Friday, July 30, 2010

Benefits of Messy Play

by Patricia Hughes

For adults, messy play can be a lot of work and feel stressful. However, there are many benefits to messy play. Early childhood education experts say that play is the work of the child. This is true for all kids, but especially for babies and toddlers. Don’t be afraid of the mess. Roll up your sleeves and enjoy some messy play time with your little one.

Messy play stimulates the senses. The tactile experience gained during messy play helps little ones experience a variety of textures. During messy play, babies and toddlers are developing eye hand coordination and fine motor skills. What looks like a mess on the surface is truly a learning experience for your child.  

Fun and Messy Activities

A sand and water table is a great messy activity. In warm weather, this activity is perfect outside. When the weather is chilly, kids can still enjoy water play indoors. A small water table can be put on top of towels and filled with a small amount of water. The table can be filled with just water for younger infants and toddlers, if you are concerned about sand in the eyes.

The bathtub is another place for your little one to enjoy playing with water without the mess. Provide some small plastic cups for your child to fill and dump. Babies and toddlers love pouring the water out and then filling the cup again. Fill the cup and hand it to the baby. Soon she will be filling and dumping the water on her own.

Finger paint is a great messy activity for older babies and toddlers. This can be done in the high chair to make clean up easier. Cover the tray with paper and put a small amount of finger paint in the middle. Let the baby have fun smooshing and spreading the paint around. Some parents do this activity when the baby is in a diaper just before bath time.

You can make painting more fun by providing tools for your little one to use to spread the paint. Craft sticks, large pieces of sponge and big chunky paint brushes are easy for babies to manipulate. They get to experience a variety of different textures when they are using tools in painting.

If you are concerned about your baby eating the paint and don’t want to use commercial finger paints, you can make edible paint at home with a few simple ingredients. You won’t have to worry about your little one sampling the paint when it is made from food items. Saving the artwork is a bit trickier, but you can take pictures with your digital camera to preserve the moment.

Paint can be made with instant vanilla pudding and food color. Make the pudding according to the directions on the package and add a bit of food coloring. Another easy edible paint recipe uses instant Jell-O and water. Let it cool for a few minutes and then give it to your baby. These recipes can be used on finger paint paper or directly on the tray.

Play dough is another fun activity that has benefits for small motor skills and eye hand coordination. You can make edible play dough at home, just as with finger paints. You can find a ton of recipes online by searching for “edible play dough recipes”. One very simple recipe uses two parts oatmeal to one part each of water and flour. Mix the ingredients together to form the dough. Let your baby have fun squeezing and squishing the play dough in his high chair.

Parents are often hesitant to engage in messy play with their little ones. The mess and time needed to clean up are a big part of the reason. By making time for messy play before bath time, you can allow your child time to enjoy the mess without making additional work for mommy. Keeping messy activities in the high chair is another way to help reduce clean up time.


Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home d├ęcor and travel.


Playgroup benefits moms too?

Yes, it does.

According to Carren W. Joye, the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups,
playgroup does not only has benefits to kids but to the accompanying moms (and even working moms).

You surely think that after working in a 8-5 working schedule, it is just too occupying to fit in another activity to your weekend. However, some working moms agree that the payoff is worth it.

Take a look at some of the benefits for working parents and their children.

  • A Therapeutic Time Out
All moms need a break now and then, but many don't have the extra money to spend on babysitters or on going out. Playgroups offer the opportunity for work-at-home parents in particular to get that weekly break from home and work, and yet spend time with their children at the same time. "Whether working outside the home or not, you don't get a 'break.' There isn't any 'off time' as a parent," she says. "So having a support system is somewhat therapeutic."

  • Support from Your Peers
At a working moms' playgroup, you socialize with your peers. The other members face the same struggles that you do with juggling work, home and family. "Especially today, since working moms are the majority, it's comforting to have support from others dealing with career and family," says Danielle, "just as stay-at-home moms benefit from others who share their daily routines."

  • Friendship
However, even if you don't have a playgroup nearby designed specifically for working parents, any playgroup would give moms a chance to make new friends and network. Indeed, friendship is perhaps the greatest reward of joining a playgroup. Many adults find lifelong friends in their playgroups.

  • Seek Advice and Share Experiences

Playgroups offer parents a chance to seek parenting advice and share experiences. In today's society many new mothers not only have postponed having children, but also have moved great distances from their families and friends. They no longer have that built-in support system that all new moms need. Playgroups and parents' groups fill that gap.
  • See Parenting Methods in Action
 At a playgroup, you can see firsthand what discipline methods work and what does not. Many times there is a big difference between what the books say will work, and what actually does work!

  • Discover Your Community
Many parents' groups and playgroups offer field trips and other special events. Their members get a chance to see the local sites and learn more about the area in which they live. Some groups even become involved in the community through various service projects.

  • Low Stress Mom-Child Activity
A playgroup is not a babysitting service; parents stay with their children. That means no worries with separation anxiety! The children can play and have fun without having to worry about mom leaving. It's a very reassuring and confidence-building way to introduce children to socialization and to give them a little bit of independence at the same time. Not to mention, if the playgroup offers structured activities, it's 100 percent quality time with your child!

Isn't it a win-win situation for all?


Thursday, July 29, 2010

What and why: Active Play

What is active play?

Active play is physical activity with regular bursts of a moderate to vigorous pace, such as crawling, jumping, or running. Active play should raise children’s heart rate and make them ‘huff and puff’. Active play can occur:
  • Indoors or outdoors
  • Alone or with friends and family
  • In structured settings, such as swimming lessons or sport
  • In unstructured settings, such as backyards or parks.
A time for active play, everyday!
It is crucial for all children to be active for at least 60 minutes everyday. This time can be built up throughout the day, and includes finding time for outdoor play. Outdoor active play gives children more freedom to:
  • Use large and small muscle groups
  • Learn how their body moves
  • Explore nature and make noise
  • Move in a range of ways, directions, and paces
  • Practice skills, such as skipping, hopping, or climbing.
As children grow, the time and range of chances to be active should increase. This may include slowly increasing walking and/or running distances, and building more play skills such as catching, dancing, or swimming.
The unseen riches of active play

An important part of growth is giving children the chance to be active whenever possible. Active play therefore does not always have to be organised and have set time limits, equipment, or instructions. Allowing children to ‘make up’ their own play lets them try new things, learn from their mistakes, and above all enjoy being active all whilst moving at their own pace. Active play does not just fill children’s time. It is through play that children of all ages form lifelong skills, such as:
  • Decision making and problem solving skills
  • Resilience
  • Self-belief and self-confidence
  • Independence
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Skills in dealing with change and the mindset to ‘keep going’.
Just as important is children’s ability to express feelings, laugh, have fun, and mix with other people. This helps to develop:
  • Communication and social skills
  • A sense of belonging
  • An understanding of social rules
  • Friendships
  • A sense of ‘give and take’
  • Patience
  • Team work skills
  • An understanding of children, such as those with disabilities or from different cultures.
  • Make active play part of your child’s daily routine
  • Your child needs at least 60 minutes of active play each day
  • Play outdoors as often as possible
  • Unstructured play lets your child move at their pace
  • Allow your child to ‘have a go’, explore and try new things
  • Active play is vital for your child’s overall social and personal growth
  • Provide praise and helpful hints
  • As a parent or carer, be active in your own life.

read more here

What and why: Thematic Approach?

This is a way of teaching and learning, whereby many areas of the curriculum are connected together and integrated within a theme.
It allows learning to be more natural and less fragmented than the way where a school day is time divided into different subject areas and practice exercises frequently relate to nothing other than what the teacher thinks up, as he or she writes them on the chalk board.
It allows literacy to grow progressively, with vocabulary linked and with spelling and sentence writing being frequently, yet smoothly, reinforced.
It guides connected ideas to follow on easily.
It is, after all, how we, as adults, learn new things. Don't we start at a point of interest and branch out from it like ripples from a stone thrown in the water?

ALIMKids in The News

Did you missed it?

Check out this link to know what Kosmo has wrote about us.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Components of the ALIMKids playgroup

Salam parents, 

There are 4 components that are used as the foundation in ALIMKids Playgroup.  The four components are thematic, active play, early alphabet recognition and language arts.

Lesson plan revolve playful theme, each theme covers eight weeks with activities changing weekly.

Vigorous activities for the children where they can run, jump, roll, romp and balance. They also get to play with props such as balls, bean bags, parachute play and ribbon streamers.

Early alphabet recognition

Two most reliable indicators of future reading success are Phonemic Awareness and Alphabet Recognition. Using fun and interesting resources, the children will enjoy learning about the alphabet.

Language arts

Through play with arts and design, children will learn to think through ideas, develop spatial, visual awareness as well as manipulative skills.

Let's join us and experience all these.

ALIMKids Playgroup Melaka will be starting in October!

The benefits of joining a playgroup for your kids

Hi parents,

i am blessed that i have 3 kids and their age gap are just nice that they are able to company and play with each other. However, there are times that i think they need to mix around with other kids as well.

I found that this interesting article listing the benefits of playgroup to our kids and i want to share it with you.

Enjoy reading!
When your kids are 3 years old—or less—you enrol them to a playgroup. Yet, some other parents do not think it is necessary.

But, do you know that there are lots of benefits your kids can get if they join a playgroup?

  • They get the chance to meet and gather with other people out of their daily environment.

When they reach the age of three, they have more interest in socializing. They enjoy playing, communicate and interact with other people. What used to be a solo game now changes into collective games.

  • They learn to get along with other kids.

In playgroups, they can learn how to adjust themselves, to wait in line, to understand their friend’s feeling. It is a medium to prepare them for bigger communities.

  • They learn about differences with their friends

Joining a playgroup, they will learn that not everyone is the same, not everyone has the same idea. That way, they can learn that sometimes it is ok to be different and that they occasionally need to defend their idea or even appreciate others’.

  • They are proud to be part of a group.

As days go by, your kids will develop a sense of belonging of the playgroup. They feel proud of being part of it. It can be a motivation of working together as a team. That way, your kids will learn to put the group’s need first above theirs.

  • They are more independent.

By joining a playgroup, your kids learn to be separated for a while from their parents. And, they will learn to adapt with their new environment without having to always be helped by their parents. This is a good exercise for them to be more independent. Therefore, whenever they have to do something by themselves, they can do it with confidence.

As you can see, there are many benefits your kids can get. Compared to the disadvantages such as getting affected by others kids having cold or any other illness—which is unnecessary because it can be cured anyway—, those points mentioned above are very constructive for your kids’ interpersonal skill.

Now, it is time to reconsider your decision.


How to help your child make friends

Salam parents,

This article from babycenter tells us how to help our child make friend through playdates (or playgroup). Some of our kids are shy and afraid of unfamiliar faces. Thus playdates offer a shy child a starting block for a social life.  

"If you promote a positive experience, your child is more likely to want to play again," says Dale Walker, a professor of child development at the University of Kansas.

Now here's what to do:

Keep playdates small. 

You can invite a few friends with their kids to your house. I'd be better if the kids are your kids friends' and they should be around your child's age.

Keep playdates short.

Young kids attention span are short, between one and two hours. Kids might be overstimulated or burnt out if the period is longer.

Plan ahead. 

"Maximize the positive interaction by making sure there are plenty of materials, so children have enough to play with and don't necessarily have to share right off," Walker says.

Get involved.

You can guide them and make them feel more at ease when making new friends and playing.  However, try not to dominate or fill in for your child; the idea is to help break the ice without taking control.

Get a schedule, then get going.

Try to arrange regular playdates with the same kids on a weekly basis to get familiarity.

Be a playdate yourself.

Being a regular playdates with allows you to stimulate interaction while getting to know his playing style. "You can get a sense of where your child struggles and when it is easy for him," says Alison Ehara-Brown, a licensed clinical social worker who works with children and families in Berkeley, Calif.

See how others do it.

Watching videos or reading books about friends with your child is another low-key way to reinforce the positives of socializing.

Have your own friends over.

Since young children pay close attention to what grown-ups do and often imitate their behavior, model for your child by having your friends over, especially in ways that include the younger generation. Have a double playdate with a friend who has children.

Try not to expect too much. 

"Parents should never push very young children to play together; they have to be able to choose some things for themselves," Walker says. "There's a fine line there. You don't want to really push friendship, but you can certainly set the stage for it."

Get help if you sense a real problem.

In most cases, shyness or difficulty making friends in early childhood is normal. But a few red flags could indicate that something else is going on. If your child rarely holds eye contact, is unusually withdrawn, throws tantrums or cries whenever other children are around, or seems terrified of going to preschool or the playground, talk to your pediatrician.

Come join us in ALIMKids Melaka and you can help your child make friends too.