Better Than Play-Dough
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
It took me a while to realize that the everyday rhythms of home create the most enriching opportunities for natural learning.
Back when my oldest two children were toddlers, I would put on a show while I made dinner, or otherwise distract them so that I could do my household work. The more I learned, the more I read, the more I watched and listened, the more I realized that by disconnecting the children from the ordinary rhythms of our days, the more they were missing out on important learning moments. Rather than viewing cooking and cleaning as separate endeavors to get through so that then we could play, or do, or learn, I discovered that the cooking and cleaning and other household tasks were the playing, and the doing, and the learning!
I began searching for recipes that would involve the children, or finding simple tasks that they could do right alongside me. I began integrating the children into my day, into my rhythms, and found that it led to calmer days and more peaceful mealtimes. Tasks were getting done, meals were being prepared, and real learning was happening.
One go-to recipe that makes its way into my kitchen quite often is homemade pizza. I used to make play-dough a lot--and still do from time to time--but I find that making pizza dough a couple of times a week provides the same enjoyment as play-dough while also being helpful in feeding hungry little bellies. The kids play with the dough for as long as they want, while I make a salad or sautee some mushrooms, and then when they are done playing, it's time to pop the dough in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, their play turns into pizza! What could be more fun--and worthwhile!
Here is my favorite pizza recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's excellent book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Do you have any other tips for integrating your children's learning and playing into the everyday rhythms of home?