Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Adventures of the NICU Babies

I love teacher supplies. Even before I homeschooled, I would buy up pretty pens and cute stickers and fun notebooks every time the back to school stuff appeared. The other day I found some blank books in the dollar bin at Target and brought them home for my kids. I thought it might be fun to do their creative writing in "real" books instead of a boring worksheet. I filed them in our little office to use in the fall. But my kids had other plans.

I walked into the office to find all twelve blank books splayed across the floor. "Okay Drew! My cover is done! It's called the Lonely Diesel Engine!" 
I looked down at my oldest's blocky writing that spelled, "Lonle Dezel Enjen". "Oooh, I'm intrigued! I can't wait to find out why he's lonely and if it turns out okay."
"Don't worry, it does, Mommy," he said as he stopped to pat my leg. "He'll find friends. You'll see!" He turned back to his project, smiling and planning.

"What's your story going to be about, Drew?"
Drew's face lit up as an idea formed in his head. "The Adventures of the NICU Babies!!" He yelled as if he was announcing the latest super hero series. 
"Very cool ideas, both of you! Drew, want me to help you write your story down?" I asked.

Before I could find a pen, he started regaling the adventures of the babies' first trip to outer space. My favorite part reads, "The NICU babies all took turns flying the spaceship and after that they were better than the guy who taught them to fly! And then they went down to their moms and all had a bottle of warm milk." He spent twenty minutes or so illustrating each page with stick figures and rockets and had an idea for their next adventure before he was even done. "Let's do lots of stories about the NICU babies!" He yelled as he ran to show me the finished product.

As I reflected on those thirty minutes, I saw so many cool things happening. First, they wanted to create. I didn't need to make them. I just had to provide the tools and watch what happened next. Second, it's amazing to to realize that they are listening. You see, just this week I did a presentation to their VBS about the amazing strength of the babies in the NICU. I shared with the kids one of High Risk Hope's mottos, "You're never too small to make a big difference" and told them that when they help other people, they are our greatest super heroes. My four year old internalized this and actually made the babies into super heroes. How cool is that?

So, if you're feeling pressured by Pinterest pins about STEM learning or endless enrichment activities, remember that our kids are driven to learn. Give them the tools to create. Expose them to messages about good character. Sit back and watch what happens. And stay tuned for the next "Adventures of the NICU Babies!"

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