Take it slow, enjoy the ride

I used to tell Grandpa, go on ahead, I’ll meet you there. We liked to ride bikes with our kids– four boys, one was your dad. The oldest and the two middles would ride off while the youngest at first, then later one of the middles would stay with me. “I’ll hang with Mom,” they’d call out as if protecting the female of the species. When actually he wanted to see the cool things I always found on our rides. I liked to go slow. Liked to see where I was, watch the trail for scat, evidence of animals about. You can’t hear them unless you slow the wind in your ears. That goes for riding horses, too. Listen, watch, not out of fear, but out of interest, desire to fully know the place I trod, wheeled or clopped along.

So it is with play with our new HighRise building sets. It behooves us to watch, listen and discover what you children are interested in, exploring, wanting to understand and inclined to create. We can be sure that the your explorations will change overtime. So what should you do with that set, that full Team Builder set? I’d suggest, based upon the ages and building interests of the children, teachers make a selection from the set, basic panels first, nothing else, see what they do. Then maybe bring in some airplanes, vehicles or people. I noticed that your sister engaged when I added a basket of dogs to the set.

Dogs and Ellie
Dogs and Liza

Yet my three year old grandson was delighted to learn how to connect the pieces. Slotting was a new skill, stacking delighted him. Then he connected his two stacks and stood back to have a look at it.

Connecting the stacked towers
Connecting the stacked towers

I noticed little ones liked laying a flat panel on top of their buildings to add his special touch then peeked through the windows. The spaces interested them. I wondered what might this little guy would like to do next? Then he showed me. He shined a flashlight through the holes and windows watching the square pattern change shape and as it projected on the wall. What else could I do with his idea, this schema exploration?

Peeking into the windows of the big kid's buildings
Peeking into the windows of the big kid’s buildings
I see you. A three year old likes the windows.
I see you. A three year old likes the windows.

Then you big kids, 6 and 8 yrs tried to hang flashlights and used the one light tube we’d provided and some old fashioned clothes pins with rubber bands. You asked if I had more flashlights. So the next day, I brought in a string of rope lights, LEDs with a battery pack. I added some standard wooden spring clothes pins for attaching the strand of lights. And Voila, you were clipping and unclipping– “wiring” the buildings with light strands into the night. I’ll put some on ETSY for your friends if you’d like. I found a good price. They are pretty sturdy. Way better than little tree lights or the LEDs without the rubber tubing that protect the tiny bulbs. What do you think? Gma

Light tube with clothespins
Light tube with clothespins

Happy Holloween 2015

You kids just left for school, the day before Halloween, dressed in your homemade costumes. We put them together yesterday, my little Astrid and Hiccup, dragon tamers, friends on the movie screen and off. Cutting up my old sweats, you and your sister cut and drew and trimmed, too. We climbed the steps of the studio and dug through bins, you wanted real leather, real belts, to really be Hiccup. Your sister was happy with an assemblage of items suggesting her favorite character, Astrid. Whew. Done.

Your step-mom had no time, except for your little brothers costume. He turned three yesterday. His is done. So what happened? We will have to chat later. I listened to your worry, whine and frantic pleas, watched you pace. Of course I will help. Of course. I have to look really cool, Grandma. I want to wear it to school. I can’t wear regular clothes, then everyone will call me a loser.

What? A loser? Where does that idea come from? You could never be a loser, clever, smart, kind, funny, artistic and creative boy full of love. Loser?

Then you cried. “I was in the bathroom and saw “Ryan is a loser” on the door. Somebody wrote it in dark pen. I couldn’t get it off and I didn’t go back to my class because I was mad.” Oh dear, so mean and scary. “So the principal saw me and I showed her. We washed it off.” I was glad about that. you added one last thing, “But you aren’t supposed to write on the school.” Or be allowed to be mean to another child, harass and target him like that. I hope he was counseled, caught and his parents told.

I agreed about that. “You are right and you are never supposed to say unkind things, but people sometimes do. I am sorry someone was having their own bad day and wrote that about you. I wonder if he was feeling like a loser himself? That is sad.

That is mean, you told me. Yes it is. So we got back to putting your costumes together. Grandpa took you to the barn to look at leather tack, buckles and belts and Ellie and I glued little skulls and bottle caps on my old sweats, then all night I tossed and turned.

I hope you feel proud today. Good in your costume, strong, capable, able to stand up and be Ryan in that Hiccup costume. You are a dragon slayer, oops, I mean tamer. You are.


Liza’s Turn

Liza and I worked together on her homework this week. She was so much fun and was willing to try anything to make it happen. She was excited about it not working because when it didn’t funny things happened. She wanted to invent a bike trailer for her stuffed animals to ride in. The cord around her neck and back to the box ¬†where she had developed a wheel and axle from garage parts. No not safe, grandpa called from the shop. Its okay because it cant turn. It gets caught in my wheels every time then flips over. So maybe tie the ropes to the handle bars? How about the bike frame? OMG it keeps getting tangled in the wheels.

Then she got the idea to hold the rope out from the wheels with a stick at the handle bars. Still no luck. It flipped. How about the seat gets a pipe all taped on so it has big wings to hold out the rope. Okay. Seems good enough. Whew. Fun project, amazing tenacity and inventiveness.

This is rather like a commercial, only one minute long. I know I know, now I have to do one for you too. Right? That will be fun. gma

Our First Event….Yet we still look like we are having fun.

the ceo and cfo
the ceo and cfo
cabin kit
cabin kit

Grandpa and I have been working to get ready for a sales opportunity in Seattle at the Reggio Conference. We are sending sets off to Seattle with flyers, price sheets and receipts, which means we had to hurry and develop them. This is the real deal. Very exciting to have this opportunity to get more feedback about the product and start recovering a little investment. We have been discussing how to create a light for the interior, make the structures glow. Lighting that is self contained, maybe controlled simply like a flashlight, or should it be a science learning experience for the children? What do you think, buddy?

Clear window panels are very cool, so far they break router bits every time we make a few. The buildings look great with clothes pins, clear tubes with stoppers. Playing with ideas for inspiring teachers and builders. What accessories do you use with your sets?