Author Archives: Kanchan Shine

We Have Moved

In case you’ve been wondering why you haven’t seen any updates on this blog site, it is because we have moved to a new, bigger, and more comprehensive site — http://eveltio.net.

eVeltio.net – is our attempt to build a large library of resources for educators. If you are a teacher or a parent, or interested in understanding how children learn, what teaching methodologies mean and what curriculum means, then you’ll find your answers at http://eveltio.net.

I request you to visit the site and register, and I will continue to serve you by sharing useful educational resources.

Warm regards,

Kanchan Shine

 

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What We Learnt From Lego (Courtesy Yellow Giraffe)

Charu from Yellow Giraffe sent us a Lego toy. The package said it was recommended for 7-12 year olds. The package had little Lego pieces to built a fantasy character “Chima” and his vehicle. I wasn’t sure if Little A (2.5) and Big A (5) would enjoy it, but I knew I would. So on Saturday morning, we opened the pack.

We began by placing all the tiny pieces in a box. I showed Big A the instruction booklet and explained to her its purpose. I showed her the diagrams and told her that we had to put pieces together, as shown in the diagram to build Chima. We looked through the pages and sorted the pieces first. Then, we went back to page 1 and began to fix pieces together as shown.

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t think that Big A would enjoy the activity, but to my surprise she did! Seeing her interest, the husband, S, joined in too. After 2 pages, she herself turned to the new page to see which parts were shown, then she picked out the parts and gave me. She needed a little help in understanding where to put the parts, so S fixed one part, she watched and fixed the other likewise. She mentioned how the parts were little and so many little parts had to be fixed together. I took the opportunity and explained to her that even cars are made the same way. Lots of different parts, some small and some big, are manufactured in different companies. Then, all the parts are assembled together to make a big car.

It was nice to see her interest in the activity. Through this little play, she didn’t realize it, but she was learning DIY skills – where one has to read an instruction booklet, identify parts, and assemble them together to make an object. Most of all she learnt to be patient and her little fingers got ample motor skill practice.

When Chima was finally made, she was THRILLED!

The next task was to make Chima’s vehicle. She was tired by then, so S decided to build it for her. I expected her to play with her other toys. But she sat still and watched him. Little A was also intrigued by the activity, and after a while, he too wanted to look at the booklet, find parts, and have a go at fixing them together. After the vehicle was built, we were surprised to realize that for TWO full hours we had all sat together doing one activity and discussing information about assembling things.  The two were very happy with their new toys, and they spent the rest of the day playing Chima Chima.

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For me, as a mother, it was a great experience. I learnt that kids can be engaged in any activity, as long as it is made interesting for them. On Sat, my two little kids learnt many skills – planning, executing instructions, sorting pieces, assembling pieces, focus and patience. And the entire family spent great quality time together doing one activity!

About Yellow Giraffe: Yellow Giraffe is an online toy store in India. The store has been designed to assist in selecting toys based on the skill benefits of the toy. Check out  http://www.yellowgiraffe.in/

Activities for September

September is here, and so is Autumn. In India, autumn is usually not taught as a season to students. But it should be, because just like the rest of the world, India experiences its version of autumn. Golden or brown leaves are usually a sign of autumn or fall. While we don’t often get to see autumn leaves in India, we do experience other changes, like the days become shorter and nights become longer. The days are sunny, but the sun’s rays are not as hot as they are in the summer.

Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Weather in Autumn Activity:

I took a globe and positioned a flashlight on one half of the Earth. I asked Big A to place her hands on different parts of the globe, to tell me which felt hot and which part felt warm. Then, I took a ball and held it straight (not titled like the globe), and I placed the flashlight on one half of the ball. I asked her to tell me if there was a difference in the heat across the different parts of the ball. Except for the top and bottom, where the flashlight rays don’t hit directly, the rest of the ball will be of the same temperature.

We concluded that because the earth is tilted, areas that get direct heat feel hot and those that do not get direct heat feel warm, and this is why we have seasons. In September, India does not receive direct sunlight, hence the days are warm, and are shorter than nighttime.

Here’s a list of other activities I’ve planned for this month:

  1. Talk about the weather in September and decide what type of clothes to wear for the weather. Work with your child to place clothes for September at the front of the cupboard shelf. By doing this, children realize how clothes are designed for seasons. And when they grow big, they are likely to be fashion conscious and  will dress up for the season.
  2. If you have fashion magazines at home, show pictures of the Autumn/Fall collection and discuss the trends in fashion with your kids.
  3. Autumn begins with Janmashtmi celebrations. Tell your kids a story about Krishna and then show them how to make butter.
  4. September is also a month of harvest festivals – Onam in Kerala and Nuakhai in Orissa. Discuss the meaning of harvest, and why farmers celebrate the harvest festival.
  5. Ganesh Chaturthi is another big festival that comes in September this year. Newspapers are going to be filled with photographs of the Elephant God. Have your child skim through the papers each day and cut pictures of Ganesha and create a collage.
  6. Take a nature walk, collect some leaves and make leaf skeletons.
  7. Collect fallen leaves and flowers, trace their designs on paper, cut the paper drawings and thread them together to make a toran. You could also make a toran with real leaf and flowers, but it will stay fresh only for a few days.
  8. Download and print fall theme worksheet set 1 and worksheet set 2 and have kids fill them up.

If you have fun ideas to do with kids in September, please do share them.

Observation Skills & Art with Leaves

Last evening when we went down for a stroll, Big A spotted leaves fallen on the ground.We spoke about why leaves fall on the ground and why some leaves are green and some brown. Then, we collected the leaves in a paper bag and brought them home with us.

At home, we spread the leaves on a newspaper. I arranged two small leaves on one side and bigger ones on the other side, and asked Big A to complete the groups that I had created. It didn’t strike her at first, that I had grouped them by size, so she began placing them randomly. So, I stopped her and asked her to tell me the sizes of the different leaves – we called them small, big and bigger. Once she understood the concept, she completed the groups by herself.

To take the concept of grouping a little further, next, I grouped leaves by the appearance of their blades – leaves with smooth blades and leaves with toothed blades. I showed her each type and then asked her to group the rest of the leaves accordingly. And then, we also grouped leaves by color. I wanted her to realize that objects have different characteristics – size, color, shape, texture to name a few, and we can create different groups based on these characteristics.

Later we used the leaves to make a little art piece :).

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Play Dough Pizza & Fractions

Play Dough is hours of quiet fun. Kids love mixing different colored dough (as much as you tell them not to) and molding it into different shapes. Play dough is a good sensory play item and by kneading the dough, punching it and pinching children also develop motor skills. It definitely seems like a great item to have at home, but buying it from the market is expensive at times, especially if your kids play with it regularly, mix it all together and then start asking for new colors.

So, I found a way to make play dough at home. I found many recipes on the Internet, tried and tested a few, and finally found one that worked for me. So here it is. To make play dough at home, you need:

  • 2 cups flour (I used maida)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar/vinegar (optional for improved elasticity)
  • Food color (if you want to be child-safe) or water color will do too
  1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them together and stir over low heat. The mixture will begin to thicken slowly.
  2. If it is sticky, continue cooking, until it leaves the sides.
  3. When the mixture pulls away from the side, remove it from the heat and leave it to cool until it reaches a temperature that is easy to handle.
  4. When its cooled down, knead it with your hands, until it appears smooth and shiny.
  5. Make small balls. Dig a hole in the center of each ball and a drop of color and knead it again to merge the color into the dough.

Hand it over to the kids and read a book or watch a movie, while they get busy in their play dough world 🙂

Or, you could make a pizza with them and teach them a little about fractions.

I asked Big A to make a pizza with the dough. After she made the base, I showed her how to slice it, and she made 8 parts. I explained to her that one small slice was called 1/8 part of the pizza, because it was one of the eight parts. Like wise I asked her to show me 2/8, 3/8 parts of the pizza. Then, came the fun part of putting toppings over the pizza. Both were creative in mixing up colors and crating funky toppings for the pizza.

While we were busy learning fractions, Little A used cookie cutters and made wonderful play dough art pieces.

Camera roll5When we ordered pizza the next time, Big A quickly opened the box to count the number of parts in the pizza, and told me how many parts she wanted to have :D. Who knew Math could be so much fun!

Pretend Play Town | Our Neighborhood

The theme for this weekend was pretend play town. The idea was inspired by Filthy Wizard & Picklebums.

This activity takes a little bit of planning. First, we drew the concept on paper, then we created the outline on the floor with chalk and finally we stuck the tape over it. A & a participated whole-heatedly deciding what structures should appear where. The helped lay the tracks for the train and also stuck trees around the neighborhood.

After the town was made, they pulled out building blocks and made an arch, added a see-saw in the garden, made a train and drove cars all around their new town. We discussed which route goes from the house to the garden and from the house to different places, and also discussed about the right direction for cars to travel and go around the town circle.

It’s their favorite spot in the house for now.

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Parking Cars & Learning Math

If you have kids at home, especially boys, then there must be little toy cars in your house, either arranged neatly or most likely scattered around. Little A loves his cars and enjoys speeding them around the house. And they pretty much end up in different corners or under the furniture in the house and never back in the toy box.

So, I decided to create a parking lot for him.

I had these plastic trays from the super market, which I thought would make perfect parking lots. So, I covered their base with chart paper and divided the space into small slots. I numbered each slot and put corresponding number stickers on the cars.

I was very thrilled with the result. Now, he not only puts cars back but also recognizes numbers and can match them 🙂

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Fun with Water & Science

The rains don’t seem to want to leave our city, and rainy days means the kids stay at home. The challenge for most parent’s then becomes figuring out ways to keep the little ones occupied in meaningful activities. Since rain is all about water, I decided to do some water activities with the kids.

I organized water in containers and first did the dissolving activity with them followed by the sinking and floating activity. Big A participated actively, while little A watched. Before doing the activity, I told her Big A that was a scientist, and she had to think like a scientist, that is, she had to observe, analyze, predict results and then check/verify prediction.

We began with soluble and non-soluble items. Each time I asked her to pick the item and feel it with her hands, I asked her to describe how it felt – was it smooth, was it grainy, did it feel heavy or light. Then, I asked her to predict if it would mix into the water or stay at the bottom. Every time her prediction came right, she was thrilled.

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Next, we did the sinking and floating activity. We followed the same inquiry-based learning method. She concluded that  heavy items sink and light items float; and was super surprised when the bottle with paint bottle floated while the hair clip sank.

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It was an hour and a half well spent, and by the time we were done, the rains stopped, so both of them put on their shoes and went down to play.

Shapes, Colors & Art

Today’s activity draws inspiration from the Georgetown Elementary Art Blog about Murals. If you visit their site, you’ll see the amazing mural that students made. I loved the vibrant colors and loved that the entire piece was put together through teamwork!

I decided to do the same activity at home with A & A. I gave each a white sheet of paper and asked them to use a black crayon and draw different shapes all over the paper. When they were done drawing shapes, I showed them how to connect shapes together with lines. After our paper was filled with black outlines, I brought out four colors – red, blue, yellow and white.

Both of them began filling colors inside their shapes with their paintbrushes. After using each color a few times, they wanted new colors. I told them we only had four color bottles with us, but we could maybe try mixing two colors to see if we could create a new color. And so, the fun began, they learnt that:

  • red+white = pink
  • red+yellow = orange
  • blue + yellow = green
  • blue + red = purple

We added white to the colors to make different hues, so we managed to get light and dark green, light and dark purple and light and dark orange.

After the coloring was over, we let the paper dry. Later at night, I used black paint to redo the outlines around the shapes, since the little ones had colored over them. The next morning, we opened up two photo frames, and replaced the art in it with our own artwork. The kids were thrilled at seeing their artwork on the wall.

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Do you display your kid’s artwork in your home? Do share your pictures with us.

Make a Farm at Home

A & A have been coming home each evening with soiled clothes. It’s because they have just discovered “mud play”. Due to continuous rains, the soil in the building compound has been moist for a long time. So the children have found a little spot near the flower bed, where the meet each evening, and dig out soil and make soil cookies and vessels. As much as I don’t like them coming home covered in dirt, I don’t want to stop them, because as kids, even I loved making little mud structures.

But, the fear of them falling sick has been bugging me for a while, so I was determined to find some safer activity they could do and yet not lose the wonderful experience of playing with mud/soil. After a lot of searching, I found this fantastic pretend play farm activity at Frugal Fun for Boys.  I love how Sarah has put a little pond in the middle of her garden and added plastic animals and figurines, and I knew that I had to do this for the kids.

The things needed for the activity are:

  • One plastic container with holes
  • Soil
  • Small plants
  • One small plastic bowl (to serve as pond)
  • Plastic figurines

So here are pictures of our version of the plant a garden activity; we call it our Home Farm.

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I bought a packet of plastic domestic and wild animals and mixed them together. After the garden was made, I asked the kids to tell me which animals would fit in the farm. We discussed why wild animals could not live on farms, and also discussed how farm animals are useful to us.

The next day morning, after they woke up, they quickly went to see their farm. Big A told me that the rooster woke everyone up with a loud “Cock-a-doodle-do”, and it’s time to bathe the animals. So both of them spend the morning, bathing their animals and playing with we mud.

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I am hoping to add a little fence with Popsicle sticks and maybe make a coop for the hen in the coming days. Keep watching this space for more pictures!

As promised, here are pictures of new additions to our farm. We made fence enclosures for animals, and discussed which two animals could stay together in the same enclosure. We also used the magnifying glass to check if any tiny insects have made a home in our farm.

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