Postcard Writing with the Amabie (the Japanese Yokai that can stave off epidemics) | #curatedquarantineideas

Day one of quarantine with the kids, and we’re (knock on wood) off to a good start. I recognize I have a huge advantage in that a) I am primarily a stay home parent, b) I homeschooled my oldest for a year, c) I am an early childhood teacher, and d) my backyard is pretty much a playground. But even with all this on my side, the reality of social isolating is daunting and a huge pressure on parents. Luckily there are amazing resources and ideas being shared all over the place for folks to do with their kids, and I thought I’d share some ideas too.

Atlas’s Amabie Postcards

Today’s activity is a simple one: postcard writing, but with a pandemic twist. ;) My dear friend Rebecca shared this amazing website which taught me about the legend of the Amabie in Japan.

“As legend has it, in the 1800s a mythical yokai appeared off the coast of Kumamoto, Japan. The Amabie, as it was called, was described as a mermaid-like creature with long hair, a beak and 3 legs. It made several predictions related to bountiful harvests and, before disappearing back into the sea, left the locals with some advice in case of an epidemic. According to records, “If an epidemic occurs, draw a picture of me and show it to everyone,” said the yokai.”

So we ran with the idea for our daily writing activity (one of the two more structured times we have scheduled). Using blank white postcards* (an easy purchase on Amazon), Atlas drew his version of an Amabie on the front of the cards (I encouraged him to reimagine it a little for every postcard). Then on the back he wrote asking his friend to send him a joke and signed his name off. We researched jokes online (which was a lot of fun) and I wrote down his favorite joke under his message, so his friend got to enjoy it too. We will find a new joke daily.

*The beauty of using postcards is that there is a nice space to draw, a small space to write (so there is no pressure to write a lot), and postcard stamps are less expansive than regular stamps.

We made a list of all the friends he would like to send a postcard to, and he chooses two a day to write to. Then he crosses them off the list once he is done. This way we can keep track of who he has already written to. :)

Flower Power (in your mud kitchen and beyond)

Did you luck out with a lovely bunch of flowers for Valentine’s Day? A week on they may be ready for the compost, but don’t be too hasty throwing them away. Instead pull off the petals and use them in your tiny human’s mud kitchen.

Don’t have one? No worries. Why not set up a little potion making/cooking station inside with the petals, water, and any other natural ingredients you can find. Worried about the mess? Use a towel as a tablecloth/rug to catch all the spills.

Heavy Work for Kids

Let’s talk about ‘heavy work’. 💪 Heavy work is any activity that requires you to put pressure on your muscles and joints as they are moving. During yesterday’s playgroup, there was some brilliant heavy work happening as the kids worked together to load up and push a wheelbarrow full of big rocks, which then transitioned to loading up and pulling each other around in a wagon. :)

“Heavy work helps your child in more ways than one. Aside from helping your child to feel calm and self-regulate, it also improves clarity and alertness, extends attention span, aids body awareness, and strengthens muscles.” (via Connections Therapy Center)

To trampoline or not to trampoline?

To trampoline or not to trampoline? A solid question for those with kids and yard space. I never thought we would be a trampoline family (although childhood me would have been so disappointed – how I longed for one as a kid). However two years ago a neighbor opened our back gate and rolled over a small old trampoline they no longer needed and we were sold. This one had no net and more than once my kids bounced with a little too much enthusiasm and…. 🙈. But my boys LOVED it and on days when energy was high (my oldest is 100% the energizer bunny), I would just send them outside to bounce and burn it off.

Fast forward to six months ago and this same family was moving overseas and looking to part with their springless trampoline. We jumped on the chance to upsize and found ourselves rolling over a much larger new friend (while a new family came and rolled away with our old one). During play dates and playgroup, it is the hot destination for multiple friends. Watching them learn to negotiate the space and use their bodies in new coordinated ways is a joy (and quite humorous) to watch.

So if you’re on the fence and wondering whether you should jump in (pun intended), my vote is a resounding yes!

Interested in learning more about the benefits of trampolining for kids? Visit here and here to read more!

Send some Thanksgiving love!

This week’s #humpdayhangout (playgroup) was a smaller cozier affair than usual. With Thanksgiving tomorrow I wanted to do something special this week, without pushing racist or harmful stereotypes of the holiday. So we focused on being thankful for the people in our lives we love and who make us happy. I’m personally not a big fan of crafts, so instead we decorated blank postcards and wrote letters to friends and family. Stamps went on and into the mailbox they went, sending a little extra love into the universe. ♡