Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chores and Storytelling

The Cave Explorers

Ever tried to force a 3 year old to pick up her room? Not much fun, and it usually results in a power struggle that no one is going to win.

At least for me.:o)
Ronan and Kiska love to help.......when they WANT to help....the rest of the time is a screaming, stomping, fit throwing with lots of "It's not fair!" and "I HATE this ROOM!"

So sometimes I have to be sneaky.
Instead of saying "Ronan, I need you to go to your room and push your mattress under the bed so we can get Auri's bed made." 

(Something that is likely to result in the turkey throwing a fit.) 

I'll say, "Ronan, I need your help pushing the mattress under the bed. I just don't think I can get it by myself. Do you want to play with your marbles later? Or are we just going to draw today."

It's pretty close to the first statement. But this one has us working together which fosters more of the "we're all in this together" mentality that we're striving for. I've made him important to the task. And, perhaps most importantly, I've moved the topic onto something he likes to think about as I walk to the room with him. Moving on doesn't give him a chance to think about how frustrated that he is that he has to get to work. He's thinking about marbles and drawing.
The tight spots.
When we began pushing the mattress in it became apparent that it wasn't going to go in all the way. Something was BACK THERE. 

(Surely not! Toys, clothes, and books shoved under the bed! That NEVER happens!)

At this point I could complain and become irritated by the fact that the hooligans didn't puth their things away properly. I could start griping and handing out punishments or threats of punishment if they didn't keep their things put away.

If I do that then I invite the children into the blame game. I invite them to transfer blame. I invite them to argue with me. I invite them to cry and pout. I invite them to witness the "unfairness" of the world if they have to pick up something that they didn't put there.

Or I can invite them into a caving expedition to extract unknown artifacts for research and classification.:o)

After a quick lesson on caving safety..... ( Okay, it's dark in there. And we've never mapped this cave so we don't know where it goes or what's in there. Keep close, climb careful, and if you get into trouble then hollar and we'll find a way to get you out....I haven't lost a man yet.) 
And a nod to what we were looking for......(I want you to bring back ANYTHING you find. It could all be important. The smallest item can tell us something.)

In the explorers went.....
First, the Grand Adventurer Ronan found a flashlight that he declared would come in handy in the dark. 
Then the Grand Adventurer Kiska found a penny that she declared was treasure.
When Ronan found a stinky sock, Auriana declared that there must be Trolls down there! So be EXTRA CAREFUL!!

They cleared everything out from under the bed. And with each item I came up with something to say about it. 
The trash indicated that it MUST be Trolls because they're the only creatures rotten enough to throw trash on the ground.
We found an unknown species of cave dwelling sheep.
More treasure, perhaps Pirates had been here before.
Books! Trolls and Pirates don't read books! They must have stolen them for toilet paper.
The yellow playsilk was Sunshine, Ronan had found a shaft that reached the surface!
The sword must be magic! 

The artifacts.

I think it took us close to 10 minutes to get the bed cleaned out. That might seem like a long time to some. But I had fun, the children had fun, they did all the work, and I managed to sow the seeds for their creative play and storytelling for the rest of the day.

It was MUCH easier than spending 10 or more minutes arguing with a 5 year old over cleaning. It also made the next thing I needed him to do easier to accomplish. If you fight over one thing, then the next thing you ask is also going to be a fight.
I prefer for the momentum of our days to be based on cooperation and imagination.

Bed put away? Check.
 Adding storytelling to your day is easier than you might think, and children thrive on it. 
Have you done this? What do you use as your inspiration?


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