Felt felt felt!

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I am really discovering the magical magical world of felt. While it is nothing new in terms of a concept, the possibilities are endless and I love what I can do with it. The boys are really enjoying playing with felt board…whether it is stories or rhymes or math games or mr.potato head dress up stuff. It is plain and simple fun…not so difficult to make and quite versatile in its uses.

I am now working on a felt Quiet Book and the boys are supplying me with ideas and a wishlist.

In terms of stories and rhymes we now have: Three little pigs, The three Billy goats gruff, La Luna, Chicka chicka boom boom, 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, 5 little monkeys swinging from a tree, five little fish, and Five little ducks went out one day. We have a ladybird counting game, a build it yourself fire trucks, matching shapes, potato head and make your own cupcakes.

It is great for literacy related devt, math skills, motor skills as well as promoting conversation, retelling, narration, imaginary play, etc. My boys are playing with the felt board all the time…the older ones don’t need me around ..they enjoy retelling stories using the felt board, they make up stories as they go along and in general have a blast. I plan to use it with the kids to practice math and phonics too.

Here are some pics:

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Finally a bookstore that I instantly fell in love with!

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Ever since we moved to Bangalore I have been in search of a nice bookstore…nice does not mean fancy…it need not have a cafe in it and I really don’t mind so much if it is air conditioned or not. I like to take the boys to a bookstore, sit with them and browse through books, appreciate the literature and illustrations and then pick something we can take home with us. It was a like a ritual of sorts in Mumbai for us..we would visit Kitaab Khana in Kala Ghoda once a month and come back home super happy and with 2 or more books for our collection.

In the past four months I have not been able to do that. Crosswords near our place in Bangalore has a large section of books for kids…the toddlers/preschool section has a shelves laden with ‘activity books’ coloring books, math for kids, handwriting books and phonics. What happened to the literature part??? The sales person had not heard of Eric Carle, Julia Donaldson or Sandra Boynton..The chap at the computer in the information section candidly informed me that they don’t keep ‘those type of books’. I guess our toddlers only need handwriting and phonics?! I had similar luck with a couple of other bookshops too.

Which is why i was so delighted to find Lightroom Bookstore in Frazer town. Some one i met the other day mentioned the bookstore and it is indeed a pleasure to visit it. Went without the kids this time as I was not sure what to expect but it was absolutely wonderful. A whole room full of children’s books…Caldecott winners and all.

And the lady who run the bookstore actually understands books, can discuss literature and illustrations and was charming to talk to! It was all in all a most satisfying experience and I strongly recommend this bookstore to other children’s books lovers! (They are on FB if you would like to learn more)

Melting moments

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Melting moments

Day before, my youngest Amu was at his worst behaviour. He wanted everything his brothers were playing with and pulled all stops to make sure he got them…which included pulling, screeching, hitting and biting. He bit Sid and poor Sid came crying loudly to me saying “he bit me Aai…he bit me and it is hurting terribly!” I took him to my room to look at where he was hurt and he insisted he wanted his twin Nish with him…”Nish Nish Nish!” He kept calling till his brother arrived. “Look Amu bit me…so badly it’s hurting!” Nish examined the injury quite seriously and looked at me..”you put ice?” He asked. Yes doc. “Nish!” howled Sid again.
“It’s ok Sid, Nish is right here next to you” said Nish gently stroking his brother’s hair and giving him a kiss.
At this point I figured my injured boy was in very safe and caring hands and I left to address the biting boy.

Discovering Beads!

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We have discovered beads! Not the plastic ones that we had picked up last year from the toy store but REAL ones! At the art and craft store last month the boys discovered and aisle full of beads…and of course, in addition to felt sheets and glue that we had walked in for, we walked out with a bag of deliciously exciting beads that the boys picked up…specially for a necklace that they now wanted to make for my friend.

They got to work right away picking ones that they thought would go together and the result was actually quite pretty!

However, buoyed by the success of the necklace they decided that they wanted to make stuff for everybody they knew. The beads were not cheap and not light either…so not only was it going to be expensive to buy that many but also difficult to keep posting them to people.

A friend suggested using paper beads and so I got started on a fairly addicting project. I realized that it was going to be too difficult for the twins to actually roll the beads around a stick so i basically had them paint with acrylic on printer paper and then cut strips from that to make the beads. And i discovered mod podge in the process.

I use a knitting needle or thin paint brush to make the beads on and this way the holes are not too small so the kids can string through them easily…we have now started a bead bracelet factory in the family room :)

IMG_6220But seriously they love this so much more than the big plastic beads because i guess it ends up in a real product/object at the end of the process. And they love the fact that the people they gift these to are actually wearing them!

This is great for fine motor skills, counting as well as for creating and repeating patterns!

Beads!!

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We have discovered beads! Not the plastic ones that we had picked up last year from the toy store but REAL ones! At the art and craft store last month the boys discovered and aisle full of beads…and of crouse, in addition to felt sheets and glue that we had walked in for, we walked out with a bag of deliciously exciting beads that the boys picked up…specially for a necklace that they now wanted to make for my friend.

They got to work right away picking ones that they thought would go together and the result was actually quite pretty!

However, buoyed by the success of the necklace they decided that they wanted to make stuff for everybody they knew. The beads were not cherap and not light either…so not only was it giong to be expensive to buy that many but also difficult to keep posting them to people.

A friend suggested using paper beads and so I got started on a fairly addicting project. I realized that it was going to be too difficult for the twins to actually roll the beads around a stick so i basically had them paint with acrylic on printer paper and then cut strips from that to make the beads. And i discovered mod podge in the process.

I use a knitting needle or thin paint brush to make the beads on and this way the holes are not too small so the kids can string through them easily…we have now started a bead bracelet factory in the family room :)

IMG_6220But seriously they love this so much more than the big plastic beads because i guess it ends up in a real product/object at the end of the process. And they love the fact that the people they gift these to are actually wearing them!

This is great for fine motor skills, counting as well as for creating and repeating patterns!

Healthy dosa recipe!

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This is not an original recipe but something a friend had suggested I try out. It is a healthy breakfast / snack option and all my boys (including the big boy) love it.

you need:

1 cup mixed daals – i use tur, masoor and moon
1 cup oats (quaker or any other instant breakfast oats)
ginger (as per your taste)
cumin powder
green chilly (if you like it spicy)
salt to taste
A little yoghurt / dahi (optional..gives a slightly tangy taste which we like)

Soak the daals in water for about an hour
Soak the oats in a little water for 15 minutes

Grind the daal mixture and then add the soaked oats and remaining ingredients and put it in the mixer to for a coarse paste. You can add water based on how thin you like the batter and how thin or thick you would like your dosas.

Heat some oil on a flat pan or non-stick tawa, put a dollop of batter on and spread it into a large circle. Cook it like you would a regular dosa.

You can eat it plain or with a chutney. For the kiddos I make a simple dip using dahi (yoghurt), salt, a bit of sugar, some red chilli powder and ground peanuts. It is easy to whip up and quite delicious. You can also make it minus the red chilly powder.

Healthy Dosa recipe

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This is not an original recipe but something a friend had suggested I try out. It is a healthy breakfast / snack option and all my boys (including the big boy) love it.

you need:

1 cup mixed daals – i use tur, masoor and moon
1 cup oats (quaker or any other instant breakfast oats)
ginger (as per your taste)
cumin powder
green chilly (if you like it spicy)
salt to taste
A little yoghurt / dahi (optional..gives a slightly tangy taste which we like)

Soak the daals in water for about an hour
Soak the oats in a little water for 15 minutes

Grind the daal mixture and then add the soaked oats and remaining ingredients and put it in the mixer to for a coarse paste. You can add water based on how thin you like the batter and how thin or thick you would like your dosas.

Heat some oil on a flat pan or non-stick tawa, put a dollop of batter on and spread it into a large circle. Cook it like you would a regular dosa.

You can eat it plain or with a chutney. For the kiddos I make a simple dip using dahi (yoghurt), salt, a bit of sugar, some red chilli powder and ground peanuts. It is easy to whip up and quite delicious. You can also make it minus the red chilly powder.

Felt board math

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I was at the art and craft store the other day when I came across a packet of really adorable ladybug buttons. Bright red and black, they instantly caught my eye and fancy and I picked them up certain that i would find some interesting use for them.
And then, this afternoon i did. As i was finishing making the characters for Three Billy Goats Gruff (Sid’s request) for our felt board story collection (http://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/felt-board-stories/) I had green felt left over and suddenly thought of making leaves to use with the lady bugs. Came up with a simple counting game for the boys…I already had some felt number cutouts (store bought), so i used the green to make leaves and I lined the leaves up along a felt ‘stalk’ on the felt board. Next I placed a number next to each leaf. The boys then took turns to identify the number and place the corresponding number of ladybugs on the leaf. This is not a super original idea or anything….have seen variations of this in places. It was super simple but lots of fun and the boys wanted to do “more and more”. We had a little ‘help’ from the youngest who decided to engage in a special session on ‘subtraction’ but we managed to cope with his antics and fortunately nobody had any melt downs (which is saying a lot).

This is a good way to practice basic numnbers and for older kids you can also use it for addition and subtraction. It is visual, encourages counting and correlation, involves a tactile experience and it is in the form of a game so it does not seem tedious or abstract.

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Intellectual property!?

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The boys and I were chatting this afternoon when they came back from school. I was sharing with them some stuff that Amu said to me today…he is talking so much and is just so aware of stuff around him that i was pretty impressed. Not wanting the boys to feel like i was suddenly praising the little one too much, i was quick to add, “See how much that little fellow is picking up from you guys”. while Sid seemed very thrilled at the compliment, Nish looked almost distraught. “I don’t want him to pick up me!” he said. “If he picks up everything from me then I will have nothing left!”

Time to introduce copyright and intellectual property i suppose!

The blues…and pinks

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Who decided that blue was for boys and pink for girls? Nish came to me the other day with sa very serious look on his face. OK…time for some conversation of gravity i figured.
“why do you always get me brown or tan or navy blue pants?” he asked “my favorite color is purple…and pink”
“Sure” i replied. “The next time we pick up clothes I will certainly keep that in mind”
Next time was actually quite soon after that. I was at the mall with my cousin and since Mothercare had a sale I decided that I may as well pick up the pants. Needless to say, the boys section only had brown, khakhi, blue and believe it or not…white! I looked again…definitely no purple and absolutely no pink. The sales girl came over to help me. “I need purple shorts for my son” i told her. She looks amazed. “we have white if you like” she told me. No no purple is not white…and who buys white pants for little kids other washing machine and washing soap ad makers? “For boys we don’t keep pink and purple” she said…So i wandered over to the girls section. The shorts here were significantly shorter and hotter. But in addition to being pink, magenta and purple they all ended with s little frill and had some glittering floral embellishment. Now, nish may like pink and purple but I know he would not enjoy the fancy add ons..heck..he is into ‘fancy motor bikes and construction vehicles’. The glittering flowers would not impress him. “Anything without the frills and glittery flowers?” i asked. “No, this is for girls so it has to have these” Sure, now clothing lines have taken a call on what is appropriate dress and color for the different genders and never the twain shall meet?!
I walked out disappointed. Spotted a Pantaloons store in the mall and finally found a pair of beautiful purple shorts with no embellishments other than large purple buttons in the girls section. Immediately picked it up! And boy was Nish excited. He was super happy and promptly wore them the next day when we went to the botanical gardens for a flower show. he was certainly one of the bright happy flowers there!
Anyway, this just reinforced for me how closed we can get in our thinking…frills and flowers for girls and no pink and purple for boys. Just look at what is happening around us here…there are killings and war and rapes happening everywhere one looks..if wearing pink and purple gives our boys some more caring and empathy then lets flood the stores with these colors…we certainly dont need more ‘tough men’ than we already have.
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