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How Imaginative and Symbolic Play Affects Child Development 0

grapat toys

 

We all want beautiful childhoods for our little ones, full of fun-filled moments and skill-building experiences that will help them thrive. There's so much pressure to create an environment that is safe, secure, and in which they are comfortable to be themselves. And while we continue to change for the duration of our lives, most psychologists will agree that childhood and our upbringing has an enormous impact on the shape of our adult selves.

 

 

In a society when it seems like there is an app or toy for everything, we lose the opportunity to expose our children to imaginative and symbolic play. One where they are the "masters" of the situation, and they can assign roles to different objects, creating a story behind it.

 

So What Exactly is Imaginative Play?

 

Well for the most part, it's a lot of pretending! Pretending that a box is a train wagon, or that a block is a phone. It's assigning meaning to something so that they can play out a behavior or action that they have witnessed in the past.

 

 

 

 

Why is Symbolic or Imaginative Play Important to Child Development?

 

 

 

Social Skills

While exposing your child to others can obviously stimulate social and emotional skills, imaginative play allows for kids to put themselves in roles that they don't necessarily perform on an everyday basis. An example is nurturing a toy dolly and pretending that he or she is a parent, or playing out scenarios with multiple toys where there might be a conflict of interests. Symbolic play introduces children to empathy, the ability to "be in someone else's shoes" for a bit rather than see the world through an ego-centric perspective.

 

 

Cognitive Skills

 

Even as adults, we function in a world where objects or symbols symbolize greater ideas or things. Examples are money, flags, even the colours on traffic lights. Understanding that there can be items that represent abstract concepts is something that will be useful for their entire lives and they will just build on. Imaginative play also gives children the chance to play through certain scenarios or problems in a safe place to make those real life connections.

 

 

Motor Skills

 

Acting out "pretend" play takes a lot of movement- whether that's with the entire body in imitating a flying superhero, or minute focused movements to move small objects into the right position. It's a great juxtaposition of motor and cognitive skills, keeping kids moving and thinking rather than being couch potatoes.

 

 

 

What Can We Do to Induce Imaginative Play

goose grease toys mrs greenway

Really, kids are naturally curious and open to symbolic play, it's part of their nature. Our role is to keep it from being suppressed by alternative activities that don't provide the same level of social, cognitive, and motor stimulation. There are many toys out there, like the Rainbow from Grimm's Toys, or the "peg people" from Goose Grease and Grapat Toys. The latter that are customizable to any role the child gives them. They can draw on different outfits, accessories, making them the perfect addition to a minimalist child's toy box. The rainbow is also versatile, as it can be stacked as a rainbow or become a cradle for dolls, a fence for animals,  a tunnel or bridge for vehicles, or a  house for dwarfs.

 

 

Just a few small pieces can become a plethora of different environments and characters. As they are wooden and non-toxic, they are toys that everyone can feel good about giving and getting.

 

images: (1) Grapat Toys (2) Goose Grease Toys

Raising Environmentally Conscious Children- 5 Tips & Tricks 0

eco kids

Many people find their children's future motivational when considering the impact that they are leaving on this planet. Though some environmental effects are more direct and immediate, others take time to compound and feel, creating the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. However, when you put it into the perspective of the lifespan of your children and their children, many are willing to evaluate their footprint on the planet.

 

But apart as using our little ones as motivation, we should also be raising them to be environmentally responsible members of society. They are our future and our hope, and for now it's up to us to communicate all our knowledge and passion to them.

 

Though the topic can be a large one to address and pass on to our kids, there are some easy ways to incorporate environmental values to our kids through everyday habits and chores.

 

 

Here are just some ideas that we love and thought were worth sharing:

 1. Sorting Duty

Taking out the garbage should be a "chore of the past", just like rewinding VCR tapes or churning butter. The chore of the present is "sorting duty". From a young age, kids should be taught how to properly sort the trash, adhering to the practises in your area. At first, it's important to watch and correct any mistakes, but after a while, it will become second nature to them. Afterwards you can branch out to taking the organics to the composter in the yard and the recycling into a bigger bin. But for now, teach them that this is "normal" and you'll find that they will be as (or even more) bewildered as you are when in a situation where there is only one bin for everything.

 

2. Instilling a Love of Nature

There's a lot of ethics involved with environmentalism, and it takes a certain level of maturity to be able to comprehend it all. But if from a young age we can pass on a love and appreciation of nature, it's easier to explain why we do things the way we do. Help them learn the local species in your region, explore all the different trees and plants, enroll them in programs where they can learn to love and protect nature. So next time they ask why you use special laundry detergent, you can reply, "because it's better for the frogs and their habitat." Kids will understand this logic much better.

 

3. Supply them with Their Tools

Kids love gadgets and tools, things which validate what they are doing. The more personal they are, the more exciting to the little person. By involving them with their own reusable bottles, straws, lunch bags, recycle bins and more, you make the process of being zero waste and environmentally friendly more exciting. It's even more exciting when they get to be part of the selection process!

 

4. Hanging Laundry

Summer is a great time to put this chore into rotation with the older kids. Now that the weather is better and the temperatures are higher, it's time to be more energy efficient and air-dry your laundry. Hanging, and then later taking down and folding, is a sustainable habit to instill into  your children. Just make sure that you communicate the benefits, or else it will only just seem like a worthless hassle.

 

5. Cleaning with Natural Products

Whether you make your own or buy all-natural cleaning products, get your kids involved in household cleaning as early as possible. When the cleaners are non-toxic, there are no worries about negative effects on their little bodies, and they might even enjoy helping you bring your home to a sparkling clean condition!

 

 

Kids like mimicking the behaviour of adults they see. Take advantage of this phase to plant the seed of change in their minds. Later on, they will consider all the sustainable steps the status-quo, and hopefully integrate them into their own lives, building on it and in turn inspiring our generation.

Keeping Mealtime Messes to a Minimum 0

Let's face it, life can messy, especially when you have a high chair in the kitchen. Babies aren't too clean to begin with, but just give them a little food and voila! There's a whole new level of messiness achieved.

 

Though as parents and caretakers you have probably learned to embrace a level of chaos in your lives, we can do quite a bit to keep the clean-up post-meals as quick and simple as possible. It's as easy as investing in a few kitchen staples that you will end up using on a daily basis, we promise!

 

 

 Put a bib on it!

Bibs are essential for keeping those little outfits clean. Even if you're in favour of stripping your baby down to the diaper for mealtimes, bibs protect his or her delicate skin from harm, whether strange reactions to certain spices or to heat. While a traditional bib might be enough for when the infant is still eating from a pouch or a spoon, we love this one from Bummis for some more coverage. It protects the sleeves that end up getting pulled through the high chair tray or plate while grabbing that little morsel of food with those tiny fingers!

*(available in-stores)

 bummis bib with sleeves

Stop the Fling Thing

Kids love pushing, pulling, and throwing. It's all about discovering their new abilities! However, mealtime is not a great time to celebrate these skills, especially from the caretakers' point of view. EzPz Fun has come out with great bowls and plates that stick to surfaces like tables to avoid the inevitable pushing off onto the ground. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, so it's all about what fits your needs and style.

 

 

A full Pouch Keeps the Grouch at Bay

Food pouches are a staple for babies getting their first forays into the world of solid foods and also a great way to transport healthy snacks like vegetable purees and fruit sauces for older kids. However, rather than buying the disposable versions at the supermarket which are often filled with preservatives anyway, make your own meals at home and simply put them into reusuable pouches like these by Roost or Little Green Pouch! It's the healthier and more eco-friendly option!

 

Spill-Proof Snacks to Go

Everyone who has had contact with kids knows that snacks are the key to happy kids. They can tide over "hangry" toddlers,  soothe teething babies, or even just keep kids busy when you're out and about getting things done. To keep the happiness levels at a high and the mess levels at a low, we recommend the Munchie Mug, a spill-proof snacking mug that gives easy access to those little fingers without the risk of spilling the contents all over the backseat of the car, the playmat at home, or the waiting room at the doctor's office.

 

Squeeze-proof Juice Boxes

Juice boxes are a great idea in theory. They give you an opportunity to take a yummy beverage with you and your little one, no matter where you are. But the setbacks often outweigh the positives. Apart from the lack of options of what is actually contained within these juice boxes or pouches, often sugary drinks, the "squeeze and spill" phenomenon is definitely a real thing. The "Drink in a Box" seems to have fixed both of these problems by allowing you to fill the plastic container with whatever you want and avoiding the potential spilling due to the rigid nature of the box.

 

 

What do you use to keep mealtimes as pleasant and clean as possible? Let us know in the comments!

Teaching Your Kids the Green Way | Eco living for Children 0

 

green living for kids

 

Our green mission was actually inspired by our kids and grand kids- we wanted to leave them an earth that is as beautiful as the one that we get a chance to live on. It meant a drastic change in our lifestyle and our perception of the world around us.

 

However, if we really want "the green way" to thrive, we need to make an effort to instill this mentality and eco-conscious mindset to the next generation. The younger they are exposed to environmentalism, the easier it will be for them to accept ecoliving as "normal" and routine.

 

 Lead By Example

Kids are like sponges. You might not even know it, but they are constantly soaking up all the information you give them. They are the true definition of "monkey see, monkey do", if you can use this example in this context. By making an effort yourself to do things like recycle, reuse containers, clean using natural products, and more, they will copy your actions to be "just like mom and dad!"

 

Instill an Appreciation of Nature

Provide context to your eco-actions by sharing the beauty of nature with your kids. Through  family hikes, camping trips, and encounters with nature, they learn to love and appreciate the outdoors. The more the they love it, the more they will want to respect and protect it, even with simple things like making their own snacks instead of buying wrapped ones or making a bird feeder out of used yogurt containers rather that buying a new one.

 

Make it Fun

We're lucky to live in a time when eco-values have started trickling into the mind of many, giving us resources that can help with teaching the little ones the green way. From DIY aquaponic sets that show that sustainable farming systems can exist, to fun toys and books like the Good Fairie Dolls, environmentalism doesn't have to be a chore - it can be a family bonding feature.

 

 Present it as a Special Mission

Mission "Green way" can be one that your kids learn to love. Present your ecolifestyle as a earth-saving mission (which it literally is!). Challenge your kids with monthly goals and award bonus prizes when they covertly get their friends to join in on this eco-adventure! Your kids will love the fact that they are part of something greater than them, something so important and life-changing!

 

 Make it Easy to be Green

If being green means that the kids need to put in a greater effort, it going to be difficult to convince them to do it. It will just seem like an additional chore they have to do. See if you can adjust anything to make it simpler to be eco, from conveniently placing little recycle bins in every room to subbing cleaning products with natural ones that are used the same way or even require less effort.

 

 Give them a Leadership Role

Once your children hit a certain age, allow them to be leaders in your home's eco mission. Ask them to come up with new ideas and help bring them to fruition. Get them involved in choosing your household cleaning and laundry products, as well as choosing which all-natural toothpaste they prefer. This will give them ownership and shape them into eco-leaders within their friends and later colleagues. We love seeing kids shopping with their parents at our stores, giving input on their preferences and the selection.

 

 

 

Do you have any more ideas about how to make our little ones eco-advocates in today's world? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

 

5 Great Ways to Spend Earth Day with the Family in the Hamilton- Niagara Region 0

Earth Day 2017 Hamilton Niagara

 

Earth Day is here again and we can't think of a better way to spend this wonderful occasion than with the family. We have always been of the opinion that environmentalism is something that you share with your  community rather than keeping for yourself, and that's precisely what Earth Day is all about.

 

We've created a small guide for those looking for interesting Earth Day 2017 events in the Hamilton-Niagara Region. While we know that it's impossible to participate in all of them, getting involved in at least one will no doubt be the start of a wonderful day and a chance to create memories for years to come!

Earth Day at Mrs.Greenway [Downtown Dundas & Downtown Grimsby]

While the parents shop around for the things they need for "greening their life" like eco-friendly food storage, water bottles, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items, the younger family members can get to work planting flowers during the FREE Earth Day Activities available. Enter into a draw to win a Plan Toy Flower Kit, while every purchase gets you a chance to win our special Earth Day Gift Basket. Though the 25% off cleaning and laundry supplies can be claimed by everyone, there are limited kits available for the children's activities. Call in advance or visit either the Dundas or Grimsby store to reserve as many spots as you need!

 

April 22nd, 10 AM- 5PM, more information available here.

 

Tree Planting Festival  [Churchill Park, Hamilton]

Nothing screams "Earth Day" more than a little tree planting, right? The goal on Saturday the 22nd is to plant all 1,000 trees available while taking advantage of the live music, themed exhibits, and food vendors! Don't miss the Mayor's welcome at 10:30 a.m. and get ready to start planting around 11:00 a.m.

 

April 22nd, 10:30 AM, more information can be found here.

 

Recycling Centre Guided Tour [Niagara Falls]

A unique opportunity to see what happens with the things we throw into the blue bin, Niagara Region is giving the public the opportunity to tour its Recycling Center. Participants do have to be at least 10 years old and dressed appropriately in long pants ad closed toe shoes, however it could be the trip of a lifetime for some of your older kids who are interested in green living. The curiosity is sure to extend to parents as well, so reserve spots for everyone who can go on Friday, April 21st! It's worth skipping school for!
 
More information and reservations can be found here

 

Earth Day Extravaganza [Welland Farmer's Market]

If you want to celebrate Earth Day surrounded by local produce, the Earth Day Extravaganza event on Saturday morning might be your event of choice. There will be children's activities, face painting, and an opportunity to beautiful the market. Come bright and early at 9:00 a.m. with a bag of used clothing for Textile Waste Diversion and receive a Free Market Tote!
 
More information on this April 22nd event can be found here

 

Malcolmson Eco-Park Earth Day Celebration [St. Catharines]

Earth Day is the perfect time to start your own little garden, and the Earth Day celebrations at Malcolmson Eco-Park is the place to acquire your native plants and trees! In addition to helping with planting on location, you will be able to choose your own Paw Paws, Trilliums, Black Eyed Susans and more, helping with restoring natural species to this area in Ontario.
 
More information about hours, location, and parking can be found here.

 

Remember that Earth Day is about reinforcing all those Green Living Resolutions we have made over the years. Try to cycle or walk if possible, and encourage conversations about the environment with all members of the family, from 3 year old Junior to Grandpa Bob.
 
Happy Earth Day!

-Mrs. Greenway

5 Eco-Friendly Crafts to Try this Easter 0

Easter is such a lovely spring holiday when everything seems to be coming back to life. It's also a chance for us to teach our kids about giving new life to some basic items around the house through re-purposing.

 

"Reuse" is one of the pillars of sustainability and we love using it in our stores and households. From using re-purposed wood on our floors to giving customers a chance to refill their cleaners, we are all about finding value in what we already have and creating less waste in our society.

 

Kids learn a lot from the lifestyle of their parents, so instilling these values in your children early is a great way to lead them down the "green" path. Kids also love crafting, so there's definitely an opportunity to bring the two together and Easter fun is too good to pass up.

 

Here are so Eco-Easter crafts that we really like and are looking to try will the grand kids this year:

 

 

Pretty Napkin Holders

easter napkin holders

Most families take the opportunity to meet and celebrate over the Easter break, often around a nice, home-cooked meal. Brighten up the table with some pretty napkin holders made from egg cartons, paper tube, and just a little paint. The kids will definitely want to help with making these and setting the table for your festive meal!

 

Cut the cups from the egg carton and trim them to give them a floral shape. Then paint them with craft paint and hot glue them to rings cut from a paper towel roll. Add a couple of pretty leaves for a more "complete" look and enjoy them over and over again.

Image: Dane Tashima

 

Bird Seed Eggs

bird seed easter eggs

It's time for the kids to be the organizers of an Easter event: A Birdy's Easter Egg Hunt. First, make some bird seed eggs using bird seed, gelatin, and plastic Eco-Eggs. The exact measurements are listed below:

  • 8 1/3- 8 1/2 cups bird seed
  • 1/3 cup gelatin
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 36-38 Plastic Eco Eggs (available in-store)

Lightly grease the plastic eggs with vegetable spray and fill with the packed bird seed mixture- a teaspoon will be helpful. Once all the eggs are filled, snap them closed, chill them in the freezer for 2 hours and then remove the shaped eggs carefully from their shells. Put them into paper egg cartons to dry for a day or two. Then it's time to set up a little hunt for the spring birds, laying these eggs on tree stumps, hanging them up in trees, even patiently holding them in your hand and seeing if some friendly chickadees will come and nibble from your palm.

 

Egg Shell Garden

egg shell garden

Literally make your eggs a source of "green" inspiration by using shells as planters for some fresh sprouts. Carefully let each child draw a face on their own egg shell, fill it partially with soil, add some small, quick growing seeds like catnip or watercress, water them and watch it grow! The kids will love checking in everyday on the status of their egg's "hair" growth. Later if you'd like, you can directly plant the egg shells with their sprouts in the garden or a bigger pot since it's biodegradable and actually adds important nutrients to the soil.

 

 

Egg Carton Chicks

 egg carton easter chicks

These cute chicks can be a cute way to store painted eggs, little treats, or even an alternative to a plastic egg in an egg hunt! They are very easy to make and really don't require more than an egg carton, paint, a little card stock paper, and glue.

 

For more detailed instructions, visit Paper Plate and Plane

 

 

Felt Easter Baskets

 recycled easter egg baskets

Does it feel weird buying new Easter baskets every year for your kids to go "hunting" with? This year, make a point of making them together and personalizing them to suit their individual styles. The base of this craft is a food-grade bucket, like what you would get ice cream or margarine in. To make it even more sustainable, instead of using new felt, re-purpose other fabric that you have around the house, like an old receiving blanket or old t-shirt that doesn't fit anymore. Having a personalized basket will make the thrill of the hunt even more appealing.

For more detailed instructions, click here.

Image: Dane Tashima

 

 

Tag us in your Eco-Easter creations to be featured in our social media! 

 

We're looking forward to seeing your sustainable crafts and would like to wish everyone a very happy and green Easter Season!

 

-Mrs.Greenway