Book Review : Dear Zoo

By Rod Campbell

The book is about a letter to the zoo from a child who wants a pet. They send various different animals, all of which prove unsuitable for one reason or another the elephant is too big, the lion too fierce, the giraffe too tall, the monkey too naughty.

Finally, the zoo send a puppy: “He was perfect! I kept him.” And simple as they sound those last few words never fail to bring childish, happy, and satisfied smiles.


With a flap to lift on every page, this interactive board book encourages the reader to try to guess what the zoo has sent to the child in the story. Each animal is hidden in a flap in the shape of a crate or a box which the reader must open to find out what is behind it.

Also, a little part of the animal is visible to provides clues as to what the animal behind the flap might be. The book gives you open discussions about the characteristics of different animals.

Books add magic to a child’s life. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is one of the very first MUST READ books for your child…
With attractive pictures and interactive flaps, this board book grabs the attention of little minds and helps them learn animal names in a simple way. Add magic to their learning experience with creative craft ideas plus toys and enhance your child’s creativity with engaging storytelling☺️

Toys in the picture:

Safari Blockmates

Animal Upon Animal Game

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Byju’s acquisition of Osmo – the turning point for Indian education system

This year, Byju’s, an ed-tech company based in India, announced it has acquired Palo Alto, CA-based learning-through-play firm Osmo for $120 million (854 Cr in INR). The acquisition marked another milestone for an Indian startup gone global. Now, how this move made any business sense for Byju’s has already been thought over a lot, the bigger discussion is what it really means for Indian Education System? Can this acquisition be seen as the proof of the change that has been demanded by the forward-thinking educationists in India? In other words, what does this mean for the future of “rote-learning”?

Osmo: Bridging the physical and digital divide

Osmo is an award-winning game system (available on rent @Rentoys) with which the physical space in front of an iPad is turned into a playground for kids. Kids can learn maths, words, play puzzles, draw anything, and even learn to code. Osmo has been adopted in over 30,000 schools in 42 countries around the world. Teachers are raving about how their students love experimenting, exploring, creating and collaborating with Osmo. Here’s a small video on how it works:

Bjyu bet on Osmo to capture kids segment of 5-12 Yrs old is significant for 2 reasons:

  1. It proves that only digital-based learning doesn’t work for primary education. Kids need to be hands-on to experience and explore.
  2. “Play-based” learning is coming to India via schools.

The fading image of “chalk and talk”

Play-based learning ensures that early literacy skills of pre-writing, drawing and mathematical concepts of classifying and charting are explored through play in ways that are authentic to the child. A study found that “in addition to improving play skills and narrative language ability,” a play-based curriculum also had “a positive influence on the acquisition of grammar.” Neuroscientists have found that play activates the brain in meaningful ways that rote memorization, testing, worksheets, and traditional classroom techniques do not.

According to Lauren Harness, who earned her MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education from Concordia University-Portland, “When people say ‘play-based learning,’ I think what they go to is: ‘Just put them in a room with a bunch of toys and let them go at it. There you go, that’s play-based learning.’ But really purposeful play should be in classrooms, especially in a kindergarten classroom. In children’s brains, when they’re playing, they’re doing the deepest learning. We know that through Piaget, Vygotsky, and all those good theorists who talk about the importance of play with young children. The different levels of learning that they’re able to get into during play is a lot deeper than pulling out a worksheet and having them fill in bubbles and that sort of thing.”

Play-based learning is here to stay

Byju’s existing product is fulfilling what is (almost) every Indian parent’s dream – preparing kids for the engineering and medical entrance exams. With Byju’s endorsing Osmo as a tool for delivering primary education in a different way via schools, the demand for play-based learning is going to take over that of “rote-learning”. We will see more and more schools adopting new methods to meet the rising demand from parents. This may be a far-fetched reality or a wish that is too good to be true, but the signs look good.

When play-based learning is done well, the classroom becomes a teacher. Osmo is just the first play-based learning system that is recognized and literally valued so highly. The ground is set now. Let’s demand more and more play-based learning from our kid’s schools and prepare our kids for the future of work.

More from Rentoys

Free Play is the key to an effective early learning

Is your toddler’s school teaching A for Apple or A for Future?

6 best books for a 3 month old infant

At birth, babies can’t see as well as older children or adults. Their eyes and visual system aren’t fully developed. In the first six months of life, a baby’s eyesight develops rapidly, since vision is closely linked to brain development. So as your baby’s brain matures in leaps and bounds, so does her eyesight. This is why the kind of books for a 3-month-old baby should follow her development phase.

We are a strong believer of the viewpoint that it’s never too early to start reading to kids. According to Kuhoo Gupta, an early learning expert

One can start reading books to children as young as a few days old. Or even in the womb. But it should be taken care that the child is not over stimulated with the reading. For infants, just 5 minutes a day is enough.
As they grow, one can introduce board books and let the babies handle the books themselves. It will give them an opportunity to handle books without the fear of tearing them. One can also introduce interactive books like sound books, lift the flap books etc to help generate interest for books in children. For starters, choose books that have very less text and more of pictures. And then move ahead as per the child’s preferences.

6 amazing books for a 3-6 months old

At this age, choose books with bold, uncluttered images, and simple shapes and patterns. This will help your baby learn to focus. Take the time to tell babies about the pictures. If they’re simple shapes or patterns, describe them. You can even take your baby’s hand and gently trace circles, squares, wavy lines – anything! This will help your baby learn more about what they’re seeing, but most importantly, they will love hearing your voice.

Babies are also drawn to books with black and white pictures. Although they don’t always appeal to adults, these books capture the attention of babies. Here are 6 great books for a 3-6 months old. All these books are available in our collection and can be rented for a month at an unbelievable price.

Hello Baby: Words

From a bright yellow sun to a juicy red strawberry, the high-contrast pictures in this board book will captivate babies. The alternating black and white backgrounds allow babies to focus on both the clearly defined pictures and the contrasting colors, as they look at and learn their very first words.

Have a look

Hello Baby: Playtime

This big board book introduces key times in baby’s day using highly contrasting pictures with simple word labels, combined with visually stimulating patterns such as spots, stripes and stars. Babies will love to reach out for and play with the fun activity bar with its three moving, noisy novelties, and will be fascinated as they look at themselves in the shiny round mirror.

Have a look

Alphaprints: Colors

This charming board book with fantastic fingerprint pictures is a delightful and captivating way to help children learn their first colors.
Brightly colored fingerprints are turned into a red tomato, green peas, blue socks and more by adding photographs of fun, everyday things for children to spot. With first words to learn and raised embossing for little fingers to reach out for and explore on every picture.

Have a look

Baby touch: Peekaboo

This is an interactive playbook for babies and toddlers who are slowly getting familiar with books. Featuring bright and bold illustrations, the book is perfect for little ones to enjoy and learn new things. To make it easier to turn pages without hurting babies, it comes in different soft textures along with large flaps.
From pictures of animals to helicopter, tractor and caterpillar, the book helps babies to learn about different things around them. Although it is a fun playbook, the publisher has arranged whimsical illustrations in a systematic manner.

Have a look

Baby touch: Playbook

A brilliant first playbook from the Ladybird Baby Touch series. Parent and child can explore the world together with this multi-sensory book from the innovative Baby Touch range. This bright and bold book features flaps to lift and die-cut pieces on each spread, all perfectly designed for first discovery and experience.
Ladybird’s Baby Touch series is the perfect way to introduce babies to books, and to the world around them. Encouraging interaction and play, these books are lots of fun for the very youngest babies, as well as toddlers.

Have a look

Hello Baby Play and Learn: Colors

This bold book introduces ten vibrant colors in the shape of familiar objects, all contrasted against black and white backgrounds. Curious little hands will love to play with the fun activity bar which has noisy, colorful beads to move up and down, helping to develop baby’s early hand-eye coordination.

Have a look




#AskMeAnything with Kuhoo Gupta – an Early Learning Expert

Let’s start our very first #AskMeAnything with Kuhoo Gupta

Kuhoo Gupta is an early childhood educator, Montessorian, vocal coach, energy healer, author, blogger & a mother to a 3-year-old boy & once-upon-a-time-an-IITian.

She founded The K Junction in 2016 to connect with the tribe of conscious beings on this planet & share her learnings & experiences through her blogs, videos, live chats, workshops & consultations. The key areas of her work are conscious parenting, early childhood education, alternative learning, holistic living & music.

You can join our Facebook group here to participate in future sessions. For now, here is the conversation that happened last Tuesday (10th July, 218).


Question: It would be great to hear your thoughts on how soon should we start reading books to kids. And, what types of books should be introduced at what age.

Answer: One can start reading books to children as young as a few days old. Or even in the womb. But it should be taken care that the child is not over stimulated with the reading. For infants, just 5 minutes a day is enough.
As they grow, one can introduce board books and let the babies handle the books themselves. It will give them an opportunity to handle books without the fear of tearing them. One can also introduce interactive books like sound books, lift the flap books etc to help generate interest for books in children. For starters, choose books that have very less text and more of pictures. And then move ahead as per the child’s preferences.


Question: I see there are many parenting sites with active participation by moms. However, dads have been missing the bus or I should say they don’t speak up openly about this topic. In my son’s PTM, I see a similar pattern. In your interaction with parents, do you also see the same or is my sample (or experience) skewed? And, how can dads get more involved in parenting?

Answer: This is such a deep and apt question as far as parenting in this era is concerned. This social conditioning of moms being solely responsible for child rearing is obsolete in this era. It was the belief when fathers were breadwinners and moms were responsible for household chores including kids.

But now both the parents are at an equal stage as far as running the house is concerned. And husbands are equally contributing in the house. And when they become fathers, they share parenting duties.

But as far as online forums are concerned, moms still rule and I think this will also change few years down the line. Fathers are perhaps not open enough to admit that they are equal parents.

To answer your question, how can fathers be more involved in parenting, fathers should ditch the gadgets once they are back from work and spend quality time with children. Also on weekends, it is a great idea to take the child out to a park, just father and child. At my home, we can it papa beta special bonding time. And during that time, I get a breather and finish the weekend household tasks.

But to top it all, fathers should trash the inhibitions of opening up to the parenting journey… Online and offline.

Children NEED both the energies – male and female to grow into whole beings.


Question: I see there are children who are not easily mixed up with other children and not comfortable to share their thought with others. Sometimes even while playing with their close friends, still they hesitate in sharing their thoughts. How should parents deal with this situation?

Answer: I feel it’s best to leave to it to the child as to how social he wants to be. Ultimately it all boils down to the happiness and comfort of the child. Why force the child just because we have this social conditioning that one HAS to be social in order to be successful.

#ScreenTime #Toys

Question: I would like you to guide me on a thought that as a parent the overpowering need to shower my child with toys, gadgets and some unnecessary stuff is spoiling her to no extent. How should I say NO to my lil one? How should I make her understand the importance of playing outdoors?

Answer: I hear you, momma! This generation parents have so many choices for toys & gadgets that it is easy to fall into the trap of buying them for our kids, even when we know how dangerous it can be. For that, first we need to understand ourselves, what kind of toys are we buying? Are they really necessary? If you go to a typical toy shop today, most of the toys are battery operated or toys that entertain the child. It should be the other way round. The child should decide how to play with toys. And those toys are called open-ended toys. Such toys keep the children engaged for longer and every day is a new play because of their open endedness. So before you buy a toy for your child, check for yourself if it is going to serve her for longer, is it going to grow with her age? If not, ditch it. That way you will yourself cut the clutter in your mind, before even buying it actually. This will also stop your inner parent’s need to shower with more toys because you would know this particular toy is of no use to her. Read this blog post for more on this –…/how-to-choose…

Also, it is a great practice to use a toy library, and rentoys is something we love! they have a great collection of open-ended toys & this way you don’t stuff your home with so many toys & your child gets to taste a lot of toys too. And she learns that the toy will go back after some time. A great skill to teach little ones.


Question: Sometimes kids scream if we say no to them. I have seen many kids do at play area… My daughter is 3 years old, she also does so… want to understand how to tackle them at that time n make them understand we are doing for their good.

Answer: Any one would feel bad when told a NO, even we adults will. Just that we have a better emotional makeup, we dont scream. Children are not mature emotionally.

The key is to transform your NOs into conditional YES.

Also, ask yourself the reasons & situations you are saying a NO to. I personally do not say a NO to my child unless it is a safety hazard or a health issue. Sometimes I do say a NO on strict moral grounds but then again most moral practices are our social conditioning that we ourselves need to get rid of.

#Kids #Emotions

Question: How to teach kids, (my son is 3.8) to handle their emotions?

Answer: Let their emotions flow through them. Do not try to stop their emotions. We often tell them – don’t cry, stop crying etc. Why? Why can’t we let them cry? Why can’t we experience unhappiness if they are facing so? It is a part & parcel of life. Let them scream if they wish to scream.

Other than that, the only way to teach them to handle emotions is by example. The way you handle your emotions sets example for them for future.


Question: My question is related to “Bullying.” I am in a dilemma – should I tell my kid to ignore or respond? Ignoring once or twice is ok but can’t let it happen if repeats. If “respond” is the only option then it needs to be done in a right way because it’s not only about my kid but the other kid too. What are the ways we can deal with this situation? 

Answer:  The person who is bullying is insecure about himself and that is the reason he is bullying others.

Now the person who is getting bullied will get affected only if he has doubts about his own self, his own identity, his own standing. If he has a great backing from his parents, a great sense of self-esteem & completeness, he won’t be affected.

If I may ask, what are you fearing for when your child is getting bullied? That will give you answers yourself. That fear is yours, not your child’s. Most of our parenting is fear based, and the fears lie within us.

Between 7 – 14 years, the child is learning through imagination. Tell him stories (if possible real) that relate to this topic where you can indirectly convey to him how & why people get affected by the bullying people. That is enough to kindle the fire of thought how to handle himself

Question: Hi Kuhoo, mother of an year old daughter. I have tough times feeding her. I still give her hand mashed spoon feeds. I sometimes feel she is not interested in eating. I distract her and then she eats. Wanted to ask if this is normal. Also how to introduce Sabzi n chapatti without mashing..

Answer: Pls do not expect too much from her. Make the transition gradual. I’m assuming you weaned off breast milk gradually after she turned 6 months. Do not force her for completing the portions. Trust her hunger and satiation signals. But pls don’t distract while feeding and no screens at all while eating please. You may tell a story but no screens please. This won’t develop a healthy relationship with food.

After 1 year, you can start introducing your family food to her without mirchi. Start with dropping 1 mashed meal and gradually switch all meals


Question: Hi Kuhoo…I would appreciate if you could give some ideas for keeping 18-month old engaged in some activities on her own?

Answer: Leaving her on her own will be a wrong expectation, sorry 

You might want to involve her in household chores as per her ability like helping in the laundry, watering plants, folding clothes, putting clothes in the almirah, putting vegetables in the fridge etc.
Then you can get her some open-ended toys that help fuel imagination and creativity. That would perhaps engage her for longer, which can be anything between 10-15 minutes.

I have lots of activity ideas on my blog and YouTube channel that you can try out. But pls keep it child led with no learning expectation outcomes and you will have a happy childhood for her   


Question: Hi Kuhoo..I enjoyed reading your thoughts.. I need one advise… I am raising two girls and want to empower them with carefree and fail fast attitude…and don’t want them to settle anything less than the best as they deserve the best… share your thoughts on this pl…thanks

Answer: First of all, at the cost of sounding blunt, I would first like you to step back from the place you are coming that says your want their life in a such and such way.
1. They are their own destiny makers
2. They may or may not deserve the best but they definitely deserve the things that balance their karma. And those things might not all be the best and happy. It is wrong on the part of parents to hope always the best and happiness for children. Remember, pain is the biggest teacher. Pain teaches you different dimensions. That does not mean you expect pain for them. It just means step back, parent yourself first and be their partners in this journey together.So pls keep out your expectations for your children’s lives. Because you do not own them. Remember Khalil Gibran poem? 

To empower them, you first need to heal your own wounds and raise your own consciousness. They will automatically pick up the energy.

#Independent #Play
Question: I am living in US so daytime it’s just me and the baby  😊 My baby plays with his toys till the time I am sitting in the same room else he will follow me crying..any suggestion?

Answer: How old is your child? Usually, they start independent play after 2 or 2.5 years. That too they won’t stay alone for more than 15-20 minutes. So occupy yourself with something while he plays

Baby reading boks

It’s never too early to start reading to kids

Mark Zuckerberg’s post rippled across the entire Internet when he shared a photo of him reading a book about quantum physics to his new-born baby. Can you believe that? A newborn being taught about ‘Quantum Physics’! Is he getting into pressurizing his kid to learn sooner than other kids?

Mark Zuckerberg reading quantum physics

The answer is absolutely not. In fact, reading should start when your child is in your womb.

When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

It’s never too early to start reading to an infant

It is actually in these first months and years that early reading skills are developing. Literacy starts with a love of, and interest in, books. The goal at this age is for your child is to have pleasurable and positive experiences with books so that she wants to keep learning about them. So go ahead and provide your child with chunky board books or soft cloth books that she can safely look at, chew on, and read with you. Choosing sturdy books like these means that you don’t have to say “no” or take the book away, which may build negative feelings about book play. Let her explore books in the ways he/she knows how right now.

How to start

At Rentoys, we receive a lot of queries that our child is too young to read books or that she tears the pages so we have stopped giving books to her. This is what we advise our customers to create a positive environment that supports reading and bonding.

  1.  Start with board books that are sturdy and not easy to tear. Let your kid flip pages as she would like to do that.
  2. Kids are great learners. So talk about the pictures in the books. Don’t just read line by line. Instead feel free to deviate from the storyline and make stories of your own. You will be amazed to see the response of your kid next time you read the same book.
  3. Just like adults, kids like predictable outcomes. So, don’t feel shy about reading the same book every day for at least 2 weeks.
  4. Make books a part of daily routine. Books are not just for bedtime. Always carry a couple of books in your bag to keep your little one busy at a grocery store, a doctor visit etc.
  5. Subscribe to our board books rental plan. This way you wouldn’t have to shell out a lot of money to buy books and you will get to read board books from award-winning authors to your little one.

What other people think about reading to infants

Here are few online resources from early learning experts sharing a similar sentiment.

Why It’s Never Too Early To Start Reading to Your Baby

It’s Never Too Early to Start Reading to Your Baby

Steam education

Is your toddler’s school teaching A for Apple or A for Future?

Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” Sydney Gurewitz Clemens


When searching for a preschool for our toddler, we visited so many schools. Asking almost the same questions everywhere – what will you focus on for our kid’s early education and how will you deliver that. And getting almost the same answers – We will teach him to write A to Z and 1 to 50 in 1 year. Plus, every school had a detailed curriculum up to 10th standard focusing on all the required tenets of a great STEM education. But something was missing there and we were not satisfied.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This is all you need to secure a good job in today’s world. And then, Steve Wozniak asked a very apt question during his recent visit to India filling in the missing piece – Success in India is based on studying, having a job…where’s the creativity?

STEAM modifies STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math– by adding art, a crucial part of a well-rounded curriculum, and it’s the hottest trend in education right now.

B to Z is history – A is the new king

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein

In a very interesting article titled “The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning“, Vince Gowmon emphasises that our right brain develops first. And it does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

Art and design are a critical component of how kids will solve the problems of the future. STEAM keeps the focus on important science and technology skills while also drawing out the creativity inside every child. Why do we need to learn fast maths when Google Glasses can do that for you in front of your eyes just by saying that aloud? Why do we need to remember anything when all the information is literally available to us at our fingertips?

What we do need is what to make of that information and think out of the box. So, if you want to prepare your child for the future, focus only on A and not on A to Z.

Free Play

Free Play is the key to an effective early learning

What’s the big deal about big brain

“The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed,” he says. So, play impacts the brain by causing the prefrontal cortex to become bigger and faster.

This is important because the prefrontal cortex is the brain’s executive control center. That’s where the brain regulates emotions, makes plans, and solves problems. So, scientists confirm that play is essential to healthy and exceptional brain development.

Not just any play, but Free Play

But, not just any play will suffice. To make the most of the early brain development, kids need what is called “free-play”. As Pellis says,

No coaches, no umpires, no rule books…Whether it’s rough-and-tumble play or two kids deciding to build a sand castle together, the kids themselves have to negotiate, well, what are we going to do in this game? What are the rules we are going to follow?

By engaging in free-play, and a lot of it, the brain builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex to help it navigate these complex social interactions.

But, the key here is unstructured and free play. This cannot be replaced by guided play where teachers have imposed rules or a physical education class where the children play a game of basketball. This is because for play to have the impact on brain development as stated above, the act of playing must truly be playful.

Free-Play with Rentoys

All the toys at Rentoys are selected keeping in mind what we call “open-endedness” which we measure by asking questions such as in how many ways the toy can be played with, is there any rule book, and does the toy force the kids to think/create on his/her own.

This is why we offer a box on a monthly basis because we know that a kid can remain engaged with our toys for at least a month. Be it pretend-play toys with which kids can make new stories every day or magnetic toys such as magnatiles, grippies builders etc with which kids can make new structures every day, a Rentoys box guarantees free-play for your kids.

Early Learning

What is early learning?

Early learning is generally confused with what kids learn in school or daycare. In fact, early learning starts as early as the birthday. Babies are born learning. Very young kids learn through play, the active exploration of their environment, and, most importantly, through interactions with the significant adults in their lives.

Early Literacy

Learning to read and write doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade.

Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through every day loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Adults—parents, grandparents, and teachers—play a very important role in preparing young children for future school success and helping them become self-confident and motivated learners.

Early Math and Science

Children use early math skills throughout their daily routines and activities. This is good news as these skills are important for being ready for school.

But early math doesn’t mean taking out the calculator during playtime. Even before they start school, most children develop an understanding of addition and subtraction through everyday interactions. Other math skills are introduced through daily routines you share with your child, like counting steps as you go up or down. Informal activities give children a jumpstart on the more formal math instruction that starts in school.

Language and Communication

Babies communicate from day one by using gestures, sounds and expressions to share feelings and needs like hunger, sleepiness, or joy.

Even before their first words, they will develop their own unique ways of communicating with you.


There’s a lot happening during playtime. Little ones are lifting, dropping, looking, pouring, bouncing, hiding, building, knocking down, and more.

Children are more than busy when they’re playing. When your children play with you, they are also learning that they are loved and important and that they are fun to be around. These social-emotional skills give babies the self-esteem and self-confidence they need to continue building loving and supportive relationships all their lives.