Monday, May 30, 2011

Parents = Toy Experts. Meet Anna from The Imagination Tree

It's always a pleasure to host and interview our parents / bloggers! Some of them are even professional educators like this lovely lady you'll get to meet today - Anna from the Imagination Tree! They share their knowledge, experiences, expertise as both parents and educators with us, helping us raise our tiny tots in happy, learning and fun environment! Sit back and enjoy all the  wonderful ideas! :) 

Share with us little bit of who is Anna online and offline.

I am a Mum of 2 year old and 1 year old girls from the UK. I am trained as a primary teacher with a specialism in early years education and art. After having my children I decided to stay at home with them full time to give them the best of myself during their formative years. But I needed some kind of creative outlet and place to keep a finger in education, so the blog was born! Offline I'm interested in art, photography, books and dabbling in my own creative projects, but mostly I just dream of being accomplished at those things one day! This post sums up the way I feel about play based learning and the need to celebrate childhood (and therefore what my blog is all about!): The Central Importance of Play

As an elementary teacher who turned stay at home mom, what can you use from your teaching days and apply to your kids at home? 

I use my experience of loads of play activities, knowledge of picture books and tolerance of a lot of mess with my own kids at home! I am so grateful for the time I have had teaching and I realise that it gives me lots of ideas of the best way to approach a play-based learning style with my own two, and not to put any pressure on how or when they learn. They will learn in their own way at their own pace and my role is to provide the materials, the environment, some excitement and then step back! It's wonderful to watch the learning process take place and I feel very blessed to be at home with them. My 5-a-day Book challenge comes directly from my experience of teaching and the training I have had in the real importance of using repetitive and rhyming books as part of literacy development. 

What are similarities and what are differences in teaching other people's kids and your own?

I find it much harder with my own children in some ways in that I am with them 24/7 and am so invested in them emotionally (of course!) But it is also so wonderful to be able to share ideas and play experiences with your own children after a decade of working with other people's children. I was so thrilled to have my own children and couldn't wait for their first paintings, play dough and sensory play experiences! Here are some of our ideas for sensory play.

Now, one maybe silly question: what have you learned from your kids?

Oh no, that's probably the best question, not at all silly! I have learnt from them how to love in a way I didn't know was possible. And they have taught me a valuable life lesson - that I don't know it all and still have so much to learn about being a Mum, but that it is worth everything to keep on trying to improve and to give so much more of myself to everyone around me. They taught me that just by being here.

And last but not the less important... what are your favorite toys?

Ooo, now we're talking! I love everything wooden. I think wooden toys look and feel beautiful and can last a lifetime and are 100x nicer than plastic junk. I think every child needs wooden blocks, a play kitchen, Playmobil 123 (oh how I LOVE Playmobil!), homemade play dough, and free access to lots of "real life" objects to be freely creative with. The Discovery Boxes that I put together for my girls are a form of natural, heuristic play and are designed to be open-ended and to promote thinking skills. They are also virtually free to produce!

Thanks Anna for sharing! :) 

Make sure to browse through her blog for more learning and fun ideas! 


Say, share, play with us!