Cooking with your child-Word your way to cook

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills! – The second chapter

Word your way to cook

The festivities have begun and festivals, anywhere in the world are incomplete without food -festive or other- and children (even toddlers!) are generally super excited about it. I am back with the next family activity which not only encourages creativity in all family members but also improves body parts coordination especially among toddlers and primary level children. Benefits of adding new vocabulary to your child’s word bank and of course super family time with a sense of achievement are a bonus.

I present here a super simple recipe which does not require cooking with fire at all ( Can be used for kids aged 5or 6years too! Although, not using fire is not to be taken as the rule when cooking with kids as shared cooking and lots of communication is the aim ) .

So having with us our Chefs of the day ready for their cooking adventure, let us begin with the fun!

Chocolate Peanut Butter balls

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The recipe notes and the picture above are self explanatory as to what is to be done. However I do have here, some pointers towards creating a great learning and fun experience for your kids:

  • To give them a free hand and wide surface to work on, I covered the entire work table with butter paper. Thus, was able to give them free reign with the dough, without bothering about spills.
  • All children love it when they are made to feel important and act all grown up. You can begin by making them some simple chef caps either temporary ones with chart paper and a stapler or readymade ones which are easily available too these days. Simple kiddy aprons to accompany are an appropriate touch .

          Pretending to be chefs has all the advantages of pretend play added as a bonus too!

  • Avoid almost all DON’TS and concentrate on the DOs .
  • Do be very expressive –talk, talk and talk-deliberately use words which you want your child to pick up. Don’t translate words like stir, drip, rather use your actions along with the words. They are more effective and fun as learning tools.
  • You can go a step ahead by engaging the kids in a recipe recall game with the family joining in. This takes care of practicing logical thinking skills too!
  • For younger kids you can even use the ingredients or their pictures for recalling the steps of a recipe.

Some fun and learning moments I had with my Co–Chefs

Mrinal, Mihika and Myra

  • “What is this? Peanut Butter. What is Peanut? Pat jumped in Mihika with- Peanut is a nut. Never wanting to remain behind Mrinal jumped in, I know vegetable names Onion…” This Provided me the opportunity to talk about so many vegetable names and point out interesting facts about them.
  •  The problem of measuring out exactly 1 cup of milk powder brought in the use of Measuring Cups. While problem solving skills came into use when they could not fit the cup measure directly into the Milk Powder Jar. Mrinal had the quick solution of using a smaller spoon to fill the cup. What a fine start to lessons in measurement! Endless scope: How many spoons can fill one cup? Many and Much concepts too!
  •  Taking half a cup of peanut butter brought in the concept of half, the word divide and other fractions. Gradually I had them asking for half a glass of water and half a chocolate!
  • Kneading in the milk powder along with peanut butter first and later with condensed milk had them super excited! All kids sure love to knead when they see their mother do it for chapattis or other bakery products.
  • While rolling the balls their ideas took wings and we had some bricks and spoon shapes made too along with the balls!
  • Dunking the balls into the chocolate sauce one by one; letting them swim in it and then catching them with a pair of tongs involved much shared laughter and became a game .The entire process is a wonderful hand eye coordination exercise.
  • The word drip was loved, as they all wanted the chocolate sauce to drip from the tongs directly into their hands  so that they could lick it!

The biggest problem I encountered –Had to send the kids again and again for washing their hands as they could not resist licking their fingers while preparing the dish!

Well there’s lot more to come in the third chapter of –5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!  So have fingerliscious da#teachersys till then with your kids!

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5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!

The rains have set in the fun mood and the ensuing festive season has ushered in a lot of cheer. Just the time for some great family fun.

Well, rains and the accompanying uplift in spirit brought back my playful spirit too and one fine day I posted the following picture (a casual early morning click when on my morning walk) with an accompanying note on my social media account.

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Camouflage at its best .Seems as if the lovely parrots are teasing us. Spot us if you can! Find at least three parrots in the picture.

I was astonished to see the number of people who joined in the spirit and set to work finding the parrots and exclaiming to my delight Yay found em!’, ‘found!’ …the list keeps on growing longer.

This set me thinking, ‘when people, right from those in their thirties to near sixties and maybe more can’t resist a challenge, how much more fun it must be for children!’

What better way would there be for children to add on new vocabulary and enhance their communication skills than fun family activities and games. So here we are with some of my prefferred ideas and games for the on-going monsoon and the ensuing festive seasons. My list of 5 such ideas includes:

  1. The Great Monsoon Trail
  2. Cook your words or Word your way to cook!
  3. The hunt for treasure –Treasure hunt while playing with language!
  4. The big shopping expedition!
  5.  Party Fun

In today’s blog I would like to talk about the first one :

The Great Monsoon Trail

The monsoon ushers in lot of greenery in some form or the other and there is a lot of colour to look at around you .So walks and following trails when the time and wheather permits is the thing to do. These days most parents are health conscious and regular walkers /gymers. .The problem is that, while doing so  we take our surroundings for granted and don’t involve children  in the activities or don’t think it is important to keep up the chatter. So talk away, keep introducing words/names for things on the go without stressing on the learning -so that you don’t lose the fun quotient!

Go out to your garden/balcony/parks as a family at least once a week (maybe mornings or whenever you have time). Have a blast clicking away with your kids. You will be surprised, how different some scenarios can look and how many more things you are able to observe when seen minutely in focus!

Some activities /games which can be carried out /played while on the  monsoon walk:

  • Fun picture puzzle: The picture shown above and the words used as a caption are example enough for the kind of talk and vocabulary you have to use while talking to children and the scope of things which can be taught while having fun  .The vocabulary to be used can be toned down or up according to your child’s age –ex words like camouflage, adaptation(Also words like camouflage can be used to play lots of interesting family games. Tell children to camouflage themselves from fictional enemies and play the game .Camouflage can also be definitely used to talk about things like why Indian army has the uniform it has ).
  • Here are a few more of my favourite pics :

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Other than the obvious ones like roots, short, tall,colours …words like  a natural arch can be deliberately introduced in your conversation.

You can also ask -to find particular shaped/coloured leaves, look for chameleons /birds/flowers/other.

  • Tell children to take pictures too and make scrap books where each picture can have a question or a puzzle to unravel as shown in the pic above. Then all can sit together at a family sit together and have fun playing the game.
  • Collect unusual objects when following your trail (by the way trail is another word to be taught!) and design some artifact as a family .
  • Activities which involve lots of physical movement can also be an attraction and give a sense of achievement. Example-Following a pattern in a park, running around trees (not the bollywood kind!),trying to hang a bit from strong branches of a tree, trying to climb a tree if it is safe.

 

Will be back to share some great cooking fun with children in my next post .Till then, don’t wait for games like Pokemon Go in augmented reality to drag you and your child out of your home or be more active! The monsoon has brought precious natural treasures! So, move out have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Building Language’ Blues :A hunt for the treasure, that is- language

Using the games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt for language development and for enhancing communication skills  

At the forerunner of my quest for ways of developing language skills in children is the use of the two games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt .The idea stemmed out of a personal need for making my children’s birthdays and gifts received- special and at the same time educative.

At this juncture I would like to re-produce here an extract of an article I wrote last year on the same issue(www.tutelageviewpoint.blogspot.com) for parents:

Ever since my children became aware of the world around them I wanted them to have birthdays which they would not ever forget ( I think all mothers secretly wish for their children to associate them with at least one particular cherished memory) .Well my wish kept on troubling me and the D-Day -the Birthday of my first born was fast approaching. I knew, rather than buying a single expensive gift I wanted to give him (my son) several small things of his liking .So here I was with my treasure of gifts ( a pom-pom, a funny faced teddy and so on) standing ,still wondering what to do ?…

Here is what I did.I made a treasure hunt of all the gifts I had(nine or ten) for my son .The questions in the treasure hunt served as brain teasers for him.They tested his previous knowledge and  linked it with things new, thus helping him augment  his rapidly growing knowledge bank .The joy of finding each treasure after a struggle added a new dimension to the learning process.The added advantages of the whole family being involved in a fun activity created unforgettable memories. The fun starts with the Birthday boy’s eyes being closed and his being taken to the first clue ,which of course is the easiest one and the first treasure almost always being a coveted eatable.

As I experimented with it year after year I found the list of things that could be taught to be endless. Be it vocabulary, language, comprehension and listening skills, critical and sequential thinking……the sky was and is the limit.

Gradually I have successfully included it in formal classroom settings as well as garden and home settings.A extract of the  games in progress can be viewed as the video Creating an effective learning environment -A milestone in an ongoing quest   at:

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The beauty of the games adapted (in this case) with an aim to familiarise children with idioms and making them adept with the usage of some known and some new vocabulary, lies in the fact, that although the teacher/parent is loosely able to channelise the flow of thoughts and the path taken, children’s unschooled responses and reactions can lead to entirely unplanned but wonderful learning outcomes too.

The examples shown, showcase how the games give ample opportunity to :

the teacher/parent  to –

  •  evaluate a child on a number of counts and re-think her/his teaching strategies.
  • have the immediate flexibility of molding her words according to learner responses.

the children to-

  • get an opportunity to communicate, think as a team and learn how to sequence their thoughts, think logically and critically .The kinesthetic and visual learners along with the musical ones have there share of learning too.

Thinking beyond the barriers and boundaries of subjects along-with the excitement of overcoming the challenge of solving a puzzle(s) is an added advantage and  motivates even the under achievers of the formal academic settings.

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Note : The same strategy can be used for any language.