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Lucy Tuesday (take seven): The Recycler

24 Oct

Lucy was on “rainy season” break from school last week, so instead of a Lucy Tuesday, we had Lucy All Week.  We managed to hit the park, the library, the market, a friend’s house, and even Managua throughout the week, but looking back at the week in pictures, a very clear theme emerged…

Lucy loves a good art project.  She comes home from school every day covered in marker, paint, and glue.  Nearly every day lately, she asks to “do art.”  I’ve got a decent amount of simple art supplies, but was glad to have stocked up on a few additional items while in Managua.  But pipe cleaners and yarn can only hold a little girl’s attention for so long – and so we set about finding items around the house that we could repurpose and boy did we hit the jackpot!

Day 1: Cardboard Box Town

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for diapers.  Monday should really be called “sponsored by Huggies and Pampers.”  Lucy was up before 5 a.m. on day 1 of school vacation week and so it took some extra creativity to keep her occupied.  The good thing is that Lucy is thick into imaginary play and once she has something that grabs her attention, she will roll with it for at least an hour.

Three diaper boxes, some construction paper, and a little ingenuity and we had a house, a yard, and a sled for Lucy’s friends.  I initially called it a car, but Lucy was quick to point out that the box had no wheels and should therefore be a sled.  An observation which blew me away considering that she was recalling a memory, from almost a year ago, of sledding with Daddy and Grandpa.  We added in a few projects she brought home from school (the whale, the rooster) and voila – she had a full on farm (because don’t you know that whales live on farms).

Day 2: Plastic Bottle Flowers

It’s hard to top the creation of a village, but every town needs a garden and so for day two, we cut into plastic water bottles to make hand painted flowers.  This was a HUGE hit!  I made sure to do the cutting, but then let Lucy run wild with the paint.  We had fun mixing the primary colors to make new colors.  We added some popsicles sticks to the base to make stems and a garden we created:

Day 3: Wax Paper Stained Glass

This activity was a bust.  I thought Lucy would love ripping tissue paper to shreds and gluing it to wax paper, but she lost interest shortly after the glue came out.  Truth be told, I did most of the ripping and only managed to get her to glue some paper before she took off for the sink to wash off the glue.  Once the glue set, she did consult with me on what shape to cut and she helped me to loop the yarn and hang it in the window.  I will say that the glue was a great alternative to ironing the paper – better for little hands.

Day 4: Cardboard Picture Frame

This was the surprise hit of the week!  Lucy loves looking at photos of her family back in the States, especially her cousins.  So when I suggested that we make a picture frame for one of her many photos, she was thrilled.  I cut a rectangle out of one of the remaining diaper boxes, gave her a container of “stuff” and the glue stick and let her go.  Once she decided it was complete, we added some yarn to hang the frame, though Lucy preferred to wear the frame for most of the day.  Every day since, I’ve discovered the frame hanging in different locations throughout the house:

Day 5: Toilet Paper Cars/Trains

This was another fun one thanks to the number of elements involved in making the cars.  We first painted and waited for the tubes to try.  While they were tanning on the porch, we cut out the wheels and painted those.  Once the body of the cars were dry, Lucy set about decorating them with stickers.  By then, the wheels were also dry and we were able to attach them with pipe cleaners.  Though cars are fun, trains are even better, so we eventually added the yarn and attached the two rail cars to make a train.  The train has gone on to take up residence just outside the cardboard box house – after all, Lucy’s friends need a way to get from the pool to home…

It was a busy week for little girls…and moms!  We now have a collection of recyclable materials waiting in bodega for the next school break.

Lucy Tuesday, take six: The Naturalist

9 Oct

Lucy and I have both been under the weather this week – me with a cold, and Lucy with her umbrella.  She, quite literally, loves to be “under the weather” – any opportunity to break out her ladybug umbrella.  So when I awoke to a torrential downpour earlier this week, a puddle stomping morning for Lucy Tuesday seemed appropriate.  Plus, we were down a car and it seemed a good day to stick close to home.

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Lucy had her rain boots on before I could say puddle and we were off to explore the hood to see what new creatures came with the rains.  We barely made it off of the front porch when Lucy noticed a beetle that had flipped upside down and was struggling to turn over.  I wrote him off for dead, but Lucy insisted that if we helped to turn him “right up side” (her version of right side up), perhaps he could walk again.  And so we began our day by rescuing Mr. Beetle by placing him sunny side up.  Less than five steps later, and still on the porch, we discovered a frog nesting in one of our flowerpots, soaking in the cool, damp soil.  After a brief conversation with La Rana, whom Lucy insisted was a girl, we finally made it onto the driveway.  By then, the rain had stopped and the sun was blazing, but we carried on in search of muddy puddles.

Thanks to heavy rains, puddles were abundant.  Lucy wondered allowed if any fish lived in the puddles.  When I explained that it was unlikely because they would need to travel from a lake or an ocean or a river to get to the puddles, she pointed out that crabs accomplished this feat daily.  And so we decided to check each and every puddle just in case there might be a fish (or a dolphin) because maybe, well, you just never know.  When the puddles came up empty, Lucy began taking notice of how much water filled each hole and wanted to know why one boot was covered in puddles more than the other.  I threw the question back at her and she surmised that it must be because one boot wasn’t as good of a swimmer as the other and therefore needed to stay in shallower water.  I decided to forego the opportunity to teach about depth and rolled with the possibility that perhaps one boot just needed some swim lessons.

In between puddles, we scaled giant rocks and crossed rushing rivers and happened upon some friends that looked strikingly like us:

And so we danced with our shadows for a bit, waving hello and finally goodbye and set off in search of more “natures.”  Lucy pointed out the billowing trees and questioned why they were moving.  We determined that the howler monkeys were not close enough to swing in these branches and therefore, the movement must have been caused by either the zanate or the uraca (both birds common to Nicaragua).  And then we happened upon this beauty roosting in the lush green leaves.

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As the puddles dried in the scorching sun, we made our way back home, but not before Lucy identified some letters on the sign to our entrance and said hello to the neighbor’s dog.

Once home, Lucy was quick to shed her boots and requested an “art project,” a favorite pastime for us both.  But I was beginning to run out of creative ideas (and materials) and so I did a quick Google search for preschooler art projects and found this recipe for homemade goop.  It seemed perfect, as I even had a little bit of leftover food coloring.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize, until it was too late, that cornstarch and corn flour are not the same thing.  We’d already begun to mix the mess and so I let Lucy roll with it because really, goop is fun, no matter the recipe.  Instead of watching the properties shift from liquid to solid, as promised by the original recipe, we explored color mixing and watched blues and reds transform into none other but…purple!  We made handprints and drew our names and shapes in the goop, too.  Lucy delighted in the mess for far longer than I expected and even managed to keep the walls goop-free.

By the time we were done playing and cleaned up, it was time for lunch and so we ate gallo pinto and pollo with stained hands and headed up for nap.

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Lucy Tuesday, take five: The Reader

4 Oct

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

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Lucy has become pretty adept at identifying letters lately.  It takes us twice as long to read a book because she likes to point out each of the letters that she recognizes.  She’s nailed “L” and “T” so that she can quickly find “Lucy’s and Teddy’s” letters,” but she’s also got a good handle on “A, C, D, F, G, I, J, M, O, S, U.  It’s pretty amazing to watch these early stages of reading, though it can make bedtime last twice as long!  As a lover of reading myself, I find great joy in listening to Lucy “read” to her dolls and friends. And it’s even more wonderful to see the pride emanate from deep inside when she shares her own love of reading with us.

So, a visit to the library seemed liked an obvious choice for a Lucy Tuesday.  Plus, it’s indoors and when you get started as late as 10 a.m., you want to be anywhere but outside!

The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Móvil was established in November 2001 on the patio of Hotel Villa Isabella, by owner Jane Mirandette.  In January 2002, the library moved down the street to its own building, four local employees were hired, and the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Móvil became the first stationary public lending library in Nicaragua.   The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca’s Mobile Project began in May, 2003. Three times a week, library staff and volunteers load bins of books onto a pickup truck and venture into the countryside surrounding San Juan del Sur. At each site, library patrons are able to browse and exchange books, and other educational and recreational activities are frequently provided for children.  By June 2008, the mobile project  is bringing more than 5,000 books to 32 remote farming communities, and it had issued more than 3800 library cards to children, their teachers, parents and other residents.” – from the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil website.

The library houses over 12,000 books, primarily in Spanish. Patrons can borrow and return  library materials, and children can browse through bins of attractive, brightly-colored books.  Though we had visited in the past, this was an exciting trip for Lucy because after choosing a few books to bring home, Lucy received her first library card!

We were particularly happy to find a number of bilingual books for Lucy to share with Gloria.  The library also has a small collection of toys, as well as tables covered in craft paper and crayons, inviting kids to draw.

After our stop at the library, we popped across the street to check out the new playground equipment that was recently installed.  Purple-obsessed, Lucy made a beeline for the violet seahorse, but quickly discovered that without shade from the trees, the plastic was just too hot.  So, she migrated to the climbing equipment and there met two new friends, Yennifer and Isabel.

Eventually, we both got hot and hungry and so we made our way to one of Lucy’s favorite snack stops, El Gato Negro for a cinnamon bun and some fresh juice for mom.  And because we were jut next door to Daddy’s office, we decided to stop in for a quick visit and to share our snacks…

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