guruparents Education gateway for parents Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:09:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teaching Opposites Pins Sun, 08 Nov 2015 09:08:51 +0000 This Teaching Opposites Pinterest Board is compilation of our favorite teaching opposite worksheet and materials.

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More Ideas for Teaching Opposites

See our Teaching Opposites page for ways to teach opposites with games, crafts, toys and movement.

See the teaching opposites worksheets page for a range of great activity worksheets to reinforce your opposite lessons.

The List of Opposites is helpful if you are stuck for opposites ideas, or once your child is familiar with the popular opposites and ready to learn more concepts.

For a teaching opposites lesson without the mess of games and crafts, see our Opposites – Book and Video resources.

Little Square Books Thu, 05 Nov 2015 01:48:53 +0000 We’ve done plenty of book reviews on Guruparents, covering some of the finest works for little kids.

But today, I’m focusing on the value of books at the opposite end of the spectrum – books that I once mistakenly thought had little value. I’m talking about little square books.

peppaI would never have considered buying one, until we got our first in a little gift bag at the end of a children’s party. As you can see from the picture of the cover, Peppa at Playgroup, has since received a huge workout! The plot is all but non-existent and it’s over in a flash – but it’s been wonderful for us, and worthy of sharing I think. So, here are the 7 reasons you might wish to buy some little square books:

  1. Durable: We read these books everywhere – in the high chair, at the beach, on the change table etc. They’ve all taken a real beating but, with a few running repairs, they’re all still going strong.
  2. Thick pages: Adults take turning pages for granted, but for toddlers it’s an important early step on the way to reading. Little square books are ideal with their thick, hard pages – perfect for small fingers to tentatively grab and turn.
  3. Short: One of these books can be read in under two minutes. Suddenly, you feel good about yourself as a parent – no matter what else you have done something educational and useful today! And their brevity is loved by little kids as well – with lots of repetition they soon recognize every part of the story, and their confidence builds.
  4. Recognizable characters: Plenty of famous brands create these books – in fact, probably as a slightly cynical exercise to make easy money. But the advantage for parents is that if your child likes them then there is a range of soft toys and other material that you can dip into – to the delight of your child.
  5. clusterPopular: In spite of absolutely nothing happening in Peppa at Playgroup our daughter is in love with the book. And, after all, getting kids to enjoy reading is half the battle of raising them equipped to do well at school!
  6. Cheap: Not only are these little books often very cheap, they can sometimes be free or almost free!
  7. Fun: The plots of these books are often so comically brief that as an adult, you can’t help laughing. I love reading them to my daughter and half the time start giggling, which causes her to giggle too. It’s a fun experience – exactly what reading should be!

Final Word

Especially when your child is two years old or younger, bright colors, fun characters and brevity can be all they need. We have a small supply of little square books on hand at home – and every time we read one, I’m glad we did!


The Gruffalo’s Child – for Toddlers Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:08:21 +0000 We’ve previously written about The Gruffalo; its sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child, is also a wonderful book. And although targeted at kids aged 3 to 7 it is actually a great book for toddlers too. At this age, the plot (which is fascinating for kids in the target age group) doesn’t really matter as it is lost on them. But there are numerous other ways that toddlers can benefit from repeated readings.

The deer appears only once. My daughter gets excited and points to it and says "deer!"

The deer appears only once. My daughter gets excited and points to it and says “deer!”

Here are 5 ways I’ve found The Gruffalo’s Child useful with my toddler:

  1. Spot the animals: The wonderful illustrations contain some animals not actually involved in the plot. I regularly point and name them and as my daughter has grown she has also started to. For example, this deer just appears randomly – and each time we reach this page she excitedly calls out “deer!”
  1. Page turning: The version we have has solid cardboard pages which are durable and ideal for a little one to learn to turn. Initially, they will take great clumps of pages and you will have to help them but eventually they will master one-at-a-time. Allowing the child to turn the pages also helps them realize how books work – often my daughter tries to turn the page when I’m halfway through, but she’s gradually becoming aware that I need to finish reading first.
  1. Pointing, pointing, pointing! Sometimes my daughter will become fascinated with a page and point to object after object on it for me to name. I am sure that the charmingly beautiful drawings are part of the reason for this. And although there may be no indication a child is taking in these new words, they will be – and will likely use one out of the blue several weeks later, to your surprise and delight.

    I love how this snowman is actually a gruffalo

    I love how this snowman is actually a gruffalo

  1. Expand their horizons: Having never noticed it before, recently my daughter has become fascinated by the snowman outside the mouse’s house. Now she points and laughs in delight when we get to this page. Now where we live it never snows, so the other day I looked up a few YouTube videos showing snow falling and snowmen being built – and she loved them. There are numerous other opportunities to do this with pictures from the story, such as fires, rabbits, wood carvings, cave paintings, bats, weasels and tree stumps.
  1. Picking out letters: ‘Gruffalo’ or ‘Gruffalo’s Child’ appear on almost every page. When your toddler gets a little older, this presents a great opportunity to teach them the letter G and the sound it makes. After this, you could use the appearance of the mouse in the second half to teach them the letter M.

I haven’t touched on the plot itself here, but as the months and years go by I look forward to my daughter gradually understanding what is going on, and one day reading it herself.

One note of caution: I was tempted to show her the animated video of the book but although it is of excellent quality, it is probably a little spooky and scary for a toddler.

I hope you enjoy The Gruffalo’s Child and find it just as useful as we have!

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Educational Tips, Facts and Sayings Pins Thu, 13 Aug 2015 13:13:37 +0000 We’ve created a Pinterest board with some helpful and witty educational tips, facts and sayings. Find useful information that can come in handy if you’ve forgotten the official ‘rules’!

You can view the collection through the image below.

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More Useful Tips

Teaching your toddler to count to 5 Thu, 13 Aug 2015 08:20:10 +0000 From a very early age I spent a couple of minutes most days teaching my baby to count. That’s all, just a couple of minutes.

So far it has worked well – my daughter loves numbers and I’m pretty confident she’ll be fine with math as the years go by.

If you’re interested in doing the same, here’s what I did; (as you’ll see it’s pretty rudimentary):

1. Counting to 5 with my fingersHands
Almost from birth I’d spend a few seconds counting to 5 and raising each finger as I said the number. Often I’d sing the numbers to the tune of some long forgotten song.

I’m a terrible singer but my daughter loved it. She’d smile and giggle and it was even effective in soothing her when crying.

Of course, for what seemed like a geological epoch she showed no sign whatsoever she was taking it in – but I persisted anyway.

2. Numbers on display
FourWhether it be a number chart a mat or whatever takes your fancy, having visible numbers in the home is a great idea.

We have a play mat full of pictures, letters and numbers. As our baby grew she started pointing to things and we’d say what they were.

Most days she’d spend 2 or 3 minutes doing this; she loved it – it was always unprompted and she was always clearly having fun.

Months went by. More months went by. She gave no indication that anything to do with numbers had sunk in. This didn’t worry me – it was all just fun. Then one day she pointed to number 4 and said “four” in a loud, clear voice. My jaw hit the floor.

3. Counting everyday objects
bananasIf you’re on the lookout there are loads of opportunities to incorporate numbers into routine activities: counting pieces of food on a plate, bananas in a bunch, toys, people in a photo, fingers and toes, even the number of blinds on a window – the list is endless.

My favorite was counting the four buttons of her pajama top as I did it up. She began to look forward to this and would watch closely and smile.

Again, although there were no outward signs, it was all sinking in.

4. Books and videos
In addition to wonderful story books like The Gruffalo and Where is the Green Sheep? make sure you have a few books on numbers. My favorites are Five Little Ducks and My Very First Book of Numbers.

The occasional counting video is great too – when you’re feeling lazy or need to calm your baby down, watching one on your phone is a nice alternative to a cartoon.

One of my favorites is here; we at Guruparents have also made a few, such as this one and this one.

5. Touching fingers
As my daughter became more alert, she started to mimic how I pointed with my index finger when counting. So I began counting the fingers on one hand and letting her point to each one.

Now, naturally she didn’t go close to getting it right and was pointing to fingers at random and often to the same one several times. But this didn’t matter – and over time she got better and better at it, as she began to master the important skill of one-to-one correspondence.

What’s next?
At the time of writing my daughter is almost able to count to 4. Her progress in recent weeks has appeared to accelerate rapidly – and she’s still having as much fun as ever. And it’s still something we only spend a few minutes on each day.

The thing I’m really looking forward to introducing her to is board games and I think the first one will be Snakes and Ladders. I will be super cautious about the pieces and the dice as they are choking hazards and I’ll remain patient as I’m sure it will be months before she really understands.

But at some point in the not too distant future, I expect that as a family we will be able to have loads of fun with lots of different counting board games.

Well there it is. Just a few minutes a day is all it takes!

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Favorite Educational Games Pins Sun, 26 Jul 2015 12:09:43 +0000 We’ve created a Pinterest board with our favourite educational games. Most of the games are simple, do-it-yourself activities you can make at home!

You can view the collection through the image below.

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More Useful Information

Children learn a great deal from the games that they play. As a parent, it is important to ensure that not only does your child have plenty of play time, but that you also use play as part of any lesson you teach.

Child’s Play for Learning – Discover the different types of play so you can incorporate them into your child’s learning.

Benefits of Ball Play – More than just a sporting activity, see why ball play has benefits that are essential in life.

Preschool Math Activity – Simple ways to teach your child numbers at home, every day!

5 Best Color Videos for Toddlers Thu, 23 Jul 2015 09:25:02 +0000 Teaching toddlers colors is a fun and important step in their development. Our color chart is a useful resource, as are color videos. As you’d expect there are hundreds of color songs on YouTube, with some better than others. To save you the time, we’ve selected five we think are excellent, across a range of styles!

1. Colors Song 2 by KidsTV123

At the time of writing (July 2015), KidsTV123 are closing in on two billion views across their range of videos! And once you watch this colors song you’ll realize why: it’s simple, gentle and effective – from the voice, to the tune, to the graphics.

2. The Color Train Song by LittleBabyBum

This video is set to music, but the words are spoken. A cute train passes by and a cluster of balloons rises from each carriage and the narrator says the name of the color. The graphics are what makes this video so good – they are 3D, detailed and intriguing. And the simple way in which the colors are stated is ideal for learning.

3. Colors Song by the Learning Station

Unlike the other videos, this one features humans rather than animation. A friendly looking guy sings along to a boppy tune inviting the audience to perform a certain action if they are wearing the same color as he is. His shirt changes color several times throughout the song. We love the interactive aspect and so will toddlers – it seems he is talking directly to them when he is wearing the same colored clothing as they are. One slight criticism is the number of colors covered off – only red, blue, green, yellow, black and brown are mentioned, so make sure your toddler is wearing one of these colors!

4. The Balloon Song (for learning colors) by Toddler World TV

I really love this song. It has a nice harmony to it and I could almost envisage myself listening to it a few times just for the music. And, as far as the educational side goes, it is excellent – balloons of different colors appear and the colors are named. It is aimed not just at toddlers but also at older kids who are learning English and we think it is equally effective for both.

5. Learn the Colors Song by Guruparents

A little bit of self-promotion never hurt! Our colors song is deliberately simple and – we hope – highly effective. Each color is introduced in context, accompanied by a simple, colorful picture. And we think the song is catchy and pleasant.


So, there you have it – our top 5 color songs. We hope you find them useful and that you and your toddler enjoy them!


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Favorite Number Chart Pins Sun, 12 Jul 2015 07:25:57 +0000 We’ve created a Pinterest board with our favorite number charts. Our new board covers numbers charts from 1-10 to 1-120. We’ve also added in some charts for odd and even numbers, Roman numerals, prime numbers and perfect squares.

You can view the collection through the image below.

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More Useful Information

Teaching your child to count is an important skill to pass on to your child.

Preschool Math Activities – Find some activities here that can give you great ideas for using the numbers chart.

Number flashcards – Use number flashcards to help teach your child how to count. The flashcards are printable and free and cover numbers 1-10.

Number Chart 1-10 – A perfect chart for teaching your child to recognize the numbers up to ten.

Number Chart 1-20 – Use this chart to teach the numbers up to twenty.

Number Chart 1-100 (Hundreds Chart) – If your child has mastered numbers 1-20, you can use a 1-100 chart to teach numbers beyond 20.

Musical Instruments for Kids Fri, 12 Jun 2015 06:14:57 +0000 Musical instruments for kids needn’t be expensive… especially if they are going straight into the toy box. You may have a few different types of ‘toy’ instruments around the house so your child can investigate and discover music for themselves. Then, if you are serious about having your child eventually learn an instrument, you can choose to invest in a ‘proper’ age-appropriate instrument.

Most anything that makes noise passes as a musical instrument in our house. We started with shakers (uncooked macaroni shells taped up in a toilet paper roll – decorated of course), plastic containers and wooden spoons for drums… your house’s band is only limited by your imagination!

Whatever your musical supplies, having any form of musical instruments in the house is beneficial for all ages!

Why choose musical instruments for kids?

musical-instruments-for-kids2Musical instruments develop children’s Thinking skills. Children fathom cause and effect as they discover a range of sounds made by the keys on a piano, or the strings on a guitar.

As we listen to melodies, we exercise our brain to identify and memorize patterns. So before we ask our budding musicians to quieten down, remember a child discovering and creating their own music is hard at work as they impressively activate and utilize their brain to do so!

Your child’s coordination and fine motor skills develop and refine as they play an instrument – anything from a toddler shaking bells or tambourine to an older child learning to play a keyboard or recorder. As your child gets older and learns to read music, their concentration and ability to read ahead dramatically improves.

Musical instruments are also a great gift idea for kids at any age. My daughter received a small toy piano for her first birthday – at first she just liked listening to the pre-recorded music and sliding her fingers up and down the keyboard. Now she is using it to practice what she has learned in piano class!


Serious about music?

If your child really enjoys music and instruments, you might want to see what classes are available in your local community.

Music classes for toddlers are a great way to introduce your child to music in a class environment. These classes aim to make music fun and can include dance, art and reading, and generally explore different topics such as animals, parts of the body, colors and more.

For the more serious learner, you can enrol your child in Music lessons for a particular instrument like piano, flute, guitar, drums, or even singing!

A basic music program is also included at most schools – so if your child doesn’t get any extra-curricular musical experience, don’t worry – they could still turn out to be the next Beethoven or Beyonce.

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Benefits of Music Thu, 11 Jun 2015 06:33:59 +0000 We all know that kids love music and dance. But when you think about the benefits of music for young children, you will realize that you are ‘ticking more boxes’ for education in the house than you thought!

Whether it’s in the car, on the radio or like in our house, ‘disco time’ before the evening bath, listening to music does have many benefits including:

Movement and exercise
If there is a beat, most kids can’t resist the temptation to boogie. Whether it is bobbing up and down or the classic jumping toddler dance move, active kids are happy ones and expelling a little energy in a contained environment is always a good thing!

Exploration of emotion & creative expression
Even at an early age, children can interpret sounds to represent feelings. Listen out for the style of music and dance with your child accordingly. For example, if the music is loud and fast, you can jump or run on the spot. If it is soft and slow, you can tiptoe or sway your arms around.

Development of language and memory
Learning is made easier when put to a tune or melody. Take for example, the alphabet song – 26 letters for a toddler to rote learn is quite a challenge! But with the addition of music it suddenly becomes great fun. There are also many kids songs that are a great way to teach other pieces of information, such as colors, numbers and animals.

When we listen to music, most people inadvertently sing along – so when children to this, they discover new words (it’s important, especially if your child is a quick learner, to monitor the music they listen to. Some songs are quite explicit and may not be age appropriate for toddlers).

Music culture
Exposing children to different types of music at an early age will give them an appreciation of many styles of music. Get your hands on some classical, rock, dance, pop music – whatever you can find and every now and then, play a few songs. It might be a good break for your sanity too if your child enjoys mainly ‘kiddie’ songs!

When our daughter was only 18 months old, we would play Pavarotti for her. She listened to it first, and always tried to sing along (although her Italian wasn’t so great). Then we showed her some Pavarotti concerts on YouTube and she would sit and watch him sing, fascinated. I think it was the intensity with which he sang and the powerful music that made her feel the emotion in his performance.

Music is such a wonderful form of entertainment for all walks of life. And, regardless of age, the benefits of music are invaluable!

For ideas on musical instruments for kids, click here.

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