Saturday, 31 March 2012

Summer Holiday Ideas: Paper Cutting

Children love to experiment with cutting. Give your child lots of  papers/newspapers that you don't need and a pair of child scissors. She will be able to spend a good amount of time cutting the paper and thereby working on her motor skills as well.

This activity is enjoyed by most children between three and six years of age, though each age group would execute it as per its abilities. The younger ones will face a bigger challenge cutting the paper. While you can certainly assist them initially and show them how to cut, it would be best to leave them alone to execute it further. Struggling to cut the paper and subsequently mastering the skill is part of the fun as well. So let’s not spoil it for them by interfering too often!

The older children should not have too much difficulty cutting and may add their own elements of creativity to this activity. This is best encouraged, even if the end result does not make sense to us.

Have fun cutting!

<p><a href="">Image: Grant Cochrane /</a></p>

Monday, 26 March 2012

Summer Holiday Ideas: Drawing

If you live in India, it’s almost time for the academic year to draw to an end and for the much awaited summer holidays to begin. Worried about how to keep your little one engaged for the next couple of months? In this series "Summer Holiday Ideas", I present various ideas that would help little children stay busy, have fun as well as learn during the summer. The prescribed activities are simple, fun, easy to execute and often cost effective. And even if you live in a different part of the globe where schools continue to work, you can always use these ideas over the weekend and on other holidays!

Here comes the first one that is highly popular among children who like to draw!

Free hand drawing-

It is a cost effective option. All you need is paper, pencil and colours (optional). Many children love to draw free hand. Have a drawing hour every day and leave your child alone with paper, pencils and colours. Let it be his or her “Me Time”. Let the child draw, colour and experiment as he or she wishes to. This is most suitable for children two years and up, though each age group would execute it differently. The very young ones would be happy just scribbling while the older ones may produce unique pieces of art. Let the effort be the child’s and not the adult’s, irrespective of the end result and its visual appeal.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Learning About Shapes : Squares and Triangles

Here comes the next post on learning about shapes! This one is about squares and triangles.

Squares and Triangles

  1. Show your child pictures of squares and triangles and teach her to name them.
  2. If you have square shaped tiles at home, show them to your child.
  3. Cut out slices of bread in triangular shapes and make triangular sandwiches with them! Allow her to experiment on similar lines with the bread. 
  4. Give her clay and show her how to make squares and triangles with it.
  5. Show your child a square shaped tissue. Fold and cut it out to get triangles! Let your child experiment with the same(with child scissors). 
  6. Go around your house and ask your child to spot all the objects that resemble squares and triangles. 
For those of you who missed the previous post in this series on circles, here is the link

Friday, 16 March 2012

Communicating with Children: Feel Short Tempered?

An adult writes an important letter and places it on a table when her phone rings.

She takes two minutes to answer the call.

As she finishes her conversation, a two and a half year old child walks up to her with a piece of crumpled paper in hand. She shows it to her with a naughty expression on her face. The adult suddenly realises that it is the very important letter she just wrote. Her temper flares. She feels so angry with this naughty little child. She wants to give her a piece of her mind.

How would you feel if you were in this adult’s shoes? If you would also feel as she did, it is absolutely nothing to worry about! It is the way most people would normally feel. However, what you choose to say and do in that moment of anger is of greater significance than how you feel.

If you are a parent or a teacher, you will agree that children often say and do things that can send our tempers flaring.

However, it is important to keep our tempers in check when this happens. Because losing it would only make the situation worse. Losing your temper will do nothing to stop undesirable behaviour in the future. Children would also get a wrong signal, which is that they can get your attention by exhibiting destructive or undesirable behaviour.  

Going back to the story, the adult though angry and feeling a rise in her temper, manages to find a sense of balance.Though very angry, she does not react or lose control of herself. She opens the crumpled piece of paper and looks at the child. 

“You crumpled my paper and destroyed it,” she says to the child in a calm yet serious tone of voice. The child just stares back at her.

“I feel very angry that you did this,” she continues. The child continues to look at her without saying anything. 

You see what happened. The adult expressed her feelings in a calm manner. Hence, the child did not perceive a threat. As a result, the child at least stood in one place and listened to what the adult had to say.If the adult had instead lost her temper, the child would have gotten busy defending herself, getting away from the scene or throwing a tantrum. It would have created one messy loop with both the adult and the child angry!

The adult was able to express herself to the child only because she managed to stay calm. The end result was that the child understood that her behaviour was not acceptable and that it made another person unhappy and angry.

You may be wondering if it is alright to tell the child that you are angry. Of course, it is! Anger is a normal emotion that most people feel from time to time. So, there is no need to pretend like you never get angry. But finding a healthy means to express the anger, without losing control of self is important.

Communication is a very important part of effective living. Communicating clearly with children is as important as communicating with adults. When doors of communication are open, it frees you up to express your feelings and thereby solves issues in an effective manner!

<p><a href="">Image: David Castillo Dominici /</a></p>

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Articles of the Week: Art, Crayons and Emotions

Here I share three inspiring reads which are authored by my blogging friends at and

One is about learning to break free from the fear of imperfection, the second is about creativity with crayons and the third is about learning to identify emotional needs in the process of learning. 

Click on the following links to get a glimpse of the inspiring articles. Happy reading!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Learning About Shapes : Circles

Young children love exploring shapes. The world around us is full of shapes! Hence, learning about shapes can go well beyond learning to just draw or name them. Whether you are a parent at home or a teacher in school, teaching your child about shapes can be loads of fun for the child and you. Read on to know more.

In this post, let us explore circles.  Here are some ideas to make learning about circles fun for your child.

  1. Show your child a picture of a circle and teach her to say “circle”.
  2. Give your child paper and paints of different colours. Let her dip her fingers in the paint and make circles on the paper.
  3. While cooking, get your child to make things that are circular in shape. For instance, she can try to spread dosa batter (dosa is an Indian dish made of rice and pulses) on the skillet in a circular pattern. If you are from a different culture, get your child to participate in cooking a dish that is circular in shape.
  4. Give her a circular bangle. Let her keep it on paper and trace around it.
  5. Go out to your garden or to a park and ask her to trace circles in the sand with her hands and feet.
  6. Draw circles of different sizes on paper. Give her child scissors and ask her to cut them out.
  7. Look around your house and ask your child to spot all the objects that are circular in shape.
  8. If done in school or with a group of friends at home, all the children can join their hands together to form circles of varying sizes. That should be fun!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Children and Colours: Story-Activity

This is an exercise to reinforce in the child’s mind that different things in the world can have similar colours. You can do this exercise once or more, depending on the child’s level of interest. It is most suitable for children between three and four years of age, though slightly younger or older children may enjoy it as well.

Start by narrating this short story and follow it up with the activity described below.

There were three friends called Sky, Apple and Sunflower.

Sunflower lived on the ground, Apple lived on a tree and Sky lived high up.

A bird that was flying met Sky and said, “Sky, what colour are you?”

Sky said, “I am blue in colour.”

‘Blue! What a pleasing colour!” exclaimed the bird.

The bird saw Apple from high up and said, “Hey, I can see someone on the tree down there!”

Sky said, “That’s my friend Apple!”

The bird flew down to the tree to see Apple.

She said to Apple, “Hey Apple, what colour are you?”

Apple said, “I am red in colour”.

“Red! What a lovely colour!” exclaimed the bird.

The bird saw the sunflower from the tree and said ‘Hey, I can see someone on the ground down there!”

“That’s my friend Sunflower!” said Apple.

The excited bird then flew down to meet Sunflower.

She said, “Hey Sunflower, what colour are you?”

Sunflower replied, “I am yellow in colour!”

“Yellow!What a happy colour!”

“I saw three beautiful colours today- blue, red and yellow! Would you like to see them too?" said the bird. 


Once you finish this story, say to your child- “Now it’s our turn to see the colours blue, red and yellow. Can you go around our home and fetch things of different colours?"

If the child is interested, say, "Can you fetch something that is blue in colour?"

Let your child go around your home and fetch something that is blue in colour. Let's say he gets a blue pen. 

Pointing at the pen, you can say,” Bird saw the blue sky and we see a blue pen here!”

Next ask him to fetch an object that is red in colour. Let’s say your child gets a red tomato.

You can say, “Bird saw a red apple and we see a red tomato here.”

Finally, ask him to fetch something that is yellow in colour. Let's assume he gets a banana. 

You can say, “Bird saw a yellow sunflower and we see a yellow banana here!”

Many children find this to be an enjoyable activity. So, feel free to repeat this exercise with different colours and objects as many times as you think the child would enjoy doing it. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Teaching Children About Emotions

This is a very interesting way to teach little children about emotions, both the positive and the negative. Make little dolls or puppets with varied expressions on their faces. The expressions represent the emotions in those dolls. I have used paper dolls (origami dolls) for this lesson as shown in the picture below. The three dolls below represent three emotions- happy, sad, angry. You can make similar dolls for various other emotions and frames of mind such as disappointment, jealousy, excitement, boredom etc (emoticon images are available online in case you wish to refer).

How do you present this to young children? Just like you would show them pictures of animals, birds, vegetables, fruits, letters and teach them to say the names. You show a picture and say “this is an apple.” This lesson can be done in a similar manner too. However, it can be modified as per the age of the child.

  1. 2.5 to 3 years- Show the pictures of the dolls and teach them the names of the corresponding emotions. For instance, “This is happy”, ‘This is angry”, etc. After presenting this lesson for some time, you can ask the child to independently name the emotions as you show her the pictures of the dolls. Alternately, you can keep the pictures of the dolls in a line and tell the child to get you the pictures that represent the emotions you name. For instance, you can say, ‘Can you bring me the disappointed doll?”, “Can you bring me the happy doll?”
  2. 4- 5 years- You can play the ‘Identify the Emotion” game. Place the dolls randomly in a confined area such as the living room or in the classroom if done in school. Express an emotion on your face and ask the child to bring the doll that matches your emotion. For instance, when you make an angry face, the child looks for the doll with an angry face and brings it to you. You can also ask the child to guess the emotion that she sees on your face. Switch places after a while. Let your child do the emoting and you can do the guessing and finding. Another activity could be where you encourage the child to draw and colour faces or anything else that represents different emotions for the child. Let the child draw it his way. It is alright if it does not seem logical to you. Encourage him to talk about his picture and the emotions represented in it.
  3. 5 Years and Above- Mix several dolls in a box. Ask the child to close her eyes and randomly pick one doll that. You pick one doll too.Then tell her to write a few lines about her experiences with that emotion. She can even draw and colour a picture to match her story. Let her write all that comes naturally to her, while you write your own story or experience. Then both of you read out your stories to one another. Let your story be a real life incident that your child can relate to. This exercise helps the child understand that even adults have emotions and that it is a normal part of being human. If the child is not comfortable with writing yet, you can convert it into an oral exercise. Your child can narrate and you can write it down for her. Or she can just talk about it. It’s totally up to the individual child and adult. Do whatever feels right for you. 
Teaching children about emotions from a young age makes them understand that emotions are a normal part of being human and helps them develop a sense of comfort with their emotions. It helps them express and understand themselves better, without feeling guilty or suppressed. And that is what creates a child who is emotionally developed.