Monday, November 24, 2008

My Son-Dial (and other fun with chalk)

At any given moment, there is a box of chalk in my car. This is a lesson I learned early in my parenting days from another mother at one of Papa's softball games. Chalk, like bubbles, can be used virtually anywhere and encourages creativity in unlikely places.
When I was pregnant with Big B, I discovered the magic of chalkboard paint. Our children's room had the perfect kid-sized spot for it, just inside the door. We use this space to practice letters, shapes, numbers, messages to visitors, countdowns, octopi, rocket ships, whatever strikes our fancy. And in the kitchen, we greet each new day on a chalkboard we found on the curb. This is a little ritual we have come to enjoy very much: it teaches Big B about the calendar, and it reminds me to be grateful for new beginnings.Yesterday morning, as Big B was practicing his letters in the backyard after a nice romp in the dirt, his beautiful shadow inspired an idea: a human sundial. Big B has recently learned how to read the hands of a clock, so this seemed like a very timely activity (no pun intended).

STEP ONE: Choose a sunny patch of hard surface, mark the spot with an 'X', and plant your child there. Trace his or her shadow with chalk and note the time of day next to it.
STEP TWO: Return to the same spot every two hours throughout the day.
STEP THREE: Compare the angles, lengths, and shapes of your child's shadow and adorn your human sundial with color.

You can also make your own chalk with common household items. This can get a little messy, and sometimes we just aren't that ambitious (or patient). Fortunately, as we all know, chalk is cheap.

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