Easter Month Family Fun

Fluffy Easter bunnies, colorful chocolate Easter eggs, hot cross buns, overflowing candy baskets – my kids relate all these with Easter. They know for a fact that it is a Christian religious holiday but are naturally oblivious to the concept of Resurrection Sunday and the history associated with it. Also, at our place, the Easter festival doesn’t just mean a single Easter Sunday; it’s about an entire week or more of fun and festivities, goodies and cheer at home. Here’s what all we did together as a family this Easter month.

We attended church together.

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Communion Candles” by Antranias is licensed under CC by 2.0

Frankly speaking, ours is a family that doesn’t attend church on a regular basis. Every now and then we do try to make a visit, otherwise we believe that God resides in each one of us and hence just remember the Almighty in our bedtime prayers, thanking Him for all that He has bestowed upon us. This Easter, my husband and I decided that we would enroll our children for the Sunday school classes going on in the neighborhood church in the weeks preceding Easter. The kids enjoyed the one hour they spent at church every Sunday and would come back with all sorts of stories that talked about the significance of Easter. Also, all four of us attended the service at sunrise on Easter Sunday. The candles, the readings, the Easter hymns – all this made for a peaceful, pleasant start to the day.

We played Easter games together.

A couple of kids from the neighborhood came over to our place in the evening and we set up some fun games for them. One was that each child had to draw a colorful Easter bunny and then everyone voted for whichever bunny they thought was the best. Then of course there was the egg and spoon racing game in our backyard. We had a gala time. Once the kids left for their respective homes, my two little ones caught their breath by reclining on their bean bags and playing virtual games on the tablet which involved collecting gaming Easter eggs and the like, all the while nibbling on some homemade chocolate eggs I had made for the occasion.

We watched family movies together.

Winnie the Pooh – Springtime with Roo and the live action animation flick Hop were the two movies we watched back to back. While the former talked about springtime, spring cleaning and Easter bunnies, the latter was all about candy-coated worlds, drumming and Hollywood. And of course, it was accompanied with caramel popcorn and celebration brownies fresh from the oven.

The coloring of eggs, the warm sunshine,

The treasure hunts, the parties & the fun to dine,

The Bunny, the cakes and the fragrant air,

Tells us, ho! Easter is here.

Till next year, adios to this festival of springtime and cheer.

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Cake pops, Heart relay & Fun

Cake pops

We’re having a party at our place over the coming weekend. Nope, neither of my kids have their birthdays, nor is it me or my husband’s birthday or wedding anniversary. Our home is known in the immediate neighborhood to throw small yet fun parties for the kids every now and then, be it any occasion. And with Valentine’s Day falling this weekend, most of the kids will be making a beeline towards our place.

I chanced upon this very interesting conversational relay game the other day which I think the kids will enjoy. It works well in a group (and ours is bound to be around 15 odd kids so a pretty big group at that). All you’ve got to do is divide the entire group into, say, three teams. One child at a time, from each of the three teams, will carry cardboard conversation hearts (with messages written on them) from one bucket on one side of the room to another bucket at the other end of the room – the catch here is they need to be sucking up the hearts with a straw – no touching allowed. If a heart unfortunately falls along the way, bad luck; you have to start all over again. The team that finishes this task of transferring all their ‘hearts’ first wins.

There’ll be mini chocolate doughnuts and strawberry milkshake, cake pops and marshmallows too. Wish to drop in? Happy Valentine’s Day! :)

Mathematician of the Month – Somerville

Mary Somerville, a Scottish science writer and polymath, was nominated to jointly be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel (the great German British astronomer). And coming at a time when women’s participation in science and math was discouraged, this accomplishment was highly praiseworthy on her part.

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The young girl whose favorite pastime once used to be looking after the family chickens and hunting for starfish and crabs on the beach once unexpectedly encountered an algebraic puzzle with X’s and Y’s in a magazine. Our budding mathematician was very intrigued and eager to learn more on the subject. But unfortunately, her parents were of the belief that a woman’s constitution could not handle much intellectual effort without causing damage to her physical and mental health and so discontinued her studies.

But our enterprising lady would not accept defeat. She began by sneaking in on her brother’s math tutorials to learn more about algebra. She also creeped into her father’s study every now and then and read his books on navigation. She taught herself the Latin language so that she could learn more about Euclid and his geometry. Her parents eventually came to know that she was spending her evenings studying and so they confiscated her candles. But Mary found another way around this roadblock – she started memorizing mathematical problems and then solved them in her head in the dark!

An outstanding mathematician, astronomer, geographer as well as scientist of the Victorian period, Mary Somerville has not only the Somerville College in Oxford University named after her, but also an Arctic island by her last name. On her demise, she was rightfully dubbed ‘The Queen of Nineteenth Century Science’ by a newspaper.

5 Back-to-School Classroom Activities for Kids

It’s the festive time of the year again! Back in those days when I used to teach, I remember that kids coming back from the Christmas and New Year vacations would mean that they were in no mood to get back to their books. As a result, homework also suffered during the first week of the New Year or so. And hence, I always used to try my best to come up with a few fun activities to carry out in the classroom with the kids to get them back on track.

Preparing lesson plans and looking for fun ideas for classroom activities is a never-ending process for most teachers. Group activities can build rapport, encourage the class to connect with each other, and produce better quality work if planned well. So what can a teacher do to help her students get to know one another better and foster a healthy community environment? Here are a few fun classroom activity ideas to help your class have fun and become more active.

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New Classroom” by Bart Everson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Classroom activity #1 – The Line of Silence

Ask the students to get into a line based on any criterion such as height, shirt color, shoe color, etc. The challenge is not to talk to each other while they get themselves arranged in a line. Play a couple of rounds of this classroom activity with a different criterion in each round.

Classroom activity #2 – The Color Coded Chits

Fold small chits of paper and write a color from the following on each of them – red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, and green. Next, write the names of the colors on a whiteboard followed by these actions next to them. Below is an example.

Red – Who’s your favorite singer/actor?

Orange – Tell us something you learned last month.

Yellow – What do you think you are really good at, like a pro?

Blue – What is the one thing that you fondly remember from yesterday?

Brown – Tell us a special memory from your childhood.

Green – What is that one thing (not a person) that you can’t live without?

Have the students choose a chit and answer the question corresponding to the color that’s written on the chit.

Classroom activity #3 – The Bookmark Game

This is a great icebreaker activity perfect for the start of a new academic year. You will need to prepare well in advance for this classroom activity before the session begins. Make simple yet colorful bookmarks for the whole class and write the name of a student on each bookmark. Along with the names, write a question that will help you to get to know them better, examples being “name your favorite hangout”, “name your best friend”, “name a food you love to eat”, “what do you love to do when you’re not playing”, etc. Place the bookmarks question side down on a tray and pass the tray along the class for each student to choose a bookmark. Have the students read out the name on his/her bookmark and address the question along with it to the name he/she just got.

Classroom activity #4 – The Friendship Band Activity

Have each student braid a friendship band and tuck in a small piece of paper with his/her name in one of the layers of the band. Distribute the friendship bands among the whole class. If A got the band made by C and D got the band made by A, A will tie the band around C’s wrist and D will tie the band around A’s wrist.

Classroom activity #5 – Truth vs Lie

Each student says aloud three statements about herself/himself to the entire class. Of the 3 statements, 2 are true and 1 is a lie. Any one student from the class will raise his/her hand and volunteer to guess which of the three statements the lie is. This game is a great way for the kids to find out how well they know their friends!

Classroom activities can be a great way to build camaraderie and promote friendship in the class. Feel free to tweak and modify the classroom activities I’ve listed to suit the grade you teach.

DIY Reading Games for the Classroom as well as Home

Kids are never tired! They are always looking for new opportunities, new tricks, and new mischief! Why don’t you channelize the bundles of energy with these reading games that are fun, exciting, and challenging too?

Phonics Flip Book

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When children start learning their letters, the sounds that they make, and they themselves start blending the sounds, it’s time you made a phonics flip book for them. Follow the easy steps below to come up with this nifty tool.

Supplies:

  • Spiral bound index card book
  • A pair of scissors/paper knife
  • Tape
  • Marker/s

It’s ideal to divide the flip chart into three sections for three letter words but you can go ahead by splitting it into four sections to help early readers with their consonant blends.

Cut out the number of sections you want with a sharp paper knife and label each index card with a letter from a-z. You can also add a section for vowels in the center or for common consonant blends like fr, sc, sl, etc. if you’re making the flip book for a little older children.

The objective of a phonics flip chart is not to spell out words impeccably but be able to sound them out perfectly. So if you r child makes a word from the flip book such as ‘SL-I-N’, don’t discourage them, instead appreciate their effort to sound out the imperfect word! Consider blinking the lights when your child sounds out a real word!

Tape the perforations to ensure the flip book lives for long!

Leftover Plastic Easter Egg Cups

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What do you do with leftover Easter egg plastic cups? Here is a novel way of putting them into good use.

Supplies:

  • Plastic Easter eggs (one for each word family)
  • Permanent marker
  • Baking pan
  • Sand

Before you begin prepping for the game, have the kids count the number of Easter egg cups you’ve got in hand; it’s never boring to sneak in a little counting lesson, you see!

Write a word family on the pointy side of the egg cup like, am, in, ed, at, etc. On the other side, write letters, spaced out from one another, that will make both a perfect and an imperfect word when connected with the word family.

Now comes the fun part! Spread a thin layer of sand on the baking pan; the layer should be thin enough to allow finger-writing on it.

Hand over an egg cup to the child and have her make a word from it. If she makes a perfect word, she gets to write that word on the pan of sand! Isn’t that exciting!

Ask Away!

A Homeschool Mom

“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: “So did you learn anything today?” But not my mother, “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist.”

Isidor Rabi

Ask_AwayI’m a firm believer in never letting go of our love of learning. Even as adults, we ought to continue increasing in wisdom. But while some might think learning is merely a matter of intaking knowledge, learning is also the asking of great questions.

One of the many reasons I love our pastors at church is their openness. They are willing to admit they don’t know everything and are constantly encouraging us to test everything we hear against Scripture. Why is this important? We aren’t to simply intake information, accepting it for truth; we…

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Mathematician of the Month – Pascal

pascal

Blaise Pascal was an extremely gifted Frenchman who spent a majority of his life devoted to God and the Christian faith. However, he was a genius mathematician who as a young boy and was saved from becoming just another obscure mathematician due to his remarkable contributions and discoveries.

When he was a kid, he was amazing at geometry and not having known about some mathematical discoveries, he rediscovered many of Euclid’s findings. At the age of 18, he invented an adding machine that seemed way ahead of its time. His invention was so well received that there is a computer language that is named after him.

Pascal and another top mathematician called Fermat invented probability in a bid to help a friend who had a gambling problem and was losing a lot of money. It turned out to be one of the most widely used branches of mathematics and perhaps the most important.

While working on the theory of probability, he did what he was slowly starting to get recognized for = rediscovering. He rediscovered an ancient Chinese triangle that is now popularly known as Pascal’s Triangle. I could go on about this triangle but it would give me you a headache so I won’t go there.

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At 23, Pascal unfortunately developed a condition called dyspepsia which along with his insomnia made his life extremely difficult. Descartes suggested he should stay in bed and live on a diet of beef tea. This didn’t help him. Shortly after, he had a freak accident where he dangled from a bridge and his horses drowned. He convinced himself that it was a sign from God, telling him to give up Math. Vowing to live a more spiritually oriented life, he lived with Math. 16 years later, he died from stomach cancer.

Apart from his mathematical contributions, he is known as the inventor of the one-wheel wheelbarrow, of hydraulics and of public transport. It is safe to say he lived a very full life – the effects of his great work are felt even to this day.