52 Weeks of Experiences List: The Beginning!

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If you have not read the Experience Scavenger Hunt post, go there first and then come back to participate.

So the 52 weeks of Childhood Unplugged experience poll is now closed and I have assembled our list of experiences. I decided that going by the majority vote wasn’t fair because many great suggestions were added late and didn’t get a chance to be seen and voted on as much. So instead I took ALL of the suggestions and compiled my own list out of it and left the rest below for you guys to pick and choose from.

The way I see this happening is everyone either makes their own list or goes off of the one I compiled, if your toddler is similar in interests. I would love it for us to find a way to do the same thing on the same week so that we could share the experience, but of course it’s not going to be possible for everyone, so do what you feel like doing each week.

We’ll review the week each Monday. This week Lexi and I will be doing: Jumping on the bed and couches like 5 Little Monkeys 

Must do's for toddlers and preschoolers

Again here are the suggestions(all are voluntary):

  1. Have a toddler/preschooler
  2. Do one of the prompts once a week. The key is to really do it. Decide on the experience for that week, designate a day and just do it!
  3. Take a photo of your child experiencing it (or not. It doesn’t matter). It doesn’t have to be anything great! Just something to remember that week by.


4. Make that week, and especially that day, ALL about the event. Hype it up, get your child excited about the experience. Read them books that involve a similar experience before and after the “event”. It is important that the child has something to build on. If they know a bit about what you’re going to do, especially if it involves their favorite character, they will be much more excited and thus more open to the experience, increasing the learning (and fun) potential. Show them books, videos, movies of the event to get them to want to do it as well (ME TOO!). Talk about it all week (without saying “we are going to do this!”, because younger toddlers don’t have the capacity of understanding time and therefore will just get frustrated that they can’t go do it right then). Instead just introduce them to the concept.

I am going to try to find books and shows that explore each concept so that we could all use them as prep. Please help if you know of a book or an episode or a good video that deals with either one of these items on both the lists. I will add them below each entries. A great idea would be to have a library visit before each week or a few weeks before the prompts and ask the librarian for books that deal with the same concept. It will not only introduce them to the experience but get them to read new books.

For example, whenever we read Curious George books, Lexi gets super excited about whatever it is they are doing there, whether it is coloring eggs, looking for tadpoles, skiing or anything else. She constantly says “Yaya do it too!” while we read. If we continue reading the book, she gets more and more familiar with the concept, so when we actually have a chance to do it,  she is so excited and can actually understand what is happening. Since most little kids are impatient, it is hard to try to explain to them how certain complicated things work on the spot and they are often not interested . That’s why showing books and videos will get the concept through their head and then the experience will reinforce it further. Our brains build and strengthen neuropathways through multiple experiences- that’s how we learn and remember. So consistently reinforcing it will just help them remember and understand it better.

5. Submit your day to the linky below each one of the weekly posts I will be posting. You can just submit a photo, but of course if you add a description, it will be much more interesting to other participants. Use whatever means you want: Blog, Flickr, Photobucket, it doesn’t matter. Just share. Or not. Again, this is all voluntary, so share if you want to, don’t share, if you don’t. It’s that simple.


Here is our list (printable version of both lists)

  1. Backwards Day
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in, Backwards Day book tie in)
  2. Ride a pony/horse
    (Berenstain bears book tie-in)
  3. Go to the airport and watch the planes land.
    (Curious George episode tie-in, Curious George book)
  4. Go to a music shop and explore the instruments
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in)
  5. Go to a train museum
  6. Jump in Puddles (Weather contingent) (Hello, Fiends book)
  7. Feed ducks at the park (Curious George book)
  8. Dance in the rain (Weather contingent) (Olivia book )
  9. Plant something from seed and watch it grow.
    (Curious George episode tie in, Little Critter book, Curious George book)
  10. Climb a tree
  11. Gather shells (Berenstain Bears book)
  12. Ride a trolley (Daniel Tiger themed)
  13. Go to the lake to look for tadpoles
    (Curious George episode tie-in, Curious George book tie in)
  14. Go on a scavenger hunt in the woods
    (Curious George episode tie in, another Curious George episode tie-in Berenstain bears: nature’s guide (this is a great book for a scavenger hunt and it rhymes)
  15. Fly a kite
    (a great rhyming Berenstain bears book, Curious George episode, Little Critter book)
  16. Roast marshmallows by the fire
    (OLIVIA tie in)
  17. Play in the snow (Location contingent)
  18. Go to an aquarium
    (Berenstain Bears book, Little Critter book, Curious George book)
  19. Have a picnic – complete with basket and red checkered blanket. (Berenstain Bears book – another great funny rhyming book)
  20. Lay out and look at stars (Curious George episode tie-in)
  21. Go camping unplugged (phones turned off)
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in, Curious George episode tie in, Little Critter book tie in, Curious George book tie-in,  OLIVIA book tie in other camping books)
  22. First movie theater movie (Curious George book)
  23. Go to a petting zoo!
  24. Listen to a thunderstorm (Weather contingent.)
    (Daniel Tiger Episode tie in, Little Critter book tie in)
  25. Have a Family Movie Night with snacks
  26. Run around the grass in a park, barefoot, as a family
  27. Pick fruit at a farm
    (Daniel Tiger episode , Curious George book)
  28. Make Snow/Sand Angels
  29. Make pinecone and peanut butter bird feeders and hang them in the yard
    (Curious George tie-in)
  30. Draw with chalk on the driveway/sidewalk
  31. paddle a canoe down the river
    (Curious George episode tie-in)
  32. visit a tidepool  (Weather contingent)
  33. Egg Dying (Curious  George book)
  34. Go to see a boat show (at Christmas)
  35. Go on a sunset cruise on a boat
    (Curious George episode tie in)
  36. make giant bubbles in the yard
  37. go to a waterpark
  38. go to  Botanical gardens
  39. Go bowling
    (Curious George episode , Curious George book)
  40. Jump on the bed/couch/furniture together (5 Little Monkeys book)
  41. Get long newsprint/butcher’s  paper and trace/color your hands, feet and bodies!
  42. Make cookies together
  43. Play Hide and Seek
  44. Build a fort out of blankets and pillows (The Fort that Jack Built book)
  45. Go to the Zoo
    (Curious George episode, Curious George book)
  46. Go on a family bike ride through the woods
  47. Make newspaper planes
  48. Get a few giant cardboard boxes play pretend with them!
  49. play tennis
  50. play miniature golf
    (Curious George book)
  51. Ride a roller coaster
    (Curious George episode , Curious George book)
  52. Ride a train
    (Berenstain Bears book tie-in)


The rest of the entries

Almost all of these entries is something I want to do with Lexi, but she is either too young for them and would benefit from them more next year, or it doesn’t work out because of where we live, or something that we’ve done many times and isn’t special anymore, or something I simply could not fit it into the 52 because there were others I wanted her to experience. Please feel free to use any and all of these to customize your list.

  • play in the mud
  • paint fingernails/toenails for the first time
  • Carve a pumpkin together
  • cook and eat something outside
  • Attend a church service
  • ride an exotic animal (like a camel)
  • play in a creek
  • go bird watching 
  • Build a tree fort together 
  • take a cooking class
  • go ice skating
  • try a new type of cuisine
  • visit a circus (one that doesn’t have animals if you’re concerned about cruelty is Circus Vargas)
  • Bring a yummy snack to your neighborhood firemen (and get a tour of the fire station!)
    (Tie Ins: Curious George episode ,Curious George bookLittle Critter book)
  • Take them to see where you/your husband work
  • Shaving cream slide
  • Sledding
  • Visit the puppies and kittens at the local Humane Society/Rescue center
  • Mani/pedi date
  • Build a birds nest
  • Paint the sidewalk or driveway with water
  • Go to Disney
  • Inside Beach Day (Daniel Tiger themed)
  • Crazy hair day: use colored hair spray/color (temporary), lots of hair spray and have silly hair for a day!
  • Play beach volleyball
  • Build a bird feeder
  • Jump off the dock into the lake
  • Go for a walk in the moonlight (Harold’s Purple Crayon-themed)
  • Catch fireflies (and let them go)
  • Wearing matching outfits with Mommy for a day
  • Play dress up
  • Fly on a Plane
  • Go to a fair
  • Spend all day in pajamas
  • Say a word or phrase in a second (or third) language.
  • Watch a parade (Curious George book)
  • Make newspaper hats
  • Paint on canvases to hang on the wall as art
  • Swing in the swings together
  • Make a snowman (Little Critter book tie-in)
  • Find cloud animals in the sky
  • Pack into the car with treats and take a tour of local holiday lights.
  • Toss coins into a wishing fountain
  • Watch fireworks
  • Make a pizza together and put on whatever toppings you want
  • Get a professional haircut
  • Play in the sprinklers together
  • Stay up late and have a dance party (Curious George book)
  • Build sand castles
  • Do something charitable for others – example- take unused clothing / toys to shelter.
  • Bake something together
  • Story Time at the Library
  • Baby’s first McDonald’s!
  • Easter Egg hunt (Curious George episode tie-in)


If you’re going to do a few of these above, check out these book collections that have several of the stories that fit into the themes we are doing. 
Curious George storybook #1
  includes Snow Day, Boat show, Build a Home, Mini Golf and Tadpole tie ins
Green Light Readers Level 1 boxed set includes  Kite, Roller coaster, Mini Golf, Boat show stories.
Curious George Big Book of Adventures includes: Kite, Planes, Roller coaster, Boat show, Mini Golf, Library

Any books or videos you know of that we could build the experience upon? Add links to those books/shows in the comments.

The first week starts today, so go plan something fun and build your list or copy off of mine. With St Patrick’s Day, it should be easy to make a special trip somewhere, see a parade or do something fun along those lines!

You can enter your and your child’s name/age below and where you’ll be posting about the experience (If any, it’s not mandatory) if you’ll be participating and hope to see some great experiences next week. Make sure to let the world know about your participation by using the tweet and facebook buttons when you enter yourself.

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  • Reply
    March 10, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Corinne and Celia, 2
    I’ll definitely be participating! I’ll probably do a combination of your complied list as well as from the “left over” list. I don’t have a blog to post, so I’ll post them on Instagram, and anyone is welcome to request to follow me! Username CNHAUK :]

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 10, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Hey, C!

      What you can do is add you name and Instagram link in the linky above the comments (where it says add a link). That way people can click on it.

      • Reply
        March 11, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        Done :]

  • Reply
    March 10, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    I see your list that you’re working off of includes playing in the snow – how do you guys plan to tackle that one? Just curious because I’m jealous of your perpetually beautiful weather!

    • Reply
      March 10, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      And is she tall enough for any roller coasters? Don’t you usually have to be much older? Sorry, just trying to work through the list in my head to see which ones might work for us!

      • Reply
        Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
        March 10, 2014 at 10:11 PM

        Both Disney and universal have a roller coaster that has an hi eggy requirement of 35. She actually rode it twice already when she was 18 months but she didn’t understand much back then. I want to create an experience out of it this time. 🙂

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 10, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      I am hoping to take her into the mountain at the end of the year to go skiing or something.

  • Reply
    Mrs Loquacious
    March 10, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    E – is there a way to post your list as a .pdf or an .xls (with the extra ones at the bottom) so that I can just print it off as a customized list if I’m doing my own? Otherwise, lazy ass me is going to have to type these activities out and, well, I’m being lazy here. 😛 It would be easier if I could just click, click, click on the 52 that I want to do. Is this even possible?

    Also, some of the ones on your list are ones we’ve already done, so I’m torn about doing them again vs. picking a new thing. Esp since DD is older and more aware, I would think some of them warrant a re-do (e.g. picnic in the park) but others are old hat to her now, so I wouldn’t want to make that her big “event” of the week! 😛

    But, LOVE LOVE LOVE this! So excited to start. And backwards day is a very easy one to begin with, esp since a certain someone woke up saying this today: “I think Mommy put Daddy’s pants on backwards.” hahah!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 10, 2014 at 11:39 PM

      Ok, I just created a pdf. I should have thought of that, since you can’t copy/paste off the list. I added the list at the top of the list.

      Basically what I decided on the ones that we’ve already done is to simply make it a bigger experience, hype it up. Because normally it’s just like “Oh here is a train at Disney, let’s go ride it!”. Now I want to bring train books on board and maybe a conductor hat and a whistle or something like that you know. Read a train book before and after, reinforce the experience. Plus like you said some of the experiences were done early on before she was able to fully comprehend.

      My list is not in order though. I’ll be picking the ones to do off the list based on the week.

    • Reply
      March 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Excellent idea!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    That list is a great reminder of activities to do with my kids. This project seems fun, but in more of a document and scrapbook kind of way, seeming that we do a lot of these things multiple times a week.

    I probably sound like my mom here, lol, but do you think that all the character tie-ins take away imagination and creativity for Lexi?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 12, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      No, I wrote about it already. It’s a way of introducing the concept to her. Like tadpoles in the lake that she knew nothing about until we read a Curious George book and now she’s obsessed with looking for tadpoles. Otherwise, she wouldn’t even be interested.

      • Reply
        March 12, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Kids are naturally fascinated by simple everyday things like seeing tadpoles swimming underwater. I recall catching tadpoles as a kid and watching them swim in a bucket — I never read about it in a Curious George book. It just happened when I went fishing with my dad. I think forcing all of these character/book brand tie-ins to precipitate natural kid curiosity strips out the spontaneity and joy of natural discovery through daily life. Just my two cents.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          March 12, 2014 at 11:33 AM

          I strongly disagree! Maybe catching a tadpole would excite a toddler, but looking for tadpoles, before they know what they are, won’t.

        • Reply
          Mrs Loquacious
          March 12, 2014 at 12:16 PM

          Hmmmm – how old are you and where did you live?!? Were you not in proximity of libraries and bookstores as a child? Did you grow up in a rural setting?!?

          I am a teacher with a decade of experience (plus a degree in psychology with a child-heavy focus), and I have never heard of books “stifling” curiosity! In fact, most definitely the opposite of that! Books are an excellent way to introduce children to new concepts and experiences in a safe, non-threatening way. In some cases where proximity prevents a child from doing something regularly (eg Floridians and skiing), it allows for a vicarious learning experience and a means to prepare a young child for an activity. Kids are curious and love to explore and discover on their own, but they also need some “front-loading” so that they know what to expect before an activity happens. This reduces the anxiety that often accompanies a new experience of the “unknown.” It gives kids a feeling of control to know what to expect. It also helps direct a child’s attention so that they know what to look for and focus on, when they actually do the activity. It enhances, rather than limits, the experience!

          We still do this as adults: we use program guides at the zoo and museum. We read up about Italy before we travel there. We Google about scuba diving and watch YouTubes of skydiving before we sign up for lessons. When we do things in the reverse, like go to the zoo before we read about it, do we not inevitably find ourselves regretting having “missed” something?!

          As for brands, there is only a negative impact when parents favour only one toy line or brand and you end up with a kid who only wears pink and talks Disney princesses 24/7.

          In the case of this list, that’s hardly a danger and someone with such a concern is welcome to select different books to use to supplement the activities. I think the point is to be intentional about the experience. Catching tadpoles spontaneously may have been fun for you, but imagine how much more exciting it would have been had you been learning about frogs, seeing pictures of them, reading about a little frog and his brothers, and anticipating your field trip!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            March 12, 2014 at 12:40 PM

            Slow clap.
            and once again you go and take what I am thinking and put in into words the way that I cannot. Can you please now write my blog for me? lol
            You’re exactly right and that’s precisely what I’ve been trying to say. I just don’t have the years of formal education in child psych to be able to put it into words efficiently 🙂 lol

            The anxiety before an activity is a big thing too. Many of these things can cause fear in little ones unless they are prepared and excited, so they don’t pay attention to the scary parts. LIke riding a train for the first time. All that noise is SCARY. But if they are familiar and excited about the train, the noise is welcome and they even repeat it: “Choo Choo!”

          • Hmmmmm
            March 12, 2014 at 4:03 PM

            What does living in a rural setting have to do with anything? Once I learned to read as a youngster, I read voraciously and I continue to do so. Of course I had access to libraries. But we’re talking about toddlers here, not school-aged children attending school field trips.

            The fact is that the world is inherently a fascinating place for infants and toddlers because absolutely EVERTHING is wonderful and brand new to them. They don’t need you to spend a week hyping tadpoles and frogs with them. In fact, this sort of thing often has the opposite effect, as it makes joyous exploration of the natural world feel like work and tends to suck the fun out of simple activities. Just going to a pond and discovering what lies beneath the surface is enough for a toddler.

            Children will have years and years of planned, orchestrated, highly structured learning imposed upon them once they reach school age. Is it too much to ask to let them spontaneously explore and enjoy the undiscovered world around them without some over-planned, over-wrought adult agenda and tv characters? Just for a little while? I don’t think it is.

            Absolutely nothing can replace the joy and fulfillment associated with discovering new things all on your own. Those of you insisting that you need a lesson plan for jumping in puddles and digging up earthworms must have forgotten what it was like to be a kid!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            March 12, 2014 at 4:48 PM

            And once again you clearly didn’t read a work either one of us said.

          • Mrs Loquacious
            March 12, 2014 at 6:59 PM

            Listen, Hmmmm – the world *is* inherently fascinating and curious to kids. I don’t think anybody is debating that. Your own biases are seeping through, however, when you suggest that reading a book about tadpoles will cause a simple, fun activity to become perceived as “work.” In truth, (and in the most recent approaches to early childhood instruction), work *is* play, and play is work. There is no distinction for little kids, because by playing, they are learning and “working”. Whether a child reads or does not read a book prior to doing an activity will not affect their perception of how “fun” the activity is, any more than asking your child to race you to see who can pick up the most blocks to put back in the bin. It is in engaging with a loving caregiver to whom they are emotionally attached that will make any experience fun.

            The books are tools, like any other tool, to facilitate the ease of introducing novel situations to a child who could possibly get anxious if he/she does not know what to expect, and it is precisely because the world is a new and exciting and possibly scary place, that little kids sometimes need that additional support or front-loading to manage their expectations (and create anticipation)!

            The reason I asked your age and your background is because your comments are very much skewed toward a particular type of experience with the education system, and I am very sorry that you hold such a negative view of it. Although the school that I taught at (and my child will attend) is well organized and planned, the instruction is not “highly structured” nor is learning imposed on children against their will. There is no menacing adult agenda, and we are very much committed to inquiry-based learning and collaborative learning environments. It is a shame that your own negative perceptions of formal education now inform your opinions on how toddlers can have fun.

            As an aside – some children love books and begin reading early. My husband was one of those kids, and could read full sentences and paragraphs by the time he started school. If my child is anything like him, it’s a good thing that we are offering her books to augment her experiences.

            Elena has simply compiled a list and provided some suggestions for books to read, in the event that a parent wanted to use books to introduce it. I don’t think that it was ever stated that a parent had to read books prior to doing one of these activities, nor is it even necessary all of the time. It’s optional, but the option is there for each parent to decide.

            You (assuming you have children) can choose not to read any books to them before doing an activity with them. I think that there have been enough “explanations” on here to help clarify why books are beneficial, and of course it is absolutely your prerogative to agree or “agree to disagree” with these perspectives. I just hope that all those parents who want to “front load” the activities with books will not feel judged by your very strong, very biased opinion 🙂

      • Reply
        March 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        I totally understand, but that’s kind of my point… I feel this generation is losing their imagination. My kid too, lol. Whats wrong with showing her the tadpole, and maybe asking her what it is, making up a story, even if its not really what a tad pole is. That is more of the Montessori approach that I thought you were interested in.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          March 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

          It’s in the level of excitement. Montessori approach does not exclude books. If I show her what a tadpole is on the picture, she will listen and then move on. Why would I want to make up a story if there is a great educational story about tadpoles already there? One that gets her excited. She’s been chanting “tadpoles” for weeks now every time she sees a lake. And all because Curious George and Bill were playing with them in her book.
          Books are a great resource for educating and creating interest!
          If you’ve ever read a book with your child’s favorite character, you know just how much MORE excited they get about whatever it is the character is doing. And the more excited the are, the more fun the activity is going to be and the more attention they will pay. You don’t have to recreate the book when doing the activity (they can use their imagination), but using a book to educate, show, create interest- that’s just basic for me. It’s a great tool!
          Books also foster imagination because they give them the material to run off of.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          March 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

          Oh and of course, you don’t have to use these books, if you enjoy doing it another way, you should do it! These are just for people who like that kind of thing. Like if your kid isn’t excited about a trolley ride, getting him a book about trolleys will send his interest through the roof and now you can do the trolley activity and he will be really excited.
          But if you have other way of doing hings, then you should definitely use them!

          • Brooklyn
            March 12, 2014 at 12:29 PM

            I don’t disagree with that at all. Books are GREAT. It is so good to get children interested in reading early on. Books= good. We can agree on that. Lol.

            I guess I am more saying that Montessori helps the child learn from within as opposed to reading the material and then putting it to use (that comes later, in the older school years). I just think that learning from nature, using imagination, and asking questions are what helps a child learn and grow and foster a love for learning. I like to DO first, than maybe read later, if they have questions. As opposed to reading first and ‘giving them all the answers’ before they have a chance to experience it for themselves.

            It’s just a different learning/teaching philosophy. I thought you would be interested, since you mentioned researching Montessori for Lexi.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            March 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM

            I think you misunderstanding me. I am not saying “read the book and then put it to use”. I am saying “introduce them to a concept through books” and then go and experience it yourself.

            In my experience (and Lexi might react to things differently than your kid) she really takes to what is happening in the books. They matter to her a lot . She gets really involved in the story and can talk about it and apply what she learned. She goes into the real world and builds UPON the books while using her imagination. But she’s also been reading books since birth, so she is very accustomed to them.

            And now that I say this, I remember reading books and have my imagination run absolutely wild. Books unlike TV shows help with imagination, not hinder it.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    This is awesome! I am keeping this list handy for next year, when my 4 month old is bigger:)

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Long time reader. Delurking b/c this books vs. imagination debate is very interesting to me. I think I mainly side with the books pov. Although I wouldn’t limit your reading, even at this young age, to character books. Books do help to introduce a wide range of subjects that a parent is uneducated on or doesn’t know how to explain (say death) or helps put things as a 2 year old would understand (going potty), as well as fun and education things (gardening, playing, etc). Books before, during, or after an event ALWAYS help a child.

    But imagination is a beautiful thing, ESPECIALLY at this young age. Like feeding the ducks. I don’t think I would like to stifle my child’s imagination by reading a book first about what they eat, for instance. I would go out there, have the child pick things they think the duck would eat (flowers, rocks, acorns…) and maybe nudge some others in there, like bread. Then watch and see what the duck eats. I think the joy and knowledge a child gets from seeing that is far better than reading that say George feeds the ducks bread, so we should too.

    Of course, when it comes to arts and craft type things, creativity should be the only thing… Don’t have a parent help, don’t introudce ways you think they should do it. Let them do it. Like playing in the mud. Even at 2, just watch them and follow their lead. Don’t suggest, ‘oh let’s make mud pies, or this is a cake’ just see what they do. Children will really surprise you. Watching a child turn mud into finger paint or just watching them feel it, run it through their fingers, is far better than playing an adult led game of picnic.

    Can you tell I’m a teacher? Haha.
    This is a fun social media project and it looks like your readers are very interested in. Just don’t lose the spontaneity in childhood!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      Hey, Peyton!

      Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

      Again, like the previous commenter, I don’t think you see it in the right light when it comes t “stifling imagination with books”. Take your duck story. The books don’t TEACH what or how to feed a duck, or where they live or what they do. I don’t think these types of books would be interesting to a 2 year old, unless he is already obsessed with ducks. The books simply introduce the concept: ducks at a pond. I haven’t read the Curious George duck book yet, so I don’t know if he is really feeding the ducks bread or you were just making an example, BUT… even if he was feeding them bread, it’s such a small part of the book that a child doesn’t focus on WHAT is being fed to ducks, but on the actual process “feeding ducks”. Lexi has never tried to COPY what happens in the book, she has simply become more aware of the experience, knowing what to expect and what it is. And then she would take it and run with it based on her own ideas. Little children have huge imaginations to begin with, I doubt there is a child on the planet that will be “SET ON” feeding ducks bread just because CC was doing it. I doubt most children would even notice what CC fed to ducks.

      I honestly have a MILLION examples where Lexi has benefited from knowing about the experience beforehand and reading books. I don’t usually “prep” her experiences with books (except for things like potty training, doctor visits, etc), but more and more I’ve been noticing how she tries to incorporate books into her real life, and find experiences and items she sees in books in the real world and visa versa. And the excitement- that’s just beyond anything. I see the same in all of her friends. None of what she does is directed. She simply gets exposed to concepts, and then runs with them, while I try to give her opportunities for exploration, like taking her into the woods to look for Owls like her favorite Berenstain bear characters, or going to a lake to look for tadpoles.

      For example, right now we are reading books about Easter. Without them she would have no concept of Easter activities, even if I attempted to tell her in my own words – it’s baseless for her. This hypothetical idea. Mommy talking about some eggs and bunnies isn’t interesting, a book about eggs and bunnies is a different story. It gives a visual and a story to draw upon. We have Curious George Easter books, Berenstain bears Easter books and Little Critter Easter books. Those are her favorite characters and she asks to read those books over and over again. Now a few days later, she is super excited about Easter coming, about dying eggs and having egg hunts and seeing the Easter Bunny. The joy is through the roof, because she knows what to expect and how much fun it will be. SO she is looking forward to it and during the hunts she won’t be thinking about Curious George, she will just be having fun. I’ve seen it over and over again. I’m surprised you guys haven’t seen your kids go gaga over a experience that they read about in a book, more than one that they know nothing about (especially during this age).

      These aren’t textbooks, these are stories. Stories that children should read and draw upon. Imagination needs a foundation to be built upon, it doesn’t come from thin air.
      Plus what Mrs Loquacious said above. 🙂

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Oh and one more thing, the only reason I specified character books was because they tend to cover a wider range of topics because of the series nature of it and because I am familiar with the books and can vouch for them. Plus kids fall in love with these character books and that helps the learning and experience 🙂

    • Reply
      Mrs Loquacious
      March 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Peyton – as a fellow teacher, you and I both know that child-directed learning is the new (and research-based) trend in pedagogy. Learning is no longer a prescriptive activity where we tell kids what to do or look for; it is an inquiry-based, problem-solving model of collaborative discovery. Any modern parent who is reading up on their child development news would likely be so oriented as well.

      I suspect that you and I are actually arguing the same side of the coin, but if you are voicing a concern that books might cause parents to facilitate adult-led experiences rather than child-directed ones, might I suggest that this could happen regardless of whether or not books are introduced to “front load” an activity. Elena (from her blog posts) doesn’t strike me as that controlling kind of momma ???? but in all likelihood some of her readers might be. And though that would be incredibly unfortunate, robbing a child of the ability to play freely, use their imagination and follow their own curiosity towards discovery, it is not any blogger’s responsibility to keep their readership from this kind of adult-directed play.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    Elena, you need a like or a “here here” button :]

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    In our family holidays are not learned but experienced through our family traditions. Isabelle is a few months younger than Lexi and loves books too. She does try to imitate what she sees on books though. As a matter of fact, children learn many things trough imitation. Imitation also manifests itself in expressions and gestures, that’s how we see and hear ourselves in our children’s play.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    In education the idea of preparing a kid by having them read books about a topic is called giving them background knowledge. However I would challenge you to try and have an experience first and then read a story about it so Lexi can make those connections both way.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Combs
    March 12, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    So happy you wrote this post!!! It gave me so many great ideas to do with my 18-month-old. And I totally appreciate the tie-in to books. Curious George and Daniel Tiger are our favorites too! But please don’t feed the ducks. It can lead to habitat degredation, aggressive behavior towards humans, and lot more… http://audubonportland.org/wcc/urban/waterfowl

  • Reply
    March 14, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Rachell and Brandon. He will be 2 in 2 weeks. Ahhhh

    This is great and what a great way to kick off me getting back into blogging. I know have something to write about at least once a week.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!! I have 4 girls and sometimes I feel like we are just rushing through the things/activities that I feel like we should be doing, instead of creating an awesome experience out of them! I can’t wait to do some of the activities that you listed, but I will probably be doing some additional ones since my oldest is almost 8 already 🙂

    This will be such a fun series to blog about, especially with spring and summer coming up!!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 17, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Yes, that’s exactly how I feel! It’s not that we have to schedule time to do these activities. We do most of them anyways, but we rush through them! I like making an experience out of even simple activities listed there! Our first week was awesome! I am so excited for more!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Ah this is such a super idea! My boy is only 5 months old, so will defo remember it for a bit later.
    Also, been meaning to write for ages, I really love your blog, from TCC to BLW, I have found it really informative & helpful in guiding our pregnancy & parenting decisions, so thanks!!

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