Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vote for Ideas - Say Happy Birthday Google and join my celebrations!

Google celebrated it's 10th Birthday last year and here's its Project10100 'May Those who Help the Most Win', with Ideas to change the world by helping many people as possible. The response was overwhelming as Google quotes on it's Project10100 site as more than 170 countries submitted more than 150,000 Ideas. These ideas range from general Investment suggestions to specific implementation proposals. You can take a note of the 16 Big Ideas that inspires and you can Vote for it. Voting ends on October 8, 2009.

Ideas to Vote

Provide quality education to African students
Make government more transparent
Help social entrepreneurs drive change
Make educational content available online for free
Drive innovation in public transport
Create more efficient landmine removal programs
Build real-time, user-reported news service
Create real-world issue reporting system
Enhance science and engineering education
Create genocide monitoring and alert system
Promote health monitoring and data analysis
Collect and organize the world's urban data
Build better banking tools for everyone
Encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists
Work toward socially conscious tax policies

Now, all Ideas are innovative and draws our attention. Don't you think so? Best Ideas still can fit in the category. However, important is How long will the Idea's impact last and how many people would this idea affect? Urgency of the need creates an awareness and if these Ideas have implementation faster, it can let the results be seen.

Google is committing $10 million to implement these projects, and their goal is to help as many people as possible. You can be a part of the Project10tothe100and join the task. Watch the video or just visit their site and Vote for the Best Idea.

Happy Birthday Google - 27th September is a memory. Google opened its doors in September 1998. "The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake." says Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Here is on google info and G Docs I blogged earlier and on its 10th Birthday last year. Many teachers have been using the G docs and the Google sites and I am sure, these features of Google is useful to many as much as it's useful to me. You can click for Kids Blogs and find Story Board of Shril and Aneri leading toGoogle sites.

Well, its time for celebration for me to celebrate MJ Blog Birthday just around Google's Birthday - on 28th September 2009, completing 5 years of web presence. A continuous, endless, thoughtful writing by M J and presenting the Blog on the web.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kidoz - For Setting Parenting Controls

KIDOZ is a Kid’s Browser for safe Kid’s Web Environment. KIDO’Z is now fluent in 17 languages in both User Interface and the Parental Control Account! With a Smart Content Engine, Kidoz filters content for your kid according to age, language, culture, nationality, gender, religion, and content popularity, just to name a few.

- Click For Kids Kids Resources
Kidoz content can be hand-picked by parents and have options to allow all Kidoz content and then manually block content that you don't want your kid to access or block all content and then manually approve content that you do allow your kid to access. This ensures Safety and safe surfing.

As per their Blog, the KIDO’Z browser can easily be outlined :

UI -– simple, elegant and flawlessly usable for the user (that would be the child)
Discoverability -– A child could do it
Navigation –- One slight flaw, in that navigating back to “Home” has only one button
Aesthetics –- Beautiful and sweet, as any kid’s tool should be
User Experience -– Pointing and clicking to find cool and educational stuff is fun
User Value -– Only the highest quality content sites, though currently limited in number.
Safety and Security –- Nothing exists in the KIDO’Z matrix of browser sites that is not child-safe

Here is How to rate and review content in Kidsfreesouls You Tube.

Btw, the Top Ten websites for kids rated by KIDOZ are:

Fun Brain
Mickey Mouse
Hot Wheels
Poisson Rouge
Roary the Racing Car
Ben 10
PBS Kids

When we allow our kids to surf the web or log in from a school or club computer, it is safety measures of utmost importance. Sometimes, even we are found lost on web with sites. Setting parenting controls is necessary and even if you don't, follow the Palm Breeze Cafe's tips in Kidsfreesouls You Tube. It might help.

Search for 'safety tips for kids' and you find sites that have ample ways to lock sites for kids. Also follow the Email Etiquettes and Chatroom Etiquettes in Compu Kids section.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Monday, September 21, 2009

Energy Star

If you are in India, you can look ahead for Green Environment for kids soon as the government sets its plans for 'Climate Change' Department.

In US, EnergyStar is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy—to be at least 10 to 25 percent more energy-efficient (and often much more) than conventional models.
EnergyStar, which began in 1992 in US and first evaluated only computers and monitors, is a great jumping off point for evaluating everything from major appliances to home heating and cooling, lighting, home electronics, office equipment and more. The EPA recently extended the label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.

The Energy Star Kids is a fun way learn for kids as the Department of Energy offers multiple activities online for kids. Parents and Teachers can download lesson plans and Games and Activities. (Blog Permalink: Earth Day )

You can browse 'For Kids' pages and for Resources for Kids, click here.

This week's environment questions:

Is it true that environmental non-profits have been hit hard by the economic downturn, and has this had an impact on their effectiveness?"

Green groups are relying increasingly on volunteers to get by as contributions and grants have dried up during the economic downturn. Here two volunteers volunteer last election day at the polls, trying to get petition signatures to persuade Congress to make climate change a priority." (In US)

I am considering upgrading some older appliances in my home. Where can I find information on which models are the most energy efficient?

Read In English Read in Spanish

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pen mightier than Keyboard?

Is pen mightier than the Keyboard?
Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor of Educational Psychology, looked at the ability of second, fourth, and sixth grade children to write the alphabet, sentences, and essays using a pen and a keyboard. "Children consistently did better writing with a pen when they wrote essays. They wrote more and they wrote faster," said Berninger. The researcher further said that only for writing the alphabet was the keyboard better than the pen. Results were mixed for sentences. However, when using a pen, the children in the three grade levels produced longer essays and composed them at a faster pace. The study also showed that fourth and sixth graders wrote more complete sentences when they used a pen, and that this ability was not affected by the children’s spelling skills. -Read more In Google News

Children need to use their thinking skills while writing sentences as they have to understand before penning down. Communicating is different whereas writing is different. On computers, the process of writing comes with sentences once they have understood the complexity of writing. Moreover, using the keyboard skills is more important as if their typing is not as per the guidelines, they end up with slow speed and in search of keys, lose words to write.

We definitely need to help children become bilingual writers so that they can write by both, pen and the computer. However, the process is to be monitored. Encouraging children to use computers before they can write sentences is not appropriate. Computers can be a group activity or playing games at very primary level for the age group one to fourth grade. This is even fun and learning for them. When kids can better understand, read and write - encourage blogging or using word and writing stories or letters to friends. Before they end up with social networking, it is recommended that children learn the typing skills and how to surf safe on the web.

Here are some tips that may help you or kids while typing:

1. Position : Sit directly in from of the computer with keyboard placed parallel with the front desk. Keep elbows close to the sides. Feet squarely on the floor. Chair to be of a height that bring forearm in a position to force the hands to be raised slightly and bring the writes on a level with the keyboard.
2. Touch method : Insist on touch method and not hitting the key. Fingers should rest lightly on the keys. a and ; are the anchor guide keys as fourth finger seldom leave these keys. Close attention to the position of the fourth fingers will result in keeping the hands placed correctly on the keyboard. This is the essential step for speedy typing without having to raise fingers and find keys to hit.
3. Curve fingers: Majority of mistake is made by not curving the fingers sufficiently. Held the fingers in position. Closely together and easy moving from middle to upper to lower keys. Do not leave fingers from middle row but let fingers flow up and down from middle row.
4. Wrists : Let wrists be lowered slightly. Compare action like a piano keyboard to that of a typing keyboard. Typing keyboard has inclined plane whereas piano keyboard is on a level plane. Speed and accuracy comes by allowing the wrists to drop slightly.
5. Practice : It is practice that makes a child perfect. Be it piano playing or typing. (Left hand fingers: asdf bump to g ;lkj bump to h ) D is used for E and C. The finger on F can reach RT-G-VB. Same for the right side fingering positions.
6. Avoid looking at keys: This comes with practice. Operating position of hands and fingers is the first step and the second is practice.
7. Concentrate: Get focused on correct position of fingers and wrists and once practice is done, look away from the keyboard.
8. Play games: Best ever practice comes while playing games. However, insist on finger placing with the basic learning as this helps in game keys too.

Type several lines with double space after the basic keyboard learning (point 5 above) is over.

Exercise 1:
asdfgf ; lkjhj asdfgf ;lkjhj asdfgf ;lkjhj ....continue.
fgfdsa jhjkl; fgfdsa jhjkl; fgfdsa jhjkl; ...continue.

Exercise 2:
a;sldkfjghfjdksla; a;sldkfjghfjdksla; a;sldkfjghfjdksla; continue.

Speed or High speed comes from hardest work. Fourth finger placing is important and also traveling minimum distance to character will lead to speed accuracy. Get the basic Exercises done and get some speed typing paragraphs. That should work.

Often we see people using the wrong keys and as I have done speed tests with highest speed of 80/120 wpm. as a stenographer, I have experienced, I need a brain to think while writing but only fingers moving on keyboard smoothly. Determination and You Can Do IT.

Well, Pen is mightier than the keyboard? I think - kids first need to use the pen and gradually can be taught Computers! A caring and thoughtful teaching always help.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 18 - NYT and Guardian of Angels

September 18, 1851 - "We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come." said the founders Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones of NYTimes, this day. Originally, intended to be published every morning except sundays, today, its a newspaper with the term coined "All the News That's fit to print"

Watch a video of Times brand

The newspaper is a class apart and I am a regular reader and email subscriber with Today's Headlines. The Crosswords has ever been my favorite since years. Check out the NYTimes page on kidsfreesouls. Also, let me know, which are your favorite sections on Kidsfreesouls.

Btw, Will Internet Overpower Print Media and TV? The impact of the change is Information Media and Internet is the age of Participation. Readers are not passive recipients of news, but participate in the process. You decide, which is the media? The TV channel or newspaper? Or the SMS platform? Or the web, forums, blogs & social networking!The print media is yet to make up its mind whether to compete or cooperate with the new challenger - The Internet & the Blogs! Print journalism players have a Web presence, that is mostly the result of a domino effect rather than a carefully thought out strategy. Sadly, the egoist attitude of the editorials always think their domains as 'own territory' but unfortunately, no more on the web. Here rules the righteousness. With Internet gaining popularity, the dynamics of readership changes. The fundamental principles of captive audiences changes. The Internet changed the way commerce and business functions. There lies the real challenge for the media to compete. Many of them remain content cum distribution centric activities with rising expenses, no marketing gains except the political triggered liaisons!

What do you think? Print media is here to stay but no way, content is the king on the web and I've noticed Print media lagging behind in news presentation as Internet and Television overpowers with breaking news to be in print, next day!

This note remains static on the Kidsfreesouls New York Times page. A class Activity with above topic Debate can be held in the classroom. Make it interesting by dividing the groups favoring Print/TV/Online media - Later, kids can write a compo or make a journal/Poster on this with various newspaper print media cuttings, TV news and online media sites, etc. For More ideas on using Newspaper in classroom,Visit Kidsfreesouls NIE Tips Also follow Projects Page. You can find New York Times Classroom Projects and news widgets on NYT Page.

Btw, September 18, 2006 - Guardian of Angels was Published on and you can read some of them on MOMS Zone and follow my Amazon Author Blog too.
- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ozone Day - 16th September

Gujarat Science City is observing the 'World Ozone Day' on 16th September 2009 on the theme 'Universal Participation:Ozone protection unifies the world.' The week long celebration began with 350 school children and communities undergoing ozone education and awareness programmes in association with Indian Chemistry Teacher's Association. An illustrative exhibition on the theme of Save our Sky, and a film show on Ozone Awareness will be shown to students to create awareness. Schools and college students are participating in the 'Good ozone and Bad ozone' quiz. Painting competition is also organized for students in the age group of 5 years to 16 years and puppet shows will entertain children. The Science city initiative will help to understand the importance of ozone layer and protect nature.

Read more about Ozone in Kidsfreesouls Environment page.

Btw, did you know that Gujarat is first in Asia and fourth in the world to set up a 'Climate Change' Department. You can look for details on this on the State Portal once the new revamped site goes live.

It is is predicted by 2030, the seas will rise by 150 to 300 mm endangering coastal town and cities around the world. The growing blanket of Carbon dioxide gas will become thicker and cause havoc. Our children need to learn on these issues that concern and our government need to act faster to 'Save Environment, save Nature' - not only merely by spreading awareness but also taking faster Action - How? And sure, the Environment and the new 'Climate Change' Department has action plan - And people need to understand, be aware and act. Schools can organize Environment Programs, interactive sessions, create worksheets and parents can help children to get to explore Resources and fun learn on Environment.

Here is Kidsfreesouls Resource guide to some sites on Environment learning and 'Green your School' Guide by Earth Day Network with Facilities, Food, Transportation, Recreation, Curricula and Classrooms. The site offers extensive research, teacher lesson plans and student action plans. Explore science-based and standards-aligned Lesson Plans for green schools.

Let's join to protect Ozone layer - way we can. Ozone protection unifies the world. Gujarat Ecology Commission can be contacted for further information on this.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Television viewing and Kids

The first Television Programme started in Delhi on 15th September 1959. Since then, the so called ‘Idiot Box’ has attracted mass media, glued to its charm with various programmes.

Research at the National Institute of Mental Health conducted by Peter Jensen concluded, "Extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention." In countless homes and classrooms, we see children with more impulsive behaviors, less willing and able to persevere through challenging mental tasks, hyperactive, reactive, with little or no impulse control. Research confirms that children who watch TV or play video games for more than two hours daily will most likely exhibit one or more of these characteristics.

Children below 2 should not watch any television, kids older no more than two hours daily of 'quality' programs and television, should be out from children's bedrooms. Research shows that kids who have TV in bedrooms score lower in Maths and language arts test than children without bedroom TVs. A rise in attention problems and difficulty in reading is found among kids who watch more than 3 hours of television and fail in intelligence test! However, there is positive association between children's Educational TV viewing and subsequent academic achievement where kids are found to fair better progress in schools.

I would like to mention a few positive of Television here:

* Television increase a child's range of interest as it exposes him to a wide variety of activities and ranging from cartoons, science, travel, music, etc.

* Television do increase the general vocabulary of children and enhance their skills of communication.

* Television provide opportunities for children to participate - Thus, strive for excellence with their talents, participate, and if not, get inspired by talents of others, learn and be informed.

* Television makes children to imagine and dream as they watch their own cartoon shows and helps them to build concentration, be focused and stimulate their minds.

However, television has it's impact negatively with influence on children of media violence. More viewing leads to effects on healthy child development and the impacts of advertisements are reflected in their various demands and behavior. As such, this leads to fear syndrome, impulse and aggressive behavior and more with sleep disorders, low grades in schools, health issues, so on.

A survey speaks, almost 68% children from 8-18 years have television in their bedroom, 63% families watch television during meals, 51% television is on, most of the time and on an average, children spend 4 hours a day, watching television, DVDs or playing video games on television-computers. As such, TV plays a big role in our lives. If TV viewing limits are specified, the negative television effects can be minimized. Violent programming including violent Cartoons has a negative impact on children too.

What parents can do? Limit viewing hours? Temptation to fill leisure hours with TV viewing be avoided? Don't occupy child's mind with lot of education stuff that leads to boredom? Think! There must be sure fire way to lessen the TV viewing hours!

Here's to pull the plug on the Violence shows first and focus on:

1. Set limits. Setting limits on television time is very important.

2. Planning. Set the routine of the child and plan his lesson schedules so that he completes his work to be free for his television shows. If his show time is missed, he won't be able to concentrate in his lessons.
3. Decide. Prioritize the channels and let him select his choice as per your list. Guide him to select and explain why the channel show is good for him to view.

4. Participate. Children learn from parents the most as to how you interpret the TV programs you see together. If you forbid children to watch a certain program, try to communicate your reasons. Watch cartoon shows, educational movies together. Children will love watching with you.

5. Resist Commercials. Poor eating habits can be picked up early and with ease as candy and snack food commercials attract kids. When children request food and toys advertised on television, teach kids how television makes them buy things sometimes they don't necessarily need and how advertisers find way marketing their products.

6. Don't Frustrate. Do not be harsh and severe with kids viewing and plug out the cables with disconnection. This will hurt the child. Explain why setting limits is necessary.

7. Check your own Views. Limit viewing when kids around. This means, sacrificing your favorite soap operas or movies when children are together. Not necessarily, all shows provide entertainment; they have a bad influence on you too as they are like slow poison affecting the brain and your attitude.

Express your views while allowing children to select programs of their interest and let them make a choice providing Daily Schedule - include daily allowance (extra 15 mins) or Weekly viewing allowance (extra hours). School going children are overloaded with lessons and even home-work hassles take to stress, a few minutes of relaxing, entertainment and playing outdoor is equally necessary. So why not, Set limits to Television viewing and plan a schedule?

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids
Author of Guardian of Angels: Look Inside Guardian of Angels

Monday, September 14, 2009

Environment concerns - Kids and 'climate change'

Concerns and they do matter! Anywhere you live in the world because Environment globally makes an impact and we all need to be aware of the alarming situation. It is an individual alert of deciding to 'Go Green' and so, here's spreading awareness with this week's Questions with answers by Doug Moss, Publisher and Executive Editor of e Magazine.

In Earth Talk Q & A
I’ve heard that hybrid engine technology is now being used to power boats. What’s happening with that?

Hunting seems to be a real controversy among environmental advocates. Can you set the record straight: Is hunting good or bad for the environment?

La caza parece ser una controversia seria entre los partidarios del medio ambiente. Pueden Uds. decir de una vez por todas: ¿Es la caza buena o mala para el ambiente?
In English In Spanish

According to Glenn Kirk of the California-based The Animals Voice, hunting “causes immense suffering to individual wild animals…” and is “gratuitously cruel because unlike natural predation hunters kill for pleasure…” He adds that, despite hunters’ claims that hunting keeps wildlife populations in balance, hunters’ license fees are used to “manipulate a few game [target] species into overpopulation at the expense of a much larger number of non-game species, resulting in the loss of biological diversity, genetic integrity and ecological balance.”

Well, hunting is illegal and banned activity and we all know that in 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed, and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. Launched on April 1, 1973, Project Tiger has become one of the most successful conservation ventures in modern history. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially-constituted 'tiger reserves', which are representative of various bio-geographical regions falling within India. It strives to maintain viable tiger populations in their natural environment. Today, there are 27 Project Tiger wildlife reserves in India, covering an area of 37,761 km.

You can join the if you are concerned on this.

Btw, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir and गिर वन) is a forest and wildlife sanctuary, home of the Asiatic Lions in Gujarat which is protected as a result of the efforts of the Government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs. Find more on the Forest Dept. website. Hunting by no means is a sport and the ban justifies to save environment and be eco friendly.

Our kids love the animals and they are fond of their pets, love to watch the birds, go to the zoo and even excited about the trail trips to gaze and watch animals and nature. I guess, a class of 'Climate Change' can be made exciting with worksheets, scrap books, posters, etc.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels : A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11 : Obama proclaims Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance

September is a month of events. The falling of the Twin Towers is a memory that children can't forget nor anyone as media coverage in print and television was real time telecast all over the world. It's a great loss and sorrow for those who lost their loved ones and an unforgettable memory who watched the towers falling! A ghastly act of terrorism that rocked the world (Find September 12, 2001 coverage copy of New York Times)

President Obama has proclaimed 9/11 as “Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance." As memories are alive of the 9/11 and the terror attack, Students can be encouraged to share their thoughts through discussion and writing. They can illustrate and gather information on Twin Tower. Vent their feelings about these and other acts of terrorism, as well related issues such as national security and media coverage of the attacks.

I had encouraged my earlier batch with learning on Earthquakes and on Volcanoes after the Earthquake of 2001 during our Republic day. They gathered information from all the library books and even interacted on the impact of situation. The Project Earthquake in the classroom was an exciting activity for all of them as they had experienced the earthquake.

Remembering 9/11, a week-end activity can be held. Children can be prompted to create original works of art expressing their opinion on why terror is danger and what it means to commit an act of crime. They can even paste images depicting events of September 11 or after and write a letter to their friends or god on the images and how they feel even after years. Gather information on the web and even surf through the you tube videos where we find Math project with 9/11. or just print to color 9/11 patriotic sheets.

Other Activities in the classroom or at home can help children to know better on events that are acts of Terrorism. Our children are Watching - Experiencing - Listening. We need to take charge of our Emotions in front of them but at the same time, we need to Educate them - Stop Crime, stop them to be criminals - Teach them tolerance, Forgiveness and even make them understand Politics and what Terrorism means and is all about. Find Lesson Plans on Kidsfreesouls here. Take care and Keep the Faith!

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creative writing

Creative writing and its all about Imaginations and word play. How often we tell our children to be Creative? Make them listen to stories? Do we encourage Creative writing?

Well, if you aren't doing so, quick get to tell them tales and let their imaginations soar. Ask them to write book reviews and yes, narratives. This will help them build their vocabulary with steps leading to gradually writing with flair and creativity.

Bruce Van Patter, a Creative writing Motivator and Expert says, "It’s good to step back and ask, “Why do kids need to write narratives, anyway?” This is especially important to ask as students get older and creative writing gets supplanted by more “practical” writing, like informative and persuasive essays. There are many reasons to continue the writing of stories. Creative writing fires up the imagination. It trains an observational eye. And throughout one’s life, there are stories that need to be told – how much more of an impact they’ll have if one can tell them well."

Kids love stories - Most of them love to listen to stories rather than couch sit and read. Narratives are often fumbling but making sketches of the characters or drawing an imaginary nature scene encourages them to engage in creative activity. Story starters is a good way to help kids explore - Imagine, get ideas and discuss with friends. Let them have fun for a while but before they begin to pen down, give them words. Let them make a list of words, rhyme words, descriptive words or verbal words. Choose Topics that you can think of, or just log to Bruce Van Patter's Story Kitchen.

Children are always interested and excited in a group activity. Communication plays a big role. Class Interaction often reveals bright ideas and active learning start up initiatives. It all needs to trigger those Sparks and like stirring poetry soup, encourage writing with How to write a Story.
It is very important to focus on the Attitude of writing apart from creating characters, plot, theme - an Attitude of positive or a negative style of writing. While I took creative sessions of creating own stories in Swagat classroom, I have noticed, some children click a negative picture and even end up using harsh, abusive words. Positively talking of negative, being practical and finding solutions is a part to be taken care of.

A few tips may help Teachers here in helping kids to write Creatively:

1. Build Vocabulary : Give vocabulary assignments. 10 words in a sheet - Ask kids to make 10 sheets. Ask them to share their sheets with each other.

2. Play Word Games : Arrange for Word Games session. Playing word search, cross words, scrabble or even group games like memory games with words or even fun by spotting words in classroom.

3. Think of Topics : Essential part is to choose topics for creative writing. Create interesting topics ranging from picnic, hobbies, school, sports, fairy tales - anything that interest children. A glance to poetry soup for topics or at Bruce Van Patter's Story Kitchen.

4. Build stories: Let children think, imagine, discuss within themselves or with you and outline stories. Brainstorming sessions will encourage as they imagine to build stories. Encourage them to use words and sentences - sentences that can go with direct or indirect speech.

5. Style of Writing : Help them with the Positive writing style. Attitude is all that counts everywhere.

6. Moral : A moral of the story is an important part. Help children to write the moral of the story. What their story carry a message? How does the story inspire? etc.

7. Sharing : Creative writing does not come easy for younger students. Begin with narratives, later to writing on their own. You can use Bruce Van Patter's Story Kitchen - Circulate the print outs as Bruce starts the stories and kids got to finish it. Email Bruce Van Patter once the child completes the story. You can even email Kidsfreesouls!

Sundays are great to talk to kids. Help them to Imagine, dream stories to weave or just give them a 'Story Time Hour' with a room filled with books - easy to read - and let them write down reviews. Enroll them to Swagat if you are in Ahmedabad or if you in Pennsylvania (US), Email Bruce Van Patterfor Creative writing Presentations/Programs in schools or get to his store for resources/subscribe his newsletter Sparklers. Enjoy!

- ilaxi patel
Author of Guardian of Angels

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Join Kidsfreesouls mission to promote Literacy

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. UNESCO declared International Literacy Day on November 17, 1965. First celebrated in 1966, it aims to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. As per the Unesco reports on Bloggersunite, some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

This year, 8th September - International Literacy Day will put the spotlight on the empowering role of literacy and its importance for participation, citizenship and social development. Literacy and Empowerment is the theme for the 2009-2010 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade.

In Gujarat, Government charted out plans to enroll 525,000 girls in the state in Kanya Kelavani (educating girl child) drive. It covered 1,865 routes and as a result, 100% enrollment and reduction in the drop out rate from 40% to 2.29% is achieved. It foresees a vision 2010 that, when Gujarat celebrates its golden Jubilee, there should be a zero - ‘0’ percent drop out rate in Gujarat (Literally No Drop Outs). Also Bal Pravesh (child admissions) mid-day meal schemes and Nirogi Bal (healthy children) schemes implemented. The Campaign for ‘Education for All’ is implemented with Literacy initiatives for teachers and students, aiming to increase the capability in writing, reading and calculating to enhance literacy skills. (You can look forth for more on Government website here)

It is the need of the hour to understand that Education is a process complete with Exposure and Experiences and Experiences after all, are the best teachers in Life! The most important factor is developing reading habits which is almost neglected part in the life of a student as he mugs his way through the lessons to get the scores. As such, to be illiterate is lack of ability to read and write. Words and printed symbols carry the message that a person understand as their eyes move across to read the written matter.If you are literate, educate at least one child who needs to learn the basics or at least one can try to encourage and cultivate reading habits among children who are lost in textual lessons.

Join Kidsfreesouls mission to promote Literacy! Be a HIP (Home Instructional Programmer) with Swagat Children Library Worksheets online! Help kids - wherever you live! You can even join the 'Teach India' campaign of Times of India.

Btw, here's winner of 2009 UNESCO Literacy Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Literacy:

Khabar Lahariya - Nirantar's Project

Extract from Khabar Lahariya - Me and my bicycle
Listen, listen sister a village story full of delight
Where women ride cycles come day or come night
They feel no shame or shyness in learning to ride
It takes hard work not to fall off the side

First I used to sit at the back
Now my beloved does the same

Look how my world has changed, my sweet
You, who thought I belonged at your feet.
Visit Nirantar's website:

- ilaxi patel
Author of Guardian of Angels: A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kids Health & Resources

Two Questions in Earth Talk column this week focus on major concerns i.e. Health of babies and Global warming (in China)

What are the pros and cons of feeding babies formula versus breast milk? And if I purchase formula, should I spend the extra money on the organic variety?

Has China been making any progress reducing its output of global warming gases, and/or in tackling other environmental problems?

Read : In English In Spanish

While you get to read more of the many concerns on the Environment column, here is a site that I thought might be too helpful to parents, kids and Teens on Children Health Issues and development.

Find more websites to surf in Resources column on Kidsfreesouls and also in links here.

Hope you enjoy your stay at Kidsfreesouls as you get more scoop on Children development as slow but steady, the site rolls down the ages as 'Kids Newspaper' and 'for Kids' - Keep the faith!

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Friday, September 04, 2009

Happy Teacher's Day

Teachers and we all came across our mentors. Where did our time flew and where we headed for the future! We spent the best of our lives with our friends – all our childhood friends who played, shared, fought with us – who loved and cared for us and in years, they too grew up to bear the many responsibilities of being a ‘mother’ or a father and even into a profession of their choice. As we look back, we remember our alma mater, our very own teachers and memories make our day! They are the ones who played a major role in shaping our life.

And, as teachers, we realize what contributions we make to each child who walk in and out of our classrooms! All of us are yet living in a time zone of a tech age and techno savvy kids – the new generation who wants us to ‘Learn, Listen and Let go’ – Like I said, ‘I learn, you learn, we learn’ is the new mantra as we build in rays of hope, directions and lead to goals. We stumble at times, do make our moves with mistakes but almost we never give up!

As teachers, we have endless learning and endless exploring. We play our roles nurturing their lives at every stage of their Education levels. When we have children in Kindergarten, we end up showering love. When they grow up, we give them words. As we build their vocabulary, we encourage them and show them the way. Together, we build a world to explore and discover – discover the joys of learning and sharing. And there comes a time, when they are in their teens that we want them to learn the values and give them inspirations. They make a choice and their subjects matter as we hold their hand and teach them to be on their own! We suddenly realize, the child is grown up and soon leaves us in darkness to share the light with yet another kindergarten child!

Memories do not fade! Kids do. As they build their world, I am sure many of them remember you all their lifetime. I have experienced this and when they come and say, ‘Hi Mam, I am '….' I use be your student’ – fond memories bring in happiness in abundance. We almost remember every child as much as they do. Sometimes, we don’t recognize the grown up child but often remember the naughtiest silly act of him. As parents help the kids to grow gracefully, teachers have spent most of the time sharing their life. We pause when they leave our classes - These kids have taught us and changed our lives!


T - Thoughtful
E - Encouraging
A - Active
C - Creative
H - Helpful
E - Exciting
R - Ready to Teach

I remember some children gave me autographs with above message to cherish memories.

I think, we all can do one thing: Write down Reminiscences of the Teacher you liked the most and what he/she did teach us in life. This will create stories to inspire. Send across your piece and let this be a piece to honor a teacher's heart.

On Tech fronts, every day on the web is learning as we surf across many a blogs who polish our tech skills. Our teachers on the web! Here's also wishing Teacher's day to all who impart knowledge online as computing is learning with experience!

Happy Teacher's Day - Check in for Teacher's Day Page here. Also For Teachers and Grammar Fun Section, Projects and Resources to surf. Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Author of Guardian of Angels: A practical guide to Joyful Parenting

I learn, you learn, we learn

Wishing all Teachers who pass this way, 'Happy Teachers day' -As Teacher's day falls on 5th September in India, here's an exclusive Teachers Page with inputs by some of them.

In India, Teacher's Day is celebrated in honour of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, its second President and a noted educationist. Traditionally on this day, the responsibility of teaching is taken up by the senior students while the teachers get a much-deserved break from their duties. I am happy that Perin Aunty of Thumbelina Kindergarten School gets a 'Lifetime Achievement Award' by Eklavya Education Foundation who have been giving away Awards to Teachers since many years.

I feel, Parents too play the role of a teacher in the progress of a child. Helping a child to Grow gracefully, building Literacy, choosing books/games/ or just about everything that leads to chart their development. Education begins at home. And with today's tech age, Parents do need to change and be with the times. (article in Guardian of Angels) It is a challenging task for a teacher or a parent to educate the kids as they themselves need to keep pace with the Changing times. Information, Education and Entertainment themes on the computers can actually be a tool to be Aware, educate, inspire, motivate and encourage the teacher/parent as well as the pupil, together striving to climb the ladders to reach the successive goals.

However, it is important to keep break-free from temptation of social networking - for a teacher, parent as well as a student. Hanging on too long at these places tend to divert learning and goals. Every coin has two sides. These social networks or games websites have a positive and negative too. It is here to keep a vigil check on self as well as guide children for better surfing experience on the web with proper time management. Do not let Machines become a stumbling block for a child! Just connect them to the tools that can make learning creative, colloborative and powerful learning, seeking 'knowledge is power'

(watch the vide for 21st century learning by Jackie Hallaw (Teacher Hacks - More such videos on Kidsfreesouls You Tube)

Teachers, Parents and students require the well ‘Awareness’ programs to build the mental attitude in the right direction. In short, a curriculum should be adopted for both growth and modernization. Gear up kids for reading, writing, sports, debate and other curriculum as well as encourage them to adopt the tech in a constructive and creative manner.

Teachers are no more ‘fountainheads of learning’ but ‘facilitators of learning’ adopting the method ‘I learn, you learn, we learn’ system increasing the abilities of her learners in her care. The teacher would need to center the classroom on student questions and investigations with ‘You tell, I listen and I tell, you listen’ wise ways. So is - for Parents. Let the growing be together in progress with awareness and understanding and sure, we have children who would be teachers as parenting role one day.

Happy teaching....Wishing great wisdom every day!

- ilaxi patel
Author of Guardian of Angels

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September events - Birthdays and celebrations!
With the social networking, it almost happen that people hang on these places missing the love of the web! For those who are with websites and blogs, its promotions and marketing that matter the most. Places like Facebook and LinkedIn are the sure fire way to stay tuned and promote your work. if you are more on the Search Engines, probably you realize, you get savvy knowing what's happenning for the whole month instead of waiting for some news to get you aware of.

Well, the month of September calls in for Events - events that flood in memories of September 11 or maybe, you find celebrating Google's 11th Birthday! And, of coz, M J Akbar's Blog Birthday which I started in September 28, 2004 and still going on...And September is a month when New York Times was first published! Here's copy image of 11th September on Lesson Terrorism page.

Google had an innovative celebration of its tenth Birthday with the theme 'May those who help the most Win' - calling for Ideas to change the world and make a Difference! It was the PC Magazine that got Google as Top 100 sites in 1998 when Blogger too, started. And, Larry and Sergey hire Craig Silverstein as their first employee on 21 September 1998; he’s a fellow computer science grad student at Stanford. More in the Google Timeline here.

Well, you can keep a track of all Events on Kidsfreesouls Calendar. As Teacher's day falls on 5th September in India, here's an exclusive Teachers Page with inputs by some of them. If you are a teacher and want to contribute, do send across your article related to your field and I will be happy to add there. You can even browse through the Projects for September and even if you are not a teacher, maybe the Project Ideas might be ideas to use in your field too. For eg. Heart Day falls in September, plan for Heart Day - organize a Youth walk, exercise day or just about anything to be aware of Heart issues and health guidance.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids