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

IMG_20160822_134710_HDR_1471853985130_1471854153570_1471854196547IMG_20160822_134751_HDR_1471854110082IMG_20160822_134812_HDR_1471854269600

BeFunky Collage

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!

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.

IMG-20160724-WA0047

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 :

IMG_20160615_191549020.jpgIMG_20160615_184442707.jpgIMG_20160617_063356559.jpg

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Festivals- an excellent opportunity of developing social attitudes and open mindedness in children

 

Wishing all parents  a very happy Janamashtami and ensuing festive season!!!

1

 

Amongst all the festivity, good cheer and all round gaiety brought about by the celebrations,what struck my mind and gripped my heart were some of the answers I have received  from children over the years when asked the simple questions:

What are you celebrating today?
Which festival is it today?

The answer is of course  always correct! It is Gudi Padwa or diwali. or …

No problems there. Problem lies after that .The next few answers are :

  • It is our festival.
  • We wear new clothes.
  • We have fun.
  • We eat …

Seemingly all is fine .We have aware NORMAL children enjoying festivals.

Causes for worry:

  1. Many children don’t know WHY a certain festival is being celebrated.
  2. Most do not have any idea that there are similar festivals being celebrated by people from other parts of their country at the same time and for similar reasons but in diverse ways.
  3. This causes much more than a healthy importance being associated with only the fun ,eating and merrymaking part of a festival.This, in later life, many a time manifests in developing of selfish attitudes and closed minds (OUR FESTIVAL/WE EAT…) in children.

The first place a child learns and forms social ideas and attitudes affecting his open mindedness or lack of it, is – home. Definitely, what we as parents do or even how we phrase our sentences is very important.

What every SMART parent CAN do to help, without worrying about time constraints ?

  • Days before the actual date of a festival make the bed time story ritual, one, which is full of diverse stories/myths/tales associated with the festival. Be involved in the .process as a family.
  • Provide children with animated/other videos narrating festival stories.(Available across the net too!)
  • While going about your work at home, give age appropriate activities related to the festival-colouring/mask making/making greetings for people in the neighbourhood specially the old ones.

For once do tolerate the mess or better you can use the opportunity to have a joint clean up session with the children thus  giving you the opportunity to spend healthy conversation family time at the same time teaching children to be humane!

  • Brush up your knowledge of the festival .Surf the net whenever you get a spare time slot even if 10 minutes, for diverse info on the festival-The HOWs and WHYs associated with it.This will keep you well armed with the info for transferring it to the child and of course build up your enthusiasm for the festival too!
  • Go in for festival family cooking sessions on weekends before the festival .Cook festive food not only from your part of the world but try festive recipes  from other places too.

All parents have to choose their battles, so put up with messiness if you must, but teach your child consideration for others and to have an open attitude. Model it for her early on, praise it.

Having interacted with children in diverse geographical places I have found that those children who have grown up in an environment adept at  universal acceptance in all aspects and one that has a healthy respect for people and their social associations are more likely to :

  • Lead happy creative lives
  • Make informed out of the box choices
  • Exhibit an open attitude- that of  tolerance.

So do teach your child that people ARE important and knowing them IS important.

Remember what Robert Fulghum -author (All I Really Needed to Learn in Kindergarten) said :

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

So here’s wishing more aware ,informed festivities to all you  SMART parents a very happy New Year and Navratri and….Happy celebrating!