It is about this time in the summer when I start to observe a trend on Facebook: parents of young children are starting, ever so slowly, to write comments like:
“How do teachers do it?”
“When does school start, again?”
And, my personal favorite that one of my friends, just today, posted:
“All right, I’m done.”
Fear not, parents everywhere! The FPL has some fun ideas to keep your summer afloat! All you need is a few books (and I’ll provide the titles!), a little bit of time (it’s summer…soooo, that’s ALL you’ve got, amiright?), and imagination (and if you’re not feeling imaginative, that’s ok, just borrow some from your kiddos).
Today, let’s talk imaginative play. Perhaps you’ve exhausted all the ways in which you can ‘play house’ with your 5-year-old daughter (who uncannily is starting to sound a lot like you). Maybe the idea of another light saber battle, complete with sound effects, is more than you can bear.
Well, hang on tight, I’ve got some books that can launch you and your young ‘uns into an afternoon of amusement.
Enter Sebastien Braun. This guy is a multi-talented author/illustrator, and I invite you to check out all of his books when you have the chance of it. For now, however, let’s dive on into his Meeow series:
At first glance, these books are simple enough. A cartoonish black cat, aptly named Meeow, works towards some task. Simple text is accompanied by plenty of bright picture clues. Whether he is painting a box and making touches on it to transform it into a firetruck (Meeow and the Big Box) or arranging chairs so as board a train (Meeow and the Little Chairs), he always manages to create something that not only can he play in for some time, but that you and your children can emulate at home!
You see where I’m going with this, now, right? SO MUCH FUN is to be had when you find a small table and transform it into a castle (Meeow and the Blue Table)! Don’t stop there! Pretend to be a princess, a king, a knight, maybe even a dragon! Could you talk, dress, eat like royalty? Could this castle then become another form of housing? A haunted house? A cottage in the woods? Could you gather some books and a flashlight and spend your entire afternoon quietly and contently playing? Because Mama needs a drink (there I go making assumptions).
Make sure you have some headache medicine (or just pour yourself a second glass of wine) because Meeow and the Pots and Pans can stir up some noise. But man alive, how much fun is it to have permission to make an absolute racket? Start a parade around your house or your neighborhood! Come up with goofy ways to turn household items (pots, pans, spoons, plastic measuring cups, whisk, Tupperware) into musical instruments. Start a beat; make some music! Add some lyrics! Sing!
Giant boxes are endlessly entertaining (in fact, I’ve mentioned boxes and this book before). When you’re out and about, keep your eyes peeled because I’m tellin’ ya, a big box and a set of markers (paint if you’re brave enough) can happily consume a full summer day. Even if you’re not lucky enough to know someone who just purchased a new major appliance, smaller boxes can work (place stuffed animals inside) or be taped together. Get creative! Have your little guy solve these problems – he’ll likely surprise you. Sure, the box can be a fire truck – or a police car, a school bus, a tractor – see what happens!
Let’s face it: we’re all ready for a vaca. Once again, let Meeow inspire a little journey. Chairs, stools, even pillows can be used to set up your own personal locomotive! Or, perhaps, bus or airplane. Where are you going? What will you do when you get there? Who is driving or piloting? Make me a ticket! Will you eat on the bus? Will you watch a movie on the airplane? Will you sleep on the train? Who will come with you? Do they let parents on this trip or is it just for kids?
It might be a little messy or a little loud, but these are easy trade-offs for a few hours of play (and the identification of a new favorite book)!
Hang in there, mamas and daddies! The summer has just begun, and there is so much more in store.
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com