Introducing alphabets the Montessori way with Skola Sandpaper letters

In Montessori education, alphabet letters are introduced by phonetic sounds rather than letter names. We can also teach by whole language or rato but in the long run, it may not be successful. I will be talking about sandpaper letters as an approach to introduce letters of the alphabets.

If you are new to phonics and would like to understand how, why and when to begin you must read this useful article by The Dreamer Mum HERE 

Why is teaching sounds of the letter (Phonetics) a better method to introduce alphabets?

When children know the sounds of the letter instead of the name of the letters they can read words more fluently and easily. Phonetics will also eventually help them to write independently. It’s basically a way to build the language foundation and thereon moving to pre-writing skills.

There are few tips to note while introducing phonics sound and preparing for pre-writing skills

  1. Firstly if you plan to begin phonics you will have to prepare and learn the phonics sounds yourself. Take few minutes a day to practice it. It is advisable to take coaching from a trained professional so you are well equipped to do for your child.
  2. Do I teach alphabets in an order? – Fun fact is you can introduce alphabets in any order. Ideally, its introduced in an order that allows the child to make many words with the letters he or she has learned. Most kids love to learn the first letter of their own name.
  3. Uppercase/lowercase – It is suggested to start with lowercase letters as eventually we also use lowercase for writing.
  4. Whats the best age to introduce phonics – what we call a Montessori sensitive period in a child just like a milestone is 2.5-4 years when they show a keenness to learn letters and their sound. Nonetheless, if you are observant you may know when your child is willing to learn/absorb this new knowledge.
  5. Cursive vs. Print? You can begin with either but most Montessori schools use cursive in all their teaching material. Here are some benefits of teaching cursive first
  • It’s to be noted that cursive is a more natural way of writing.
  • Words written in cursive are clearly separated from each other. Run-on words are not as common in cursive.
  • The child who can read cursive can also read the manuscript, but the reverse is not true.
  • Cursive is also a better exercise for strengthening fine motor skills. The connecting letters help the child to produce smooth, rather than choppy, strokes with the pencil.

But print is widely used and also much easier to identify them. There is no right or wrong choice, just a preference for your child and you.

You can begin with reading books at 0+ as a part of language development and pre-writing. Also, introduce shape puzzles is an excellent way to teach them shapes and dimensions.

Since my daughter is in a Montessori School, I try and follow their curriculum as much as possible. The Montessori principle suggests to work on alphabet sounds and slowly progress to introducing alphabet symbols. Kenisha it turning 2.5 and I can see her strong interest to learn alphabets and sounds. I was very excited to receive the Skola Sandpaper letters at this perfect time for our lessons in coming months.

What are Skola Sandpaper letters?

Simply put, they are like flash cards generally made from thick cardstock or thin wood with a letter embossed on them using sandpaper. The embossed letter allows the child to quite literally feel the letter as they run their fingers over the card. These help to gain a muscular memory of the shape of the letters as a prelude to writing.

How are these useful?

These are excellent as in early years a child’s sense of touch is very sharp and the enjoy feeling textures and objects. Tracing leads to building muscle memory of the shapes of the letters which is a much more effective way to learn when compared to rote, or by merely seeing or saying.

The quality of the Skola sandpaper letters in the cursive set is excellent. It is made up of thick cardboard that comes in a perfect wooden base. this base can later be used for tracing with salt or sand. We also received a small pack of wax crayons. The instruction sheet is very well written and can guide parents to start with their Skola journey. Priced at Rs.945 it will make a perfect investment as an educational toy.

sandpaper letters

We loved our Skola Toys and Highly Recommend them

Each toy on the Skola website has a detailed description to help parents understand its role in your child’s development. For example, they have shared the Montessori phonetics sound video for this Sandpaper Letters Toy HERE

In case you missed, do check out my last post about STEM learning and Pre STEM toys by Skola. They have an amazing range of toys for your child’s learning journey. High-quality wooden toys that make learning fun and early education a breeze for parents. that’s a Skola promise

Visit their website to check out their complete range – www.skola.toys

 

Made Easy School, Gurgaon – Perfect choice for Gurgaon Parents | Review

November can be a very busy month if you are a parent to a kid ready to go to a school. Though the new academic year is 6-7 months away, the admissions to the best schools are already in progress. Though Gurgaon is a mecca of new age schools, we have yet another emerging school to be noted.

Made Easy School has recently opened at Bandhwari, near sector 58 & 59 Gurugram.

made easy school

They organised a fantastic event called Giggle Wiggles that invited parents and kids to visit the school, take a tour around the campus and interact with the staff if need be. The event was well planned with several activities to keep the kids engaged and entertained for the day.

Since we reached early we could enjoy few of their activities like art and craft, train ride, magic show, storytelling, adventure zone with fun physical activities and play area. There were more activities planned for the day too like – Fireless cooking, puppet show and theatre workshop. But with a toddler, this was all we could manage.

I had the lovely opportunity to interact with the School Principal Mrs. Neetu Charan. She shared her vision, school’s educational approach, extra curriculum activities and some very interesting facts. I had a live video with her on Instagram and if you follow me you just may have seen it.

About Made Easy School

Run by the Made Easy Group, the new Made Easy School strongly believes in innovative education with a progressive K-12 school foundation. Their rounded approach to holistic learning is very impressive.

I was highly impressed with the 25 acres spread sprawling campus away from the city’s hustle bustle and pollution of the city. Naturally lit and super spacious. The air around the school was actually much cleaner and breathable. How perfect is it for children! Eventually, they will spend half of their day or even more at the school.

Infrastructure

Made Easy School emphasizes on interactive learning and the opportunity to make the educational process fun! The smart classrooms with smart boards are a commitment to integrate cutting-edge technology supported by skilled teachers.

The learning labs are dedicated to foster excellence and motivate students towards better performance. The classrooms rooms aesthetically designed, well furnished and integrated with smart boards. With a student-teacher ratio of 20:1, parents can stay assured of the individual attention towards each child.

Beyond Academics

The huge open amphitheatre, perfect for kids into performing arts, drama and other art forms.  It also enables aesthetic sensibility. Moreover, by learning about Performing Arts, they begin to respect and accept cultural differences.

Made Easy School also boasts about their biggest indoor playground in the National Capital Region and indoor sports complex for year-round sports activities.

What we really loved

Made Easy school is completely environment-friendly and has its own STP plan which recycles water for reuse. The plant can also harvest rainwater. Also present is a solar power plant for the entire campus. The school is developing its own organic farm to grow in-house fruits, vegetables and grains. Children will enjoy meals cooked with the ingrown produce.

The School is currently open for admission for 2018 and has exciting scholarships to offer as well. For more details visit their website.

For more exciting updates and contest you can stay connected with through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Organic and Natural Baby Skincare by Gaia Natural Baby – Review

Natural and organic skin care products for babies are the new buzz words and there has never been so much demand for such products. As an Indian mom, most of us are aware of the benefits of such products as we have followed traditional home care methods like besan ubtan, milk baths, turmeric, coconut oils etc. But the processes can be long and time-consuming. Hence opting for a ready to use

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I have worked hard to move to a healthy lifestyle and moving to organic is a priority now. I support organic, natural, cruelty-free and eco-friendly products. Like all expecting and new moms, I am very conscious about the ingredients in the products we consume internally or externally.

When it comes to skincare, I have to be very careful as sensitive skin runs in my family. Beleive me or not I don’t use many cosmetics either and stick to a simple natural cleansing method for my skin. So it was but natural to follow suit for baby K.

Why Natural and Organic Skincare?

Organic skincare constitutes of ingredients that work with the sophisticated natural systems of your skin. Our skin just requires the right nutrients to care for and mend itself. Just like our body absorbs nutrients from the food we intake, our skin absorbs nutrients from things we apply to it. These nutrients then travel through our body via our bloodstream.

So along with eating healthy, choose chemical free skin products to keep a nourished happy skin. Afterall our skin is the largest organ of our body!

My search for organic natural baby skincare product has led me to try Gaia Natural Baby products. I am highly impressed with their vision. And post usage I really fell in love with the brand. Afterall it was a mom behind the brand!

gaia natural baby

About GAIA Natural Baby 

Created in 2002 when Michelle couldn’t find products suitable to care for her baby’s skin after he developed eczema at just 8 weeks of age.

As parents of a child with sensitive skin, She understands the delicate nature of baby’s skin and the company created a beautiful range of products full of skin softening natural and organic oils that will be of benefit to any baby’s skin rather than causing dryness.

And because a baby’s skin is so sensitive and can be easily irritated, Gaia included calming organic extracts to soothe any irritation or dryness they may encounter.

NPAT Review

We tried all 3 products for the last one month and continue to do so.

1. GAIA Natural Baby Bath & Body Wash

We love this is soap and sulphates free gel that gently cleanses and moisturizes the skin without causing dryness and irritation. Just a little quantity on the palm along with some water can be rubbed directly on the skin. It’s suitable for kids 1+ and ideal for skin affected by eczema too. The organic sweet orange essential oil, which is a natural and gentle antibacterial cleanse and has a mild yet amazing fragrance

2. GAIA Natural Baby Shampoo

I have struggled to find a shampoo to work with baby K’s thin and dry hair. I tried it on myself and yes its tear free! Just a tiny amount is enough to lather the scalp. It leaves hair shiny and gently moisturizes the scalp. It’s very mild yet super effective in cleaning the hair and scalp, making it perfect for daily use. Tops with being organic and the mild sweet orange smell is fabulous

3. GAIA Natural Baby Moisturizer

With nourishing natural and organic oils like organic chamomile & organic avocado its perfect for K’s sensitive skin. It also contains Shea butter well known as a skin super food which is naturally rich in Vitamin E, A &F. The lotion is very very dense but easy to spread on your baby’s skin without leaving any greasy residue. I love that it is free from harsh and harmful chemicals, mineral oil, sorbolene and paraffin and hence is easily absorbed and 100% safe to use on your baby’s

What we absolutely loved about the products

  1. Organic ingredients which deliver their promise of soft supple skin
  2. A small quantity goes a long way!
  3. Economically priced at Rs.850 for a 250 ml bottles. these will last well.
  4. Easy availability both online and offline
  5. Not only are these products safe but they smell divine due to organic natural fragrance

Packaging

These came in sturdy thick plastic bottles. The bottles are transparent and I can see how much of the product is left. Though the packaging is great I felt the lids were a bit weak and could come off if not handled gently. Hence I avoid giving it to my little naughty girl. Else we are absolutely in love with the product

Where to Buy?

All the three products are priced at Rs 850 for a 250 ml bottle and are easily available at GAIA Skin Naturals website. They are also available at all leading online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Hopscotch, BabyChakra andPaytm. People living in Mumbai can find these products at many famous retail outlets like Kamdhenu ( Nepean Sea Road), Kidzone (Powai), Pink Bunny (Malad W), Green Bell (Juhu) etc.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but the views and opinions expressed here are my own. I have personally used these products on my kids for over a period of a month. The review holds my honest opinions and personal experience of using the same.

 

STEM learning and Pre-STEM Toys by Skola

Being a parent means to stay ahead on all aspects. Especially on your child’s development and education. As an early learning enthusiast, I keep reading and researching new topics and this time I came across STEM learning. Though STEM learning is for kids aged 7 plus I was intrigued to know more and how it can be incorporated at an early stage to help preschoolers build a strong foundation.

What is STEM Learning?

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, refers to an educational approach which integrates more than one of these disciplines.

Individually these may look like lofty subjects for tiny preschoolers. However, in reality, children are already exposed and engaging to STEM activities indoors and outdoors. With further guidance from us, they can actually learn and develop critical thinking skills.

Why is STEM important?

Science is all around us. Technology is fast growing and slowing taking over our day to day aspects of our lives. Engineering is the very basic design we see on the roads or bridges or when we talk about environmental changes. Mathematics is a part every occupation and every activity we do on daily basis.

Exposing children at a young age to STEM learning and allowing them to explore the concept of STEM may spark the passion for these subjects. Further, it may lead them to pursue a career in the STEM field.

Undoubtedly STEM learning can be very beneficial in a child’s overall academic growth. By developing early critical thinking and reasoning skills, it also enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.

STEM Activities for Pre Schoolers

So how do we encourage the little ones to explore STEM learning concepts? Here are some simple ideas to get you a hang of things. As you explore, you will understand how easy it is, in reality, to incorporate STEM learning in everything our children do and learn.

  1. Building blocks can help children make towers and bridges – incorporating maths and engineering.
  2. Cooking together – this is the most basic skill that can teach the concept of science, technology, and even maths!
  3. Explore the grocery – go shopping and pick some fruits and vegetables. Ask your toddler to predict what will be inside. With supervision allow him/her to cut into pieces and discuss the color, texture and have a tasting session. This would be perfect for maths and science.
  4. Water Play – The opportunity to play and learn are endless! Teaching floating objects, transferring with a ladle, mixing colors to teach tertiary colors. There are so many ways to play.

You will be amazed at the possibilities of STEM learning. Children are little explorers and love to experiment, combine new substances, build, knock down, collect, sort and of course have a lot of fun while playing. Until I read about STEM learning I didn’t realize we were already engaging in so many STEM activities already without knowing about them.

Pre-STEM Toys by Skola

Once you have tried a few home-based DIY activities your child will soon be ready to play with pre -STEM Toys.

I had introduced you to Skola toys in my last blog

Skola Toys believe that play leads to exploration, exploration leads to discovery and discovery leads to learning. Their learning journeys through play have some of the best Pre STEM learning toys for incorporating early childhood education.

It’s a welcome sight to see some of our Indian homegrown brands like Skola to help in Pre-STEM learning which is primarily preparing a child for STEM learning which is a multi-sensory experience. Their toys are well thought through and each toy helps to improve their overall development skills right from fine motor skills which certainly helps in engineering, but more importantly using fingers helps children think clearly and enhances concentration and cognitive ability which is directly a STEM requirement.

Here are few of their toys that I really liked

STEM Learning

Cascade Cars

This is a wonderful toy to help a child to understand cause and effect. This is where a child is exposed to science. It helps a child to register process and comprehend.

Following the movement of the car improves visual tracking among children, which is essential for improving their reading skills and abilities while playing any physical sport. This toy also leads to awareness of motion and movement as children watch and analyze the movements of the cars as they roll down the slopes. As they push the cars further or hold them back, they understand the impact of their actions on the speed, motion and time factors of the cars. As children place, move and stop the cars, they also enhance their fine motor skills.

stem learning

Colour wheels

This toy encourages children to use fingers to rotate wheels and then find the matching colours which involve an examination, observation analysis, and discovery.

As children begin to sort different shades of colours, it magnifies their understanding of colour at a very young age. It enhances their visual discrimination skills and makes them aware of the comparison between colours. Naming the shades and tints of various colours and arranging them in a specific order makes them notice even minute differences in colour shades. One of the most exciting challenges this toy poses is when the children have to match shades by memory. And this exercises their mind in a way that significantly enhances their cognitive ability. The simple act of using their hands to rotate the wheels and locking them in place enhances their eye-hand coordination.

I love how each and every toy at the Skola website has a clear description, helping parents understand the various skill it helps the child to develop. This process is true for all Skola Toys and hence creates thinkers.

 

This Diwali lets spark the joy of learning!

What Christmas to US, Diwali is for India.

This is the most favorite time of the year for many of us. Diwali brings in a flood of emotions and childhood memories for me. Each year my brother and I would look forward to Diwali and the loot of gifts we would receive from our parents and grandparents. It was exhilarating for us and keeping up with the anticipation was the toughest part!

The tradition of gifts continues. Children always have a long list of things they want and parents are more than eager to fulfill their child’s dream. More than often our wish list for our children is all about the fanciest outfit, expensive outings, lots of sugar-loaded candies and chocolates or some branded fancy toys that ‘we’ have been saving for the longest.

It’s almost a parents mission to get our child the very best!

Even when it comes to gifting, adults often look at things of social value more than practical/educational value. In today’s modern time many of us buy gifts for friends and their children to keep up a social status. Often bothered by social pressure – “does this show a value that I did spend a huge amount on it?” But do these gifts really bring joy and an emotion?

I for one, always look for practical gifts for everyone. A gift that becomes a part of the receiver’s life and something they would remember me and be thankful for. Plus the fact that I didn’t waste my money on a useless gift is the best satisfaction!

Especially for children, the best gift we can give them is a way to learn and grow. Toys are of course every child’s friend. If given an opportunity children can learn and grow through play. Early learning toys can lay the foundation of the discovery that fun and education can go hand in hand.

If you understand the importance of toys, you will realize how toys impact a child’s physical and mental skills, cognitive behavior and stimulate creativity. A correct choice of a toy can not only provide entertainment but also fulfill an educational role. Educational toys can support the fine and gross motor skills, cognitive development, improve problem-solving skills and aids in attention span which forms the very basis of early education.

educational toy

How to select the best educational toy?

The biggest dilemma is what to look for in a toy? How do you know if a toy is going to support early childhood learning and education? Listed here are some basic attributes that a good early learning educational toy will possess

  • The toy must be flexible or versatile and the child should be able to use it in various ways to support his/her creativity
  • The best toys always aid learning – in one way or the other
  • The toys/materials must be appealing and interesting enough for a child and offer several opportunities for success.
  • Look for toys that are durable. It should be well constructed, shatterproof and if required strong enough to hold the child’s weight
  • A good toy will have rounded corners, smooth surface with no exposed nails or projectiles and absolutely never requiring a battery.
  • Most importantly the varnish /paints and finishing must be non-toxic and must meet all safety standards
  • Of course, it should withstand repeated cleaning and washing.

Where to buy the perfect educational toy this Diwali?

Let me introduce you to Skola. Inspired by the Montessori principles of learning they have researched and developed some very apt and wonderful toys for the age 1-8. This was one of the main reasons I was attracted by their toys. You can also look for the toys based on a learning journey say whether you want to help your child with language, improve gross motor skills or even cognition.

Do visit their website to enjoy a plethora of educational toy which makes a perfect gift for children this Diwali! More about Skola and their toys coming up in my next post.

For more exciting updates and contest you can stay connected with me through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Image source – www.pixaby.com