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Showing posts with label skill development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skill development. Show all posts

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Skill development among kids -Playing with Play dough

I like play dough as learning and skill development tool and from very early age I provided play dough kits to my son. He is now 12 plus but still loves to play with play dough as there is a lot to create with this soft material. In preschool and early years at school or nursery, kids need to play with play dough for not only having fun but as a helping activity with many educational benefits.
Play dough helps children grow in following ways:
  1. Physically
  2. Emotionally
  3. Socially
The key to learning is repetition and being able to focus attention on an activity in detail.
By strengthening this skill, children begin to learn in a more complex manor such as problem solving and trail and error.
Playing with play dough is sensory attention span stretchers. According to the National Network for Childcare, toddlers have extremely short attention spans. Sensory activities, such as playing with Play Dough, often helps children stay focused for longer periods of time.

Educational benefits of play-dough and process of skill development: 
  1. It helps to strengthen little fingers, hands and wrists.
  2. Modelling and using cutters & rollers is great for muscle development.
  3. Fine Motor Development: Fine motor skills are essential in the developmental process of a young child. By playing with play dough, children are introduced to the skills that they will need to begin placing paint brushes, scissors, and pencils in the correct holding position. These skills help them later to develop writing skills.
  4. Emotional Development: These activities can be messy, but recognize that the mess is worth the soothing nature that will take place in your classroom versus the alternative.
  5. Social Skills: Play Dough can teach the toddler to share with others, interact with other toddlers, as well as learn to communicate and share her final results with the play group
  6. Imagination and Creativity: Imagination and creativity are vital processes to enhance learning skills.  It helps to foster your child's imagination.  According to the Creativity Institute, encouraging the development of creativity in a toddler helps develop the child's mind, including his skills of decision making, problem solving and imaginative thought in general. It deepens their thinking and sets them up for success. Dramatic play is even more important than letters and numbers.
  7. It is one of the best open ended toys I know - play-dough can be anything - food, animals, bowls, shapes etc
  8. It helps children develop self esteem -there is no right or wrong and the child has the opportunity to gain mastery over their environment.
  9. It is a great release for tension or angry feelings - squeezing, punching, poking are all acceptable if done to play dough. 
  10. Play dough can be used as therapy for special-needs children.

Provide molding tools and accessories to develop creativity and imagination such as:
  • Plastic knives
  • Plastic scissors
  • Rolling pins
  • Cookie cutters
  • Mixing bowls
  • Little aluminum pie pans
  • Glitter
You may buy play dough kids which are available with various colors and tools to shape and play. Professionally made play dough can be used few times. Usually we make play dough with easily available materials at school. But it can be used once and you need to add colors at different portions of dough to make it more interesting.
If you are using it at home then 'home made play dough' is a cheaper solution.

There is a great deal of learning happening when you simply let children play with play dough. Play Doughcan also help a child learn basic information such as colors, shapes, counting etc.. 

Useful links:

Playdough Recipe for Kids

Friday, March 9, 2012

Building block play helping build learning skills among kids

There are so many benefits of play building blocks. Playing with building blocks helps in educational skill developmental and mental stimulation for kids.
It has been more than 200 years since it was determined that wooden blocks aid the development of young children through play with building blocks of various kinds.

They can be wooden, plastic, cardboard and even foam in vibrant colors and different shapes like cylinders, squares, arches, triangles and more.                                      

They may help your child develop and enhance
  • motor skills
  • hand-eye coordination
  • spatial skills
  • creative problem-solving skills
  • mental stimulation
  • social skills
  • language skills
More Educational benefits of playing blocks:
Physical benefits: Toy blocks help in improvement of eye-hand coordination. Building blocks help build strength in little fingers and hands especially when using sets that involve pieces that snap together and pull apart.

Social benefits: Block play encourages children to make friends and cooperate, and is often one of the first experiences a child has playing with others. Blocks are a benefit for the children because they encourage interaction and imagination. Creativity can be a combined action that is important for social play.

Intellectual benefits: Children can potentially develop their vocabularies as they learn to describe sizes, shapes, and positions. Math skills are developed through the process of grouping, adding, and subtracting, particularly with standardized blocks, such as unit blocks. Experiences with gravity, balance, and geometry learned from toy blocks also provide intellectual stimulation.

Creative benefits: children receive creative stimulation by making their own designs with blocks. Building blocks inspire and encourage imaginative and creative play.

Blocks teach problem-solving skills through the discovery of how stacking and matching can produce different results.

One study found that kids who played with blocks scored higher on language tests than kids who had no blocks. Perhaps the children with blocks simply spent less time on unproductive activities such as watching TV--but the end result was good for them in any case.
Kids can integrate their own constructions into pretend play scenarios. And there is evidence that complex block-play is linked with advanced math skills in later life.

Blocks are also helpful for children with ADHD. Blocks are now available categorized by age for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, early school age and older school age children.
Useful links:

* Educational benefits of playing blocks

* Toy blocks - A guide at 'Parenting Science'

* Lessons to teach while playing with blocks

Monday, March 5, 2012

Play and Skill development among children

Play has always been part of learning and growing, and at the same time it provides enjoyment and fun. It is a tool which teachers or parents can use effectively for skill development among children. Play helps children develop intellectually,emotionally. It also helps in motor skills, and language development skills.

Kids need opportunities to play both alone and with other children. This will ensure that motor skills, cognitive skills and social skills all have a chance to develop and flourish.  Play is one of the ways children learn about and practice living in their world and their culture. It also helps children to manage their feelings and to cope with upsetting things that happen in their lives. Play helps build relationships.
Physical activities improve motor skills. Toys and activities that encourage them to use their imaginations can help them develop cognitive skills. And group activities enhance social skills.

List of various kind of plays and how they help in skill development among children.

Intellectual development (learning)
  • Sorting toys - learning about number and grouping 
  • Puzzles - learning about shapes, sizes, number 
  • Posting boxes - learning about space and size 
  • Hitting a mobile and making it move - learning about cause and effect 
  • Card games and board games 
  • Making up games
Developing motor (physical) skills                         
  • Pushing and pulling toys 
  • Riding on toys 
  • Picking up small things 
  • Throwing and catching 
  • Climbing toys 
  • Using crayons or paint brushes 
  • Writing Computer games 
  • Hitting balls
Social/emotional development
  • Playing alongside others and watching them 
  • Playing with others 
  • Playing mothers and fathers 
  • Copying adults and practising adult tasks and roles 
  • Water, paint and mud - expresses feelings Music - relaxes and expresses feelings 
  • Pretend play - dressing up Games with rules (eg hopscotch, card games, ball games)
Developing language
  • Stories and books 
  • Songs 
  • Nursery rhymes 
  • Games with friends and adults 
  • Talking to each other 
  • Listening to tapes
Cognitive Development

Many educational toys concentrate on cognitive development. This includes things like remembering, problem solving and decision making. These skills are essential for success in school and all other aspects of life. Any activity that requires imagination has the potential to encourage problem solving and decision making skills. Games such as Memory and Bop can help a child develop his memory.

An important part of play for young children is play with parents, and there should be some time for this every day. A toy company some years ago asked a large number of five year olds what they would like for Christmas, and their survey found that many children wanted more time with their parents!

More useful links and online sites:

* The Role of Pretend Play in Children's Cognitive Development 

* How to accelerate fine motor skill development among children?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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

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.
"" 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

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 


  Useful links:

Cutting Skills Printables

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:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Proper Development of fine motor Skills is Important?

A motor skill is simply an action that involves your kids using his muscles. They are divided into two groups: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Both types of motor skills usually develop together, because many activities depend on the coordination of gross and fine motor skills.

Gross and Fine motor skills have become an important parameter for assessing the development of the child. So it’s important to develop these skills in them which will in turn help them to perform better academically and physically too.

Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the body involving physical movement of the child like running, jumping, hopping etc. These require balance and coordination skills.
Fine motor skills are the collective skills and activities that involve the small muscle movements using the hands, fingers with vision. 
Today we are learning about 'fine motor skills', and its importance. Moreover what tasks your kids can perform if he/she has developed fine motor skills properly.

Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements especially the coordination of finger movement with vision to perform precise and refinded movements. These skills are acquired as children, and humans secure and perfect them throughout life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Story telling and skill development

Story telling is another skill development tool which teachers or parents can use effectively. Active learning and creativity are at the core of storytelling. It is about enabling children and young people to become good listeners, storytellers and storymakers. Storytelling is fun and stimulates the imagination.

Storytelling is engaging and motivates children to learn, as well as stimulating an interest and skills in writing and reading. Using stories of increasing complexity and length from a range of story genres encourages progressive learning through and between levels.

Storytelling and storymaking help teachers to meet the Listening and talking experiences and outcomes of Literacy across learning, Literacy and English and Health and Wellbeing across learning. They can also be used as tools for supporting learning in numeracy, science and other areas, and can lead to cross-curricular and inter-departmental collaborations.

Many storytellers, educators and researchers advocate that storytelling can contribute significantly to early literacy development.

Developing Literacy Skills Through Storytelling

Development of Imagination: When children listen to stories, they respond by creating images of the characters and places described by the words. This process of developing internal images and meaning in response to words is the basis of imagination. Researchers who study brain and behavioral development have identified imagination, not only as the essence of creativity, but as the basis for all higher order thinking.

Improvement of Reading, Writing , and Speaking Skills: Children who listen to stories are exposed to many new words. Storytelling can be used in a myriad of ways to improve students' oral communication skills. Once they have heard a story, children are usually anxious to discuss their understanding of the story and relate it their own experiences.

Strengthening of Critical Thinking Skills: A close look at traditional stories from any culture reveals stories dealing with death, loss, separation, abandonment, fear, and anger. The stories also show that love, compassion, understanding, and courage can be a part of stories as well. Students grapple with painful realities of life: parental divorce, poverty, substance abuse, the violent deaths of close friends--and stories can help them negotiate these difficulties of life and can be of inestimable value.

Stories are also effective in increasing tolerance and understanding of people from other cultures. Through the medium of story, the listener can safely explore what all human beings have in common as well as how they differ from each other.

Stories are not just incidental to the development of literacy in young people--they are essential. They are a powerful and indispensable tool to teaching literacy and critical thinking skills to students.

More at: 'National service'

* Storytelling also enhances comprehension skills.

* "When storytelling is combined with judicious questioning and retelling strategies, comprehension skills at the literal, inferential and critical levels can be developed

Useful links:

* 'Story Arts Online' says: As a learning tool, storytelling can encourage students to explore their unique expressiveness and can heighten a student's ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in an articulate, lucid manner.

* SHARING STORIES: A Storyteller’s Approach to Oral History

* The Role of Storytelling in Early Literacy Development

* The Development of Children's Story Telling Skills. Download PDF report

Friday, June 26, 2009

Help your child in developing problem solving skills

Problem solving skill can lead to success in practical life where we need problem solving and creativity in each and every step. As parents and teachers we can help in developing problem solving skills among our kids/children. Normally every child is born with this skill but with proper encouragement and taking few practical but simple steps can help develop this skill very easily.

All parents and teachers have seen the unique ability of toddlers to use toys and materials in unexpected ways. One child may turn a cup into a hammer or a basket into a hat. Another toddler may stand on a riding truck to try to reach a toy or pull over a chair to climb onto a bookshelf. Observant adults recognize these innovations as signs that children are learning to use their thinking skills to solve problems.

Experiences in problem solving help children develop curiosity and patience, along with thinking skills such as flexibility, and understanding of cause and effect. They learn to work toward achieving a goal, and gain confidence in their ability to reach a solution. Even very young children make discoveries on their own. An
infant who accidentally creates a noise with a rattle may then make the sound again and again on purpose. An older infant discovers that by looking under a blanket, he can find a hidden toy. A toddler who cannot pull a wagon up a hill by herself learns that she and a friend can push it up from behind.

By not rushing in and rescuing young children who are facing minor everyday problems, adults can help infants and toddlers develop confidence and increase their thinking abilities.

It's also helpful for parents and teachers to provide materials that encourage children to explore. Some toys, such as jack-in-the-boxes and busy boxes, provide opportunities to explore simple cause-and-effect relationships. Other common materials like empty cardboard boxes, plastic bowls, or scarves can provide open-ended experiences through which toddlers can make choices and decisions, and
find different ways to manipulate the materials.

Other activities can involve materials such as clear plastic tubing (such as the tubing used for aquariums) which children can fill with bright materials, and watch the materials move as they shake the tubes. If you provide inclines or ramps of wooden blocks, a toddler can watch what happens as objects roll down inside the tubes. She may discover that some objects roll faster than others. He may learn about
actions and reactions when he sets plastic bottles at the bottom of the ramp to create a unique bowling game.
(Whatever materials you provide to help children experiment with problem solving, remember to be very careful about choking hazards.)

These everyday materials are fun, and can hold children interest for long periods. They also help children experiment with cause and effect and with gravity and physics. In addition to supporting cognitive development, problem-solving activities help in the social arena as well. Groups of children engaged in these activities negotiate with their friends and learn how to solve interpersonal problems.\

By providing interesting materials and enthusiastically reinforcing children attempts to explore and solve problems, parents and teachers can stimulate children development, promote advanced critical thinking, and help children take pride in their own abilities to find out more about how their world works.

Excerpted from "Using Everyday Materials to Promote Problem
Solving in Toddlers" by Laura Segatti, Judy Brown-DuPaul, and Tracy L.
Keyes - an article in the NAEYC journal.
Link: Helping toddlers become problem solvers

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How to choose age appropriate toys for children?

Last year a parent asked me to suggest the toys for her 5 year old daughter with some learning disability symptoms. I personally prefer to provide blocks, and other educational toys for that specif age because my son enjoyed playing with blocks for hours and it definitely helped him in skill development. This article would help you choose age appropriate toys for your children and this guide is also useful to select and buy gifts for children.

Selecting toys for young children is an important task that involves decisions about the kinds of interests, motivation, and skills we want children to develop. Any toy given to a child should match his or her developmental age and individual needs.

When choosing a toy, careful attention should be paid to safety and durability--materials should have lasting play value and help provide a foundation for future development.

Following are some ideas for inexpensive, and most important, fun play materials for the early years:

Birth through six months

Toys for young infants should promote their interest in looking, listening, sucking, and grasping. Well-secured, unbreakable crib mirrors, rag dolls, stuffed toys and simple hand puppets moved by an adult are all age appropriate gifts that can either be made or purchased for a minimal amount of money.

6 to 12 months

Infants from 6-12 months are able to enjoy a wider variety of toys which support their social, cognitive, and physical development. Floating objects for bath play, construction materials, simple puzzles, cloth and board books, and balls are durable options for young children at this stage.
1 to 2 years

Toddlers are increasingly mobile and independent. Dressing, lacing, and stringing materials, picture and nursery rhyme books, nontoxic crayons for scribbling, and stacking materials will be enjoyed by one-year-olds, while role-playing toys, pegboards, and large balls to kick, throw, and catch are good choices for older toddlers.

3 to 5 years

Three- to five-year-olds often find enjoyment from materials that promote pretend play and foster their language and social skills. A large variety of books suitable for this age are available, as well as an assortment of blocks, dress-up clothes and simple games, including dominoes, bingo boards, and card games.

6 through 8 years

Primary-school age children show interest in and benefit from a number of specific skill-development toys. They can spend hours with art and crafts materials, particularly washable paints, clay, collage equipment, and small beads for jewelry making. Books and more complex games with rules and turn-taking are also appropriate, and natural objects (stones and shells) can pique an interest in science and the environment.

Keep in mind that the holiday season can also be stressful for children. It isn't necessary to give a child a room full of toys in order for him to have fun. Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the most enjoyable.

Link: Simple Gift Giving For The Early Years

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tips to stimulate a child's creativity

Creativity is a skill which can be learned and developed through practice. This talent can be encouraged among children with the some tips and tricks. These tips and tricks can dramatically accelerate child's personal growth and help sharpening their thinking skills as well as exercising their natural creative powers.

Bill Gates recently said that “Too few young people are acquiring the knowledge they need to use technology in creative and innovative ways.”

Bill goes on to say that, “We can all help address this issue. As parents, we must help our children appreciate the joys of learning and discovery. Teachers and educators must find ways to teach science and math so it is relevant and exciting.”

These 10 ways to stimulate your child's creativity are taken from '' and for detailed post you can read the full article at the bottom of the post. May be these all tips cannot be adopted but they can definately help you to train your child's creativity development.

1. Create A Magical Dress-Up Box
2. "When I Grow Up" Drawings
3. Cast The Kids In A Play
4. Create a Never-Ending Bedtime Story Starring Your Child
5. I Feel Like Dancing!
6. Plan A Garden Together
7. Make A Kite First...Then Go Fly It!
8. Let Your Kid Lead The Way
9. What's Cookin' Outside
10. Create A Musical Band

Source: Top 10 Ways To Foster A Child's Creativity

Related posts:

* Learn doodling to make you more creative

* 7 activities to stimulate creativity

* Games that stimulate creativity

* Crafts activities improve students learning skills

* Interested in inventions, innovation and creativity?-Let's explore!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tips for parents to help their child's brain development

Parents are always eager to see their child healthy in both ways: physically or mentally. Physical development is possible by providing them nutritious food and physical movements which might be free play or participation in sports or other related activities. But do we think that our children need another thing from us?

Yes, helping them grow their mental skills which nourish their brains. This article is offering tips for parents to help their child's brain development.

Basic brain maintenance for our children, and for ourselves, means making a specific effort, every day, to help our children's brains work normally. Dr. Ingraham urges parents to teach their children every day, by example as well as by communication, so that they develop positive and healthy habits and lifestyles, now and for the future. Children learn best by example

Bed on time: Sleep is brain restoration time. The brain's systems do not function very well without sleep.

Normal nutrition: The brain requires normal nutrition to develop normally and replenish the brain's chemicals.

Regular exercise: Endorphins are the brain's built-in stabilizers. Exercise and physical work stabilize the brain's systems, especially the emotion response and mood regulation systems.

Regular outdoor time: Being outdoors is therapeutic. We humans were not meant to be indoors all the time.

Regular chores and responsibility: Teach your child how to work. Work keeps a child connected to the reality of life. Teaching a child by example how to work helps the brain develop normally. The opportunity to learn to work is crucial. Children who never work never mature.

Tie all privileges to responsibilities: This keeps the child connected to the reality of life, and what life requires for success.

No exposure to violence, in any form: Violence in the family, violence in the environment, violence in TV, videos, video games and movies. Repeated and continual exposure to violence, whether in person or in the media, reprograms the child's primitive brain systems. We want to maintain the normal ecology of our children's brains.

No exposure to greed, extravagance, explicit sex: These are major problems with the media and our value systems, both of which have disconnected our children from reality.

Simplify your life and your family's life: Make your family's life more personal and less driven.

Get in tune with your real values and priorities: Get off the rollercoaster of materialism.

Source: CHILDREN’S HEALTH CARE OF ATLANTA, Georgia Dept of American Academy of Pediatrics and Department of Human Resources.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Importance of Teaching Children Good Social Skills

Among other skill develpment options, it is noted that social skill is the most important among all. This post would help you learn the importance of teaching good social skills to children.

Your 4-year-old may already know how to tie their own shoelaces and spell out their first and last names. But as preschool looms around the corner, are you worried how well they’ll fit in with the rest of the classroom?

According to a nationwide survey conducted of 1,000 parents by Mom Central Inc. on behalf of Hasbro Inc., the majority of parents feel the same way with 90 percent considering social skills to be vital to their children’s happiness and confidence.

Nearly eight out of 10 parents also think social skills are more important than academic skills when it comes to their child’s overall happiness. As a matter of fact, parents gave social skills a higher ranking than academic skills on the survey in nearly every area of child development.

“More than ever, our children must get along with others to function effectively,” says Stacy DeBroff, chief executive officer of Mom Central, found at “In this age of team sports and structured play, it has never been more critical for our children to master socialization skills. From children’s play groups to collaboration in the classroom, kids today engage in significantly more structured group activities, raising the profile and the necessity for good social skills.”

According to the survey, one in five parents feel overwhelmed with teaching social skills and more than one-third say that teaching social skills leads to frustration. In response, Stacy DeBroff has developed some tips parents can use to help their child learn social skills in a positive and reinforcing way:

* Lead by example.

Children are excellent observers. If they see Mom and Dad using polite language, sharing and being respectful, they will follow their parents’ guidance.

* Play with them in an educational way.

Children love to play games with their parents because it provides them with direct attention. Noodleboro by Hasbro is a new line of board games, which includes storybooks and audio CDs that nurture preschoolers’ social skills through laughter and play.

* Take a problem-solving approach.

If a situation becomes stressful, encourage your child to talk about the issues they might have with saying “please,” and “thank you” or sharing their toys with their friends. By allowing children to talk, they often discover for themselves what’s causing the problem while also coming up with unique ways in which they will be able to handle themselves.

“It’s more than just manners… it’s sharing, it’s listening, and it’s engaging with others. The Noodleboro games offer an innovative way to use a classic board game to reward and challenge kids as they learn valuable social skills,” says DeBroff.

Source: 'ARAcontent'

More resource and articles:
* Download pdf report: 'Discipline- teaching school age children social skills'

* How to Teach Your Child Social Skills

* At 'Self Growth: "How to Teach Your Child Social Skills?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

'Kids Cant Wait' - Helping Students Graduate With Needed Skills

High school graduation is an important step which prepares students for further higher studies and jobs as well. But how many of all graduates are successful in getting good grades for higher studies or good jobs?

Reality is that most of the students are not sufficiently skilled for the future life. The question is,

Why we need 'skill' development for high school students?

It is commonly observed that most of the students who graduate from high school lack the skills needed to do well in college or in a job.
- Many high school graduate end up in second class jobs because employers screen new employees with 6th grade English and Math tests and most of them can't pass the screen tests.
- Some college students have to appear for remedial courses because they fail freshman placement tests.

So we as a parents or teachers have to provide our support to students that they would have access to effective extra academic programs (especially in English and math) and graduate with the skills they need. is a campaign to help high school students graduate with skills.

The site will provide extra academic resources.

Moreover it will feature:(In their own words)

•A statewide directory of in-school and extended-time academic programs with descriptions and contact information.

•A Business Honor Roll of businesses who support local extra academic time programs for high school students by providing funding or other resources such as mentors, tutors, and summer jobs scheduled around extra help programs.

•Regional Business Forums: These forums, held across the state this spring with state officials, educators, and business leaders, will highlight local school and business-supported programs, enlist new business partners, and marshal local support.

•Community Media Outreach: At local editorial board meetings with school superintendents, businesspeople, community leaders, and legislators, we will highlight local efforts underway in our schools and advocate for increased focus on students who need help.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Games That Stimulate Creativity

Everyone has some degree of creativity. But you need to stimulate your skills to be creative. This post would suggest you many simple games or activities which can be easily adopted as a skill development tool by teachers. It is teacher's involvement which can make these games more interesting and fun.

Each of these exercises will help your students increase their ability to solve problems creatively. While completing the exercises, students shouldn't race through just to see the answers. They should work at each game until they develop the perspective necessary to play it well. Each exercise is designed to demonstrate an important point that should be mastered before going on to the next challenge.

Try to keep students from becoming discouraged. In learning to master creative problem solving, the best way—and sometimes the only way—is to learn through mistakes. Fear of making mistakes is often the most inhibiting attitude to effective problem solving.

Exercise #1: Kindred Relationships

There have been many efforts to define or explain the creative process. Psychologist Sarnoff A. Mednick of the University of Michigan thinks of it as the forming of associative elements into new combinations or arrangements.

That may not be the whole story, but the person who can marshal a great number of associations and ideas and bring them to bear on his problem has the best chance of coming up with an original solution.

In this exercise, think of a fifth word that is related to the preceding four words. (Compound and hyphenated words or commonly used expressions are allowed.)
Elephant, bleed, lie, wash
Answer:White (white elephant, bleed white, white lie,
Sleeping, contest, spot, shop
Answer: Beauty (sleeping beauty, beauty contest, beauty spot, beauty shop)
Now train your own associative powers with the following sets:

1. bug rest fellow cover ____________________
2. cross baby blood ribbon ____________________
3. see carpet hot cent ____________________
4. touch palate soap sell ____________________
5. easy hush belt order ____________________
6. tree cup cake forbidden ____________________
7. wagon stand aid dance ____________________
8. dust movie gaze sapphire ____________________
9. tooth talk potato bitter ____________________
10. alley date snow spot ____________________

Answers: 1. Bed 2. Blue 3. Red 4. Soft 5. Money 6. Fruit 7. Band 8. Star 9. Sweet 10. Blind

Exercise #2: More Than Meets the Eye

One of the most useful of all thinking modes in creative problem solving is visual thinking. It is especially effective in solving problems where shapes, forms, or patterns are concerned. To improve your powers of visualization, concentrate on the accompanying illustration.

The question usually asked in connection with this design is whether you see either the vase or the two human profiles. A mentally flexible person will see both. For purposes of this mental exercise, however, try to see as many additional items in the picture as you can. Look at it from many different points of view and from as many angles as you wish. Then check the list below. Some of the items may seem far—fetched. But, remember, the idea is to use your imagination freely.

Answers: 1. An anvil. 2. An overpass pillar on a highway. 3. Champagne glass. 4. Piano stool. 5. Tower with revolving restaurant. 6. Minute-timer. 7. Propeller. 8. Chess-game rook or castle. 9. Fruit holder. 10. Bird bath. 11. Chalice. 12. Rubber grommet. 13. Keyhole slot in door. 14. An extrusion die. 15. Two Pontiac automobiles about to crash head on. 16. A screw jack. 17. An arrowhead going into an object. 18. Two girls sitting back-to-back and holding parcels on their heads.

Exercise #3: Loose Ends

Defining a problem too narrowly can inhibit and delay finding a solution. The creative problem solver tries to state the requirements as broadly as possible at the beginning. If, after a reasonable time, no solution presents itself, he tries to restate it in such a way that a new avenue of approach becomes available.

Less successful problem solvers, on the other hand, persist doggedly in the same direction, even when the difficulty does not yield to their efforts. They are blocked from considering new directions by stubborn commitment to the old.

Look at the first sketch and imagine that you are the person shown standing in the room. You have been given the task of tying together the ends of the two strings suspended from the ceiling. The strings are located so that you cannot reach one string with your outstretched hand while holding the second in your other hand. The room is totally bare, and you have only the resources you would normally have in your pocket or handbag. How do you solve this problem?

Most people will see the difficulty as a shortness of reach. That is, they state the problem to themselves as: "How can I get to the second string?" The consequence of this perspective is that all effort goes into vain efforts to find a means of making one of the strings longer. But the "givens" of this problem make such a solution impossible.

If, however, you define the problem as "How can the string and I get together?", another sort of solution may occur to you. The solution requires that you see the difficulty in terms of getting the second string to come to you. If you tie a small object-say, a key or a ring-to the end of one string and set it swinging like a pendulum, you can grab it while still holding the end of the second string in the other hand.

Exercise #4: Breaking Out

Most of us impose too many imaginary boundaries, restrictions, and constraints upon our problems, and hence fail to solve them.

The problem: Draw four straight lines through the nine dots without retracing and without lifting your pen from the paper.

The key to the solution is, of course, that the imaginary boundaries formed by the dots need not be observed. Once freed from this restriction, you will find the solution easy, as shown here.

Researchers at Stanford University have come up with an even more interesting solution to this puzzle. One subject realized that it wasn't necessary to draw four lines through the centers of the dots; the problem can be solved with only three lines.

Exercise #5: Nature's Inventions

Biology and zoology are considered by many to be rich sources of analogies from which significant inventions can be derived. One of the most celebrated cases is the invention of the telephone. As Alexander Graham Bell wrote: "It struck me that the bones of the human ear were very massive as compared with the delicate thin membrane that operated them; and the thought occurred to me that if a membrane so delicate could move bones so relatively massive, why should not a thicker and stouter piece of membrane move a piece of steel." Thus was the telephone conceived.

Here is a list of animals and the inventions they exemplify. Try matching the animal with the invention.

1. bat ( ) parachute
2. armadillo ( ) snowshoes
3. chameleon ( ) anesthetic
4. fish ( ) helicopter
5. flying squirrel ( ) suction cup
6. squid ( ) hypodermic
7. hummingbird ( ) radar
8. scorpion ( ) camouflage
9. snake ( ) electricity
10. abalone ( ) tank
11. caribou ( ) jet propulsion


1. bat (5) parachute
2. armadillo (11) snowshoes
3. chameleon (9) anesthetic
4. fish (7) helicopter
5. flying squirrel (10) suction cup
6. squid (8) hypodermic
7. hummingbird (1) radar
8. scorpion (3) camouflage
9. snake (4) electricity
10. abalone (2) tank
11. caribou (6) jet propulsion

Exercise #6: More or Less

We frequently fail to solve problems because we approach them with prejudgments or unwarranted assumptions. These assumptions restrict our thinking processes and hamper our imaginations.

When doing this problem, try to defer any prejudgments that pop into your mind and try to deliberately change your point of view: Add one line to the roman numeral XI, and end up with the number ten. Try for at least three different solutions.

The most obvious solution is to add a fraction bar, X/l. Other solutions:

The solutions shown above are just some of those that involve the use of a straight line. However, the problem statement was: "Add one line.. . " With no qualifications as to the shape of the line, it would be an unwarranted assumption to try to solve this problem with only straight lines.

As long as we produce a mark with just one sweep of the pen, without lifting the pen from the paper, that is "one line." With this in mind, the following solutions are permissible:

Exercise #7: The Collected Works

We are frequently hampered in creative problem solving by our habitual ways of looking at things. The more familiar a situation or an object is, the harder it is to see it differently. Creativity, however, requires a "fresh" pair of eyes.

While this problem looks deceptively simple, it is actually quite diffficult. There are four volumes of Shakespeare's collected works on the shelf.

The pages of each volume are exactly 2 in. thick. The covers are each 1/6 in. thick. A bookworm started eating at page 1 of Volume I and ate through to the last page of Volume IV. What is the distance the bookworm covered?

Exercise #8: Joined Together

Most people rush in to tackle a problem without considering the alternatives and without attempting to understand what is involved. As the result, they waste a lot of time and effort.

To illustrate the importance of analysis, copy this design and keep track of how long it takes you. (Tracing is not allowed.)

If it took anywhere from one to three minutes, try a different approach and copy it again to see if that new point of view helps you copy the design more quickly.

The design can be copied easily and accurately in less than 15 seconds. One step-by-step approach is as follows:

Another imaginative solution occurs when you recognize the pattern as being made up of four identical parts. Drawing them one after another and rotating each successive part 90 degrees makes a speedy reproduction:

You can tape two pencils together and zip through to a speedy solution.

The answer is five inches. If you had trouble with this one, you were probably trapped by a conventional way of visualizing. We are accustomed to seeing a book in a certain position—facing us, with the first page near the left hand cover and the last page nearest the right hand cover. But it was specified in this problem that the volumes were on the shelf. With the backs facing you, the order of pages is reversed.

In creative problem solving it serves well to heed this warning: The more familiar the object, the harder it is to see it in another context.

Exercise #9: Concealed Colors

This game is designed to increase your flexibility and your ability to overcome the restrictions of habit. The name of what color is concealed in each sentence?

1- Newspaper editors decided to go on strike. (Red)
2- The cab lacked proper brakes to stop at the intersection. (Black)

Now try these:
1- A big, old, hungry dog appeared at our door every morning.
2- The cop persuaded him not to create a disturbance.
3- The Brazilian student Paulo lives around the corner from us.
4- You shouldn't let an upstart like him bother you.
5- He let out a big yell, owing to the injuries he received when he fell.
6- La Jolla venders decided to cut their prices in half.
7- Long rayon fabrics were loaded on the truck.
8- The Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli lacked the requisite documents to enter the U.S.
9- You shouldn't sell this fossil very cheaply because it is a rare specimen.
10- The new law hit everybody's pocketbook pretty hard.

Answers: 1. Gold 2. Copper 3. Olive 4. Tan 5. Yellow 6. Lavender 7. Gray 8. Lilac 9. Silver 10. White

In order to identify the hidden colors, you have to disregard the signs that say "stop"—such as word spacings, periods, and commas. People who are habit-ridden will find this exercise very difficult.

Exercise #10: Scams

The purpose of this exercise is to build your fluency of thought and expression. At first, you might find that you can think of only a few sentences but, if you persist, many more will occur to you.

Write five-word sentences from the five given letters, one letter for each word.

Here are a couple of examples:
1- Senior citizens arrange maximum security.
2- Sarcastic comments are meant seriously.

Now see how many sentences you can produce in exactly five minutes, then check some of the possibilities given below.
1- Sleepy cats always move slow.
2- Singing cellos alter mood substantially.
3- Sabotage caused army's move southward.
4- Spoiled children angered mother steadily.
5- Straightened circumstances affect man's stability.
6- Strike caused austerity moves subsequently.
7- School classes appear moderately satisfying.
8- Studious children always merit success.
9- Sly crocodiles attacked migrating settlers.
10- Siamese cats age much slower.

Exercise #11: A Woman's Ingenuity

With some problems, a creative solution can only occur after the elements or parts of the problem have been reorganized into a different pattern. This requires that you juggle the parts in your mind's eye. With this in mind, see if you can solve this problem: A businessman brought back from Europe four pieces of chain in solid gold, each consisting of three links.

He wanted to keep them as an investment, but his wife felt that—joined together—the pieces would make a lovely necklace. She went to a jeweler and said, "I want you to connect these pieces to make a necklace. How much will it cost?" The jeweler laid the individual pieces of chain out in this pattern:

He told the lady, "I charge $2.50 to break a link and $2.50 to melt it together again. Since you have four corners, it will cost you $20." The lady said, "That's too much. Actually you can do it for $15." The problem, then, is to construct a necklace, breaking and joining only three links. How would you do it?

As long as you think of the segments of chain as four sides of a square or as segments of a circle, you can't solve this problem. The moment you shift your focus and regard one of those segments—not as an immutable structure—but as a stockpile of individual links, you've made the necessary breakthrough. At the woman's suggestion, the jeweler placed three segments in a triangular pattern, took apart the remaining segment, and used those three links to close the three comers of the necklace.

Most people will have to juggle the elements visually, drawing them in different arrangements before arriving at the triangular pattern that leads to solution. This juggling of the parts of a problem results in a reorganization. But before that can happen, you have to feel free to destroy the original pattern in which the problem was presented.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Art and craft activities help children with learning disabilities

Art, crafts or drawing are creative activities which help children in learning disabilies. Being an art/crafts teacher I have noticed that these activities are very helpful in skill development, which helps children in other subjects.

Learning Disabilities and the Arts

The arts are more than a fun, superficial way to keep kids occupied. Art activities can help children with learning disabilities begin to overcome the challenges they face in learning in many different ways. Of course, having a learning disability does not necessarily mean that a person has an exceptional artistic talent. However, music, art, crafts and dance can give students with learning disabilities a chance to express themselves through different media and gain confidence along the way.

Unlocking Confidence
A feeling of self-worth - the knowledge that you can do something - is a critical part of the learning process. Children with learning disabilities often come to think they are incapable of learning because of their ongoing difficulties in school. A paintbrush, a costume, a drum or paper, scissors and glue can be new tools for self-expression that boost confidence while providing opportunities for learning and practice.

Learning Through Art
The arts can open the world of learning to students who have trouble with traditional teaching methods. The arts are intellectual disciplines - requiring complex thinking and problem solving - that offer students the opportunity to construct their own understanding of the world.

* Drawing and painting reinforce motor skills and can also be a way of learning shapes, contrasts, boundaries, spatial relationships, size and other math concepts.

* Music teaches children about rhythm, sound and pitch. Beats can help children learn rhymes and other features of reading such as phonological awareness. Using repetitive songs to learn academic facts (like the alphabet song or multiplication tables) can make the learning experience easier and more fun.

* Dance provides children with a social way to learn about sequencing, rhythm and following directions. While developing coordination and motor control, students can also learn counting and directionality, which can enhance reading and writing concepts - such as understanding the difference between similar looking letters (like p/b/d/q) and telling left from right.

* Performing plays is an opportunity for children to immerse themselves in a theme and learn about it in a profound and personal way. Acting out historical or literary figures and events gives students a sense of ownership about what they've learned, allowing them to acquire a deeper appreciation of the subject matter.

* Crafts offer children the opportunity to express themselves in two- and three-dimensional ways. Students can develop vital problem-solving skills without having to rely on areas of expression that may be more challenging.
Arts as a means of assessment

Timed tests and take-home reports are traditional means of academic assessment that can be especially difficult for individuals with learning disabilities. Creative projects offer these students the freedom to show what they know without the constraints of printed text. Offering students art projects or multi-media presentations as a way to demonstrate an understanding of material they've learned can be an excellent alternative.

Because a person has difficulty learning through hearing alone or seeing alone does not mean they cannot learn. The arts offer individuals with learning disabilities dynamic ways of learning, and just as importantly, a way to fully discover their own self-worth.

Article is courtesy of "National Ceneter for learning disabilities"
- source link

Monday, June 16, 2008

Craft activities improve student learning skills

There is a strong link between crafts activities and skill development among children of all ages. I am also a craft teacher and noticed it very often that many kind of crafts help in skill development which as a results produce good learning outcome in their other subject areas. Let's have a look at some research based studies and reports in this connection:

"The Academic Value of Hands-on Craft Projects in Elementary Schools"

Conducted in 2001 by ROCKMAN ET AL, an independent educational research and consulting company, the study revealed the following key findings:

* Student learning improves when classroom lessons incorporate hands-on craft activities.
* Students develop greater curiosity about the subject matter when craft projects are included.
* Student behavior and socialization skills improve when crafts are undertaken.'

Teachers regularly use craft projects to teach the core subjects and link the projects to state and national curriculum standards.
Teachers say learning through craft projects accommodates students with different learning styles.

Focus Group Research

In 2005 teachers from two different U.S. cities, Paramus, NJ and Cleveland, OH, participated in two focus group studies. Key findings of these studies include:
Crafts can enhance the lesson and the learning process and in many cases are vital to the learning process.
Crafts can be a break from some of the serious and boring academic activities
Through the use of crafts, teachers gain a better understanding of the child’s thought process
Teachers agree the average amount of time for a craft activity in the classroom is thirty minutes.
During the fall of 2001, the Hobby Industry Association (HIA) contracted [with] an independent educational research and consulting company, to study the impact of hands-on craft projects as an instructional method within the core curriculum. Additionally, they wished to determine ways this teaching technique links to state and national education standards.

As the only large-scale study of its kind, and one of the first efforts to investigate the area of hands-on projects and academic learning, this study found that a significant number of teachers use hands-on projects linked to core curriculum content to advance standards-based learning. Teachers said hands-on projects enhance the instructional process and help students learn both basic information and more complex ideas. Additionally, students develop important learning skills and the abilities to articulate complex ideas, to use appropriate and sophisticated terminology, and to integrate the ideas they have learned into their continuing learning efforts. This belief was confirmed by student data evidence collected in this study.


Student learning improves when classroom lessons incorporate hands-on craft projects.

Students who spent a greater proportion of their classroom learning time engaged in hands-on projects scored significantly higher on writing and drawing knowledge application tasks. In classes that spent almost half of instructional time on hands-on projects (48%), students scored an average of 83 out of a possible 100 on the knowledge application task. Comparatively, students whose classes devoted a low percentage of class time to craft projects (11.8%) scored an average of 75. The creativity and level of detail students demonstrated on the application tasks also indicated that the hands-on projects left many students with vivid and lasting understanding of both facts and concepts.

Teachers regularly use hands-on craft projects to teach the core subjects and link the projects to state and national curriculum standards.

Almost three-fourths (72%) of the participating teachers indicated that they explicitly and intentionally link their instructional units involving hands-on projects to state or national standards. In addition, writing, research and presentation skills are typically incorporated into the projects.

Students develop greater curiosity about the subject matter when hands-on craft projects are included.

Ninety-six percent (96%) of teachers agreed that students exhibit greater curiosity about the learning unit when hands-on projects are included in the instructional approach. Teachers also reported significant differences in learning behaviors when students are involved in hands-on projects. They reported increases in student motivation, willingness to ask questions and volunteer information, enthusiasm, and attention to assigned tasks.

Teachers say learning through hands-on craft projects accommodates students with different learning styles.

While 46% of teachers viewed hands-on projects as an effective learning technique for all students, 54% said this approach is particularly well suited for students who learned more effectively in non-traditional approaches, such as visual or kinesthetic learners, slow readers or writers, or non-native English speakers.

Student behavior and socialization skills improve when hands-on craft projects are undertaken.

Teachers reported enhanced cooperation, responsibility, dedication, confidence, and time management skills when students participated in hands-on projects. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the teachers said students work cooperatively on handcrafted projects, while only 50% of the teachers said they do so in non hands-on projects.


The study concludes that hands-on craft projects are an effective means of teaching a standards-based curriculum and that students develop both a greater appreciation for and understanding of what they are learning.

Hands-on projects appear to function as learning anchors that organize and integrate various classroom-learning activities.

By making the learning experience concrete, the dynamics of these learning anchors inspire students to enjoy learning, accomplish goals, take pride in their achievements, and persevere in their learning.

For the full 45 page PDF report: Download for FREE
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