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Kid Passions

My sister-in-law's home is inhabited by dragons and dinosaurs. My own house is full of fairies and butterflies. As parents of toddlers and preschoolers, it's easy to feel slightly trapped in a one-dimensional world where everything's required to fit the theme of the moment. But experts say a passion for such stuff is healthy and expected. When everyone's bigger, stronger, or more capable than they are, is it any wonder little kids want to pretend to be magical, speedy, or enormous? Fun ways to indulge your child's loves:

Fun a-go-go!
Make your art roll. If your child can't put down his favorite car to pick up a brush, let him use the vehicle as a brush. Show him how to drive trucks and trains over puddles of wash-able paint on a cookie sheet, then roll off the paint in designs on paper taped to the floor.

Put wheels on anything. Buy wooden wheels at a hardware store for a dollar or two, then make your own vehicles by attaching them to objects with nails, wooden skewers, or golf tees. Turn a flat-bottomed potato into a spud-mobile. Transform a Styrofoam block into a car, or link three to make a train.

Create a transportation system. On the sidewalk, or on large pieces of paper that are taped to the floor, draw a town's transportation system, including construction sites for trucks, a garbage dump, an airport, and a bus terminal. Then let your child get rolling, flying, and digging. You can even put "trash" or dirt in little piles for him to scoop up and deliver.

Watch transporting videos. When you need a break from all that motion in your house, slow down with a marathon of Bob the Builder ($10 and up DVD, $7 and up VHS, HIT Entertainment), which shows the functions of various equipment and gives lessons in teamwork and cooperation. I Dig Dirt ($15 DVD, $13 VHS, Dreams Come True Productions) offers a non-animated, realistic view of big equipment in action.

Barbara Rowley, a mom of two, is a contributing editor to Parenting.