Dear Jasper and Kestrel,
It is always fun seeing what Liza is up to. Like you and many of your friends, she enjoys Pokemon cartoons and toys, likes to wear unicorn clothes and fairy wings, and she even enjoys going on walking and bussing adventures with me.
And, like you guys, she makes up her own games. When our friend Alicia Justice gave her a “surprise ball” filled with small toys, she used them to create a game. The New Year’s noisemaker became the hockey stick with which she knocked small flies and butterflies through a ‘goal’ made of candle holders.
She likes (and is good at!) making pancakes.
She found a project for a bird feeder in Highlights Magazine, involving pine cones, peanut butter and oatmeal. That worked out nicely.
She also likes to make words, though she needs a little help. We played with my Bananagrams game, making words about family and geometry.
Since she has just started reading, Mr. Steinbeck’s quotes on rocks around Salinas are fair game. This one, at Central Park, says, “I’ve seen a look in dog’s eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that dogs think humans are nuts.” It took two times through until she realized it was funny, but then she laughed and laughed. “Dogs think humans are nuts!” she kept chuckling to herself.
But her most complex, repeated game is the one we play at the Steinbeck Center. It spans three rooms, three books, and gets better every time we play it. She opens the curtains at the labor camp in the Grapes of Wrath room, and talks with the children there. “Would you like to come to my party?” she asks.
Then we go to the room set up with the Pipe House from Sweet Thursday and pretend to decorate. The most fun is in the Sea of Cortez room, where we get in the small boat and set off, catching fish for the party! Tuna, sharks, and sardines are all fair game, and brought into that small boat. It gets a little harrowing.
On this visit, one of the skeletons set up for Dia de los Muertos sat in the Pipe House, beside a small brazier. Liza improvised by cooking the make believe fish over the fire. The game ends when all the children come, we eat and play, and they go home to be with their families.
I love playing games with Liza, letting her make the rules and figure things out. I think it makes us both smarter.