COUNTING, CLIPS, CRAYONS AND CHAOS

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Yesterday, the boys had a holiday from school and so I thought we could play something around ‘math’. Math at this point is very rudimentary of course…we know 1 and many..and of late can work unto counting till 4 by pointing at the objects we are counting. I have not tried going beyond that yet. 

Anyway, yesterday, i had kept some egg cartons aside for an art and crafty activity for the kids so decided to use the bottom of the cartons too. For the activity, i took a cupcake baking tray, a box of crayons, the bases of 2 egg cartons and plastic clothes pegs (or clips as we call them). I started by putting a certain number of crayons into the baking tray cup (1,2,3 or 4). Each boy got a turn and had to count the number of crayons and put the corresponding number of pegs/clips onto the egg carton. They enjoyed this and in addition to counting we threw in some fine motor skills.  As a variation (or a trick question – which is how i positioned it) i started putting mixed up colours of crayons and then would ask “Sid, how many green crayons in the tray?” (so we got colours too). And to make it more interesting, we moved on to light and dark shades as well. 

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We also did a very basic intro to addition. So, i started with 2 crayons in one cup on the tray. They put 2 clips/pegs on their egg carton. Now, i told them to leave those there. Then i added 1 more crayon into another cup on the baking tray. They counted that additional 1 and added another clip to the box. Now when we counted they had 3. We did this a few times and then the kids and the crayons got carried away…quite literally. The next thing we knew there were lines and zigzags and complicated “roads” all over the floor in gorgeous wax and oil pastel! 

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But in all, i think we enjoyed the activity and i plan to play with variants of the same. I was thinking of getting them to count and put pompoms into the egg carton, maybe to leaves and bugs that they can count and put on. Will keep posting! Image

imagination…

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Toddlers and preschoolers live in such a glorious imaginative world where the strangest of things happen so very easily. We were painting a wooden stool this evening (pics will follow in a later post). I had put a coat of primer on and the boys decided they wanted a double decker bus on it. So we drew a bus and covered the outlines the best we could with masking tape. (thank you poocho for the idea…and the stool and materials!) 

The boys then picked a colour for the acrylic paint they wanted to start with…magenta, lime green and cerulean blue. (the fourth color we had was cobalt – but they were not sure what it was called). As they painted, Amu joined in with a loud “wow!!!” and the Sid said “how sweet of poocho to give us such beautiful paints!” The lime green and magenta were especially stunning together. I gave Amu a canvas bag to paint on so he would let the twins paint the stool in piece without yanking the masking tape off. 

As Nish was painting, the stool kept moving a little making a bit of a sound. Nish had a running commentary going “sometimes it wobbles…see how it wobbles…sometimes it doesn’t wobble..but now it is wobbling” SUddenly he stopped his constant talk of wobbling and looked up at me… “you know” he said quite seriously. “the stoll is not wobbling..it is actually singing and dancing. the stool loves the paint and it is so happy it is singing and dancing!” With that deep insightful statement he went back to his magenta and cerulean blue! 

Once the paint was dry, we pulled off the masking tape together. “it’s magic!” Sid exclaimed. AS i looked at the three boys looking wonderstruck at their painted work of art i agreed..this was magic!

Pat-a cake pat-a cake baker boys

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his week we got a wonderful present from a close family friend…the boys received their very own mini baking set (ikea) with a baking tray, a bund cake tin, a pie tin and four lovely cookie cutters. The twins were over the moon and Amu as always shared in all their excitement with loud squeals of joy and repeated reminders of his involvement in whatever was happening by pointing to himself and saying “Amana do” (he currently calls himself amana).

The boys wanted to bake RIGHT AWAY! But i managed to calm them down so that we could do it the following afternoon after school. That evening in the park we met two classmates who were promptly invited to join in the baking.

Since the cake tins were pretty small I decided they would probably lead to pushing and fighting, so i made some cookie dough in the morning and kept it to chill. When all the boys came home from school we got the five little bakers ready for their cookies. I had a tray with toppings – m&ms and different sprinkles ready. I dusted our marble top table with flour, gave them rolling pins and got them started, The boys loved playing with the dough…but which also meant the heat from their hands made it a little melty and rolling became tough. The dough also was not chilled enough in my opinion. So in stead of using the cookie cutters, the boys rolled the dough into balls, flattened it and then added heaps of toppings (one little baker ate a lot of the toppings too!)

Then it was into the oven for the cookies – distributed over my tray and the mini ikea tray for them to bake and brown while the baker boys played on the bunk-bed and with cars.

They left with a cookie in their tummies and another couple in a box – for brothers and fathers and mothers to try. It was definitely fun, definitely messy and rather yum!<a 

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The funny funny things my boys say!

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Yesterday in the afternoon, Sid and Nish were engrossed in some conversation. I stopped to listen and I heard Nish tell Sid, OK, now you are the lion and I am broccoli! I wondered what on earth they were playing and where this bizarre introduction would lead the two so i waited to listen some more. Nish continued unperturbed by my presence…”now broccoli is walking in the forest and you are roaring loudly…you have a thorn in your leg. Now roar!” Sid the lion complied with a fairly ferocious roar and then winced saying ouch ouch leg paining!

FInally figured out they were acting out Androcles and the Lion! Over dinner i told them the story again, this time stressing on the name Androcles (although i quite liked the Broccoli version myself). 

Another funny thing was Sid’s reaction to Nish yesterday. Nish was hogging some toy and simply refusing to give Sid a turn. Sid reasoned with him (we had a long chat day before and decided we were all going to keep our cool and not yell at each other…Sid is taking that quite seriously!). “You play for 5 minutes, then it’s my turn” Sid said. “No” replied Nish. “my toy!” Sid looked at him, most exasperated, put his hands out in front of him and very seriously exclaimed: That is absolutely RIDICULOUS!!!” (pronounced reeeeediclus). Nish just looked at him, then turned to me and asked ‘what is he saying??” Reediclus reediclus reediclus went Sid and I left the room because i was ready to burst with laughter. 

I now also know what my expressions and gestures probably look like!

shut up!!!!

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I could hardly believe my ears when my older twin snapped at me…most defiantly. Yesterday was a looong tough day. The boys had a holiday and the twins had decided to fight about and over every possible thing…right down to the color of the ikea bowl they were having their snack in. We had some puja stuff lying around because it was the maharashtrian new year and we had finished our puja together (where right in the middle of the proceedings, the boys decided to fight for who got to ring the little bell). There were a lit diya (small candle) and some incense and Sid decided to climb up something right there. I told him about three or four times to cut it out and finally i lost it (for the third time that day) and yelled at him. He looked at me and very simply said :SHUT UP!

“To you corner NOW” i yelled back (not a very inspiring performance, i know)

To which, he promptly stomped off and plonked himself in our “tantrum and thinking corner”. As a show of support and sudden solidarity, his twin Nish pouted and glared at me and walked over to his brother and sat down in the corner too (totally taking away from the concept in one easy move). 

I failed to see any humour in this and took Amu for his shower, choosing to ignore the twins for the moment. As soon as they heard the water running and amu laughing with joy over the bubbles in his bath, they came into the bathroom and said they wanted to have a bath too. I was still upset (and set myself up for another last laugh situation) and so i simply said “No, I am not giving you a bath right now.” As I was finishing up towelling Amu, I heard Sid telling Nish, “It’s ok…you help me take off my clothes and I will help you take off yours. Then we can have our bath”. 

The two of them got into the shower and after a bit Sid called out to me. I went in to find that they had finished soaping themselves and were almost done. I was much calmer then…and Sid probably sensed it as he gave me a sheepish smile as asked “tu majhyashi bolte ahes kaa? (are you talking to me?) 

After that the boys came into bed, we read for a big and cuddled and Sid fell asleep with his head nestled against my shoulder. As i looked at my sleeping boys, I thought about the day and how snappy i had gotten at the end of it. Little wonder then that they yelled back at me…i wasnt exactly setting a great example (though, where on earth did they pick up Shut UP???) 

At times, it is easy to get flustered and irritated and lose my cool..i just need to catch myself before i do it…i have now asked the twins to help me out there…so if they see me getting upset, they will remind me to take a breath. Let’s see if that works!

Learning to give and share

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The twins turned 3 last week…and although we kept the celebrations small (as per their very specific request) they still ended up with a LOT of presents…including 2 bicycles, a balancing bike and 2 scooters…so lots of vehicles! After managing for the past 4 monhs with their tricycles which were slowly getting more and more worn they were (needless to say) over the moon with these new acquisitions. Amu got a tricycle too and I was wondering what to do with the old trikes. (our mansion can only accommodate this much stuff!). 

I thought it would make sense to donate the trikes and so i got into a conversation with the kids about sharing their stuff. Feeling especially generous after their birthday bounty, they were quite amenable to the idea and Sid even suggested that we give the trikes to the kids in the “plastic houses” near school. (we drive past some temporary slum houses on the way to school everyday and they often have questions about the people there – what they eat, why they don’t have clothes or a proper house, etc.) 

So we decided that it would be the plastic houses where we took the trikes and in the evening the boys helped load their vehicles into the trunk of the car and stopped there on the way to the park. We found a couple of kids who looked like the right age for the trikes and the boys gave them away. Sid showed a little last minute reluctance to part with his beloved trike but Nish managed to convince him otherwise and we left the scene minus both trikes…and a very happy bunch of kids outside the plastic houses.

On our way top school on friday we drove past the houses and saw two familiar looking trikes now adorned with a few balloons and some coloured ribbons! 

an old phone??

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When we gave Sid an old cell phone to distract him from one of the many fights he was having with Nish, we little realized what a world we were opening up….(and sadly, how important he thinks a phone is!)

He has been walking around, looking busy, planning ‘important meetings’, sharing thoughts about all possible things and even just sitting and nodding like he is listening with lots of “ohs!” and “achha” and “oks” thrown in.

Last evening is dialled frantically. “hello! Hello!! 101? i have emergency! Fire in my house. Come fast”. He was versatile enough to provide the sound of the fire engine while continuing his pleas for help as well as instructions on the old phone. He got a bowl for his his (as a helmet) and came in and realistically hosed down the fire. Then he promptly called up another imaginary person to tell him about he fire and the rescue! 

His twin Nish is not bothered about the phone, but for Sid it has become a valuable possession, just like his glasses which he likes to wear perched on top of his head like “ajoba” (his grandfather). Amu is not that interested in the phone, but he has quickly figured out that he easiest way to currently get a rise out of Sid is by making off with the cell phone or threatening to throw it! 

Another lovely book!

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One by Kathryn Otoshi

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I have to thank my kids’ classmate most profusely for the return presents they got at his birthday party…a whole stack of books. And not just any books but some really well picked out ones. We got a lot of them sooner and for some reason, this one remained on the shelf for the past couple of months. I pulled it out yesterday and went over it a couple of times before reading it out to the twins.

 

One is a really simple and yet very complex books. Using simple language and gorgeous yet extremely simple illustrations Otoshi gets multiple points across to the reader. A little bit like an onion (a la Shrek), there are layers you can peel off and appreciate. The first read can be an easy one…the book seems to be about colors and numbers and standing up for oneself. A second read helped me appreciate the play with words and the use of numbers…everyone counts as in matters.  

The end flaps introduce the picture book really well. I quote “Blue is a quiet color. Red is a hot head. Red likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one takes a stand, things get out of hand. Until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up and count!” 

What appears to be a numbers/colors book is in fact a lot more…it teaches us to count for something, to stand up for what we believe in. 

She sums it up beautifully on the last page “Sometimes it just takes One.” 

And the other aspect I really enjoyed was the connecting of colors to temperature … so blue is cool and red is hot. Which really made sense to my kids…we have been reading a book called “When Sophie gets angry” by Molly Bang and that is another book where the illustrator has in fact used the colors red and blue very beautifully to add to the metatext. And, this is something I pointed out to them and we discussed when we were reading. We came up with hot things that made them think of red…flames, fire, embers, coal, the sun…and then of cool things with blue…water, the swimming pool. 

One also helped me introduce them to a new English phrase…When someone is angry they see RED (my boys currently seem to see red pretty easily ..so i think they got it and were amused).

Pratapgad Fort

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We decided to give the twins their first taste of history on this vacation. Nothing complicated…just introducing them to a little maratha architecture since we were not too far from Pratapgad…a famous fort from Shivaji’s time. 

It was a fairly long drive from Panchgani to Pratapgad but we played a lot of songs that the kids like (they now can actually sing 2 french songs thanks to our long drives!) and we played a lot of I spy with my little eye. We were fairly entertained by the animals we saw along the way..cows, buffalos, horses, donkeys, dogs, goats, camels (!) and a lot of monkeys. The monkeys were especially interesting and fun to watch because they sat there and pretty much performed for us…chattering away, jumping and making faces, etc. There were multiple families, a very aggressive alpha male and lots of little baby monkeys who were clinging to their moms and feeding.  We saw monkeys fighting (just like us, said Nish) and monkeys clambering up slopes and trees. 

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Finally after a loooooong (but surprisingly peaceful non cranky non fighting) drive we reached the base of the Pratapgad fort. I loved Sid’s reaction when he looked up..”wow!!! cool!!!” It is so funny to hear them talk like that. But it was a pretty cool sight. The fort with the orange flag flapping in the wind, set on top of a green mountain was a lovely sight.

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We wondered if the kids would be okay to climb all the way to the top. The original steps are not used at present and they have created a newer pathway which is safer and easier to climb. The boys were pretty excited about ‘climbing up the mountain’ and were most disappointed when they learned that the way up was by the steps and not a more adventurous route…however, their disappointment was short lived and quickly replaced by wonder when they saw a group of load carrying donkeys making their way up the same steps. We followed the donkeys up the steps watching out for “donkey potty” which was quite abundant. Nish was especially disgusted that they were just going potty all over the place..(why can’t they use a bathroom Aai? this is gross!).

It was a bit of a climb  with several touristy distractions like hats and glares and cheap plastic cars but the donkeys helped us stay focussed (and saved me some cash) and we finally made it to the top.

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Sid and Nish were most fascinated by the food and drink stalls there – there were fountains with ‘kokum juice’, buttermilk and ‘strawberry juice’ (all fairly synthetic looking to be honest). The view was simply breath taking and the boys were awed by the sheer beauty and the dizzying height! (Nish actually kept quiet for a minute straight i think). 

We showed the boys the fort, the water storage, the cannons and finally we made our way to the temple there. My very devout boys all prostrated in front of the idols and then we made our way to the sugar cane juice vendor there. We watched him take the sugar cane and pass it through the machine to get deliciously refreshing sugar cane juice. Since we had visited a sugar cane field just the day before the boys were able to relate to what they were seeing a little better. 

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We had lunch at a small eatery located on the mountain itself…simple mahashtrian fare (pithala with bhakri – a healthy roti like bread made with jowar, thalipeeth and yoghurt). The boys played there, made friends with the old man who owned it went and checked out his room, declared it ‘very very nice” and also discovered how to pee on the mountain side when there is no loo for miles! (well not miles …but not till the base of the fort – which for a 3 yr old’s bladder is miles)

The car ride back (after we again saw the monkey clan) was extremely peaceful as they were all passed out!