Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Small Hands and Small Spaces

Hi All, I'm home today with Little One due to his cold, ear infection, wheeze~cough~possible asthma and chapped lips (which out of the four, bothers him the most). He told me this morning in toddler speak:
"Me no go to school today Mama, me chapped lips."
"Well yes, of course, stay home my dear."

And my wonderful director Paula thoughtfully arranged things to accommodate my need to be Mommy to just my little one today. THANK YOU PAULA! And Thank you Mallory, and thank you Sarah and anyone else who rearranged their day for me to be with Little One. I truly appreciate it. Sometimes a kiddo just needs their Mama.

My plan for today: Lay low and cuddle, drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest!
Of course those of you who follow this blog know me; and you know that translates to:
Cuddle yes but ALSO, do 15 loads of laundry, wash a sink full of dishes, vacuum and post a blog entry!

The title of this one: 'Small Hands'
Is in reference to a toddler friend of mine who has small hands that fit just right (she told me) in my great big hands. Yesterday at nap time, I lay on the floor next to my small hands friend and sang a lullaby. She smiled through the whole song, occasionally blinking her tired and heavy eyelids but stayed awake to tell me,
"You don't sing like my Mommy, but I still like you."

She then told me she couldn't sleep and when I asked her what I could do to help, and she said:
"Hold my hand?"
So of course I did and she fell to sleep.

But as I lay there I thought about just how small her hand was. Just how little these beings are. Each day I spend my day with them and sometimes I forget how BIG this world must be for them.
Lately the children have been finding small spaces to hide away in, in the classroom (under the tables, behind the curtain we use as a closet door etc.) This has been a bit frustrating on a few levels because sometimes this can lead to exclusionary strategies on the part of some children and because small spaces only fit small bodies and so helping children get out of these small spaces can be a challenge when you are big.

But their recent behavior has taught me that these kiddos are in need of places at school that allow them to feel BIG in size. I've been working so hard to provide opportunities for our children to practice their developing independence and practical life skill building but have I been preparing an environment that nurtures their need to feel big?

This weekend I made some changes to the classroom environment that I hope will do just that! I created a number of spaces using the shelves to create three sided nooks, next I put a comfy rug or several pillows in the spaces to make them cozy. I recently framed a collection of mono-prints that the toddlers made, so I hung the two frames low so they could be admired by all. Yesterday two out of the ten toddlers told me they liked the new spaces, without me asking them. I'm taking that as a success! Time will tell but I think it feels better now.

Do any of you have suggestions, things you do at home or in your classrooms to provide small spaces for small hands? Please share.
Be healthy and hug the one you're with.


plaidshoes said...

I hope little one feels better - sometimes you do just need a Mama ;-)

What a great observation about small hands needing to feel big. I will remember that with my kiddos. I am glad the children liked the new set-up. And you are right, it is a success when they mention it without any sort of prompting!

MilkMama said...

I hope that your little one feels better soon. Funny what the see as the worst ailment.

I remember loving small spaces as a kid! We have turned over the lower half of our kitchen pantry cupboard to DS. We put a stick-up push button light in it and a hook on the inside of the door so he can pull it shut. He used the space more when he was smaller, but sometimes he still likes his cupboard. he also likes to crawl into his toy boxes, which can be anything from firetrucks to hospital beds to train cars.

thanks for the reminder that little people like little spaces to feel big in.

Donna said...

My kids LOVE to build a hide-away fort with blankets and chairs. They drag in a nap mat, a huge stack of books, their favorite dolls and animals, and sometimes some cars. We actually have one of those big parachutes with the rainbow colors - they find this to be the perfect fort-building prop. The handles fit under the legs of the chairs to hold it down against their enthusiastic play. Simple fun = the best kind of fun!

Green Mamma said...

Like Milk Mama, we've turned the bottom shelves of our pantry into Annabelle's (age 2) kitchen ware shelves. We've also placed her toys on low reaching shelves in our livingroom and created a bench space for her in our entryway (which mind you, really is a small space). Another fun small space for her was using the Rose Petal Garden tent houses as the bed post and foot of her bed. She loves feeling cozy enclosed in her tent which reaches over her toddler bed.

I can't wait to hear more ideas!

Green Team said...

ah, yes, small spaces... NOW it makes perfect sense.

My DS, now 4, would absolutely insist on sleeping on the floor when he was younger, instead of his big-boy bed. His Space for sleeping? A spot about 2' wide, a cubby where the wall turned a corner and his bed did not. So, we would load it up with his blankets and pillow, and rather than spending an hour arguing about WHERE he'd sleep, he was actually sleeping. This became his "Nest." He has mostly grown out of it, but it served him well. Dear, dear nest.

Once he even took his nap in a small wading pool, which he placed on his bed - no water, of course - perfectly conformed to the edges.

Where in the World?


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