Creative Ways to Teach Life Skills

When we were growing up there was a lot of emphasis that was laid on academics. But once we got out of our homes and started jobs, we realized they only took us so far as we need more than a solid foundation in academics to survive jobs and life. So we know our kids need to be taught life skills to help them tackle the world. The good news is that these skills are teachable and there are many ways in which we can do it.

Life Skills Kids Need to Learn

Some of the skills kids should learn include:

  • Problem Solving
  • Home Management
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Handling Emotions

Teach with Movies

I often take the movie route to get my kids to learn certain life skills like problem solving, out of the box thinking, leadership and friendship. More recently, it was Penguins of Madagascar. The scenes may not be realistic – like the scene in Venice where the penguins use oars in the chase scene. I don’t expect my kids to be caught in a similar situation (at least I hope not) but it does show kids that we can go beyond the obvious and find different ways to solve problems.

“My Spirit of Adventure” by Peter Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0
My Spirit of Adventure” by Peter Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Teach with Apps

There are many apps out in the market that are tailored to teach life skills like how to handle emotions, manage money and collaborate with others. I am just scratching the surface here. You can try out Calm Counter – Social Story and Anger Management Tool that offers tips to kids on how to deal with emotions. Rory’s Story Cubes is a great way to teach kids creativity and to encourage them to work together. By the time kids are seven years old, it is time to inculcate the value of money and how to save; Savings Spree is an educational game that aims to teach kids how to save.

“24/52. Emotion” by Daniel is licensed under CC BY 2.0
24/52. Emotion” by Daniel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Teach with Activities

Gaming can again help with spatial skills. LEGO also helps here. You can also teach responsibility by getting kids to start gardening. We have a little patch where kids can grow plants and it is wholly their responsibility. When the plants start wilting the kids know they have been slacking off. You can also host a cooking party – cooking is an important life skill and a party would call for kids to work together.

“Money – Savings” by 401(K) 2012 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Money – Savings” by 401(K) 2012 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Life skills cannot be learnt from a text book, the skills have to be acquired with practice. So don’t forget to create opportunities for kids to exercise their life skills.


Classroom Christmas Decorations – Let the little elves help!

It’s that wonderful time of year again and the classroom is starting to look more and more magical. I love that unlike at home, I have an adorable bunch of kids helping me deck up the place. They delight in calling themselves Santa’s little elves and I power up on their little Christmas giggles. If you’re looking for easy DIYs to spruce up your classroom, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve listed 3 of the least time consuming crafts you could do with items in your everyday art cupboard. My criterion was that it should be a craft activity that everyone could do and all three tick those boxes. Without future ado, here are great ways to decorate your class this Christmas season. For more detailed instructions, click on the titles.

Handprint Christmas Wreath

I love this activity as it involves the whole class. The little elves have to draw out their hand-print on sheets of green paper. A teacher’s assistant will then help them cut it out and paste it into the shape of the wreath.

Hand print wreath

Paper Plate Christmas Tree –

This is a class favorite because it’s a collective art installation. Every child in class is given a paperplate to decorate as he or she sees fit. Then we stack them up against our classroom wall to have our very own Christmas tree. We’ve added some fairy lights to ours to just brighten up the place.

Paper Plate Christmas Tree

Reindeer Ornament

We had leftover popsicle sticks from an old craft activity we worked on earlier in the year so making this was a cinch. The kids only had to paste the sticks into a triangle and paste some googly eyes on them. I then laced them up and hung them on the side of the wall like streamers. Again, fairy lights took it to the next level.

Reindeer Christmas Ornament

How are you decorating your classroom this season?


My Furry Friends – 3 Fun Games Featuring Animals

Children love animals and for good reason. Pets teach responsibility, offer companionship and share a deep and loving bond with their kiddie owners. But not all of us are lucky enough to have animal companions in childhood. Ask my daughter what she wants for Christmas, and pat comes the answer – “A puppy!” In fact, a quick peek into any five year old’s bedroom will show you just how much real or imaginary animals figure in his life – in the toys, TV shows, storybooks, movies, music, clothes, décor and sometimes even the food he loves. That goes a long way towards explaining the spate of online and video games featuring animal characters and their immense popularity among kids.

So I decided to do a quick round-up of three cool games that revolve around furry, feathered or four-legged critters.

1. Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS

The fourth title in the Animal Crossing series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a highly rated life simulation game for the Nintendo 3DS console. Players control a character who has just moved into a new town populated by animals who speak and behave like human beings. Upon entering the town, you are mistaken for the town mayor by the villagers who hang on to your every word and are ready to do your bidding.

This gives you the power to pass laws and ordinances and plan the town’s layout. As mayor, you are in charge of planning public works projects and raise money to fund them. The townsfolk include the mayor’s canine personal assistant; a couple of alpacas who run a recycling shop, a skunk who works as a shoe accessory salesperson, among other eccentric and extremely lovable characters.

This highly customizable game has no levels or points; all you have is a huge variety of places and activities that you can personalize according to your taste. Design a garden or build a museum or chat with the neighbors or hang out at a café; you can shape the game according to your mood.


2. Penguins of Madagascar: Dibble Dash

If your child is excited about DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar, here’s a mobile game that offers a healthy learning environment along with a chance to play along with the hilarious penguin foursome we last saw in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The free-to-play penguin game released this month on Google Play and iOS and will soon be available on Facebook, Amazon and Windows.

Players help Skipper, Rico and Kowalski navigate a number of obstacles; protect them from Dr. Brine’s octopus accomplices, nimbly ducking the mutant-creating goo released by their foes. But rescuing is not your only job; you must restore them to their cute and quirky selves by solving math problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Playing the penguin game daily gets you special rewards and the privilege of sending in-game challenges to your friends.

Dibble Dash is an educational runner game but it’s so much fun, you’ll probably forget you’re doing math.


3. Animal Planet: Vet Collection for Nintendo DS

If your child dreams of becoming a vet, this interesting mini game collection by Animal Planet gives him a virtual taste of what it means to be an animal doctor. Players travel extensively across the world in their quest to become a great veterinary doctor, volunteer at pet clinics and treat a great variety of exotic as well as domestic animals in different settings. Players can choose from a wide range of memory games, puzzle games, matching games as well as action and dexterity games, all of which have different difficulty levels.

Virtual vets are allowed to utilize 60 kinds of procedures such as cleaning, bathing, medicating, operating and engaging in post-operative care to treat their animal patients. But best of all, you can interact with each of your patients after every successful procedure and make sure they are well taken care of.

And now, my little girl is demanding an animal-themed video game for Christmas!