Monday, 28 October 2013

Can puzzles teach a child to 'THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX'?

The other day, my daughter was doing a number puzzle as shown on the image above. She completed everything well and that was commendable. But what caught my attention was the (7-2=5) problem which I've outlined in red. The instructions given were to solve these problems either 'across' or 'downwards'. So, in my view the (7-2=5) outlined in green should have come easier than the one outlined in red, right? Well, she surprised me big time because she found the one outlined in red before the green one. That was an 'aha' moment for me! Something is definitely happening in her 'reasoning and problem solving world' and it's not limited to the conventional methods! Now imagine, what a mind (conditioned and developed from a tender age to be innovative), can contribute to society and technological advancement?? 

What changes have you noticed in your own child, from engaging in puzzles and other problem solving activities? Please share!!

Thursday, 24 October 2013


If you have a child in nursery school or early primary, you have probably had their teacher advise that you encourage them to do more puzzles at home?! This activity comes easier and is more enjoyable for some kids than others, but it's necessary to get every child proficient in this activity( whether they like it or not) because puzzles are so important for developing many skills! 

I started doing puzzles with my daughter when she was three. She is six now, and she can comfortably build a 100-120peice puzzle.  Puzzles were never her favourite thing (and still aren't) but the skills she has developed through this exercise are benefiting her immensely in this foundational stage of building her numeracy and literacy skills. 

The following are some of the benefits brought about by puzzle making:

1) Concentration
2) Problem solving
3) Reasoning
4) Pre-reading skills
5)Matching and colour recognition
6) Fine motor control 
7)  Hand/eye coordination
8) Background/Foreground discrimination

All these skills are so vital for a child to grasp in their early stages in order for them to competently engage and excel at the higher levels of intellectual development. If you want your child to be confident and competent in school and beyond, invest well in these foundational disciplines! 

What other benefits of puzzle making can you share with us? What puzzle making benefits have you noticed in your own kids? Does your child enjoy puzzles? What challenges have you faced in this area of puzzle making? 


One thing engrained in my sisters and I(from an early age) was the discipline of taking proper care of our books. We were made to believe that books ARE valuable and should therefore be handled likewise. It's sounds like a very simple principle to pass on to a child but the results are far reaching and actually translate onto other areas of one's life. Today, I still value books, handle them well and have naturally passed that down to my own kids, who (I KNOW), will effortlessly pass it down to their own kids! 

Here are a couple of things I was taught and have passed on to my children on the matter of being 'A Good Steward of Books'...

1) Have a designated area where you keep all your books (it's easier for children to develop the habit of packing away when they know WHERE to pack away)
2) Discourage eating and drinking whilst reading a book as this easily soils books
3) Instill the discipline of keeping reading books as READING books. Not to be scribbled, written or drawn on!
4) Encourage the use of a bookmarker. The habit of leaving a book opened(faced upside down) or folding the corner of a page(dog ears) will ensure that the book dilapidates very quickly!
5) If a book tears, be quick to mend it and teach your child to do the same. 

These are a few tips and I'm sure there are plenty more! Please do share with us your own helpful nuggets on this one! 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


There is a 'special-somethingness' to story time that I've never been able to shake off (from my early childhood years right up until now-in my early thirties). The memories of my sisters and I huddled together on our parents' bed...completely enraptured in the gentle drone of mom's voice as we journeyed through various kingdoms, set in different eras, meeting all sorts of amazing characters...are still as vivid today as the whole story time experience was -a good 25t years ago!

I'm 33years old now and story time is still one of my favourite things! Nevermind my children...'I' LOOOVE  STORYTIME! This love for story time (nurtured from a tender age) undoubtedly oozed into a love for books and quite effortlessly and delightfully, 'the love' is now oozing onto my own kids! So, I really couldn't wait to share the next couple of nuggets that have helped to make story time an unforgettable experience for me and my children. I hope you'll find them helpful...

1) Choose a time when household activity is minimal. This is why bedtime is a great time to have STORYTIME as everybody is now in a 'winding down' mode. I have also found Saturday mornings to be really good for us too. Everybody usually lies in, no pressure to get going with day, everybody is relaxed...a perfect time to wrap into STORY TIME with the kids!

2) Choose a convenient place where there's minimal distraction. The bedroom(either your kids or yours) is usually a good choice as there is no distraction from TV, radio and other activities going on in the house. The kids bedroom is best for story time at night as you can conveniently tuck them into bed after. And for us, the Saturday morning story times usually happen on mom n dad's bed. The bedroom vibe is very relaxing and such an atmosphere is important for an enjoyable story time experience 

3) Have some physical contact going on during STORYTIME. You could have your child nestled in the crooks of your arms, or if they are many, huddled up closely around you, sitting on your laps...any form of some physical contact is a winner! It just makes the reading experience so much more intimate and special

4) Position the book in such a way as to ensure that your child has full view of how the story is progressing and can maybe even turn the pages themselves

5) Figure out the appropriate time span for your child. The younger they are, the shorter story time should be. If the book cannot be finished in one session, read it in stages.  You want story time to be short enough to still have your kids 'enraptured' at the end but long enough to have  a 'satisfying' feel, rather than a 'short lived' feel.

5) Always read the title of the book or story before you start-it builds anticipation! Read through the story at a pace that everyone can grasp. Read with expression and creativity, giving different voices to different characters in the book. Allow room for questions and comments as you go along. You could even pause for a demonstration or two, just to 'fun' it all up. If there are sentences that have an obvious finish line, start the sentence and let your child finish (i.e. and they lived...HAPPILY EVER AFTER!). At the end of the story, ask a couple of age appropriate questions. Nothing hectic-just more of a recap of the story. You could also ask them to sum up the story for you. My six year old daughter loves being given 'a turn' during and after story time thus our story times tend to be quite interactive. Make your kids participants of story time and not just spectators(leave spectating to the classroom environment!)

6) If expression doesn't come easily for you, then put some preparation into story time. Find a window during the day to browse through the book, cultivating ideas of how you can make the experience interactive and enjoyable. It will pay off...I PROMISE!

Story time is really more than just a time of 'growing an appetite for books' in your kids. It's also a great time to bond and have quality time with the kids. The warm fuzzy feel my children and I share during story time is quite like none other activity we do together. It's just a 'notch' more special!

So, to all the other lovers of story time, do share your own story time experience with your kids! If you had a great childhood experience in this area, we'd love to hear your account! If you have had to learn the art of story telling, without having previously experienced it in your childhood, we'd really appreciate hearing how you went about it! When is a good time and where is a good place, for story time in your household?