Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Princess’ place in Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th by bringing in the YYC Princesses to talk about bravery, boldness, kindness, and what it means to be a role model. We talked about books we love that celebrate female authors, illustrators, and characters, and how reading and learning can open up whole new worlds for us! You can catch the whole segment below!

Outside of this though, is a wider question that permeates the culture of childhood. Are princes and princesses good role models?

A lot of questions have been raised about the gendering of books and toys, and it is hard to argue that the sanitation of old classic folk and fairy tales by big corporations like Disney has not had consequences for our cultural conversations.  They also tend to romanticize reality and provide unrealistic expectations for anglicized beauty standards and body images, relationship expectations and heteronormativity,  and family types and working problem-solving. These are not small issues.

There are some amazing resources available that deal with this topic. Alyse is a big fan of Peggy Orenstein’s work, especially “Cinderella ate my Daughter“, and a quick google search for “Are Princesses Good Role Models?” will turn up an astounding number of results debating this idea.  But it does remain a debate, because despite the problematic implications and expectations, Princesses really can teach some valuable life lessons.
Is ‘kind’ the worst thing a person can be? Gentle, caring, compassionate? These ‘princessy traits’ do not necessitate synonymy with ‘silence’, ‘demureness’ and ‘acquiescence’. You can be kind and bold, brave and empathetic — in fact in seems rarer and rarer that acts of kindness and compassion are not also big, bold and brave acts. In rejecting what is, admittedly, a hyper-feminine presentation, are we not rejecting, at least in part, the idea of values traditionally associated with femininity? If princesses are ‘bad’, are girls and women ‘bad’? And what of all the princesses that exist outside the cartoon status quo, that smash standards and use their considerable influence to achieve some amazing results?

It is important that we celebrate all women and the achievements of every girl during this month. Plurality of representation and the moderation with which we encounter it is formative in our children’s self-image forming. We need all types of role models, all types of heroes, all types of characters, so that children can see a variety dispositions, values, ideas, and ways of being, and begin to identify with different aspects and start forming their worldviews.

So rock on, rebels and witches, astronauts and ranchers, princesses and pop stars… this world has more than enough room for every woman, and a huge need for all of them.

 

Vlog Follow-Up

YouTube wouldn’t let us redirect right to the Dukelow Lab‘s website, so we’ll do that from here, and if you’d like some information on their work with children who have had perinatal strokes, you can check that out there as well!

If you missed the vlog episode “Rhymes & Reasons #12 — The Developing Brain with Mark Piitz”  you can view that here:

Rhymes & Reasons #12 — The Developing Brain with Mark Piitz

If you are interested in having your typically developing child participate in current or future research studies, please check out HICCUP Kids through the U of C and Alberta Health Services. Research is essential to improving the health and lives of children and families everywhere, and you can help with just a little time and energy!

The Twelve Days of Christmas — Gift Ideas for Families

It’s the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!
We know that the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, and gift-giving is not the least of those stressors. If you need some gift ideas for interesting, novel, and super fun presents for the families in your life that have young children, look no further!

day-1-birdbird

Learn sequencing and patterns with this tactile portable flannelboard from BirdBird Handmade — now with a Christmas Tree pack! We love how precise and carefully made these felt shapes are… and kids love working with miniatures… it makes them feel so big!

day-2-magic-paper

Magic Paper (Chinese Calligraphy Paper) is reusable hundreds of times, is perfect for developing grasp & pincer-grip (important pre-writing skills), fine motor coordination, precision, manual dexterity, and patience!

It’s great fun for ALL ages, and is made of ground slate, pvc glue, and flocked fabrics, so really safe ‘ingredients’ for such a magical object!

day-3-books-and-certs

We’re bundling our favourite books with Gift Certificates for classes! A perfect little present for the whole family at once!

$100+ gst for the bundle! And you can get it gorgeously gift wrapped for a donation to Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta at Northland Village Mall‘s Coat Check/Gift Wrapping centre!

day-4-pebbino-birds

These sweet little Pebbino Birds are made with slate, twigs, silver wire, and air and poly clay, and we love them.

They’re just $15, and if you want one that looks like YOUR family, our artist will make a custom piece for $20.

SUPER CUTE!

day-5-tribe-of-lambs

Our friends at Tribe of Lambs have sent us some of their awesome, unisex ‘Kashish Bracelets’ — if you’re into gifts that keep on giving, you can’t go wrong with jewellery from this amazing company.

Check out more about their mission at tribeoflambs.com

And more about Kashish below:

An open-ended bracelet with square ends, adding just a touch of the Tribe with a small lamb engraving on either side. Molded and handset by Indian craftsmen, this piece looks simply stunning on its own or is perfectly stackable to add a bit of heart to any arm party. ($58)

*Kashish is an 8 year old girl who comes from a family of Tibetan refugees. Northern India has a large community of Tibetans who often live well below the poverty line due to lack of jobs and resources. This results in terrible living and family situations for children, often pulled out of school or just left to fend for their own. Kashish is now happy and flourishing at Sudeshna’s children’s home, one of the Tribes Compassion Project Partners.

day-6-anthologies

On the 6th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… an illustrated anthologieeeeeeeeee!!

A whole collection of beautiful stories makes the perfect gift that any child can grow up with and cherish forever.

We’ve got all sorts in store; classic fairy tales, snippets of new favourites, cultural compilations, editions with illustrators and authors from around the world and across time… and at every price range, starting at just $20.00!

day-7-wee-free

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… a perfect Wee Free Librareeeeeeee!

Alex loves these little libraries so much she’s got one of her very own at home (that’s it in the pictures!)

You can stock yours up with books to help bring your neighbourhood closer together, or non-perishable food items and warm winter clothing for people that need them this season (Wee Free Pantries)!

We’ve got one in store for you to check out — and ‘Wee Free Librarees’ is giving Rhyme and Reason families a discount — they’re usually $295.00, but you can get one through us for $280.00, AND you can get your initial stock for just $20.00 — they’ll load you up with lots of titles!

The quality of these little shelters is amazing, so the price is totally fair, but we know it’s a tricky time financially for a lot of communities! Why not try splitting the stewardship of a library on the property line between several homes, or fundraising for one in your community!

Check out more at the link below:
http://weefreelibrarees.wixsite.com/homeday-7-story-box

For Day 8, we are sharing “Story Box”, a gorgeously illustrated wordless story puzzle, that helps even young children to develop their understanding of sequencing, narrative and conflict, characterization, imaginative and creative thought processes, and improvised oration.

This particular set is a fragmented fairy tale, so it uses archetypes that kids are familiar with to help build confidence in their storytelling!

$22.50 in store!

day-9-dandelion-seeds

We pull out these Dandelion Seeds Tonal Bar sets in class all the time, but we don’t use the framework that they come with nearly as often as we’d like to!

Arts for the Very Young International has the bells on for just $29.95, which is a phenomenal deal, but better than that, you can get their education framework as pick-and-pulls, which we can guarantee are so fun, entertaining, and informative. It’s a colour-coded method of learning musical notation that also helps develop your child’s sense of pitch, timbre and tempo. Instrumental play is always such an amazing thing to witness, and is so, so good for little brains!

We can’t say enough good things about it! Check out the AVY-I online store here: http://www.avy-institute.org/online-store/!/c/0/offset%3D18%26sort%3Dnormal

day-10-dixit

Think ‘Apples to Apples’ or ‘Cards Against Humanity’ but… you know, really lovely and educational and fun for young families instead!

We’ve played this game with kids as young as 3, though you have to adapt it a little. One player says a word (like ‘love’ or ‘sadness’ or ‘playing’) and the other players choose a card from their hand that best represents that word! You can play as a card-collecting game or a race, and you don’t need the original game to play, you can simply use one of the booster packs.

The artwork is indescribably beautiful, and this is MASSIVE for developing our children’s symbolic and creative thinking, narrative and literacy skills, and empathy. Learning to lose at a game is also important for emotional maturity, although really, when you’re playing this game, no one loses, and it can be an amazing collaborative opportunity! Try playing in teams!

day-11-cubeebs

Day 11 sees us pricing our Cubeebs to move!

Normally $15, we’re pushing at $8! And our tactile cubes, with a different fabric on each face (perfect for sensory stimulation, problem solving, and gauging force and pressure exertion) are just $10!

Get yours before they’re gone!

day-12-full-steam-gear-and-fabric-of-our-lives

For the last day of our Twelve Days of Christmas features, we wanted to share the love with a couple of socially-conscious local clothing companies!

The first is Full Steam Gear, and if the force is strong in your family, you’ll want to check out their tiny clothes for nerdy fams. A portion of all their proceeds goes to Heart Beats Children’s Society, which supports families dealing with congenital heart disease. Their Etsy store can be found here, although the majority of their work is on demand: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/fullsteamgear

Our second company is Fabric of our Lives, and their seamstress, Donna, refashions heirloom fabrics into new items. You could make a onesie out of Grandpa’s favourite sweater, or a blankie out of Auntie’s old linens. It’s a great way to repurpose fabrics otherwise sitting around, and in such a joyful way that carries on the spirit and specialness of our loved ones! You can contact them through their Facebook page for more information or for a consultation!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

Survey Time

Rhyme and Reason is looking to expand our services to a new flagship store location in Calgary — but we need your feedback to do it!

If you are a Parent or Early Childhood Educator or Caregiver in Calgary or the surrounding areas, please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey:

TakeSurveyButton

Gentle Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Habits

Gentle Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Habits

Guest Blog submitted by Kaila Wakelam of My Little Dreamer Sleep Solutions

Newborn baby sleeping quite

When our little ones aren’t getting the sleep they need we often see the results in their day-time behaviours. Children who are not well-rested tend to have a hard time focusing, can be seen as cranky, and are often less tolerant to change. Not only does sleep deprivation affect behaviour but it ALSO affects sleep – children who are over-tired will often sleep less than you think they should, have a hard time falling asleep, wake frequently in the night and start their day earlier than most. Here are some gentle tips to help improve your child’s sleep habits.

1. Teach your child to fall asleep independently.

If your child is currently fed, rocked, bounced, sang, or snuggled to sleep this is likely the cause of their night-time awakenings. When they wake in the night they are looking for the exact same things to happen in order to fall back asleep. Instead, put them in bed drowsy-but-awake and offer reassurance and support to help them fall asleep. As they develop this skill you can remove your presence altogether.  The goal is to allow them the opportunity to become comfortable and confident (with your guidance) with falling asleep in their own bed without the need of external factors.  This is a process that takes time, consistency, and patience.

2. Create a predictable routine for bed-time.

Help prepare your child for sleep not only physically but mentally as well. Bed-time routines allow children to anticipate what’s coming next, time to wind-down, and an opportunity connect with their caregivers before they get into bed. A good bed-time routine consists of 3-4 activities that occur in the same order each night and last for 15-30 minutes (ex…bath, book, song, massage).  Another good tip: restrict bed-time routine activities to bedroom (and bathroom for bath & teeth brushing).

3. Respect (and know) your child’s sleep needs during the day.

Watch for your child’s sleepy cues throughout the day. If they are yawning, rubbing their eyes, or become irritable, promptly get them to bed. An over-tired child has a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep & often wakes in the wee hours of the morning.

4. Make sure your child isn’t going to bed too tired.

Bed-time is biologically the easiest time of day to fall asleep (thanks to natural circadian rhythm & the release of melatonin) so this is the prime time to help your child develop the skills to fall asleep independently. If your child goes to bed too tired it usually looks like: A. they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the mattress. OR. B. It takes your child a verrrry long time to fall asleep (45 min +). If your child is falling asleep too quickly they are likely not having the opportunity to develop the skill to fall asleep independently. If they do not learn at the easiest time of day they will not be able to do so at a more difficult time; in the middle of the night and/or early morning.  If your child is taking a long time to fall asleep first ensure that they are getting enough sleep during the day and keep their wakeful window between nap and bed-time no more than 4 hours (5 hours for children over two).  Watch for sleepy cues in the evening to ensure your child is going to bed soon after they become tired, if these cues are ignored your child will become wired and have difficulties falling asleep (think “second wind”).

5. Respond consistently at bed-time and at night awakenings.

After your child resists sleep you sometimes give him a bottle, you sometimes rock her to sleep, and sometimes you give-in and bring him to bed with you.  Responding in an inconsistent manner actually increases and prolongs negative behaviour. Why? Your child isn’t sure what is expected of them – so they will pull out all stops until someone puts them to sleep. The message at bed-time and awakenings should be: “it is time for sleep; mommy/daddy will stay with you until you fall asleep but we will not do all the work for you”.

Sweet dreams

Improving sleep habits should be seen as a process – remember for a lot of little ones these habits have been in place since day 1. Stay consistent, patient, and supportive as your child learns these new skills.

If you would like to know of more ways to address your child’s sleep concerns please contact me through email: kaila@mylittledreamer.ca or my FB page: facebook.com/mylittledreamersleepsolutions

Kaila Wakelam
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
My Little Dreamer Sleep Solutions
www.mylittledreamer.ca
403-835-0919

Music and Your Baby’s Brain

Mother smiling as baby plays piano

Sharing music with your baby — what’s not to like? It’s a great way to bond one-on-one, to allow them to experience something that you love, and to get them excited for something and calm them back down afterwards! But there’s even MORE to love about music when you take a closer look at some of the basic neuroscience going on in your baby’s brain while you’re undertaking this activity together.

Whole-Brain Workout

Studies show that music is one of the only activities that humans engage in that creates “whole-brain activation”. Basically, because there are so many different aspects to music — rhythm, tonality, timbre, and lyrics — we are using all the different parts of our brain to process it: both hemispheres, the corpus collosum connecting them, our emotional centres, computation centres, motor functions… everything! We know that babies are born with a huge amount of neurons that we need to connect and strengthen, and music is a fun way to engage their whole brains and make those synaptic connections happen! Icona di testa di bambino con emisfero cerebrale visibile

Listening to and making music is like exercise for the whole brain, but the auditory, visual, and motor centres are especially affected. These centres are also so important for language development and other literacy and numeracy skills, so music helps us with a lot of the areas that people worry about when it comes to school-readiness – reading, writing, speaking, and math.

Listening, Moving, Learning

Music can be relaxing or exciting, it can be social or independent, new or primal; it’s something that just comes very naturally to humans. Listening to music is important. But so is moving to it, and so is learning to play it. If music education classes or instruments seem a bit daunting at the moment, try starting with your own first and best instruments – your voices. Spend time singing and moving to music with your child every day to start accessing the benefits of music! It doesn’t matter if you think you’re tone-deaf or can’t carry a tune… your baby loves your voice more than any other voice and needs to hear you using it confidently and even experimentally so they can learn to do the same. And moving to music doesn’t have to be dancing! Try rocking, bouncing, tapping, and clapping at different speeds (superfast or sssuuuuppppeeerrr ssslllooowww), different levels (up as high as you can reach, or down low to the ground) and different flows (hard or angular movements or soft and fluid ones) to help your child experience the music and spaces around them!

Have you been doing this for a while? Start thinking about registering in a music class! Rhythm classes and instrumental exploration are a perfect way to take advantage of all the learning that happens in the early years of our lives and to help set our children up for future success!

Pregnant woman putting headphones on her belly
The Mozart Effect

The Mozart Effect refers to a set of studies that was actually looking into one very specific thing – whether or not listening to Mozart’s Sonata improved spatial awareness. In more recent years people have interpreted “The Mozart Effect” to mean that playing classical music to babies in-utero will boost their IQ. That is not an accurate idea. However – because our auditory sense develops very early on (within the first twenty weeks of life!) we can hear the rhythms of the body like our heartbeats and breathing before birth, which means that music actually IS very beneficial to children in the womb. They can hear their parents singing, and when mom is listening to a song that relaxes her, baby’s heartbeat slows down too. When mom gets excited, baby does too. And when mom is stressed, baby’s heart-rate speeds right up, so it’s important to listen to music that YOU like, and not music that might freak you out. Classical music is not for everyone. Rap is not for everyone. Pop and Rock are not for everyone. But MUSIC is. So share it every day with your little one, and just wait and see what happens.

Interested in learning more? Check out some of these links, or email our Director: alex@rhymeandreason.ca

The Power of Music to Affect the Brain
How Playing an Instrument benefits your Brain
What if every child had access to Music Education from birth?
How Music touches the Brain

Why is play important?

This month’s Guest Blog is a feature on the importance of play by Esther Groen, B.A. Psych.

Why is play important?

The family environment is the primary source of experience and contact for children, and one of the most important experiences a child can have in this environment is playing.

Learning in the first five years of a child’s life has critical implications for a variety of future successes in school, at work, and in the community – and the best way that children learn is through playing with their favorite people. Part of playing with children is paying attention to them and responding to their cues and signals for what they need from you. A child who is raised with responsive caregivers is more likely to develop secure attachments which are a major indicator for successes throughout their lives. Children who experience secure attachments are described as less disruptive, less aggressive, more mature, more empathetic, have better social support , higher self-esteem… and the list just goes on!

Now that you know that playing is serious business, you might be wondering how to use this simple activity to make an impact on your children. We know some skill sets we should focus on to help our kids develop – math skills, sensory stimulation, language – but one of the most critically important thing you can do is to be a responsive and attentive parent. Being responsive means showing affection, warmth, and consistent, attentive responsiveness to a child’s signals and needs. Being a responsive parent makes a big impact and can be as simple as giving hugs, having a tucking-in bedtime routine, appreciating small actions, complimenting your child, and learning about things your child is interested in.  It can be hard after a long day to truly listen to what your child is saying and engage them in what they find interesting, but this kind of attention shows a child how to interact positively and responsibly with others, as well as showing them that they are worth the time and attention they crave (and deserve).

An important part about playing with your child (and “playing with” doesn’t mean giving them your phone, your tablet, or your laptop) is not to take it too seriously, even when you know how important it is. Playing does not need to be structured and doesn’t need to last a long time – although it can if you have the time. Play can be built into every day routines – household chores become races and scavenger hunts, grocery shopping become matching and imagination games. Watch and observe how your child plays alone and with others. You can learn about their strengths and needs; do they struggle with taking turns? Make that a part of your play and model how it’s done.  Keep in mind that sometimes a child isn’t interested in even the most amazing of your ideas, and that’s okay: let it go and let them lead you to what they want and need.  You can support their play by providing appropriate materials, securing environments to encourage play, and introducing new resources and types of play when it’s developmentally appropriate.

After the first five years you might find it more difficult to engage your child, but there are lots of small and simple ways to maintain your connection. Create family rituals whenever you can, and include friends when possible; ask children to give opinions about rules and family structure; explain rules when you can and take their feedback seriously; make sure that you are saying more positive things than negative things every day; laugh together; and most importantly admit and apologize when you make a parenting mistake. We all make them, but owning up and taking responsibility is something you want to see in your kids, so you have to model it first.

Play encourages interaction and helps your kids to feel confident and strong by being a loving and supportive caregiver. Play doesn’t stop at 5 years old — it doesn’t even stop at 18. Keep playing, and keep paying attention to your children. It will make a world of difference.

 

Esther Groen has worked with children and families within a number of different agencies in the greater Calgary Area. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and currently works at a Mental Health and Foster Centre in the city.

Top 10 Movies with Strong Family Themes

Our resident Movie Maniac, Moe, sent us this awesome list of her Top 10 movies with strong family themes!

Movie Maniacs blog header

Most of these are likely known to you (Disney and Pixar being what they are), but “The Borrowers” is an older title that may have escaped your notice, as is “The Iron Giant”. Certainly all are worth your two hours and are suitable for the whole family; including grandparents, little ones, and teens. Lots of love, family values, and teachable moments without being heavy-handed… and with many laughs along the way!

Finding_Nemo_Poster

 

Finding Nemo: A father embarks on a journey to find his lost son, and both make a much bigger circle of family and friends in the process.

lego movie

The Lego Movie: A surprise twist at the end features a parenting moment that might bring you to tears — it did me.

 

 

 

 

despicable 1

 

Despicable Me: A trio of orphans find a home and love with an unlikely father figure. The sequel, Despicable Me 2 touches further on adoption and step-parenting.despicable 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up-Official-Movie-PosterUp: Love and adventure comes to an elderly man and a fatherless boy in this feel-good movie. Props for featuring Carl and Ellie’s child-free family, and honouring a safe, healthy relationship between an adult and child!the-incredibles-5222b098375bf

The Incredibles: A family [of superheroes] that seems on the brink of falling apart, learns how to work together to save the day.

 

 

 

Frozen-movie-posterFrozen: Two sisters show what it means to put someone else ahead of yourself — and that true love isn’t just about romance, it can be all around us

braveBrave: Two strong-willed women, mother and daughter, clash at all turns trying to navigate their relationship. Themes of Self-sacrifice, coming-of-age, and peace-making.

 

 

 

 

borrowersThe Borrowers: A family of tiny, resourceful people must pull together to save themselves and the world as they know it.

The-Iron-Giant-movie-posterThe Iron Giant: Navigating a new family dynamic, a young boy learns about friendship, trust and standing up for what you believe is right.

 

 

 

 

the-jungle-book-523470dda735e

 

The Jungle Book: Talk about a non-traditional family! A classic take on the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”. Like The Lion King, I appreciate how well the protagonist turns out after essentially The-Lion-King-3D-Movie-Posterbeing raised by two men!