Monday, March 7, 2011

Top10 ways to spark interest, learn, and have fun with everyday tasks

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


One of the things I love about natural parenting is the focus on simple and natural learning through everyday activities. I love the idea of teachable moments happening without forcing them along. Everyday tasks and chores can be turned into great fun, learning, and spark interests!

So with no further ado I present to you:

' Top10 ways to spark interest, learn, and have fun with everyday tasks! '

1) Take It Outside! 

I always loved the picturesque scene of shelling peas on the porch. Your kiddo will too.

When the weather is nice we take some work to the great outdoors. Maybe we sit on our porch while menu planning or on a big hand-knit blanket in the grass while pea shelling. No matter what, it makes any chore fun!

Everyone needs some sunlight and it is amazing how fast your spirits will soar when you get some fresh air. Outdoors is a great classroom to present some everyday activities! You can incorporate natural lessons such as growing veggies from seeds or let your little ones explore the grass, leaves, and bugs in the yard. They will learn their own lessons while you get some boring tasks done, such as budgeting. Babies will enjoy watching the grass move in the wind and hearing birds. Older kids will enjoy the exploration outside can bring. 

The mind will be clear and more able to soak up all the great things you can teach, such as where those peas came from before you bought them at the market!

2) Appeal to all 5 senses! 

Let your child really experience what you are doing. Tasting, feeling, smelling, seeing, and hearing are all important parts of learning. Young babies especially love to taste everything; they experience the world with their mouth! Try to find ways to safely incorporate chances to use different senses.

Folding laundry has bloomed into a favorite game in our home. Blip loves it when we rub the different fabrics against his cheek or arms so he can feel them. I encourage him to smell the clean clothes and we flap, crinkle, and talk about the task to appeal to his need to hear. Of course, he loves watching as I fold the clothes and pile them in neat stacks and since he is so young I always try to find safe things for him to mouth and taste. A clean scarf will often go straight in his mouth.

3) Use the high back carry
We love a nice and high back carry in our Woven. All kids have clingy days and this is great for those days. A back carry allows you to go about your daily necessities, with both hands free, while still having your little one observe everything. Try washing dishes or clothes using a good carrier for your high back carry. Your kiddo will be able to see everything you do and easily hear your feedback on the task at hand. Best of all, they are right near your ear, so you will be able to hear all the questions or excited baby sounds.

4) Get them Involved

 Babies and kids love being involved! It is no fun watching all the time.

Little babies will enjoy sitting with you and playing with the tools you are using. Help toddlers pour a teaspoon of vinegar into your homemade cleaning spray or have your preschooler help knead the bread dough. It really does not matter what you are doing, just get them involved! Simple tasks teach all sorts of great things when they get to do them along with you. Science, fine motor skills, a love for cooking, etc... 

5)Accidents happen: relax and learn from them

Never yell or act disappointed in your child if they accidentally mess something up, break something, or spill. Evey one has accidents, even us! When little Soya spills all the blueberries on the floor, stop and take a deep breath, and remember this is a teachable moment!

No need to scold or really even force the lesson. Just say, in a happy voice, that it is ok and show then how to fix or make the accident better.
"It's ok, why don't I help you pick up these berries! Then we can rewash them!" 

Embarrassing your child or forcing a lesson will not make them eager to try again; that trying is what really teaches!

6) Child size and accessible

 I love the Montessori idea of not having a child fit into a world that is too big for them. It is a great idea to have some smaller tools of the trade for tiny hands.

Smaller sponges and a broom could spark an interest in helping you clean. It is fun to act like mommy or daddy but it also teaches them valuable practical life lessons. When kids work with items that fit them, they learn real technique! Storing items in lower shelves, and finding ways for them to get eye level with the lessons, is also a great way of keeping them involved whenever their interests strike!

I love the idea of a  learning tower to supply a safe place for your kid to stand while helping you bake!

7) Appeal to their interests

If your baby is practicing slowly taking things out of baskets, let them help you pull out clothes from a basket while you fold. If your child is obsessed with animals, go buy eggs and milk at the farm. If it is a topic, such as space, that your kid just can't get enough of, incorporate it into your day. Read up on it together: your kid will love it, plus you will learn new things as well. Make it a theme for lunch or chat about it on the way to the store. 

8) Know when to let it be

There are times when Blip is just not interested in the tasks I'm doing. Maybe he would rather play with his blocks or hear a story. In cases like this, really try not to push it.

No one will have fun or learn anything if you are forcing them to participate and honestly it is a tantrum waiting to happen. Know when to let it be.  

Sometimes a baby just wants to be left alone for some tummy time because they are on a crawling breakthrough! Sometimes a kid just needs time to focus on toys or a nap. Sometimes they just want to cuddle and read and we just have to remember that the vacuum will be there later! We can always come back to the task, but one day our baby will be grown up.

9) Try something new

Little one starting to hate grocery shopping? Maybe you both just need a change in pace. A new setting can be a treasure trove of learning opportunities! Go to the farmers market for some outdoor fun, local food, and a new experience. I find it the best way to shop. Your little one will meet new people, see new things, and get interested in the task all over again!

Maybe make up a game to go with a task! Go to the library and let your child pick out a new cookbook. Give your baby a new view that they can watch from. A little change goes a long way. And sometimes it is good to fit some 100% new experiences into your day. 

10) Give a choice

 No one likes being told what to do! A few choices will take you far.

Give your baby the choice to play with the pot lids or the measuring spoons while you cook dinner. Let your kid pick the meal. Less tantrums and more excitement come with choices which means more hunger to learn! It's never too early to give the little ones the opportunity to make up their mind, that in itself is a valuable lesson!

All in all, relax and have fun watching your child soak up all sorts of information from the ordinary! Be prepared to answer questions!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. You have such a wonderful perspective — encouraging and respectful to children. I love it! I've also been lusting after a learning tower, though I fear it wouldn't fit in our kitchen. We make do by bringing the preparation down to a stool or the floor. I like your idea for shaking up the routine of grocery shopping, because I think Mikko's beyond bored with it. :)

  2. I love these ideas. I think it is a shame that at some point, kids draw a definite line between learning, work, and fun, when really there are so many ways to blend all three together.
    And the high back carry gets two thumbs up from me - that's a great way for a little one to spend the day, seeing things from a grownups eye view.

  3. Great list and still works for 6 and 8 year olds!! Except the high back carrier of course--ouch!!

  4. I love just doing the things you need to do with my toddler, makes everything so much more interesting

  5. The back carry changed my life. My son's been over 20lbs since he was 6 months old and my arms would have long broken off if I hadn't figured out how to get him on my back. Oh, and I can't wait for the return of the farmers market and less trips to the grocery store!

  6. Great suggestions! I take my little one outside as much as possible, despite the cold NY winters. As he gets a bit older, I'm excited to try more of your ideas!

  7. Great ideas and great reminders. Thanks!

  8. My favorite on this list is #5 - how many times do parents yell and shame their kids for an accident. Would we EVER want someone to do the same to us? I try to keep this in mind every day - very wise advice!

  9. Love #1! Our snow has finally melted and I can't wait to get back outside!!!

  10. These are great ideas. I love that proactive actions on a parents part can help avert meltdowns or conflicts.

  11. This is great. Including a child in the day-to-day is my favorite way to teach. When I was a first-grade teacher we were always doing pretend real-life things, like measuring for a pretend cake. Who wouldn't prefer to do it for real? And there is no age too young to learn from what mom's doing -- either, like you say, new textures, smells, and tastes, or how to do the thing itself.

  12. Your #8 was just what I needed reminded of today!

    I am sometimes tempted to try to turn evrything into a 'learning opportunity', but it's good for me to remember to just LET IT BE.

    This is a great Top 10 List.
    Love it.

  13. Great ideas & reminders for me! I never got the high back carry down, but dang does it seem like the perfect carry for so many things! If I ever have another little baby I am REALLY going to work on it!



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