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Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to know if your child has handwriting problems? and what are the signs of handwriting problems?

Handwriting is one of the most important skills that children acquire and use throughout the school years as part of their occupation as students. When handwriting skills are deficient, children suffer various consequences related to their academic performance and social interactions, thus limiting their successful participation in everyday school activities


Parents and teachers need to analysis and check the signs of handwriting problems. Effects of poor handwriting or spelling in later years may be:                  
  • Papers with poorer penmanship and/or poorer spelling are rated lower by teachers for composition quality 
  • Difficulties with spelling or handwriting can interfere with execution of other composing processes
  • Handwriting/spelling problems can constrain development as a writer 
 Educational guidelines often are limited to one standard, “produces legible handwriting” in the English/language arts standards. When students fail to meet this standard, teachers have no means for examining which skills are lacking. Meanwhile these students are experiencing all the negative effects of poor handwriting.
Parents and teachers should learn the signs of handwriting problems from early years. 


Signs of Handwriting Problems 
Kids develop at different rates, and just like adults, handwriting varies greatly among them. Some kids have trouble learning the direction letters go in; others struggle to write neatly or use cursive writing. Sometimes writing problems can be a sign of other issues such as developmental delay or learning disabilities. Often these problems have multiple symptoms, with writing being only one component.



Conditions that can affect a child's ability to write include:              
• memory problems that prevent a child from remembering spelling, grammar, or punctuation rules
• language problems that cause difficulty with word pronunciation, spelling, and sentence structure
• visual or sequential ordering problems that cause uneven spacing of words, and inability to make lists or put ideas in order
• dysgraphia, a neurological disorder characterized by writing difficulties (such as distorted letters or misspellings) regardless of reading ability
• attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Children who have special needs also may have trouble learning to write.

Signs that a child may need additional assistance with learning how to write include:
• A very awkward pencil grip
• Illegible handwriting • difficulty forming letters
• An inability to concentrate and complete writing tasks
• Avoiding writing • many misspelled words
• Letters or words that don't follow correct sequence
• Incorrect placement of words on the page
• Uneven spacing between letters
• A large gap between spoken language and writing ability
• An exceptionally slow and difficult time writing

If your child is struggling with writing, you may choose to have him or her assessed by an occupational therapist. This can help you determine if your child needs actual therapy and tutoring or just some additional writing practice at home. 


Related: 'Kidshealth.org'

Useful links:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tips for teachers to help develop good handwriting

Handwriting is important because kids are required to use it daily in school from kindergarten on. Children who struggle with the mechanics of handwriting may have trouble taking notes or tests or completing their schoolwork. This can affect both their self-esteem and their attitude toward school.

By age 4, students should be starting to develop a tripod grasp which is using the thumb and index finger to hold the pencil/crayon and resting it on the middle finger. It is ok if the student rests the crayon/pencil on the 4th finger. If the student is still using a full hand grasp or very awkward grasp, this may indicate some difficulty with strength and coordination.                        

By age 4-5 students should be able to make vertical and horizontal lines, circle, square, triangle and draw a simple person with head, torso, legs, arms, hands, and feet. For the older students (1st grade and up), general neatness, staying on the lines, size consistency and spacing are all aspects to look at in determining if your child is struggling.

If your child's handwriting continues to be messy and hard to read even after formal instruction at school, try these tips: 


Help your child take it slow. Many kids struggle with writing because they try to do it quickly. Encourage your child to take time to form the letters carefully.

Explain that mistakes happen. Teach your child how to use an eraser.
Reinforce proper letter formation. Find out from your child's teacher how he or she should be forming letters, and then encourage your child to practice writing using those patterns. Using lined paper can be helpful.
Make sure the pencil is properly positioned. Ideally your child will use what is called a tripod grasp. This means the pencil should rest near the base of the thumb, held in place with the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Plastic pencil grips sold at office supply stores may help if your child has trouble holding a pencil properly.
Expose your child to lots of words. You can do this by reading regularly together, pointing out words that surround you (such as street signs or product labels), and by hanging up examples of your child's writing around the house.

Tips provided by 'Kids Health.org'

Useful links: 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Activities to promote a good foundation for handwriting among kids

Good foundation of handwriting starts at home. Proper fine motor skill development makes it possible for kids to learn good handwriting at school. Teachers at the same time can help kids enhance their skills needed  for good handwriting start. This post helps you learn about the activities which can help promote a good foundation for handwriting among kids.
Writing is one of the most complex tasks that humans engage in, involving both motor and critical-thinking skills. It's not surprising that learning to write is a process that takes years to complete. It also happens in order, with each skill building on the last.

Today modern technology has dramatically changed the way we communicate through writing. However, despite the increased use of computers for writing, the skill of handwriting remains important in education, employment and in everyday life. Handwriting with pen and paper still has an important role from early childhood through our adult lives.

Handwriting readiness can be developed by activities to improve children's fine motor control and isolated finger movements.

Activities to promote handwriting readiness: 
  • Rolling therapy-putty or clay dough between the tip of the thumb and tips of the index and middle fingers. Use modeling clay or Play-Doh to form words. First, make large flashcards with letters of the alphabet or simple words. (Laminate the cards if you can.) Then roll out thin ropes of clay. Ask your child to trace the words or letters on the cards using the ropes of clay. Not only will he learn to recognize words, but playing with the clay will help build the muscles in his fingers and hone the fine motor skills he'll need to write.                                              
  • Use sand to "write" words. Help your child make letters and words out of materials like sand, glitter, or cake sprinkles. Cookie dough and pancake batter work too — and you get to eat the results!
  • Picking up small objects with tweezers.
  • Pinching and sealing a zip lock bag using the thumb opposing each finger while maintaining an open web space.
  • Twisting open a small tube of tooth paste with the thumb, index and middle fingers while holding the tube with the ulnar digits.
  • Moving a key from the palm to the finger tips of one hand.
Activities to promote prewriting skills:
  1. Drawing lines and copying shapes using shaving cream, sand trays or finger paints.
  2. Drawing lines and shapes to complete a picture story on chalk boards.
  3. Drawing pictures of people, houses, trees, cars or animals with visual and verbal cues from the practitioner
  4. Completing simple dot-to-dot pictures and mazes.
Activities to enhance right-left discrimination includes
  1. Playing/maneuvering through obstacles and focusing on the concept of twining right or left
  2. Connecting dots at the chalkboard with left to right strokes.
Activities to Improve children's orientation to printed language:
  1. Labeling children's drawings based on the child's description
  2. Having children make their own books on specific topics such as favorite foods, special places etc.
  3. Labeling common objects in the therapy room.
  4. Look at pictures together in magazines, catalogs, or storybooks. Ask your child to tell you what he thinks the people are doing or thinking, and write down what he says as a caption. Or ask him to narrate a conversation he thinks two people may be having.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prophet stories for kids- Prophet Nuh (alayhis salam)

Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by Allah (God) and given revelation to deliver to mankind. We muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well.
Each prophet  preached the same main belief of worshiping Allah and in the avoidance of idolatry and sin. Prophet Noah or Nuh (alayhis salam) was among one of those prophets. It is a true, interesting and moral story to tell the kids about a prophet who created a big boat. When I tell this story to kids and after few days I ask 'Can you tell me the name of prophet who made a big boat?' and they quickly answer me 'Prophet Nuh (AS)


Prophet Nuh (alayhis salam)

Nuh (alayhis salam) lived many years after Adam (alayhis salam). The people with whom Nuh (alayhis salam) lived refused to listen to him. When he said that they should worship only Allah (Ta'ala) and do good, they paid no attention.

Nuh (alayhis salam) told them they would be severely punished for ignoring him and the message he brought from Allah. Even so, the people did not believe what Nuh (alayhis salam) told them.

They laughed at him and said, "You are only a man like us. Only poor, weak people believe you. If you are telling truth, then show us the punishment you threaten. You are nothing but a liar!"
"I do not want anything from you," Nuh (alayhis salam) answered, "and I shall never send away the poor or the weak. As far as the punishment is concerned, Allah will bring it upon you whenever he pleases. Dont imagine you can stop Allahs plans!"
Nuh (alayhis salam) was both sad and angry that people would not heed his message. But Allah informed Nuh (alayhis salam) that he should not feel this way. There was much more important work to do. Nuh (alayhis salam) must build a big ship.
Prophet Nuh (alayhis salam) was commanded to build a big ship/Ark, In obedience to Allahs instructions, Nuh (alayhis salam) began to build the ship on land. The people who saw it when they were passing made fun of him and his ship.

But Nuh (alayhis salam) had a warning for them. "You are making fun of us now," he said, "but soon we will know who has to suffer the severe punishment!" When the ship was completed, it started to rain without ceasing and the waters on earth began to rise. Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) told Nuh (alayhis salam) to go into the ship, together with his family and all his friends who believed. Nuh(alayhis salam) should also take one male and female from each kind of animal on earth.

Nuh (alayhis salam) did as he was told and then he said, "In the name of Allah, we shall now sail away, and when the time is right, we shall return again to the land."

It is said that the flooding lasted one hundred and fifty days. When the waters receded, the ark came to rest over Mount Ararat. The occupants of the ark came out and thanked the Lord for their miraculous survival. They then spread out to inhabit the Earth again with the blessings of their Lord.

You can read about Nuh (Alayhis Salam) in the Qur’an, Sura 7,Ayat 59-64; Sura 11,Ayat 25-49; Sura 26,Ayat 105-122; Sura 54,Ayat 9-15; and Sura 71,Ayat 1-28.

Related and Useful links:

* Prophet Noah's boat

Activities to do at home to enhance writing skills



Parents can help their child develop good writing skills at home. Sports, games, and everyday activities help children improve many of the skills involved in handwriting. Activities like cutting, cooking, baking or crafting are helpful in development of hand eye-coordination skill. The more opportunities your child has to develop large and small movement in their arms, hands and fingers, the better.

Educational technology advances suggest that reading and writing development are intertwined in early learning. The relationship between reading and writing continues long after these early efforts, so parents can enhance their child's skills dramatically by encouraging the writing habit in childhood.

Few activities to do at home to enhance writing skills:

You can help your child by: doing activities like
  • Digging,
  • ‘Painting’ outdoor surfaces with water and a large brush,
  • Sweeping and swishing a scarf through the air in different shapes hanging out the washing,
  • Use a peg board and picking up grains of rice with fingers (which helps develop the grip needed for writing)
  • Make marks on paper with fingers, brushes and crayons              
  • Write labels, birthday cards and invitations
  • Rolling playdough and doing fingerplays help children strengthen and improve the coordination of the small muscles in their hands and fingers. They use these muscles to control writing tools such as crayons, markers, and brushes.
To improve visual memory, teach card games, marbles and jacks, and engage in hand sports- using large then smaller balls. Use dictation or a computer for homework assignments when a child's poor muscle strength and low endurance cannot sustain written work despite high intelligence. Encourage letter writing to family and friends.
Parents can engage their children in fun, practical activities that improve writing skills.

Some suggestions from Roy Peter Clark's book, "Free to Write":

Interviews. Encourage children to ask family members about life experiences, take notes and write short articles or stories based on what they learn. This can be especially fun if they ask a grandparent about a historical anniversary or an activity that is no longer common, like listening to radio shows.
Journals. Buy your child a special notebook to write in. Encourage him to write about daily activities, important life events, feelings and other personal topics.
Television. Turn watching television into an educational activity by asking children to write about a program they've seen. They can retell the show's story, or better yet, explore the values and meanings it expressed. Reading. Read aloud to your children. This will improve their writing by exposing them to well-written sentences and well-expressed ideas.
Proud displays. Have a place in your home where you display your children's writing. This will build their confidence and encourage them to write more often.
Dictation. Encouraging very young children to generate ideas and think in complete sentences. This will help prepare them to write alone when they get older. Encourage children to dictate stories and ideas to you, and keep them so they can read them later.


Useful links:

Helping Children Develop Fine Motor Skills

* Adventures in writing-how you can help her develop this new skill with confidence.

* Help Your Child Learn Writing Skills

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Skill development -Importance of proper pencil grip among children

Teaching a child how to correctly hold a pencil is a basic foundational skill. Proper pencil grip helps good handwriting in later years. Children usually begin their grip development around the age of 1 to 1½. So teaching them proper pencil grip should start from early years.

Good habits that begin in early years will last a lifetime—and holding a crayon or pencil correctly is a very important habit. Awkward grips can cause fatigue, cramping, and even pain—making writing difficult. Pencil grip difficulties become more apparent in primary years as writing demands increase, however, they can develop in children as early as preschoolers.

The correct pencil grip involves holding the pencil between the thumb and pointer finger, and resting the pencil on the middle finger for added stability. Since a child’s natural inclination is to hold a pencil with his entire fist (pinky finger closest to the paper and index finger and thumb on top), the proper pencil grip must be actively taught. Since writing comfortably is a skill your child will use throughout his lifetime, it is wise to help your child develop a comfortable and efficient pencil grip when he is young. Also, it is much easier to learn to hold a pencil correctly at the start than it is to unlearn an improper pencil grip and retrain muscles to learn the proper grip once your child is older.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to use origami as an educational tool?


Teaching origami in classroom is very easy. Origami requires absolutely no equipment other than one small sheet of paper. It is both safe and manageable and can be enjoyed by anyone. I usually cut different size of poster paper in square shape and use it to teach different origami projects to kids in Nursery class.


Using origami as an educational tool:

The German pedagogue and the founder of kindergartent, Friedrich Froebel (1782 – 1852) , was the first to introduce Origami into formal education.. Froebel recognized the value of children learning through play and exploration. He considered the manipulation of the paper as a mean for children to discover for themselves the principles of math and geometry. Piaget, the renowned child development psychologist held that “motor activity int the form of skilled movement is vital to the development of intuitive thoughts and the mental representation of the brain”.
“When the paper folds the mind unfolds”

Origami is an activity that requires both hands and activates the whole brain. According to a research done on the brain by Dr. Katerin Shumakov and Yuri Shumakov, when both hands are engaged, impellent motor impulses activate the language portion of the brain.

Benefits of using origami as an educational tool:                      
1. The origami training stimulating high motor activity with simultaneous use of the right and left hands will render different influences on the activity of the brain's hemispheres of children from different sex-age groups.
2. The motor skills of both hands and their asymmetry will change during dynamics of training with respect to the real cerebral lateralization type of children.
3. The asymmetrical bimanual activity during origami training influences the individual - psychological features of children of different sexual-age groups. The prevalence of the left hemisphere is reflected in verbal abilities (speed of verbal thinking), and prevalence right hemisphere is reflected on nonverbal abilities (nonverbal intelligence, spatial imagination).
4. The asymmetrical bimanual activity during origami training will affect the creativity of children of different age groups and will stimulate development of creativeness.

Scientific proof how origami helps to develop skills: Ph.D. thesis by Katrin and Yuri Shumakov (Left Brain and Right Brain at Origami Training)

Useful links and Related posts:

Origami in Education and Therapy

The Educational Benefits of Origami

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Prophet stories for kids- Prophet Adam (alayhis salam)

While telling stories of prophets to kids, your language should be very easy and as you cannot show them illustrations. I read "Goodwordbooks" as reference and sometimes shows the pictures to the kids. These books are very colorful and stories are written in easy language.
Still I edit the details and try to use easier language for my nursery class. This series of  "Prophet stories" is written as a reference for parents or teachers who want to teach these stories to the kids.


Prophet Adam (alayhis salam):
Adam (alayhis salam) was the first man created by Allah. He was created to live on earth. However, Iblis did not like this. Although Iblis was made of fire, he lived with the angels. He thought he was better than Adam, so he became Adams enemy and decided to make Adam (alayhis salam) disobey Allah.

Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife used to live in paradise, where they were put by Allah. Paradise was the most beautiful place you can imagine. It was neither hot nor cold. Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife were never hungry or thirsty. This was another thing which Iblis did not like. So Iblis came to Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife and told them to eat from a certain tree. Now, Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife knew very well that Allah had told them they must not even go near that tree. So they did not listen to Iblis, but Iblis kept on and on at them. He tempted them by saying that they could live for ever if they ate from that tree and would become like angels. At last, worn down by the nagging of Iblis, Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife gave in. They came to believe what Iblis was telling them, and they ate from the tree, against Allahs command. But they soon came to regret very much their disobedience and their weakness in listening to Iblis.
 Adam and his wife were very sad and asked Allah for His forgiveness. Allah forgave them, for He is very forgiving. Allah then told Adam and his wife that they must now go down to earth and live there for some time. But He promised that they would be allowed to return to paradise as long as they and their children were obedient to Him in future. Allah also told Adam (alayhis salam) that he would be Allahs first prophet. 
Many prophets would be sent to mankind, and if man listens to the prophets words, he will come into paradise when he dies. But if he does not listen, then he will go to hell and remain there with the evil Iblis. 

So, Adam (alayhis salam) and his wife cam down to earth. On earth, they raised their children, and their children in their turn raised their children. In this way succeeding generations of mankind lived on earth and Allah sent His prophets to all of them. These prophets said: Worship only Allah. Allah has created you. Allah has made for you the plants and the animals so that you can eat them. Be grateful to Allah and always do good. This is what Adam (alayhis salam), the first prophet of Allah, told his children. After him there came many other prophets, and Muhammad is the last of the Prophets.

You may add a simple moral at the end of the story like in Prophet Adam (alayhis salam) I say that 'you know why Allah sent Hazrat Adam (AS) on earth? ----because if we don't obey Allah we cannot live in Jannah. And to live in Jannah we need to obey Allah in this world. As my audience is the group of kids from age of 4 to 5 plus, I chose the words of story carefully. I hope that this series of stories are helpful for you as well. Place your comments or suggestions (if any---). 

Useful links:
* An interactive ebook 'The story of Adam(As)'

* Story of Hazrat Adam (AS)

Origami for Skill Development Among Children

Paper crafts, paper folding or origami is one of my favourite pastime and from few years I am teaching simple and basic paper folding/origami projects in my art/crafts class. As an interactive activity children enjoy following the instructions. I found that it appeals to the creative, inventive and constructive abilities of children.
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. It literally translates as ori (folding) gami (paper). In Japan, Children learn origami at their mothers' knees. In the West, children are learning it at school. Research has shown that paper-folding, particularly in the elementary school years, is a unique and valuable addition to the curriculum.


Origami is not only fun, but it is also a valuable method for developing vital skills. As a teacher or parent you can adopt this creative hobby for skill development among children. 
Therapists have found that origami has a modifying affect on their patients, and they often use it as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool. This post is about the benefits you get when you keep your kids busy with these art/crafts activities.



Origami for skill development: It can be adopted by educators, teachers, Psychologists, Physicians, Parents for educational, developmental, and therapeutic aspects. Origami is good for any age: from kids, those who start learning all by themselves, to persons of mature years who don't stop developing their own individuality. Schools have begun to realize the educational value of origami.  
It is a great hands-on activity and a wonderful resource that teaches students how to follow directions.
Below is a list of partial academic and cognitive skills involving Origami.
  • Listening Skills, 
  • Social Studies, 
  • Visual Memory, 
  • Reading Skills, 
  • Sequential Memory, 
  • Visual-Spatial Motor Skills, 
  • Writing Skills, Concentration, 
  • Verbal and Visual Memory, 
  • Mathematics Eye-Hand Coordination, 
  • Logical Reasoning, 
  • Spatial Relationship, 
  • Fine Motor Skills, 
  • Problem Solving. 
Origami has a therapeutic effect on children. Many  have found Origami to be an inherently relaxing activity and its use as a stress reduction technique.
"Oriland.com" has mentioned 10 reasons to be involved in origami:
1. Development of fine 'motor skills' of both hands.
2. Development of intellectual abilities.
3. Development of creative abilities.
4. Activation of the Right and Left hemispheres of the brain.
5. Development of imagination.
6. Development of attention.
7. Development of memory.
8. Development of patience.
9. Emotional and aesthetic experiences.
10. Joy, satisfaction and pride in your own work!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to accelerate fine motor skill development among children?

Fine motor activities are essential to help your child develop the skills needed for good handwriting. Parents can help the kids in development of fine motor skills  by adopting activities which can engage your child for hours and while having fun.

Fine motor activities encourage the development of eye-hand coordination and help children practice the skills required to handle or manipulate small objects with their fingers. Appropriate materials for fine motor activities for infants and toddlers are those that generally match their developing skill levels and are challenging.

Fine Motor Activities to accelerate fine motor skill development:   

  • Play dough is an amazing activities which kids enjoy the most and it helps in development of eye and hand co-ordination. Molding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm. Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips. 
  • Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough. 
  • Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding the implement in a diagonal valor grasp. 
  • Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. 
  • Use to stuff scarecrow or other art creation. Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder. 
  • Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow (mix food coloring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colors will run when sprayed.) 
  • Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games. 
  • Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms. 
  • Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc. 
  • Using eye droppers to "pick up" colored water for color mixing or to make artistic designs on paper. 
  • Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs. 
  • Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table. 
  • Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements. 
  • Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.

More activities to accelerate fine motor skill development:
Most fine motor activities require children to move their hands and fingers in unfamiliar ways. The best starting place for accelerating your child’s fine motor development is to help him strengthen his pincer grip.
Consider investing in some low-cost beads of different sizes, where the largest is approximately 1 inch in diameter and the smallest bead is approximately 1/4 inch in diameter. Using a rigid cord (a pipe cleaner works well), have your child use his thumb and pointer finger to pick up a large bead and thread it on the cord. As your child gains comfort with this activity, gradually introduce smaller and smaller beads which are more challenging to hold and manipulate. 
Strengthening pincer grip with beading: child working with beads on rigid cord and another child working with beads on floppy shoe laceAfter your child is able to easily thread the smallest beads on the rigid cord, replace the rigid cord with a floppy shoe lace or string. This floppy lace will provide your child with a “moving target” as he tries to thread the bead with his dominant hand and steady the cord with his non-dominant hand.
For older children who are already comfortable with the proper pincer grip, focus on helping your child gain a strong pencil and scissors grip. As a starting point, print some printable tracing worksheets and direct your child to trace over the lines, curves and shapes. Or, to make homemade worksheets, use a yellow marker to draw the shape and then have your child trace your lines with a blue or red marker to see the shape magically turn a different color. Tracing not only requires a strong pencil grip to hold the pencil or marker, but it also requires strong coordination of the muscles in the hand to stay on the narrow line while tracing.
After your child finishes tracing, have him use scissors to cut out the shape. Begin with simple lines and curves and then move to basic shapes, such as circles or ovals, and then to more difficult shapes such as triangles, squares, and other multi-sided shapes.
Related: www.schoolsparks.com


Useful links:
Supporting Young Children's Motor Skill Development.

 * Activities to promote fine motor skills

* Why Proper Development of fine motor Skills is Important?

Fine Motor Skills for Infants, Toddlers, and Children

Skill development - Importance of the Proper Scissors Grip

Like the proper pencil grip, the proper scissors grip must be actively taught to children from early years.
Cutting with scissors in properly is an important activity for helping to develop precision hand skills. In order to use scissors correctly, children need sufficient finger and hand strength and stability, sufficient development of the hand arches, hand – eye coordination, bilateral integration skills (using both hands together) and the ability to cross midline. All the same skills contribute to the development of handwriting.

Learning to use scissors properly and acquiring the skill helps to develop the necessary tools for handwriting. The three fingers of the hand controlling the scissors are the ones that are needed to grip a writing tool. The act of opening and closing the scissors helps with hand arch and web space development. The web space is the area formed when the thumb tip and index finger tip touch to form the okay sign. A closed web space can indicate potential writing problems. When children can cut across a straight line, cut out a complex shape and manipulate both the paper and scissors in a controlled manner, they will have achieved precision fine motor skills and good dexterity. Handwriting should evolve nicely as a result.



When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. 
The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.



Importance of the Proper Scissors Grip

Most children explore with their hands outstretched and their palms facing downward. Or, as they get older, they default to holding small items with their thumb and pointer finger (the pincer grip!).

The proper scissors grip requires a child to rotate his hand so that the thumb faces upward and the pinky finger points at the floor. Then he must spread his thumb and pointer finger as far apart as possible while using his palm to help stabilize the scissors. As if the proper scissors grip wasn’t complicated enough, your child must also rely on his non-dominant hand to stabilize the paper while his dominant hand uses the scissors.
When first learning to use the scissors, the non-dominant hand will simply hold the paper in a stable position as the dominant hand moves the scissors forward. But, as your child begins cutting more complex designs, his non-dominant hand will be responsible for twisting and turning the paper as the dominant hand operates the scissors.

Teaching Your Child the Proper Scissors Grip
Due to the complexity of the correct scissors grip, it is common for young children to hold and try to use scissors incorrectly.
While cutting, your child will also need to learn how to use his non-dominant hand to hold the paper. Initially the non-dominant hand will just need to hold the paper still as the dominant hand moves the scissors forward in a straight line. Eventually, though, the non-dominant hand will need to move and turn the paper as the dominant hand opens and closes the scissor blades.
Most children become interested in using scissors around age two and a half or three.
Allow your child to practice holding the scissors without trying to cut paper. Since learning to simply hold the scissors correctly is a challenging task, let your child pick up and put down the scissors as many times as he wants before you actually begin teaching him how to use the scissors.        

Direct your child to spread his index finger and thumb as widely as possibly, explaining how this motion makes the blades of the scissors open really widely. Then encourage him to close the scissors in one smooth motion. This will help him to make long, smooth (efficient) cuts rather than short, choppy (inefficient) cuts.
Stay close by and provide constant feedback and guidance until the proper grip is automatic for your child.

Ask your child to shake your hand. When shaking your hand, your child will naturally rotate his hand so that his thumb goes top and his fingers extend below (pinky finger is closest to the floor). After shaking hands a few times, have your child reach out to shake your hand one last time. This time, pick up a pair of scissors by the closed metal teeth and place the end of the scissors with the finger holes into his outstretched palm. Help him put his thumb in the large circular loop on top and one or two fingers in the larger loop on the bottom.
.
Scissor Activities

  • Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
  • Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
  • Cutting play dough with scissors. 
  • Cutting straws or shredded paper 

Related: www.schoolsparks.com

  Useful links:

Cutting Skills Printables

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prophet Stories - Prophet Younus (PBUH) and the Whale

The story of prophet Younus (pbuh) and the whale is a favorite story among children. This story of Prophet Jonah(Younus) is a parable of mercy. In our Islam curriculum for nursery class there are few prophet stories which I tell to kids. Selecting easy language is helpful in narration of stories.
In the Noble Qur'an, in chapter 28 by the name of Al-Qasas (Narratives / Stories), which itself is proof that man is in need of narratives and stories. So it is clear that kids need to listen the stories. Best option for story telling may be choice of prophet stories as there is a lot of learn from it.

In many places in the same Noble Qur'an, stories of Prophets, kings and nations have been mentioned. Prophet Younus, a great Prophet sent to the people of Nineveh (which was a city where the modern-day Iraqi city of Mosul is). Prophet Prophet Yunus/Jonah (pbuh) is also addressed by two other surnames * "Sahibil-Hot" (Companion of the Fish).


Story of Prophet Younus (PBUH) for kids:
Prophet Yunus (alayhis salam) was sent by Allah to a big town where the people had forgotten Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala)'s orders and did many things which Allah had forbidden.


"You should believe only in Allah and obey only Him", Yunus (alayhis salam) told them. "You should worship Him alone and do good, otherwise a severe punishment will come upon you!"
But Yunus (alayhis salam) soon discovered that the people did not want to listen to him. He lost patience with them and left the town in anger. Afterwards, Yunus (alayhis salam) decided to go across the sea, and boarded a ship for the voyage. But when the ship was in the middle of the ocean, Yunus (alayhis salam) suffered a great misfortune. 
He was thrown overboard and swallowed up by an enormous fish!.

Fortunately, though, the fish had swallowed Yunus (alayhis salam) in one big gulp, so he landed in its stomach unhurt. It was very dark inside the fish's stomach, and Yunus (alayhis salam) grew very fearful. In his loneliness, he started to think over what had happened in the town, and came to realize that he should not have acted so hastily and in such a quick-tempered manner. Poor Yunus (alayhis salam)was in a terrible state! He lay on the shore, weak, ill and helpless. He felt dreadfully miserable, but Allah caused a tree to grow and this tree provided Yunus (alayhis salam) with shade and nourishing fruits, alhamdulilah. Before long, Yunus (alayhis salam) had recovered his health and strength.

When he was better, Allah sent Yunus (alayhis salam) back to the town. This time, though, the people there listened to Yunus (alayhis salam) when he told them: "You should believe in Allah and worship Him alone.
You must do good."

Related: http://www.oocities.org/mutmainaa/kids/story/yunus.html

Watch YouTube story of Prophet Younus (pbuh) according to Quran Narration:

One of the distinguished feats of the Noble Qur'an is this very story of Prophet Yusuf (as), which it refers to as the 'best of the narratives', and at the end of which, it says: In these stories there is a lesson for those, who desire to take a moral and adopt the path of the Perfect Men. 

* You can find prophet stories in simple language to tell to kids at many sites like:

'Help for convert.net'

* 'The islamic bulletin'
Story of Prophet Yunus/Jonah (pbuh)

Story of Prophet Jonah in Bible

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Interactive way of learning doubles with origami and crafts

I love to experiment new ways to make my teaching interactive. Last week I teach them addition with doubles. Kids do the addition sums from 1-10 in different ways and doing it with doubles makes the sum solving process easier.
Thursday was our art and crafts class and my project was to teach them origami double boat. We all know that learning origami helps in development of eye and hand co-ordination. So mixing of origami with drawing and maths results in an interesting and interactive activity.

Normally the origami boat creating process is difficult to follow for my class kids (age group 4 plus) and I try to find the ways to make it easier.


How to create double boat?              

This unique dual hulled traditional boat is called 'catamaron'. If you can make origami house then you can easily make this fold. It is made by inside reverse fold. You need to learn valley and mountain-fold.

Link: 'Make traditional catamaron boat'

You can see the process of creating crafts with double boat from the pictures. First they fixed the boat at their art book. Following pictures show the cut and paste (strips of light, and deep blue color poster paper)

I asked them to add double clouds at sky. A child came up with idea of drawing a rainbow which was liked by all kids and they followed it.

My students love to work at crafts projects. I feel that they may forget the 'addition with doubles' but they won't forget making or creating 'double boat'.

I hope to share more experiences with my readers. So keep in touch and don't forget to submit your comments.



More ideas while teaching doubles:
This is simple double house fold which is easier for young kids to learn and  drawing makes this origami project more interesting.
This is also a combine work of maths and crafts. Kids loved creating this crafts and they were happy to do addition sums while doing this activity.
Finished work


Useful links:


Learn origami for the development of creative skills

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Are the Signs of Weak Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills can be defined as small muscle movements: those that occur in the finger, in coordination with the eyes. Learning fine motor skills is similar to learning other skills.

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. They are divided into two groups: gross motor skills , which include the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body ( crawling , running, and jumping); and fine motor skills, which are smaller actions, such as grasping an object between the thumb and a finger or using the lips and tongue to taste objects. Both types of motor skills usually develop together, because many activities depend on the coordination of gross and fine motor skills.

Development of fine motor skills is important among kids because it will in turn help them to perform better academically and physically in later years. Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing.

Fine motor skills involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity. Some children have great difficulty with fine motor skills. Basic things such as writing, picking up tiny objects or buttoning and zipping clothing can be a great challenge for them. If these skills are not addressed, a child with weak fine motor skills might have difficulty at school.
For some children, their hands do not seem to work together in the way that they should. This may lead to such frustration that they may resist activities that require them to coordinate all of the muscles and joints in their hands and fingers. As a result, they do not get to practise these skills correctly or develop the correct muscles. This in turn may affect the development of higher-level fine motor skills, such as writing. It is often at the stage when formal handwriting instruction has commenced that children are identified as having fine motor weakness.
Resultant commonly seen behaviours showing the signs of weak fine motor skills might include:
  • Outright refusal to participate in an activity
  • avoidance techniques (‘I need to get a drink of water’)
  • anger outbursts (rip up paper/tantrums)
  • sadness (crying)
  • ‘defeatist’ behaviour (‘I’m no good, I can’t do this’).
Further, research suggests that children and adolescents with identified motor coordination weakness are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety and even depression associated with their perceived lack of competence in motor activities. Therefore, it is important for teachers and parents to be aware of the impact that fine motor skill performance, or a child’s perception of their own fine motor performance in relation to their peers, may have on the child’s overall behaviour in the classroom. Working to help children develop the best fine motor skills possible at a young age helps to set the stage for success in school and at home, and more so, contributes to them feeling good about themselves.

Signs of weak fine motor skills:
List of observable behaviors of children with fine-motor difficulties.
  • Difficulty with writing; poor grasp leading to poor form, fluency, and frequent discomfort when writing.
  • Difficulty controlling speed of movements leading to excessive speed and resultant untidy work, or work not being completed due to overly slow movements.
  • Difficulty with precision grip and inaccurate release and therefore problems with games that involve placement of pieces; for example, dominoes.
  • Difficulty with spatial relations leading to difficulties with design and copying.
  • Tearing paper and/or breaking pencils due to force-control difficulties.
  • Difficulty with learning to dress and undress.
  • Preference for outdoor activities.
  • Clumsiness and frustration: spills food; drops objects; breaks objects.
  • Frustration towards and/or resistant behavior to manipulative and graphic tasks.
  • Excessive muscular tension when performing fine-motor tasks.
My next post will be about activities which can help in development of fine motor skills.
Useful links:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Recycling of plastic water or pet bottles in creative ways

PET is one of the most common plastics being used by consumers. Bottled water is usually called pet bottles. Recycling of these water bottles is very important to save our environment, our planet. This post is about creative uses or craft projects.
Polyethylene terephthalate or as it is more commonly known PET or PETE is a polymer resin that is part of the polyester family.The PET package is simply discarded by the consumer and becomes part of the waste stream as consumer waste. Some local governments and private agencies collect PET separately from other household waste.

PET bottle recycling is more practical and more easily executed because they are more easily identifiable in the recycle stream since most soft drink and water bottles are made exclusively of PET. Some of these are used in bottles for soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, edible oils, pharmaceuticals, and detergents. 
These first 3 projects are made by children at the occasion of 'Save energy' event, followed by other recycling pictures or news found at the net.

At the occasion of  'Save energy' event, this recycled project was created which shows the use of a  soda bottle as a trash bin
Another crafts created by class 5 boys 'A windmill'
Another recycling example which was created by class 5 boys
Grandfather creates geodesic: It is an innovative sustainable design for kids: the geodesic dome building blocks shown above are constructed entirely of used plastic bottles otherwise destined for a landfill.
Make.com has a long list of ideas for recycling water bottles-including one for using a bottle to keep your yarn from tangling. 
How about creating a beach shoe made of pet bottles? Gearfuse.com offers this unique idea of recycling your old water bottles as sandals for the beach. 
The boat made of thousands of plastic bottles used successfully ply the Pacific Ocean and dropped in a number of ports without significant disruption.
This boat has a length of 18 meters have been sailing for four months with the distance traveled 15,000 km. Thousands of old plastic bottles were tied to the pontoon, so that increases used strong special glue.
Plastic Bottle Boat sailing the Pacific Ocean for Four Months

Useful links:

* 20 crafty ways to reuse plastic bottles (An amazing post with link to 20 crafts made of plastic bottles)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Foods to Avoid if Your Child is Diagnosed ADHD?

Eliminating or avoiding some foods from the diet may improve ADHD symptoms. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, this diet guideline may help you minimize the ADHD and related symptoms.As diet and nutrition are related to mood and behavior, and that they can affect brain development, so particular changes in diet can diminish the symptoms related to this neurological disorder called 'ADHD'.

Avoiding or eliminating some foods means a particular food or ingredient you think might be causing ADHD symptoms. Then you stop eating anything containing that substance. If the symptoms subside, then you continue avoiding the substance. The assumption is that you are eating something unhealthy that causes ADHD symptoms or makes them worse. Proper nutrition, including an array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids (EFAs), is particularly necessary in the first few years of life to support brain development and prevent certain neurological disorders. 


Even among older children, a lack of certain dietary components such as protein, or an insufficient number of calories, can negatively affect a child’s learning and behavioral abilities, and vitamin or mineral deficiencies can certainly interfere with learning over the course of a school year.
What foods to avoid if your child is diagnosed ADHD?
  • NO DAIRY PRODUCTS, especially cow's milk. The American Pediatric Association estimates that a significant percentage of all children are allergic to milk. Instead try Almond milk, Rice milk, or Better Than Milk. We are looking at "Raw Organic Milk" which has not been pasteurized. Since it still has enzymes it might be digested better than the "ultra-pasteurized" milk. And drink lots of water for two weeks.
  • NO YELLOW FOODS. Especially Yellow Corn or Yellow Squash. Bananas are white, but don't eat the yellow peel. About 1/1000 people have problems with the stuff that makes these foods yellow in color.
  • NO JUNK FOODS. If it comes in a cellophane wrapper, don't eat it. Stop eating junk food and your brain will work better. Junk foods tend to be very high in sugars and carbohydrates, and our brains get fuzzy and our kids get more hyperactive when sugars and carbohydrates are eaten together.
  • NO FRUIT JUICES. They have too much sugar. One small glass of apple juice has the sugar content of eight apples. Later on you can have juice, but for now if you have to have any juice just dilute it with water 50/50.
  • CUT SUGAR INTAKE BY 90%. If you can, cut it down to zero. Sugar is in just about everything, but try to really restrict eating it. Do your best to reduce your sugar intake without going crazy.
  • CUT CHOCOLATE BY 90%. No more than a single piece, once a week. Chocolate is our favorite food here at newideas.net but it has about 220 different chemicals, some of which people can have problems with.
  • NO NUTRASWEET. None. Period. Never. It's bad for you. It is bad for your brain. This is not just a two week restriction. It is not very good for your brain.
  • NO PROCESSED MEATS and NO MSG. Only get meats with labels that say, “Turkey and Water,” etc. This is not just a two week restriction. If the meat has chemicals listed that you can't pronounce, don't buy it and don't eat it.
  • CUT FRIED FOODS BY 90%. The Trans-Fats in fried foods and other less than healthy foods compete in the body with good Fatty Acids, and the Essential Fatty Acids. You can either have unhealthy Trans-Fats, or healthy EFA, but not both in the same space in your brain. Good fats with good fatty acids are your friends. Bad fats such as Trans-fats or Poly-Unsaturated fats are bad for us. Good fat sources can include animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, flax oil and so on.
  • AVOID FOOD COLORINGS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. See if your child is sensitive to any particular colors, such as Reds, Yellows, etc. For now, though, avoid all if possible.
  • AVOID FISH. Mercury levels in most fish is simply too high to be either safe or healthy.
Related: http://newideas.net/adhd
Useful links:
ADHD and Diet: Parsing the Recent Research
Diet & ADHD: Are There Links Between ADHD & Diet?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inauguration of self protective training for disaster management like fire and earthquake

February 4 and 5th  (Saturday and Sunday) a group of teachers of our School participated in a two days workshop 'Protective and preventive measures to face disastrous situations like 'Fire and earthquake'.

Purpose of this short training workshop was to learn self-protective training to the employees of the institution.
The training venue was the school itself.
It was inaugurated by 'Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense' department. Fire Service and Civil Defence is a department working for all kind of rescue missions in Bangladesh including fire safety, safety during air raids and any kind of disaster.

Why this training?

Fire Safety: We know that every year Bangladesh and our dear city Dhaka has to face some kind of fire disasters among which many situations can be prevented. These accidents happen due to a very minor cause.
Whatever the cause may be, we can help minimize these disasters and learning what to tackle the situation as a responsible citizen.

Earthquake: After the recent great quakes that have swept away entire coastlines and cities in Japan, Haiti and Sumatra, scientists are now looking hard at the nation that may suffer the gravest threat of all: Bangladesh. With more than 160 million people, Bangladesh is the most crowded place on earth, and one of the poorest–and it is growing fast. Scientists have come to recognize that it sits at the juncture of several active tectonic plate boundaries–including the tail end of the one that caused the 2004 Sumatra tsunami that killed over 200,000 people, 1,300 miles south. Any moderate or severe earthquake situation can become disastrous for the whole country and especially for capital city Dhaka. So every citizen need to get some basic training for that difficult time to face the situation and help minimize number of causalities.

Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense provided training to preventive and precautionary measures of different types disasters, fight the fire (fire safety), rescue trapped persons, providing first aid etc.
Whole day training included lectures, slide shows and practical demonstration. Precaution and preventive measure regarding any disastrous situation like fire or earthquake was discussed.

Importance of Self protective training:
By learning preventive and precautionary measures we can  minimize the destruction of wealth and properties of the Nation.
  • We can help minimize the number of casualties and also help minimize the number of death.
Training outcome:
This kind of training and workshops help trainees getting ready to ----
  • Fight all types of fire breaking out at any time day and night.
  • Helping the volunteers or special teams to extricate trapped persons from burning buildings, underneath collapsed structures.
  • Be able to provide first aid to the injured person before reaching the hospital.
  • Advise on fire prevention and fire protection measures for buildings, industrial and commercial installations etc.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Importance of Having Nutritious Breakfast for Children

Do you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Not only for adults but children and school going kids should have habit of having breakfast at the start of the day.>A good breakfast provides the nutrients that people need to start their day off right. Studies also show a link between participation in the School Breakfast Program and improved academic performance.

Many people underestimate the value of breakfast. They may only have a glass of juice or a cup of coffee and eat nothing at all. However, research has shown that this type of routine is not the best habit to get into. Eating a substantial meal within the first few hours of waking up is much healthier for you and your child.
Children who eat a good breakfast tend to perform better in school, and have a better attendance and decreased hyperactivity. Children who don't eat breakfast tend to perform not as well, and also tend to have behavior problems such as fighting, stealing, and not listening to their teachers (Dr. Ronald Kleinman, Harvard Medical School).
  • A good nutritious breakfast need not include typical breakfast foods, but eating breakfast is a good habit to start off the school day.
  • Studies show that children and adult students who eat breakfast do more and better work in school than those who skip it. In contrast, those who skip breakfast tend to tire more quickly, be more irritable, and react less quickly than those who eat breakfast. Because many of the basic subjects are taught before noon, breakfast is an important meal.
  • National studies consistently confirm that breakfast provides fuel for school and boosts brain power. Children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, have a higher intake of key vitamins and minerals and are less likely to suffer from colds than those who skip their first meal of the day.
  •  In one study, test scores of children who did not eat breakfast were generally lower than those who had eaten a well-balanced morning meal. 
  • Another good reason to make sure that children have a balanced breakfast is that four out of five children do not get enough vitamins and minerals from lunch and dinner alone.
  •  By adding breakfast, children are more likely to get the vitamins and minerals they need. Also, children who don’t eat a good breakfast tend to eat more junk food during the day -- snacks that are high in fat and sugar and low in nutritional value.
Eating breakfast:                                                                                                                       
  • Improves classroom performance, including better test scores and grades
  • Increases children's ability to focus and concentrate on school work
  • Decreases behavior problems, tardiness and visits to the school nurse
  • Increases attendance rate
If your child eats breakfast at home, choose a breakfast with milk, fruit and cereal(grain product). These three foods can provide for a good breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast does not need to take a lot of time. A good breakfast should include nutritious foods from three of the four food groups.
Whole-grain bread or cereal, fruit, milk, yogurt, or eggs are good breakfast options. 
Suggestions to get your children to eat breakfast each morning:
Offer variety. Mixing a variety of healthy cereals, especially those that are lower in sugar, are a good source of carbohydrate and fibre for children. In addition, skim or 1% milk supplies needed calcium and protein.
Make it easy. If pressed for time in the morning, try cutting up fruit the night before, so it’s ready to add to cereal or yogurt
Be creative. Breakfast doesn't have to be limited to cereal or toast. A whole-wheat English muffin with mozzarella and tomato sauce or an omelette with vegetables may seem unconventional to parents, but if a child enjoys it, it can be a healthy choice.
Useful links:                                                                                                            
* 'Breakfast'
'Serve up the benefits of breakfast' at 'Scholastic.com'
Importance of breakfast for children
'Starting healthy eating habits

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