Sharing Stories With Our Kids

A post from my wife Maya.

While I was reading this I got thinking about how our kids might never know about the pre-digital world we inhabited – about letters, land lines, rotary instruments my grandparents had, touch-tone phones, paper maps, pen pals, waiting for the mailman, telegrams etc. They might see it in movies but that’s impersonal. How do we get our kids to know of a bygone world? How do we convey?

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117/366 – Retro by Ravi Shah

The simplest way is to talk about those days. To share stories. A good storyteller can transport listeners to the times she is talking about. We can pull out old pictures and talk about the times those were taken in. Ask the kids what they don’t see in our homes that are there in pictures from our young age. A simple ‘Spot the Difference’ kind of exercise. It can be fun and enlightening.

We know a lot of things about the world inhabited by our parents because they spoke of those times. Our grandparents spoke of how they grew up. This is how memories are passed on via stories and also how connectivity is brought between generations. Today we might do it, but tomorrow our kids will have to do it in the future when the current digital age morphs and becomes a thing of the past!

 

 

 

Christmas Gift Suggestions

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
— Oren Arnold

Oren Arnold was born in 1900, and what he said in his lifetime holds good even today. It’s simple and yet deep. When he talks about setting a good example to every child, it seems so obvious, but then in our everyday lives we forget it and live very unthinkingly.

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Sharing by Nathan

Sharing

Kids look forward to their gifts at Christmas and love opening them. Last year was about resolutions and virtual pet games, but this year, we want the kids to have bigger gifts. The gift of sharing and caring. There is a the millennial generation which understands sharing (of a sort), but younger children need to be reminded. Sometimes kids are naturally sharing. Other times wars break out. We need to bring up our kids who care about people and things around them. Not just sharing as it’s wiser, but to share because they wish to and it’s required, as resource sharing is a way forward. Cropmobster is an example of farming communities sharing their surplus. We can start early by asking our kids to share the gifts they get, with others less fortunate.

We could also take them to an animal shelter to help out. Alternatively, take them to a place where food is served for the less fortunate. Even as we do all this, we can encourage kids strongly not to waste food or other resources. This in itself is a huge saving. Food sharing is a growing social movement in many parts of the world. Sharing surplus food was not uncommon in earlier times, but today it has been forgotten and needs to be revived.

Parenting

A few days ago, I saw a young child aged 5 or so put a card to her ear as if she were on the phone. Then she used her head and shoulder to keep it in place, continuing an imaginary conversation, and dug around in her bag, just like an adult would. In about a minute, she calmly put away her pretend phone and turned around to her grandmother letting her know that she had finished her call. Then she continued, ‘Mamma does that.’

As parents we forget that our kids watch us all the time. They follow us, learn from us and imbibe many things that we do. If we don’t answer their question when they ask, they think it’s okay to do the same!

We have tried to be good parents. Most times we are(at least that’s what we think we are!) but we need to be aware that we need to set a good example. Well, this Christmas, we are going to give that gift to our children. Along with a few other presents of course!

We’ll go spend some time volunteering. If it touches our kids, who want to come along, I would say we have given them a good gift.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Get The Kids To Cook This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we want the kids to help with the meal. They are gung ho about it, which is always a blessing. It’s going to be a large gathering with family and friends. Playing, arguing, watching the game, singing, walking; it’s all going to be part of the day. Hopefully we’ll make some good memories for the kids. Last year, we got a little lazy, and everyone just chatted while the kids ended up teaching online games to their grandfather, who is generally bad with all things digital.

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cooking by foam

Participation in Family Gatherings

Kids build a sense of participation when they are involved in family gatherings. It helps build their self esteem when they can see the fruit of their labor being enjoyed by many. While they participate in a large cooking project they also learn cooperation and team spirit. Our younger one always announces that he shredded the lettuce when we serve the salad!

Cooperation

A certain rhythm develops among the people as they work. Children learn to make room for the functioning of another person. It’s like a dance, people keep on taking different positions, occupying new spaces even as they vacate and make space for another. People wait their turn for some equipment. They learn about ingredients, processes and handling of things. They learn about the bounty of nature. The visual splendor of a sliced cabbage, the beautiful red tomatoes on green stems, browns on a well roasted turkey; I can go on. We look at cooking as a life skill, which will help anyone at any stage of their life.

Learning

Playing math games is always fun and entertaining. Kids and adults love them. Personally I like playing outdoor math games, but as parents we need to be creative with what we can turn into a game. Cooking’s a neat way to learn some math; proportions, volume, weights, measures, counts etc. – all these come into the picture.

Fun things kids can do in the kitchen

To give you an idea, here is a list of things which our kids have done in the past in our kitchen:

  1. Shredded lettuce
  2. Torn apart broccoli
  3. Cut out cookies
  4. Slapped dough
  5. Mashed potato
  6. Broken up cheese
  7. Scrubbed vegetables
  8. Drowned cupcakes in glaze

Reading it now makes me feel like we are bringing up hardened criminals!

There is always a way kids can help out in the kitchen. We just have to find the right thing to interest them, and make sure they are careful while handling equipment(if they do).

2 simple dishes kids can independently prepare

Vegetable salad

Give them the vegetables and dressing to be used. Let them wash, dry and prepare them. If it’s there first time, teach them, else let them manage. Give them a low work space to convenience them. Some kitchen towels, bowls to wash everything in and a plastic bowl to mix the salad. Once it’s all ready, you could transfer it to a nice glass bowl or plate.

Mashed Potatoes

Give the kids the ingredients – cooked potatoes, the dairy you want in the end dish, salt, herbs etc. The kids can peel and mash the potatoes. Then they can add the ingredients in the order you want them to. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Hope your Thanksgiving goes well!

 

 

Halloween the Old Fashioned Way

This year we decided to make a few Halloween crafts at home. Just. On a lark. The kids too were enthusiastic and this spurred us on. Maya is generally the one who has the patience for intricate crafts. I generally enjoy making things which are simple.

Here are two crafts we tried out:

Skeleton on a Stick

This is something my grandfather made for me. The idea remains the same, but this one looks slightly different from what he made.

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Things you need are some black card stock, silver pen, sturdy stick like the one in the image about 8″ long, pair of scissors, needle and thread, and glue.

Cut out a torso with skull, 2 legs, a skull and 2 arms in 3 pieces(upper arm, forearm and hand). Use thread and needle to put together the arms. Next attach the arms at the shoulders of the torso piece. Then sew the legs on. Stick this figure on to the stick, leaving a short length free at the bottom. Use the pen to draw the skeleton on it. Decorate as you wish.

Now twirl the stick back and forth between your thumb and forefinger. Enjoy the movement!

Popsicle Stick Spiders on a Web

We got this idea from here.

Things you need are 3 popsicle sticks, some colorful yarn, black paint and some glue.

Stick the three glue sticks together such that ends form a circle. Paint it black. Then take the yarn and wrap around the sticks like a web. Leave a length intact to hang it up.

If you tried making something, drop us a line. Happy Halloween!

 

Math Games with Younger Kids

Mathematics can be fun for many, but can also be a monster for others. It’s unfortunate if kids are afraid of math even before they start regular school. Frequently this happens because parents are afraid, and they pass on their fears to the children.

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Happy Kids by Caio Vinicius Reis de Carvalho

One of the easiest ways to reduce this fear it to talk math. Yes, talk. Mathematics. Talk quarter pizzas and half burgers. Exchange 5 peanuts for an almond. Ask the kids to distribute fruit to the family. We must surround kids with numbers. This makes kids comfortable with numbers and their concepts. This exposure will help them throughout their lives. Just like sportive spirit, an appreciation of mathematics has to be imbibed. Sometimes playing games is a great way to get kids into math.

Here are three Math Games to play with Younger Kids:

  1. Count your Steps

Count your steps as you walk. It could be to the bathroom or just till the front door. You could call out a number and your kid calls out the next. Make it more interesting by singing out your numbers, or you could sound funny. This is also a great way for kids to advance their counting abilities. You could even try reverse counting.

2. Weigh things

This can be messy but fun. You might have to wait a bit until kids can read out numbers. Trust me kids love doing this. Ask them to weigh one object against the other, just using their hands. Occasionally you could ask them to load two small buckets. They they could lift the two and decide. At the park use the see saw to talk about weight. Start with imbalance and see if balance can be achieved with the help of other kids. Children like to weigh their shoes, food, books, toys etc. Beware of finding a used nappy on the scale!

3. Count and throw

This is a great game to be played indoors or outdoors. Keep a large container. Pile up a few things which will not break, and not hurt. Aim and throw them into the container. Keep count of the ones which land inside. This game is also good for improving hand eye coordination. If you have a mix of kids, change the distance they throw from. To make it more exciting, throw things into water. Make sure objects are waterproof and make sure the mess is outside the house. Alternatively, you could also stand at a height and drop things into a bucket. Just make sure the kids do this safely.

As kids start school most of them get on to playing math games. Schools maintain resource links for kids. Always play the game you are allowing your kids to play. If you are happy with it, let the kids play. Some teachers are enthusiastic enough to design games for kids. It is definitely an age where kids learn through games. In fact education and gaming are evolving together. In spite of all this the first games played at home are the ones which leave a deep impression.

 

 

 

 

It’s OK to Fail

Have kids, need humor. Lots of it.

Especially when your kids come weeping with nose running because they lost a board game. I can’t stop smiling at how cute they look. Maya and I exchange smiles over the top of their heads, even as we try to be serious about their great loss.

God forbid if they catch you smiling. The sky falls!

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Kids’ race arriving by Harald

We hug and shush them. Even as we wipe tears we keep repeating over and over again that it’s okay.  This is important. Failure is a stepping stone to success. Even if it’s not a stepping stone to success in what you failed, it teaches kids to fail and get up.

Three things to learn from failure:

1. Not everyone can come first at the finishing line 

There’s a reason there are just three spots on the podium. They are better than the rest. They might have had a better day, had better training or just might be plain vanilla more talented. Yes, fact of life – others might be better than us, better than our children. This does not change the fact that you love your kids to bits or that they are wonderful human beings.

2. Not everyone can do the same thing equally well

Our five fingers are not equal. Each has a different function and they are designed to do somethings better than the other fingers. Together the hand can do so much more. Similarly our kids are good at different things. The world requires a variety of talent, and it’s our job to support our kids while they find theirs. Perseverance is key, and even if our kids fail at things, it’s our job to help them get up and brush off their knees. Sometimes we just need the kids to pause and take a look at what they are doing. A small tweak in their approach might give them the fillip they need.

3. Living a happy life is a sum total of failures and successes

Making money and living the high life is not a happy life. Happiness is ephemeral. It’s what brings joy. The joy at landing a good job is as much a joy as sitting and watching playful kittens. We must help our kids understand that life has many facets. We might shine is some and be dull in others. Our lives will include success and failure. The important of such things is to learn to move on. Carrying the burden of failure is hard and pointless.

So whether the kids are playing online games or running a race, emphasize that it’s okay to fail. But remember, they must not interpret this as an easy pass to not put in the effort. They need to find what they like. Team up, play, learn, teach and live a full life. Family bonds must be strengthened for this creates safety nets for kids. It’s complicated to teach kids balance. But then did anyone ever say parenting was easy?

5 Sources for Some Great Summer Fun

Kids and summer – a combo that can get hard on parents who are not well organized, especially if both parents are working. Sometimes the Internet is a great place for some help. Various bloggers have some wonderful ideas for keeping kids busy during the summer.

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Life by Jae C.

Here are 5 sources of some great information:

1. 50 Outdoor Summer Activities

2. Great Activities to Keep Kids Busy

3. 200 Free Summer Activities for Kids

4. 50 Essential Summer Activities

5. 50 of the best summer fun activities

Use these idea, reduce your stress, keep the kids busy, get them to be creative and see how much all of you will enjoy this summer. While the kids are busy with these activities, catch up on your work. If you have the time, go out and play with them.

 

 

 

 

All About Games for Kids

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