Kinesthetic and Visual learning made easy

While practicing remedial teaching, I usually come up with a few creative ways of making learning colourful, tactile and interesting.

All I use are blank sheets of paper and write over them or cut them up to make kinesthetic games for kinesthetic learners. It incorporates visual and fine and gross motor skill activities as well.

Here are a few techniques you can use at home or for kids who need that little extra attention.

WP_20150508_022This activity is used for subtraction. Where I simply put coloured bits of paper in front of the child, write down the subtraction questions and let him do the cutting and pasting. It involves math and the fine motor activity for cutting and pasting.

WP_20150508_012I sometimes have kids who do not like to write. But how can I make them learn words and reading without making them hold a pencil. I had a child who refused to write a single letter. So I came up with an idea to write the words in double script (typographic design) and asked him to colour the words. As he coloured the words, would ask him which word he was colouring. Surprisingly, he would say the correct word and enjoy the colouring while doing so.

Along with these activities, learning basic words and their rhyming words can be made fun with just a few chits / flash cards and some coloured wool. Make two columns with jumbled rhyming words and give the child some wool. They find it challenging to find the word and read it and match it with its rhyme. Engaging and educating.

WP_20150508_017    WP_20150508_020

HeWP_20150508_004re is another addition method which we have been using since forever. However, I used bigger sheets so that I could differentiate every question. Space provides clarity of categorising or clumping as some would call it and makes it easier to add.

Understanding shapes and counting also help to elucidate mathematic concepts. Below is another mathematics activity I use, where the child has to count the number of shapes and colour the correct number of boxes related to that specific shape.


WP_20150508_006I give reading a lot of emphasis and even if the child is unwilling there are ways to make them read. Here, I have written words on colourful flash cards and asked the child to paste them in it’s house. “two letter words” and “three letter words” . The child manages to count the alphabets, but along with that the child is encouraged to read the word by making phonetic sounds and indirectly, he ends up reading the word.


I love this method of learning where we can become all sorts of creative. Using crayons and toy cars and flash cards you can devise a game where the child thinks he has to get past barriers. In the race track above, I used flash cards as the passwords to get to the next level. So the child had to make an effort to read the word, and when he did, he would feel accomplished by a level up and his cars could then go around the track. “Vroom, Vroom” to learning.

So here are a few simple DIY activities you can do with your children. I will update this post as and when I come up with more activities.


11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.

Indian Schools should start with smaller changes if not big ones – Training quality teachers should be #1 on the list.

Filling My Map

When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we…

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The Bully inside us

I watched a video on TED by Monica Lenwinsky  about her personal experience with bullying. What I realized was that, like her, everyday, many children as well as adults go through this traumatizing experience. This act is two way – one is the victim and one is the bully. There are many posts to educate the victim and how to avoid being bullied, but we have failed to educate children that we can become bullies unintentionally. words Indian schools need to start spreading awareness and informing children from 1st grade onwards. There are numerous activities to help children understand the types of bullying, how to stop it, and how NOT to become a bully. Here are a few tips which teachers and parents can use for their children.

Bullying can be of any form – physical, social, verbal and cyber.  

Kids may not understand the forms of bullying. They may emote imperceptibly. The act may be to prove themselves to be strong, or to get back at someone, but they neglect the consequences. They may post or say something about someone in form of a joke, but it can hurt the person who is mocked.

Are you a Bully?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Mark 1 for “Yes” and 0 for “No”

1. Have you told anyone not to be a certain person’s friend?

2. Have you called anyone names?

3. Have you kicked, tripped, punched, broken someone’s things on purpose?

4. Have you laughed at someone’s dressing style on their face or otherwise?

5. Have you teased someone about their body type or looks?

6. Have you intentionally not included someone in a group?

7. Have you threatened someone in any specific way?

8. Have you ever shared, posted, liked, posted nasty comments about someone’s picture, video in an embarrassing moment or moment of failure?

9. Have you ever picked on anyone for your own amusement or to impress your friends?

10. Have you made up stories, shared false information about someone because you dislike that person?

(If your score is 2 or more, you are a bully.)

Quick classroom activity

Take a large piece of plain stiff paper. Ask the children to say hurtful and mean words. As they do, crumple a bit of the paper. The children enjoy watching this. Then tell them that the mean words that they said had hurt the paper and now it’s crumpled into a ball. Ask them to say kind words to ease the paper. Once the paper is eased you can point out that the veins on the paper and the mean words created scars which can not be repaired.  A more graphic visualization for greater impact can be by making silhouette of a person, then make the children say hurtful words, and when they do, cut out a piece of their limb. After the words are said then stick them back by saying kinder words and using tape. The scars remain and the message is understood. Discuss how they felt when they said those mean words and how they felt after realizing that the mean words created scars. Make them write for lasting changes.

A word to live by – THINK think The best way to stop us and our children from being bullied and being bullies is to spread the word, share the knowledge and talk about it with friends and family.

Drug Education in Indian Schools


In countries like USA , drug-education experts agree that targeted, age-appropriate elementary school drug education is essential to safeguard students against the hazards of drug use and addiction. Access to the web and technology have made communication easier that can be misused for a variety of purposes. Drugs and alcohol are one of the primary reasons for failure in children or young adults, which lead to addiction, depression and suicide. So, should Indian schools introduce drug education, along with sex  and alcohol education?

The growing number of teens and young adults in India who consume drugs has been on the rise. Majority of the Indian population being under 35, implies that their peer group and kids would directly or indirectly be influenced by drugs.


“Awareness is necessary” – But how do we break the shell that we have so generously built around our children?

Talking about it is what could be a positive step to avoid, or let’s say, reduce the chances of children taking drugs. Children, whose parents talk early and often about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and drug use, are 50 percent less likely to succumb to alcohol, abuse and drugs. If schools were to adopt similar measures, the percentage of children who are less likely to use drugs, tobacco or alcohol may increase.

Drug education in schools can be structured, informative, and educational. There are several methods where elementary and high-school teachers can create awareness about these issues. Creating project-based or art-based activities for elementary school children can be employed. Graphics, information, group counseling and social work for high-school children acts as a theoretical and experiential knowledge for them. Information, videos and images that show the causes and effects of drugs and alcohol can raise awareness and help children to make better life choices. Indian schools ought to impart information about the repercussions of drug use or drug dealing, types of drugs, and their effect on health and laws that revolve around drug use and drug dealing. Schools can also involve parents in the awareness activities and give them guidelines for talking about alcohol and drug use.

talk about drugs

Drug consumption in India has become more of a social symbol. Popular media has played a significant role in glorifying the use of various narcotics. It is now “cool” to abuse prohibited substances. Teens pick up on these trends without considering the harsh consequences. Schools in India must envisage the threat that lingers at their school gates. Turning a blind eye towards this issue may cripple the future of India’s kids and eventually, the future of India.

Kids with Gadgets



children-ipod-technology-iphone-internet-2926901With the constant growth in technology and proliferating demand for it by the younger generation, I ask you to stop, rethink, and ask yourself – Is technology making my kids smarter?

I wouldn’t discredit the use of technology for study or research, especially for older kids. But, these days, children at the age of 1.5, know how to start the tablet, go to “games” and start playing. It is very convenient for parents to give their children a tablet or let them watch television so that the child does not bother them while they work. But let’s face it, little children will not develop their motor skills when they swipe along the plastic surface of their gadgets. They need to feel different textures like wood, clay, stones, sand and shapes. They need to hold big things and small things with their palms and tiny fingers. Toys like building blocks, Russian dolls and the shape box, will help them to analyze different shapes, sizes and colors from a very young age.

Russian dolls

Russian dolls

When children get habituated to these tablets and phones they may become antisocial or may not be good communicators. This may be because their interpersonal skills have not been developed properly. They also try to isolate themselves from other kids and slowly become introverted. Studies show that kids who use the tablets, phones or laptops for more than 5 hours face lack of sleep and lack of concentration.

Fast internet, frequent upgrades, quick downloads, lead to a habit of expecting quick results in activities. Children today, are unable to accept the fact that not every result is quick and perfect. This results in stress. Furthermore, the aftermath of constant exposure to violent video games has developed aggression and anger in children.

Now let’s ask ourselves another question?

How do we make our kids smarter without gadgets?

Here are a few tips on what we can do:

1. Monitor: You cannot completely cut your children off from gadgets but you can definitely monitor the amount of time they spend on the gadgets. Make sure you do not give them a personal computer/ laptop/ tablet/ phone until the age of 12.

2. Curricular activities: I’m sure there must be different classes or activities for children that happen in your city. Make your child learn an instrument, or make them play a sport or outdoor game, or learn to dance or sing or write. These activities will benefit their health, mind and keep them away from gadgets.

3. Read: Read to your kids from a very early age. This will make d365038d-9e00-4e88-a18c-1da1732188b2-w500-h500them imagine, improve their comprehension and grammar and it may implant a reading habit.

4. Arts and crafts: Arts and crafts play a very important role in your child’s life. It is the best way for your children to explore their creativity. They learn to build, anticipate, learn from errors, experiment and understand how things work and how things come to be.

5. Talk: Talk to your kids. You may seem their stories as very insignificant, compared to your day, but to them, that story is a very big deal. Ask them about their day, what they felt when a certain someone did or said something, ask for their opinions, let them make certain decisions.

6. Rules: Make rules like – No gadgets during meals, homework and social gatherings.

If we monitor our kids and include certain rules in their life, we can try to avoid an imminent addiction.


Game Therapy

I have been brought up playing board games all though childhood and during therapy I realized that some games can help as an ice breaker and make it easier for the client to open up. I decided to write about a few games that I use during therapy with children and adolescents. Generally, I make use of digital games online or go with my personal favorite, board games.

Chess: For sportsmanship, acceptance of defeat, motivation


A great game for children who cannot take defeat. Chess is a powerful analytical game, where the rules have to be followed. As the game progresses it also gets more competitive. It enables the child to get completely involved in the game and think of all the possible scenarios for the upcoming moves.

Now during therapy, most of the time we let the child win in the first game, which usually boosts his confidence level. But in the second game, the child is not allowed to win the game as easily (or at all) to drive home the point that not every game can be won.
After two games, have a discussion with the child about losing and acceptance. You can also mention how this defeat is going to motivate him to be better in the next game. He then knows that there are other possibilities he missed and could have taken in order to win the game and motivates himself to do better. It’s like killing two birds with one stone, the child can now deal with accepting defeat and motivating himself.

This game usually works for age groups 8-15 years.

Taboo, Pictionary, Charades : For communication skills, ice breaking, team work, group dynamics, trust issues, group therapy


Taboo is a game where the person has to explain a word without giving specific hints that are taboo ( not to be used for explanation). During this game the children, not only have fun, but realize how important communication can be. It is usually played in a group and this invariably leads to group dynamics and team work.


Pictionary is a similar game but instead of talking you have to communicate though pictures and symbols. You can also extemporize the game by making your own set of cards where you make the words related to “P” can be people, “O” can be objects of influence (like cell phones, ipads, tablets, laptops), “A” can be action during certain situation, “D” can be describing a feeling and AP can be left as “All Play”. It is a relatively easy game, but can turn out to be insightful after playing.

Charades are again, a communication game where we have to act out the word on the card. Here the words can be related to issues faced by children like bullying, failure, stress, arguments, etc.

After playing the games, the individuals are asked how they feel to be in the group they were placed in, most of them feel united with their group, trust quotient and cohesiveness increases. Every game has a different outcome and it is interesting to know what the children are thinking.

This game can be played with people from 8 years and above.

Jenga : For sharing feelings, thoughts, emotions on a variety of topics.


Jenga can be played for a variety of issues faced by people. It can be played for talking about “Feelings”,”Family”, “Social issues” and “communication”.

For feelings we can denote each feeling to a color. For example, happy = yellow, angry = red, sad = blue, stressful = green, peaceful = orange. Now the game begins like this. When you get the color on the dice, you need to speak about what you feel while taking out the jenga block. For example, “I feel angry when…”, ” I feel peaceful when…” I feel happy when..”.

For family you can assign each color to a family member. Red = mom, blue = dad, green = brother, yellow = dog, orange = cousin. Make you the family member who are close to the client are assigned the colored and not just random family members. When you start playing the game, you can talk about the family member the color is assigned to. For example, you pick out a green block so questions asked could be “what do you like about your brother?”, when a blue block is removed you can ask ”  what is the one thing you can change about your dad?” so on and so forth.

For social issues you must first ask the client about the people he/she usually spends most of her time. Friends = red, relatives = blue, cousins = yellow, family = green, and red = yourself. Make sure the client knows that they are a part of social settings. When you start the game questions can be asked about friends, family and the client as well. For example, ” how would you react to someone complementing you on your dress?”.

This game can be played with kids above 6 years.

Experiencing Art Therapy


Art therapy has been around for quite some time now, but in India the trend has only just started. Art therapy certificate courses and workshops are cropping up all over India. I had heard about counseling, treatment and intervention through the creative process, which made me want to find out more.

I first went to an art exhibition which exhibited some of the pieces created by people who were using art therapy to express personal issues.  Although I tried to feel the emotion of what the artist was trying to express, I could not connect to it, which made me curious to experience this form of expression. So I decided to go to a group therapy workshop conducted by art therapist Susan Bullough- Khare, and explore what this form of creative expression was all about.

So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in a circle of diverse individuals, agog and keen.

We started with an interesting exercise for communication where we were paired and had to interact with our partners without speaking, body language or signs and by using only colors and illustrations. After the exercise, we discussed the limitations people face while communicating in the real world. As we analyzed our exercise, I realized that our way of speaking and interpreting varied from person to person.


Communicating through art


We moved on to the second half of the workshop, where we were grouped and given a theme for creative expression. As we discussed our theme, I realized how, even though we were culturally diverse, we had common concerns of life in general and our personal life. We began our artwork based on our theme, but slowly it started evolving into something else. I didn’t realize the change until after we were done. I was quite amazed at what was in front of me.


Our theme was “FEAR”. As you can see, we wrote down a some words that created fear- fear of the unknown, fear of betrayal, fear of loss, fear of commitment. The theme evolved into having hope, faith,  trust, heal and love to overcome the fear, and resulted in tranquility. I realized that this is the process of overcoming almost all our worries and troubles. We may be lonely or scared, but without tackling it, we wouldn’t move forward.

All the groups had the same theme, but every art piece was distinct. It was interpreted differently. One group showed fear of animals and personal fears in a small corner and dealing with them and another group showed a bridge where pictures and words arousing fear were on a wall and the tunnels were the symbol of overcoming those fears. Although all the groups had the same theme, everyone illustrated it uniquely but they also showed similar methods of intervention for the theme.

In all, the workshop changed my perspective of how individuals think. My opinion would be that art therapy is definitely a better way of expression than words, but it can be limited to subjectivity. Art can be used as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing and can give an insight to the therapist about what exactly is going on. It can be used as a process of communicating to the therapist who, in turn, can delve deeper to mitigate and treat the issue.