Flintobox vs Firstcry Intellikit

The market is filled with a wide range of activity boxes for kids…ranging from STEM, and Craft to Curriculum based activity boxes..like to name a few …Flintobox, Magic Crate, Einstein box, Xplorabox and the newly launched Firstcry’s Intellikit. As we all know Firstcry’s aggressive marketing campaign has flooded Facebook and Instagram. I was lucky to win one box in one such giveaway. Before that I had bought few preloved Flintoboxes.

I see many moms inquiring about these activity boxes and decided to do a comparison post between Flintobox and Intellikit. But before that I must inform that the Flintoboxes I have used are from 2017 so I don’t know exactly if they have made any upgradation…Recent users may throw more light on that. Also the boxes I have compared are not of same theme. Finally this is an unpaid and unbiased review.

#1 PRICE – Flintobox is costlier than Intellikit for same 3 month subscription.

# BACKGROUND CONCEPT – Flintobox has not made any effort to highlight the benefits of the activities and how they will develop a child. Their only motto is less screentime. But from what we can gather from the labels is that they cover 12 development areas including fine motor, cognitive and gross motor, creativity, exploration, language, and social skills.

Intellikit has gone all out to highlight how their boxes are based on Montessori philosophy and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence and to show parents how their kids will benefit from them. Their webpage is full of information on that.

# NUMBER OF ACTIVITIES – Each Flintobox box has 3-7 activities and 1 story book. In addition to the box, one who has the subscription will receive 5 per month activity videos + 10 per month worksheets over email.

The Intellikit I got has 8 activities, 1 story book, 10 worksheets, 1 learning calendar with reward Stars stickers (which is a big hit for positive reinforcement ) and 1 happy tracker to watch and track child’s development.

# LOOK – A box of Flintobox has very simple look and feel. Each activity comes in a separate bag with the label citing the targeted skills and the individual price of the activity (which is not same for each activity and one point which I liked..makes reselling easier 😜😜). The instruction sheet is also simple and short. Instead of a single Happy tracker of Intellikit, each Flintobox instruction sheet has a questionnaire to track child’s development which I felt is a better way.

The box of Intellikit is very attractive. Each activity comes in a separate biodegradable bag with a simple label. But the instruction sheet is very detailed, attractive and tells about the contents like how many pieces of what… something which I found very useful and missing in Flintobox.

Happy Tracker

# QUALITY – Flintobox is like they have given you 5 activities and their job is done. They do provide a simple suggestion sheet for whole month. But Intellikit has made the effort to chart out a whole month of activities including their own through the Learning Calendar. So sticking the calendar, then following each day and putting reward stars is a big attraction for a child. As for the quality of activities, I felt Flintobox has slightly better quality in this case…not only physical quality like sturdiness etc but also quality of the level of the activity. But overall Intellikit packs more punch…delivers more money’s worth.

Learning Calendar

# CHILD ENGAGEMENT – Parental guidance is a must and necessity. Don’t buy activity boxes if you expect the child to remain busy with that on his own. The real fun is in doing the activities together. Also don’t expect the box to engage the child completely through the span of an entire day or month. All the activities are of hardly 15-30 minutes..some are re-playable and some like painting or craft are not. When a child has to be engaged for 5 hours minimum (not talking about a school+daycare going child) then 5 activities meant for a month are not enough. It is just something extra apart from what all a parent does to engage a child like reading books, outside play, free play inside home etc.

So my conclusion is if you want to go for an activity box subscription, I will suggest Firstcry Intellikit as it’s cheaper, more detailed and the quality of activities is quite good and enough for a child for whom the best thing you can spend is your time with him/her.

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Fable Verification

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Aim – To determine whether the thirsty but clever crow in the famous Aesop fable could really bring the water up by dropping pebbles. (Real aim- to keep the toddler engaged while you work in the kitchen 😉 )

Apparatus required – one clay pot, aquarium stones, water, a bowl, a plate and a naughty toddler.

Procedure – #1 Fill pot with 1/4th water and ask the toddler to put the stones one at a time.
#2 pour out the water in the bowl and the stones on a plate and ask the toddler to repeat.
If you are lucky toddler will love the game and ask for repetition herself.
#3 repeat with 1/2 filled pot of water.
#4 go on repeating till it’s lunch time.

 

Observation – Substantial amount of water is required in the pot for it to rise when volume is occupied by stones. If the water is too less it gets lost within the stones.

 

Precautions– #1 Toddler may break the clay pot.
#2 Mouthing toddlers can’t play this game.
#3 Toddler may not be ready to end game.
#4 Water play means little spill may occur.

Conclusion – There must have been quite a lot of water in the pot ..just out of reach from the crow. (Real conclusion – toddler had lot of fun and was engaged for a good 45 minutes interrupted only by mother herself)

P.S. The professor in me could not resist writing in this manner. 😁

Patishapta Recipe

Few years ago I had got motivated to start a separate food blog along with my existing personal, travel and photography blogs. But I couldn’t come up with a spicy blog name and then the idea fizzed out. Thankfully it did. Another blog to maintain! No need.

So, in one of my earlier posts I was talking about how having kids make you social and interactive with people having kids. We were pleasantly surprised when last year both of our Tamil neighbors gave us different delicacies on the occasion of Pongal. Thankfully I too had prepared the Bengali specialty of Makar Sankranti – Patishapta and Gur er Kheer (condensed milk sweetened with date palm jaggery) which I could give to my neighbors.

Once again Makar or as we Bongs call it Poush Sankranti is upon us. It is the time to rejoice the new harvest, the end of cold dreary winter and the start of sunny longer days. It is one of the few Hindu festivals which is based on solar cycle and hence is usually on the 14th or 15th of January. Different regions call the day by different names such as Lohri, Pongal, Bhogali Bihu, Uttarayan etc. and celebrate differently by flying kites, making delicacies using sesame and jaggery, taking holy dips in rivers etc.

In Bengal, this is the time for Patali Gur Or Khejur Gur Or jaggery made from the sap of Date palm trees. It infuses a very different, not too sweet and heavenly taste in sweets and other delicacies prepared using khejur gur instead of sugar. Nolen gur is the liquid version of the jaggery whereas patali gur is the solid version. So the union of this jaggery and Sankranti special dishes is just awesome.

Here is my recipe for the Sankranti special – Patishapta and Kheer.

 

So patishapta is a crepe type thing which is stuffed with a coconut and jaggery mixture filling. It is a traditional food eaten on Sankranti day on my in-laws side and it is eaten with kheer (sort of condensed milk) prepared with jaggery. Since both the items are time-consuming it is better to prepare kheer and the filling for the patishapta one day before the festival day.

Kheer (Condensed Milk) Recipe

Ingredients for Kheer:

 

  • 2 litres of  full fat milk
  • 1 cup of patali gur (may require more depending upon the desired sweetness). If you are using the solid patali gur, break it into pieces so that it melts and mixes well.
  • 1/3 teaspoon fine cardamom powder
  • A wide heavy kadai
  1. Pour the milk in the kadai and boil the milk over medium high heat. When the milk comes to a boil reduce the heat to low medium and let it simmer.
  2. The milk will start to thicken slowly and cream from the milk will settle on the sides and bottom of the kadai. Keep scraping down the cream and adding it back to the milk.
  3. Keep stirring the milk mixture intermittently until it is reduced to three fourths of its original quantity and becomes viscous.
  4. To check the right consistency of the milk mixture, take a spoonful and pour it on a flat plate. The viscosity of the milk should be such that it does not flow. It takes approximately one hour or so using low medium flame setting.
  5. Add the patali gur pieces and keep tasting to get the desired sweetness. You may use 2-3 tablespoons of sugar instead, keeping the gur in major quantity. Also add the cardamom powder and stir it in well.
  6. Switch off the flame and don’t let the condensed milk burn.

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Patishapta Recipe

 

Ingredients for Filling:

  • Grated coconut: 3 cups
  • Patali gur: 1 cup (may require more depending upon the desired sweetness. If you are using the solid patali gur, break it into pieces so that it melts and mixes well with the coconut)
  • Cardamom powder: ½ tsp
  • Khoya: 1/3 cup (If frozen then thaw it before use)
  1. Take a large pan and heat on medium flame. Add the grated coconut and dry roast for 2-3 mins on medium-low flame.Coconut tends to get burnt so keep a watch and stir fast and continuously.
  2. Add the patali gur pieces and mix it with the grated coconut. If you are using solid patali gur, wait for it to melt and then mix.
  3. Keep stirring. The mixture will appear wet and sticky but will start drying.
  4. When the mixture stops sticking to the pan, add the khoya and keep stirring continuously.
  5. Once the khoya is mixed completely, add the cardamom powder and stir continuously on increased flame for 1-2 mins and switch off. Overall it takes 20-25 mins maximum. The end result should be a brown moist sticky mixture. 

 

Ingredients for Batter for Crepes:

  • Maida: 2 cup
  • Rice flour: 12 tbsp
  • Semolina (Sooji): 10 tbsp
  • Powdered sugar: 2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • Milk: 3½ cup (more may be required to achieve the required consistency).
  • Refined oil
  • A non-stick flat pan or dosa tawa. It should not be too heavy as you need to rotate it to spread out the batter like a dosa. If it is heavy you can use the back of the ladle to do so.
  1. Sieve and sift maida and the rice flour to mix both well.

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2. Add sooji and powdered sugar.

3. Add little milk at the start to avoid lumps. Break the lumps while mixing. Make the batter by adding milk little by little and keep mixing.  The batter should be neither very thick nor very thin. It should be able to cover the back of a spoon.

 

4. Keep the dosa tawa on low flame and add few drops of oil on it.

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5. Pour a ladle full of batter on the pan and rotate the pan to spread the batter in a circle. This needs to be done quickly as the batter starts setting fast. The crepe should be on the thinner side.

 

6. Once the crepe becomes light golden, carefully flip it and allow the opposite side to cook.

 

7. While the other side is still cooking, put the stuffing gently.

8. There are two ways of placing the stuffing. You can either place it lengthwise at the center of the crepe or place it on the nearer round edge of the crepe. If you put it in the center, fold the open sides of the crepe alternately. If you put the stuffing on the edge, then turn the edge inner wards and roll the crepe away from you until you reach the other edge. Press it gently with the spatula. Flip it and press gently again. Remove immediately.

 

9. Make other crepes similarly. You should have atleast 20 patishaptas with that amount of batter.

10.Serve with the Nolen gur kheer drizzled on the patishaptas.

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This time I am also thinking of trying my hand at making Gur er Roshogollas.

P.S. Excuse my food photography and the shape of my patishaptas. It was my first attempt!! I hardly write recipe posts or do food photography. My food photography is limited to Instagram :-D.

 

Movie Experiences With Keya

The last movie D and I watched before becoming parents was Avengers: Age of Ultron in October 2015. Our first movie experience…as parents.. with Keya was when she was 13 months old in January 2017. And the movie was Dangal. After reading reviews and news of Dangal breaking all box office records, we had decided to take the risk and watch it in a theater. So, we availed the offer of Buy 1 get 1 free on D’s ICICI card. Worst case scenario – only one ticket cost will be wasted in case we needed to leave the theater so as not to cause inconvenience to others.

Our movie watching was successful with Keya awake 80% of time and without disturbing others. At first she was sleeping so we thought she will sleep through but as soon as the ads before the movie started she woke up due to the loud sound. (Keya is such a light sleeper that I should write a separate post on it) Then she sat n watched the screen for some time. Then I kept her engaged in feeding. The places we mothers have to feed!! Then D took her out in intermission. After that we kept her engaged in eating. In last 45 minutes D walked around the entrance area with her in baby carrier while watching from there. After 15-20 mins she slept off and D could also watch nicely. So overall it was a success!!

Then Keya became a toddler and the risks of going to a movie theater increased. D’s cousin brother and his wife used to go for movies at night when their daughter was of Keya’s age and she used to sleep through the movie. But we didn’t want that because if she will sleep in a night show then after coming we will be sleepy and she wont be (anyway Keya is a night owl…most active evening onwards and definitely not a morning person). Movies came and went and our life went on. Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hotstar are life saviours!!

D and I are both Marvel fans and after marriage we have watched almost every movie in the franchisee at theater. So naturally Thor:Ragnarok was on my list. It was released on 3rd November but we couldn’t decide whether to give it a shot or not. Then reviews started pouring and people started raving about it. It was already running since a month when we decided to take the plunge.

Since the movie was going on since November, there are limited shows now. A nearby multiplex had only 9.30 am show. So D booked tickets for that show and got us sofa seats as they were at the same price. The night before the D-Day, Keya went to sleep wearing the dress she was going to wear the next day. We got up early morning on a Saturday!! Had breakfast and prepared her diaper bag with lots of different food options. While leaving I took her in baby carrier which woke her up. But she again dozed in-car. As soon as we arrived at the mall, she woke up. She was wide awake inside the theater and watched the movie till intermission while eating different things – bread with peanut butter,bit of omelette, two square pieces of dairy milk and one pack of Gems. 🙂 It was a blessing that they let us enter with so much food items.

In second half we put video on mobile which she watched while eating another half packet Gems and  drinking Frooti. Then when last half hour of movie was remaining, she became restless as she was feeling sleepy (Keya is not a morning person). So I took her and fed her (which was super comfortable in sofa seat) and she slept right off. So again it was a successful attempt. It was helpful that Thor Ragnarok was a simple straight story and action movie and one didn’t miss much if one didn’t pay attention to some dialogues. And such was the impact of the movie that Keya remembered the Uncle with the hammer for few days. 😀 😀

So tell me, my reader, how was your movie experience with your kid?

DMart Woes

So, the inevitable happened. I missed one day ..5th Jan 2018. Just after 4 days of starting NaBloPoMo. Sigh!! I completely forgot! And the thing to blame is shopping in DMart. As you may know

DMart is the most profitable supermarket chain with focus on efficiency across value chain with lowest prices, costs and inventory price to the users. It has been named as the Wal-Mart of India.

 

I don’t like shopping there at all….that place doesn’t give me good vibes at all and the crowd!! OH MY GOD! It is like Kumbh Mela every damn evening in DMart. It is a whole family outing thing for people..from grandpa to youngest kid ..all just strolling in the aisles ..shopping + dinner from the numerous “100 variety dosa” stalls outside the supermarket. Public has been spotted even opening stuff from shelf or freezer and eating. The trick to shop there and maintain sanity and patience is for one person to join the queue after entering and another to shop and bring the cart to that person. Such is the crowd at DMart that people of same family wear same shirts to not get lost! 😀 😀

Since the discount on diapers ( yes a very important consideration for middle class parents) is the maximum in DMart (even more than Amazon), I am forced to go there. So we got terribly late and had late dinner at 10.30. Blogging just slipped out of my mind. And I won’t post on back date…honesty and integrity and all that 😀

Let’s hope it was the first and last time in the NaBloPoMo journey of this month.

Top 5 Baby Books Illustrators

I introduced Keya to books since she was 4 months old and today she has a huge collection ranging from all types of board books to paperbacks. I also sell off the ones she has outgrown and buy new ones. So in this journey of raising a reader, I have come across many illustrators but some are so good that buying their books never misses the mark with Keya. Though each baby is different, I think all babies love picture books and good realistic bold illustrations always win them over. It is not necessary that the parent should read the text…you can just describe the pictures and tell the story being depicted. I do plan to write a post on top books for babies and toddlers but for now this post is about the top 5 illustrators of books for babies and toddlers according to me.

#1 Jez Alborough

#2 Shirley Hughes

#3 Nick Sharratt

#4 Petr Horacek

#5 Leslie Patricelli

Will describe their works in next post. Had to write a post hurriedly!! After all NaBloPoMo ka sawal hai!

 

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday or posting a photo on Wednesdays in one’s blog used to be a thing when I was active in blogging. I don’t know if it is still around. It was a life-saver! A quickie but still a blog post ..especially when you are doing a NaBloPoMo. So keeping the trend alive and because I don’t have time today to make a post before the clock hits midnight, here is a not so wordless Wednesday post (Because I wrote such a wordy prologue!)

MasterChef at work!!