10 best Santa gift ideas for kids between 4 years to 6 years of age

December is here, the month when we prefer to slow down, snuggle up and surprise our loved ones with gifts or games. Oh when talking about gifts it reminded me to share with you what are some of the Santa gifts that you can plan for your kids if they are between age group 4 years to 6 years! So before we buy the Santa gifts or games for kids this time let us understand the importance and how to select the right toys or games for them but pick intuitively or allow your child to decide.

The introduction of the right toy to the child is a crucial part of parenting. Games transmit a critical impact on the growing brain of a child. Correct toys contribute to the social, mental, and physical development of a child.

So, it needs to be considered before buying the toys that it contributes to developing certain personality traits.

And gifting your child with a precious toy on the occasion of Christmas can be an exciting event for your child too. Here, we have discussed some toys which will fulfill the requirement of an ideal toy and could be a great Santa present for them.

  1. Wooden building blocks or Legos

A child’s brain implies a germinating seed that contains tons of opinions and ideas. They need a prudish tool that provides the shape of their expression. The ideal toy should grant total freedom to kids to architect their imagination. It also empowers their thought process to find purpose in their creation. Therefore, the right present for children should be inventive and engaging.

A set of building blocks, a precise gift to accomplish all the expectations. Playing with blocks exists a proven simplistic activity to enhance the cognitive function of children. A building block is suitable for children above four years of age. It supports the fine and gross motor development in budding kids. Moreover, it will be beneficial to achieve the milestone of the psychological maturation of the child.

  • Provides learning opportunity
  • Support healthy development
  • Enhance problem-solving skill

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/iPlay-iLearn-Educational-Montessori-Preschoolers/dp/B01DKROJA6/

2. Wax Crayon

Colouring signifies a proven technique of subconscious reflection. Scintillating colours spark the imaginations and perhaps the most creative way to galvanize the creativity in children. Colouring stimulates sensory and motor development and speech improvement in kids. Besides, it also builds the strength of hand muscles and improves coordination. It is a fun exercise that educates the child at the same time.

Colours inspire a kid to paint their potential on a piece of paper, certainly constructing their self-confidence. Wax crayon is a suitable present for a child between the age of 4 to 6 years. This small gift can transform the child into a creative and expressive person.

  • Support focus and concentration building
  • Improve the coordination skills
  • It teaches patience to kids

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Honeysticks-Toddlers-Non-Toxic-Washable-Bath-Time/dp/B07FD7QRPG/

3. Math link cubes

The Blooming of the brain is rapid at a tender age and requires an expressive stimulus to intensify this development. Fun and learning should be the purpose of every childhood activity. Therefore, the inclusion of novel ideas in fun fulfils the requirement of formative learning. 

Preface to numbers at an early age also activates the intellectual development of children. To solve the purpose of fun and learn completed by the math link cubes. These cubes give glimpses of the world of numbers to children, therefore, an excellent gift for a budding kid.

  • Develops motor and sensory skills
  • Promotes problem-solving abilities
  • Preface to elementary math concepts

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Learning-Advantage-7400-Place-Value/dp/B00NV66X0G/

4. Musical kids drum set

Music possesses a healing essence, particularly for sobbing children. According to research, music helps in the development of the auditory and visual cortex area of the human brain, thus increasing intelligence. Neonates frequently respond to sounds and quickly recognize the difference in pitch and frequency of the sound.

Musical instruments improve this innate inclination. It elevates the learning and recognition process. Introduction to music at a very fragile age can be crucial for child development. A musical drum set completes the task of the perfect gift for any kid above four years of age.

  • Boost memory of a child
  • Enhance cognitive development
  • Invoke creativity in kids

Buy : https://www.amazon.com/Prextex-Electric-Microphone-Adjustable-Included/dp/B07NVTN6N1/

5. Interactive wall charts

Childhood possesses sharper memory, and children learn quickly. Their recognition and perception process is astonishing, and they immediately grasp vivid and colourful characters. The unique qualities of kids require brushing, so their games should be helpful in that. Introduction of cheerful learning stuff like interactive charts can also partake in playing. Therefore, it provides the proper utilization of childhood before the actual initiation of kindergarten.

Interactive wall charts supplicate the requirement of a complete package of learning and playing. Space decorated with attractive wall charts quickly grasps the attention of the child. Colourful figures of animals, numbers, alphabets, vegetables, and maps hold an inventive approach to engage the concentration of kids.

  • Enhance flash memory
  • Encourage learning behaviour
  • Help to achieve the developmental milestone

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Just-Smarty-Interactive-Educational-Kindergarten/dp/B074PYYM51/

6. Floor Puzzle

Challenging tasks to children support the development of the logical thinking brain. Therefore, early training and proper strategy are required. There is a designated research wing that develops innovative methods of problem-based learning.

Today, schools and kindergarten are adopting strategies for the development of cognitive intelligence in children, and interaction with puzzles is one of them. Puzzles improve memory patterns, motor coordination, design recognition functions of children. Introduction at a tender age develops the problem-solving skills in the child.

Floor puzzle is an ideal game to initiate the preparation of problem elucidation art in the child. A wide range of distinct patterns and different diagrams grab the attention of the germinating mind. It is a perfect gift for any occasion like a birthday and Christmas.

  • It improves knowledge
  • Develop cognitive intelligence
  • Build problem-solving and pattern recognition skill

Buy : https://www.amazon.com/Underwater-Children-Recognition-Promotes-Coordinatio/dp/B07WP42R4Z/

7. Candyland game

Cognitive development is essential, but the progression of social and emotional behaviour is also significant. Therefore, collaborative exercises should be part of the daily routine of a child. A social activity like team-bonding cultivates the art of communication and cooperation in kids. According to a study, a four years old child understands the impact of team-building.

Teamwork activities in preschool children encourage the knowledge sharing and learning process in children from their peers. Children’s inclination towards playing is more in the group rather than solely.

A team-building game should be included in the daily activity of a child. Four years is an ideal age to introduce group activity games like Candyland. This game nurtures the teamwork sense in children, along with concentration and language learning process.

  • Encourage social activity
  • Help in learning the language
  • Build bonds with peers

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Hasbro-Gaming-Kingdom-Adventures-Exclusive/dp/B00000DMF5/

8. Basket-ball set

Children are like buds, and everything that contributes to their overall development is essential. Physical activities develop sensory and motor neurons of the peripheral and central nervous systems. It also helps in strengthening the voluntary muscles, provides agility and strength to the child. 

The physical activities begin in kindergarten, but its early introduction in the form of a game (basketball) for toddlers and pre-school children would be beneficial. Physical games are not limited to physical metamorphosis, but cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioural advancement is also a component of it.

Basketball is an ideal gift for four years of children. A child can play in a team or alone at any place like the backyard, lawn, and living area. To get a healthy body and mind a complete game set is significant for the gross development of a child.

  • Essential for physical and mental growth
  • Teach the essentials of team-work
  • Portable to carry at any place of choice

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Little-Tikes-Easy-Score-Basketball/dp/B074XB3S8F/

9. On a beam of light- A story of Albert Einstein: A winter read

Reading is a reflection of an enlightened mind, and it is a fundamental requirement to develop creative imagination in kids. Reading stories is the best training for the gross development of the cerebrum. It is a lifelong process, begins at a truly tender age.

Introduction to the right book at the right age is an art to learn. It is difficult to note down the benefits of reading/storytelling, but it has the power to shape childhood. Some stories imprint a lifelong impact on the minds of readers. 

Storytelling is also impactful, like reading. Storytelling helps toddlers in recognizing, pronouncing, and learning new words. A long list of books recommended for kids, but a book based on Albert Einstein named “On a beam of light- A story of Albert Einstein” by Jennifer Berne is popular between parents and children. 

It demonstrates the creative methods of teaching with its engaging literature. The stories and incidences could be a life-changing experience for kids.

  • Ideal reading for kids between 4 to 6 years.
  • Builds confidence and spark curiosity in kids.
  • Comprehensive personality development

Buy : https://www.amazon.in/Beam-Light-Story-Albert-Einstein/dp/145215211X/

10. Play dollhouse

Kids are fascinated with the activities of elders, so they mimic the people around them. They quickly learn and reflect on the things they observe. The tremendous capacity to impersonate and keen observation encourage them to behave like adults. The acquisition of these characteristics enables kids to understand family dynamics.

The teaching of proper behaviour and action to the kids support them to grow. Employment of relevant toys can also accompany the same purpose. Thus, kid’s toys should possess a feature to strengthen social, communication, and cognitive skills.

In pursuance of all these qualities, the most suited gift would be a dollhouse. A dollhouse is a fitting gift for the age of four to six years old children. A miniature replica of a house invokes the imagination, creativity, and responsible behavior of kids. It brings fun and interaction with the best lifetime experience.

  • Supports complete development of a child
  • Enhance emotional intelligence
  • Helpful in bring up awareness

Buy : https://www.amazon.com/Temi-Dollhouse-Building-Furniture-Accessories/dp/B082WBGX7W/

We have read about the importance of the selection of the right stuff for kids. One fundamental thing which came out of it is that kid’s toys should be beneficial in grooming their complete personality. It takes part in the construction and promotion of their social, mental, and physical abilities. So, gear up to surprise your child with a perfect Santa gift that can be a blend of useful traits.

Happy Christmas and happy gifting!

A – Z Gratitude List

A - Z Gratitude List of Pratham

In the A-Z of life, it’s the little things that matter! That’s what Pratham’s gratitude list reminded me of!

The list is evolving ever since we started practicing Gratitude this way, here’s one such list:

Pratham's Gratitude List from A - Z while playing A - Z Gratitude Game

This list would be an ever-evolving one. Some days we are only at A, B, C, D, E, the kids’ attention span as per Psychiatrist Colette Poole- Boykin is not more than ‘Kids age multiplied by 2 or 5 minutes’, the result approximates the amount of time the child can stay focused.

P.S. 1) Most of our list elements would speak more about cars and types of cars which my son owns at home.

2) Words starting with K, Q, U, Y and Z did not come to my son Pratham initially, so I introduced a few words to him and as he is learning phonics and sounds, so introducing new words seems easier for me.

Benefits of ‘A – Z Gratitude Game‘:

  1.  Parents and children, both are practising Gratitude in the company of one another. It helps them in building the bond stronger and also assists them with exercising of the gratitude muscles. Just as physical exercise is important, so is gratitude practices for children and parent both.
  2. This further contributes to enhancing their vocabularies where more words can be introduced to the child in a play-way method.
  3. Early gratitude practices help in Self Discovery & Personal Development of a child. With this, you are also teaching the kids about the sense of organs and body parts.

Thank you!

A – Z Gratitude Game

It’s the little things that matter!

A - Z Gratitude Game- After all its the littlest of things that matter!

“The more grateful you are, the more things and reasons you get to be grateful for”- Louise Hay

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I decided to come up with this interesting yet meaningful activity for Pratham, my four-year-young child. The spirit of thanksgiving is all about celebrating gratitude and sharing. To inculcate the same spirit in him, I tried creating a game, our ‘A-Z Gratitude Game’!

This game is based on the magic words: ‘Thank you’ and ‘Welcome’. We have reminded the kids many times to say thank you when they receive the presents. We also have reminded them to say thank you when anyone compliments them. But have we reminded them to be thankful and be appreciative of what they already have! The initial stressful Covid-19 period got me into teaching my 4-year-young child gratitude practises and feel grateful for whatever he already has at home to play and enjoy.

My son is fond of cars. To illustrate his fondness for cars here are a few instances.

The Story of Pratham and his Cars! (Promise, we will come back to the gratitude game!)

To begin with … He sleeps with his toy cars, wakes up with them, talks to the cars, and even takes his bath with them. He enjoys reading books on cars and especially gives utmost importance to those books which have cars as the front/back cover. A car picture of any kind is enough to fascinate him flip the pages. He also weaves beautiful stories on cars, car traps, or car rescues. He mostly watches the car series or movies.

During the lockdown, we were not ordering or buying toys for him, especially during the peak infectious months, March to July. We bought him his first set of toy cars at the beginning week of August.

Touchwood! He had adaptively found creative ways out for his temptations. He also found out beautiful alternatives to calm off his pulls. He indulged himself in making some astonishing car contraptions and showdowns. He also made all sorts of car parts, its accessories like car-lift, car garage, car parking areas, car shades, etc. with his classic Lego sets.

He has cars of all sizes, types, colours… almost! Not to miss … a red car lounge also… his Ferrari for the sawari!

Being a keen-observer, his eyes are always set upon the numerous cars on the roads whenever he takes a walk outside the house. He observes every car and its elements in the car parking closely, especially the wheels, the colour of the radials, and the enormous headlights. He is only four, and he’d sit in a full flat footed-squat position to watch the wheels.

 If I get busy talking to someone while walking down the lane to my house, he will go missing. Now that I’ve learnt that he must be between cars, it is easy to locate him. But to those who don’t know what I am doing around the cars may think, I am deflating the tyres or encouraging my child to do so. Alas, I can’t help it! Nobody out there knows my child interest and his love for cars.

I remember, once we bought a Cars’ bedsheet and he would not let us spread the sheet on the bed. He rather chose to wrap the sheet around his body like a blanket to receive warmth and cuddle from the cars. This is what we felt from his gestures. Next day he woke up saying ‘Good Morning’ to the bedsheet, with a wide-bright smile, as if he slept peacefully in his “Car Wonderland.” Touchwood, he is blessed with a sound sleep like my husband! The activity of sleeping under the car bedsheet could last for three-four days only. As another day, I sneaked-in and kept it out of his sight for days to distract him. He is quite an adaptive child otherwise.

My son is a shy tot and usually takes two-three meetups or interactions to open to a new person unless it’s an authoritative figure for him, such as his teachers in the pre-primary. To his new teachers for the current academic year, I had to suggest a few ways of breaking the ice and bringing him to open up. It is either by asking him about his cars or praising his cars or allowing him to share a car story.

We also engage him in a decluttering practice for his toys or CARS. Every month, we buy him cars or toys which he likes or asks us for. He also receives full liberty from us to decide how many and the types. But on the other hand, we encourage him to give away the ones that he’s outgrown to or the ones he doesn’t like playing with to the underprivileged kids. We pack them aside and donate them once a year. One thing that I have observed is that when we give freedom to the kids to decide on the number of cars/toys they want, they choose better and wisely. With my experience, Pratham and other kids in my family they’ve never asked for more than one or two toys, maximum I would say.

That’s all for our story for the time being (we will explain the relevance ahead, stay tuned!), now let’s get back to the game!  

During the alarming Covid-19 strict period, gratitude journaling and mindfulness practice helped me sail well and bounce back when the old morbid thoughts, beliefs, or my own fears would throw in the towel. I was thinking to model the same to my child and teach him how to be thankful and appreciative of what he already has. Then, by the passing days, we devised this “A-Z Gratitude Game” to play in the morning after his breakfast.

And here’s how this game looks like (drumrolls!):

Name an object or a toy that begins with each alphabet: Starting from A till Z, ask the child to look around for all the toys, favourite and not so favourite objects/things/items present in and around the house. Sort of treasure hunt!

We can ask the child to share their thoughts first and later we can give our inputs with items in and around the house. Not just this, we can even let them know about their body parts- A beautiful way to inculcate the practice of Gratitude.

Sometimes, it’s quite challenging to keep through with the game till Z. One major reason is the attention span of the child. As he is only 4-years and to keep his pull-through till ‘Z’ is difficult, sometimes we run out of words, and sometimes the game becomes repetitive, so tweak it a little those days. But ‘A-Z Gratitude game’ definitely helps him learn a new word and look for his long-unattended toys. It keeps my gratitude practise continued with the added spice of fun. And the peace of keeping my son usefully occupied with the creative tangy ideas is a cherry on the cake.

So, here’s one of Pratham’s list for your reference. Also, read the benefits listed in the link.

Getting to know his list of things that he feels grateful for and so happy about, for a few moments took me aback in aww! His happiness is in the littlest of things, and isn’t that how life is supposed to be, ‘about the little things’! Sharing the above story of Pratham and his love for cars was my attempt to share his innocent take on the little things in life and how those matter to him. This game not only helped Pratham count on his blessings but also reminded me of such an important learning of life and in my gratitude list, undoubtedly, Pratham tops!

So this was motivation enough for me to come up with a spin-off of this game, but this time a greater role for me! Knowing that children model their parents, I decided to thank Pratham by keeping a surprise note under his pillow- “a thanking note”, which we read together before going to bed. I tried writing at least one thing about how he made me feel thankful to him.


Here’s a few thank you notes written during the most stressful period of pandemic 2020:

1)         Thank you for being so patient.
2)         Thank you for being co-operative with me at work.
3)         Thank you for forgiving me when I raised my voice at you during your homework routine.
4)         Thank you for listening to Mumma when she reads you a story.
5)         Thank you for appreciating the meals Mumma prepared for you today.
6)         Thank you for noticing my frowned face today and asking me about it.
7)         Thank you for bringing a smile on everyone’s face by mimicking my sad face look

And this was it! This is our learning for Thanksgiving and beyond, and we have promised each other to celebrate the littlest of things!  Have we been successful in convincing you to make a similar promise with your little one? Do let us know!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Parenting!

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!

BOOK REVIEWS (Part 2)- AUTUMN READS EXTENDED CUT

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 www.bucketfillers101.com. 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 bucketfillers101.com

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!
#readraiserise

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!