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Experiencing Joy
By Andrea King-Dalton 
Jan 11, 2003, 17:22

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I don't think that there is a parent who hasn't uttered the words "Ah, to be a child again." To have no worries, to delight in the simplest things, to live in the moment and to experience complete spontaneous unguarded laughter. Through our children and with our children we CAN re-experience the joys of spontaneity, imagination, creativity, and curiosity. Achieving this by simply taking our child's lead and allowing them to show us the way to enjoy the world around us. Don't hurry them through their childhood; preserve their wonder. Let them jump in the leaves. Better yet, jump in with them. Stop and look at the leaves floating to the ground, slide down the slide, check out the caterpillar crossing the side walk or lay down and watch the clouds roll by. Get excited with your children, instead of: "in a minute" or "not here". Say, "WOW, that's amazing! Show me more!" Smile with them, laugh with them, get up and dance or sing a silly song. Do what they do, when they do it. Get on the floor and see things at their level, use all your senses and teach them to use theirs. There is so much that they are going to need to learn, why not start by letting them hold onto what they already know. Preserve their joys: curiosity, creativity, imagination, and spontaneity. Let them be what they naturally want to be - joyful! Here are just a few activities to help you help your child hold onto their joy.

Apple Seeds
Before cutting an apple open, ask your child to predict how many seeds there will be inside. Cut the apple in half horizontally and let your child observe the 'star' that holds the seeds. Count the seeds with your child and have them compare the number with their predictions. Try the experiment with another apple. Does it have the same number of seeds as the first one? Try the same experiment using a different coloured apple.
Variation: Set out apple seeds (with several of them cut in half) and let your child examine them with a magnifying glass. If desired, provide other kinds of fruit seeds for comparing.

Leaf Print Place Mats
What you'll need: Bristal board, leaves, paint, clear contact paper (mac tac) or laminate.
What to do: Cut a piece of bristal board to the size and shape of desired place mat. Have your child paint the under side of leaves (vein side) and use them to stamp leaf impressions on the paper. Once the placemat has dried, laminate it or cover with clear contact paper.

Leaf Bracelets
What you'll need: Masking tape, leaves (collected on a nature walk), various leaf shapes (cut from paper).
What to do: Wrap a piece of masking tape (sticky side out) around your child's wrist. Go on a nature walk and have your child collect one leaf from each of several trees, sticking it on their leaf bracelet. When you return home hold up each leaf shape in turn and have your child identify similar leafs on their bracelets.

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