I was worried on our trip that my older son, nearly six, would get bored and then pester everyone to death for more tv, more treats and generally more attention. He’d deserve it too, since his little brother, two, is very clever at staying in the cute spotlight, and his only nearby playmate would be another two-year-old, my niece. So I hatched a plan to keep a family diary in a big, blank sheet notebook. This would be awesome, I thought, for several reasons:
- “Family” includes other adults besides just me, so Daddy could get excited about the plan too.
- Everyone could contribute in different ways, drawing, writing, photos or scribbling, depending on their bent.
- Unlike lots of other kid-centric stuff that can be pretty boring to adults, this project was really interesting to me. I hoped my older son and I would bond over our shared project instead of shouting and sulking as we often do at manners-heavy situations.
I got the idea from a book my husband gave me for Christmas: How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith. It looks childlike and hand-scribbled, which I love, and encourages readers to view surroundings from the perspective of a child scientist, recording observations and collecting seemingly banal objects from everyday life. One of the first ideas is “a list of things to document and collect,” followed by a mindmap-style page of bubbles labeled “round things”, flat things, wrinkles, really tine things and overheard conversations, among many others.
Our first walk around Grandma and Granddad’s village, I set us the task of “collecting” circles. Again, this was great for every ability level, including Little Brother. It also served double-duty, keeping Big Brother busy on the walk (instead of whining for playgrounds), and then occupied our quiet cuppa tea time, after returning to the house.
Here is some of our collection on a walk along the canal, back along Red Lion Street to the big church tower and back to New Place in Cropredy, near Banbury, England. We used these as reference to make our own drawings in the family diary (which seriously, is not cute enough for posting).
Photos by Rowan (6)