Posts tagged "travel"

LEGO travel box

Have kids crazy about LEGO yet the thought of travelling with Lego gives you nightmares? Here is a simple craft to help your LEGO enthusiast stay organized. Perfect for on the go, including car and airplane travel! Size of box depends on your travel needs (e.g. size of kids backpack or suitcase)

Materials:

  • Crafting box
  • Lego Plate (LEGO Brand recommended)
  • Industrial Strength Adhesive
  • Cutting tools
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Steps:

  1. Measure the lid of your Box and mark your LEGO plate using a pencil
  2. Cut your LEGO plate according to your measurements
  3. Glue LEGO plate onto the top lid of your box and let dry

Tips:

Buy a crafting box that has some removable walls, so you can store bigger builds by removing one wall making it bigger.
We recommend the real Lego brand, as nothing slides off when you lift the lid to pick out the next pieces.

Scope:

Cost: $$
# of People: 1 adult
Difficulty: Simple
Travel: Yes
Time: 5 minutes + drying time

I can, and you can too! Travelling with Kids

Travelling is one of my passions. I love travelling! Always have, always will. 

Growing up in Europe I travelled a lot with my parents, perhaps that’s where I got my travel bug from. Later on, I chose a profession that requires travel and I loved the fact that I got to live in some amazing places across the globe. 

I met my husband while working in Australia – he is Canadian with English roots and I am German, with this mix you are bound to travel with kids to visit with family. Regardless of that, when my husband and I decided to have kids we didn’t want to “settle down”, we wanted to continue seeing the world. We decided to make some specific lifestyle choices that allow us to continue our amazing travelling journey. For example, we founded our own company that we can run remotely, and we started homeschooling the kids to be able to travel whenever it suits us.

Our first trip with our first child was a 7.5 hour plane ride at his tender age of 8 weeks. Travelling with babies is a lot easier, especially if they just sleep, eat and poop! The challenges come later when they don’t want to sleep, become picky eaters and don’t want to sit still. 😉

Over the years, I found some tips and tricks that work well for both us and our two boys, who are seasoned travellers and surprisingly easy to travel with. As we’re travelling frequently, I often get asked on how we do it. Especially when we travel for long durations with multiple locations. With the travel season around the corner, I’ve written down a few handy tips and tricks on travelling with children.

I hope you’ll find them helpful!

Packing

First things first: packing suitcases to travel. I’m very specific about packing and none of the other family members can interfere with this or it will drive me crazy. To minimize space I roll everything, which also means it creases less and it’s handy to sort into drawers if need be. I have a very specific order, so I know exactly what to say when I get “Muuuuuummmm! Where are my PJ’s?” I also divide everyone’s clothes into each suitcase, because luggage goes missing and you don’t want to be stuck with family members without anything to wear! It takes me about 2 – 3 hours to pack two to three bags. By the end of 6 weeks, I’ll manage to pack bags in less than 20 minutes following the same pattern every time.

Communication

Before you start travelling, discuss the process with your kids and your spouse. We have plenty of books about airports and airplanes. We often read them before our travel and go through each step from arriving to the airport to going on the plane. They now understand each step and know the importance of security and passport control. During the time of travel, keep checking in with the little ones, make sure you know how they feel and comfort them to prevent possible meltdowns. I travel in old clothes for this reason – floors can be dirty, but I would rather have dirty pants from kneeling down to be on their eye height checking in with them, then have a meltdown at boarding time!

The other important communication is with your spouse. Decide before starting the journey who will handle kids, who will handle passport control etc. For example, in our family I handle the kids, while my husband handles the communication with various staff.

Entertaining the kids

Keeping the kids entertained on a long trip, either car or plane, is hard work! Digital entertainment made travel easier, but we don’t allow the kids to be on a screen non-stop. (screen time is totally banned in the car) Overnight flights are tough, as the addiction to a screen won’t let kids sleep at all. We started a rule where they can play for 30 minutes, and then need to be off for an hour before going back on. (Usually they will fall asleep during the hour screen free time)

I’m proud to say that the following idea came from my mother and I continue with the “tradition” of a travel suitcase. It’s a special suitcase (or backpack) filled with games and other surprises which only come out when we’re travelling. Every trip there will be a new surprise or two, but their favourite travel toys will stay in it and they are always excited to see their favourites again, playing excitedly for hours. Suitcase includes things like magnetic board games, play dough, card games, pens and notepads. As I have two LEGO crazy kids, it also contains a special homemade travel friendly LEGO box.

Speaking of LEGO, I always travel with some packages of LEGO mini figures. These come out as a special treat if the kids have been good at a dinner in a restaurant.(mealtime is also screen free in our household) 

Of course not all parts of your travel allow toy suitcases to be rummaged through. There are situations like standing in lineups, waiting for boarding or sometimes even stressful situations like loosing connecting flights, lost luggage, etc. For those times I have a list of fun things to do with the kids to distract them and also nurture my relationship with my kids, so they feel safe. 

For example:

Fortune telling: Take your child’s hand in yours and pretend to read her/his fortune by looking at the palm. Saying lots of positive things about the future (easy if you travel to a beach and can build sand-forts 😉 )

Weather report: Sit with your child facing away from you so that you can put your hands on her/his back. You then describe the weather and rub her/his back to match the weather. For example, “It’s a warm sunny day,” you make a circle. “The wind is beginning to blow,” you swoop your hands lightly across her back making a swishing noise. For “thunder,” use the sides of your hands to shake gently on the back. For “rain make light finger taps. For “lightning,” make a large zig-zag across the back. This also works well with telling other stories like planting a garden, etc.

Mirroring : Face your child standing and move your arms, face, or other body parts. Ask your child to move in the same way. If your child is very active, you could use slow motion and vary the speed. You and your child could take turns being the leader.

If you are waiting on delayed flights and have kids who just need to blow off some steam, you could also try some of these:

Red light, Green light: Ask your child to do something, such as run, jump, move arms. Green light means go, red light means stop.

What time is it, Mr Wolf?: You stand on one side of whatever space you’re in, your child on the other, facing each other. Your child calls out “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” You reply “1:00” and your child takes one step towards you. You can vary the time you give to vary the number of steps your kid takes towards you. Once she/he gets to you, you can give her/him a big hug, or also add in a reply of “lunchtime” and playfully catch your child to give a hug.

Some of these activities actually attract other kids and you may find yourself in the middle of a waiting lounge with a bunch of kids playing and laughing together. 

We also have a few favourite games for the restaurant that just require a pen and paper:

Art Share: This game can be played with the whole family. One piece of paper to draw a single picture together. Every family member takes one pen, then each player takes a turn to draw one line on the paper. The start may look like a scribble, but the end goal is to create something together. We’ve created some fantastic creatures this way.

Scribble Art: Let your child scribble something on a piece of paper, then it’s your turn to make something out of that scribble. I.e., add some legs and a face to create an alien or robot. You can also take turns with your child to scribble something.

I could go on and on about our trial and error process, and perhaps I will write a part 2 of this blog post. My personal conclusion about travelling with kids: expect the unexpected! No matter how much you pre-plan, things will not always turn out the way you thought they would and that’s okay! Try to stay as calm and grounded as possible. Kids need you to be their rock for them at any time. Look after yourself, stay hydrated, make sure you have snacks for yourself and if you travel via plane, pack some spare clothes for you as well… you never know what’s going to happen! 

Happy Travelling!

A Quiet Surprise: The Finnish Education System

I recently attended an education conference in Finland where I had the opportunity to observe five different schools, interact with students, and talk to teachers and principals. Finland has been the envy to other education systems, who fawn over the success of both their students success as well as student happiness. My first day in Finland, I was expecting to witness drastic differences in teaching, learning and the overall setup of a school. However, much to my surprise, I found Finland’s schools to look quite similar to Canadian schools. Walking in and out of classrooms, the lessons looked the same from a distance, but I noticed a lack of defiance on the student behalf. I noticed that with teachers taking their time within their lessons, students did not rush from one subject to another. They quietly took their time and seemed to thoroughly enjoy each and every one of their lessons.

Finland took me by surprise entirely. I was expecting to have to dig deep and drill teachers with specific questions regarding standardized testing, performance results, report cards, and assessment strategies. I wanted to memorize their curriculum and understand what each lesson meant, but rather than questioning anyone, I found it the most beneficial to quietly observe the lessons being taught, watching the teacher’s interactions with students and vice versa. What I found to be vastly different from our Canadian education system was a major cultural difference, which was breathtaking to observe in the Finnish education system. To put my observations simply, I found that Finnish people as a whole trust their teachers, and with trust comes high expectations. Teachers in Finland have willingly risen to the challenge because…

  • Teachers are empowered and highly motivated.
  • Teachers make their own curriculum and work collaboratively with each other.
  • Teacher’s are given options and choice over rigid structure.
  • Teacher’s are encouraged to teach in whatever manner they excel in. For example, if a math teacher also enjoyed music, the teacher would be encouraged to make songs about math to help their students learn.

What happens when teachers are trusted and valued? From top to bottom, it effects the whole education system, and the students are equally as valued. Teachers are appreciated and take pride in their work, which is the overall wellbeing of each and every one of their students. Teachers are offered the time to get to know their students, which leads to…

  • Students opinions are valued, and have a direct impact within their environment. ~ Students are also offered choice and options over rigid structure and enjoy their autonomy.
  • Students are involved in decision making and have a voice
  • Students are encouraged and are intrinsically motivated

Watching a specific lesson in a grade four class, a group of five boys asked to work in the hallway. In this particular hallway, there is table hockey set up. Before I could even consciously predict what would happen, I just assumed they would become distracted from their work and begin to play table hockey. Much to my surprise yet again, the students were too involved in their project to be distracted. I made my way over to the students and very blatantly asked why they wouldn’t want to play in the hallway. They informed me that this particular project was their idea, and they were excited to execute their ideas collaboratively.

Finnish teachers are valued and empowered, leading naturally to the students feeling equally as valued and empowered. It is such a simple and honest idea, that makes a large difference to a child.

Finland, in the quietest voice, you have surprised me.

Finland’s Education System: Inspiring and Intriguing

Finland’s education system is constantly in my vocabulary when speaking with other educators. I have read articles, watched movies and entirely fawned over Finland’s glorious, successful education system.

For me, it boils down to the basics. The students are happy and excited to attend school. The teachers are inspired, full of energy, and confident in their system. The students and teachers work collaboratively to achieve the same goals. What more could an educator hope for? Learning combined with ease, enthusiasm, and enjoyment.

Finland’s education system is the envy of educators from across the globe, yet, how does it really work? As an Ontario Certified Teacher, I have learned the Ontario curriculum and guidelines. I have learned how to formally assess students learning and achievement. I have developed skills and learned how to break down learning goals and success criteria in each and every lesson. I wonder how they assess their students? Do they have formal assessments or written documents that go home? Do the children’s knowledge levels vary the way they do within our classrooms here? How do they deal with behavioural issues? My questions could fill pages. I want to know everything. What I do not question is whether they are confident in their system; I just wonder how it all breaks down and looks day-to-day from a teacher’s perspective. How do they plan and prepare for each day? How do they communicate with parents?

My curiosity inspired extensive research on Finland’s education system. One particular day during my research, I came across a conference being held in Finland in January 2017 for 800 educators from around the world.  LIFE 2017 is an exclusive opportunity to visit ordinary Finnish schools and see how teaching is organized, talk with local teachers and students, and listen to the top Finnish pedagogical experts. I saved the link and would go back and visit it from time to time, dreaming of what it would be like to actually see their classrooms first-hand. One day, I was having a conversation with my employer when the topic of conferences came up. She encouraged me to send the link over so we could talk it through. Could I realistically go to Finland in just 2 short months? While we were discussing the possibility, the questions asked from my employers were as follows: Did I have any plans late January? Do I have an up-to-date passport?

My heart stopped.

Could I actually see this magical education system in live action? It’s been a dream of mine for quite some time. I’m already beginning to make a list of questions for teachers. Just to sit in a classroom and observe a lesson would be remarkable.

It wasn’t long before my flights were booked, and I AM GOING TO FINLAND! In just over a month, I will be on my flight out, and for now, my focus is to prepare for my trip.

Stay tuned for updates!