Friday, December 9, 2011
Animal Play and Best Ideas Blog Hop
At our house, we love to climb trees, take adventure hikes and learn about the animal kingdom. We regularly engage in an ongoing dialogue about wildlife biology with our seven year old son. It is a conversation and a journey that began in preschool, when he began playing "animals" with his classmates. The children in that class played cats and dogs so much that the parents started to complain about holes worn in pants. The more I observed the children's pretend game, in which they would use doll socks for "paws" an idea came to mind. What if I were able to make a set of slip on knee pads that would mimic fur? Then I added the paws as a companion set and Knees and Paws were born. The children in that first class scrambled to put on the sets I had brought to class in a big wicker basket. At that time I was still learning to sew and the teacher said that they played with their Knees and Paws so much that they already needed mending. As time went on, I got requests for matching ears and tails. And with lots of practice and many mistakes, I feel much more confident about sharing the handmade sets that are intended to encourage and enhance imagination.
This Halloween was our biggest event to date. It was so big that I really needed a couple of weeks of rest. Taking a break from my sewing has been a great choice. Great because I returned to my workshop with fresh ideas and a desire to improve. Today is a milestone because, as some of you remember, I tend to be a teensy bit stubborn. So stubborn that I haven't felt the need to tinker with things. But after a little experiment, I'm happy to say that I've thrown away the old and tired paw pattern. The new paws will have longer sleeves, and more colorful contrast. Going into the third year, and I finally decided to make a change!
Playing dogs and cats is one of a child's first imaginary games. It can get noisy and energetic when a group cooperates for a game of fetch or tag. Dramatic play is great indoor exercise on a rainy or cold day. Sometimes it's also a quiet sort of play, with most of the action taking place within the imagination. Supplying a child with a touch of realism enhances their experience by stimulating the senses. Knees and Paws allow a child to feel like they have fur without overwhelming or overheating the body. They encourage dramatic, cooperative play while also boosting self sufficiency skills. Being able to slip them on an off without help from a grown up is a big step for little ones! In my experience, these sets have appealed to children as young as three and as old as ten, although the older children like to use them during Halloween as costume accessories. Each set with knee pads are custom fitted by request and this is recommended to eliminate slippage. Our newest sets include soft fleece collars with personalized "tags". And for kids like my son who love the limitless variety of the animal kingdom, there are plenty of options from Panda Bears to Ring Tailed lemurs. At our house, we love to climb trees!