Thursday, July 22, 2010
I’m thrilled to host Feed Me Books Friday this week as Janna of The Adventure of Motherhood focuses her energy in some other directions temporarily. Have you been reading about how busy she’s been? Next week, head over to link up with Gretchen as she takes a turn at hosting.
Being Helpful is Rewarding
As parents, we try to encourage helpful behavior by imparting a feeling of pride rather than using bribery. While a little treat (edible or otherwise) is always a fun reward, we don’t want it to be the only reward, so we focus on how nice it feels to help someone and also on enjoying the fruits of our labor. Fortunately, so far B really enjoys being helpful most of the time. In fact, there are times when I might get a job done more quickly without him (like cleaning the bathroom) but I don’t want to quash his eagerness to be a part of the project. Daddy is great about including B in projects around the house, and he’s learning to be proud of his fixes and improvements.
Mowing with Daddy
Measuring to help Daddy install floors
He really likes to be a part of food preparation lately; I find if he helps make dinner, he enjoys “presenting” it to the rest of the family and tries new things more easily. One way I’ve included him and gotten a little number practice at the same time is by letting him press the numbers on the microwave – I get a little creative so that he has to find more numbers: if I want to cook 3 minutes I’ll ask him to press 2-5-7 or something else close.
Helping with lunch
Helping with dishes
He’s also taken a liking to washing dishes – usually I let him be the rinser while I wash, but any water play is fun. Usually he decides to “help” so that I’ll be “done faster” and can play with him. While the time involved isn’t necessarily shorter, it helps keep him busy and makes him feel important.
You’re probably familiar with the story of The Little Red Hen, who wants to bake some bread but can’t find any friends who want to help with all the preparation involved. When her bread is ready, she enjoys it by herself because she doesn’t want to share the fruits of her hard work with her lazy friends. While it’s a pretty good cautionary tale, I am much fonder of a recent find, Mañana Iguana, by Ann Whitford Paul and Ethan Long. In this up to date version, Iguana and her friends Conejo (Rabbit), Tortuga (Tortoise), and Culebra (Snake), want to throw a party. Similarly, the friends are not very helpful with preparation like writing invitations, making food, and decorating. Their excuses bring some humor to the story: Conejo insists he would do things too fast, “no one would be able to read my writing,” Tortuga worries he would do things to slowly, “the food would not be ready,” and Culebra answers every request with the title phrase, “Mañana, Iguana, when I grow arms.” My preference for this version of the story comes from the twist at the end. After Iguana enjoys the guests and the party without her lazy friends, she is too tired to clean up and she falls asleep. Conejo, Tortuga, and Culebra realize the error of their ways when they see their exhausted friend, so they clean up while she sleeps. She wakes in the morning find a clean home and repentant friends. Happy that they learned to be more helpful, she shares the leftover food with them.
Lessons to Learn
Mañana Iguana has several lessons to teach if you choose to extend upon the reading. We discussed how big projects (like a party) take time to get ready and you can’t put it off till “Mañana.” I emphasized the way Iguana felt when her friends weren’t willing to help her. Toddlers and preschoolers are usually pretty self-centered and need a little guidance to develop the social skills of empathy and cooperation. I appreciated that Iguana’s friends took action on their regret for not helping. We’re trying to teach B that saying “sorry” is good, but doing something about your mistake or misbehavior is even better. The story is also peppered with Spanish vocabulary, including the days of the week, if you enjoy some linguistic exposure (a glossary is included as well, but not needed with the illustrations and context).
Appropriate for Toddlers, Preschoolers, Primary Grades
Do You Have a Favorite “Lesson” Book? I hope you’ll share what you've been reading lately!