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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learn the basics of calligraphy online with free tutorials

Calligraphy is generally recognized as the Art of Beautiful Writing. It is also called typography. You can easily learn calligraphy with some practice at home while getting online help. There are many sites which offer free tutorials to start learning calligraphy. You can start learning with simple writing instruments or tools and paper.

You can also buy calligraphy bools and tools, stationary to start this fascinating hobby. It can be catagorized as an art form involving a lot of creativity. The more creative you are and enthusiastic about colour, shapes, designs you can be a good calligrapher with some practice.

There are many different ways of writing the letters of the alphabet.
In Typography these various representations are referred to as Fonts, in Calligraphy the various styles are referred to as Hands.

The primary tools used by Calligraphers to write are pens and brushes, pens and brushes can be either pointed or flat (broad).

Generally Calligraphy refers to a style of writing in which the width of various parts of a letter varies.

In the case of pointed pens or brushes these variations in thickness are provided by variations in pressure of the pen or brush on the paper.

With flat, or as they are usually referred to broad, pens or brushes, the variations are given by the variation of the angle at which the pen is held relative to the direction of the stroke.

Useful links and resources:

* 'Calligraphy online lessons'
Note: Lessons are not complete as you are asked to buy cd for the detailed lessons or course. But still the information at few pages are enough to start learning calligraphy.

* 'Learn' is the best place to start learning Calligraphy. Includes the basics, calligraphy alphabet, calligraphy history, how to begin, etc. Very useful.

* Learn How to Draw Beautiful Lettering - offers online basic Calligraphy lesson to get started.

* Decorative Calligraphy - Many great articles for learning about calligraphy, the different styles, and how to get started.

* 'Studio arts' offers basic three part lesson helping you learn how to start learning this fun and art form of writing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tips to buy safe and healthy lunch box for kids

Every mom wants to provide healthy and safe food for school going kids, but we sometimes ignore to check the material we use for packing lunch to tiffin. Parents should carefully select the food grade lunch boxes for their kids.

If you want to make sure that the healthy lunch that you pack for your child stays healthy and nutritious, you can avoid common contaminants and costly throw-aways by choosing the right lunch box solutions.
These tips are helpful to choose safe product for your kid's health and select lunch box made of harmless material which is healthier for regular use.

Cotton, bamboo spork, stainless steel, cloth are safe products for lunch boxes.

Metal or cloth is better than plastic:
Many plastic lunch boxes are made of PVC, which can contain contaminants such as lead, or leach chemicals like phthalates and BPA. If plastic is your best option, look for lunch boxes that are phthalate and BPA-free.

Wrap without plastic wrap or plastic baggies: Some plastic wrap and baggies are made with toxic chemical phthalates. Re-useable containers are a better choice; or you can choose butcher paper and bags such as GLAD brand made with polyethelyne.

Pack it yourself:
Packaging for greasy foods like microwave popcorn and french fries may be treated with PFCs, a non-stick coating linked to health disorders. Canned food and soda may also leach the chemical BPA. Choosing fresh or bulk food to package yourself is a healthier alternative.

Pack a No-Waste Lunch Box: The idea of lunch brought to and from school in a paper or plastic bag seems old fashion, but the use of an actual lunch box or reusable sack makes your eco-friendly options all the easier.

And finally, pack your food and drink in reusable containers. Just think of all the money you'd save per child per school year if you packed just two snacks and a drink in reusable containers.

Plastic Free Snacks and Sandwiches:
It's also great to stop using all those plastic zip bags and try reusable snack bags. These bags are handmade and come in some pretty fabrics. They're simple to wash and keep food fresh all day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to teach drawing to kids with simple shapes?

Teaching drawing to kids is fun as kids are very enthusiastic in learning and creativity process which is the main process in learning art/drawing. Teachers or parents can make this learning process easier and fun by applying some simple techniques.

Basic geomatrical shapes like circle, square, triangle, and rectangle are easy steps for the creation of simple pictures. Step by step instructions make it easy for kids to create pictures with simple shapes.

This techniques can be applied to teach drawing easier to preschoolers, home schoolers, kinder garteners etc. I start teaching drawing to my nursery class with very simple steps. Kids are promoted to  nursery after 'play' class (which is called reception year in some countries) they learn to draw circle, square, triangle and rectangle in their first year in school.

Most of the children are comfortable with circle which is very easy to draw. I first ask them to draw a circle, then add more circles or few strokes and then ask what is this object? Usually kids are very excited to see transformation of simple circle into cat, flower, clock etc.

Pictire at the left side shows the process of teaching duck with oval shape and curve lines.

- You can make house, train, etc with square shape
- Trianle can be transformed into flag, tree, star, etc
- Rectangle shape: van, truck, train etc

Ask the kids if they can think of any other objects with these shapes?
You would be surprised with the ideas coming from your class children. Encourage them to draw their own pictures.

Useful links:

* How to Teach Kindergarten Drawing

* 'Morning' have a very useful post 'Drawing in the Classroom, by Marcia MacEachron.
Link: Basic Drawing in the Classroom

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Download free parental control software to keep your kids safe online

 It is really difficult to keep our kids safe online as we cannot monitor all the time what they are doing online?
Parental control softwares usually block unwanted or adult sites but you need to be informed about their activities while surfing online. 'Norton' software developers has created parental control software to help them keep safe online. Before getting more information about the software, just check these statistics:

Some facts about use of computer and internet among our kids:
  • Kids spend an average of 40 hours a month online.
  • 32% of teens clear the browser history to hide what they do online from their parents
  • 63% of teens surveyed admit they know how to hide what they do online from their parents
  • 22% of teen girls say they have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves online.
  • 32% of teens surveyed said they’d been bullied, threatened or otherwise harassed online. Yet less than half of those teens reported it to their parents or another adult

 It’s important for you to know how your kids are spending their time online, and best way is to educate them. Another important step is to monitor their online activities. "Norton Online Family" offers a free software for all parents to keep their kids safe online. 
How it works?

- See your kids’ online activities at a glance: Easy-to-read activity reports give you the inside scoop on what your kids do online. In just minutes, you can find out what sites your kids visit, what they search for, who they chat with*, and what social networking sites they spend time at. You’ll get to know your kids better and gain a deeper understanding of their online interests, so you can protect and guide them

- Whether you’re at work, out of town, or simply away from home, you can log into Norton™ Online Family and see what your kids are up to online, in real-time. You’ll see what web sites they visit, what they search for, who they chat with* and more. It only takes a minute. And you can check in anytime, from any computer connected to the Internet or your smart phone.

 Norton Online Family alerts you via email when your kids do something they shouldn’t, such as attempting to visit a blocked site or exceeding their allotted computer time.
'Norton Online Family' says:
We want all parents to be able to protect their children and provide a safer Internet experience for them. So we’re offering Norton™ Online Family to all families, free of charge.

 Do you want to install Norton Safety Minder? This software is easy to install and use and it is only 11.6 MB.


Monday, July 12, 2010

An online parenting magazine for all parents

Being a parent for first time is challenging as there is a lot to learn, and experience. New parents need tips, suggestions, and advice from experienced parents. Internet has provided the opportunity of sharing useful information, tips and advice for parents about pregnancy, health, child care, and other topics.

'Todays Motherhood' is the answer to all parenting questions, child care, education, health, and everything related to it.
The site was first created from a parent who created a parenting site, gradually reforming it into an online magazine. Online magazines or blogs are a source of news, product or service reviews, advice or tips for child care and all relevant topics to parenting.

Resources section of the site offers many articles on baby, growing up, toddlerhood, older kids, pregnancy, and more.

Check the contest page for photography contest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Art Contest for children to win exciting prizes

Children from all over the world are invited to participate in an online art contest which is being sponsored by
'The American Academy of Pediatrics and'. It is a chance for children around the worlds to win exciting prizes.

The theme for this year 2010 art contest is "Protecting the World's Children from Tobacco and Secondhand Smoke".
“Secondhand smoke is dangerous to children's health and all of the world’s children deserve to be protected from tobacco,” warns AAP President Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP. “This is an opportunity for children's voices to be heard to help prevent addiction to tobacco, and for children to exercise their creativity to alert others to the dangers of tobacco and second-hand smoke.”

Rules and terms for the contest entry:

Official entry forms and consent forms must accompany all entries. Entries must be postmarked by July 30, 2010. Winning entries will be selected by a panel of judges including pediatricians, and announced in the summer.
The contest is open to boys and girls in three groups:
grades 3-5

grades 6-8

grades 9-12

Group winners and their parents/guardians will be invited to a presentation ceremony before several thousand pediatricians at the 2010 AAP National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco, CA, on Sunday, October 3.
Each first-place winner will receive a $500 cash prize and up to $1,000 for travel-related expenses. The three second-place winners will each receive $250.
The six winners’ schools will be awarded matching cash amounts.
For the first time, entries are also welcome from children from countries other than the U.S.A. For the single international award, the contest is open to children ages 13-18. The winner will receive a USD 500 cash prize with a matching amount for the school or homeschool.
This would make a great school project/activity. Send us photos of the class participating in this activity!!!

For details: Children's Art Contest

Download PDF copy of 'Entry Form'
Download 'consent form'

Friday, July 9, 2010

A pencil story teaching us important life lessons

During our school days we were usually asked to write essays or short stories on topics or objects like, 'my school, an apple, a house, a pencil' etc. While writing short essays or stories we normally think about the object in a descriptive way 'how it was created, built and used'. 

This post is about 'Pencil Story' having an inspirational and motivational value in it, teaching us important life lessons.                

Pencil story 

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. 

"There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be."

"One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand."

"Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil."
 "Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

"Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside."

"And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.
Now replacing the place of the pencil with you. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be. 

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you'll need it to become a stronger person. 

Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make. 

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.

Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.

Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.
For more inpiring stories: 'Indian child' 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Explore the Web for valuable research information.

I love to score the web for valuable information. During this search I came across many online resources which are difficult to find our with normal search. This post offers useful and valuable links for educators, students, librarian's, families, businesses and every person who love to browse the net. 

* ''  is a resource for online research by offering library and reference sites. 
More about the site (In their own words)

'Sites featured on are hand-selected and reviewed by our editorial team for their exceptional quality, content and utility. Published by StartSpot Mediaworks, Inc. in the Northwestern University/Evanston Research Park in Evanston, Ill., is the first in a family of vertical information portals designed to make finding the best topical information on the Internet a quick, easy and enjoyable experience. 

To date, has received more than 30 awards and honors. 
Most recently, selected as a "Forbes Favorite" site, the best in the reference category, and PC Magazine named it one of the Top 100 Web Sites. has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, CNBC and in many other media outlets.'

'' is a sister site of 'LibrarySpot' and is a valuable source for students, parents and educator.

It offers free homework information portal that features the very best K-12 homework-related sites together with engaging editorial in one high-utility, educational spot. With the help of students, parents and teachers, their team of educators, librarians and journalists has scoured the Web to bring you the best resources for English, math, science, history, art, music, technology, foreign language, college prep, health, life skills, extracurricular activities and much more. For your convenience, we have made every effort to organize these resources into grade-appropriate categories for elementary, middle and high school.

* 'Digital Librarian'  is an online resource from Margaret Vail Anderson, a librarian in Cortland, New York, offering best of the web sites around the net. Home page shows topics which takes you to another page with lots of more useful links and resources. 

* 'The British Library'  offers 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and so much more.

* 'Awesome Library' organizes the Web with 37,000 carefully reviewed resources, including the top 5 percent in education.

thousands of the best academic information websites, selected by teachers and library professionals worldwide, in order to provide to students and teachers current, valid information for school and university academic projects!
The Virtual LRC is both a dedicated index of over 10,000 web pages maintained by a real human being, as well as a meta-search engine that includes in its results information gleaned from many of the best research portals and university and public library Internet subject guides recommended by teachers and librarians.
The VLRC includes selected sites in a growing list of subject/information areas including: full-text magazines, newspapers, electronic text archives, art history, biography, biology, career information, psychology, history, government information, literature, medical information, social sciences, legal information, American Civil War, Art, Careers, Crime, Directories, Economics, Education, English Language, Electronic Texts, Foreign Languages, Geography, Genealogy, Government Information,Health/Medical, History, Legal Information, Lesson Plans, Literature, Mathematics, Music, Reference, Science, Technology, Tutorials on the Web, and Writing Style Guides. 

* 'Access my library'  offers free access to premium content you can trust. Browse and read over 30 million articles for business, education, and general research needs – absolutely free

Their goal (In their own words)
Our goal is to help you access information from credible sources while making the offerings of local libraries more accessible. We do this by using our technology to help people find this content, which search engines usually cannot access. 
AccessMyLibrary also includes articles from HighBeam Research, which is a part of the Gale family. HighBeam offers even more research content, including access to archives from more than 6,500 publications.

is a blog with resources of interest to information professionals, educators and journalists. It is a blog so unlike other sites you need to start search from 'categories' links.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Encourage your kids to read books

At this tech age, our kids spend more time with computers than other outdoor or indoor activities. Reading books is a healthy habit which can be encouraged by providing online reading links to our kids. Parents can guide kids and teens providing site links or useful resources for online ebooks. Good news is that most of the online resources provide free access to the stuff either it is an ebook, video, audio, or a power point presentation. 'Tar

'Tar Heel Reader' is an online free site  for beginning readers of all ages. Books are easy to read with big words which teachers can use in classroom for development of language and reading skills.

More about the site:
Link: 'Tar Heel Reader' 

Many of us many think that the site name is strange, so the explainaiton is that 'Tar Heel is a nickname for the state and people of North Carolina. And the name comes from the fact that tar, pitch and turpentine created from the vast pine forests were one of North Carolina's most important exports early in the state's history

More about the site:

It offers a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. It fulfills the needs of older students as well who do not have access to easy-to-read, motivating, and age-appropriate text.

The books may be downloaded as slide shows in PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash format. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces. Site also offers books in other languages such as Arabic, German, French, Latin etc.

Facts: Books have been read in 133 countries and all 50 US states. They have books in 12 languages. Over 25,000 books are currently being read each week. Over 100 new books are added each week.

How to search at the site for appropriate reading?

These are suggested audience ratings. Rated E/Everyone means the book is appropriate for everyone. Books marked Rated C/Caution may have content that is not appropriate for some readers. The Favorites page is a good way to give your readers a selection of books that you have approved.

You can download a slide show of a book easily. Just follow these simple steps:
Go to the first page of the book. On the left side you’ll see a column of buttons. The second is labeled Setup. It will take you to the reading controls page. There you’ll see links to download the book as PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash.

Experienced educators who are knowledgeable about beginning readers of all ages review books published on Tar Heel Reader.

Write a book!

You can also write a book and submit at the site. You need to get registration for writing a book;

- Sign up for free at the registration page. They recommend you to read about the Beginning Literacy Framework before beginning to write. It will help you appreciate the kind of books they seek.
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