Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chalk and Chuckles games for kids

I was introduced to Chalk and Chuckles at my Fleximoms event at Asia 7 Delhi, where they handed out game goody bags to all the moms present. My goody bag was gifted to Aneela's delectable son, Arhaan, because a) he really was loving it and had already gotten started with one of the games right at the venue itself and b)the brat is a little old now for the games I had received. .

But they were interesting games. Games that thought out of the box and were very different from what is currently out there in the market.

I cut paste the release from the company about their games, because, I do know as parents, we are all searching for stuff that goes beyond the standard and engages the child physically and imaginatively.

Chalk and Chuckles
You are what you play
A board game becomes a day in the jungle, fraught with adventures for hours of family fun; a funky ball becomes an opportunity for learning favourite nursery rhymes or simple counting, while an adorable monkey helps a child create a gamut of emotions using his imagination and creativity.
Ages: Two years plus, while some games can also be played by older children and adults
Toys and Boards Games: Choose from 14 exciting toys and board games of different kinds
Price Range: Rs. 199/ to Rs. 899/-
Available at:
Mumbai: Citizen Collection, Magic Carpet, Sayonara,, Kids Care
Delhi: Gift Palace, Khan Market, Maya Store, Spell and Bound at Saket and Safdarjung
Chalk and Chuckles, the brainchild of entrepreneurial sisters, Pallavi and Prachi Agarwal offers toys and board games which give children an opportunity to imagine, create, discover and explore even as they play. These games hearken to an era when childhood was filled with wonder and games became adventures embarked upon by the entire family to discover a new word, or a new skill. Each game has been conceptualized as a developmental and educational tool which helps children learn valuable skills through free play. Chalk and Chuckles offers games which concentrate on a child’s physical and cognitive skills, while also taking into account the crucial need for social and emotional development. All four of these domains are involved by the brand to create play opportunities and environments in which children thrive. Each game comes with a permutation and combination of skills, ranging from socio-emotional skills, motor skills, language skills, logic and mathematical skills, to creativity, even as children get to hone on their memory, visual-spatial skills, and analytical abilities.  
Extensive research has been put in by the Chalk and Chuckles team to create toys and games which engage children, nurture their playfulness and offer families a great bonding experience. Ideas evolve through production and one concept can take months to come to fruition. The toys and board games are handcrafted at the Chalk and Chuckles manufacturing unit, and then go through testing through focus groups involving parents and children before it goes to retail outlets.

Encouraging Family Time:
The toys and games at Chalk and Chuckles appeal to ‘all minds’, offering fun, family games for older children and adults as well. The inherent belief of the brand is that ‘While children want and need to play alone, they still want and need adult supervision, attention, and admiration’. The products thus lay a high emphasis on parental involvement and family fun. A great hidden secret of play is that it fosters maturation of the brain, allowing children to exert control over attention, to regulate emotions, to control behavior and promote cognitive development.
Eco care:
Quality is of paramount importance to the brand. The games and toys are built to last for years of great entertainment. All products are safe and tested to (British and European) safety standards for healthy play and healthy environment. The products are handcrafted in low formaldehyde MDF (Class E1). Toys and board games are printed with soy-based ink and use phthalate-free lamination on recycled paper. All coatings and paints are non toxic lead free. These toys are gentle on the environment and for the little one as well. No batteries, or electricity chargers make these toys completely green and eco-friendly as well.
Chalk and Chuckles, the beginning:
Chalk and Chuckles was founded in 2009 with a mission to provide kids playful learning tools that enable them to develop creativity, confidence and responsibility all while having fun! The products are inspired by the latest research in child development and the team consists of professionals in the area of child development, product design and most importantly people who love kids and know them!!!
Meet the team
The Chalk and Chuckles family is close-knit and supportive. Founders Prachi and Pallavi are passionate about their work and take pride in creating products that have a positive impact on the world. The most important members are the children and adults who help to create and test the products.
Pallavi Agarwal, an entrepreneur with a background in finance (University of Nottingham), embodies the tagline ‘You are what you play’ which mirrors her own playfulness, joy for learning and creative pursuit. “My mission is to create high quality educational tools with outstanding play value. Our toys can be played in many ways; they allow self-expression and encourage happy talent. Each of our toys adapt to the child's individual style, ability, and pace.”
Prachi Agarwal, a Psychologist with training and background in Education (Harvard Graduate School of Education) is focused on redefining play. She explains, “We believe play is a fundamental aspect of a child's education, both in the way they learn about the world around them and the means by which they acquire skills and capacities across the spectrum of various human intelligences. Our product range provides a rich, stimulating and nurturing environment and respects each child’s unique neural wiring and inspiration.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Of 'Grameen lakadharas" and natural performances

The brat, as I mentioned was a rustic woodcutter in the culminating day activity play at school yesterday. An axe was painstakingly made from cardboard and silver paper. A kurti was worn over jeans because a rolling on the floor tantrum put paid to the acquired with much difficulty dhoti-dropped unceremoniously thanks to the technical issue of "How I'll gotumake susu." Which, one admitted was a very practical problem and one that the cord tying mandatory business of said manufactured dhotis didn't make any easier. Ergo. He trotted off as a rustic woodcutter in jeans and a kurti, carrying his axe.
Mamma and pappa went to school at the allocated time to see a script that took us through all the various geographical and climatic zones of the country, and then a little bit about how man was killing the forests with tree cutting, and ta da, the brat enters with another boy, also dressed similarly and wielding a similar axe, looking most menacing. Had he a curled tipped moustache to twirl, it would have been most appropriate. The brat and his fellow woodcutter moved menacingly towards a tree, spouted dialogue about how the tree was wonderful and big and would give them lots of wood and swung their axes with great gusto leaving mamma wincing at the thought of the poor knees of the child playing the tree. And voila, a cobra (played by a child) emerged from the base of the tree and scared them off. The brat jumped up in most realistic shocked out of his skin manner, dropped his axe and did the minute mile off stage.
When I went to pick him up after school, he had a badge pinned on his kurti.Best Performer it said.
Mamma did the unseemly Oye Balle Balle Te Wahu Wahu dancing with whistling in the school premises to much curltoed grim lipped embarassment on the part of the brat who dragged her out of the gates before she could irrevocably embarass him before his friends by smothering him with kisses.
"So," mamma asked brat, "They gave you the Best Performer badge because you were the best in the entire class?"
He raised an eyebrow that has no business knowing how sardonic eyebrow raises are done so young. "No. Because I dint forged whattusay."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A contest and a giveaway on The Reluctant Detective Blog

Do you want to win a copy of The Reluctant Detective, signed by me?

All you need to do is go here and participate. What are you waiting for?

Happy Valentine's Day

The brat emerges from school a puzzled frown splitting his adorable brow into half. "Mamma, wot is Valentine's Day?"
Ermm. Mamma should have known this was coming and read up on what the Good Dr Spock said parents should do when confronted with such leading questions. But, not having had the foresight to do so, she had to wing it, and so she did.
She debated for a split second on whether she should give him the back story about St Valentine, poor tortured soul, reputed for bringing together Christian lovers and getting them to tie the knot, albeit in cloak and dagger fashion and ending up headless for his efforts, given that the emperor du jour, whose name slips me at the moment, did not take too kindly to (then not yet a Saint ) Valentine's suggestion that he convert to Christianity too. Ah well. That was dropped. Then I wondered whether I save him the trouble of agonising over diamonds for his girlfriend when he hits his teens as I see some teens around me doing, and emotionally blackmailing their parents for the funds to prove their love for their current crush and explain the commercial Valentine's Day marketing behemoth to him. I dropped that too. It would jade his innocent soul too early and bring in the rancour of cynicism.
Ergo, I kept it simple. "Valentine's Day," I began bravely, "Is a day when you are supposed to show your love for the people in your life."
"Bud," he persisted. "Howtu show yer love?"
This was smooth sailing henceforth, I thought. "By doing nice things for the other person."
"Layik gedding fer dem giffs?"
Errm. Yes. I conceded reluctantly. "Den if you luv me you'll get fer me three packitts of Slam Attax."
I must say the child let me get off cheap. Next year I will explain how Valentine's Day is reserved for romantic love and how motherly love does not quite come within its ambit, if the scale of said gift increases.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The brat goes on his first overnight trip

...first, let me pick up my jaw from the floor, mop up my tears with the bathtowel and roundly ignore the realisation that I am dispensable.
Okay. Let's continue. This is not a good realisation for a mother to have, but I must accept in. Take it on the chin, as it were.
I was off to Delhi for a spate of book related events and the brat was at home. With his daadi and father to watch over him. I was delighted to hear I was not missed or pined for. Of course, I pined for him. Ah well, not pined, but it was rough on me not to have someone to yell at occasionally and boss over. I kid of course.
I returned from Delhi the evening of the morning he left for his school trip to Lonavala. I had not seen him for four days and the maternal heart, as would be obvious, was overflowing.
Went to pick him up from school when the buses landed. Spotted him in the throng of children, waved manically, threw some flying kisses at him, grabbed him and bussed him all over when he was handed over to me, much to his disgust and complete dismemberment of cool boy image. He mopped his face of my lipstick with his hand and hissed in my ear, "Whachyure doing! Eveyone is luking at us."
In deference to his wishes for a more restrained reunion, I stopped the unseemly PDA and took him to the car. The How Was The Trip questions dealt with, I progressed gently to the leading question. "So," I asked. "Did you miss mamma."
"No," came the matter of fact reply. "I was very busy to miss you."
The said maternal heart shattered into a million pieces and I drooped languidly in the car. We reached home and the brat called his other pintsizes over, played with them, and generally didn't seem much elated at my return. While a part of me was all, in twitter terminology, #DilToot, the stronger selfish part was thrilled that this meant I could now travel out of town at will without worrying about the tyke mourning my absence. I got down to chalking out solo and all girls trips I could now take off on, and general khayali pulao hedonism in my head was much indulged in. And then it was time to sleep. And a little voice piped up, "Mamma, can I sleep in yer bed tuday."
He's not such a big boy as he makes himself out to be, after all.