always a time for our family to reflect (I just love going around the Thanksgiving table with each person sharing what they are thankful for!)

I am sooooo thankful for so many things. My family and friends. My life. And especially my dear little boy. So today I wanted to share with you a poem that I love and that seems so poignant as my 5 year old son Ethan is growing up so fast:

OUR CHILDREN by Nancy Wood

Our children are like flowers to us.
Each one different.
Each one beautiful.
Each one growing strong with us.

Our children are like stars to us.
Each one sparkles.
Each one moves through the universe.
Each one closer to the heart of us.

Our children are like life to us.
Each one precious.
Each one unpredictable.
Each one having to let go of us.

A favorite picture of Ethan at the pumpkin patch a few years ago. (I forgot my camera this year!) Check out that determination!:

He loved the little red wagons they had at the pumpkin patch! So I was thrilled to find an Amish-made red wooden wagon to add to!

Our "Rosie Red Wagon". It's a classic!!

How many kids can you fit in a Rosie Red Wagon? How many toys? You decide! Available in 2 sizes at, 16" x 28" and 18" x 36".

So onward for some wonderful childhood pumpkin picking...or hauling your puppy around the yard...or collecting rocks...or helping Mom pick up name just a few ideas (yes, these are some of the ways Ethan likes to use his "Rosie Red Wagon"). Sigh....they grow up way too fast, don't they!?

My little pumpkin:


Nov 22, 2010

Treasured Through the Years: Doll Furniture

40+ years ago. 2 little girls at Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas. Happy as can be and anxiously awaiting the moment they will be able to open their "special" shared present. They tear away the wrapping paper to find the most beautiful little wooden bunk beds for dolls. Wow!!! Thrilled, they run to find their matching dolls (only 2 years apart, they get lots of "matching" things to keep peace in the house). And they merrily play all day with their new treasure.

Do you remember those moments from your childhood? Well, I do. Especially the Christmas Day that I received the doll bunk beds. Those 2 little girls described above are me and my sister, Tammy (she's 2 years younger than me). And guess what? We still have those bunk beds. And they are --- even after years and years of play --- in great shape. They are now in my possession, since Tammy's daughters have grown past the days of enjoying doll play. Isn't it wonderful that the craftsmanship of some toys enables them to be enjoyed through generations?

So I must tell you that I was absolutely thrilled to find Amish made doll furniture to add to our Rosie Hippo inventory. Beautifully made, solid, sturdy, and lovely, our new doll furniture meets the important criteria of being products that can be enjoyed for generations.

Check out our new Doll Bunk Beds at! I just LOVE them!!

Children love to play with dolls, to play house, to imitate their parents. One of my most touching parenting moments was watching Ethan comfort a doll, hugging it tightly saying "it's'll be OK...I'm here..." using words that I've used with him.

Pretend play with dolls is particularly important as it allows children to have complete control over a mini-world. Children can do all of the activities they observe parents do each day --- and try these activities out for themselves. This type of pretend play enables children to understand roles, relationships, and needs, as they explore and try to understand their place in the world.

When a new addition to the family is expected, utilizing dolls and doll furniture to prepare the older sibling can be particularly useful. Holding a doll and supporting it's head, speaking quietly, and putting the doll into a doll crib gently can be taught. And having their own "baby" and "baby doll furniture" when the new baby arrives provides an outlet for children to mimic their parents with the new well as to learn how they can help too!

Perfectly sized Crib for your baby's baby!

Highchairs for pretend feeding time are available in white or harvest:

And the tray swings up to easily enable a doll to be seated!

There is nothing like watching a child explore the world and their place in it. And it is always endearing to see their "view". Ethan was playing yesterday using the crib as the bed for his Mr & Mrs. Mouse (stuffed animal) teachers and the school desks for the students (dolls and a bear) in his pretend sleepaway school. Hmmmm.....some imitating of his preschool with the teachers and students....and I think the sleepaway school concept comes from talking to my friend's daughter who is applying to boarding school...

The little School Desk Chair and the Lid Desk with Chair Set:

I love this little Cradle. We had a baby-sized one that looked just like this from our great-grandparents that we used when Ethan was a baby!

This little Canopy Bed is pretty enough for a princess!

And what child wouldn't love a complete bedroom set that is perfectly doll-sized!

This year more than ever, it seems like many parents are focusing on value and investing in things that endure. When this season's "hot" plastic toy is long forgotten, broken and discarded, wonderful wood toys will still be bringing more memories to the next generation. And we just love that!

Hope you love our doll furniture! It's absolutely adorable in person!


Nov 18, 2010

Peek! Our New Catalog is Here!

Our new catalog is here! And we've added lots of wonderful new items to our inventory. It's tough to say we have any favorites....because we love them all! And remember each item is individually hand-selected for its beauty, craftsmanship, quality, and value. I love my job!!!! So, here's a peek!!!! Click on each photo for specifics. And click here to view the entire catalog.

Don't forget:
Enjoy 20% OFF* every item in our new 2011 Catalog and on our website from now until Sunday, November 21, 2010 at midnight PT! Just enter the code RHFF20 at checkout.
*Kitchen furniture, oversized items and products that ship directly from the manufacturer excluded. Offer not valid on previous purchases. Void where prohibited.

Baby's First Blocks - I love the beauty of the wood and the soft edges of these blocks. And they are the perfect size for little hands to hold. What baby doesn't like to stack 'em up and knock 'em down?

Sailing...sailing.... This sailboat is so beautiful!! And it floats! My son Ethan and I spent quite a few blissful hours sailing this little boat on a little pond in Vermont. And for cold winter days, it's great in the bathtub too!

Cook up some fun! We have wonderful new options in kitchen play including this hutch! Beautifully designed and made by Amish craftsmen. I'd like one of these adult size in my kitchen!

Sprinkle some fairy dust! I was thrilled to find beautiful fairy dress-up items (skirts, garlands, leotards, wings), made in the USA to add to Incredibly well-priced, these outfits are just magical!

Ahoy, Matey! These wool felt hats and eye patches (lined for comfort) make a fun pirate set for pretend play pirates!

There's an artist in every child... I love this perfectly sized easel....the solid side panels make it incredibly sturdy!

A snuggly best friend! Betsy the Bunny is made by Kathy Kruse in Germany. She is soft terry and as huggable as can be.

The little things in life... Love, love, love our new doll furniture. Made to pass through generations!

So, take some time to browse our catalog....I hope you enjoy the view!


Nov 16, 2010

Announcing our New Catalog....and Lots of New Choices!

Yippee!! Our new catalog is complete. Finally. It is always soooo much fun finding new products and creating our new catalog...and always lots more work than I think it's going to be!

We have lots of great new products that I think you will love....we do! Products that are beautifully made...the highest quality...built to like we remember from our childhood.

My husband still has a toddler wagon filled with blocks and I still have my old doll furniture from our childhoods! Each are more than 40 years old, and they still look like new. (Watch future blogs for photos!) What wonderful memories they evoke and how great to be able to pass them through generations! Those are the kind of toys you'll find at Rosie Hippo!

This year, more than ever, I have been thinking about value. Not only because it's holiday shopping time and I own an online toy store, but because of my son Ethan and how much I want to give him things that last. And when I say things, I don't really mean just things...I mean memories and experiences and everything that goes into shaping a person who values who they are and what they have.

I am sure you are like me and have been inundated already with holiday shopping offers that focus on low prices, free this and free that. And I know how important price is these days, when money is so hard to come by, and so hard to hold on to for so many families. But I really wish we would also think about value and investing in things that last.

When I think about value, I am reminded of that Oscar Wilde quote about cynics: a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. It is true that we do live in a cynical age, but there are things that endure and their value is beyond measure.

There are so many wonderful choices on the website...many beautiful new items...many long-time favorites...and right now we have over 200 toys that are under $25. Each are well-made, natural toys -- many handcrafted or made by caring manufacturers -- that will last well beyond the holiday season. These are the kinds of toys I like to give and get and I know I am not alone. We also have some new handcrafted play kitchens and doll furniture made by Amish artisans that are beautiful pieces that will truly last for generations, and I hope they find a home and provide a teachable moment about value to a child.

Here's a sneak peek:

Because our Rosie Hippo friends and family are so special to us, we're providing you this special offer:

Enjoy 20% OFF almost* every item in our new 2011 Catalog and on our website from now until Sunday, November 21, 2010 at midnight PT! Just enter the code RHFF20 at checkout.

I hope you find something truly wonderful that will create lasting memories for your family!


*Kitchen furniture, oversized items and products that ship directly from the manufacturer excluded. Offer not valid on previous purchases. Void where prohibited.

Sep 21, 2010

PEACE IN EVERY STEP - Celebrating International Peace Day

Ethan on the way to school today:

Ethan came home from summer camp one day (he was 3 years old) and asked me “Mama, what does peace mean?” Wow. What a beautiful question. Tears filled my eyes. How do I answer that? How do I help Ethan to understand something so simple yet so complex? How do I help guide him to be a good and kind person in the world… help him to grow into a kind and gentle person who promotes peace in his actions, who celebrates peace in every step?

That day I answered Ethan by telling him it was important to be kind to everyone in the world --- to love and be kind to all of the earth’s creatures. And I explained that everyone is different in the world and that it was important to celebrate and appreciate these differences. And that sometimes people are not kind in the world and don’t appreciate each other and that can lead to bad things like war. Our discussion about PEACE continued from that day and has blossomed into a beautiful discourse.

I’d like to share a simple acronym that I devised to teach Ethan about peace:

P = Passion and Compassion in all Actions
E = Equality for Everyone
A = Appreciation for all People/Cultures
C = Caring for all Creatures
E = End to War

P = Passion and Compassion in all Actions
I talk to Ethan about how lucky we are to be on this earth. How lucky we are to have friends and family who love us and who we love. And how the way that we act can make a difference in the world, by helping others and setting a good example. By always saying “thank you” and being appreciative. Our mantra is “be thankful and be kind”. I talk to Ethan a lot about how he can make a difference in the world. About how important it is to love what you do and to do what you can to make the world a better place. One of our favorite books to read is “Only One You”. It is a beautiful book about how there is only one you in this world and how you can help make it a better place. Simple things like having Ethan clean out his playroom and take some toys that he has outgrown to a local charity and packing up his coat each winter to send to New York Cares Coat Drive or One Warm Coat has helped him to build compassion. After watching the Haiti benefit with me (he sat through the whole thing!), Ethan started collecting coins from around the house to send to Haiti. And for his birthday this year, Ethan gave up presents to raise money for a well in Africa. It all started with a photo that he saw showing children filling buckets/bottles with water at a well.. and has grown into a wonderful learning experience.

E = Equality for Everyone
I talk to Ethan about how important it is that everyone is treated equally. How in the past this was not always the case. How some people, because they were women or because someone thought they looked different in some way were not treated fairly. I asked Ethan if he had ever experienced this. He said, “Yes, Mommy. When xxxxx came to school with a new haircut everyone made fun of him and didn’t let him play with us on the playground.” Wow. This example made for a great discussion. I asked Ethan to imagine how he would feel if he was xxxxx. We talked about alternative ways for Ethan to act. To step up so xxxxx wasn’t excluded.

A = Appreciation for all People/Cultures
Ethan and I talk a lot about “celebrating differences”. I try to point out examples of how wonderful the world is because it is made up of so many different continents and countries and cultures and people. By pointing out different holidays celebrated in different parts of the world throughout the year, I try to help expand his understanding and appreciation. And I have stacked his bookshelf with books that explore and teach about different places and people and cultures. Children love stories and books are a wonderful way to explore the world and these important concepts.

C = Caring for all Creatures
Children are instinctively caring and loving. They love to be hugged and kissed and cared for… and they learn from watching us! It is wonderful to see Ethan comforting another child or comforting a doll or stuffed animal using the same words that I use to comfort him! It also makes me realize how huge the impact is that we have on our children! Ethan has also learned to be kind from having a pet to care for. Our little Maltese is only 7.5 pounds (less than our cat!) and he knows how important it is to be gentle and watch out for her. We also spend a lot of time outdoors exploring nature. Finding insects and frogs and lizards --- and always returning them back to their habitat --- has taught him to be kind and not squish them!

E = End to War
Talking to a child about war and about the terrible things that happen in the world is difficult. I have chosen not to avoid these topics but to be careful not to overwhelm Ethan. We talk about how there are bad things that happen in the world and how some people are unkind to others. I told Ethan about what happened on 9/11. We were at the Liberty Science Center and there was a piece of one of the trade center buildings. I got very emotional and Ethan wanted to know what was wrong --- but he was only 2 ½ years old. So I explained simply that there were 2 tall buildings in New York City with many people in them. And that some bad people stole some airplanes and crashed the planes into the buildings. And that this was a terrible thing. He had many questions…”Why?” and “Were people hurt?” and I answered them all honestly.

There is a wonderful book called “A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope” that has provided a wonderful way to broach this topic. A barbed wire fence, soldiers, a vine and 2 children are woven into a beautiful and thought-provoking story. We have just added it to the Rosie Hippo website. Ethan loves this book and asks to read it often…always with more questions. Some other books we love to read about peace, togetherness, and making a difference are:

Today is the International Day of Peace also known as World Peace Day. It is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups and people. This holiday was established by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1981.

So, take some time today to talk to your child about PEACE. Ask them what it means. Draw a peace sign. Ask your child to draw what they think peace looks like. Talk about what you can do together to celebrate. Read a book together that celebrates differences in the world.

And remember, every day is a day to walk together with peace in every step.

Peace Out!

P.S. Don't you just love our Peace Hat? We do!!

Jun 7, 2010

What's Cooking? Enter to Win Kitchen Play items!

What's Cooking? Enter to win a red & white chef's apron and a copy of "Pretend Soup" from!!

Too hot to cook? Not with the great kitchen toys at! Are you raising the next Top Chef? Kids love to cook -- and cooking is such a great way to let young imaginations run wild! With healthy ingredients (real or pretend), you know they are setting good habits for life.

Tell us your favorite kitchen toy and let us know what additional kitchen pretend play items you would like to see on our website to be entered into our "What's Cooking?" giveaway. Enter by sending a tweet to @rosiehippo or by entering the discussion on our Facebook page.

One winner will be picked at random on July 1st to receive a child's red & white chef's apron and a copy of "Pretend Soup" cookbook for kids.

I continue to be inspired by Ethan's interest and enthusiasm about cooking...and the best part is he loves to eat what he makes himself (yes, even if it is tofu!). So give your children some fun, "good-for-you" recipes and let them create some healthy culinary masterpieces! Check out our "Eat Your Fruit and Veggies" and "Healthy Snack-tivities Kids Love" posts for fun ideas.

Bon appetit!


Follow @RosieHippo on Twitter for more chances to win toys!!

Note: You must be at least 18 years old in order to enter this contest. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for notifying the contest winner via Twitter.

Jun 3, 2010

Healthy "Snack-tivities" That Kids Love

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month. Who knew? It's also National Candy Month. Does that make sense to you? Regardless, a healthy diet includes generous amounts of colorful, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. And as children are inherently creative and inventive, I suggest putting that creativity to use in creating healthy snacks!

You don't need more than some basics --- fresh fruit, fresh veggies, dried fruit, dried veggies, nuts, seeds, hummus, and yogurt! When children choose their ingredients, make it themselves, and name it, they are thoroughly engaged, and not only will they love their snacks, they will be recommending their creations to siblings, friends, and even parents!

Here are 5 inspired "snack-tivities" that Ethan loves:

Edible Art
need: dried fruit, nuts and seeds
create: use ingredients to create faces, flowers, turtles (these were unrecognizable to anyone but Ethan and me) and anything else your child can envision

Don't forget that old standby, "bugs on a log" - celery (log) filled with nut butter (dirt) and raisins (bugs) on top
And fresh veggies like peppers and carrots cut into strips are great for art creation too! Faces, stick figures, rockets (yes, Ethan can create a rocket out of anything!)

Flower Edible Art:

Smile Face Edible Art:

A Vegetable Forest

need: fresh veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and hummus or other healthy dip (bean dip)
create: hummus is dirt, cauliflower and broccoli are bushes, asparagus are trees

Veggie Forest Creation (after creating his forest, he pretends a hurricane comes in and knocks down the trees...then he eats them!):

Kid Kebabs

need: wooden skewers and selection of fresh fruit (our favorites are cantelope, kiwi, watermelon, banana, strawberries, melon, apple)
create: Ethan chooses which fruit and in what order (aka design) the fruit chunks go onto the skewer

Cha Cha Cha Chips (yes I did say chips and yes we do like to make up funny names for our fruit and veggie snacks)
need: kale or apples, olive oil + salt or olive oil + cinnamin)
create: for kale, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt; for apples, slice thin, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamin; Ethan loves the "sprinkle" step! Bake at 350. I love to hear Ethan ask (after devouring a bowl of kale chips, "Mommy, I'm still hungry, can we make more Kale chips?"

Frozen Fun
need: frozen peas, corn, carrots, green beans
create: put straight into a bowl (or a measuring cup!) for finger picking fun

Ethan loves the frozen veggies:

And, of course, always have apples on hand! in your bag... in your car... A hungry child loves to chomp on a apple and can create designs as he/she eats. Ethan loves to bite 2 eyes, then a nose, then a mouth.

Apple Face:

So when the snack attacks hit, go for the "snack-tivities"! More ideas at my "Eat Your Fruit and Veggies" post.

Happy Grazing!!

Apr 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!

Ethan at 2 1/2 years old in tie dye shirt!

Earth Day! Can you believe that we’ve been celebrating Earth Day for 40 years? April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day and the birth of the modern environmental movement. Launched by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who planned this first national environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda," the first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans join the demonstration in massive coast-to-coast rallies. This was at the end of the ‘60s, and man, we had that demonstrating thing down!

Isn't it great to see how Earth Day projects and programs have helped to raise awareness and unite people around the world? And isn’t amazing to see such a higher degree of consciousness from people and companies? However, there is so much more to do – and it starts with our children!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of my happiest parenting moments was when Ethan told me as I was brushing my teeth with the water running, “Mom, you’re hurting the earth! Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth!” I almost danced around the bathroom! (This was as good as hearing Ethan ask, “is this organic?” and “is this healthy?” in the grocery store!) I was soooo happy to see that the “be kind to the planet” message that I try to communicate to him on a regular basis was taking hold.

It also taught me what great little observers our children are, and that the best way to teach is by example. There are a few easy things to do and to teach your children:

1. Turn water off when brushing teeth
2. Turn off lights to conserve electricity
3. Learn to love the leftovers so you don’t waste food
4. Recycle
5. Use both sides of the paper
6. Drink water from the tap
7. Grow something to eat
8. Buy local to eat whenever possible
9. Take short showers
10. Unplug any device that isn’t being used

I love my job! I just love finding great products that are great for kids -- unique products made from unique materials – sustainable wood, organic fabrics, recycled materials – that are made in a way that is kind to the planet. Books and toys that educate our children about diversity, promote community involvement and teach them responsible stewardship of our planet. I love helping children explore their world in a fun, creative, imaginative way – and hope it shows!

Here are a few favorite items from Rosie Hippo that I’ve used them to teach Ethan about being kind to the Earth:


“The Lorax” is my absolute favorite children’s book about how one child can make a difference! Read the Lorax to your child & act it out, build a list of what went wrong & how to be kind to the earth.

“10 Things I Can Do To Help My World” empowers kids to make a difference by showing them what they can do every day to save our resources. Read this book with your child and make recycling bins out of recycled materials. I did this with Ethan’s nursery class last year and they loved it!

“The Greening Book”
is wonderful with lots of ideas and inspiration for children to learn to appreciate the earth's gifts and protect and care for our planet.

“The Down to Earth Guide for Global Warming”
by environmental activist Laurie David is fun and makes this topic understandable to children.

Read "Fairy Houses" and make fairies of recycled materials, then build fairy houses on a nature walk.

Use the “Woods Walk” book to create a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things for the children to find in nature --- give each child a list and a pen and a magnifying lens to find the items.

“My Nature Book”
– take the children on a nature hike and have them complete a page of the journal and to create wonderful memories of their outdoor adventures.

Here come the recycling trucks! Made of responsibly harvested maple, our cute little Recycling Scoot will be a daily reminder of the importance of recycling. This toddler sized Recycle Truck is a favorite! On a larger scale, the deluxe hardwood Recycle Truck looks and performs just like the real thing with a tilting bed and recycling cans. My son loves to drive this truck around the house, filling it with paper for recycling!

Other Great Stuff
Huggable Earth Ball
A lovable, huggable fabric ball with more than 600 locations noted so geographical awareness is heightened through play.

Smiling Planet Plates

Totally natural, totally recyclable, totally darling designs to enchant both parents and children. These plates celebrate the world and its diversity with a message that we are all connected.

This unique backpack is made of recycled fabric that allows your budding artist to color in all of their favorite Rosie friends over and over again! Wash it to create a new design.

Place an Order/Plant a Tree
For each order placed through Earth Day (April 22), Rosie Hippo will plant a tree through the United Nations Environment Program's Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.

Remember to stop and enjoy the planet, on Earth Day and every day!


Apr 17, 2010

Earth Day Inspiration for Teachable Moments

April 22 is Earth Day. I believe (and I'm sure you'll agree) that every day is a good day to teach our children to be kind to our planet. I have been asked a number of times what I do to communicate this on an ongoing basis to my four-year-old son. So, I'd like to share an acronym that I use to help teach Ethan about the EARTH:

E = Experience
A = Appreciate

R = Reuse/Reduce/Recycle
T = Teach
H = Help to Make a Difference

E = Experience nature.
Since Ethan was a baby, I have tried to expose him to nature in a way that resonates with him, because for kids, it's all about the experience! From taking him outside when he was a week old to feel the rain, to crawling on the grass for the first time, to hiking in the woods when he was 2 (and in a carrier or backpack when he was an infant!) and feeling the bark on the trees and the moss on the ground and listening for birds we can identify --- the exposure to colors, textures, sights and sounds and the opportunity to experience the beautiful things about the Earth is important for building an appreciation of them.

Hiking with Ethan as an infant:

Ethan always loved the view from the Kelty Kids backback:

Canoeing in Vermont at 3 years old:
Hiking the Redwoods in CA with Uncle Buddy and Aunt Jen:

A = Appreciate the beauty of our planet

With every experience, I would talk with Ethan about how important it was to appreciate the things around us….to be kind to the creatures on the Earth and to our natural resources in order to build an appreciation for clean water, clean air, and plants and animals. Finding little creatures on our hikes and quietly viewing them has taught Ethan to be aware and gentle in nature.

Exploring a hollowed out tree on a hike in Vermont last week:

The first lizard Ethan held (he's 2 yo here and found it on a gravel driveway and thought it would be happier put back into grass):
A frog we came across on a trail:

R = Reuse/Reduce/Recycle.

Ethan and I talk a lot about R-R-R. Always carry out what you bring in when hiking. Recycle whenever possible. Use both sides of the paper to draw. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Turn off the lights to save energy. By incorporating these messages into our days, they become “just the way we do things” and are part of our lives and who we are.

Ethan uses his dump truck to clean up toys and his recycle truck to collect scrap papers for the recycling bin:

T = Teach by example
My feeling is that every day and so many moments are teaching opportunities….and I remind myself that the most powerful teaching is by example. And there are many beautiful books and stories that help to illustrate how we all can make a difference. Stories like the Lorax really resonate with children (this is one of Ethan’s favorites!).

Reading the Lorax (Love this book! Check out my Lorax blog.):
H = Help to Make a Difference.
I point out to Ethan how he can help make a difference even as a young child. He picks out clothes to donate to Red Cross, toys to donate to a local thrift shop that supports community health services, coats to send to “keep a child warm” and I take him with me to deliver them. We are “building a well” as part of the “Born in September” program of Charity Water (as Ethan was born in September). He watched the benefit for Haiti with me and is collecting change to send to Haiti.

The bag Ethan labeled to collect money for Haiti:

After a trip to TD Bank to convert the change Ethan has collected to cash to send to Haiti...$6.95:

It has been wonderful to watch Ethan grow and explore nature and the world....and especially to see him develop an appreciation for the creatures in the world and the resources around him! One of my happiest parenting moments was when Ethan told me as I was brushing my teeth with the water running, “Mom, you’re hurting the earth! Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth!” I almost danced around the bathroom! (This was as good as hearing Ethan ask “is this organic?” and “is this healthy?” in the grocery store!) I was soooo happy to see that the “be kind to the planet” message that I try to communicate to him on a regular basis was taking hold.

Earth Day provides us all with a great opportunity for important teachable moments in our childrens' lives. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the Earth...I want them to know that the power to change things for the greater good is in their hands. kind to the Earth...and teach the same to your children!!

Apr 8, 2010

The Power of Imagination and Inspiring Pretend Play: "I am an Olympic Athlete!"

Picture this. I am in the kitchen preparing dinner. 4-year-old Ethan appears to be break-dancing on the floor. Hmmmm… never saw him do this before. Is it something he learned at school? The conversation goes like this… “Ethan, what are you doing? Dancing?” “No Mom, I’m speed skating.” Hmmmm. What am I missing here? Speed skating? How does he know what speed skating is? Oh yeah, the Olympics. We must have watched some speed skating events together. I remembered watching skiing events together but not the speed skating. Hmmmm… Doesn’t look like speed skating to me. Should I say something? Curiosity gets the best of me, so I ask. “Ethan, can you explain this speed skating thing you are doing?” “Mom, I’m turning a corner and my hand is touching the ice.” Ohhhhhhh….. Silly mom. I get it. Pretty funny actually. Really creative in fact. WOW. I get it now. Actually does look like speed skating now that I have the context. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get my camera out fast enough!) However, lots more Olympic pretend play to come.

WOW. The power of imagination and pretend play. I just love to see Ethan’s imagination at play. Whatever he is interested in at the moment comes into his pretend play. He loved watching the Olympics. And speed skating in the kitchen was only the beginning…

More Speed Skating:

Note: Pretend speed skating has become the way that we race to my office/warehouse! First with one arm behind the back…then full out speed skate sprinting with both arms pumping and legs going side to side. Too funny!

The Luge (using a little footstool!):

The Bobsled:

The Skeleton (see the Olympics on TV in the background?):

The bottom line: imagination is a powerful thing. Imagination is key to play and learning. It’s not the toy…it’s the play… kids can imagine and play without anything else in hand. And simple props can be great for extending that imaginative play ---- Poof! a fairy wand and they’re a fairy… Whooo whooo!!! A train whistle and they’re a conductor… A magnifying glass and they're a pirate or an explorer. Simple toys for great imaginative pretend play!