Free Playtime for Children

Let their spirit be free!

Free play time for children
Let their spirit be free!

We have all been there! That wait for the school bell to indicate the start of the games’ hour, completing the homework quickly so that we could rush out to play with friends in the evening, and asking our parents for ‘5 more minutes’ and that would never be it! But wasn’t it all so worth it?

Playtime is more than just games, it’s an experience. But are we as parents and caregivers letting our children enjoy this experience the same way?

With value being placed on test scores and not personal development, demand for academic readiness and success is taking away the joy of ‘free play’. We are letting ourselves continuously direct our children’s activities because we find that optimal, but what about the precious years of development we might be going negligent about, that are in reality critical?

Free playtime is strongly associated with- creative problem solving, deeper and stronger social skills, and enhanced cooperation and logical thinking

A variety of studies conducted using various different methodologies come to the same bold conclusion of a strong connection between play and creative problem solving, deeper and stronger social skills, and enhanced cooperation and logical thinking. Not only this, healthy playtime helps our little ones discover a sense of self and a feeling of control over little things that matter to them. Numerous health benefits are not unknown.

Studies support that preschoolers’ and schoolers’ screen-time with smart devices has increased tremendously over the years. Do we need more reason for increased cases of anxiety and depression, both reported and (more than often) unreported, among young adults?

Having said that, we want to address the fact that screen-time would be a new normal for various online learning activities as a by-product of developments going forth because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will get accustomed to the shift in the mindset and the ease of learning changes by the time a strong medical armor is in place, which would be by the year 2021 or beyond.

We request you to not confuse playtime with guided play with coaches or that under your watch. We are concerned about free play!

Our congested urban cityscape has indeed taken away from the freedom of playing around. With the decline of open natural spaces like parks, we see a simultaneous rise in children’s amusement centers. Developments and transitions like these are beyond our control on an individual level. But there are somethings we need to acknowledge and keep the advantages of free play for our little ones intact!

PLAY: Playtime needs to be free, as free as it can be...

Playtime needs to be free: Let your children choose their play activities on their own. This not only makes them feel that they can take control but also helps them (and also gives you the opportunity) to learn about their interests.

PLAY: Let them be challenged and challenge themselves!

Let them be challenged and challenge themselves: Playtime can sometimes turn out to be challenging, physically due to frightening swings or at times minor injuries and socially due to a conflict with friends or finding it difficult to adjust. Your protective instincts as parents are justified, but it’s okay. Give them some time to learn to cope up with these emotions of fright, cooperation, and more. Encourage them to adjust and adapt. Allow them to self-soothe. They are learning!

PLAY: It is all about happiness after all. They are learning on their own.

All about happiness: Our children’s well-being and happiness, isn’t that what we are rooting for?
Let them be happy at this moment, let them find what makes them happy. Don’t let academics turn into a sphere related to pressure, there’s already a lot waiting for them! Yes, indeed, academics take a space on one’s resume at certain academic levels/academic transitional levels, but you know what takes more space and value? Skills, inter-personal skills! And if we let them play outdoors or simply play freely for an hour or two a day, we won’t have to ‘teach’ them these skills, they will ‘learn on their own’!

PLAY: Let them dive in joyously!

You know it!: Being a parent you know what’s best for your child and comparing to your childhood playtime and way, you will know if there’s something your child is missing on. Your protective instincts and concerns are valid with predators and bullies around and the academic notions in play. But you know it’s not helpful to let these take away from a child’s freedom. Let them dive in. If they fall, you will be right there, but let them stand up again on their own. They’ll be just fine!

If they have a fight, allow them to express the whole incident and resolve it on their own. Many times when they are narrating their entire experience, we may feel the urge to explain them or stop them but let them share all, how they are feeling, name their emotions… just listen patiently. We as parents feel hurt too when our children feel bad, and I have been there, but we got to keep up with our positive sport and remind ourselves of the quote from Abraham-Hicks teachings*. It takes time initially as they’ve had always been under our care most of the time in their beginning years, after birth. But as they grow up their access to the wider world would grow too. So, let’s start early with their free playtime and help them thoughtfully navigate the wider world.

I am closing this blog with a gentle reminder!

Free playtime is not an optional extra, it’s essential, and you know it! So we got to strike a balance between the screen-time, guided playtime and free playtime.

Don’t we at our current stage of life wish for something we could do for the sheer joy of it and not have something at stake and the fear to lose?

When our children play, it is not centered on winning a prize or any other aim, they play simply for the happiness they feel within! Can we ask for more?

*I leave you with the quote from Abraham-Hicks teachings:

‘Your child is naturally joyful. Your child is naturally tuned in to the Source Energy. And as he is diving through and digging through contrast, it is natural that there would be somethings that might disconnect him. Just don’t let his disconnection then inflame your disconnection.
Many parents have discovered that their children, for most part, feel good when they do – and the ornerier you are, usually the ornerier your children are.
They are a strong reflection of the way you are feeling much of the time.’

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy, free and conscious parenting!



Notice how the title made you make a beeline towards this article?

You owe this attraction to the growing claims about ‘immunity-boosting food’, ‘superfoods’ and the like. 

Living in the time we do, it is understandable to be worried about your family’s well-being, even more so if you’re the parent to a young one. 

But with all the stirring buzz about superfoods, you find yourself in a conundrum: to believe, or not to believe?

To deliver you from your (known or unknown) confusions, here is a shocking (for some) revelation about your favourite superfoods and what you can do instead of fuelling their reign:

How super is a superfood?

The term superfood is no novelty for any of us. But did you know that it is a relatively recent phenomenon? 

The term was coined in the early 1900s as a marketing gimmick to push the sales of bananas, the world’s first ‘superfood’. Trade groups funded research to back a major import of bananas. 

Many researchers and experts since have said that no such thing as a superfood exists. Putting all your faith (and money) in buying a certain food item as an end-all remedy is against science and, pardon the pertinence, beyond common sense.

Facts or Fiction?

Likewise, many food myths have cropped up since to boost sales of various food products. Such a deluge of misinformation is enough to make one doubt the claims on food labels and those made by trade-group funded research.

Let’s uncover some such myths and see what’s factual and what’s fictitious in the wide world of nutrition and immunity (which is a buzzword of its own in these times of health-ambiguity):

Claim 1- The more immune-boosting foods you consume, the healthier your immune system gets, and the better equipped it is to keep away diseases.

FICTION- Let’s begin by reiterating the age-old saying: too much of anything is harmful. And nothing rings true to this ancient piece of wisdom. 

It is a less-known fact that an overactive immune system (yes it’s possible to have one) is linked to diseases like lupus, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It also causes the flaring up of allergic reactions.

Having a hyperactive immune system leads to its reacting against run-of-the-mill substances in and around your body.

ADVICE- Having a hyperactive immune system as you’ve seen, isn’t ideal. What’s required is an optimal immune system which does its job just enough to keep infections and pathogens at bay. 

It does not mean that you will not fall sick. A healthy immune system means having fevers and a runny nose at times, which is necessary to expel irritants from your nose and to kill germs that invade your body by raising its core temperature.

Claim 2: Taking supplements of immunity-boosting nutrients is healthier (or) supplements are mandatory to fulfil your daily nutritional requirements

FICTION- It has become a general belief that supplements are indispensable to have good health and to fulfil daily nutritional requirements. But this is a myth too.

ADVICE- A balanced diet provides the right nutrients in the right amount. Supplements are only required by those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, or by persons suffering from nutrient deficiencies caused by a lack of particular nutrients in their diet.

Taking supplements is not necessary if you have good food habits. They can often do more harm than good if taken without prescriptions.

Moreover, taking too much of a nutrient or vitamin can also be problematic. Once again, practise moderation and do not DIY in matters as such.

Claim 3: Exotic foods claimed to be superfoods are better than local fruits and seasonal vegetables as they are more nutrient-dense

FICTION- Yes folks, it’s true this also a false fact shoved down our throats to boost sales of certain imported (and expensive) food items. It is not necessary that you consume chia seeds or cranberries because they have a higher concentration of a certain nutrient you want. 

ADVICE- Locally grown fruits and veg, preferably seasonal are more beneficial for the body than any imported or exotic food. This is because the food sourced from local regions has adapted to its current form after thousands of years of evolving in the region. It provides a better combination of nutrients than exotic food, depending on the season. 

Moreover, it provides a boost to the local economy and is not pricey, owing to the lack of import duty. So, instead of a cherry, eat an Indian gooseberry (or amla) when you need a boost of Vitamin C next time.

Claim 4: Instead of having a range of healthy food, one can have a few nutrient-dense foods instead

FICTION- This is what marketers and superfood PR strategists want you to believe. The truth remains that nothing is better than having a balanced diet, and eating a selective diet can lead your body to over-consumption of particular nutrients, which is counter-productive.

ADVICE- Your body requires an array of nutrients and ideally from varied sources. Not eating a balanced diet is an invitation to infections and diseases as every nutrient has its role in maintaining bodily functions going smooth and co-ordinated. 

So, the takeaway here is that you need a balanced diet, lest your bodily functions get impaired, and you become prone to diseases.

Claim 5- Certain foods act as medicine

FICTION- The fact still remains. Every nutrient present in food plays a role in maintaining a body-function. No particular food item or nutrient can ‘cure’ your ailment.

ADVICE- The easiest way to say this has been already covered: a balanced diet. Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and you can prevent diseases. The cure? Well, what’re the medical experts for?


As a bonus, we are offering you a few recipes for your kids and you.

They’re easy enough and made of winter-friendly ingredients.

1. Nuts and seeds Laddoos

Festivity Delights with some Laddoos made of Nuts and seeds. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- Ditch your store-bought, sugar-loaded laddoos for Nuts and seeds ladoos this Diwali. 

Made with pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds and flax seeds and nuts like almonds, cashew and walnuts, it provides Omega-3 fats, minerals like magnesium and phosphorus and small amounts of protein.

Additionally, using jaggery and/or honey as a sweetener instead of sugar leads to a guilt-free gorge session!

2. Chatpata Bhel with Berries

Festivity Delights with some Chatpata Bhel & berries. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- Instead of namkeen, you can make bhel at home and add the goodness of berries (increasing the daily fruit intake of your family. Well, aren’t you the sneak!)

Just like an ordinary homemade bhel, you can add sprouted pulses and beans, sprouted or fermented millets and berries with a dash of lime juice on the top. Don’t forget to add berries like pomegranate seeds to give the sweet kick!

This makes for a healthier alternative to fried food, keeping you and your kids away from trans fats and polyunsaturated fats. Also, it is wonderfully easy to make and not to mention, delicious!

3. Leafy Vegetables

Festivity Delights with some leafy greens- Palak paneer. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- For dinner, you can easily whip up some Palak Paneer, or a Punjabi classic, Sarso da Saag. You can also make kale crisps in the microwave or incorporate them in fried rice. If not, you can make a Palak-ki-daal and serve it with buttery naans. 

After all, winter is the time for indulgence too!

Remember to practise moderation and try not to turn your Diwali and Christmas celebrations into a fest of your nutrition anxieties. It is okay to binge on delicacies sometimes if you strike a balance.

You and your kids deserve a healthy life and its reinforcement begins at home. Inculcating these habits goes a long way in your child’s life, and although they make faces when you make them eat their veggies, you know they’ll thank you one day!

Don’t forget to fact-check marketing claims on your next grocery run. 
Be a responsible consumer, a mindful parent, and a happy person!
Happy Celebrations!

As a parting gift, here is a reading list you might want to go through:


Autumn Good Reads Picture Books for children with She Narrates

I know, I know, Autumn Reads is officially over! But Pratham and I couldn’t get over it, and then we thought why should we? Every night our reading time has been full of warmth, smile, and eagerness (and ‘Book Hugs’)! We decided to extend our Autumn Reads for another week (at least!)

 So here’s your ticket to our #AutumnReadsExtendedCut!

‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales

Book review of of the book 'Anna Banana' by Treehouse Tales

Aligning with my son Pratham’s learning stage and his phonics building years, any book that would stimulate his learning while he enjoys it would be a winner for me. ‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales (or any Treehouse Tales series) written by Delyth Owen is enterprising for helping with children’s learning and reading skills, especially phonemes, in a creative story format. The Treehouse Tales series have been developed especially for children in the age group 5-7 years to encourage the love of books and learning. Treehouse Tales has seven books in its series. They are Aled Apple, Sally Snail, Oliver Onion, Luigi Lemon, Matilda Tomato, Oriol Orange, and Anna Banana.

We are at the beginning of their book series this Autumn season, and I came to know about these books from a friend of mine who runs a (doorstep) library. The illustrations in the Treehouse Tales’ introductory books provide opportunities to cultivate a child’s natural curiosity in knowing the wider world.

A little about the book Anna Banana…

It is a 20-page book written and illustrated meticulously, the left side of each page set has maximum 2-3 lines and the right side for image commensurate to the text on its left. The pages are laminated, keeping in mind the wear and tear care. Plus, the highlighted phonograms in the texts- Single and Multiple phonograms. Single phonograms (for example s, I, h, f, t, j, a) are highlighted in green and the multiple phonograms (for example ea, sh, ‘ee’, ch, voiced ‘th’, unvoiced ‘th’, short ‘oo’, long ‘oo’) in yellow. You’d also notice the red arrows on certain words; when you join them, they make a phonogram.

Anna Banana lives on a beautiful island in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, which is hot. Anna’s little windows open to lots of banana trees where beautiful colourful birds perch. Anna Banana also goes to the beach sometimes. She loves exploring her island home. She likes pelicans, so does Pratham ☺   I was fascinated with Anna’s flip-flops and Pratham with the beautiful birds and her beach ball.

This book closes with an open-ended question to develop a child’s thinking skills, and we can take its help to ask our curious little learners. We can also enhance their knowledge by sharing a little about the Caribbean.

Enjoy reading and raising your little learner with Treehouse Tales!

‘Have you filled a Bucket Today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness’ by Carol McCloud, the ‘Bucket Lady’

Book review of of the book 'Have you filled a Bucket Today? - A guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud- the bucket day

October which is also ‘The Anti-bullying’ month let us Read, Raise, Rise our spirits. Let us foster empathy and self-worth through simple yet effective prose on the bucket philosophy to our children!

‘You feel happy and good when your bucket is full,
And you feel sad and lonely when your bucket is empty.
Other people feel the same way, too.
They’re happy when their buckets are full
And they’re sad when their buckets are empty.’

The above excerpt from the book ‘Have You Filled a Bucket Today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness’ by the “Bucket Lady” Carol McCloud published by Nelson Publishing & Marketing, is enough to give an overview to the bucket philosophy (or the bucket fillosophy) that she wants to convey from her books. It is a children’s non-fiction book on social topics- self-esteem and self-reliance. This book also makes a good parenting read. The vivid illustrations by David Messing makes it comprehensible even to the children who have begun reading (2+ or 3 years old). The bucket fillosophy is helpful for all ages to grow in kindness, love and appreciation by “filling buckets” and leading a happier and rewarding life of oneself and others.

This heart-warming book begins by introducing the concept of an invisible bucket. An invisible bucket which each and everyone in the whole wide world walks around with. Later the writer explains the purpose of the invisible bucket, what makes our invisible bucket full or empty, who is a bucket filler, what is bucket dipping, how do we feel when our invisible bucket is full or empty, what are the ways we can fill and empty our buckets and that of others. The book closes with a self-reflection question- Did I fill a bucket Today?

When you fill the bucket of others, your (invisible) bucket fills too and you feel happy. When you hurt or tease others, sadly the good feelings and thoughts from your bucket dips making you sad and lonely. Read the book to know more about the bucket fillosophy! For activities and free downloadable resources, visit Bucket Fillers, Inc. at For Pratham, a downloadable colouring page on “I Am A Bucket Filler” and an online bucket jigsaw puzzle was my pick from the above link. Pratham and I solved the puzzle in 11:45 (mm: ss) in our first attempt. Pratham, my little one is still getting the hang of the puzzle ☺. Also, the self-reflection questionnaire page and Bucket filling checklist from A to Z can be helpful.

Fun bucket jigsaw puzzle score when Pratham and I played online from

Our next book from Bucket Fillers, Inc. is ‘Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness’ to know the three rules for a Happier Life.

What do you want to feel all day every day- Happy or sad? What are some of your ways to fill your invisible bucket?

Read, teach and enjoy the bucket fillosophy!

‘The Wonderful Things You’ll Be’ by Emily Winfield Martin

Book review of of the book 'The Wonderful Things you'll be' by the writer illustrator Emily Winfield Martin

This is the first time 
There’s ever been you,
So I wonder what wonderful things
You will do…’

The New York bestselling book, full of hopeful musings ‘The Wonderful Things You Will Be’ written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin and published by Penguin Random House, is a celebration of possibilities and the love, acceptance and joy parents feel for their children… irrespective of whatever and whoever their children grow up to be. And above lines are from this book.

It is a family book as well as a children’s book. It is a timeless book for parents and children, I feel. But technically, for young kids and parents 2+ through 7 years.

For parents, this book is a gift of feeling the joyride of holding the baby in hands and the endless excitement and anticipation, going round the clock of the wonderful things they’d grow up to be. For children, the bright illustrations, surprise red fold out with kids in costumes (some in superhero costumes) towards the end of the book, simple and rhyming text is captivating and thought-provoking.

The book has many positive self-affirming lines and words, another set of lines from this book that I, as a parent feel reassured reading are:

I know you’ll be kind…
And clever…
And bold…
And the bigger your heart,
The more it will hold.

Open-ended questions like ‘What will you grow up to be?’, ‘Will you stand up for good by saving the day?’, ‘Will you tell a story that only you know?’, ‘or play a song only you know how to play?’ encourages thinking, listening skills and let their imagination run riot of all the wonderful things they can think of.

Activities: Invite your child to decide their costumes from the red fold out and encourage them to answer what they would like to ‘Be’ and wear. Pratham pointed out the child who was wearing the costume of a tree, and when I asked him what inspired him to choose a tree costume, his answer intrigued me. He said “I would tell everyone don’t cut trees. And when they see me walking, they will not cut trees.

I wonder what wonderful things you’ll grow up to be Pratham! 

Always remember, whatever you choose to do and whoever you grow up to ‘Be’, Mommy and Daddy would always love you! We know that your kindness, cleverness and boldness would always shine through and so would the love that you share with yourself and others. You are the unique YOU!

Be blessed! Shine on always!
A little emotional at the moment, excuse me…
Let us get going with the fourth one in this series…

‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson

Book review of of the book 'A Squash and a Squeeze' by the author Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Let us tap into the fun of some Onomatopoeia and Ballad! Julia Donaldson’s book ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ (illustrated are by Axel Scheffler) would be Pratham’s fifth book read, after ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book’, ‘The Gruffalo Song and Other Songs’ and ‘The Snail and the Whale’. ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler has been published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Julia Donaldson blends simple stories with rhyming, rhythmic and repetitive words classically, making it riveting for readers. She has used alliterative words and phrases in this picture book like- tiny for two, titchy for three, she shooed out, she shoved out, grumble and grouse- which makes it an enjoyable read. The repeated chorus: “Wise old man, won’t you help me, please? My house is a squash and a squeeze.” gives a ballad feel to the story. Her books are a treasure trove to encourage interest in reading and writing and also in improving a child’s phonological awareness (in addition to the children’s nursery rhymes). This book has a lot of scope for an early introduction to poetry and rhymes. It also has fun reference to animals which adds to the joy and jolly reading time with children.

Now, a little about the story…

A little old lady isn’t satisfied with her house and sighs of it being too small for her. A wise old man passing by hears her complain and then the old lady asks him for his help on how she can make her house feel bigger. This wise old man gives an ironic solution. Rather suggesting the old lady remove the things from the house, he asks her to take all of her pets inside the house with her. And one by one, as she starts taking her animals inside her house, first her hen, then the goat, followed by the pig and lastly the cow, her grumble, and grouse keeps increasing instead of decreasing seeing the mess created by each animal in the house. With a final outcry ‘Heavens alive!’ she calls the wise old man again for the help, this time the old man advises her to take all the animals out. Would the life of the old lady come to the full-circle back where she started, sighing for a squash and a squeeze house with no place to sneeze or would there be any improvement in her understanding about her house and space in it? Read this book to your child to know more.

After reading the story, ask your little learner what did they learn from the story? Was the little old lady happy with her squash and squeeze house? Was the little old lady happy in the end?

And did you know?

‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ was one of Julia Donalson’s television songs which was made into a book in 1993.

Reading her books with my son makes my life come to full-circle – back to my childhood days ☺.  For Pratham, I had to help him understand the moral of the story. Share your first time experience of reading this story to your child in the comment section below.

Here comes the last one! Hold your breath!

‘Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’ ©Astley Baker Davies Ltd.

Book review of of the book 'Peppa's Pumpkin Party' based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’

So when we were looking around for some Autumn reads inspiration- the season of pumpkin spice- we wanted a pumpkin-themed-spooktacular* story. Hence, Peppa’s Pumpkin Party was our first choice in the reading list. But releasing the book review of Peppa’s Pumpkin party towards the end is intentional, just as Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in the mirror is… Haawwoooooww! Hee! Hee! Hee! Hee!

Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK, is a children’s picture book based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’ ©Astley Baker Davies Ltd.. ‘The Peppa effect’ is on everyone and on us too. The book adaptation is also as thrilling and exciting as the TV series of it. The best part about the names of the characters in the Peppa Pig’s TV series/books is alliteration in their names like Peppa Pig, Danny Dog, Candy Cat, Emily Elephant, Rebecca Rabbit, Suzy Sheep, and many more. All the names have the repetition of sounds, you see!

The story opens with Peppa and George getting ready for the pumpkin party. Peppa’s family has hosted a spooky spectacular pumpkin party, and everyone is invited in Halloween-themed costumes at Peppa’s place. It is fun to watch the creative costumes of Peppa and her friends. It is thrilling to see Peppa’s house decorated with balloons, cobwebs and hanging toy bats. And now, it is intriguing and spooky to notice Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in the mirror as she is speaking to Suzy Sheep. Let us know what you think about Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in this story implies, is she in a vampire theme too, as Suzy Sheep?

The story closes with everyone meeting at Peppa’s place and enjoying the pumpkin party and the pumpkin pie with some music. Illustrations have translation sounds of everyone’s activities, eating pie with ‘Chomp Chomp’ and giggles with ‘Hee Hee’ and Daddy pig’s classic chuckle as ‘Snort’.

There’s a twist in the activities for children. No open-ended questions for children! Yes, you heard it right! This time parents challenge yourself to see if you remember all the names or not, and the costumes of all the characters of this story ☺   And sometimes it is fun to fumble on the names or costumes when your child remembers all the names and costumes of every character in the story, isn’t it?

Daddy pig has prepared pumpkin pie for all, and there’s plenty of pie for everyone. Join in and have fun reading the book, bedtime or Autumn time or anytime because there’s plenty of pumpkin pie for everyone all the time! Chomp! Chomp! Snort! ☺

*- the word has been taken from the book cover

And taddaaa! This is how our full week of reading looked like!

Also, this was part-2 of our Autumn Reads book reviews (‘the extended cut’ as we are enjoying to call it)! In case, if you missed out on the first part, here’s the link to it.

Enjoy the Autumn season reading to your little learners! Happy Halloween and Happy Parenting!

PS: If you enjoyed this Autumn Reads series as much as we did, let us know if you would want more of it! Guess who is already making space in the bookshelf!

Disclaimer: The reviews expressed in this blog is to provide helpful information. It is entirely based on my (Pallavi Prakash Kumar) book reading experiences with my child, Pratham. The information contained is to help parents; you may consider the one mentioned above as per your significance. All the external links have been provided for informational purposes only. ‘She Narrates’ does not bear the responsibility for the accuracy/legality on content on external sites or the subsequent links. Contact the external site to find answers to questions concerning their content.

Book reviews (Part 1)- Autumn Reads with She Narrates

Book Reviews of Autumn good reads picture books for children- The Bumblebear by Nadia Shireen, The Color Monster by Anna LLenas, Beans on Toast by Paul Dowling,  Tiger by Nick Butterworth, A book of Hugs by Dave Ross

I wait for the books as if the books are for me. When the books arrive, I am the first one to read. I keep drooling for these books, a bib wouldn’t be enough for this Mommy, trust me! I like these colourful creative rhythmic books so much, that the music of these words adds to the parenthood joy-ride I enjoy living. Having said that, I want to add that some of the children’s book have nuggets for parents also, I feel.
Mommy gets to relive her childhood days with the little learner Pratham, what better, isn’t it?
I am sure, you would enjoy the book reviews as much as I enjoyed writing them for you. Yay!
The age group for these books: 3 – 6+ year young children

‘The Color Monster’ by Anna Llenas

Autumn reads for children and Book review of The Color Monster by Anna Llenas

The International bestseller and first-ever book on emotions ‘The Color Monster’ by an art therapist Anna LLenas is a go-to storybook for young children. Parents reading this book to their children would help them understand and identify their emotions, help them learn the names of different emotions and share their feelings. This would eventually help them learn to take charge of their feelings on their own. It is a good starting book on introducing a subject like emotions and feelings. The book has colourful, attention-grabbing collage with 3-D artworks on every page.

This story of the color monster who wakes up confused and jumbled in the mix of his emotions is helped by the author. She takes the color monster by the hand helping him sort out his feelings in different fictional jars. She helps him understand how the emotions like Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Calm feels, what colour associates to each of these emotions and how we respond when we are feeling any of the above emotions intensely. For me, as a parent, learning how to handle the intense emotions likes Anger, and Fear for myself as a parent and individual was empowering. It has an exciting twist to the tale, in the end, read it and tells us what does the last color in the book feels to you. To Pratham, I have told him it’s a color of self-love. 🙂

We can take the help of the questions mentioned on the book jacket to ask our little ones a few open-ended questions after reading the book. We can also on our day to day interaction or experiences encourage them to share their feelings and ask if their feelings connect with any of the color, the color monster in the book feels. This way, we would be reinforcing their understanding of identifying their feelings and helping them express easily with us and others.

As kids are naturally connected to their stream of wellbeing/inner consciousness, then the question you may ask is do they need this book, knowing and learning to name their feelings. I say, ‘Yes’ because growing up they observe contrasts and varieties, learning and modelling the behaviours and actions of people around them, just as they pick up any object around them to sense and to learn the behaviour and functions of the objects, same goes for the people and environment around them. So, as early as they start learning to identify, share and sort out their feelings with the help and support of parents and caregivers the better it is, and earlier they would learn to bounce back easily.

Also, just as how important we as parents feel that our toddlers or young ones should know, learn and be able to identify numbers, alphabets, colours, animals and bird names, knowing about emotions is equally important, and I completely agree with the reason I had read on ‘Goodreads’ about the importance of teaching a child to identify their emotions.

Please don’t forget to share your interesting inputs on the last color with us.

‘The Bumblebear’ by Nadia Shireen

Autumn good reads picture book for children and Book review of The Bumblebear by Nadia Shireen

The children’s picture book ‘The Bumblebear‘ by Nadia Shireen published by Penguin Random House is one of the most loved Autumn reads in England and is circulated as an Autumn term book to every primary school-aged child there, to encourage the love and joy of reading in children.

You know what makes this book a fascinating read for children: the perfect combination of vibrant, eye-catching illustrations, intriguing title, relatable school setting, dramatic effects with words, honey-grabbing plot and a lovely message of friendship and loyalty makes it an endearing experience much like watching an animated movie. So, to inspire the love of reading, I found this as a great resource. Also, children who have begun writing stories, the plot (or story arc) of this can be a useful reference for them to get better at narration, encouraging natural evolution of the skill of storytelling and writing.

A little about the Bumblebear story…

There are four main characters in the story, a sneaky bear named Norman, a clever little bumblebee named Amelia, a Queen bumblebee, and a big nasty bear. Norman, who loves honey disguises himself when he runs out of his honey stock as a new bumblebee student at bee school to trick the bees and get hold of honey from their honey stores, gets tricked himself. But when he rescues the bees and the honey store from a big nasty bear, he gets a special award, read the story to find out what that award is. He is also rewarded as a HERO for his conducts and gets a new name Humble-bear*, oops! Bumblebear. 

Did you know?

  1. Bumblebees are also known as humblebees. So, the question in the blurb ‘Will Norman get his paws on the bees’ honey or will he fulfil his true destiny and become a Bumblebear?’closing perfectly with a moral message of inclusivity and the bear finding his true destiny of becoming a Bumblebear; rather a Humble-bear* more perfect way to say is enchanting. The above mistake is intentional.
  2. Bumblebees are different from honeybees. Their colony of bees is relatively smaller than honeybees.
  3. Bumblebees are social insects, and they form colonies with a single queen. Isn’t it fictional?

Pratham and I thoroughly enjoyed our time reading this book together. A tip from me: Read aloud in a lively manner, follow the dramatic effect of words when you are reading the story modulating your voice as the font size of repeated or unrepeated words rise, fall and split. For example, the word- ‘really’ to emphasize the love Norman has for honey can be modulated to make the reading time a joyful experience for the child. ‘After all, he really, really, really loved honey’.

You can plan an art and craft activity after the storytime. Give equal shaped small bumblebees cut-outs, and they can then paste the cut-outs, ask them to draw small eyes and mouth just as the picture on the book cover, and for the Bumblebear Norman- larger cut-outs, Amelia wears a red round spectacle, so ask your child to draw accordingly.

Enjoy reading!

‘Tiger’ by Nick Butterworth

Autumn reads for children and Book review of Tiger by Nick Butterworth

A simple, fun and moral read for children and parents in the picture book ‘Tiger‘ by Nick Butterworth published by HarperCollins Children’s Books is a valuable asset to cherish.

In one of our parenting posts that we’ve shared in the past and would like to take the opportunity to repeat in this book review: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! But how about, all work with ‘role play’? Studies support that children engaging in pretend play while performing mundane or difficult tasks can have enhanced focus and better attention span. While they role-play Batman or any fictional character or anyone, they tend to engage longer and be more focused. They tend to mirror the qualities they admire in their favorite characters or adults (maybe) and take steps towards building perseverance.

I found this book to have the same relatable theme. It encourages the power of imagination and role-plays in young children can bring about. First few opening lines of this book which mentions about a kitten who enjoys the role-play of a real fierce tiger sometimes. He feels all-powerful and controlled as a grown-up in doing so. The opening lines are ‘This is Tiger. He isn’t a real tiger. He’s a kitten. But sometimes when he plays, he pretends to be a real tiger’.

In my observation, with Pratham and his friends, there are three things that kids like doing, most of their time. They are either 1) Building something or 2) Role-playing or 3) Storytelling. So, if we encourage that which our children already like doing (such as role-playing in this context) easier, fun-filled and effortless our parenting journey can become, wouldn’t it? And haven’t we all enjoyed playing teacher-teacher, Mummy-daddy role plays, wearing our mom’s Prada heels and Gucci sunglasses 🙂 so let us let them just Be!

The creatives are eye-catching and appealing and Pratham found the picture of the tiger in the collective last two pages captivating, his eyes grew big and round in wonder.

A follow- up book that I’ve planned for winter reads with Pratham is “Tiger in the snow”, again by our favourite Nick Butterworth. I highly recommend reading this book to and with your little one, making it a positive, lively experience with funny noises and actions. Enjoy the tigery miaow and roar, jumping, creeping up. Have fun-time together!

P.S.: Prada and Gucci are only to add lightness and humour.

‘Beans on Toast’ by Paul Dowling

Autumn reads for children and Book review of Beans on Toast - The story of Beans by Paul Dowling

Let’s get our hands on some healthy good read. What say!

One of the quotes from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” or one of the writing techniques all writers use in their narratives “Show, don’t tell” can become a parenting tip. Let me explain to you how… If we tell our children, protein is an important nutrient and beans is a protein-rich food and they need to eat protein-rich food; maybe they would not understand the importance of it as much or may not feel inspired as much. But if we showed our children and incorporated the important lessons into our reading activities in a fascinating, comical way to explain to them how a protein-rich food has been sourced or presented the life cycle of a food item in a creative manner, they would be one step closer to understanding the importance of a healthy nutritious diet and follow it eagerly too. So, one such children’s book “Beans on Toast- The story of Baked Beans” by Paul Dowling, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books is a great read to children. The beans on their plate would not be the same; it would have a story, a life cycle coming to life on the toast at their platter.

A simple and informative book conveys a beans’ journey in a uniquely creative manner, from stalks >> legs >> racks >> trucks >> the roads >> the cranes >> boilers >> tins >> the trucks >> the shelves >> the trolleys and then >> our home then in the cooker and finally on the toast at our plates.

The intriguing cover picture is enough to excite the young children to know more about the book. Pratham pulled me to his reading time after I had showed him the next planned book for reading. There’s only one line on each page and more than 3/4th to a full page dedicated for a relevant comical creative, isn’t that great way to explain and involve young children (less than six years of age) about the life cycle of beans?

To reinforce his learning, I ask my son to share a little about the life cycle of beans, randomly from any phase. Pratham likes beans and the story of beans has made the eating time more enjoyable, interesting and palatable. Enjoy the healthy ‘Beans on Toast’ with your little ones too! 🙂

‘A Book of Hugs’ by Dave Ross

Autumn reads for children and Book review of A Book of Hugs by Dave Ross

Before I share anything about this book, I’d urge you to name a few hugs, you know. C’mon! Think of all the hugs, you know! Treasure hunt your mind!

To your surprise, I did not know of any, until I read them from this book. I only knew the word ‘Hugs’, a way to express affection. And my parents were shy in expressing their emotions, one time that I remember receiving a hug from them was at the time of my Vidaai. Yeah! That’s it!

So, this book ‘A Book of Hugs’ by Dave Ross published by HarperCollins was like an ‘AHA’ book for me. And it was one of the books I wanted to share with Pratham, share our time together reading and exploring all the kinds of hugs we could acquaint ourselves with.

It is a children’s picture book on hugs, of course. This book brings up all the kind of hugs in the world that a person can think of. You can also make one of yours. We felt inspired to come up with one for ourselves, and that is ‘Book Hugs’. So, moving forward Pratham and I have decided to give a book hug to the books we read together. You may challenge yourself and come up with one or may choose to spread the ‘Book Hugs’ we’ve come up with at She Narrates.

There are many different kinds of hugs- Body part hugs, Family members hug to different animals and fish hugs. Also, there are different feelings hugs.

Now, naming a few hugs from this book are- Mommy Hugs, Daddy Hugs, Brother Hugs, Sister Hugs, Baby Hugs, Grandpa, Grandma Hugs, Arm Hugs, Knee Hugs, Hand Hugs, Tree Hugs, Lamppost Hugs, Puppy and Bear Hugs, Porcupine Hugs… Are you breathless reading them? There are a lot more- Ice-cube hugs, Report card Hugs (A, Bee, and Sea Hugs), Hurt Hugs and a few more. Buy the book and dive straight in and have fun reading time with your little one. This book is full of adorable and exciting illustrations, post-subscript notes and warnings under a few hugs make this book an interesting read.

Pratham liked ‘Great-Aunt Mary Hugs’ because of the lipstick imprints he noticed on the cheek of the baby hippo 🙂 under the above-mentioned hugs page. I got a big Great-Aunt Mary Hug when I was reading the book to him. Well! He pouted and hugged me a ‘Great-Aunt Mary Hug’, Great-Aunt Mary kiss rather. It was fun reading this book together. We didn’t miss our ‘Book Hugs’ at the end.

So, you may ask your little one to name the Hugs they liked the most after reading the book. Or wait for a surprise hug from them. 🙂

Now, I’d close this write-up by extending a warm ‘Sandwich Hug’ to my She Narrates’ family reading the book review of ‘A Book of Hugs’ by Dave Ross here.

Thank you! Hugs again! We would love if you read these books with your little one! Do share your experience with us!

If you want to get some tips for selecting books for your children, read our blog: ‘HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT BOOK FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE?

You may also find the Part – 2 of this book review, in our ‘Autumn Reads Extended Cut‘ by She Narrates, here.

Disclaimer: The reviews expressed in this blog is to provide helpful information. It is entirely based on my (Pallavi Prakash Kumar) book reading experiences with my child, Pratham. The information contained is to help parents; you may consider the one mentioned above as per your significance. All the external links have been provided for informational purposes only. ‘She Narrates’ does not bear the responsibility for the accuracy/legality on content on external sites or the subsequent links. Contact the external site to find answers to questions concerning their content.

‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman

Parenting Reads!

Book Review Basics of Fine Motor Skills by Heather Greutman, a parenting good read book

“Research suggests that fine motor skills are so important that they are connected to how a child learns to read, complete math problems, and other higher-level cognitive thinking”, an excerpt from the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Occupational Therapist (OT) Heather Greutman is a self-help resource (in Education & Teaching category) for parents, teachers & therapists. It is a thin book with small chapters, and it has only 90 pages, but this book gives a plethora of information on the subject- fine motor skills.

It is a go-to resource for understanding fine motor skills in-depth, to keep up with the developmental milestones on fine motor skills, for ideas on creative games, tools and fun activities. As a parent, we literally run out of ideas or resources, because parenting journey can be overwhelming at times. As mentioned above, it has easy to read small chapters but has quite a few technical jargons in the chapters. So, read mindfully at one go (if possible) and keep a tab on the jargons, because some of the terms (like proprioception, in-hand manipulation etc.) have been mentioned before but explained in the later chapters. Also, a few chapters from this book, you’d want to refer time and again for your little ones (ages: new-born through 6+).

A little insight on a few chapters goes like this…

Chapter-6 ‘Fine Motor Development Red Flags’ was overly technical for me. Though I enjoy reading technical stuff more, but I was only gliding through this chapter. Chapter-8 mentions a list of things/tools/items to keep handy or arrange beforehand to carry out the fine motor skills activities at home. So to say, one-time preparation for the rest of the fine motor development journey with your little learner. This 2-page chapter also suggests game ideas. Chapter-9 outlines list of activities by skills such as gross motor skills, visual motor skills, handwriting and pre-writing skills. It begins with warm up activities for shoulders and fingers to prepare a child for fine motor activities and handwriting skills which is interesting, alike the warm-up exercises we grown-ups follow to flex or prep up our body before the main exercise regime.  Since I have the eBook version of this book so, chapters 8 & 9, I have taken the print outs to refer regularly. ‘Activities Ideas by Age’ chapter-10 & ‘Developmental Milestones’ chapter-5, I revisit on a timely manner for age group activities and milestones’ references, respectively. So, this time around to write my reviews of this book, I have checked/unchecked a few fine motor activity ideas listed under Ages 3-6 years for my son, Pratham.

The interesting part of this book was learning about three more senses, beyond the typical 5 senses we all know. Discovering all the 8 sensory systems was certainly helpful and exciting in the chapter-4- Sensory Processing and Fine Motor Skills.

Chapter-7 discusses the difference between handwriting skills and fine motor skills. Heather Greutman mentions that Handwriting skills is a complex language expression skill which requires the overall integration of all skills such as gross motor skills, fine motor skills, visual motor skills and sensory processing skills, to have a mastery in handwriting. Handwriting difficulty in a child does not always stem from fine motor skills difficulties alone. So, she suggests it is highly recommended to get a child assessed by a professional (like Occupational Therapists, OT), if a child is really struggling with a skill or two.

For those who like reading books cover-to-cover (as I do), I would like to say this book can turn out to be technical. So, read the book for your knowledge base on fine motor skills and to be able to understand your young one’s development better and also to reap the benefits of a structured list of activities, games and milestones crucial for the young one’s development.

So, I’d like to close this book review with a poem by me, and here it goes…

Raising a child is simple enough you may say
A glide through a joy ride, hurray!
Trust me, my friend an unpleasant game it is sometimes.
Study, unlearn, learn
Still falling short on ideas & thoughts you feel…
Parenting is a conscious and instinctive indulgence.
You may or may not enjoy it sometimes,
But then learning such skills, it needs.
Ask me I have tried it.

Read.Raise.Rise. Happy Parenting!

How to Select the Right Book for your Little One!

How to select the Right Book for your child by Pallavi Prakash Kumar at She Narrates

Let us read more
Let us read to the little ones more,
Let us inculcate the habit of reading
Let us gift the little ones the comfort of reading,
Let us all thrive
Let us all help the little ones thrive,
Celebrate, it’s Autumn, the season of pumpkin spice!

If you already don’t know, we are hosting Autumn Reads from 1-7 October as all the book-lovers across the world celebrate the Book Reading Week, 2020.
With Autumn Reads, we are inviting parents and caregivers to read to their children books for the entire week. If you have been connected with us for a while now then you know I am a mother to a 4-year-old, Pratham. 

For our book reading week, Pratham and I together have curated a list of books we will be reading. While designing the entire reading activity for him, I had in mind quite some dimensions. So if you want to join us for Autumn reads, or simply are looking for some suggestion on how to select the right book for your child, these are some of the things I had in mind and might help you curate yours:

  • Look Around for Inspiration: As the autumn season kicks in right in time with the World Book Reading Week, it inspired me to come up with Autumn Reads, signifying comfort reading. And Autumn Reads for me would be incomplete without a pumpkin story and to add to the momentum and the joy of reading in my little learner Pratham, Peppa one of his favourite cartoon character, in fact, the favourite character of almost all children including Pratham and me ☺, ‘Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ was our first choice. So, just look around and you will find something you and your child can relate to!
  • Align with the Stage of Learning: Pratham is in his phonics building years, so any book that would stimulate his learning while he enjoys it would be a winner for me. ‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales written by Delyth Owen was our next pick. It has many consonant cluster/blending words and to reinforce his phonics learning (especially the grapheme-phoneme correspondence words). Treehouse Tales books- Oliver onion, Oriol orange, etc. are extremely useful and effective, I feel.
    Further to tap into the fun of Onomatopoeia Julia Donaldson’s (illustrated are by Axel Scheffler) book ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ would be Pratham’s fifth book read, after ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book’, ‘The Gruffalo Song and Other Songs’ and ‘The Snail and the Whale’.
    Look for what your child is currently learning and then find the books that complement his/her learning.
  • Go Straight to What They Already Love: Pratham’s love for animal and bird books is something I keep in mind before beginning with the book list curation. To name a few of his favourite animal and bird books are Bears, Tigers, Dogs, Owls, Toucans, and Pelicans. This time we have ‘Tiger’ by Nick Butterworth (@harpercollinsch) and ‘The Bumblebear’ by Nadia Shireen (@penguinkids @penguinrandomhouse), power-packed with colourful illustrations and creative narration. When our children already love an idea, a book on similar lines encourages their creativity and imagination many folds.
  • Include Daily-Life Lessons: One of the dietary requirements keeping in mind the little learners’ age, high protein is vital because kids on their feet, full of life are running around, jumping, playing, cycling, etc., so high protein is a must in the diet. I know you are wondering, how in the mid of the name of book lists, we are talking about high proteins! Because the theme for my next pick was to take Pratham one step closer to understanding the importance of a healthy nutritious diet. The next choice of the book in our bookshelf for Autumn is ‘Beans on Toast- The story of baked beans’ by Paul Dowling. And yes, Pratham likes beans, so to help him understand how it is sourced and how it comes to our plate in a story yet creative format, this was my pick for the reading week.
  • You can Never Go Wrong with Values: To encourage positive behaviour and moral values with the concept of invisible bucket my next book choice was ‘Have you filled a bucket today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids’ by Carol McCloud. Along the lines of emotions and to encourage Pratham to express his feelings, be able to name his feelings, and associate with a colour, I am introducing ‘The Color Monster’ by Anna Llenas. ‘A Book of Hugs’ by Dave Ross to introduce him to various kinds of hugs there is. Let reading help you sow the seeds of positivity and good values!
  • Look for More Than Just Books: All books can form a basis for various fun learning activities beyond reading! Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, one of the favourite books of all kids opted by young parents, is our pick also. I have planned a Lego creative activity for Pratham to be done after we’ve read the book. Activities like these double his excitement and help him remember and relate to characters and their stories for long!
  • A Power-Packed Book: Last but certainly not the least ‘The Wonderful Things You Will Be’ by Emily Winfield Martin would help me encourage thinking, listening skills and let his imagination run riot by asking some open-ended questions found in the cover page of the book “What will you grow up to be?”, “Will you tell a story that only you know?” and others mentioned in this book.

Learning needs to be fun and to encourage the love of books, consequently, the love of learning in my little learner, I curate books keeping in mind his interests first and then the activities that I can tailor the book reading time with, especially Lego building activity. I also look for ways to encourage his thinking and listening skills. Asking him open-ended questions helps him remain focused, which therefore helps in developing his concentration. I prefer storybooks because stories are the best way to kindle creativity, curious learning, build imagination, and create a natural curiosity about the wider world.

There’s one last tip, and probably the best one (save the best for last as they say!), team up with your little one while you choose the books. Let them take the lead if they are comfortable doing that. If they aren’t, then show them the book and ask questions and look at what they are naturally drawn towards. Building fun activities can be a fun activity itself!

Here’s the list of books for ‘Autumn Reads’ for Pratham:

  1. Tiger by Nick Butterworth
  2. Anna Banana from Treehouse Tales
  3. Beans on Toast: The story of baked beans by Paul Dowling
  4. A Book of Hugs by Dave Ross
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  6. A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
  7. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
  8. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
  9. The Color Monster: a story about emotions by Anna Llenas
  10. Peppa’s Pumpkin Party

We await to see yours; Join us for Autumn Reads!
Happy Reading!

“Narratives by She Narrates”: My 4-Year-Old’s Engaging World

“NARRATIVES BY Pallavi Prakash Kumar SHE NARRATES”: MY 4-YEAR-YOUNG Pratham's ENGAGING WORLD- Lego blocks video and activity

The world of our children is nowhere near the practicalities we grown-ups feel drawn towards; it is rather filled with imagination, excitement, enthusiasm, and constant dynamism! 

No wonder, you’ll never find a child doing nothing! They are constantly engaged in one thing or the other. In my observance with Pratham and his friends, there are three things that kids like doing, most of the time. They are either 1) Building something or 2) Role-playing or 3) Storytelling.

I have tried secretly recording Pratham engaged in his activities- Lego blocks activities. Join me for a tour of his world (and the insights I could draw)! 

Video 1: Pratham – The Little, yet Brave Firefighter

This day, Pratham had made a fire-truck model with the Lego bricks sets he has, jointly playing the role of a firefighter/fireman.
Certainly, this way, teaching him about the roles of different people in our communities becomes easy.

Did you notice how a science concept like lever and fulcrum can become easy to explain to a child now? He has made a simple lever pivoted on the inline 360 rotating wheels acting as a fulcrum, as per his qualitative science knowledge he has.

He is also exhibiting his social skills when he says “when fire moves out, he is helping each other friends”. He is also instructing the (imaginary) people around when he says “Be careful, guys!” in this video.

If playtime can help our children learn so much with sub-conscious efforts, what more can we ask for! And the versatility Lego brings in cannot be appreciated enough. Today he is a firefighter, tomorrow he will be designing cars, and the day after maybe robots, the possibilities are endless, just like his imagination!

Video 2: Pratham – The Inquisitive Space Scientist

Another day, another adventure! This day, Pratham built a rocket using his Lego blocks. His eyes light up as he says ‘It’s a rocket. It goes to the moon!’. He takes pride in his creation and enthusiastically demonstrates how fast the rocket goes up.

Simple Lego activities like these make learning so much fun. Not only these help in refining motor skills but also help to build confidence and stimulate imagination and creativity. Watch out Elon Musk! 

Happy Lego building time!

Fine Motor Skills Development

The creation of a child from a single cell is magical, and so is the development of the complex human brain. But what aids the development of the human brain is rather a series of simple activities. 

The brain controls and facilitates the functioning of the entire body stimuli. So the development of our brain can be seen as a coding process whereby our brain learns various skills over time. One set of such skills is termed as ‘Fine Motor Skills’. Fine motor skills involve fine coordination between small muscles in our hands, wrists, fingers, feet, and toes to act in accordance with what we see. ‘Hand-eye coordination’ is a type of fine motor skills.  

Following are the six integral aspects of Fine Motor Skills:

● Agility
● Balance
● Coordination
● Power
● Reaction Time 
● Speed 

As we have highlighted above, the development of children’s fine motor skills can be boosted by some simple activities which are all about a fun learning experience. So the next time your child is tempted towards screen-time, try involving them in some of these fun activities instead!

Activity 1 – The Pulse Puzzle

The activity might sound like a tongue-twister, but it can be a great pastime activity, that involves absolutely no cost. Pick two distinct coloured pulses, say, the split Bengal gram and green gram, and add in beans like red kidney beans or the white-eyed peas. Mix them together in a bowl and your activity is ready. Now encourage your child to segregate them and put them into different bowls. The activity not only involves the act of picking and holding but also improves the child’s recognition skills with respect to colours and textures, and might even encourage them to eat pulses. Start with two pulses and then you can make your way up from there. 

Activity 2 – Lego

Lego building blocks are children’s absolute favourite (and adults’ too, honestly!). Turning, placing, and flipping the pieces support the development of fine-motor skills. And they also promote creativity and imagination as every Lego play hour is an opportunity to build and talk about something new altogether!

Activity 3 – Craft Fun

Often parents fear giving scissors to their children concerning over the sharp-edges. But now there are a variety of child-safe scissors (safety scissors) available in the market that are kid-friendly. Cutting and pasting activities are a perfect setup to build hand-eye coordination and boost to creativity is a bonus! Also, colouring and painting are great activities too. 

Activity 4 – Threading Beads

Threading beads can be a great activity to promote visual motor-skills. And you can always play around colours and types of beads that encourage children to come up with newer patterns. Also, it enhances children’s detail to attention. You can step-up the activity and play with variations. One such variation can be showing a pattern of threaded beads of different colours and asking your child to replicate the same. Playing around such variations can keep the freshness of the activity intact and boost your child’s retention. 

Little activities like these go a long way and strengthen the foundation of our children’s development. Also, it is important to incorporate these activities as a fun learning experience and not like a to-do-list activity. Our children learn everything at their pace. The ‘right-age’ or the ‘right-pace’ is a myth. Don’t let any of these viral ideas ruin your experience of parenting. 

To read about my parenting experience with my child on his fine motor skills and when it consciously started, go to the link here.

I prefer encouraging what my child is genuinely interested in (mainly Lego brick building) along with free-printable activities I receive from ‘Growing Hands-On Kids’ website by Heather Greutman. 

Happy Parenting!

Thank you, dear Santa, for the Lego Bricks!

by Pallavi Prakash Kumar

Lego Classic Bricks set were Santa’s present for Pratham during Christmas celebrations in winters of 2018. I remember this day because I was intuitively guided to introduce a Lego kit to my child.

The blog is over!

I got to be kidding, right?

Yes! Of course, I am kidding…

The story of Pratham’s gift from Santa goes like this… C’mon, read on…

It was sometime in the month of July 2018, when Pratham and I were waiting outside the car parking at a South Delhi mall for my husband to bring around the car from the basement parking at the fourth level below the ground. It was going to take some time, and I knew it. After a few minutes of waiting, I started looking around at the shoppers passing by and began hearing some distinct voices along with thunderous clapping that was getting louder by the minute. A small thank you speech followed by the clatter of cups & plates. I so wanted to know what was happening and followed the direction where all these celebratory sounds were emerging from. I soon came upon a gathering where kids of ages three and above, escorted by their parents had begun dispersing in twos and threes, carrying a card and a goodie packet in their little hands. I asked one of the leaving parents keenly, what was the gathering all about? The lady answered, “This was a Lego robotics workshop for kids above 3+ years old.”

My guess was right; it was a ‘Parent & kids’ workshop as Parent’s day was round the corner. Pratham & I strolled a little closer to the celebration area. My eyes grew big and round seeing the large colourful rubber blocks, almost 6-7-inches long, sorted and kept arranged in different large boxes. On the table, set around the centre stage, were many medium & small-sized blocks, a few pullies and belt systems and few laptops. Also, stationed on the centre stage were some small to big Lego mats positioned on the interlocked colour mats. There were kids doing alphabet writing, some were busy colouring, some in the process of making objects of their choices – all fully engrossed. Some kids in groups were around the table, some playing over the mats, some others leaving with their parents and some reluctant to leave & being pulled by their parents. It was a beautiful sight to see so many genuinely interested and engrossed children in the making and learning. It was a pleasant and invigorating experience for me as a parent, “Alone the Lego sets keeping them engaged so sincerely. Wow!

Pratham wanted to go inside to play with big blocks, and he started wailing and pulling my hand to take him inside. Seeing this, a fair, golden brown-eyed lady standing by the entrance invited me inside. I immediately called my husband and requested him to wait a bit for us.

As I stepped inside, I realised that this was a path-breaking moment for me. I wanted to know more about the Lego robotics workshop. This opened me up to bombard the host with questions that were flooding my mind; I was excited.  I wasted no time in introducing ourselves my name, my son’s name, his age, his interests etc. Quick as a supercomputer, she registered our names and returned in a jiffy with exuberance “Hi Pallavi, Hi Pratham”. As soon as she smiled at Pratham, he rushed off to the play area, as if he just needed that invitation. My little one understands smiles well, approval signs. Now, I jumped asking my questions. At what age can we introduce Lego to the child, what is the age group required for robotics workshop, where & when does the classes happen, is there any Lego class for toddlers?

It was quite apparent looking at the large turnout of kids and parents that it was one of a kind and rare classes. She replied for the first time “My organization is called Zeki Jaan*, named after my father and I am a Turkish.” She further added with a broad smile, “Zeki means intelligent in Turkish and Jaan same as in Hindi means life, so it is intelligent life.” She also shared details about her decades of experience in Lego training, her aim to encourage critical and coding skills in children, STEM learning through Legos bricks and blocks with hands-on exercises. She added, “The classes are for toddlers, kids 4 -16 years old. Kids get to learn how to build simple machines using large pieces from an early age. Lego helps in fine motor skills development and spatial thinking.” Fine motor skills stood out to me as soon as she made that mention. She further explained “Introducing science concepts like balancing and gravity becomes easy, explaining physics concepts with models like gears and axles, wedges and screws, levers and pulleys becomes effortless too. We can also explain pattern matching, colour contrasts etc. through Lego-based activities.”

My phone rang before the conversation with the Turkish lady ‘Emine’ could come to any logical ending. It was my husband waiting at the exit gate. I had to leave. I could not wait for a second more. I quickly grabbed her business card as she handed one to me and left from the place with Pratham.

It was then that I first explored more about fine motor skills development in children. I usually prefer learning new subjects through books, so, I ordered the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman**. I also learnt more about the bricks and blocks, their types and related activities for kids.

I had made up my mind after the conversations with Emine to gift Pratham his first Lego sets on his 3rd birthday, 10th December 2018. But somehow it skipped my mind in preparation for his birthday party. Later, when Pratham’s class teacher asked all the parents to send across a surprise Santa gift with the child’s name on it. It was then that I remembered buying Pratham his first Lego set. These gifts were supposed to be distributed respectively to the child by the Santa during Christmas celebrations hosted by the school.

I bought the set, gift-wrapped and labelled it with his name on the sticker and handed the gift box to the teacher. On 24th December, after the Christmas celebrations in the school, he came home happily, hopping and jumping, all excited and showing me his gift from Santa, it turned out to be a momentous day for both of us.

The ease of introducing him to new activities and new concepts with Lego is tremendous. An added advantage, my concerns over his increased screen time, and worrying about his overall development have reduced to a large extent.

A Santa bringing in a treasured memory and a gift for their child’s development, what more a mother could have asked for! All this happened automatically, at the right time, place and order. I had no knowledge of Lego or fine motor skills development up until that day. Had I not been there waiting for the car, had I not heard those mysterious clapping thunders, had I not followed my instincts? Lego sets and creative learning through bricks & blocks wouldn’t have taken its birth in my son’s life at the right time, and I wouldn’t have explored consciously about fine motor skills development which now is one of my favourite indulgences when choosing toys and activities for my little one.

This year we’ve enrolled him for structured bricks and blocks building programme.

* Facebook page link: and website link:

**Here‘s more about the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman.

Effective Routine, Explore, and Experiment

‘The 3Es for the Higher Education Segment’

The need for the Higher Education segment to adapt to the changing world scenario due to the novel coronavirus is way greater than what we have discussed with regard to pre-schooling and primary schooling. This greater need arises from a relatively rigid and demanding curriculum and associated worry for quality grades, increased pressure to manage studies from home, adapting to the online mode of classes after years of experience with in-person learning at institutions. All this results in mental pressure, anxiety, lack of motivation, and decreased productivity.

If you are a student who can connect to these feelings or a parent reading whose child might be having a tough time adapting to the changing education environment, we want to take a moment to assure you this is normal and the way you are feeling is genuine, we are all together in this!

Unprecedented times bring unprecedented challenges, and that’s how innovation is born. Where the hard time is presenting us with challenges even with routine activities, it is also an opportunity to innovate and experiment. The core truth in this situation is that it’s going to take time, and uncertainty is going to prevail for the time being. But there are always some ways we can think of to make things easier for us to adapt and enrich the learning experience ‘at one’s own pace’, isn’t it?

Making the Routine Effective 

  • A good and consistent sleep routine, often ignored by older students, is the key to good health and ensures a better mental and productive state. A body that has had a restful night’s sleep is way more ready than a body that has pulled an all-nighter of binge-watching to take on the new day.  
  • Attention span issues are common with distractions around. And we would say, don’t say a strict no to distractions like social media, instead make time for them. If studying two hours on a stretch is posing to be a challenge, then instead try experimenting with smaller studying sessions. Try studying for 45 minutes after which you give yourself a 20 minutes’ break. You can use this break time to enjoy all that you want. But keep it to the ‘break-time’ only. Similarly, resist the desire to complete a Netflix show in a single-day and instead reward yourself with one episode a day, maybe with a meal or later towards the end of your workday. 
  • You can also try ‘focus music’ in the background with apps like Headspace while studying if it fits you. Try making a concise to-do-list (‘to-accomplish-list’, much better!) every day and start by taking small steps. After all, only those who are strong enough to take small steps when times are tough can brave enough to take the leap!
  • Build a habit! Personally, this is what I practice. Whenever I have a hard time keeping up with my routine or rituals, I try incorporating a new thing or a new activity to my routine or rituals. So now I have something to take along in parallel, and the likelihood of me managing both increases! Reading a book, a new form of workout, meditation, it could be anything.  
  • Take a day off! Being at home has also blurred the lines between weekdays and weekends. After a week of work, we all deserve one day off and indulge in some recreation or simply sit back and relax. Spend time with your family, get on a video call with your friends, play with your pet! 
  • Take it easy. We are often drawn to thoughts ‘no one will understand’ and resist sharing our problems and feelings. In case, if something is not working out for you, seek help, from your parents, your siblings, friends, teachers. And sometimes we don’t even need a solution, all we need to do to make things better is just talk it out with someone or free-write all the feelings or indulge in something we like doing, to allow the inspired actions to flow in. Don’t worry, it will all be fine!

Explore and Experiment 

This is a perfect time to explore your interest and delve deeper into various career opportunities as the market needs change after the global crisis.

Various global platforms are standing in support of students by providing free courses*. Even certifications and forms of vocation that might cost some amount are worth exploring as they add to the students’ learning curve and aid in realizing what they are drawn to, their ‘calling’. Webinars led by industry leaders and professors of reputed universities can broaden their perspective and give direction in their field of interest.

Also, if you are passionate about some form of art like music, dance, craft, writing, or any other sphere, now is the time to devote some. Incorporate them in your routine, dedicate some time and energy, learn more, and you can even consider sharing what you learn, which is easier than ever as the world functions online! Make a move! If it works, fabulous, and if it doesn’t, we can always keep learning and working! Whatever you will do in this phase, will add to your experience, and that’s the best thing one can gain.

And once again, a gentle reminder, we are all together in this, and it will all be fine!

*Links to a few online resources that might help and interest you,

  1. Harvard University 
  2. Coursera
  3. edX

Be blessed!