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Creating Cozy and reading Hibernation Station

“Cozy is an attitude, not a thing -- a shortcut to bringing the most essential parts of ourselves with us wherever we go.”

-- Isabel Gillies

Why Cozy?

As we continue through winter and our persistence season of Tinkergarten, I’ve been thinking more and more about the concept of ‘cozy’ and what it can offer our children. In her book Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World, Isabel Gillies explains that “cozy makes [her] feel capable of getting through to the next moment, to help another, to accomplish something important.” I can’t think of anything more true and connected to persistence than developing tools that help us get from moment to moment and that support us in accomplishing big and small things. Cozy also has the added benefit of being easier to grasp in winter months when we are already looking for comfort and warmth.

Coziness comes to us in so many ways, but doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s an ever changing part of our lives that grows and morphs with who we are in each season and often takes the action of noticing to give its full benefits. One of the coziest parts of winter for me is filling the kettle to brew my family’s evening tea. I adore the sound the kettle makes when warming up and we love to gather around the cabinet and choose which tea flavor we’ll try each night. While this is an incredibly soothing and grounding ritual for us in cold weather, once our evenings warm up and we move into a new season, evening tea time tends to go by the wayside and we find cozy instead in listening to the bees in the flowers outside of our screened porch. 

Finding and creating cozy is an incredibly sensory experience and we know that when our children’s senses are engaged, their learning sticks. Tuning in and noticing cozy parts of life as well as making spaces and doing cozy actions can help connect our children to their families (both nuclear and extended) and grow in them a sense of community.  Research also tell us that embracing coziness and life’s little pleasures can improve overall happiness.

Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

In this whimsy story, animals pile onto the hibernation train and do their best to cozy in for a winter nap. Told with a slow rhythm of short sentences and rhyme and with wonderful illustrations of animals in pajamas, this is one of our favorite cozy books!

What are we learning when we read Hibernation Station and talk about cozy things?

🔹Emotional Regulation → As one of our executive function skills, emotional regulation works with memory and focus to help us manage where and how we direct our attention, manage our emotions and regulate our behavior. In learning to regulate our emotions, we have the mental space to assess and respond to new information and we are able to make better informed social choices, helping us form strong relationships and collaborate more effectively.

🔹Persistence → Hibernation is a superpower some animals use to survive winter. Just thinking about how animals survive and thrive in the winter months can help us persist in whatever winter weather we’ve got!

🔹Empathy → We notice different animals in this story have different needs. Thinking about the needs of another person or creature supports kids in developing empathy skills. 

🔹Problem Solving → Multiple problems arise throughout our story as all of the animals pile into the hibernation train and problems will arise as you create a cozy corner with your kiddos. These provide wonderful chances for chatting and problem solving. Ask lots of questions and give your kiddos time to process and come up with solutions as a team.

🔹Resilience → Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and failures. Creating cozy spaces with your child and helping them notice what about your lives is cozy will give kids tools to turn to when challenges arise.

Behavioral Schema

“There are patterns of repeatable behavior known as "schema" that you can notice in your child's play during early childhood. No matter where you are in the world, these same schema are exhibited by kids. Experts believe that when kids repeat these patterns in different situations, kids develop physically and cognitively. In turn, they are better able to understand, navigate and interact with their worlds, resulting in transformative learning. Kids naturally become absorbed in repeating these patterns, and practice with schema is highly engaging for them.” –Tinkergarten’s More Than Mud Pies

🔹Positioning Schema → Seen when kids order, arrange and position objects or themselves (such as the logs put in line to create a train). 

🔹Enveloping Schema → Observed when kids cover, wrap or enclose things and themselves (like the animals in the train logs).

Remember, when kids are playing and exhibiting these repetitive actions important bridges are being built in their brains!

Cozy Ideas

Here are some ways that we and our friends love to create cozy!

  • Cozy corners with things we love that are soft (pillows, stuffed animals, a favorite blanket)

  • Tea when we come in from the cold outdoors

  • Wearing Pajamas or other soft and loose clothing

  • Eating special foods on otherwise normal days

  • Noticing cozy with our senses and pointing it out (such as bees buzzing in flowers, how warm our teacup gets, the way the sunlight shines through the trees in the morning and evening, the way our kitchen smells when we bake cookies)

As grown-ups, our good work is to notice, point out, and create cozy spaces for and with our kiddos so that, as they grow they learn the “attitude of cozy – a shortcut to bringing the most essential parts of ourselves with us wherever we go.”

More Playful Learning

Looking for more ways to create cozy spaces with your kiddos? Check out our Cozy Hideout Lesson for rainy days or join us for Tinkergarten classes!

I’d love to hear how you and your explorers are finding and creating cozy this season! Comment below or tag me in your cozy spaces on Instagram!




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