Nailed it – A Pinterest Success Story!

My sister is the creative one of the family. Her house is a DIYers paradise. She takes up Pinterest projects and makes them look better than the ones on there while my attempts are more humble failures. She has a playroom for her kids with one chalkboard wall and one whiteboard wall that are filled with the kids’ masterpieces. These children are guaranteed to grow up with their creative potentials at max. It’s difficult not to be so hard on yourself when you compare yourself to a sibling who is good at everything. I mean, I am still trying to teach my kids the alphabet and failing miserably at it.

skeleton-pinterest-fail
What an average Pinterest attempt by me would look like!

Not to be deterred (and by a pure stroke of luck), I found a bunch of wooden clothes pins in the garage. One of the little stray pins had an alphabet written on it that led me to a brilliant idea, if I can say so myself. My daughter’s understanding of the English alphabet is limited and so in order for her to get more practice, I put up a rope from wall to wall in my study. From this line, I hung up age appropriate words. Then, I arranged all the clothes pins I rescued found and started writing the letters on them. I must say, I have mad sharpie skills! Her aim was to find the right clothes pin and pin it under the right alphabet on one of those word sheets.

Source - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/187603140703411394/
Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/187603140703411394/

Confused? I would be too. So I looked for the idea on Pinterest and sure enough, a more proficient parent blogger than I has already completed the project with style. Here is the instructional – Clothespin Fun

There are always degrees of talent. You are always better than someone or worse than someone. That day, when I saw my daughter putting the right pins near the right letters, I felt like a big Pinterest winner. Next attempt, that melted crayon art. Wish me luck!

Word Games for Preschoolers

“Learning the alphabet on a jukebox” by Ruth Hartnup is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Learning the alphabet on a jukebox” by Ruth Hartnup is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You know how active and curious preschoolers can be. By creating the right learning atmosphere – one that is engaging and fun – we can tap into the huge potential preschoolers have to absorb everything around them. There is no time like now for word games to be introduced to preschoolers because language is such an important function!

These games are so easy to access that there is no excuse for you not to get your little one started on them. All you need is paper and pen to whip up a game right out of thin air. Of course, there are also numerous board games, and in this day where technology is at our fingertips, online word games are also within easy reach.

Preschool games can help kids develop a range of skills, even if a particular game is focused on one main subject. A numbers game can help unlock more than a mathematician in your child. It could also help him improve his motor and social skills!

The advantages of word games include improving language skills, as preschoolers can improve their vocabulary, spelling, reading and comprehension with these games. It also helps them learn to think and communicate better.

So, what are the types of word games that are out there?

Online Preschool Games

Online preschool word games are a good bet here as they are categorized as easy, difficult and moderate, and most games are designed in such a way that when kids finish playing them, they are rewarded. The sense of achievement builds their confidence and encourages them to get better.

Scrabble

This board game needs no introduction. It is a classic word game and is also available online. Kids can form simple words from an assortment of letters available and play against a timer. There are also several variations that one can choose from.

Word Scramble

Kids need to play against a timer if they play Word Scramble online. This is a word game that has jumbled letters that have to be rearranged to form a valid word.

Hangman

Hangman is a word game that has many variations. You can use this fun game to teach kids not only regular words, but also proverbs, phrases and more. Depending on the word/phrase used, the players are allowed to make around 10 guesses.

Spelling Bee

In the Spelling Bee, kids can look at an image or listen to an audio recording and spell out the word. Preschoolers can start off easy with simple words like cat, bat and so on.

Word Search

Another classic word game is word search or word find, in which a player has to find specific words in a grid of mixed letters. This popular game will also help your preschooler learn spellings.

Crossword Puzzles

Another popular word game, crossword puzzles involve a grid with some boxes shaded. Based on the clues given, kids can fill in the white squares with the correct set of words. It is a great game to help develop vocabulary and problem solving skills in kids.

These are some of the popular games out there that your preschooler can try out, but word games are not restricted to these and you will see that your preschooler will be spoilt for choice!

3 Skills Dragon Coloring Pages Teach your Child

Photo Courtesy – Capture Queen
Photo Courtesy – Capture Queen

With their fearsome breath, dangerous claws and lethal teeth, dragons are unlikely to appeal to five-year-olds. Or so you would have thought. However, the success of the How to Train your Dragon franchise shows that dragons have caught the collective fancy of almost everyone below sixteen, though I’ve met plenty of older dragon aficionados too. Fortunately for parents, kids love everything to do with dragons, so dragon-themed learning resources are all the rage nowadays. If you were wondering how to reconcile your little one’s new-found love for all things dragon with activities that are more academic in nature, you’ll find that dragon coloring pages fit the bill like nothing else. Check out these three useful skills that dragon themed coloring printables promise to teach your child.

  1. Creativity and imagination

Pre-printed dragon coloring pages allow young children to explore and experiment with different forms of coloring – from mythical Asian and European dragons to the dragons that populate beloved fairy tales, your child has a huge variety of draconic characters to choose from. Cute and cuddly or fierce and fiery, childhood friends or deadly enemies, dragon coloring pages will spoil your little knight or Viking princess for choice. You can print them out on different textures (construction paper, notebook papers, lined paper or card stock) and encourage him to use different coloring instruments like crayons, markers, pencils and pastels). Eventually, dragon coloring pages will help your child build his creative skills, create new themes and learn to depict the pictures he sees in his mind’s eye.

  1. Discipline and self-control

The creative and imaginative child may sometimes find it difficult to control his impulses. As he grows older, he must have resources that teach him self-control without taking away his artistic talents or originality in the process. Dragon coloring pages teach him to “color within the lines” and accept the boundaries and limitations of a pre-printed coloring page. But they also have fantastic and highly imaginative subjects that appeal to children’s fancy. This early and stimulating exposure to boundaries will come in useful when he has to practice his handwriting and cursive writing skills within pre-printed boundaries.

  1. Fine Motor Skills

Coloring a dragon printable is usually a more challenging task than would appear at first sight. Dragon figures are more complex than other subjects, especially if they are shown battling knights, capturing maidens or learning to fly – situations that are not very easy to color. This is good because it helps your child develop his fine motor skills – skills that help him write, manipulate small objects and do everyday tasks such as brushing his teeth, tying his shoelaces, getting dressed, etc. They also equip him with the manual dexterity needed to begin his pre-writing learning, to grip a writing/coloring instrument, and practice finger, wrist and arm control. These fine motor skills will come in handy when he learns to type, lift objects and perform a variety of physical activities at a later stage.

Now that you know the three top benefits of using dragon coloring pages, how about downloading some for your little one?

3 Quick ABC Games for Preschoolers

To promote alphabet recognition and phonic skills in preschoolers, have them play these ABC games that they’ll love!

 

ABC games
Photo by: Doug Waldron

Salt and rainbow tray with alphabets

Here’s a messy ABC game that even parents will love despite the adjective! Teach the toddlers the letters of the alphabet and develop their hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and more with this cool ABC game.

You will need a large tray, construction paper in rainbow colors (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red), scissors, lots of salt, and a big brush for the activity. Cut out a strip each from the construction papers so that they cover the base of the tray. Place them on the tray, making sure no space is left empty! Glue the papers and let them dry. Coat with a generous layer of salt and give the brush to the kids. Let them ‘write’ alphabets by playing with the brush on the salt and revealing the rainbow colors beneath. You can choose to instruct the kids to write specific alphabets too, to test their retention power. Use this platform to help kids improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills by allowing them to draw random patterns, transfer salt from one part of the tray to another, rub their palms on the salt, etc.

Clothesline alphabet game

Learning methods that do not use traditional instruments such as pens and paper excite kids to no end. So, here is an ABC game that will help reinforce alphabet recognition skills in kids with a fun approach. Cut out 52 squares of construction papers in two different colors and put up a fairly long clothesline in your living room. Write uppercase A-Z on 26 squares and in lowercase on the remaining 26 squares. Clip the uppercase letters to the clothesline and space them out randomly. Hand over the lowercase squares to the kids and ask them to look for their uppercase counterpart and clip them together. There’s nothing like hands-on activities to teach the little ones new skills and give them some practice, is there?

Letters in the sand

This ABC game will improve kids’ attention spans, visualization, and memory, besides doing the obvious – developing letter and sound recognition skills. Place wooden alphabets in a shallow but large tray and cover them up with colorful sand bought from a stationery store. Have the kids sift through the sand with a paint brush; they must avoid using their hands as that makes the activity fairly easy and less challenging for preschoolers. They have to look for the buried letters but can take them out of the tray only if they manage to sound it out correctly, otherwise the letter goes back under the heap of sand!

If you don’t want the kids to play with sand because of the hazards associated with it – getting into the eye, allergies, etc. – you can use rice instead. Add food coloring and any fruity essence to the rice and dry it in the sun. Bury the letters in the rice and have them treasure-hunt for the letters. Just like the sand activity, the kids will get to keep the letter if they sound it right, otherwise you know what to do!

4 Preschool Games to Celebrate Easter

Easter celebrations can never be complete without your child’s active participation. For younger kids, this means lots of Easter-themed games involving popular symbols like eggs, chocolate and bunnies. So just invite your child’s friends over and entertain them with these active preschool games for Easter.

Photo Courtesy – USAG Humphreys
Photo Courtesy – USAG Humphreys

1.    Find and guess
You will need:
•    Plastic Easter eggs in different colors
•    Small items that fit inside the eggs (for example, stamps, blocks, candy, etc.)
Instructions:
•    Fill each egg with small items and hide it around the room.
•    Ask the kids to hunt for the eggs.
•    When all the eggs are found, have everyone take turns trying to guess what’s inside. When they finish guessing, show them what’s really inside.
Children love this simple preschool game that teaches them to take turns and gets them thinking.
2.    Guess the eggs
You will need:
•    Glass jar
•    Chocolate eggs in different sizes
•    1 slip of paper per player
•    1 pencil per player
•    Easter basket
Instructions:
•    Hand out a pencil and a slip of paper to each of the players.
•    Place the chocolate eggs in the jar.
•    Ask the players to write their names on the paper and guess the number of eggs in the jar.
•    The player who comes closest to guessing the actual number wins the jar!
This cool preschool game sharpens kids’ counting and critical thinking skills.

3.    Classic Easter Egg Hunt
You will need:
•    Plastic Easter eggs
•    Small eatables (candy, chocolate eggs, etc.)
Instructions:
•    Place the eatables inside the plastic eggs.
•    Weather permitting, hide the plastic eggs in your garden or yard. If it’s too wet or slushy outside, hide them inside a large room.
•    Keep track of the total number of eggs you hide and make sure you have at least 2-3 for each child.
•    Set a time limit and send the kids out to hunt for the eggs.
•    Also set a limit for how many eggs each child can have, so nobody is left out.
•    Once all the eggs have been found, allow the little ones to eat the goodies!

No Easter party can be complete without this thrilling preschool game!

4.    Decorate the Easter Cookie
You will need:
•    Assorted plain cookies in Easter shapes (eggs, bunnies, chickens, etc.)
•    Table
•    Frosting pastes in different colors
•    Sprinkles, candies, hundreds and thousands, colored sugar and other decorating edibles
Instructions:
•    Set up the table a little away from the active games area and place all the cookie decorating materials on it.
•    When the kids are tired of playing, let them sit quietly at the table and decorate the cookies.
•    Allow them to eat or take home their decorated cookies.

Your little preschoolers are sure to love this yummy game!

Free games for kids that offer them a virtual world

Photo by – U.S. Department of Agriculture
Photo by – U.S. Department of Agriculture

Free games for kids are no more restricted to just a few clicks of the mouse and maneuvering the direction arrows on the keyboard – they have gone beyond the beaten realm and now offer kids a virtual world to grow up in! There are many options to choose from – players can play the role of a farm keeper, a magician, a customer at a restaurant, a bouncing pear, a penguin, a pet keeper, and much more. Very often, parents have to make in-game purchases of bonuses and power tools to keep their kids playing in their virtual worlds which are otherwise free, and more often than not these free games are not safe. We bring to you the best free games for kids that offer them the safest of all virtual worlds that there are!

Pocoyo World

Pocoyo means ‘little me’ in Spanish. This free game for kids requires them to customize avatars; cruise around the virtual world; jump, dance, explore; and play games, videos and other activities based on Pocoyo animation. Parents have to fill up a one-time online registration form for their kids to enter the virtual world. Though the registration is free, players are charged $3.90 a month which they’ll need to buy certain costumes, toys, and other special avatar accessories However, there’s plenty to do in Pocoyo World without a paid subscription too. Language, reading, arts, self-direction, and communication are some of the skills that the virtual world offers to kids. For example, the game encourages kids to practice reading as a narrator and slowly dictates sets of instructions for them to follow. Kids are also able to assert some independence as they move their avatar around Pocoyo World.

Animal Jam

Animal Jam is not just a free game for kids – it’s the virtual world counterpart to the National Geographic Kids magazine! Kids have to navigate through an imaginary land called Jamaa where plant and animal lives are disappearing and they have to save its environment. The game supplies plenty of information to kids on wildlife conservation, and preservation of the environment and the natural world. Some basic skills that Animal Jam develops in kids include thinking, reasoning and communication. The virtual world offers plenty of fun to children as they enjoy chatting with other players’ avatars, playing games, and shopping for their avatar. However, more support, extension activities, and built-in accessibility features would have made a lot of difference to the learning experience of kids.

Franktown Rocks

Just as the name suggests, Franktown Rocks is a virtual music space. A favorite with kids, parents can breathe easy on this one as they get to pre-screen the music that plays while the child navigates through the virtual world. The free game for kids offers a fine balance between what parents expect and kids want – fun and music for the children and safety and education to appease their parents! The game teaches kids about a variety of topics and skills like critical thinking, reasoning, creativity, self-direction, emotional development, communication, technology, health and fitness, and more. The charming virtual world immediately draws tweens to it with its peppy music. Clear instructions guide them through the various activities as they go on meeting and interacting with other like-minded people in Frank Town in a safe and fun environment!

Top Websites that offer Learning Games for Kids

Not too long ago, pocket calculators were thought to be pretty high tech. Times have changed and today’s kids use their laptops, iPads and smart phones like an extension of their bodies. But your child’s screen time needn’t be spent playing mindless games that only succeed in lowering his grades – the internet is chock full of learning games for kids that promise plenty of fun with a dollop of education thrown in for good measure. Here are some of the best websites to strengthen children’s learning skills in subjects like reading, writing, math, and English, among others.

Learning Games for Kids – The 3 Best Websites

1.    National Geographic Kids

As the name suggests, this educational website for kids has many learning games, most of them revolving around animals, plants and other inhabitants of the natural world. It also features plenty of instructional videos, cool experiments, animal and country profiles, as well as activities and links to other kid-friendly websites. Has your youngster been bitten by the travel bug yet? Nat Geo Kids has a virtual tour of various countries, complete with maps, e-cards and good-to-know facts. Learning is child’s play with National Geographic Kids!

2.    BBC UK

This is the perfect choice for kids looking to show off their little grey cells. There’s a wide range of learning games for kids that cover subjects as varied as math, history, music, Spanish, art and design and geography. The games are fun, well-designed and highly kid-friendly; kids can almost believe that learning is all fun and games!

3.    JumpStart

Learning games for kids should be educational as well as fun – and no one knows it better than JumpStart which has been in the edutainment business since 1991. The virtual gaming world here focuses on adventure-based learning – whether it is completing missions to win story books (StoryLand) or solving the conundrum of Mystic Mountain (AdventureLand), JumpStart has perfected the art of learning without tears. The games here cover important subjects like math, vocabulary, reading, social studies and art. Let your child explore the world of learning at his own pace!

 

The three websites reviewed above are leaders in the field of online educational resources for young minds. Together, they offer a variety of resources, ranging from interactive learning games for kids to printable worksheets, activities, lesson plans, instructional videos and crafts. Whether your child is a preschooler or a 7th grader, these online resources are sure to be useful!

Easy Science Project Ideas for Kindergartners – Science Fair Ideas

science pro

Science projects are a great way to get kids to develop an undying interest in science and natural happenings around them. Learning a subject hands-on is an experience that kids will cherish when they grow up. Some of the science project ideas illustrated below will help kids set up their independent stalls at the next science fair and demonstrate their science project with immense pride!

Science project ideas for kids

Floating egg – This is an easy science project that the little kids can take up in their next science fair. Stir in lots of salt in a glass of water and slowly slide an egg into it. Notice how the egg floats and doesn’t sink. Explain the theory of buoyancy and density in very simple words to the kids so that they can narrate it to their audience at the fair.

Mixing water and oil – Add a few drops of color to half a pan of water and pour it into an empty soft drink bottle. Add an equal portion of oil and ask kids to mix it thoroughly. A few seconds later, you will notice the oil floating back to the top. With minimum mess and little involvement from the adults, this science project is sure to excite the little ones! Though water is a highly soluble liquid, it refuses to mix with oil because the latter’s molecules are more attracted to each other making it denser and causing it to float above the water.

ImagePhoto by: htemske

Making Coquina – Moisten a cup of pasta shells. Make sure that you use at least 3 different kinds of pasta. Mix them with white glue and spread them on butter paper to dry and become rocky. There you go! Your kids have their very own homemade coquina! Exhibit these at your kid’s next science fair and watch him thoroughly enjoy the learning process!

Jumping coins – Fill a bowl with cold water. Place the bottle neck and coin into the bowl of water to chill them. Place the coin at the mouth of the bottle. Wrap your hands around the bottle and wait for a few seconds. The air inside the bottle heats up when you hold it tight with your hands. The warm air pushes harder than the cool air outside the bottle which forces the coin to jump up.

Super-saturation of a liquid – This is a science project that your kids would not mind tasting! Dissolve sugar cubes in a glass of cold water. Make sure that you count the number of sugar cubes that you put in. Mix until the cubes do not dissolve further and start settling at the bottom. Repeat the same process with a glass of hot water. Count how many sugar cubes it takes to dissolve completely in the hot water. Explain to kids that dissolving sugar or any other solvent in water depends upon water’s super saturation level.  However, hot water dissolves more sugar cubes because it has faster moving molecules which are spread further apart. With bigger gaps between the molecules in the hot water, more sugar molecules can fit in between.

Make your kindergartner’s next science fair project a memorable one with these simple and easy science project ideas!

Preschool Games – Important Tips for Parents

As the parent of a preschooler, you are probably looking for resources to prepare your little one for kindergarten and eventually for grade school. One of the best ways to bring fun and learning together is to introduce your child to online preschool games and activities.

What are Preschool Games?

These are popular teaching tools that combine technology, engaging stories and animated characters to awaken a love for learning in young children. They guide preschoolers through a wide range of topics such as letters, numbers, colors, rhymes, time, music, patterns and classification. Most preschool games have an engaging curriculum that can be used for homeschooling or as after-school tutorials.

Preschool Games - Important Tips for Parents

The learning benefits of preschool games for toddlers and preschoolers have been well documented. But you may be wondering if they are the right educational resource for your child. For your convenience, we’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind before your preschooler begins to explore the online world.

Preschool Games – 4 Tips for Parents

  • Your child’s age

This is one of the primary considerations for introducing your child to the world of preschool games. The average preschooler is 3 to 4 years old and is ready to learn how to use a computer. Combine his introduction to computers with fun learning games and he’s on his way to building his scholastic and technological smarts.

  • Your child’s maturity level

This is extremely important as age doesn’t always come with a fixed maturity level. Kids belonging to the same age group can have differing levels of maturity, so do not try to introduce your child to preschool games unless he is ready and willing to follow directions. A basic understanding of how a computer works is essential before your child can use it safely.

  • Finding the best preschool games online

Once your child is ready to start, you will need to identify online games that are best suited for his learning needs. This is easier said than done because there are thousands of free and paid options out there and it’s difficult to choose between them. A standard internet search is how most parents would go about it, but your best bet would be children’s television networks that offer learning games on their website. You could also check out websites dedicated to fun learning options for children.

  • Make sure the games are good enough

Once you identify a few good preschool games, you need to play them yourself to make sure they have enough educational content and are suitable for very young learners. Check out the ratings and reviews on online forums before allowing your child to play.

All said and done, most preschool games offer a great learning experience that no child should miss out on!