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Flutter-By Butterfly

Which child today has not heard of Eric Carle? His children’s picture books have topped charts for years and continue to remain on the top of the wish-list of new parents as well. Amongst so many Eric Carle books that we own, read and love- a clear favorite stands out, for the sake of its simplicity and its nature of capturing the imagination of toddlers and early learners alike: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A short story about a caterpillar that emerges out of an egg, eats everything in sight and grows into a large caterpillar, that wraps itself in a cocoon and stays there for a while, until out emerges a beautiful butterfly. How sweet is that? Perfectly paired with illustrations in Eric Carle’s unique style and packed with punches of science, numeracy and language building prompts.

This book is available in many formats:

  • interactive board book,
  • touch and feel book,
  • pull-out-pop-up book,
  • rag book,
  • as well as hardcover
  • and paperback book

Pick the format that works well for your child’s age, sensory requirements and learning style. No one shoe fits all. No two children will take the same learning back from a book. Choose wisely, especially when an overwhelming amount of information is out there.

Introducing the Book:

Toddlers will typically flip through the pages, mesmerized by the color and shapes that make the artistic illustrations by Eric Carle, and interact with the books in their own unique ways. As a parent and facilitator of their learning, one must sit back and observe their interaction with the book- for it will open up windows to their mind and offer you clues to their learning style.

An early learner at the preK-K level who has been read to many times, will now be able to repeat and retell the story while flipping the pages. This is your cue to now initiate this book as a learning resource and discussion starter. There are many strategies to introduce a book to a child as a learning resource. The very first step is to discuss the book cover and title.

This is how I would begin: Discuss the title of the book, look at the image of the caterpillar on the cover, and ask open ended questions- prompting curiosity and leading to newer questions, without offering answers. We would then follow this with looking through Eric Carle’s illustration technique used across his works: Using tissue Collages, and trying to replicate this technique to illustrate our own hungry caterpillars (or any other picture for that matter, depending on the child’s interest)

Scholastic lists out an interesting opening order for this discussion (found here) where the discussion touches upon what might have been in the mind of the author while designing this cover.

Open Ended Learning Via Journaling

Our curriculum is open ended. There are no right answers, just directions to lead a child to explorations across disciplines using creative thinking, critical problem solving, collaboration and computational thinking (21st century skills). Each child will learn and explore at his own pace and hence, a journal or scrapbook becomes a more open medium of expression than the tight spaces of a worksheet or workbook. 

Using a journal allows the child to link forward and backwards to topics of interest, pick and choose activities from the list as per his choice and interest and leave room to come back to these explorations at a later point in the future. Journals are a powerful form of self-expression and journaling for kids is sure to become a powerhouse of ideas. 

Let’s look through the index of activities that our curriculum works around. Of course, I must add here that the sequence of activities follows the story line, however it is not necessary to follow the sequence but follow the interest and readiness of the child. That’s the beauty of using open ended learning methods. You can skip forward and loop back depending on the learning curve and style of every unique child. Find the entire curriculum here

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Starting journaling with children

Journalling for mindfulness

Why start children on journaling ? Have you had this lingering question ? Let’s delve a little into the whys and how’s of it all.

1. Before a child can speak, he sees and gestures what he wants. The mind learns to communicate before he can express in words. And often that is frustrating. Similarly, children learn to scribble, draw, perceive colours before they can fully form sentences. If you offer an opportunity and environment to express through art and creative expression, you offer an outlet for the frustration and negativity of not being able to communicate in words.

2. Creative expression is a direct route to mindfulness. Keep colours, paper, drawing material accessible at all times. Roll out paper on the walls and floors. Allow free expression for a child and see the depth of ideas that come through. And while the ideas are flowing, the mind is on a self-declutter mode, allowing space for peace and stability.

3. A child will learn to read and write, in his or her own time. But why should the focus shift to these skills while what the developmental state of a child’s mind is that of asking questions and exploring ideas? Why push a child to fit letters in lines and colours within borders when these are simply man- proposed ideas to fit all children into one box?

That’s why we journal. We set the child’s mind on a path that open doors to his mind’s creative world. We offer him the freedom to pick a sheet of paper and draw/ write / stick pictures and tell stories, ask questions and try to make logical connections. We do not restrict learning to texts and worksheets, but we allow for open ended expression through the medium of journals. Journals are and can be a powerhouse of ideas.

You can start today, with a child as young as 2 yo. Let them scribble, work their pencil grip, make circular motion. Vertical spaces for artwork will allow them to cross the midline of their body and develop hand eye coordination. They will find patterns where your eyes have been lost to the bigger picture. They will amaze you with their innate understanding of connections and structure.

Our best seller Starting Journaling with children is now available in our web store here and is based on the popular story “Goldilocks and the Three bears”

Children as young as 2 years old may start with this curriculum, with many many readings of this favourite book as a bedtime read or over a cosy afternoon. After all, children are made readers in the laps of their parents!

Linking here a few snippets of this story based curriculum for beginners and the 21st century skills we hope to introduce to children, early on

Based on the popular story Goldilocks and the Three Bears

We’ve also included a bear study module ; a mini version of it that will prompt further questions and explorations of the diversity of India. Couple this with story readings of the Jungle Book or Winnie the Pooh and discuss what the bears look like, how they behave and what they eat. Interconnected ness is the key. And often, the child will lead you to see these connections where you may have missed them.

Mathematic and language related open ended activities are added as accessories so that children can lead the way to building their own puzzles, games and stories. The curriculum also comes with A – Z nature prompt cards that you may choose to convert into a poster, bunting, flash cards or stack of cards for nature walks and explorations. The idea is to prompt discussions and lead to observing the world around you.