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May 11, 2011

Posted by in Multimedia Center, Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 1 Comment

Over-gadgeted Kids

A few days ago, I was in one of those gadget stores in a mall and I saw a kid, about three or four years old if I’m not mistaken, pull her mom to the displays and say, ” Mama, buy ipod touch“. A few minutes later, she walked out of the store with her very own “toy”.

Hmmm…some parents would frown upon such a behavior, but for me (okay, I may not be a mom, but… :)) I think it CAN be a good thing. Granted it isn’t ALWAYS a good thing, I think it has limitless potentials. When my fellow teacher friends and I were discussing it, we talked about how different it is not to educate young kids. We now have so many modern ways of teaching the basic academic competencies, many of which were unavailable when we were starting out.

As I have said many times over in this blog alone, modern technology continues to evolve and new gadgets will continue to be invented. We can’t fight that, and so the best thing we can do is not just over-gadget our kids, but to make sure we find the potential of each of these gadgets to do good for our kids. Maybe I think that way because in a way, my mom indulged me with gadgets as well, but to be honest, it was through those gadgets that I learned many, many things.

Some guidelines, I think, that can be helpful are the following:

  • set a “gadget schedule”  which allows you to monitor the amount of time spent on such activities
  • enroll your kids in more “active” activities, such as sports and the like so they have alternative activities too.
  • utilize the gadgets as educational tools by downloading educational apps and ebooks
  • monitor, monitor, monitor their activities on the gadgets :)

Have fun :)

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Feb 19, 2011

Posted by in Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

No More Playtime Boo-Boos with Rubbabu Toys

One of the best learning materials EVER is a good toy. I am a firm believer of that. In fact, whether it is in the preschool classroom or my undergraduate lectures, toys are bound to make a cameo. Today, I got to discover a new brand of toys that will be hitting the Philippine markets in just a few weeks, Rubbabu toys.

So what makes Rubbabu different from other toys in the market? First off it perhaps one of the first toy collections that is not only cute and adorable, but is actually eco-friendly and child-safe. From infants to big kids, this is sure to be a delight. It is made from 100% natural rubber foam with a velvet smooth surface and it comes in such brilliant and captivating colors. The toys are very light and chunky, which is great for little hands to play with (big hands too, actually haha!). The toys are bouncy and soft and just oh-so-lovable, and I promise, I’m not just saying that.

Okay, I can just imagine some eyebrows being raised right about now (correct? hehe). Seriously though, when I first heard about the product (I googled it after all when I first received an invitation to the product launch), I was a little dubious about yet another new toy. However, after getting to play with these cutie patootey and very versatile toys, I was smitten. I loved the texture of the materials and how the smooth velvety finish made me just smile in delight.

Rubbabu comes in a wide array of shapes and styles, perfect for learning at any time of the day. From basic shapes, balls, toy cars, to educational materials such as shape sorters, alphabets and numbers, blocks and the like, kids will delight in this highly entertaining toy all day long. I sure did! :)

What else makes it different from a typical toy? Well, in my opinion, Rubbabu does remove the boo-boo (boo-boo meaning any form of injury, ouchie, or pain) in playtime. Here, lemme list the reasons how:

No more boo-boo for baby (or mommy, yaya and teacher for that matter!)

  • soft, squishy, no corners, no danger of getting injured! except perhaps for those with movable wheels, which is why it is recommended for ages two and up.
  • it is completely non-toxic and even the velvet finish doesn’t rub off or get “himulmul” so it cannot be swallowed or eaten, even if the child bites, tugs and attempts to eat (haha, exag!) the toy
  • because of it’s bouncy rubbery nature,  even if a Rubbabu toy is thrown at you, it wouldn’t hurt :)
  • also, because it is made from natural rubber, it is anti-microbial, dust mite resistant, mildew resistant, hypoallergenic and flame retardant.

No more boo-boo in learning!

  • Rubbabu makes learning fun! No pressure, no difficulty and  highly attractive and captivating
  • The tactile material allows for perfect mastery of hand-eye coordination, dexterity and motor skills
  • Games like tic-tac-toe, blocks, and other play sets make learning fun

No more (or at least not much!) boo-boos for daddy’s wallet!


  • Rubbabu toys, for it’s inherent high quality production and materials, are actually quite affordable. Prices would range from an estimated 300-1000+.
  • The long-lasting quality of the toys can withstand years of use and abuse from children who will definitely love these adorable playthings.

No more boo-boos for Mother Earth


  • Rubbabu is made from 100% natural rubber foam, with no fillers, and not synthetic rubber
  • More so, it is made WITHOUT HAVING TO CUT DOWN TREES!
  • It is 95% bio-degradable

No more boo-boos for the heart


  • for kids at heart like me, playing with a Rubbabu ball is pure stress relief!
  • its soft, velvety texture can help calm and pacify feelings of anxiety and stress
  • they’re so cute you can’t help but gush and smile
  • it is a great reminder to adults that play is indeed an important part of life and is quite therapeutic

Rubbabu has won countless accolades over the years. It has been recognized as one of  Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Toys for 2010,  and was also given the Parent’s Choice Award for 2010 as well as the Creative Child Seal Excellence Award. Rubbabu is exclusively distributed bu San Giovani Phils. Incd. Corp and is set to hit the stores this March :)

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Jan 19, 2011

Posted by in Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Dust Mites, Allergies and Toys

A few days ago I had this discussion with a friend about toys we used to play with as kids. I realized that even if I did have toys as a child, these were mostly Barbies and video games. Haha. What a weird combination I know. My point is I never really got into the whole stuffed animal thing, mainly because my little sister was always allergic to anything and everything!!! Hehe.

Because of that, I try to make sure to be careful about the toys I let my kids play with in school. Not only that, I try very hard to keep it clean, sanitary and hygienic. Here are some things I do to make sure I can keep the kids as safe as possible:

  • Plush/stuffed animals or toys are only allowed in school during show and tell days
  • Toys are stored in covered containers so as to avoid any creepy crawlies leaving germs behind
  • Weekly clean-ups and disinfecting sessions for the toys
  • After play, I make sure the kids wash their hands thoroughly

Any other suggestions?

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Jan 16, 2011

Posted by in Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

More Fun School Stuff From the Hardware!

Last August I wrote a post about toys and stuff from the hardware. In that post I listed several guidelines in choosing hardware materials that can be used as toys in the classroom. Just before the Christmas break ended, I found myself in the hardware again (this time for personal stuff in my room haha) then I found a whole bunch of new things to use for class. I particularly like going to the hardware stores in the mall, such as Ace Hardware or Handyman because they have a bigger array of things to choose from that are not as “raw” hardware materials as the ones in a real hardware.

Anyway, I went crazy buying those twist ties and plastic hooks. It used them to organize my wires behind the computer and all. For the classroom, its perfect for art activities! For example, we can use it to put together yarn for the hair of people figurines such as the one in this nativity scene (although this one has no hair since they have the veil):

Other things I liked in the hardware this time around:

  • tubes like those for rubber hoses
  • plastic containers of all different shapes and sizes
  • S hooks
  • clothes drying rack to display art work
  • those small cutie door knobs

Oh I sooooo love the hardware. Go try it, it’s a great place to find stuff that are more affordable than real toys…but just as fun!!!

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Jan 15, 2011

Posted by in Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Toy Feature: Pattern Blocks

One of my favorite preschool toys, next to playdough, are pattern blocks. I love how it gives the kids an endless realm of possibilities, as well as teaches them basic skills such as colors, shapes and one-to-one correspondence. I use this for all my classes, from toddlers to seniors, with just quick variations to cater to their blossoming cognitive skills and creativity.

My favorite way of using the blocks, of course, is just the free-flow do what you want kinda thing but every once in a while, I introduce “formal” learning through this. One example is having the kids work with a card with colored patterns drawn on it and letting them match it, just like this:

For older kids, I don’t color the cards or put lines any more :)

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Nov 25, 2010

Posted by in Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Toy Feature: Lincoln Logs

In our school, one of my favorite toys, yet most ignored by the kids, are Lincoln Logs. I love, love, love this toy set I tell ya! Sadly, our set is so old and unattractive to the kids (oh, and did I mention that it’s incomplete?!?), it hardly gets played with.

photo credit: http://kiddleylinks.com/2006/11/17/lincoln-logs/

I love this toy because it really taps into a child’s creativity. I also like the whole “rustic” feel of the toy, given that it is made of wood and most Lincoln Logs sets really come in just natural wood colors so it really allows the kids to just imagine. I like to how I can use these types of sets to see how my kids’ develop their logical reasoning skills as they try to construct their cabins and houses.

Another reason I really like this, on a more personal level, is the fact that I really like log cabins (or nipa huts for that matter!) filled with all sorts of heavy, wooden cabin furniture (much like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears teeeheeeheee)because it reminds me of summertime and camp and games I played as a child.

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Nov 23, 2010

Posted by in Multimedia Center, Toys and Playthings | 2 Comments

Dear Santa, Love Teacher Ria

Yesterday I had my kids write their letters to Santa. I do this every year and much as I’ve never really been a big fan of Christmas, this is something that always makes me smile. Since my kids are now in the Seniors class, I try to encourage them to work on writing by themselves, which includes spelling. Yes, they often misspell words because they still approach the task in a very phonetic manner and they have not mastered phonetic rules much, but I am one who places a lot of value on this part of the process: the invented spelling part.

Before I let them put their letters in envelopes, I discussed with them the different parts of a letter and what should go on the envelope. Because it was to be sent to Santa, I asked them where they would send the letters. And this is what they said:

Dear Santa....send to North Pole, Far far away

Cuuuutie right?!? Hehe. Oh, and can you figure out what this little girl wanted? :-)

As for Teacher Ria, this is what she would have said:

Dear Santa,

I’ve been so super good this year, but yes, I’ve had my moments so maybe I don’t deserve that iPad or iMac yet, but but but…that little red Sony VAIO P Series Pocket Style PC sure would make me soooo super happy. Please, please with a cherry on top? Okay? Thanks, Bye.

♥,

Teacher Ria

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Oct 31, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Lesson Plans, Outside the Classroom, Preschool, Teacher's Corner, Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

The Alphabet Project

...taking reading out of just books...l

Contrary to what would be assumed, given that I am a teacher who teaches preschoolers after all, learning to read did not come easy for me. For those who have been reading my blog for quite some time now, you probably are familiar with the fact that I was diagnosed with a mild form of dyslexia as a child.  Yes, early on, I couldn’t read. Lucky for me, I had a teacher who noticed the red flags very, very early on and thus I was able to receive interventions very early on.

Back then, I couldn’t learn my letters very well, much less put them together to form words. As I understand (this is based on stories told to me by my mom and people around me, because I don’t really remember first hand anymore what it was like in the beginning), I would write my letters in mirror image and I couldn’t identify them properly. As I grew up, I loved reading but in hindsight, I realize I never was really good at it. I tended to skip words and make them up as I’d go along. It helped, however, that I had a good grasp of the English language and I enjoyed playing word games that allowed me to make up the right words as I went along.

Speaking of word games, this was really how I learned to read. In many ways, I would have to say I was really lucky that my mom is not a very traditional mom, so she really went out of her way to find ways to make learning more interesting and fun for someone like me. One way she taught me the alphabet was through the use of shells and corals in the beaches we often would frequent when I was a child. It helped a lot, I would like to say, because looking for these letters allowed me to work on my perceptual reasoning skills and helped me be able to see how letters really look like. To this day, whenever I am in a beach, I go and collect these shells to spell out stuff, just like these:

So today, I was inspired to start a new project. I want to take my alphabet project outside of just the beach and be able to find letters all around me and take photos of them. Here are a few examples:

Let’s see what I can find! Do feel free to take photos and send them to me via my Facebook Page so I can add them up :)

To keep tabs on the project, please check out my Alphabet Project Flickr Set :-)

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Sep 30, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Preschool, Teacher's Corner, Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Patterns, Patterns and More Patterns

Lately my kids have discovered beads. We’ve had wooden beads as one of the manipulative materials in the math area ever since the start of the school year, but for the most part, they have ignored it. One day, however, I brought out a set of barrel beads, the kind you get in those wholesale jewelry, trinket or accessory store and they discovered a liking for stringing beads. I love how it spontaneously has evolved into a learning experience, because even though I did not purposely use these materials to spark an interest in understanding patterns, that’s what it did! Now when they string their beads, they discuss and compare the patterns they make out of it. I swear, it’s the cutest thing!

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May 30, 2010

Posted by in Teaching Resources, Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Homemade Face Paint

Whenever I host or help out in kiddie parties, I notice that the activities that gain the most attention are face painting and tattooing. While finding affordable temporary tattoos that are hypoallergenic and of good quality is relatively easy, finding the face paint is not as easy.

I’ve tried several homemade recipes for face paint. Some are quite simple to make and use common household ingredients such as night cream, corn starch, corn syrup and food coloring. So far, however, I can’t find one that offers the same consistency as that of store bought face paint. Plus the food coloring seems to stain the skin and clothing.

Do you have a good homemade face paint recipe you can share? If so, please leave me a comment :-)

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May 16, 2010

Posted by in Teacher's Corner, Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Choosing the best toys for kids

Toys are among the most important learning materials any child can lay their hands on. I am a firm believer in the value of play and for me, I feel that there really is no “wrong” or “right” toys for kids. For example, some may criticize Barbie dolls because it can give children the wrong notion of beauty. Some might even point out that these dolls can affect one’s self-esteem and body image because it portrays beauty as being long-legged, well-endowed, blond and blue-eyed. However, for me, I see that Barbie’s are great ways for kids to learn about the social nuances of day to day. With these dolls, kid’s learn to pretend play. While I don’t like toy guns, I’m sure this can also be a good way to develop a child’s skills in some way, shape or form.

For me, whatever the toy may be, what matters is the way they are designed and how it can foster a child’s thinking skills, creativity and social skills. I like toys that are more ambiguous and unstructured such as blocks, playdough and sand.

Some guidelines I consider when purchasing toys are as follows:

  1. Does it have any small parts that are unsuitable for young kids, such as doll eyes, buttons or the like. For toy cars, do they have little parts such as those tiny toy Ferrari parts that may come loose?
  2. Does it smell so yummy that it may entice a child to bite or taste it? This is especially true for play dough! I once made a batch with peppermint scent and….well…it smelled like candy and I had kids who attempted to taste it!!!
  3. Are there sharp edges that may accidentally hurt a child? I notice these usually in blocks and puzzle boxes.
  4. Is the paint safe? A lot of cheap toys have been said to contain lead in their paint, so I try to choose toys that are not painted or are of good quality.
  5. How much does it weigh? Believe it or not, some toys are quite heavy! I avoid these as this can be an accident waiting to happen.

These are just a few questions I ask myself before incorporating these toys in my classroom. Do you have any other suggestions? Please feel free to post them below :-)

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May 8, 2010

Posted by in Multimedia Center, Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

ASUS Disney Netpal Offers Fun, Safe and Easy Computing for Filipino Kids

Even as a child, I was always a techie. From V-tech goodies to the Nintendo and Family Computer, my mom always allowed me to play with these games because she saw that there was a learning potential to it. At first, she was quite stringent about controlling the time I spent on these devices. However, because I was able to maintain my grades and finish my chores all the time, she became more lenient about it.

Nowadays, parents have to contend with more of these gadgets and distractions that can influence a child’s study habits. I am not a parent myself yet, but I think it might be harder to monitor a child’s fascination to these gadgets. In my case, I only had a few types of gadgets to choose from and I was hooked, what more now? Nonetheless, despite the potential for distraction computers and the internet can bring, I feel that it is a great learning tool.

I have not yet tried this particular netbook but I came across it’s press release and it seemed interesting. ASUS in partnership with Disney has come up with the Netpal which is designed for children and tweens. Reading through it made me one to check it out…for myself hahahaha! Wanna see why?

Manila, Philippines, May 06, 2010 – ASUS, the pioneer and leader in the netbook category with nearly 7 million Eee PC™ netbooks sold to date, announced the arrival of a netbook that is certain to put a sparkle into Filipino children’s eyes—the Disney Netpal by ASUS. The product of a collaboration between ASUS and Disney Consumer Products (DCP), every facet of the Disney Netpal—from its hardware to its software—is infused with the Eee PC’s™ trademark ease-of-use and Disney’s charm, making it a child’s study buddy and play pal, a perfect early back-to-school gift.

Globally launched last year, the ASUS Disney Netpal has Developed with parents and kids in mind, the Disney Netpal by ASUS boasts a durable, reinforced mechanical design, and offers a truly magical and engaging computing experience with its unique Disney user interface. Features include more than 40 robust parental control options, an 8.9-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi capabilities, Windows 7 Starter, and kid-friendly software featuring Disney characters and icons in stunning visual environments. Browsers and email have extra filters to assure that kids only get access to safe content, and parents can easily select whom children can correspond with via email. The Magic Desktop “gadget tray” offers a creatively designed 2D menu displaying Disney email, Disney browser and Disney parental control options.

Computing Is Fun: Disney-themed Desktop, Applications and Games From the lively Disney graphics on the LCD lid and Mickey-shaped webcam lens to the Disney-themed desktop* and special Disney applications, the Disney Netpal by ASUS perfectly captures the magic of Disney. Kids can dress their desktops—aptly named Magic Desktop—in a wide variety of customizable themes featuring the lovable characters from Disney’s and Disney∙Pixar’s animated blockbusters, including Cars, Club Penguin, Disney Classic Characters, Disney Fairies, Disney Princess, Vintage Mickey Mouse, Toy Story and WALL-E. Themes that appeal to slightly older kids, such as Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers styles, are also available.

Adding to the educational fun are Disney-developed applications such as Disney Mix* for music and media management, Disney Pix* for photo customization and organization, and Radio Disney*. The Disney Pix application features fun Disney Bobblehead software, which lets kids insert images of their faces on top of bodies, download them into videos and postcards and play wacky moving dance scenes, for hours of fun. The Radio Disney* widget streams real-time music and lets kids simultaneously submit song requests, if they wish. The Disney Netpal by ASUS also includes a driving game, memory game and photo scrapbook.

Computing Is Easy: Kid-friendly Magic Desktop, Applications and Widgets The Disney Netpal by ASUS is designed to go from package to play in just minutes. Its Magic Desktop is an easy-to-use interface specially tailored to kids, boasting large icons and visual instructions that make it easy for kids to operate the computer. Rounding off the Disney Netpal by ASUS’ kid-friendly edutainment features is a collection of easily-accessible widgets, including an alarm clock, a digital memo pad which inserts “reminder notes” on the Magic Desktop, and a calculator.

Computing Is Safe: Durable Design with Robust Kid-safe Features The Disney Netpal by ASUS is designed to be kid-safe, both in terms of durability and content permissions. In terms of the former, the Disney Netpal by ASUS has a reinforced mechanical design that can withstand significant abuse, a spill-proof keyboard that protects against inadvertent liquid spills, and ShockShield Data Protection that guards against data loss when the computer is subjected to impacts. It also has a stable embedded polymer battery, which is safer as it prevents kids from inadvertently accessing or removing the battery and thereby subjecting themselves to electrical dangers.

With regard to content permissions, the Disney Netpal by ASUS provides a kid-safe computing environment through robust parental control measures, such as allowing parents to choose the websites their kids can visit, the people they can communicate with via email, and the programs they can use. These permissions can even be scheduled according to a calendar, providing parents with a convenient, automated means of granting access on the days and times set by them. Parents can also pull up data to determine where children spent time, and for how long. Right out of the box, the Disney browser launches more than 40 safe, pre-approved websites.

Pricing and Availability

The Disney Netpal by ASUS is available already in the select ASUS authorized dealers at Php19,990.

Specifications

Model Disney Netpal by ASUS MK90H
Operating System Genuine Windows® 7 Starter
Display 8.9″ LED-backlit
CPU Intel® ATOM N270
WLAN 802.11 b/g/n
Memory DDR2 SO-DIMM 1GB expandable 2GB max
Storage 160GB HDD
Interface 3 x USB 2.0 ports
Camera 0.3 M Pixel
Reader MMC and SD (SDHC supported)
Audio Hi-definition audio CODEC
Built-in stereo speakers
Analog Mic
Dimensions 248mm (W) x 173mm (D) x 28.7mm (H)
Weight 1kg with battery
Casing Colors Princess Pink, Magic Blue

* Only available on models running English operating systems.
** Price may vary by location and specifications.
*** Subject to system configuration and usage.
Note: Specifications are subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.asus.com for more details.

Sounds like fun, huh? :-) pero sige na nga….I’ll look for a more adult mini laptop or netbook for myself!

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May 4, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Learning from scraps and household items

During the summer, it is customary in the preschool I work in to do a general cleaning where we get rid of all the old junk and make room for the new stuff that will come in for the upcoming school year. However, every year we seem to find more and more bits and pieces of scraps that we teachers can’t seem to let go off because we transform them into learning materials. We have a shelf-full of all sorts of odds and ends, from toilet paper rolls to old party hats, scraps of cloths and buttons, as well as all kinds of things you wouldn’t really think of keeping! Even old office papers find a home in our school. See that tall stack of white papers just waiting to become artworks?

Although it may look like a mess, this is a source of endless fun, adventure and learning, not just for the kids but even myself as their teacher! Teacher-made materials are excellent learning tools because you can design it to cater particular themes or needs your students have. Plus it can come out more cost-effective, especially if you teach in the Philippines where educational toys are quite expensive.

Here are some fun things my students and I have done with scraps and household items we’ve used as learning supplements in class:

Toilet Paper. I use these to measure my kids’ heights by taping to to the wall and counting how many squares tall they are. To further extend the lesson, we compare the number of each student then we put it in order from least to greatest. This teaches them sequencing, comparing greater and less than, and other math concepts

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Gumamela flowers to make bubbles or other fallen flowers and leaves for drying or incorporating to handmade paper.  To make our handmade paper, we’ve used old window screens for straining and draining the paper pulp pressed together. Sometimes the paper comes out quite thick so we end up using this to make picture frames or other crafts.

playschool 1419

Old water bottles are big favorites for kids! Whether its filling them up with colored water, stones or whatnot, they love shaking it around and are quite fascinated by what goes on inside the bottle! If you’re lucky, you can find those little connectors that allow you to put together two bottles to make one of these tornado bottles :-) It works best though if the water bottle is the thicker kind of PET bottles.

christmas 09 519 christmas 09 513

Making Christmas crafts from leftover paper plates and cardboard is also a good way of harnessing a child’s creativity and fine-motor skills.

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Wondering what to do with old tires? Make them into playground swings! A word of advise though: be careful when cutting the rubber because there are a lot of steel wires on the inside. We had this done by our school carpenter and he sanded down the wires and we wrapped them up in protective sealants before painting it.

new pics 185

Old egg trays or cartons can also be great ways to teach kids colors, one-to-one correspondence, matching and classification. This also helps stimulate a child’s thinking skills. For older kids, instead of using just colors, you can integrate other concepts to it. Ive also used old egg trays as 3D tic-tac-toe frames :-)

assorted 355

Old newspapers and scratch papers are great for paper maché projects!

These are just a few things I’ve done (and have pictures to show of!) but there are so many other ideas to explore. One of my other favorite household trash items I love to use are toilet paper rolls!!! They’ve become musical instruments, bahay-bahayan toys and even presents made by the kids for mom and dad.

So, whenever you have trash at home, think twice about what can be done with these. Just be crafty!

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Jun 21, 2009

Posted by in Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Must Have Toys: Playdough

This is the first in a series of toys and playthings that I plan to feature in this site. Some of these “must haves” may be commercially available and some homemade.  This series does not necessarily aim to promote a product, but perhaps to highlight the value of such TYPES of products. On occasion, however, I am open to endorsing a product or item, but only if I beleive in it :-)
One of the most valuable playthings for children, in my opinion is playdough.  For me, it’s like literally giving a kid a world of possibilities in their hands. Playdough does not only offer kids a fun time, it also exercises their imagination, gives them opportunities to share, and allows them to learn simple concepts such as shapes and sizes. For older kids concepts can include fractions and parts of a whole. I’ve also used playdough to help teach kids about textures. These definitely highlight why playdough is a must have plaything for kids.

I prefer the softer playdough over the harder modelling clays which are more difficult to manipulate. There are many popular brands out there, but I go for the homemade ones for two main reasons: one, it’s more economical and two, the kids can actually be involved in making the dough!

You can Google a lot of different playdough recipes, but here’s one I particularly like and use myself:

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tbsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. food coloring* (if you wanna make different colors, hold off adding this until you divide the mixture)

1 tbsp. oil

1 cup water

Procedure:

1. Dissolve the salt in the water in a medium saucepan. If you are using rock salt, dissolve as best as you can and remove the remaining crystals to avoid lumpy clay.

2. Add in the flour, oil, coloring* and cream of tartar. Stir over medim heat for about 5 minutes or until you can form a ball and holds together. If you’d like to make different colors of dough, do not add the coloring until after the dough has been cooked. Then divide the mixture and add in drops of food coloring as you desire.

3. Cool slightly then knead the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, preferrably while still somewhat warm.

4. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

This  recipe is generally safe and non-toxic for children. I like adding a few drops of essential oils to make the dough smell yummy. My preferences include peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla. However, I make sure to label my container with a “do not put in your mouth” sign and only let the older children use it as young toddlers may try to taste the dough!

What I like about this cooked type of dough is that it has a very stretchy, bouncy consistency that’s not too sticky, which uncooked doughs tend to be.

Do try it out and have fun! Let me know how it works for you!

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May 19, 2009

Posted by in Teacher's Corner, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

The Dangers of Technology.

One question many parents have asked me is whether or not it would be a good idea to give their children mobile phones or perhaps allow them to join social networking sites such as Friendster or Multiply. Being a big fan of modern day technology, my answer is often yes, as long as you think your child is ready for it. I even encourage blogging and keeping an online journal because this helps hone their writing skills. It also develops their thinking skills, as well as builds their vocabulary and enhance logical thinking.

However, as much as I am a big supporter of the internet as a venue for learning, I am taking this time to take pause and outline some of the danger technology brings, especially to the youth of today. This comes as my reaction to the increasing numbers of sex videos, sexually explicit photographs and innuendos found not just in the internet, and even on personal mobile phones and devices.

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Apr 19, 2009

Posted by in Toys and Playthings | 6 Comments

Teacher is a Pet.

Should pets be allowed in the classroom? Pushing the question further, should kids be allowed to keep pets?

For me, I would say yes. However, this can become a controversial issue for many schools, what with the question of accountability in case of an accident with a pet in class.  I cannot discount the fact that there have been incidences where pets lash out at an owner and in some cases, even maim, hurt, and worse, kill a child. I do not know the statistics of these cases, but they do exist.  Further, in my school for example, I have had to deal with a number of parent requests to not have animals in class because their children are allergic or asthmatic. While I do honor and respect these requests, I try to find compromises that will allow me to introduce concepts with pets as the teachers.

Pets make wonderful teachers. Why?

Pets can definitely help teach basic math skills, such as counting, addition and subtraction. They can also teach children about the life cycle, digestion, and even death. But more than anything, pets teach kids very important life lessons that cannot really be taught by just hearing it. Taking care of a pet can teach a child three important R’s, and I’m not talking about “reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic” here. With our four- (sometimes more, some times less!!!) legged friends kids learn responsibility, respect and (g)ratitude.

Through caring for a pet, a child learns how to be responsible and to take responsibility for their actions. They become aware of the need to maintain a schedule, to participate in tasks and to understand that there are consequences to actions.

With pets, a child of any age can begin to learn the value of respect. They begin to realize that one has to be gentle and to honor one’s space. They are taught to be kind and to empathize with others. They also realize that one cannot just do what he or she wants because others have feelings, too, as they recognize how it could feel to be in someone else’s shoes . In the same manner, a child can also begin to understand how it is to interact and engage with others around him/her.

Another important and crucial life lesson children can learn from animals is gratitude. It doesn’t take much to please an animal, and they’re not afraid to show it. With the wag of their tail, snuggle on your side, or a lick on your hand, animals say thank you for kindness shown to them. When their pets show them some love, children can begin to understand that showing gratitude is a great thing to do.

These are among the few very important lessons a pet can teach a child.

For me, my personal pet pick is a dog. However, for class, especially since I teach toddlers,  I would pick smaller and less hairy pets, such as turtles or fish. Does your child have a pet? Or are you considering getting him/her one? If so, what is it? Leave a comment and share your stories!



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