Feeding Shanmugham

Ever since P has joined for basketball classes, the sound of dribbling and shooting imaginary baskets is a constant at home. I can hear the ball being dribbled even in my sleep. All was quiet on the art project front for a few days thanks to the new found love – basketball. But yesterday P came sulking and said he missed many chances at the basket because he could not practice – talk about priming the parent to buying a new basketball set! So I made a deal with him that we will make one that will be fun and help him in his game.

I had done this project with a group of children for one of my workshops and I thought it will work great. So we pulled out thick card paper, chart paper, scissors and pen and got to work. I drew out a lion (Shanmugham) with an open mouth which P cut out and stuck on the card paper. I then helped him draw out the eyes, ears, mane and whiskers. We punched a hole and hung it in his room.

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We made a story that Shanmugham was always hungry and needed to be fed else he will roar and wake up the neighbourhood (inspired from the book ‘Snoring Shanmugham’). P had to feed him paper balls and keep him quiet.

Now P merrily practices his shooting and mutters ‘there you go Shanmugham, eat your vegetable’. And the house is temporarily spared from becoming a basketball court.


Science through art

P and I are back from our short break and we resume our respective call of duties tomorrow. Hence the silence  from us. I thought I’ll kick start with an adorable project we did before we left for our break – the climbing elephant.

I was inspired to do this one after I saw a similar climbing robot on http://buggyandbuddy.com/. The crafter had made a robot for her toddlers and they loved it. I stretched the project further and included a little science in it – the concept of pulley system. But before we embarked on the project I jogged P’s memory on how we saw women drawing water from the well in our ancestral village, during our previous vacation. I also showed him a few videos and pictures. The father contributed by explaining the pulley system in the elevator of our building.

Having set the base, I made P draw an elephant and outline it. I also made him cut one sippy straw into 4 pieces (actually you need just 2 pieces). We stuck the straw behind the drawing and looped a long string through the pieces of straw. I then looped 2 beads to prevent the string from slipping off.

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We hung it on the door knob and the elephant was ready to climb. P was overjoyed when he saw his elephant climbing the door as he pulled the beads. He kept pulling and releasing the beads to get the elephant climb up and down.

P was occupied pretty much the whole day with his climbing elephant – perfect for me to do my art in peace.


Fun math game

I was in for a surprise today, one that brought back fond old memories of my old students. I was organising my work cupboard and I found some of the games that I had made to teach Math to my students who had dyscalculia.

One particular game  – ‘netting the insect’ was their favourite and we have played it on a loop. The game is an easy one – the board is a garden with many insects sitting on leaves. the players are given nets (counters) and they have to roll the dice to land on a number (leaf). If there are insects on it, then they net it and its theirs. The player who reaches the finish point with maximum insects is the winner. Of course there are many twists like ‘miss a turn’, ‘grab an extra bug from bonus pile’, ‘go back 2 steps’ etc, to add to the excitement.

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The game teaches counting, number progression, addition, moving counters in the forward and backward direction, besides comprehending instruction and waiting for their turn.

I knew P will love it since it involved insects. He is also learning addition in school, so it was a perfect way to go over fun math



Vidyarambam – May the light of knowledge guide you through.

Today is Vijayadashmi or Vidyarambam and for us South Indians it’s the day we initiate the little ones to the world of knowledge. All things new, whether it is a new venture, business, hobby class or any such thing is supposed to prosper if it is started on Vijayadashmi. Books and all things related to knowledge are kept at the altar of Goddess Saraswati for pooja for 1.5 days and taken after we write ‘hari shri ganapathaye namaha’ on rice.

Keeping with the tradition we kept our books, pens, pencils, brushes, art stuff and drums for pooja and P prayed fervently that his weapons of knowledge be blessed ‘100 times’. We started off the day with P writing on rice and reading and painting.


The day being auspicious, I thought I’ll share the game I play with P to help his sight word reading and identification.

I write all the words he knows (either from school or from the story we read) on flash cards and go over with him. I then mix them and put them in a basket.

When I call out the word, P searches them in the basket and then hangs them out to ‘dry’ on the clothes line using the peg. The basket is kept at a distance so that he can run back and forth. Sometimes, I time it to add to the fun and excitement.

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It’s a fun game that involves all skills recognition, reading, gross motor (running) and fine motor (pinning the card with the peg on the line).

Happy Vidyarambam. May the power of knowledge guide us all.


Addition game

P has started addition in school and I wanted him to learn it with a game. I was inspired by a creative teacher who used this game to teach a concept in science. I loved it so much that I knew it would be a perfect game for P and me to learn math.

For the game you will need

2 empty toothpaste boxes/toilet roll or any other cylindrical box

Flash card

Marbles/small balls/ any big pulse

A tray



Fix the boxes with the addition sign in between.


Make the child put the balls through both the boxes one at a time so that it rolls and falls on the tray, While putting the ball make him count and repeat the number that went through each box.

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To get the answer make him/her count the total number of balls in the tray.

I got P to write down the sum once done, that way it reaffirmed the concept.

P loved it so much that the next day when we played the addition game we made a story. He took out pig and big bad wolf puppet from our previous art project and pretended each ate ‘X’ number of balls. So the total balls they ate was equal to ‘X’.


I was thrilled to see his creativity and how he improvised on a math game and made it out to be a math + language activity.



Words in the rice mountain

P and I did a great learning activity today which not only focuses on his language and math but also his fine motor skills. All this while playing the game ‘words in the rice mountain’. 

To give you a background – P has started with 2 letter words (reading and writing) in school and I wanted to take him through this in a fun way. So we started out by pouring out a small mountain of rice in a vessel. I then hid the magnetic alphabets in the rice, covering them fully.


The game is to call out the word eg. am, an, it etc and P has to fish the alphabet from the rice mountain in under a minute and stick it on the fridge. The objective is to find the correct pair, time just adds to the fun.

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P squished and rummaged through the rice mountain and ran to make the words.

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Just when I thought we had enough, he suggested we do numbers too. So we went on stick various 2 digit numbers on the fridge.


We had a super time and I intend using this method even when he graduates to 3 letter words and additions.

If you have more than 1 child I highly recommend to play this. After all in a game more the merrier.


Studying is fun

The new school year has started and it is keeping P and me quite busy. P now has more to write and read and added to that he has to learn to read and write a new language (Hindi). All this has kept us away from our favourite art activities, much to our displeasure. Nevertheless we have been having our own little fun while studying, and I’ll tell you how.

P’s aunt and cousins visited us during summer and they came with a whole lot of art goodies, one of which is Wiki sticks. These are waxy flexible sticks that can be bent,twisted and curled to any shape and stuck on any surface. the best part is they can don’t leave a mark on the surface and can be remolded again. The other, is something I found at Hamleys – washable pens that write on glass surface.

We have been having super fun with this lethal combination. Besides twisting and curling the wiki sticks into planes , trains and other creatures, P has been happily drawing on our big windows.

I decided to infuse this in to our daily study time too. I stick the wiki sticks as borders on the glass and P writes his alphabets, numbers and Hindi between the lines. It’s super fun as its a new medium, a new sensory experience and something that he cannot do in class.

Sure enough my little fellow has picked up his alphabets double quick.