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Posts Tagged ‘play’

What is Play?

In Field Notes, How on 23 January 2013 at 4:59 pm

What is Play?
from Karthik, Appa of almost 3 year-old Disha in Banaglore

What is “playing” for a near-3 yr old?

Anything that she wants to do – it could be play-acting, knocking about a football or a balloon in the living room, making clay-models with her, having a shared story-telling session or running around with her in the nearby park. In fact I don’t think I have ever consciously thought about “playing” with her. It’s always been about being around her, ensuring she is having fun. For eg: When crawling around as tigers stops being fun, we might break into an impromptu jig. She loves singing and dancing and music is almost always present. She has her favorites, to which we sing and dance together, with gay abandon.

Our story-telling sessions typically start with a book selected by Disha and the story is often read/narrated multiple times. We recently audio-recorded one such story-narration and Disha had a blast while playing back the audio, speaking out aloud with the recording at various times while pointing at the relevant page in the book.

Disha rides her bicycle with Appa

Disha rides her bicycle with Appa

We go on cycle-rides often, with Disha sitting in a baby-seat in the front. These end up being incredibly fun, with both of us singing aloud at the top of our voices. These songs are often made up on the go, incorporating things we see on the the road – cows, cycles, cars, trees etc.

She loves it when I talk about eating her “poppai” (Disha-tongue for “thoppai – the tamizh word for stomach”) – tickling her, pointing out various locations in her stomach where her food might have ended up at.

When we go for walks, she loves sitting astride my shoulders and touching the leaves of the trees that we pass by. Sometimes we break into a run and make her mom chase us down. Sometimes we run up to her mom, touch her and then run away, screaming away in delight.

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

Behind the stars …

In Field Notes, How on 23 January 2013 at 4:59 pm

Behind the stars …
from Uma, Nanna of almost 3-year-old Yogya in Vijayawada

A cow on the street religiously comes in the morning. Yogya and I feed the cow daily. She loves touching the cow. I take her around and show where more cows are. She loves touching the దూడ / calf.

The other day a cow gave birth to a calf in our street. Yogya spent so much time playing with the దూడ (calf). She kept calling the దూడ to come and play with her and when she came, Yogya stroked her neck. I took her to Goshala and show hundreds of cows to her. We took her to the zoo last time when we went to Tirumala and showed her all the animals she has toys of at home. She keeps saying నేనుపట్టుకొంటాను (I will hold) for not just cow, but every animal (she wanted to touch the lion and the giraffe as well).

Inside our house, I play Hide and Seek, arrange stairs for her with the sofa pillows, arrange blocks for her, try to spark her curiosity by introducing new things and new experiences.

I prefer being with Yogya in nature rather than indoors. I wait till she gets up to water the plants. I ask her to pluck flowers in the garden (regardless of whether she plucks the flower or the stem, sometimes she just plucks leaves and puts in my flower basket). When weather is good, I take her to the park or somewhere outside, but not regularly (my schedules).

Yogya likes playing in the sand and hence I sieved a whole bag of sand for her. Swapna and I spread the sand over a large plastic cloth and made a forest for her by putting all small animal figurines in it and this we used for her బొమ్మల కొలువు (doll display*). She also wets the sand and builds castles with it, something she learned by herself after one beach outing.

We answer every question of hers and do not tell her any fake things like there is a బుచ్చాడు (bogeyman) in the dark, etc.. We get involved in activities even if they might sound childish to others only to understand with her the beauty of the world.

Last night, I took her to the top floor and spread a mat and we both just lay down and watched the stars and the నెలవంక (crescent moon). I showed her the brightest star and told her that it is lakhs of kilometers away. I don’t care how much she understands. My job is to answer her every question. She knows that to reach her uncle in USA, she has to go through a plane in the sky.

We have the Amar Chitra Katha story on Kalpana Chawla, and have read and looked at the pictures together. Yogya remembers everything from the picture where Kalpana as a child doesn’t like oil being put in her hair to when she goes into space in a rocket. She knows that Kalpana Chawla went up once, came down, went up again and stayed there only and never came back. If you ask her where Kalpana is, she will say that she is behind the stars.

Yogya and Uma

Yogya and Uma

She likes to bathe in her tub. We take her to the river bank, show her people bathing, take her to the Durga temple on the hill and on the boat on the river Krishna. We go to the beach as well. I was telling her the thirsty crow story when I realized I could easily show it to her. I brought a round cup, poured water just to half and then brought those stones which we would use in a acquarium. She put the stones in the cup and the water came up. She shows anyone who comes to our house that this is how the crow drank water and went away.

Her granddad or I take her to the shop to fetch groceries or vegetables and she picks her chocolates. She is also expert in picking vegetables from the trays. I give her a cover and ask her to fill in tomatoes or beans or potatoes or onion. She does it till she gets bored and moves to the next item. I don’t care whether the vegetables she picked are good or not. I just get them billed. For me , it is important now to respect her independence. I will worry later about teaching her what is a good tomato and what is a bad one. I learnt again that from experience. When I tried to teach her once, she just gave the bag to me and said “Nanna, నాన్న, నువ్వు తీసుకో (Nanna, you pick them). I let her pick the apples, the pomegranates, the chips, etc., She knows the vegetables names more by playing with them.

I schedule my breakfast, lunch and dinner to her food timing. Lunch many a time I miss, but breakfast and dinner, I try my maximum to be with her.

* బొమ్మల కొలువు (bommala koluvu) is a doll display traditionally set up in during the festival of Sankranti

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

16 ways to play with a baby

In Field Notes, How on 23 January 2013 at 4:59 pm

16 ways to play with a baby
from Abhishek, Papa of 1 year-old Aarya in Connecticut:

Here are a few games we play together

1) peak-a-boo with a blanket
2) hide and seek- where she hides, I find her and say “boom”
3) catch me if you can – when I catch I tickle her belly
4) where is papa’s nose ( we call it nosey), we do that for ever with papa, mumma, Aarya, baba (grandfather), nani (grandmother) and her toys- sofie, elizah, micky, mini and basanti
5) we stack rings and roll balls
6) I sing animal sound song
7) we read her book – her favorite book “baby day”
8) when I wave a blanket, she comes running to grab it and swing on it
9) Show and tell-she points at various thing with her fingers and I tell her what they are
10) counting her toes and fingers
11) we nuzzle our noses
12) we make funny faces and funny noises and she laughs- she tries to grab my tongue, she examines my teeth
13) using a small flash light, I make shadows with my hand and she tries to grab it
14) she loves to play with water, she splashes her drinking water on her high chair table
15) when I pour water, she tries to hold it between her fingers
16) she is fascinated with my cameras, I let her play with them, she loves to push buttons, put cap on the lens

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

Shake a leg!

In Field Notes, How on 16 January 2013 at 8:10 am

Shake a Leg!

from Praveen, Nanna to 6 month-old Vihaan in Baltimore

Parenthood has be the most joyous relationship we have experienced. Right from Vihaan’s birth till date we have not followed any fixed protocol when it comes to playing and spending time with him.

Everyday is a new experience for us and we make sure he experiences some thing new each day. From the very beginning, my MIL made sure all of us talked to him like we talk to each other. Till date we spend most of the time taking to him with wide expressions and gestures. I also dance for him once in a while, move my arms shake my legs. Last night I just moved my fingers like an octopus’ arms and he just loved it and started to laugh. The key thing to keep him engaged or make him show some keenness into every thing is to provide him a variety. Be it with toys (like spoons, cups, containers apart from the regular toys) or be it with expressions or baby talk. Having said that there are certain things that he always likes, for example, all the basic rhymes, ABCD, baba black sheep, twinkle twinkle is some thing he loves to listen when he is drinking his milk.

We have discovered that he loves certain Bollywood expressions like, chaiya chaiya, oh la la la, et al. Not the songs just those couple of words that sounds interesting to him. We come up with our own words and expressions and he has loved it.

Of late, he has started to like balls. We noticed his affinity towards balls when he was first introduced to them in Swarith annaya’s place. After which we got him a couple of balls and he loves me juggling them. He loves to see bright changing colors. He loves to watch TV, some times we break the rules and let him see the colorful screen for a couple of minutes.

Even though he has enough toys to play with, he enjoys listening and talking (yes, talking !! he has stared to make loud expressions, and some times when all of us are busy he reminds us that we have left him alone) to amma, nanna and nanamma. He also loves talking to his ammamma and tatha over the phone 🙂


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


ఏనుగమ్మ యేనుగు!

In Field Notes, How on 16 January 2013 at 8:04 am

ఏనుగమ్మ యేనుగు! (Elephant!)

from Rajeev, Nanna to almost 3-year old Charan in California

My son is almost 3 years old now and for him the most exciting thing to do is be able to replicate whatever his mom or I do. So instead of trying get through our daily chores as quickly as we can by doing it ourselves we try to find a way to integrate him into the activity in a way that makes sense to him, even if it takes a little longer to do. And that turns into a play routine for us.

For example when I am vacuum cleaning my house, he is my partner in picking up stuff from the floor and putting it in appropriate places. It’s a lot of fun for him because when we are picking up stuff we have a routine where we say “నాన్న ఒకటి, చరణ్ ఒకటి” (meaning dad picks up one – Charan picks up one). By doing that he sees how I am doing the cleanup and he repeats it. In his mind he’s able to do what his dad is doing. So he gets super excited. Sometimes we try to count things while we are picking up stuff, or identify the items with their names and its phonetics etc. He likes pretending the cleaning game with the real vacuum cleaner too (with it unplugged of course). I let him have his way. We just make sure that the vacuum cleaner is itself clean all the time (it’s probably one item that is always sparkling clean in our house. 🙂 )

When we go shopping he’ll be helping me put the vegetables / fruits etc into the covers. I give him the vegetable and hold the bag for him and his task is to carefully put it into the bag that I am holding and ask me if we need more. Our most favorite part of shopping is walking through the aisles and identifying the numbers, letters, colors, shapes that we find around us. We also try to go through our shopping list (which he would have helped put together in the house) to see what else is needed. This is an exciting part too for him because he’s the one who tell me which way to go in the grocery store to find the item we are looking for. Shopping this way takes a more time than if I just breezed through the store myself, but we wouldn’t want to miss our play routine.

Rajeev and Charan

Rajeev and Charan

We do a lot of regular playing too. Some of the old time games like “ఏనుగమ్మ యేనుగు” (Where dad is the elephant he rides on) and “ఉప్పమ్మ ఉప్పు ” (“salt” – where he gets to be my back luggage) are still some of our favorites. Sometimes we create our own improvised versions of hide and seek games where either I am a tiger trying to catch him or the hiding part is actually done by his teddy bears and he gets to find them. We also like drawing our stories on our black board (these days it’s been more of paper and colors pens). Some of those stories are our own cooked up stories using his favorite things (like fire trucks, trash trucks, mountains etc) and some are just good old stories from books. Sometimes we paint on computer too using MS paint or create our story characters using paper and scissors. Off late throwing and catching ball has been our favorite. During the summer months, playing in the park in the evenings was our favorites. Since it gets dark quickly during this time of the year, we now get to do all the jumping and running around in our living room instead.

As far as toys are concerned, We try to do our best to make sure that the toys are not plastic and don’t need batteries. My son *loooves* cars and planes. He has both wooden and plastic cars and planes but the advantage with liking cars and planes is that practically anything that he can pick up will do the job. Pencils, pens, phones, blocks everything is a car or plane for him. If nothing’s available, I see him using his hand as his plane. It’s a riot to see him play like that.

Just like most other kids he too gets bored with a particular routine as he grows out of it. But the trick that has worked so far for us is to see what kind of things are capturing his interest / imagination and weave a routine around them. We’ll have to see how long we will be able to effectively engage his interest.

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

Melodious Play

In Field Notes, How on 16 January 2013 at 8:00 am

Melodious Play

from Arun, Appa of 1 year-old Swarit in Maryland

Swarit and I do lots of fun things together. Some of it is around music & sounds – singing (both while putting him to sleep and while playing/jumping etc), tapping on different things like doors, windows, tables, utensils etc to create different sounds.  He also loves books and we read together a lot.

He has started running – so we generally run around the house singing.  He has learnt to kick a ball – so we play football. Then we play with some of his toys that came as gifts – some musical, some stackers etc and so on. He was initially scared of the vacuum cleaner sound – but has grown out of it now after we showed him what it was and let him touch and explore it while it was not on – now he holds my hand and walks with me while I mop the carpet using the vacuum cleaner. He is also curious about locks, blinds etc and we spend time together exploring all of it and creating some new games there 🙂

We do make up lot of new games as we go along …

Transported with Love

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

I will carry you till you are 30!

In Field Notes, How on 6 January 2013 at 2:01 pm

I will carry you till you are 30!

from Srinadh, Daddy to 4 year-old Anika and 4-month old Aanya in Dallas

Some of the things the girls and I do together:

Aanya seems to have developed a strong attachment to her Dad’s shoulder as a place to hang out, be carried with her eyes wide open and content and eventually doze off (no matter the time of day)!   This has been a source of tension with other members of the family who complain that they then are expected to put her to sleep in this manner too and that they would much rather do it in less expensive ways 🙂

She unfailingly smiles at her Dad each time I look at her. If I look at her 50 times, I get 50 smiles back!

With Anika, I read her 2 or 3 story books each night, sometimes sing her a song and then she sleeps. Anika and I share a bed as the little one sleeps with her Mom. We might all get back into the same bedroom at some point soon.

If I see that Anika is getting too wound up about something, I try to distract her and sometimes take her out and just change the pace.

I still carry her a lot and I have told her I will carry her even when she is 30 years old which she finds very funny 🙂

During Christmas time, I would take her to see lights that other people had put up. She enjoyed this a lot during the recent holidays.

These are some of the things we do together.

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


Tinkering around

In Field Notes, How on 6 January 2013 at 12:58 pm

Tinkering Around

from Peter, Bappa to 4 year old Swandana in Appalagraharam

What we like to do together ???
We actually like to do everything together… 🙂
But it is not always possible … 😦

Here are a few things we do…
As we are OFF-GRID we have to regularly check our batteries’ status as they determine how much computer time / lighting / and appliance usage we have.  Our batteries are seconds and rejects so are not equal in their readings. In order to check each battery we use a digital multimeter. Swandana is now proficient in setting the dial to the correct position for testing DC 12V and which probe is for what polarity. If it is reversed she will correct.   A small – indicator will appear along with the voltage reading.

Swandana reads out each number number on the digital display, it started out being a fun way for her to start recognizing numbers but I think now she is also starting to identify that the lower number indicates poor battery condition. Associating numbers with physically identifiable objects makes learning a fun thing . We are often tinkering with things requiring tools… and spanners and screwdrivers are commonly required.

Swandana is now familiar with the difference between a ring and open-end spanner , a Philips-head and a flat head screw driver, their use and application and also started to relate the size of the opening of a spanner with the mm number embossed on the tool shaft.

Swandana enjoys helping out when we are working on the computer and has very good control of the mouse and understands and relates many of the functions including the shortcuts. Some she discovered that I didn’t know exists. She now writes her own name at the end of emails and has started to copy printed text, she also likes to watch her videos on the computer, selecting files, recognizing videos and playing , fast forwarding, stopping, pausing, and volume control with short cuts and controller on both Mac & PC .

Swandana and BappaWhen we are not tinkering with tools we are out in the garden, photographing, videoing, and rearing insects. Swandana has a keen eye for photography and knows when “macro” setting is required and when it’s not.

She is able to now recognize many butterflies, dragonflies and variety of insects and beetles, comfortably handling them and familiar with their food requirements.

In the garden there are always things to do from planting seeds, harvesting veggies , weeding, watering, picking of pests, making and applying organic fertilizer and compost.

Feeding the fish and turtle in the aquaponic pond and just having fun. When we are out and about visiting villages Swandana likes to drive our electric scooter (under close supervision ) and of course sound the horn .

We mainly speak Oriya at home as Nirmala doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Telugu or Tamil. Swandana speaks all … Including a little “Sign” …

She is teaching me Telugu and Nirmala a little English in her spare time…

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


یہ ایک سیب ہے

In Field Notes, How on 6 January 2013 at 12:51 pm

یہ ایک سیب ہے
(This is an apple)

from Kashif, Abbu to 3-month-old Salsabiel in Boston

Regarding playing with Salsabiel, she is 3 months old so it is mostly me trying to entertain her and also see if I can teach her something. Most of the time I make nonsense sounds to make her laugh and smile but also I try to have conversations with her as if she is understanding what I am saying. I talk to her about my books, recite her some Urdu poetry, sing her songs, and we also take her with us to places that we visit like meetings, protests, etc.

This is an apple!

Kashif likes to take everyday items and activities and go over them and explain them to Salsabiel in Urdu… here is a moment I captured of him showing her what a سیب (apple) is and how to eat it…
as you can see she is beside herself with the prospect of trying it one day 🙂
Photo and caption provided by Zainab Lakhani

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


Why is my toddler never still?

In Why on 17 October 2012 at 8:09 pm
Our son only wants to play outdoors.  From the moment he wakes up he has his morning outdoor time  — a walk, going to get milk, neighbour’s shops and houses etc.   After which we have to attend to various chores at home and outside. Whichever one of us is going out – there’s a massive scene and howling because he wants to be out (which we do sometimes but its not always possible to take him everywhere).  We try to involve him with some of the chores – like cleaning together or work in the kitchen but he gets distracted and starts throwing things around and wants to make a mess till the whole place looks like a war zone. The only thing he is happy doing indoors is bathing. So we have two long sessions in the bathroom (which can only be done in the summers).   Apart from that he just wants to be with mud, stones, puddles, running up and down the roads.  Even with other kids, he prefers outside play. 
So here are my questions:
  • Are any other mothers of toddlers who are experiencing this?
  • What do we do to make the home environment (and us) more suited to this highly energetic kid?
  • What do we do to calm him down/relax, get him to sit and play? Is it asking for too much?
– mother of an 18-month old in Palampur
     Reader, Amma begs your indulgence for including the entire question with little editing, because, being long past the toddler stage, I simply found the description delightful.  I do hope you are keeping a journal.

     My daughter also wanted to be outside every waking moment, from day one and I don’t think it eased up for several years.  She even bathed outside at times.  When we were inside we had to make it worth her sacrifice.

Can you put on music and dance?  Do you have stairs?  Can you invent a game that involves lots of going up and down? How about playing hide and seek?  If you run out of hiding places for people, first of all, remember that little ones are happy to hide in the same place any number of times, provided you struggle dramatically to find them.  (Or even in visible places – see Ollie all over.)  Another option in small spaces is to play hide and seek with objects rather than people.  Is there a porch where he can safely be outside while you are at home?  Can you get the mud, stones, puddles right there?   Chetana Amma describes her daughter’s exploits on the Terrace in Chennai.

     My modus operandi in the early years was always to try to “tire her out.”  Obviously this is easier to do outside.  Sometimes other parents and I used to meet outside while our kids ran around … what used to go through my mind was, she needs to play enough to get hungry enough to eat enough to fall asleep.   I saw others engage the help of a young woman or teenage student to take the kids outside sometimes – usually for payment but it could also be in exchange for help with homework.
     Even more fun then play was of course, work.  I first learned the entertainment potential of laundry when my 3-year-old nephew came to stay with us for a summer.  Every stage of soaking, swirling, brushing, beating, wringing, drying, removing and folding was a game in itself.  (What, you don’t swirl your clothes in the bucket?)  So the entertainment was ready when my daughter came along.  See her dry.
      Is there is some way that you can incorporate the clean-up component into the game that he plays when he throws the stuff around (instead of being work that has to be done after the game is over)?  If there is too much stuff and you are feeling burdened to keep up with the work of cleaning up, I would consider relocating some of it so that it is not accessible.  When you do this, don’t think of it as a sanction imposed for not cleaning up, but simply as a way to stay organized. You can cheerfully explain, for example, that the toys need to go home now and they will be back later, after some other toys go home.
     Evolutionarily it makes sense for kids to be accustomed to the freedom of going outside whenever they want.  Till recently adults have also been outside. Moreover, young children were not constrained by the need to have their parents accompany them at all times.  Other adults or older children would do.  In rural areas I have seen children as young as 5 out and about on their own.  If we find ourselves reining in our little ones on a shorter leash, the shortcoming lies in our society and not in their desire for a wider range of freedom.
    Rather than try to contain this in the home, we should work to create a society where kids can fulfill their need to be out and energetic .   At least we can acknowledge that their need is legitimate and try to overcome our limitations in fulfilling it.  Once we work from this approach, we can take small concrete steps that at least meet this need halfway.
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