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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Fossil Making for Kids

 The second activity that was initiated by "did dinosaurs have feathers" is the fossil making, that again was based on the easy technique of making a plaster cast but was a lot of fun for all three of us. The catch again was to introduce her to a little bit of science and history while building on new vocabulary. The simple molding casting activity gave us plenty of time to discuss about the earth; its layers and how it was formed, lava and volcanoes, Fossils; what are they?, how were they made? different kind of feathers and why it was difficult to find nay feathers from dinosaur time? She can never get tiered of the story of the big bang! And it is not boring at all. Especially when u see it from a 6 years old's imaginative perspective. The lava eruption could be caused by the 'thumping' of dinosaurs on yet soft earth!! We were just using our 'logical brains' and contemplating different theories { all our own, of course}
Here are the "Fossils" we dug up :)

and Here is the Process
smooth a thic layer of modeling clay in disposable container
take the objects out carefully
Mix plaster of Paris in water, making a thin even paste
pour it on the clay making quarter of an inch thick layer
leave overnight to dry/ harden
slip them out and remove the clay carefully


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

printable-word search-puzzles

Finally I get to upload the complete set of 5 printable word search puzzles that I made as part of M's summer home-school connection {based on the word list suggested for class 1} is now uploaded as promised :). My friends and anyone interested can download the PDF version here. Word puzzle pack for class 1.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Exploring 7 habits of happy kids

Ever since I saw 7 habits of happy kids by Sean Covey at readings I fell in love with it esp the habit no. 5 "Seek first to understand and then to be understood". Isn't this the one we lack in general in our society? And then there is this habit no. 4 "Think win win"
I was dying to buy and introduce it to my big girl, but I believe timing plays a very crucial part while introducing something new to a child. Child's readiness to interact and enjoy is as important as anything else that helps absorb a new idea. So I waited and waited for the right time and then BANG! all of a sudden it was out of stock!!
So after a wait of another 2 months or so I found it again  {and this time I couldn't miss it- even though at the time I had no money on me, so I requested them to save me a copy for a day or two -- and they did :) } and then again waited for the right time..... and missed it TADAAaaaa .This time lost the book in home shifting... LOLs, but all for good ! By this time M was dying to have it and read it, yup I showed her the book first time arround and told her she's gonna get it sometime this summer :)
So I had to search the house like mad and finally retrieved it from under a huge pile of books and papers on the CPU slot of this very computer table that I sit every day
nothing & yet every thing to do with "the habits" I guess lols
Now that we got it alright I new we had to do something because my book worm simply eats, drinks, sleeps books if you let her be. But with 7 habits I really really wanted her to eat{read} slowly, digest and absorb.
So what are the seven habits any way?
The 7 Habits of Happy Kids are:
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw
The best thing is that the book narrates seven stories of seven friends each using -- or not using-- a habit! one at a time. The writer has also provided insight for parents/teachers and baby steps for kids to follow.
Meet The friends to get basic idea  of the habits is
Be Proactive classroom poster

Habit 1 — Be Proactive

You're in Charge
I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.
Begin with the end in mind classroom poster

Habit 2 — Begin with the End in Mind

Have a Plan
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.
Put first things first classroom poster

Habit 3 — Put First Things First

Work First, Then Play
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.
Think win-win classroom poster

Habit 4 — Think Win-Win

Everyone Can Win
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others’ Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives.

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood classroom poster

Habit 5 — Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Listen Before You Talk
I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.
Synergize classroom poster

Habit 6 — Synergize

Together Is Better
I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different than me. I work well in groups. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than anyone of us can alone. I am humble.
Sharpen the Saw classroom poster

Habit 7 — Sharpen The Saw

Balance Feels Best
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I find meaningful ways to help others.
I found Ah- Ma-zinG!!! teacher bloggers working wonders  in their class rooms, but with 'the habits' my first stroke of luck was 3rd grade thoughts  she made these cool posters based on habits to decorate her class.And then I got this parents guide from the leader in me along with  a few other resource samples { BTW the samples are enough to get you going}
Well I thought making the posters for M's new room would be a starting point for us and will keep the stories coming along with discussion about many new words that we are learning on the way
Here is what we made for the first habit

Then we read about Inventors the most Prominent Proactors, with our special focus on women inventors, including;
  • Mary Anderson (Inventor of Windshield Wipers)
  •  Marion Donovan (Inventor of Disposable Diapers)
  •  Bette Nesmith Graham (Liquid Paper Inventor)
That made our minds working :) HaHa and when we didnt find glue to do our next activity we made our own!! How PROACTIVE ...Hehehe
With this special glue we worked on the first habit from this story sorting activity from lovely little leaders . Needless to say my bookworm loved it thoroughly. This even gave us opportunity to talk about copyrights and M wanted to ad a link to lovely little leaders to her poster too bad it got hidden under our other lable :(

 Even the lil one joined in, in her own way of course ;)

 Further we are planning to design our own book marks now that M is quiet good with her computer skills I think we can manage it on word pad or paint may be. will update the post once we are done :)

* For a complete free parents guide click here

* to virtually visit a school using 'leader in me' program please click here
* school site
*'Teachers pay Teachers' is another cool site that I found just in case you missed it in above links ;)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vinegar Volcano... learning science through art!

our new favorite " Did Dinosaurs Have Feather?" led us to a number of the fun activities we had this month.
The first one being "Vinegar volcano" of course!  What else can one think other than volcanos when talking about dinosaurs? The aim actually was to introduce a bit of science to our art world :) as it is basically an acid base reaction.
 And the excitement was simply remarkable! I am supper glad that the fist thing they learned about science is FUN!

 Though there are a number of tutorials avaible online we did it our own way ...ya with a bit of artsi touch to it ;) The procedures that kept us happily busy for almost two whole days are as follows

Things that we used along the way:
  • A deep tray ( not the one in above pic)
  • Empty 1/2 ltrs water bottle
  • Old news paper
  • Masking tape
  • 1-2 cup water
  • 1-2 pkts modeling clay ( easily available at all lading craft/book stores)
  •  Food coloring
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Baking soda 
  • Vinegar 
How to make the Volcano:
First we started making our volcano around the empty water bottle by wrapping old news paper with the help of some masking tape
    Then placed the armature in deep tray started building the volcano limp by limp with modeling clay.... the lil sculptor in M loved this part.
    But Miss Cleanliness refused to touch the "DIRTY" kept to her favorite activity of watering whenever required. It was a complete and fun activity in itself for all three of us and we spent the entire evening building our 'volcano'.
      And then we decided to add a few smaller peaks :) while doing this the only thing that one has to keep in mind is 'not' to plug the opening in the bottle and TaDaaaaa!!!
    We left this to dry overnight but didn't 'fix' the clay with anything ...the mountain has to dribble with lava somehow... doesn't it?
    Now to make the volcano erupt and to let the 'lava' flow down the sides:
    • The next evening we filled the empty bottle (with help of a funnel) with tap water.we wanted our lava to be red and fierce so added a few drops of red food coloring, too
    • Add a squirt of dish-washing detergent and some baking soda (~2 tablespoons).
    To make our volcano erupt over and over again:
    • We poured some vinegar into the bottle (which contains hot water, dishwashing detergent, and baking soda). This is the Part that really took lil shefu's fancy :)
    • Make the volcano erupt again by adding more baking soda. Pour in more vinegar to trigger the reaction.

    • By now, you probably see why I used a deep dish. You may need to pour off some of the 'lava' into the sink between eruptions if your doing the experiment indoors.
    • Any spills can be washed with soapy water. If you are using food coloring, it may stain clothes or skin, but the chemicals used and produced are actually non-toxic and the lesson obtained is priceless.


    Responsibility Shift

    Another one of our late updates; we started this month with a fun visit to our favorite bookstore in Lahore "Readings" that deals with new as well as used books. On the first of July, late night we finally decided to take kids and ourselves on an outing without a hope to find any place worth going open and waohoo hoo what we found out !! our favorite store have pushed the closing time 2 more hours and now they are open till midnight :D
    Now there is a twist to this happy story. For our growing up miss M going to her favorite book store is a task these days as she is given a limited allowance instead of the old choose and buy as much as you like routine. In that situation the final authority and decision maker was mom or Dad and all she has to do was to load her trolly with millions of books9 half of which she will read in the store). The aim was the gradual shift of Responsibility. But being responsible is a multidimensional task in my opinion one has to learn and master quite a few other basic skills first.
    To select and compare, to apply some arithmetical skills, how to manage with in her limits, letting go whats beyond her reach, and most important of all, to trust her own choices.
    When the idea was first introduced a few visits back, unexpectedly she started crying and complaining. She didn't  want this change. Her argument was that she wont get enough (in fact any) books when I offered her Rs.200 as her first allowance. Actually her reluctance was coming from the fear of unknown, she didn't know a thing about prices! (other than where to find the tags).The catch was that I will not interfere in any way and she can BUY which ever book she wants the only thing was that it shout not cost more than the given limit.
     We did fine on the first shopping expedition brought two books after much evaluation, discussions and promises for the future 
    Now after 2 visits it is clear that it was too big a sum for her and the only books she was picking up books from the first Rack, all new, with fancy sticker, princesses/famous cartoon books that were worth 200 or above each without even being bothered to explore the store.while there are hundreds of other amazing books most of them priced less then Rs. 50/- used of-course but in good condition!. So I gradually reduced the allowance and now she is supposed to spend max Rs.60/- per visit and what fine books she hunts now despite the strong air conditioning in the "used" section!!!
     Some of M's recent finds are

    Moral: Necessity is the mother of all inventions...including behavior and choices ---lols

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Word Puzzle ----- PDF trail

    M got a word list of 600 new words that the newly promoted kids are supposed to learn during the summer break, M is doing fine on her list ( with the regular mumbling and grumbling when kids are dragged to do "HOME WORK"). I was planning to make word games out of those words since the day we started but couldn't get enough motivation. now the other day a friend text-ed me about the issues she is facing with her uninterested young one. So I garbed the opportunity to tryout a number of things I was planning to do for a while but..... Yes one of then is to make the word puzzles the second one is to make a printable PDF and share it on my blog. so this is the first try for both ...Hope it works. You can now try out the word puzzle
    ( sorry its nothing fancy or cute) here.

    Its based on the words on the page 1 of the list provided by her school. For the beginners I've added a list of 2-3 letter words at the bottom, but you can start with that one if introducing the word puzzle for the first time. The initial success is very important to keep them encouraged you know ;)
    Do let me know how did it work!!! 

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Fun with Tangram

    I always love to go back and re-read old favorites cause there is always something new to learn. This time I stumbled upon "Tangram" in a book that I had read a million times already (needless to say missing it till now). Looking at the images brought back memories of the time when we were little and got it as a gift (don't think I was really interested then...LoLs). Only now that I am a mom I get to see the hidden wisdom in it. Plus 6 years of motherhood has taught me that anything introduced properly, positively and at the right time gets it due attention. Developing an interest comes with Motivation. Hence I decided to give it a try

    So what is a Tangram?  It is an ancient Chinese puzzle, A square cut into 7 pieces with 3 basic geometric shapes. There are two large, one medium and two small triangles, one square and one parallelogram. only the parallelogram can be used in two different directions, by flipping over. These can be rearranged to form an end less number of shapes all with the same covered area as the original square.
    Initially 2 or more pieces can be used to make other shapes, like the two big triangles can be joined together to make a square as well as a parallelogram! Though the basic rule is to use all seven pieces without overlapping to get hundreds of images in silhouettes.

     Here are the first few attempts by M

    Make a Tangram in 6 easy steps:

    1.Draw a 10x10 inch square on a mount board ( a heavy chart paper can also be used).
    2.Mark the centers lightly ( red lines).
    3.Draw a diagonal BD.
    4.Draw another small diagonal line starting from the center of BC till the center of CD
    5.Starting from point A draw a  line towards point C till it touches the small diagonal. from this point make a horizontal line till it touches BD
    6.Now starting at the mid of BC draw the last small diagonal line towards the middle of AB, till the point where it cuts diagonal BD.

    I have painted mine in a single color to avoid distraction but the pieces can be colored any way you like.
    To rearrange the puzzle back into the square was a tough enough job for me and after a few tries I started reflecting back on the method and sequence of cutting. So to encourage her and keep her motivated I drew an extra one on a white sheet of paper.and she got the hang of it in no time. Remember the trust that "I can do it" is the best motivation ;)

    Critical and Analytical Thinking
    Independent work
    New words to learn: Tangram, parallelogram,silhouette