Letters from an elephant... marking an important anniversary creatively...

When my son turned four there was much excitement because suddenly he was "of an age" where whole nuts could be eaten. Being a early-age conversationalist he had been talking about "eating nuts when I turn four" for at least a couple of years prior to that occasion! But how to mark such an important "coming of age?"

Time for a little exploratory fun.

I had noted five things to develop a celebratory scheme:

1) that he enjoyed our occasional sojourns into the garden to take photographs according to some arbitrary theme I had set - colours, shapes, things beginning with "Th" and so on....

2) that he loved playing with words.

3) that we would all be travelling to Queensland by car before his birthday and would be taking him for a look at the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

4) that he loved receiving letters and I had heard of some creative projects related to children and letters

5) that he had enjoyed a book provided earlier in life as part of a Maternal and Child Health and State Library of Victoria scheme called Baby - a book about a baby elephant and its learning journey.

So .... Baby the elephant, who lived at Western Plains Zoo (and whom we visited) sent my son a letter everyday for seven days before his birthday (complete with postmarks and all the usual trappings of surface mail). Baby you see, was turning four on the same day as my son and was also going to be able to eat whole nuts for the first time. Baby wanted to send my son some nuts to celebrate but to find the nuts my son had to take a clue from each letter he received, photograph the thing around the house represented by the clue, stick the photo into a scrapbook "that Baby had left in a safe space in the garage" and then write down what each thing was in the srapbook. Then by taking the first letter of each word he wrote, he could work out where the nuts were left. Result: nuts were discovered in a secret place ON HIS FOURTH BIRTHDAY. Much learning and fun for all involved!

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