Shipwright Pretend Play

Tool toy is one of boys favorite toy. Boys usually pretend to be a builder when they play the toy. Here is one of the tool toy which can make children pretending as a shipwright(someone who builds and fixes ship) on a pirate ship. This theme will add more fun to the play and in the end will give benefit for children.


Ultimate Pirate Work Bench

 work-bench-toy  a-boy-with-ultimate-pirate-work-bench-toy  tool-toy-set  tools-toy-storage

To make children excited and play as the theme, we should join the play. It’s easy to do. Be a pirate character and just pretend that we’re on a pirate ship.  Create a conversation which involves our children on the play. Here’s an example:

Captain (Adult): Ahoy! I’m the Captain of the ‘Brave Ship’. Now, we’re going to sail                                               across the seven seas. Are all my pirates ready?

Children:             Ready!!!

Captain (Adult): All right! Prepare the ship my pirates! I’ll check the ship!

Children:             Ayay, Captain!

Captain:              Pirate! The board on the deck is loosen. You have to nail it!

Children:             Ayay, Captain!

Captain:              Look at the live preserver! Hang it on the deck! Use the nut and bolt to                                        make a hanger!

Children:            Ayay, Captain!

That’s the example. Create other activities which require the use of the wrench, the saw, the ruler, compass, anchor, and the treasure box. When we give order to children excitedly as a captain, they would do the activities excitedly too. They usually would response or reply what we say as a pirate too and make a lively conversation based on the theme (what they say, may not be the same with the example. Let it be and play along with the characters). We don’t always have to act as the captain too. We can let our children to lead the play and act as a captain. This will bring out their creativity in imagining a situation related with the theme.

Here is the tips to do the pretend play:

  • Before playing, set a goal or a title to the play. The title will make us easy to direct the play. For example the play title for the conversation above is the ship checking. With this title, we can create a play which requires children to use all the tools toy. Hence, there is something to be noted. During the play, children may react or bring out idea which is diverted from the title. If it happens, just let it be and play along with our children response.
  • Prepare costumes. It’s not a necessity but it will make the play more exciting.
 Pirate Patchpirate-patch  Pirate Head Scarfpirate-headscarf-for-kids
  • Create many situations or play titles such as ship on a stormy weather, pirates meet the whales, the leaking ship and many more. Just be creative! By doing it, we can actually add knowledge to children. For example with the ‘ship on a stormy weather’ title, we can tell about what nature shown before a storm is coming such as thunder sound, the glimpse of lightning, the dark clouds and many more. Therefore, before playing, it’s better if we collect the information related with the theme we’re going to play with our children from the right source. It’s very important to do in order to give the right information or knowledge to children.

The proper preparation and the play itself can give lots of benefit for children. The benefits are:

  • Vocabularies enhancement related with the tools, the theme and the play title.
  • Knowing the function each of the tools by doing the simulation through the pretend play
  • Exercising children’s fine motor muscles as they use the tools
  • Bring out their imagination, creativity and cognitive skills. It’s because when they act as a character, they have to react/ response of what other character says. To response properly, they have to link the situation in the play with the knowledge they have related with the theme. This requires the three skills above
  • Learn about leadership. When they act as captain, they have to be able to lead the other pirates. This won’t be easy to do as in daily life they still get lots of instruction or guidance from adults. Therefore, when they act as captain, they learn to instruct or guide others. This will give new perspective for them and as a way to learn basic leadership.
  • Learn to deal with pressure. The title play allows us to create a situation where children have to learn how to deal with pressure, for example as in the ‘ship on the stormy weather’ title. During storm, there are many situations which may happen on the ship such as the loosen board, the fall of the anchor and many more. The situations require immediate attention and problem solving. The act of solving the imaginary urgent situation will make children learn how to deal pressure in an urgent situation. This will be a good simulation and experience for children which will be useful in daily life.

Last, after we play the pretend play with our children, it will be great to ask our children to read book, watch movie or video relate with ship and tools (Though, we can do it before we do the pretend play. This will make children be excited to do the play). All the activities will give many ideas and knowledge. So, the next time they play with their peers or even play alone, we might be surprised with the ideas they bring to the play. When they’ve shown this, it means they have learned and developed their abilities!

Happy playing!

Animals Drawing to Strengthen Shapes Recognition

Once children are able to recognize shapes, they need lots of experience with shapes to make the shapes recognition strengthened. Drawing can be a way to do it. It’s because by drawing, children can feel how the shapes are formed through their hands. This can add children’s stimulation of shapes. The more the shapes are stimulated, the more those would be recognized by children and kept inside their memories.

Below are steps of drawing some animals:

 steps-to-draw-ant  steps-to-draw-bee
 steps-to-draw-butterflyfish  steps-to-draw-manta-ray-fish

Here are the shapes children can recognize from the pictures above:

  • Ant drawing → circle and oval
  • Bee drawing → oval and triangle
  • Butterfly fish drawing → square, trapezoid, rectangle, triangle, oval, and half circle
  • Manta ray fish drawing → trapezoid, rectangle, triangle, and oval

When we ask children to draw the animals above, don’t forget to mention the shape of every step in the picture. Therefore, children can know the name of the shapes. If they’ve already known the shapes, ask them to mention the shapes on every step. This can add more stimulation which will strengthen children’s ability more  in shapes recognition. Last, ask children to color the animals.

Happy drawing! 🙂

Playing Train Toys: A Way to Introduce Transportation to Children


One of children favorite toy, especially boys, is train toy. When they play it, they usually move the train on the track, make the train sound, and pretend to be the engineers. They can play it alone or together with others like their peers or us. If we play with them, we actually can add something more which will make the pretend play more fun and make children learn. How to do it? It’s by introducing the concept of transportation.

To do that,  firstly, we stimulate our children sense of curiosity by asking question like,”Do you know that train is one kind of transportation?” Some may say yes, some may say no. If children say yes, we can ask them whether they know what’s the meaning of transportation. They may answer the question based on their understanding. Never mind if their answer is not correct as young children, though they may have heard the word, may not know yet about the meaning of transportation. It’s our task to explain the meaning of transportation to them. Explain it in words they will understand. Let’s say that transportation is a way to move people or things from one place to another.

After that, we can ask children to do a simulation as explaining the meaning of transportation only  won’t make children grasp the concept. The simulation can be done by playing the train toy. Start with preparing the buildings and setting each buildings faraway from one another.

 TCON-201  Conductor Carl 100 Piece Wooden Train Set

Then, do the pretend play. For example, pretend a person needs to go to another place which distance is quiet far. We can ask children about how can the person go there. They may give various answers such as by foot, by car, by train, etc. After that, we can ask them to help the person by providing one way of transportation which is train. Then ask children to arrange the tracks. So the train can move and is able to transport the person to another place..

 TCON-05  100 Pieces bulk Wooden Track

When the tracks has been arranged, pretend to make the person rides on the train and he feels happy as he’s able to go the place he wants by train now. Keep doing the pretend play by creating another scenario such as visiting grandparents’ house, travelling to another city, etc.

Don’t stop with one type of scenario. Create another situations. For example, there are people who need to send packages to their friends at another city. Put some things (use print out pictures or sticker) on top of the trains. Then move the trains to another place. Pretend that the friends are happy when they receive the packages. Ask children to bring out their own ideas of situation/scenario which I’m sure they will come up with many ideas.

To do the activity above, we need to prepare the train set and the train toys. The Conductor Carl 100 Piece Bulk Train Track Pack can be an option for the train tracks. The set is made of wood which makes it durable and long lasting as wooden toys are not broken easily. So children can have it for many years and even it can be passed on to their younger brothers and sisters. It’s also safe as the track pieces are made from single piece construction, meaning there are no loose plastic pegs that could pose danger to a child.

As for the train set, Conductor Carl 100 Piece Wooden Train Set & Conductor Carl 80 Piece Wooden Train Set with Table can be the options. Both sets include Conductor Carl Engine Car, pieces of track, vehicles, people & signs, trees & houses. Therefore, we don’t need to provide another set train toys to be able to do the simulation.

That’s how the concept of transportation can be introduced to young children. It starts by explaining the meaning of transportation and giving train as one example of transportation. This will make children grasp the basic function of the train and realize the reason why the train moves from one place to another. It’s simple concept but children may not realize it before. Then continue the activity by doing the simulation through pretend play which is the fun and important part. It is the part which will make children truly absorb and grasp the concept because they experience the process of the transportation itself which begins by arranging the tracks, trying to solve people’s problem in the pretend play, solving the problems and eventually creating many situations of using the train as one kind of transportation. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s ask our children to play the train toys to understand the concept of transportation 🙂

5 Great Toys & Games for Learning Pattern (2)

In 5 Great Toys & Games for Learning Pattern (1), there are two toys we can use to make children learn about pattern. Here are another toys  & games/activities children can do.

3. Foam Beads Toy: Jewelry Seller Pretend Play

To do the pretend play, we need :

  1. Foam Beads

Foam Beads2. Play Money

Play Money

Children can use the foam beads to make bracelet or necklace. Ask them to arrange the beads in pattern. To make this activity more fun, ask children to do pretend play as jewelry seller. Add the play money to make the pretend play more exciting.  We act as a customer and choose the bracelet and necklace which are arranged in patterns only. So, when  the beads are not arranged in pattern, children will know.

Note: The activity is great for 4 years old children and above as we’re not giving them example to follow. At this age, children (if they have learned and practiced since previous age) have been able to create their own pattern. The chance to create their own pattern will strengthen their ability.

4. Bricks toy

Many patterns can be created from bricks. To make the pattern creation from bricks fun, we can use the pattern achievement activity as the lacing beads and the building block toys or do something else.

Here’s what we can do. Ask children to follow or create their  own pattern. After they finish, ask them to take picture of the patterns they’ve made. Then, ask them to write the patterns (This can be done for 4 or 5 years old children who are already able to write. This can be a way to practice their writing as well).

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After that, put it on the scrapbook or hang the pictures of the patterns they’ve made on the wall. So, all family members and friends who visit our home can see. Hanging children’s creation is a way which shows our appreciation to children’s ability. And this  will make them want to create more patterns.

Kids Art Wall Hanging  Kids Art Wall Displaying

Ways to show children’s creation

5. Design & Drill Activity Center


Children, especially boys, are going to love the game as they can make patterns by using power drill, wrench and brightly-colored bolts. There are patterns cards included in the game. So, we don’t have to make the patterns example for children. They can follow the cards and later create their own patterns. To make the activity more exciting, we can take the video when they do the activity. Share it to family members. Then, don’t forget to praise for their great works in following and creating patterns. This will make them want to do the activity again and again. The more they play, the more they can practice making patterns.

That is all. The toys and games/activities which will stimulate children to learn recognizing and creating patterns. Hence, there’s one thing we should keep in mind. Our involvement and appreciation are the key elements which will make children stimulated and encouraged. So, let’s patterning with them  🙂

Related posting: 5 Great Toys & Games for Learning Pattern (1)

5 Great Toys & Games for Learning Pattern (1)

Recognizing and creating pattern abilities can be practiced through play. To do that we need the toys which can be used to stimulate both abilities. Hence, giving the toys only to children and let them play those by themselves, sometimes is not enough. We have to create games/activities which will make children stimulated and encouraged to recognize and create patterns.

Here are the toys and the games/activities :

  1. Lacing Beads Toy: Beads Pattern Achievement Activity 

Abacus Lacing Beads

The basic way to play it is by putting the beads one by one onto the lace. The beads can be arranged in certain pattern or not. The arrangement of beads is basically depended on children’s likeness. But, if we want to use the toy to make children learn to recognize and create pattern, there’s an activity we can do. I call it Pattern Achievement Activity.  To do it, we have to prepare:

  1. Lacing beads toy
  2. Pattern Achievement Board. We can print it or just draw it on the paper. Below is an example of the board. It’s made based on the lacing beads toy above which may not be the same with your lacing beads. So, create patterns based on the toys you have.

Pattern Achievement Board3. Reward (You can decide the kind of reward which is given to children)

How to play it:  We just have to ask children to follow the patterns shown on the board. After they finish, mark stamp or put sticker on the reward column. Then, hang the board where all family member can see. So, children can tell the achievement they have done to the whole family and be appreciated of what they have done. The appreciation will make them stimulated and encouraged to practice more patterns.

Note: This activity can be given start from 3 years old. It’s because at this age children have recognized the attributes they need to know before making pattern such as: colors and shapes. As for children above 3 years old, we can create more complex patterns. Therefore, their ability will be improved.

2. Building Block Toy: Building Block Pattern Achievement Activity

The activity children can do to recognize and create pattern with the building toy is basically the same as above. The things we need are:

  1. Building toy

100 Wooden Block Set

2. Pattern Achievement Board (The patterns on the board are made based on the 100 piece wooden block set with carrying bag)

Building Toy Pattern Achievement Board

3. Reward

4. Timer/ alarm clock

How to play it: It’s basically the same as playing the beads above. But to add the fun and difficulty, we can spread the blocks on the floor. So, children have to find the blocks they need before they follow the pattern on the board. As for 4 years old children, there’s another thing we can do to add the difficulty, other than giving more complex patterns. We can limit the time. So, they have to follow all patterns on the board in limited time. We can use the timer/ alarm clock. If we do not use timer or alarm clock, we can count until certain numbers. For example: we count from 1 up to 50 or 100.

The limitation of time will make children a bit pressured in doing the task. The pressure can make them give more effort to find the blocks and arrange the blocks match with the pattern on the board. And this will boost their ability. Other than that, the limitation of time will make children learn to handle the pressure (time limit) in doing the task. This is a good ability to be achieved too. However, do not give a very limited time as children will be pressured a lot which they may not be able to handle (the pressured feeling) yet. The time limit is only the second factor in the recognizing pattern activity. Keep remember that the main goal of the activity is to make children able to recognize the pattern, not to handle the pressure.

Continue to 5 Great Toys & Games for Learning Pattern (2)

Recognizing Pattern: The Useful Ability in Doing Math Problems

          Have you in a situation where your children need much time doing math worksheet which you think is quite easy to do by them as they’ve done and practiced it many times? The worksheet example is like in the picture below!

Addition Worksheet

In the worksheet above, children can actually answer  some additions without having to add all of the addition one by one. Some children can do it after they do addition at least  three numbers. They can predict the answer of the next addition. It’s because they figure out that the answer for the next addition is the next number in the number sequence. Hence, there are some children who can’t make the prediction. Though they have done that kind of worksheet many times. We may wonder why they can’t do that. If this happens to our children, there’s one possibility why they are not able to do it. It’s because they can’t recognize the pattern in the worksheet.

          Children, who can predict the answer of the next question, realize (after they do the addition at least 3 or 4 numbers (It depends on children’s ability)) that there is pattern in the worksheet above. The pattern is the sequence of numbers on the column after plus sign. So, when they have to add one more to the the sequence of numbers, the answer is basically the sequence of numbers too. On the contrary, children who can’t predict the answer, do not realize the pattern. And this may lead to a question why they can’t see the pattern. There are some possibilities reasons for that:

  1. They are still lack in the ability of recognizing pattern which may be caused by the lack of chance to practice recognizing and making pattern in previous age.
  2. The lack of recognizing pattern of abstract thing. Number is something abstract as it actually a symbol which represent the amount of concrete things. Recognizing the pattern of symbol is more difficult than recognizing the pattern of concrete things as it requires more complex thinking process.

          If the situation above happens to our children, do not force them to exercise the worksheet over and over. It’s better if we ask them to do activities which will improve their ability in recognizing pattern first. Here are the activities children can do:

  1. Ask children to play the toys which will make them able to practice recognizing and making pattern.

Abacus Lacing Beads

In the beginning, we ask them to follow the pattern we make. Start from the simple pattern. For example: arrange the beads with the two beads pattern consist of red & yellow beads. After our children have been able to follow the simple pattern, ask them to follow difficult pattern. Keep doing it until they are able to recognize kinds of pattern. Then, ask them to create their own patterns. This will strengthen their ability in recognizing pattern as it requires more thinking process. They have to relate the knowledge they have and combine it with the recognizing pattern ability to make their own pattern. So, they not only become a pattern follower only but a creator as well. The creating process activates more neurons in the brain. The more neurons are activated, the more brain is stimulated. And this makes children absorb and learn more.

2. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to guess what comes next by seeing the pattern. At first, give them worksheet which shows the concrete things such as animal, shapes, daily things, etc.

Pattern Worksheet

3. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to write symbols such as letters & numbers.

       Letter Pattern Worksheet     Number Pattern Worksheet

4. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to recognize patterns in math such as fill in the missing number worksheet, skip counting, or other math worksheets which the level difficulty is still below the addition worksheet as in the example above.

Math Worksheet

          The activities above are arranged in steps from easy to difficult. Ask children to do the activities from the very basic which is very important to do. So, we can check the root of children’s lack ability. When we think our children have mastered the basic step well, that’s the time we can move on to the next step. Let them master it before continuing to another step. By mastering each steps, children won’t miss any recognizing patterns exercise.

          When children’s ability in recognizing pattern is better, it will be easier for them to recognize pattern in math problem which they will see not only in addition, but further math learning such as subtraction, multiplication, division and many more. So, come on! Let’s ask our children to do many activities which will improve their ability in recognizing patterns as it will be useful in doing math problems. 🙂

100 Piece Wooden Block Set (Part 2): Ways to Play it and What Can be achieved

         On the previous posting, I have written some ways to play 100 piece wooden block set. The ways are sorting blocks based on color and shapes, and games with the bags. Here, I only write the basic way to play the block set. It’s building or arranging the block set. It can be made into building such as house, castle, or anything as children’s imagination allow it to be. It can also be made into many things and arranged on the ground. It’s like when we play tangram.

          There’s no rules to play it. Just let children to build as they want to be. Let their creativity kick in. Hence, we can also guide the play (in the beginning) and give them example. It will give them perspectives and ideas which they may not think of. And this will stimulate them to create even more. Below is some ideas to guide in the play and some activities examples for children in different age.

1-2 Years Old Children

Here are ways to play the block and what can be achieved:

  • Stack the blocks into tower

    Show children how to stack the blocks into tower. What they are going to love in doing this activity is when they see the blocks falling down. It is so because at this age they love seeing something that moves. If we stack the tower high enough until it falls down, they will laugh and want to see it again and again. Yet, don’t just make them laughing. Ask them to stack the block by themselves. When they do it, they may arrange the blocks as in the picture below.

    Blocks Stacked by 2 Years Old

    As you can see, the blocks are not in a vertical line. That’s why the blocks will fall down easily. It’s not unusual to arrange the blocks as in the picture for 1 – 2 years old. It’s because making the blocks in a vertical line requires the spatial skill and fine motor muscle controls. As they are in the early stage of developing both skills, therefore arranging the blocks in vertical line is still a difficult task for them. Hence, ask them to do the activity often. This will make both skills developed.

    Something to be noted is when we show how to stack the blocks, we have to do it properly, not with the intention to make the blocks fall easily (though it will make our children laugh and excited). If we do it properly, the higher we stack the blocks, they will fall down eventually. We need to do it, so our children can see the right  example of how to stack the blocks. It is important because what they see will be kept in their memory. The example will become a standard which will stimulate them to do as we do. When they fail to do what we do, which is actually normal (due to their developing ability),they will try to figure out how to stack the blocks as we do. And this, actually what makes children developing their spatial and fine motor control muscles. They try, fail, think, learn, practice, succeed and all the experiences kept in their memory. This is when the new ability is achieved.

    Yet, do not always show them example. Do it occasionally. In the times we do not show example, let them to stacks the blocks as they want. This will make them bring out their original creation.

  • Building the blocks

     Ask children to build different kind of blocks vertically as in the picture below.

Toddler plays 100 Piece Wooden Block Set with Carrying bag by Imagination Generation

Do the steps as in stacking tower. Show our children example, let them try to follow what we do, then let them create their own buildings.

3 Years Old

Basically ways to play it the same as 2 years old. Yet, there will be differences. At this age, children are commonly able to stack some blocks in a vertical line by themselves like the picture below.

Blocks Stacked by 3 Years Old

This is a result of previous experiences. When they are able to do this, it actually shows their development in spatial and fine motor muscles control ability. If our children haven’t been able to do this, don’t worry. Just keep practicing, they will eventually be able to do it. Remember practice makes perfect. Yet, don’t be satisfied with this. Encourage our children to do more. Give more variations and more difficult tasks of how to arrange the blocks. This will make them keep thinking and developing their ability even more. Here are some examples:

Pyramid  Colorful Pyramid
Stairs  Colorful Stairs.png

There are two more abilities added to arrange the blocks as examples. They are following pattern and sequencing. It seems easy for us adult, but for children it’s not as easy as it looks like. To make the stairs, they have to arrange the blocks in sequence of blocks amount: one block, two blocks and three blocks. It means they have to know the sequence of numbers and the actual amount that is represented by the numbers. If we make the stairs in different colors, it will add difficulty levels as they have to combine two attributes at once, number and colors. They also have to use their spatial skills and fine motor skills. So, many tasks at once for a simple activity.

As in building blocks, they commonly have been able to build many blocks to higher stack and able to arrange the blocks in neat vertical arrangement as in the picture below. Let them to create the building as they want as they have enough basic abilities to make their own creation which may surprise us.

3 Years Old Build the Blocks

4 Years Old and Above

At this age, they are commonly able to do the tasks in previous age. Give them more challenge. Ask them to create things from the blocks. At first, as in previous age, we can give examples and let them follow what we create. This will, again, practice their ability to follow pattern. It’s better if we give difficult pattern to follow. Then ask them to create their own thing. This is a more difficult task to do, as they have to imagine thing they see in their life or even from their imagination. Then they have to project what’s on their mind into real thing through blocks. This requires imagination, shapes recognition and making pattern (which is a cognitive skills).

Here are some examples of pattern which can be made with 100 piece wooden block set (note: the blocks are put on the ground).

 Car A Dog  Lorry
 Smiley Face 2  Giraffe Boat at the Sea

Note: All the patterns above are only example and they are made with the 100 piece wooden block set. Create more examples of pattern and buildings for children such as house, castle, building with bridges, etc.

Those are the ways to play 100 piece wooden block set. Hence, there’s something to be noted. Basically when our children play, let them play as they want it to be. As this will stimulate their creativity. On the contrary, we can also give examples -only do it occasionally- as those will give them perspective they may not think of yet. As they like to follow what adult do, they will definitely try to follow the pattern. And this will give them chance to learn and practice many abilities they needed such as: spatial skill, fine motor, following pattern, and shapes recognition. Later, after they master the basic skills, when they play the blocks by themselves, they may create their own pattern or buildings creation which may be more complex than the ones they created before. When they have been able to do this, it will be their great achievement as this shows a further development of cognitive skills.

So, keep 100 piece wooden block set for your children. Give them chance to develop their abilities more with it.  Happy playing with your children 🙂

Related Posting:

100 Piece Wooden Block Set (Part 1): Ways to Play It and What Can be Achieved