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Posts Tagged ‘play’

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

In Field Notes on 26 August 2015 at 7:49 pm

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees… 🙂

A guest post by Peter of Appalagraharam Andhra Pradesh

After school and on Sundays, the village kids come to play with the AID “Toy Library” toys…
Each day there is a different scenario enacted. One day the space may be a market place, with the children, as small groups or individually setting up there stalls with various wares for sale … tea stalls, tiffin stalls, hair studio, scrap merchants, general stalls etc…
Another day it may be the anganwadi centre with a teacher (who always seems to be yielding a big stick… 😦 teaching songs and games to the children whilst somebody else is preparing meals for every one…
One of the favorites is “Birthday parties… one or more children are selected as “Birthday Kids”
All the other children collect leaves and flowers to lavish the the birthday kid and their mudpie cake…

There is one common thing that revolves around all the scenarios…. money. Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing can stop you!

In Field Notes on 21 June 2014 at 1:30 am

Dancer, Writer, Yogi and Mama, Mirabelle D’Cruz from Mumbai shares the secrets of her backpack, her sling, and getting back to “plurk” with baby in tow.

They tell you that once you have a decent job and get married, you will be “settled.”  Then they tell you you will only be really settled once you have kids. I was always critical of the settled business, though I can see value in the concern of those who talk about it. Even if you have a child, like my husband and I, when you truly feel ready, have been a party-holic, travel –holic and how can I forget work-a-holic and know you’ll have no regrets because you lived your life fully and don’t feel an ambitious desire for position, lifestyle or keeping up with the Joneses, the roller-coaster will only start after the LO arrives. This is not a complaint or judgment on parenting,  its an observation on learning, growing and most of all on integrating.

I’m sharing a little of my journey, as one of the possibilities to parenting, hoping it may provoke, inspire, help or just provide an interesting read.


Mirabelle leads an energizing session on West African Dance

Read the rest of this entry »

A Journey called Home

In Field Notes on 28 January 2014 at 4:45 am

Chetana, Amma to almost-four year old Disha in Bangalore, finds there is never a dull moment, right at home, a steady source of entertainment and comfort. 

I think for a long time, before D was born, I was under a misconception that staying all day at home could never ever be simulating, would be boring and it is for lazy people.

But D has shown me otherwise in more ways than one. For one – our home and neighborhood is all that she needs to stay happy, healthy and occupied round the clock! Painting MuralThe half-km radius around our house is enough for her and me to find our fulfillment in so many ways and we keep discovering newer ones everyday.
We travel quite a bit for pleasure or work or to visit people. And we love doing that. But coming back to home has its own charm. Read the rest of this entry »

Unbelievable Entertainment

In Field Notes on 17 January 2014 at 4:34 am

Sridhar, Nanna of Shishir in Irvine shares delightful moments from life with his 2 year-old buddy – who no longer fits into the palm of his hands, but never misses a chance to ride on his Nanna’s back.

Wow, has it been really that long since he came into our lives? Shishir, our “Litil Titil” (that very cute rhyme that my equally cute wife Swetha coined in his 2nd month) has grown up very fast that last few months – a little too fast for my imagination, but the bond between us grows stronger each day. I don’t think Shishir yet realizes the significance of a father…or Nanna as a relation.

Sridhar and Shishir1

Shishir meets his Nanna, Sridhar

Read the rest of this entry »

The Play School Dilemma

In How on 16 July 2013 at 3:58 pm

My son is 18 months old. I work as a free lance consultant and have a good support system at home. My husband and I have been thinking about playschool as our son loves physical activity and exploring new things and also interacting with other children.

What are your thoughts on play schools, the appropriate ages, what to look for in a good play school, its teachers etc?

Mama from Delhi

The neighbourhood is the appropriate place for an 18-month-old or really for any child who is looking for physical activity, new things to explore, and interaction with children outside the home.  Also the wide world beyond offers many attractions, but do not forget that there is much to explore locally, even within a kilometre radius as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Playful moods

In Field Notes, How on 8 June 2013 at 3:38 am

Aashish Sangoi, Papa of little Ananya in the San Francisco Bay area, shares some moments from his first few weeks of fatherhood.

Our baby – Ananya – is seven weeks old. At this stage, she is pretty much asleep most of the time and only plays for an hour or so every day – although that time is increasing every week.

Since she is not mobile and her eyesight can only focus up to a foot away – her playing ‘activities’ are limited. She mostly plays on her own when the conditions are right – full stomach, empty bowels. Her hands box and her legs kick when she is in a playful mood. We use a couple of props to play with her. One is a bouncer and another is a play mat – both hand-me-downs from cousins.

The bouncer has hanging props that she can hit when she is ‘boxing’ with her hands. Sometimes we also jingle these to catch her attention and help her move her eyes to see if she can focus. These props are right now at just about the right focus point of her eyesight. We use the bouncer a lot since she can play in it and we can use it to gently bounce her to sleep.

We use the playmat for shorter periods during the day. The playmat has a lot more hanging toys which we rattle and shake to play with the baby. It can also play lights and sounds but I think the lights don’t attract her yet – perhaps because they are a bit out of her focus. I sit down with the playmat and rattle each hanging toy in a circular fashion continuously so she is entertained.

We’ve also tried to play with her using soft toys but she doesn’t seem to fancy those – perhaps at a later stage.

Sometimes I also carry her – holding her such that she is looking just over my shoulders – and walk about the house. This position is particularly useful when we have to calm her and burp her. If it is light out, we show her outside the window and talk to her about whats going on outside.

Her final play time is just before going to bed. She is a late sleeper usually sleeping past midnight. However, at this time, we don’t actively engage with her to play. We try to rock her to sleep but usually end up carrying her in our arms and pacing the house. We generally sing lullabies to her while pacing back and forth. I also talk to her in hushed tones that she will be sleeping soon and gently swing her in my arms. Usually talking and singing to her and gently swinging her in a figure-of-eight motion does the trick and puts her to sleep.

Some of the songs we sing are Lakdi ki Kaathi, Nani Teri Morni, and one more homemade Kutchi song about going places. Ananya also likes it when my wife makes faces and talks expressively, which holds her attention for short spans of time.

AskAmma thanks Aashish for sharing this note, part of a series on Play.
Gentle Reader, how do you play?  AskAmma will feature selected stories periodically.

The right toys

In What on 8 June 2013 at 3:30 am

My son is 18 months old and it feels like he is growing up very fast.  I often have thought about “Am I giving him enough toys to play?” or sometimes “Am I giving him the right toys?  I have also heard about introducing new toys to children which are age appropriate, and it would be helpful to get your insight on this topic.

– mother of an 18 month-old in Irvine. 
Though almost anything can be a toy, play does not require toys.  Running, climbing, dancing, hide-and-seek, hopscotch and all kinds of imaginary games are fun and appropriate for all ages.   Coming to your question, what makes you think he needs more toys?
What are the things that your son reaches for now?  Observe the ways he engages with the people and things around him.  Young children often want to be involved in whatever those around them are doing, and so common household objects like dishes and buckets and cabinets become attractive.  If people in the family are into gardening, art, music, woodwork or other crafts, kids would probably want to get their hands on the shovels, brushes, instruments or other supplies involved.  Of course if the important objects seem to be the phone or laptop, kids will want those too.  Most of us would be better off spending less time with our gadgets, and diversifying our activities.
More important than selecting the right toy is cultivating a positive attitude towards work and play, which are one and the same for a child.  Why should we as adults break that continuum?  Often I hear children who are taking pots and pans out of the cabinets being told to “go play” and even given “toy” pots and pans for this purpose.  Rather than recognizing the child’s desire to be part of the action and including the child in their work, these parents impose a separation between work and play.  Having given the the plastic kitchen set to the child, do the parents join them?  No, they continue in the actual kitchen.  Children resist this second-class status, and hence the instructions to go and play and stay out of the kitchen are repeated and reinforced through various means, often including more toys.
What if you could share the space and material in the kitchen?  It would slow down your work, only if you narrowly define your work as getting that specific meal prepared in a timely manner.  But the work that you thought you were accomplishing by providing age-appropriate toys, can also get done by allowing kids in the kitchen.  Secondly, why be so possessive about your work?  Doesn’t the work belong to the family, including the child?  Taking items out of the shelf may seem useless or counter-productive to you, especially when you are putting them back, but if you hear what the child is communicating (I want to be part of the family, to do what the elders of my species do), it is not pointless.  And if it makes you feel better, there are some motor skills being honed, and spatial relations being worked out in the process.  When you believe the noise has a purpose, it is less likely to give you a headache.
As you mention that he is growing up fast, you may not be surprised to find that soon he can also do things like put the spoons away or wash some tomatoes or roll some chapatis, if you let him do it in his own way.
Another positive attitude parents should develop is a positive attitude towards dirt.  As Fraulein Maria said, “Children can’t do all the things they’re supposed to if they have to worry about spoiling their precious clothes.”  I can also summon the New York Times, “Babies Know:  A Little Dirt is Good for You.”  Much of the toy market is driven by a motive to engage kids in a way that keeps them indoors, sitting still and not getting dirty and not falling down and scraping their knees.  This is hardly age-appropriate!
So to recap – the way to encourage play is
  • provide plenty of space to run, jump, climb, etc
  • allow children to get dirty and take some risks
  • don’t separate work and play

And now for toys.  As the new / old wisdom on food says, “buy no food that you see advertised (Michael Pollan).”   Why not apply the same to toys?  Especially toys that talk, light up, or claim to develop the brain.   Of course such educational claims are part of the sales pitch for most toys, so I would probably just ignore them.  Also avoid any toy that is so expensive that you would not want to see it broken.  Toy inventor and scientist Arvind Gupta says that the best thing a child can do with a toy is break it … and on Arvind Gupta’s website you can find toys that you can put together and take apart all you want, since they are made of odds and ends.

Everything that toys are touted to promote – be it imagination, creativity, problem solving or – arise more meaningfully through self-directed interaction with real time, space, people and ordinary objects found in mission-critical places like the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or the puddle in the yard.  Toys from the store often have predesigned functions, whereas in the imaginary world of the child, anything can be anything.   A boat made of paper or tinfoil can be a raft or a coast guard vessel or cruise ship.  Even a bead or a twig or a leaf can be a boat.  Or a passenger.  Or an iceberg.

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If I had to buy a toy, I would go for one without many features, that does not do much on its own (or require batteries!) or have a script already designed for it.  Even if it does, of course there is no requirement that one follow the given script.  So I would avoid suggesting the “right way” to play with a toy.
When one has only a few toys, their roles grow over time.   What I have found is that through years of playing, some toys are far more versatile than we imagined at first.   Even if you don’t buy any toys, you might get some as gifts or hand-me-downs.   To avoid accumulating too many toys, you could pass old ones along to make room for new, but a word of caution: if this happens frequently, then one of the lessons learned from the toy will be its disposability.

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Books, movies, puzzles …

In Field Notes, How on 30 January 2013 at 2:48 am

Books, movies, puzzles …
from Murthy, Nanna to 9-year-old Sahith in Seattle

Here are some things that Sahith and I enjoy together. I had to stretch the time into last year also for some of the fun activities 🙂

Murthy and Sahith

– talking about characters and events in the books he reads (for example, the recent Ranger’s Apprentice)
– watching superhero movies such as spiderman
– singing some songs when Sahith is in the mood — usually, having him take the lead in conducting/singing/directing the song gives him extra motivation and incentive.

– bicycling — did this a lot last year.
– harmless wrestling — did this quite a bit last year, simple ground-rules such as not using legs and always doing it on the bed, makes it safe. Sahith has quite a bit of fun with this.
– putting together jigsaw puzzles

hmm… what else? I’m sure there are some that I can’t remember now. All I can think of at the moment is how often he says “can I go read now?” 🙂

AskAmma thanks Murthy for sharing this note, part of a series on Play.
Gentle Reader, how do you play?  AskAmma will feature selected stories every Wednesday.

Power of Play

In How on 30 January 2013 at 2:43 am

Serendipity! A gift from Steve McCurry for our series on Play!

Bicycle for two

In Field Notes, How on 30 January 2013 at 2:42 am

Bicycle for Two
from Somnath, Baba to 5-year old Adrita in Arlington, Massachusetts

Developed with direct inputs from Adrita:

I am very careful to not hurt the plants and the trees so I go with my Baba on the bicycle wherever we can. Of course it cannot be negative 16 deg C when we use the bicycle. But we can still walk to school in negative 16 deg C…well I walk half the way and Baba walks the full way and I sit on his shoulders the other half of the way. During the last snow we made a snow-woman which stayed for a long time with pebble-eyes and twig-ears.

I really like taking the bus and the train a lot but at times we do have to drive 😦 But when we are in the car we take turns in humming tunes of songs we both know but we distort it intentionally and the other one has to identify the song. I really enjoy this game. We have several Bangla and Hindi songs that we have learnt together. On rare occasions we have also used the boat like the people of Sunderbans.

In the summer and autumn we spend a lot of time outside. We go to the Mystic lake on hot summer days and swim with lots of other people. I like to generally stay in the shallow part while Baba goes for a swim after which he comes back and holds me by the belly so that I can try to swim. I don’t like getting out of water but invariably that happens.

Somnath and Adrita ride to school

Adrita is on the road with Baba

We have lots of parks around our house and we go to at least one park everyday. The parks are named after the AID people who live close to it – Funny park is close to Raju’s house because he is funny. We have Tatha park, Umang park…and of course there are non-AID parks also that we go to on the bicycle.

When spring comes we mix compost in the garden and plant mustard and methi. I love playing in the land while making beds and putting in the seeds. In some time we see baby plants sprouting. Oh, I forgot to say that I like earthworms a lot. I don’t pick them up myself but ask Baba to hold them. When it rains and they get stuck on the road or the pavement we try to pick them up and put them back in the soil. I think they have difficulty moving on the roads.

Lately, we have taken to playing ping pong on the table in our house…I am improving. There are many things I do with my Maa which I will write about in a different post.


AskAmma thanks Somnath for sharing this note, part of a series on Play.
Gentle Reader, how do you play?  AskAmma will feature selected stories every Wednesday.

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