And you know what? I’m starting a diary too from today, inspired by daughter dearest. Who knows, one fine day we might just come out with a published copy of Mum & Daughter Chronicles!
Sarah (my daughter who’s growing up way faster than I would have liked and I can’t seem to do anything about it) declared today that she wants to be a ‘book writer’ when she grows up. Author, I corrected her. She wanted to know what extra she should do or study to become one. I have absolutely no qualms in admitting that I was feeling so puffed up with pride (though I did not show it) that my young daughter was so serious in this regard. A writer. What could be better? Creativity at its best.
So here’s what we did as a first step in that direction. We walked to the neighborhood store and bought her two brand new notebooks (a little fancy ones, with hard covers). My first and foremost suggestion to her was to start writing right away – a diary entry a day, about anything that may catch her fancy. It could be about her next-door neighbor pal whom she likes/dislikes and why; it could be a TV show that she enjoys watching; it could even be what she ate for dinner and the family talks on the dining table. The key was to start writing every single day without fail, to make this a habit. She readily agreed and is already penning down her first entry, the tip of her tongue sticking out (this happens when concentration is at its very peak).
And you know what? I’m starting a diary too from today, inspired by daughter dearest. Who knows, one fine day we might just come out with a published copy of Mum & Daughter Chronicles!
September is celebrated as the National Honey month in the United States. Apparently, the month of September marks the end of the honey collection season and hence the significance. We even have a National Honey Board and today is the first time I got to know about it!
Made me wonder – honey is messy, gooey and sweet – the ideal substance kids would (literally) love to wallow in. Why not carry out some simple DIY activities with honey and teach them a couple of things while indulging in it? Here goes.
Honey in the Kitchen
My kids (and I’m sure a majority of all kids everywhere) absolutely adore smoothies. Breakfast for them has to have a smoothie in tow and I very happily oblige, since it is nothing but pure milk along with the goodness of fruit. Recently, I’ve started asking my daughter to make her own smoothie by measuring out its ingredients and then blending them all together. The son is still too young to do so but he watches, perched up on a stool. We have a measuring glass which my daughter uses to measure out the yogurt and fruit juice (which I squeeze beforehand) before adding them to the blender with the fruit pieces. She now knows all about milliliters (ml) and liters, thanks to the smoothie making process! Yesterday I asked my younger one to measure out a little honey in the glass (up to a certain ml level) and top up the smoothie with it. He was thrilled to be ‘grown-up enough’ to be measuring out things!
We’re talking about honey here for the simple reason that it’s National Honey month. The underlying idea is to get your kids to measure out liquids and/or solids and learn about the basic units of measurement through a hands-on activity, rather than just through written worksheets and the like.
Who doesn’t love to pop bubble wrap? It’s actually pretty addictive (and I’m a victim). But it can come to other uses too, such as crafting up a realistic looking beehive, for one. The other day I was reading about an activity where you can simply cut out a wrap in the rough shape of a hive to begin with. Then ask your kids to paint on the bubble side up with brown/orange/mustard hues. Next, press on the painted side onto thick chart paper such that it leaves an imprint. Allow it to dry for a while. Your child could then draw cheerful little honeybees prancing around the hives and it’ll look so real!
Another simple way is to use a cardboard egg tray for the same. Carefully cut out the base, leaving the partitions intact. Ask your kids to paint it a bright orange, stick it onto thick construction paper and add bees here and there (your child could either draw them or stick them on). Voila – the beehive is ready! Here are some more interesting craft activities for kids, to bring out their (and your) artsy side.
And just before I wrap up this post, here’s some interesting advice from the honeybee itself:
Create a buzz
Sip life’s sweet moments
Mind your own beeswax
Always find your way home
Stick close to your honey
In my last post, I talked about my kids being fans of Winnie the Pooh. Just the other day, an article made me realize something I had known since long, and yet refused to acknowledge; that I am as much (or perhaps even more) of a die-hard fan of Harry Potter than my kids are of Winnie the Pooh.
This year marks two decades of the introduction of the magical world of Harry Potter. It was on June 26 1997 that the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, had hit bookshelves and taken the world by storm. And the magic continues to live on and multiply ever since.
Those who haven’t read the series sometimes seem flummoxed at the magical madness of it all. I mean, it’s actually a make-believe world with wizards and witches flying around on broomsticks, using wands to cast spells at each other and there’s apparently a school that teaches it all. What’s with the brouhaha about this non-existent world? Neither is our protagonist a superhero – he’s a very normal-looking, bespectacled boy who is neither strikingly handsome, nor outstandingly intelligent. Then why the great fan following?
If you ask me, it’s the words that are captivating more than the storyline itself. Rowling has managed to weave a wonderful tale of friendship and love, the triumph of good over evil and the hardships that must be overcome along the way. Here are some of my favorite lines from the books:
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of places, if only one remembers to turn on the lights.”
“It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
And I’m pretty sure Rowling unknowingly described herself when she penned this dialogue for one of her characters:
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
My kids are big fans of Winnie the Pooh, so much so that they have Pooh-shaped cushions on their beds too. They probably love him because he is a cute bear, adores honey and enjoys partying, singing, dancing and merry-making with his fun group of pals.
Well, I love him too. Not exactly just for those reasons perhaps, but because of the simple little bits and pieces of dialogue that Winnie the Pooh says at times, that end up meaning so much. Read on and you’ll know what I mean.
…which brings me to the crux of the matter, the real reason I started talking about our beloved Pooh in the first place. It’s the first Sunday of August – the International Day of Friendship. Happy Friendship Day!
Summertime reminds me of the classic simple games we used to play outdoors as kids. Back then, they were just a source of fun and laughter, fights and scuffles. Now, extensive research has proved that it was all not just mere ‘fun’; slowly but steadily these games were unknowingly helping us to pick up certain basic skills that would come in handy later in our lives.
Here are 3 examples of such classic outdoor learning games which are fun even today:
Hide and Seek
Every one of us at some point in our lives has played the game of hide and seek. I remember cheating almost every single time when I was supposed to count till 20 with my eyes closed facing the wall; I would barely reach the number 10, shout out loud ‘Ready!’ and then rush to find the others before they had managed to find a safe hiding place for themselves. It was more fun if the group was relatively large; 4 or more players. In addition to the fun factor, games like hide and seek help kids learn how to figure out stuff and hone their problem-solving skills – what could be the common and not-so-common hiding places? Taking turns themselves to hide and seek as well as giving others a chance to do so inculcates a sense of teamwork in children and provides the ideal challenging environment for them to learn while playing.
This is a game that is played one at a time using a grid with numbers 1-9 drawn on a flat surface. The rules are simple – the player needs to throw a pebble onto one number at a time, and avoid that particular numbered box while hopping to-and-fro across all the other boxes on one leg. Landing on both legs at any time or landing onto the box with the pebble means you are out of the game or must start right from the very beginning (number 1). Hopping on one foot requires physical coordination and balance, especially in younger kids. One needs to get into a set rhythm and practice control while hopping onto certain areas while avoiding others, aiding in cognitive skill development in kids. In addition to mastering body control, since hopscotch involves numbers, it can be a good way to brush up on basic math skills for younger kids while playing.
Ideal for slightly older kids, the game of marbles can be played in a group of 2 or more kids at a time. All you need is a piece of chalk and some marbles. The rules of the game are pretty straightforward – you draw a circle on the ground with chalk, place your marbles within the circle and then try and knock out your opponent’s marbles with one of your own. Right from simple things like taking turns to winning and losing, the game of marbles helps to develop fine motor skills in kids. A simple flick of the wrist needs to be right on target in order to effectively knock the other marbles out of the circle; this requires hand-eye coordination and careful eye-tracking, a precursor to geometry skills in later years.
In the modern day and age, there is no dearth of learning games for kids - in all shapes, sizes, subjects and ages possible. But like they say, some things never go out of style. And games like these are perhaps here to stay, forever.
It’s summertime. The time of the year that we as kids looked forward to, and now our little ones await these months eagerly too. And yet, there is a world of a difference between our summers and our kids’ summers. Like chalk and cheese.
We’d mount our bicycles on sunny afternoons and pant up a hill; cycling for all that we were worth. And then, ecstatically, race ourselves down to the bottom. The best holidays would be the ones when we visited the beach, building sandcastles with small buckets and shovels, playing with the turtles and collecting sea shells. Evenings would be about building forts and castles out of pillows and old, ragged bed sheets, snuggling within them with a rug and a good book, all the while sipping on hot chocolate.
Nowadays, it’s a different story altogether. I literally have to push my kids out of the house to go and play outdoors on most days. Some overprotective parents I know are of the view that their kids might hurt themselves, scrape their knees or have a fall, if let out of sight. Creating too safe an environment for our kids does them more harm than good. At times, it is okay to allow your child to trip over something, get back up again on their own and learn from their mistakes. Playing catch with their friends outdoors is so much better than becoming couch potatoes as a result of the internet, too much television or video games.
Like they say, cheers to unkempt beach hair and tanned skin, flip flops and sandy toes, bruised knees and scraped hands. It’s those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer after all!
My kids associate the Fourth of July with fireworks and barbecue, more than anything else. They know it is their country’s birthday, yes, and of course that it needs to be celebrated. Why not mark the occasion with some fun Fourth of July activities, crafts and merry-making, along with letting the children know what exactly Fourth of July is all about?
Dodge the Balloon
This game is fun if there is a large group of kids (at least 5-8). Divide the kids into two equal groups. Each child should be handed a towel, to be used as a slingshot to throw water-filled balloons at the opposing team members. Make sure the balloons are in the colors of the American flag – red, white or blue. The goal of the game is to dodge being hit by the balloons. Every time a child is hit by a balloon, he or she is eliminated from the game. This way the number of players will keep reducing. By chance, if members of an entire team are eliminated, the opposing team is declared to be the winner. If not, then the last person to remain untouched by a balloon will be declared as the champion of this Fourth of July dodge ball contest.
Hand Print Card
Ideal for younger kids who love getting their hands and everything around them messy, this craft activity doubles up as a patriotic greeting card that can be sent to family and friends on the occasion of Fourth of July. Using acrylic paints and a flat paint brush, you need to paint out the American flag on your child’s palm. Ask him to sit still while you fill in dark blue on the lowermost outer corner of the palm, followed by alternating red and white stripes on the remaining hand and fingers. Now take a plain white craft paper and ask your child to press his palm onto it (make sure he doesn’t rub it in and spoil the print altogether; just a hand impression will do). Cut this square out using a pair of scissors and allow your kid to paste it onto a thicker folded cardboard (that opens like a greeting card). Write in your message within and you’re ready with a hand print Fourth of July card to be sent to your folks. Once the paint is relatively dry, don’t forget to draw stars in white on the dark blue corner though!
Songs and Rhymes
In order to let the relatively younger children know and realize the significance of the day, it is a good idea to sing aloud and along with them simple Fourth of July songs and rhymes in the tunes of the nursery rhymes they are already familiar with. For instance, it could be: ‘It’s our country’s birthday, birthday, birthday. It’s our country’s birthday, on the Fourth of July!’ sung to London Bridge is Falling Down, or ‘Fireworks go snap, snap, snap! Crack, crack, crack; zap, zap, zap! Fireworks make me clap, clap, clap; on Independence Day!’ sung to Mary Had A Little Lamb, and likewise.
Wish to add any more ideas to this list? Happy Fourth of July to you all!
I have the following lines framed and put up in our study room at home:
Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child.
Being a mom who has been homeschooling her kids for the last couple of years, I truly believe the above words. Agreed, there are times when doubts creep in even today; am I doing the right thing? Are my kids turning out to be less social than their friends in the neighborhood who go to school daily? What if I miss out on tapping their potential to the maximum?
And then, on the other side, there are also days (more so) when I am pretty sure I have taken the right decision for my little ones, as I sit back and see them learning at their own pace, enjoying themselves all the way. A recent report here states that ‘Home educated kids are outperforming their mainstream counterparts in just about every area’. Are/will my kids doing/do the same? That only time will tell. But what I can say with the utmost conviction as of now is that they are no less than their peers who go to school, perhaps even brighter, if I may say (and it is not the biased mother in me speaking right now).
Given another chance, I would still choose to homeschool. I would still choose to let them have fun while learning. After all, when one chooses to homeschool, the entire world becomes your classroom. Is it not?
I recently came across an article that talked about how Mother’s Day came into being. Since D-day is almost upon us, everyone everywhere is talking about what moms would like on the occasion. Some pampering perhaps? A day off from her monotonous daily chores? An expensive watch or a shopping spree or brunch at a fancy eatery (sponsored by their better halves of course)? Well, while I’m sure all these would be more than welcome and wouldn’t give any of us mums a chance to complain, I thought I should pen down what moms would actually want on Mother’s Day, if given a choice.
Forty, Fifty, Sixty Winks
Forty winks are what I can manage on any typical, relatively non-busy day at home, which is if I am lucky. Come Mother’s Day, pure, unadulterated bliss would be catching fifty, sixty or even hundred winks for a change (read: a leisurely nap with no interruptions in the middle of the day). ‘Sleeping in’ for me as a mum translates to an hour of absolutely no disturbances. Now that I come to think of it, I don’t even remember the last time I ‘slept in’ during the day. So yes, sleeping in peacefully would be right on top of my list of wants on Mother’s Day.
A Freshly Cleaned House - That Lasts
Like they say: ‘The only thing better than a clean home is a clean home that mama didn’t have to clean herself.’ A freshly cleaned house that lasts is a dream. In our case, the longest it lasts is barely half an hour or so, before you have the little tykes stomping their way in through the main door in their muddy boots or turning over the cookie bin upside down on the kitchen counter. Hence, it would be a luxury to have a sparkling clean house for once and not having to be the one behind cleaning it and ending up exhausted in the process. We don’t mind if hubby dearest brings in the local home cleaning business guys for once and gives the home a makeover of sorts. Spotless carpets, crisp linen and a pristine kitchen counter is one of the most feel-good feelings ever for a mum.
We’re not asking for (or expecting either) a glass of champagne while we luxuriously indulge ourselves in a relaxing pedicure or spa session. All we’re asking for is some alone time to disconnect from the daily occurrences in order to enjoy our own company. It would work as the perfect way to get our batteries recharged. We would like to spend it as we wished – drinking a cup of coffee, curling up quietly with a book, watching a rom-com, taking an extended long shower, playing childish pet games on the computer, doing window shopping in the nearby flea market – the list can go on and on.
Too much to ask for? If yes, dads, please choose from the following list – a luxurious fragrance, an year-long membership of a wine-tasting place or a glittering tiara, that is, if you’re that generous. If not, any of the three options mentioned above would work out wonderfully. After all, sometimes the small pleasures in life are the sweetest.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Back in our childhood, May Day was something we looked forward to as much as Christmas, since both the occasions involved gifts. It was a tradition in our neighborhood back then to make fancy May Day baskets with goodies inside, leave it on the doorstep of your friends, ring the bell and run off! We kids though wanted one another to know who is the person giving the basket, hence there were small stick-it notes attached at the bottom. The ringing-the-bell-and-running-off was just for the thrill of it!
Unfortunately, it seems the tradition of gifting each other May Day baskets is slowly getting lost over time. Not many people can be seen taking the trouble of getting baskets ready for D-day. Hence, I decided to bring the said tradition alive this year with the kids’ help.
Nothing too elaborate though – just a colorful paper cone rolled out of scrapbook paper that doesn’t tear easily, filled with candies, a bunch of fresh flowers and a little note that says:
‘May your day be as bright as the flowers of May… Happy May Day!’