Like the music he creates there is a beautiful symphony in all that he does. Father, musician, writer, maker and a fantastic mind, he reminds you of all that is good and pure in life. A curious and adventurous child Ragavan Manian, from Team Imagin8ors, explores and seeks new things with an infectious enthusiasm and zest.
My two little boys Karun (8 years) and Sunaad (5 years) play board games, whenever they are, well, bored! There are a host of games to choose from, with their interest area ranging from Myth and Mythology to Mickey Mouse! But the one game that has found a lot of favour recently is Battleships.
According to Wikipedia, the Battleships board game has World War I origins, starting out as a paper and pencil game.
To me and a host of adults out there who grew up on a steady diet of Herge’s famous characters, a more apt reference would be the Tintin comic, Flight 714. If you haven’t read the pages where the sullen, stingy and scruple-free multi-billionaire Carreidas repeatedly flummoxes Capt. Haddock, then you’re missing something hilarious!
But even as I enjoyed the comic and was intrigued by Battleships, I never got a chance to actually play the game, and it faded from my memory – that is, until it made a grand appearance in our household in the guise of my son’s birthday gift. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly both my little boys picked up this game. They are nearly three years apart, and in the early years, “three” represents a significant cognitive gap, separated by numerous cognitive milestones. Some examples:
Their board games therefore tend to be divided into two neat piles. In line with his age and interests, the younger one prefers the motto of “have dice, will play”. He loves rolling the dice, driven by the sincere belief that he’s the “luckiest person in the family”. His cries of elation when he leads the board on the perennial family favourite “Snakes and Ladders”, or his shrieks of despair when he falls behind, have earned him the nickname of “Mr. Noisy” in our neighbourhood. The older one prefers intrigue (Scotland Yard, anyone?). He feels let down when “dumb luck” plays a significant part in a game, where he cannot ‘outsmart’ his opponent.
Like many great board games “Battleships” tends to straddle the space between luck and logic. Yes there is a good deal of chance in the game, but it also requires strategic thinking. Children delight in shouting out the words, “a miss!”, “a hit!” and “a sink!”. There is implicit confrontation in those words; however no actual violence is inflicted. The vessels on the board don’t even sink when they’re sunk – they just end up looking more dressed up! The power of their thought processes in affecting the opponent’s fleet is a revelation – almost like a spooky action-at-a-distance effect. Abstraction and Generalization – Computational Thinking concepts that even adults have difficulty wrapping their heads around, form part and parcel of this game. The moments of silence and strategic thinking add to its old-world charm.
Above all, this game demands that the players be principled – a facet of the Collaboration, that we need in dollops in the global citizens of a brave new world, in a time when the planet is ridden by the damage done by the collective greed of the past generations. The temptation to gain strategic advantage surreptitiously (a.k.a. Through peeking!) was initially so strong in the children that, during the first few rounds I had to step in and act as the Captain of the boys, to enforce ground rules and stringent penalties against ‘cheating’. But eventually they understand that it is a lot more fun and engaging to follow the rules. A fair game of Battleships seems to teach long-term lessons that stick in more ways than one.
Carreidas in Flight 714 was driven by the desire to win the game of Battleships at all costs against his opponent, the poor, sincere Captain Haddock. This may have helped the former win the game, but in the end his guile was exposed and the Captain’s Boys won the day!
What board games rule your household? What life lessons have you been able to share through them? We would love to hear from you…
Children absorb a lot of things and bring out this knowledge in the most remarkable ways.
Here is the story of Nirmay and his amazing learning from nature, telling his mother “Mama See How I Grow!”
As Bharti was watering the plants she noticed her four-year- old son Nirmay crouch down next to the flower pots. “Mom, I am a plant too, water me too”, he cooed. In an indulgent mood Bharti gently sprinkled some water on Nirmay. As the water fell on him, he slowly started straightening up “Mom see I am growing too”.
Stories my dear friend Bharti shares about Nirmay always make me smile. But after the initial laugh, I am quite intrigued by the boy’s ability to apply his knowledge to his endearing antics. This is the concept of growth demonstrated in the simplest and most effective way.
Has your child ever demonstrated a science concept or principle like this? Do share…
It was indeed a light bulb moment when we thought of Imagin8ors On The Go. What an opportunity for us to bring the Joy of Learning to your very doorstep! To meet wonderful children and parents and together create an environment where we could children could tinker, have fun and learn hands-on. Where we could have a conversation with parents on on why this is important.
In today’s fast changing, tech-driven world, it’s become even more critical to nurture imagination and creativity in our children, so that they could apply the knowledge they learn in original, novel ways that machines cannot replicate easily. We need to build a strong foundation of character traits like curiosity – always asking questions, seeking to understand etc.; critical thinking – to help them analyse and solve unstructured problems , courage – embracing failure as a necessary part of the creative process, and collaboration – sharing and learning from others. These are part of what is talked of as 21st Century skills or capabilities.
With this in our hearts Imagin8ors visited Costa Del Sol and Costa Rhu and we spent a happy day transforming old toys – a great way to put to practice the very same 21 century capabilities. The output from children and parents was simply amazing… Fisher-Price should be taking notes.
Children landed at the event and set about sketching what they were planning to transform their toy into. Their imagination ran wild with no boundaries or rules to stifle them.
Parents and children collaborated together and it was heartening to see them equally involved as they sketched and planned for a toy of their own.
Once everyone had a plan on paper it was time for some action. Out came the screwdrivers and the dismantling began. We witnessed a lot of focus as the children went about systematically taking toys apart. Curious little beings showed so much delight to get a peek into how their toys worked.
Once the toy was taken apart they had all the ingredients to make magic. The raw material from the toy, additional stuff from our materials table and their creativity – when these three met sparks did fly!
The children spent the time discussing, tinkering and modifying their toys. They would also go around looking at others’ creations-in-the-making to get ideas and inspiration.
Parents rolled up their sleeves, got messy and helped their children through the transformation process.
In the end we had some very happy children who had actually built something guided by their fluid imagination. As the journey was made with their toys and parents, the euphoria at the end result was so much more.
It was a happy moment to see the parents and children rejoice, having created something new and unique to take home. When it is all about the journey the destination always comes as a pleasant surprise.
What are your views on nurturing 21st Century Capabilities in children? Would you like us to come to your doorstep too? Join the conversation…
If you haven’t made plans to head to the Maker Faire Singapore 2016 this weekend, you should!
At this family friendly event, your child and you can meet an army of crafters, techies, artists, engineers, scientists and tinkerers and participate in fun interactive learning and play-based workshops. Immerse yourselves in hands-on activities and discover the inner maker and the curious kid who just like to build things.
The Maker Faire offers many opportunities for parents to expose children to the staggering breadth of creativity (arts, music, technology, electronics, robotics, building, handicrafts, you name it) and the increasing interconnection between disciplines.
Participating in non-instructional, hands-on tinkering activities could offer you and your child to experience and work with ambiguity, to teach them that many times there are no right or wrong answers, and to learn on how to take failure in your stride to iterate and create something of meaning.
So what are you waiting for? See you there!
When: 25 th June 2016 – 26 th June 2016
Where: Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD); 8 Somapah Rd, 487372
About the Maker Faire : The Maker faire is a showcase of the Maker Movement. The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2015 celebrated its tenth annual show with some 1100+ makers and 145,000 people in attendance. In these 10 years, it spread across the world, with Maker Faire Singapore becoming one of the most prominent in Asia.
Maker Faire Singapore is organised by the Singapore Science Center, and attracts thousands of attendees. Click on Maker Faire Singapore 2015 Highlights to view a video to give you a feel for the excitement in store!
How about a spoonful of nostalgia this weekend? There is something for everyone – children, parents and
together as you explore six stunning installations which will remind you of the exciting
games of a bygone era. Discover engaging activities for the children put together by local
and international artists. Work with the artists to get a crash course in creating your own art
University of Singapore Division of Industrial Design showcase some amazing artwork.
The games do not end here. How about designing your own board game? Or a bike? BIKES
4 FUN gives you an opportunity to build your own bike and ride it around the corner. The
event is on till 31 July 2016. So why wait till the last day? Head there now!
Have radios intrigued you? How about a blast from the past this weekend? Head to the
National Museum with your children and learn a little more about radios as you explore their
“Celebrating Radio: Sounds from the Past” exhibit. Your child can be a radio DJ for the
day as he/she learns about the children radio shows of the past. The exhibit is for all maker
kids! Come and design a personalised vinyl record album cover or create a vintage radio
box. Take the 30-minute interactive tour with your child and learn a bit more about this
medium. Get a crash course in Singapore’s broadcasting history starting from 1930s in the
specially designed children’s activity area. The exhibit is on till 17 July 2016.
Sia Mitra blogger, painter, needlework artist, mother – a woman with fingers in many pies. Living a busy life juggling numerous interests and responsibilities, but her daughter always comes first. Doing many projects together is how this mother-daughter duo bond and have fun together. Hear this Delhi based powerhouse speak about one such holiday project.
Rummaging through some old documents, one manic Sunday, I stumbled upon some old maps. They were detailed, familiar and drawn with exclusively me in mind, by my husband. Gazing at the yellowing paper, I wistfully recalled, how they used to be my sole guide before the smart phone. Peeping over my shoulder my seven–year-old daughter was intrigued, “What is that?”
“It is a map, dear. “ As Darling Daughter ogled it, a fabulous idea germinated in my mind.
“Would you like to make some maps?” My query was met with an enthusiastic affirmative.
Cartography, the art of charting maps, initiated by the Greeks and Arabs, has been around for centuries and now it was time for the mother-daughter duo to get busy too. But first a quick lesson before we ventured into unchartered territories.
“Listen,” I explained “A map is a pictorial representation of an area, with certain predefined symbols used to show the various objects. For example a box with a red cross depicts a hospital. Most of the symbols used in the map are defined and are called legend. Another important aspect of a map is the direction.”
Next morning to understand directions better we stepped out in the garden.
“Now which side is the sun?” I queried.
Darling Daughter dutifully pointed towards the East.
“Let us stand facing the sun. The direction you are facing now is East. Your back is towards the West. Your left hand depicts North and the Right depicts South.”
This is the simplest way to get the hang of directions. Of course you can use an instrument called the compass to know the directions. The needle of the compass always points towards the North. In a map, it is customary to depict the orientation with the help of a North arrow.
Armed with this knowledge we set off for a short stroll from Darling Daughter’s school (My School) to a nearby school (ABC School).
As we walked, I asked her to make a note of the major landmarks we passed. After a leisurely stroll, we sat down on a park bench and drew a picture of the route, marking the landmarks. I encouraged her to draw as many items as she could. At this juncture we were not making maps to scale.
After she finished, the following picture emerged.
This was still a drawing and not a map. To achieve that we had to replace objects with symbols. I introduced her to some of the standard symbols used for map making. She designed the rest of the symbols herself. After some hectic designing these are the symbols we settled on.
Now we inserted the symbols in our original picture. The general paths remaining the same. Now it looked more like a representative map :-
We both grinned ear to ear as we marched back clutching the map like a trophy. Definitely a fun fruitful morning. Sadly before I could bask for two minutes in the glory of it all, I was bombarded with questions about distances and shortest route. Well what can I say, parenting and learning go hand in hand, so the lessons continue.
Have you ever gotten your child to create a map? What was your experience like? Do share…
Sailakshmi Deepak a friend with whom conversation never ends. Librarian, Blogger, Supermom, Maker and Commentator she is a multi-talented aficionado. Living in Dubai she is constantly looking for new experiences at the same time continuing old traditions. Her life is full of beautiful narratives woven around her two fantastic kids.
At 40, my thirst for knowledge has gone up multi-fold. I thought it was because of Google, and the fact that I had become a librarian with access to a barrage of non-fiction books. I was wrong; I realised it is because of my 10 and 7-year-old boys. There was an endless stream of questions coming my way, and the more I looked for answers the greedier for information they got. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them! So, I did.
Our favourite topic being religion, mythology, beliefs, etc., I grabbed a book called ‘Religions of the world’ from the children’s section and it became our bedtime ‘storybook’. I think l learnt more than I was trying to teach, and we had the most enriching discussions. Over the next two months, as we finished the book, we had all the information about the different religions; and am happy to let them decide what they want to grow up believing in.
Hinduism piqued their interest, probably because they can relate to it. They now wanted to delve deeper into Indian mythology. We started with the fairly simple Ramayana, and then moved on to the more complex but interesting Mahabharata. As I read to them, we enjoyed the way many stories were woven together to make this epic. We then moved to Gita for Children, which I did not particularly enjoy, but they were obsessed. With this phase done over another 6 months, I needed a break.
I wanted laughter before we went to bed. I was picking up Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss, but they did not want any of that. They wanted to soak in the heavy stuff. This time I was lost. We did not know what was going to be our next. The following morning when I was at the library, the first person who walked in, returned Marcia Williams’ comic strip book of Shakespeare Plays. Now, that was a sign.
It called out to me; I wanted to get into it and discover the Bard. So I took it home and within a week, my boys and I were hooked. We tasted, bit into, chewed and gobbled it; and in a fortnight I went back to the library and got another one from the series. We soaked ourselves into this one too.
I was now bringing home several versions of ‘Shakespeare for children’ and having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we could not read, we were playing quizzes, word games and 20 questions based on his works. It has been about 8 months, and we are still in love, maybe more than ever before.
In April we attended the Literature Festival which celebrated the Bard’s 400th death anniversary. Who had to be there in the author line up, having sessions on Shakespeare and signing her books? Marcia Williams. With more books signed by her, our bookshelves are bursting, and we have gone back to our favourite Much Ado about Nothing, Romeo & Juliet and Comedy of Errors.
What about you? What are you and your kids reading right now ????