Dec 26, 2008

How imagination shapes reality

Have you ever experienced imagination take over your reality? Have you ever imagined something in so much detail that at the end of it you weren't sure if that event actually occurred or was a figment of your imagination. Children love to imagine things. It is essential for parents to encourage the thought process and not distract the child with logic or negative comments.
Pablo Picasso said "Everything you can imagine is real."

Our DD was loves playing with her set of colourful blocks. Normally, she just makes some structure with the blocks and then throws it all down. She enjoys watching the way all the blocks fall down on the floor. The mother in me curbs herself from asking her to stop. It would be left for Mum to clear up once the game is over. But fascinated, I watch her eyes as she pushes against it and follows the line of path with a gleam in her eyes.

While we watched from our breakfast table today, she stood at another corner of the room. She put a set of three blocks one beside the other and put one more set of 3 blocks on it looked like three towers...and then we caught her singing...
While we watched her singing, we saw her blowing on to the three tower blocks. It was amusing to see her colourful block candles. She has a long way to go to reach 3....just 22 months old now but I can see her imagination shaping out and forming a reality while she plays with her same old blocks.   

Dec 24, 2008

Photo collage on Photoshop

Gone are the days when memories would be preserved in concrete form in photo albums. The whole business of printing photographs has become obsolete. Most of us have tons of photos taking huge amounts of hard disk space in our laptops and computers. An unfortunate computer crash can lead to a terrible loss of enjoyable memories. For those who still like to get their pictures printed, here is an idea to save you lots of printing. You could make a collage of the best of your pics and get it enlarged for your wallspace in your bedroom. Digital photoframes are also a good option.

Babies and their language

It can be real fun to see two babies talk and interact with each other despite the barriers of language.
Here is a video of my 18month old daughter interacting with a 14 month old friend's daughter.
Watch them interact. baby video

It can be pathbreaking if we got to know what babies think and what they could have said if they learnt to talk the minute they came out of the womb. Here is a farewell gift I designed for our friends.

There are lots of views for parents regarding teaching your baby how to sign. Baby sign language can help avoid lots of frustration for both parents as well as babies.
If you want to learn more about how to do signing with your baby,
click here

Nov 28, 2008

How to Improve Fine Motor Skills of a Toddler

Writing is an ability which is developed only once a toddler is able to enhance his fine motor skills. Fine motor skills can be defined as coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes.
The abilities which involve the use of hands, develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects to more precise activities that involve precise hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills are skills that involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning.

Here is list of things I have found useful in building on the fine motor skills of my daughter. Hoping that a regular variety of activities from this list can help her improve her fine motor skills for the future.

1. Colouring - Coloring books can be a good skill-builder. They help with teaching kids how to control a crayon or colored pencil I found that typical colouring books with big pictures for the child to colour was a bit too daunting for a beginner to colour. Toddlers hardly have the concentration time and patience to sit and colour one whole colouring page. They need to first develop the strength to hold a crayon or colour pencil properly. There's a Kumon workbook called 'Let's color' for 2 year olds that builds on the drawing skills literally from scratch. "Colouring inside the lines" is what you should ask your child to do but if they want to colour as per their free will, leave them to enjoy the colouring once in a while.

I took this before my daughter drew all the nice black hair on it. ;)

2. Cutting with Scissors help with coordination. I have found the Kumon workbook for that as well: "My First Book of Cutting." quite impressive. here, the doggy's whiskers need some cutting. My daughter kept saying 'Doggy cut doggy cut while i did this activity with her, while i kept reminding her to open and close the scissor. I've bought a plastic scissor for her safety that can cut paper. One can always DIY the cutting part with one's own materials. Kumon's books make it much more interesting with attractive pictures that my daughter simply adores. The dolls pics were given by Shichida method today itself to introduce cutting where my daughter goes once a week.

3. Pasting - The ability of taking out stickers with one's hand and then pasting on the paper and then moving on to pasting at the right place is quite important. While lots of stickers books are available in the market, I have liked the Kumon workbook, Let's Sticker and Paste particularly because it builds on to from the beginning skill of ability to take out a sticker and just place it anywhere in a particular design. Ruhani has been in Shichida for a long while now and stickers were introduced long back. So, she is quite confident at it now though it will take her time to understand where to place the sticker correctly as the book progresses.

4. Use a thick, triangular pencil that helps her grip. You can also find triangular grips that fit over conventional pencils.

5. Sewing card - I found a wonderful toy that teaches sewing in Toys R Us while helping little fingers gain control of the thread and putting it in the right hole.

6. Make a Necklace by threading beads - We gave her large wooden beads (from a craft store) and a shoelace to string the beads on, to help with fine-motor coordination.

7. Tweezers- Another small-motor techinique: have the children use tweezers to pick up small objects (small beads, thin puzzle pieces). We used large tweezers that came with an insect-study kit.* *

8. Tongs and pompoms. A bowl of coloured pompoms and a tong can keep your child happily engaged while she gains strength to use the tong properly.

9. Punching Paper- Let your little one have some fun making holes through a punch. A punch from a stationary store for children (i got mine from Kinokunia) , coloured strips of paper and a bowl is needed for this activity.
Various designs like flowers, letters, stars or animals for punching paper used for craft work are available in the market.
A punch uses the thumb and the forefinger and can engross your child with the colourful designs that are taken out. One can use the punched coloured paper designs by gluing them with a gluestick onto a card.

10. Dressing up Teddy (Snaps, Small Buttons, Big buttons, Zips, Shoe laces, velcro, belt)

11. Opening Bags/Dresses with chains.

12. Plastic pipe (Nuts and bolts) for wrist turning (screw and unscrew) : Give empty bottles with screw on lids (make sure the plastic is safe and also the lid size is big enough) in the bathtub for them to open and close rather than the popular bathtoys. Opening the bottles, adding water into it and then pouring it out can be real fun.

13. Wet Pouring - Pitcher to pitcher for wrist turning. Things needed are a tray, 2 pitchers, one with coloured water, 1 small sponge to wipe.
14. Dry Pouring - Pitcher to narrow neck bottle for wrist turning - Use kidney beans or rice. I did two activities with this. (1) Askng her to count while she picked up and dropped kidney beans one by one into the bowl to understand how much counting she has learnt. Was surprised to see the counting go on till 13. Great going for a 21 month old, aint it? :D
(2) Pouring from bowl to cup and from cup to bowl. Regular practice will help reduce the number of kidney beans falling out.

15. Sandpaper numerals: Make your own DIY sandpaper numerals and ask your child to trace the numbers. You will be amazed how fast they will learn the numbers or alphabets.
16. Knobbed cylinders: This is a montessori tool that you will find in montessori schools or can purchase online.
17. Stacking cubes from largest to smallest and so on.
18. Quadrilateral prisms/horizontal stairs
19. Carrying a table with the help of 2 adults will help build coordiantion and judgement.
20. Draw outlines of shapes from cut out cardboard shapes placed on paper

21. Water plants with a watering can
22. Putting pegs on clothes line: Make a mini clothesline and let your child hang all her doll's clothes on it and add pegs on to it.
23 Putting cloth pegs on the edge of a bowl. Also, teach your child to press to open the peg and put in the center of the bowl and vice versa. You may also teach the colours while mentioning the pegs.
24. Roll a mat
25. Pencil sharpener: Let them sharpen a pencil and watch how the pencil gets sharpened, and make a craft of the disposed stuff.
26. Play Doh: Get some playdoh and show your child how to make various shapes, letters, numbers or roll them into snakes. Hiding buttons in playdoh for your child to take out can strengthen hand muscles. Our daughter funnily doesnt like playdoh and is in fact funnily scared of it coz it changes shape. :D

27. Wooden Puzzles which have handles for picking up the pieces.

28. Self feeding with spoon
29. Winding a clock
30. Bathing with a mug
31. Piggybank: Make a piggybank by cutting a slit in a box. Ask your child to push play or real coins into it.
32. Squirt guns: Use small squirt guns for your child to use in the bathtub or outside. You may want to ask your baby to only aim at the bathtub walls or he/she will lose the squirt gun.
33. Finger Rhymes: Do finger plays and action rhymes with your child such as the Eentsy Weentsy Spider, Two Little Blackbirds, Where is Thumbkin, etc.
34. Involve your baby in loads of household activity from folding washcloths, make believe sweeping the kitchen floor with a small broom and dust pan, or spreading butter on toast.
35. While cooking, or baking, make them stir the batter for you.
36. Encourage them to make cards for their friends that involves cutting, pasting etc.
37. Popping the bubbles in a bubble wrap is something we all have enjoyed. Let your child enjoy it too.
38. Practice writing letters in a pan filled with a thin layer of salt or cornmeal. You can also make letters, numbers, and shapes out of Wikki Stix or draw on a Magnadoodle.
39. Use stencils for your baby to trace letters.
40. Water droppers can be used to make water color paintings or just to transfer water between small containers.
41. Locking and unlocking of doors.
42. Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
43. Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
44. Using a screwdriver

The list of similar activities can go on...Just put on your thinking caps. You can find many other interesting options. Any more ideas...please add to the list. Hope this was of help to all mums and dads with a toddler like mine.

Activities to Beat Boredom...

A common problem I keep hearing from parents and friends is that their children are getting bored with nothing to do. An energetic toddler can also make things worse by pulling the house down, the way he/she wants it.

There are plenty of simple activities that you and your child can enjoy doing at your own home.

Today, I thought of describing one such activity that we as a family enjoyed together one evening. Its a good means to keep your lives happily engaged without getting bored or making your child sit for hours glued to the television.

Just pick up sheets of paper and crayons/paints and a place where your toddler will be safe to spread out his sheets of paper and fly on his/her wings of imagination....and you never know...there within your own home could be the next budding 'Picaso'.

We plan to do this more often, provided the wind is blowing in the right direction.

We had brought big sheets of paper so that our 21 month old could colour on it with no restrictions on space.

She preferred adding some more colour after Daddy's drawing was done. Let the grass be red and the sun be green, don't criticize, just keep ENCOURAGING!

Let your child learn to express through colours...

Nov 13, 2008

Building Language Associations

While the Olympics was going on, our toddler saw the swimming championship happening on TV and pointed to the TV screen with excitement, "Fish! Fish!" We were soo amused. We told her that it was an 'Uncle' in the water.

Associating 'water' with 'fish' was the first learning for our child. Associating 'people' with 'water' is another learning. Now, she knows that boats, submarines, etc can also swim/float in water....not just 'fish'.

Next, she needs to learn that 'not all things' can swim.

Jul 23, 2008

Blabbering to Glory (Click to see the Video)

Watch our Ruhani returning daddy's blackberry in return for all the lovely things Dad can get for her from the mall. Click the title to watch the video.

Jul 21, 2008

Tips for Buying Toys

It's another outing to the nearest shopping mall on a weekend. And after lots of shopping for yourselves, you wish to buy something for your little one too. But shopping is no fun with a toddler around. You walk into your child's favourite toy store...and voila, you are surrounded by an ocean of toys. While your child squeals with excitement, and rushes in, touching, tugging and pulling anything and everything he finds interesting, you somehow get hold of a toy and also your toddler and walk out before things become unmanageable. Does this happen to your family too?

Take a deep breath. Here are a few essential tips to choose the right toys at a toy store.

While a whole range of toys are available, it is important for parents to choose the right toys for their children. Toys can help educate as well as stimulate your child's play and imagination.

-Age specific-
Many parents think that their child is much more advanced than others and go in for toys that are not age appropriate, and hence do not interest or intrigue the child. Age specific toys can not only be relevant to your child but also help build many core skills like fine or gross motor skills of a child.

Many toys have small detachable parts which may not be suitable for young children. A pointed edge in a toy can accidentally hurt the eye or an eyeball of a soft toy could be swallowed. So, always make sure that the toy you are buying is safe for your child.

-Appealing to your child's senses-
Toys can be appealing if the child can exercise his senses through it. See if your child loves holding the toy, (say a soft toy for cuddling) or seeing it (if it is colourful) or if it can lead to some games.

Stories can be built around a toy. Teddies can be bought and named as Papa Teddy, Mumma Teddy and Baby teddy and they can be made to do various activities round the house to help your child bring them alive.

- Simple yet F-U-N-
It is important for toddlers to be exposed to letters, letter sounds, and numbers. Look for brightly colored blocks, oversized flashcards, or puzzles with letters and numbers that may also have a tactile component like a fuzzy duck or shiny moon. Some phonological based toys also talk or sing to children. Parents always enjoy helping their child explore and create with oversized paper and crayons, or clay.

Having said that, you need not buy costly toys for your children always however tempting it may be.

Creativity can be enhanced from simple things too. A chair can become a bridge if your child crawls below it. A plastic plate can be a steering wheel. A rope can become a snake, a pencil for writing or it can take shape of letters and numbers.

Help your child play with his toys in various creative ways as possible.

Cardboard boxes interest all children. A throw-away cardboard box can become a doll's house, a cupboard for doll's shoes or clothes.

- Interactive -
A toy that aids your child's imaginative power is always a better choice.

Books with pop-up characters, board books for young children, touch and feel books that babies can scratch and feel or cloth books with mirrors for newborns are wonderful variations to the ordinary books available otherwise.

Below is a cloth book from Lamaze with legs that your baby can touch and play with.

This is a pop-up book that adds a lot of interaction and imagination as opposed to normal storyreading books.

This is a board book with touch and feel areas that are specially made for curious fingers.

Even a variation to the regular cushion can become an interesting gift for your child.

Here is a toy that helps build imagination too.

It is a cushion with a cow tied with a small piece of rope. This builds interactivity with the toy. Your child can hold the cow and place it inside its house and take it out to graze in the field when he is hungry.

To summarize it all, the few pointers to be noted while purchasing a toy to enhance creative skills are:

It should be
1) age specific (relevant to your child's actual or mental age)
2) safe
3) appealing to your child's senses (sight, sound, touch, etc) so that he/she can exercise her eyes, ears or hands.
4) F-U-N
5) interactive where your child can participate (stories can be built around it)
Happy shopping for the right toys for your child.

Have you bought any toy for your child that you think enhanced his/her creative or imagination skills? Share it here at the 'comments' section.

Jul 17, 2008

Creativity and Art

Title: Glass Painting
Shared by Neelanjana.

GLASS PAINTING: Do-it-yourself

Requirements:Glass / Thick transparent plastic / PVC
Glass colors (preferably oil-based to get a beautiful sheen)
Glass outliner
Drawing paper
Tracing paper (if u intend to make a symmetrical figure)

1. Think of a design that you think would look good on glass and sketch it on paper.
2. If it is a symmetrical design, draw only the part of it from which the other parts can be copied.
3. Then trace that part on a tracing paper so that when you turn it around, you get the mirror image ready.
4. Next, take the sketched design (on paper if it is asymmetrical, on tracing paper otherwise) and place it on the glass so that you can see it from the other side.
5. Stick it with a tape so that it doesn’t move while you are working on it.
6. Take the glass outliner and trace the design on the glass while taking care that no bubbles are formed on the outline. If you see any bubbles, break them with a safety pin or something like that.
7. In case of a symmetrical design, turn the tracing paper around, place it accordingly on the glass and trace the remaining bit.
8. When you are done with outlining, let it dry.
9. Fill the design with the colors while making sure that part you want to fill is completely enclosed with the outliner. Else the color in the adjacent part will seep in and make it messy (since the colors are liquid).
10. While filling the colors also you have to avoid bubble formation
11. Now you can either leave the painting as it is or adorn it with beads or crystals or glitter powders.

To share your comments or learn more about the work, jump to comments.

Jul 12, 2008

Creativity and Art

Creativity Unleashed 
Title: Adoring the Western Sky!
Shared by Swati.

Tap into your own creative self!

Today I’m asking a question. Please, please chime in if you know the answer because it’s something I’ve wondered about for a while.

Is it right to forget ourselves while we live for our own loved ones?

Our tiny tots can take up most of our time and soon leave us in a maze of frustrations and responsibilities.

What better way to refresh our mind & spirit than stealing a quiet hour indulging in our creative minds. Remember, you can be the best role-model for your child. Give some time to yourself, and let your creative self shine.

While we dwell on the creative pursuit of our little ones, wouldn't it be fun to take some time off to let loose our own creative selves.

Whether it is expressing through poems, articles, drawings, paintings, photography, or any handmade work like glass painting or candle making or any other creative work, here's an opportunity you shouldn't miss.

Once you are done, share your beautiful and unique creations. And, if you already have a treasure trove of masterpieces, just scrawl them out, and send it to me. Also, you can get unbiased opinions from others (if you are daring enough) and learn tips from others at the same time. You may get in touch with like-minded friends too.

Send your work (in the form of pics/video links) to

Add in the following details:
1. Title (in 10 words or less):
2. A Background of the work would be appreciated (with/without pics) so others can learn too:
3. Your Name (optional):
4. Your E-mail id:

Cheers to life! And living it creatively. With & For our children.

Jul 7, 2008

Poverty in India

A Mouthful of Miseries or a Streak of Hope? YOU DECIDE! We are so lucky to be able to think about other things like creativity for our little ones, besides the bare necessities of life. There are parents and children out there who are putting their wits together each day to feed their hungry stomachs.

How about sacrificing an evening with friends or budgeting a lavish birthday party to help the needy children instead. Donate some money, play with them, chat, teach them ways of earning a living or simply share a laugh with them. Add some colour into their lives. They dont need your sympathy. They need your love and concern.

Read the heart wrenching article that follows...

The secret to our future - Joyshri Lobo (The Tribune, Chandigarh)

THE view from the large, French windows at the gym in Sector 9 is interesting. Half a dozen children gambol around green spaces. They wear handouts, chase each other, rile the puppies that arrived a few months ago and smile a lot. Their distinguishing, common feature is that they are very thin and dirty. The moment the traffic lights change colour, they rush to the waiting cars and whine, asking for alms. Some succeed, others do not, but in the end the same young woman who is standing under the trees, darts out to collect the loot and the children start playing their games again. A visit to some of the slums around the city reveals that the kids are trained to beg. Their mentors feed and guide them in the profession. It is just another job in a country that cannot fill a billion bellies. Shades of Oliver Twist and Fagin?

Some huts in the slums have TVs, fans and fridges. These minimal amenities are there because of the shared earnings. As I sweat it out on the treadmill, I become more and more aware of the great divide between those working out on the road and I at the gym. They invent games and laugh like demons. They eat whatever they get while I cannot find a table at a popular restaurant on a Sunday evening because my food tastes are very discerning and any type of food will not do. I am shedding the extra kilos gained but the kids have no such worries. If they can sleep on a full stomach, it is a blessing.

The above mentioned is a material and monetary divide. There is hope on other fronts. We watched two street-plays created by college students and performed by the children of Hamari Kaksha. They put forward depressing social issues humorously, riveting our attention. Each actor was unselfconscious and hugely enjoying him/herself. This total abandon and freedom comes from having very little. Just being recognised and doing things that do not form the daily drudge to keep alive, are worthwhile and fun. If learning is added to this, it is a bonus. AIDS, blood donation, female foeticide and dowry are serious social issues that are dragging the country down. If the poorest of poor can be made aware of them through NGOs, government institutions and us — the future citizens of India — have a better chance of survival.

At DIR India, I told the open-mouthed children a story about a tiger and a sour, miserly man who was eaten by the hungry beast. The story was illustrated with hand puppets made from cut off sleeves. Our awareness about the less fortunate is limited. We do not introspect, look around or empathise. We relegate them into a corner of the mind that does not want to know. Two young girls and a little boy from Welham’s Dehradun, came to help. They sat on the floor amongst the aanganwadi children and made newspaper planes, boats and hats for every one. It was a joyous day for all the children. Baljit Dhatt and her college-going daughter Simran tend to a refugee camp. They care like a lot of us should.

Old newspapers, cut off sleeves, children from all stratas, gifted college and school students and a few people who want to help those who have nothing — the potpourri is heady and fragrant. It is a recipe for progress and the uplift of India.
Have you ever done anything worthwhile for a child besides your own? Do you want to help add a smile to a needy child's life? How?

Activities for your 13-24 month old

Here are some activities that your toddler will enjoy to his heart's content:
Flashcards for visual stimulation & word recognition
Make flashcards on various categories like fruits, vegetables, animals, colours, shapes, things you see in the bedroom, cartoon characters, phonics, A-Z (in small letters), adjectives, opposites, insects, professions etc. You could find pictures through charts for children or also download them online.

Make the flashcards with pictures on one side and the words on the other side, so that your child is able to see just the pictures while you read out the words distinctly at super lightening speed, moving the card near you to the card infront, till the set is over. Don't get tempted to make him understand each picture one by one.

For example: This flashcard shows a carrot. You can write 'Carrot' at the back of the flashcard for you to read it aloud while flashing to baby.

The right brain meant for creativity is said to get activated with fast visual stimulation. Do not repeat flashcards in one session. Make your flashcard sessions short and enjoyable.

I started my child on flashcards when she was 7 months old. Some parents even start at 3 months or so. This technique is said to have worked.

Language skills
Expose your child to languages from all over the world. It could be a French song, an Arabic verse, a Bharatnatyam dance, a poem written by Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali, a speech in English, or any other medium of expression. The more she listens, the more her language abilities will develop.

Watch our daughter sitting straight to catch a better view of the dance performance on the occasion of Rabindra Jayanti celebration in KL.

Walking the walk
This is the time when your child will start getting restless. Now, his/her eager eyes are set to explore the wonderful things in his/her surroundings that had always been beyond his/her reach.

Dont keep him confined to his space. Set him free on the ground. Let him explore, touch objects, pull up to stand/walk, push, pull, roll and see how things work. Always keep him/her under proper supervision.

Its a good idea to show your enthusiasm and reciprocate the wonder that he finds in things while telling him/her what it is.

However, its also a time to teach your child a bit of discipline. So, a proper balance needs to be maintained, by giving him his space where he can do anything without hearing a 'No'. A child friendly environment can help you and save your child from hearing too many 'No's'.

Linking Memory
Show your child a series of flashcards which have no connection but are joined by a sentence. There should be no logic in the sentence. You could start with 6 cards and go on increasing the number.

Colour her Life
Its never too early to try giving your toddler a crayon and see how she reacts. Make sure its a non-toxic one and never leave her alone during the exercise. Most children start usually by biting on to the crayon. Slowly they will understand that funny lines can be drawn when the crayon is used on paper. Draw infront of her to create interest and give her a crayon and paper too to try on her own.
Never over-pressurize her during any activity. The key to creativity is having fun. A happy heart flutters with creativity. As soon as you see the slightest frustration, or tiredness, stop the activity and continue at a later time.

Jul 1, 2008

Dreams and their meaning

Is your 'Alice' in Wonderland? One dreams. But, when one dreams, one is asked to 'wake up'. One is shaken back to the hard realities of life. "Eat your food. Stop dreaming."

Alice too had popped into an imaginary world of her own with characters of her own fancy, stuck with real life-problems looking for answers.

It brings us to the question: Is dreaming a way of escaping from life? Or is dreaming a wonderful thing to do? You can simply transcend into your own make-belief world.

In many of the ancient societies, including Egypt and Greece, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a means of divine intervention, whose message could be unravelled by those with certain powers.

One of the seminal works on the subject is 'The interpretation of dreams' by Sigmund Freud.
The Interpretation of Dreams contains Freud's first and most complete articulation of the primary and secondary mental processes that serve as a framework for the workings of the mind, conscious and unconscious.

Freud first argued that the foundation of all dream content is wish-fulfilment, and that the instigation of a dream is always to be found in the events of the day preceding the dream. In the case of very young children, Freud claimed, this can be easily seen, as small children dream quite straightforwardly of the fulfilment of wishes that were aroused in them the previous day (the 'dream day').

In adults, however, the situation is more complicated -- since in Freud's submission, the dreams of adults have been subjected to distortion, with the dream's so-called 'manifest content' being a heavily disguised derivative of the 'latent' dream-thoughts present in the unconscious.

Occasionally, adults too doodle their way back to the dreamy world though they would rather come back to reality at the first stroke of consciousness. Stuck with day-to-day problems, trying to find real solutions, running after worldly desires and their fulfillment has made them think of dream as a waste of time. Dreams may help ordinary people find creative solutions to everyday problems. Recent research shows that fantasy-prone people may have higher dream recall than others.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, "the brain takes the path less travelled by, and that makes all the difference."

Here are a few famous people who have inspired their creations out of dreams. Billy Joel reports dreaming the music to his pop tunes in orchestral form, novelist Stephen King turned a recurring childhood nightmare into the book "Salem's Lot," and Salvador Dali was so obsessed with the creative potential of dreams that he deliberately fell asleep with a spoon in his hand. When he nodded off, the spoon would clatter to the ground and wake him up, providing fresh dream images for his surrealistic paintings.

"To be creative, you need a way to let those circuits float free and really be open to alternatives that you would normally overlook," explains Robert Stickgold, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University.
So, let your child wander into his own world of fancy and imagination...till reality strikes. It is okay to dream or to daydream. It's ok to pretend. Its ok to have imaginary friends, think things other people don't think, and not be interested in everything that interests other children.

What does your child dream about? Get your child to share her dreams. Use drawings and stories to help her to elaborate on them. Do you find some meaning in the dreams? Are there any new ideas? Jot them down, discuss them. There may be some hidden gems there. make this a regular practice. Happy Dreaming together. Share an interesting dream of your child. Let's see if we can spot some ideas.

Jun 29, 2008

Creativity is about finding your own unique strengths

We live in a competitive world. Competition is going to increase ten times more when your child grows up.

Parents of today demand too much from a child. Right from the time your child takes birth, comparisons begin from health to looks to his weight and so on. Later, it extends to his abilities in academics and extracurricular activities.

While comparison in the good sense of the word can bring in motivation to improve, it can also bring in a sense of meaningless jealousy and a lack of confidence in the child.

Every child is different. Every child has his unique strengths. Every child is born with a purpose. Our children are like a bouquet of flowers. Each flower has its own place. Each flower has a role to play as part of the decoration.

As parents we need to look out for their unique strengths and recognize their distinct abilities for them to achieve success. Just because you love painting does not mean your child has to be a painter. He could do very well as a drummer. Every individual is creative and creativity is unique to every individual.

Nurturing your child's unique strengths and finding out the space where your child's creative genius is exposed the most is what can help him stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Jun 28, 2008

Stimulating Activities for your 9 to 12 month old

Where Is??
Sit down with your baby and look at pictures together. Find a picture of someone in your family. Talk about the picture by naming the person in it. Say the name again and ask the baby to point to the person in the picture.

Now cover up the picture with your hand and ask your baby to find the person. Continue playing with another picture. Your baby might surprise you by how much he understands.


Where's the Baby?
Find several pictures of a baby and hide them in different places. Choose places that are familiar to your baby - in the toy box or under a plate, etc. Say," Lets go find the baby."

Ask different questions, "Is it in the sink?" "Is it on the chair?" Finally ask the question, "Is it in the toy box??"When your baby finds the picture, praise him and clap your hands. You can play this game with pictures of family members and friends. _________________________________________________

Wash the Toy
Wet washcloths are wonderful fun things for babies. The texture feels good all over his body and especially on his face. Play peekaboo with a washcloth when giving him a bath.

Tuck a small toy in washcloth and let your baby put his fingers in the folds to find the toy. Give your baby the washcloths and let him wash your face.

Hope you enjoy playing the games with your child. :)

Stimulating Activities for your 6 to 9 month old

Where is the Sound?
Auditory awareness is something that comes with age and experience. Playing games to heighten your baby's hearing awareness will help to wire her brain. Take a wind up musical toy and put it out of ur baby's sight. Wind it up and ask her, "Where is the music?" When she turns to the sound, praise her generously.

Repeat this game in different parts of the room. If your baby is crawling, you can hide the music under a pillow or elsewhere so she can crawl to the music.

Take her out. Let her listen to the rustling leaves, the chatter of children, the chirping birds, or the noisy waves.


Sit your baby on the floor or in a chair facing you. Take a towel and put over your face. Say the words "PEEKABOO" as you take the towel off and show your face to your baby. This game usually brings forth loads of laughter and the more you do it, the funnier it becomes.

Try putting the towel on ur baby 's head and pull it off. Try putting the towel on his head and see if he will pull it off. Remember to say "peekaboo" each time you take off the towel.


Peas and Carrots
Babies enjoy eating with their fingers. In fact, its an important step in developing small motor skills. When babies can pick up food and put it in their mouth, they have a strong feeling of power and control that makes them feel wonderful.

Put some cooked peas and carrots on the table in front of ur baby. Sing the following song to the tune of "Frere Jacques":

Peas and carrots, peas and carrots
Here there are, here there are
Put them in your mouth,
Put them in your mouth,
Yum yum yum yum yum yum

Guide the little fingers to the peas and carrots and then to her mouth. She will probably want to feed you too!

Gurgle Gurgle Squish
This is a good game to play outside with a baby pool or a large container of water. Put some sponge in the water and show your baby how to squeeze water out of the sponge. Squeeze the water on your hands, your arms and other parts of ur body.

Now give your baby some plastic cups and show her how to squeeze the water into the cups. This games will occupy your baby for a long time and its great for developing small motor skills. Play the game by saying silly words as you squeeze. Here are a few ideas:
Swish, Gurgle, Squish, Oo Oo Oo

Lets Climb
There is no avoiding it! Your baby will begin to climb on everything in sight. Why not help her along and develop her large motor muscles?

Take cushions and pillows and pile them on the floor. Put your baby in front of the pillows and she will have a wonderful time. Take a favourite toy and put it on top of one of the pillows. This will entice her even more.

That's our daughter climbing on a pillow when she was 7 months old.


Stimulate Your 3 to 6 Month Old Newborn

Who is that baby?
Sit in front of a mirror with ur baby in your lap. Say, "who is that baby?" Wave your baby's hands and say "Hi Baby!"Say, "Where is the baby's foot?" Wave ur baby's foot and say, "Hi Foot."Continue asking questions and moving different parts of your baby's body. Shake heads, wave bye-bye, clap hands etc.

Where's my baby?
This is a game that strengthens the back and neck. Lie on ur back and put ur baby on your tummy. With your hands firmly around his chest, raise him in the air and up to your face.

Say the following and do the actions: Where's my baby? There he is. (lift him up to ur face) Where's my baby? (bring him back to ur tummy) There he is. (Bring him back to ur face) Where's my baby? (bring him back down on ur tummy) Up high, high, high! (bring ur baby up high over ur face)

Talking TogetherAt this age babies often make lots of sounds. Mimic the sounds ur baby makes. those simple sounds will later turn into words. Take the words that your baby makes, such as "ba ba" or "ma ma" and turn them into sentences. "Ba Ba says the sheep", "Ma ma loves you".

Penelope Leach, a child development expert, says, "Your child may say hundreds of different sounds throughout the day but if u clap and applaud wen he says, 'ma ma' or 'da da', he will keep repeating those sounds because it makes you happy.

"The more you repeat your baby's sounds, the more he will be encouraged to make more sounds. This is truly the beginning of a conversation.

Roll OlympicsHelping your baby roll over from his tummy to his back will develop chest and arm muscles. This is a fun game to play while encouraging your baby to roll over. Put your baby on his tummy on a soft and flat surface. Carpeted floors and the middle of beds are good for this game.

Hold a teddy bear in front of his face and do antics with the bear. You might say the following poem as u make the teddy move around:

Teddy bear, teddy bear turn around.(turn teddy around)
Teddy Bear Teddy Bear Touch the ground!(make teddy fall down)

When u know that your baby is watching the teddy, move it to the side so that your baby's eyes moves and hopefully his body will follow it!

Activities to stimulate your newborn

Want to spend time with your newborn and play with him, but wondering what to do? Here are a few games from Jackie Silberg's book, 125 Brain Games for Babies, that will help you play with your newborn to 1 year old child.


The Blowing Game
This game helps an infant become aware of the different parts of the body. Blow gently on your baby's palm. As u blow, say the following words in a singsong chant: Here are (the baby's name) palms. Then kiss ur baby's palm. Blow on other parts of the body. Most babies like gentle blowing on their elbows, fingers, neck, cheek and toes but not on their nose.


Where Did it Go??
Hold a brightly coloured scarf in front of your baby. Slowly move it around and talk about how bright it is. ("its yellow/red/blue/whatever.") When u are sure that your baby is looking at the scarf, slowly move it to one side. Keep moving it back and forth to encourage her to follow it with her eyes. Play this game often. U r helping ur baby's brain capacity grow!_____________________________________________________

Put ur bb on his back and move his legs like he is riding a bicycle. NEVER FORCE UR BB LEGS. If she resists, try something else..Sing songs. Try to make up a simple song. Here's an idea that can be sung to the tune of Row Row Ur Boat.
Ride, ride ride ur bike,
Up and down the street.
Happily, happily, happily happily
This is such a treat.

Diaper Songs
Singing to ur baby while u change a diaper is a lovely way to communicate and bond with ur little one. Smile while u are singing. Sing any song u know or sing the following to the tune of "London Bridge":
Change a diaper, jus like dis,
Jus like this, jus like this.
Change a diaper,
Jus like this, Clean clean baby!

Share your experiences after playing these games.

Jun 26, 2008

Contest: Shadow Art Challenge

Interesting photo set of work from Tim Noble and Sue Webster, piles of trash that form amazing shadow art... Pictured here: Dirty White Trash [With Gulls], 1998 six months' worth of the artists' rubbish.

Can u make interesting shadows too? If yes, just create it, click a snap, give it a caption and post it to and if its good enough it will be put up on this blog for display.

Shadows can be loads of fun...

An inevitable part of us that follows us around whatever day it may be, wherever we may be, and whichever phase of life we may be in is our very own shadow.

It can grow long. It can become short and tiny. It can even make different shapes.

Just hold out a flashlight and try out various shapes that your hand/hands can make.

Can u make a bird?

Can u make a barking dog?

Can you make a hungry dog now?

How about a deer?

Shadows are also used for performing arts like in plays and dance performances.

Creative activity for children: Shadow Art

Tape white paper onto the wall. Children work with partners. One child "poses" while the partner traces his shadow. You can shine the flashlight to create a shadow print. Trace their outline shadows. You can also let them sit in a chair and trace the outline of their heads/hands.

Allow them to experiment with what their shadow can do before you do the drawing activity.
If time and interest allow, the children like to color in the outline of their shadow, draw facial features, clothes, etc. Be sure to have each child write his name by his picture.

Now, glue them onto Popsicle sticks to make shadow puppets. The shadow puppets can be now showed up on the wall and the kids can make up shadow shows (like puppet shows) and have fun making them bigger and smaller.

Remember to have someone trace your shadow too!

Did u have fun with shadows?

Jun 21, 2008

Seeing even in the dark!

We are born with all five senses. But sometimes, we take our senses for granted so much so that we tend to ignore them in our lives. Ask a blind man how a remote feels like and he will give you a much more vivid description of it than you.

Getting your child to experience the sense of touch can become fun if you play the blindfold.

Collect a variety of textures from your house from the rough utensil scrubber, wood, cotton, toothbrush, silk cloth etc. Put everything in a box.

Blindfold your child and let him pick up everything one by one. Ask him to guess what he is holding in his hand. This can not only be a lot of fun but also an eyeopener for you all.

Jun 20, 2008

Reveal the artist within your child!

Here's a chance to showcase your child's talent whether its art, creative photography, a craft work, a self-written poem, a short video clip link to his/her music/song/dance/recitation performance...or anything 'CREATIVE' that you have admired a lot.

Give your child's entry a caption and a short description (if possible) along with your child's name and age at the time of the creation.

Send your creative entries by the end of each month, so the selected entries can be published by the 15th of the next month in the Creativity Unleashed (By Juniors) segment of the blog. Send your entries to

Baby Names

Here are a few baby names that caught my attention:
(in alphabetic order)

Arihant=Lord Shiva's name

or Arav (Sanskrit) means melodious / good sound / music.
Aalap = Musical
Anay=one of Lord Vishnu's names. It means - "One who needs no leader"
Ayaan= Gift of God
Chittesh = Ruler Of Mind
Krtin = A Sanskrit word having 14 meanings: Active, Skillful, Expert, Clever, Pure, Pious, Satisfied, Happy, Successful, Lucky, Wise, Learned, Virtuous, Blessed
Nishith = Night
Nirbhik = fearless

Raunav = One who embodies grace and charm, i.e. handsome.
Reyansh='part of sun ray'

Srijan = Creation
Shaunak =Wise
Sanshray =Aim



Aadya-The beginning
Arista= It is a Greeco Sanskrit name - means "The Best" in Greek. It is another name of Goddess Durga in Sanskrit.
Also means - the bestower of health n happiness.

Archisha=Ray of Light
Ashna= Friend or Beloved
Iniya=Sweet (in Tamil)
Ishi=Goddess Durga
Prarthana =Prayer

Samara=Guarded/protected by God

Timila= one of the panch vadya(musical instrument) in sanskrit

Do share interesting names that you have heard.


Advertisement in a shop says: Guitar for strings attached.

Sign in a bar: "Those ......drinking to forget........ please pay in advance."

Add your jokes.

Jun 19, 2008

Self-made gifts & cards

Gone are the days when rainy days meant paperboats sailing on streams of rainwater. Children love sitting infront of the television hooked to their own cartoons and video games. Unless we make an effort to channelize their attention to something more interesting, they will grow up to be dull fat couch potatoes of tomorrow. Engage your child by participating in an activity together. So, how about encouraging your little one to create something for Dad on Father's Day rather than buying the regular Hallmark cards. It could be anything from a card, a card holder to a penholder for dad. Self-made cards and gifts from your loved ones could be much more valuable than the prettiest and costliest of gifts. Don't forget to shower loads of appreciation while recieving the gifts. Appreciation is the best way in boosting creativity. A clap, a pat on the back, or a few words of praise can inspire them or crush their creative spirit forever. Here's a sketch I gifted my twin brother and sis-in-law when my nephew was about to be born. I was so delighted with the kind of response they showed.
This was a surprise video made for my younger brother and his love, and shown at thier wedding reception...they sure were surprised and enjoyed every bit of it!

Has your child gifted you something that he/she made by himself/herself? What was your reaction? Have you made something and gifted to your loved ones?

Contest - Give a Caption

Give an appropriate caption for this photograph!

Building Bridges Between Two Unrelated Ideas!

Two unrelated objects or scenes can be joined together to create a meaning. It is the way one builds associations that brings creative harmony.

Here is a video that brings the thought across:

Jun 18, 2008

Times when you can let her be...

Provide an environment that allows the child to explore and play without undue restraints.

After having written the earlier post, my daughter wanted to teach me to practise what I preached. To let them play, let them create mess once in a while.

I remembered what I had just written and kept my cool when i caught her redhanded in this state. (lol)

Jun 16, 2008

It's all about Perspectives!


Believe it or not! It is true.

You call a spade, a spade! Your child doesn’t. She will dig out ten different things that a spade can do besides what it is known to do.

She does not have any predisposed judgments about things. She does not analyze. She does not search for logic. She does not look for the output. She just thinks the way she wants to think.

We need to think like a child and reverse the assumptions that are taken for granted.

“If my child sits facing the rear of her car, why do we assume that she is the one who is backwards, and not the car itself?”

A child questions things that we don’t. A child looks at things differently.

A ball has rolled out of your child’s reach while she was playing on the bed.
What will you do? You will reach for the ball. Right?

What will your child do? She will just pull the bedcover so it comes closer to her.

We need to accept unusual ideas from children by suspending judgment of children's divergent problem-solving.

Instead of nipping the creative bud right in the beginning by snapping at her, you can can accept it and encourage it to keep the spirit of thinking differently alive in your child (if possible).

Sure, it will need a little more understanding, a little more clearing of mess ups, a little more curbing your urge to smack her on the back and tell her to follow the ordinary norms that you are used to. But, that also doesn't mean letting her do whatever she pleases creating havoc in the house. A balance between the two; by giving her freedom to explore and experiment at times and setting the rules for other times, is what I find is ideal for both the parent and the child.

Gradually, you can extend this creative problem-solving bent of mind to various problems that naturally occur in everyday life.

Have you or your child solved any problems that occured in your day-to-day life creatively? Do you think disorder breeds creativity?

Jun 12, 2008


[I] Making a story

Every child loves listening to stories. But creating one's own story can be very exciting and thought provoking. You can take turns in telling one line of the story.You can make it interesting and amusing by bringing in different surprising leaps in the story so that your child has to connect to your piece of the story and build it further.

The story need not have any logic or make any particular sense.

The story could look something like this:

Child: There was a lion.
Adult: He was old and weak.
Child: One day he was very hungry.
Adult: So, he took the bus to the town to 'Pizza Hut' (Instead of saying, he hunted an animal, add elements to turn the direction of the story every time its your turn to make it a funny game.)
Child: But Pizza Hut was closed.
Adult: So, he called his friend, the elephant and asked him to come over.
(Soon your child will learn how to change the direction of the story without going the conventional way).
Child: But the elephant was too sleepy.

[II]: What's the ending?

Tell your baby a story and stop before the ending and ask him/her to complete it. Once you have heard his/her part of the ending, ask him/her that if Mummy/Daddy had to write the same story what type of ending would it be?

This will help him/her to think of alternative endings to the same set story.

Get hooked to story making!

Jun 9, 2008

Stimulate Your Newborn Baby...

Your precious little bundle of joy is born. You are delighted to see her tiny body. You sit by the crib admiring her fingers and toes. Your newborn is eager to learn more about the world around her. She watches your face, especially mom's and tries to recognize the voice she had been hearing so long.

Talk to her while calling her name. Ensure eye-to-eye contact. Touch her.

See if there is any reaction. Soon, she will understand and start responding. Your face and voice will soon give comfort to your baby and she will feel the warmth of happiness and love with you near her.
Make interesting sounds and see if she is turning her head to look at that direction.

The baby is born with a billion nerve cells, all of which are not connected. It is important to stimulate the brain for the connections to form or they will just grow old and die.

The best way to kickstart your baby's development is to breastfeed your baby. Research has shown that not only does it bring forth a healthy start for your baby but also improves your baby's IQ levels.

Babies are born with reflexes. If you gently touch or stroke a baby's cheek, she will turn her head towards the cheek you have touched and the mouth to that side, ready to eat. This is called the rooting reflex. By the time they're 3 weeks old, babies will turn toward the breast or bottle not just out of a reflex, but because they've learned that it's a source of food.

Babies spend their first few months of life sleeping most of the time.

Gradually their sleeping hours will reduce and they will start becoming more playful and alert, and watchful of their environment. It is important to know these wakeful times when the baby is ready to play.

You may want to introduce a few toys that appeal to his senses of touch, sound, and sight like
  • rattles
  • textured toys
  • musical toys
  • unbreakable crib mirrors
  • play gyms - This was Daddy's first gift to our baby :)
Contrasting colours stimulate a baby's vision. Try toys and mobiles with contrasting colours and patterns.

Encourage your newborn to learn and play.

Put on soothing music, and hold your baby, gently swaying to the tune.

Sing a soft, sweet lullaby to your baby, no matter how bad your voice is. Your baby will not judge you. The familiarity of the sound and the words will bring a soothing effect and help her become calm during fussy times or will help her drift to sleep. You can also put on some soft music when you dont feel like singing.

Smile and soon your baby will start smiling at you. That's the loveliest moment when they first start smiling.

Stick out your tongue, blink, make expressions and see if she imitates you or not.

Take an attractive toy and move it round her eyes. take it Up and Down, and sideways and make a shape and watch her eyeballs follow the toy.

To reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) babies are advised to sleep on their backs and to be put on their tummies as soon as they are awake under parental supervision.

Talk to your baby as much as you can and soon she will start cooing back to you.

Babies love a particular high pitch and frequency that comes naturally to most parents. They love a repetition of a few syllables like 'Mama' and 'Papa' which are easier for them to understand.
How do/did you play with your newborn baby? Share your experiences too... Would love hearing from you.

Jun 7, 2008

Stimulate your foetus - 3 (concl.)


At the time of birth, vision is focussed from 8 to 12 inches, the distance between a mother's face when feeding at the breast.

Testing eyesight within the womb is difficult. But premature babies at 31-32 weeks g.a possess visual focus and can usually do horizontal and vertical tracking.

By the end of 40 weeks g.a., babies develop proper eyesight with acuity and contrast sensitivity, refraction and accommodation, spacial vision, binocular function, distance and depth perception, color vision, and sensitivity to flicker and motion patterns.

In the uterus, the eyelid remains closed until about the 26th week. The fetus is sensitive to light, responding to light with heart rate accelerations to projections of light on the abdomen. This can even serve as a test of well-being before birth.

Isn't it interesting to know that at 20 weeks g.a., twins in uterus have no trouble locating each other and touching faces or holding hands!

In conclusion, providing a stimulating environment for your unborn baby is worthwhile for his development. However, it is important to note that since the fetus sleeps almost 22 hours a day, he/she would prefer a quiet environment rather than constant loud classical music or Shakesperean poetry.

Happy pregnancy!

Stimulate your foetus - 2

Tasting & Smelling
Taste structures deveop at 14 weeks g.a. Latest research has shown that they have a definite preference for a few tastes by the time they are born. At the fetus stage, swallowing increases with sweet tastes and decreases with sour or bitter tastes.
The nose develops between 11 and 15 weeks. Many chemical compounds cross the placenta to join the amniotic fluid so the fetus gets an exposure to different tastes and odors.
There is a relationship of postnatal behaviour with the associations built over the nine months within the womb.
Listening and Hearing
The human ear begins to function properly around the start of the third trimester of pregnancy. It is several weeks later, however, near the seventh month of pregnancy before the ear is mature enough to respond to sounds that are not very loud.
Inspite of the barriers created by the amniotic fluid, embryonic membranes, uterus, and the maternal abdomen, fetuses can hear maternal speech and remember something of what is heard after they are born.
Does't that make you feel good, suddenly? He/She is listening to all that you are trying to say and trying to recognize your voice.
Studies show that an infant is able to recognize the voice of his/her mother from the voice of other unknown people after birth.
Talk to your baby as much as you can. If possible address him/her by a name or nickname.
Sing songs or hum whenever you like. Listen to soothing music to soothe your baby too.
If you read a rhythmic story to your fetus in the last weeks of pregnancy, chances are your newborn will recognize the story even if someone else reads it.
A newborn can discriminate between spoken languages, for example French vs. English, as long as their native language is one of them.
Be aware of the fact that your baby would like you to stay away from excessive noisy or stressful environments. So, avoid shouting at each other; instead ask your hubby to tell your unborn baby all things he has planned for him/her once the baby grows up. :)

Jun 6, 2008

Stimulate your foetus - 1

Ever wondered about the mysterious world of the unborn? Creativity Begins Right in the Womb

The voyage into the womb has become possible with the advancement of embryology and fetal studies. What was unimaginable before is now not only being viewed and monitored through intrauterine photography, ultrasound imaging, the scanning electron microscope, and other new technologies but also being experimented with to see confirmed benefits in a newborn.

The human brain is a complex network of neurons. Neurologists believe that stimulating the brain will make the cells functional while they respond to the stimulus from outside. Else, they will just wither and die.

Hence stimulating the unborn and also the newborn can bring about a huge difference in the development of a child.

The Sense of Touch

Touch is the first sense through which communication and interaction of the fetus with the outside world begins. The skin is made of a complex network of cells, that are sensitive to heat, cold, pressure and pain.

So, here's my piece of advice: Touch the pregnant belly as often as possible showing how much you love your to-be-born baby. He sure will get the message.

The Fetus in Motion

The first sign of life is signified by the beating of the heartbeat three weeks after conception.
This rhythmic activity continues while all the parts keep developing.

Then the fetus bodies jump into action with stretching and rotational movements of the head, arms and legs. Hand to head, hand to face, hand to mouth movements, mouth opening, closing, and swallowing are all present at 10 weeks.

Breathing movements and jaw movements begin. Hands are busy interacting with other parts of the body and with the umbilical cord.

So, when the mother laughs or coughs, the fetus can be felt moving after a few seconds.

Blogging - A New Journey Begins

Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroooooooom! There blog.

Blogging is a platform for writers to express their views about life. This is my first post. So, let me not scare you all away with my weird blabber.

But then to start off a creative process, one needs to press the creative button on one's remote control. Ya, everyone's got the button. And your child has it too.

Just PRESS the right buttons. And off you will go to a world where you see what no one else sees, you say 'wow' to things that remain unnoticed to others and others say 'wow' to things that you happen to notice.

We as parents want our child to be able to feel the joy of finding that creative button within him/her.

Welcome to the hard work, the frustrations, the trials and tribulations and finally the little happy milestones that go behind parenting a creative kiddy.