Dan’s first lesson at Sparkanauts

A few weeks ago, Dan started attending the Baby Cadet classes at Sparkanauts and of course, I was thrilled about it. A couple of reasons really. Faith attended the then Gymnademics when she was slightly more than a year old and I know she had benefited from it. So I have had good impression of the classes. Also, I was less adventurous with Dan and we are mostly at home. Granted that we can definitely learn at home but with more household chores to do and a preschooler to teach as well, I do think I have neglected Dan a wee bit. It’s just more difficult to balance now.

So when Dan was invited to attend a few classes at Sparkanuts, I was more than happy. At last, he could learn more stuff! If you have not already known, Sparkanauts is a centre of excellence built on the belief that learning should start early for each child to achieve their full potential and their lessons reflect that belief. Their curriculum combines play and exploration with learning resulting in holistic brain development that is made fun and engaging.

img_6359

For the first lesson, we were told to be present at least 15 minutes before the commencement so that he could play and get used to the environment. I was thankful for this arrangement as I know he could take a while to warm up to strangers. The instructors were really patient and gentle with him and it didn’t take him long to trust them.

img_6360

Within ten minutes, Dan had warmed up and was happily interacting with the instructor. How nice!

img_6361

The class started with a welcome song and introduction of words based on a theme. Besides these, music, mobility and mathematics are also part of the curriculum as they stimulate the baby’s mind, thus creating the learning foundation for their developmental journey.

First time on the trapeze bar (which helps strengthens the fine muscle tones like hands and fingers) and stayed on it for the required period of time. I was so proud of him!

At the end of the session, the main instructor briefed the parents on what we could look out for to help our kids in terms of their physical mobility so that we could continue to work on it at home. We also received the Child Bonding Package which includes materials that we could go through with Dan for the week to reinforce his learning.

So the first lesson went well!

Stay tuned for the round up of the four sessions next week and I will also be conducting a giveaway for a complimentary trial lesson for 3 readers. Next week, next week!

Sparkanauts @ SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh
#02-01
Singapore 319387
T: (65) 62590307
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm
Website: www.sparkanauts.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Sparkanauts/

 

Advertisements

Musical Exploration at Music Adventurer Workshop 

[Review]

How can you tell which instrument your kid is interested in apart from giving them the exposure to interact with them? At least this is what I believe. Workshops such as the Music Adventurer Workshop seeks to achieve that by getting young kids to explore real music and musical instruments, on top of the basics to introduce and prepare them in this musical journey.

Faith had completed all the sessions of the Music Adventurers Workshop (4-6 years old) by Musichaus during the June holidays (I wrote about the first session here). From those sessions, she was introduced and given the opportunity to play the various instruments such as the ukelele, keyboard, xylophone and wooden percussions. Apart from that, she also learnt musical terms such as Forte (loud) and Piano (soft) and got to play the instruments in 3 and 4 beats during the four sessions.

On my own, I wouldn’t be able to share such knowledge with her because I just am quite handicapped when it comes to music (I can sing all right). I couldn’t even understand the tau gey (musical notes)!

Besides introducing the various instruments, the children were treated to storytelling times in which Teacher Trina would incorporate music and movement based on what they have read. The children were also encouraged to use their vocals to, for example, imitate the sounds of the different animals as read from the story.

img_0891

In terms of movement, you bet there were lots of it. We (the parents) sat in for the first and last 10 minutes of each session and I could testify that the kids moved A LOT. So much so that I was a little uncomfortable. I mean, were they learning? It was definitely a different kind of learning environment in which the kids were encouraged to move about, dance to the music and to practise their beats using the instruments.

img_0139

After each session, Teacher Trina would give us feedback as to how our kid responded to the lesson. Based on her summary, I asked Faith what she had learnt when we got home and to tell me the musical instruments that she was introduced for that day. And she could! Oh, me of little faith! And I thought she wasn’t paying attention with all those running about. There were also occasions that she could tell me what she had learnt when we read a story that was similar to what Teacher Trina had shared. So, she did learn! It didn’t come immediately of course but she would share her learning with me when her memory was triggered.

I certainly like the idea of incorporating language arts and music in this workshop because I believe they can be intertwined. Teacher Trina termed this as musical story time where percussions and paino were used to enhance the experience of reading. I must also commend Teacher Trina for being patient with the young kids. If you have seen how she dealt with them, you would agree with me that it was truly admirable of her to be able to engage the kids for 90 minutes even though I think that time duration is too long for young children to stay focussed.

img_1572

At the end of the day, Faith did acquire some knowledge about the basics of music and the various musical instruments. Most of all, she had fun and looked forward to each session and that’s good enough for me. To me, it’s a good way to spend her school holiday though I’m rather reluctant to crowd her school days with enrichment classes. I’m hoping that Musichaus would continue to hold such workshops in December! Anyway, I have given feedback to Teacher Trina and she said she would consider. 😉

However, if you are thinking of sending your little ones to such a class on a regular basis, these sessions will be conducted every Thursday, 3 – 4pm at Trehaus and they will commence on 7th July 2016. The theme for the lesson is Classical Music and you can find out more via their website.

Trehaus Cowork
442 Orchard Road, #03-01
Singapore 238879
Tel: 9843 8077
Email: enquiries@trehauscowork.com

Disclaimer: Our sessions were sponsored in exchange for a review of the workshop. No other forms of monetary compensation was given and all opinions are mine. There are quite a few good coffee joints at Claymore Connect and since this is a drop off class, you could enjoy some time on your own with a cup of caffeine, i.e. if you enjoy it. 

Friday Flips | Windblown

How many of you will pack some activity materials for your kids to work on as you go out with them?

I do because I find them useful in ‘entertaining’ young kids and this is especially so when they are waiting for their food to be served during mealtimes.

img_0620

Normally, I will pack sticker books or some colour pencils and a small notebook for Faith to doodle. Along with that, a book or two are good choices too. Recently, I saw this book on the library’s bookshelf, flipped the pages and knew I had to borrow it.

419X4FnLisL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Windblown
by Édouard Manceau

“‘Shhh. . .’ said the wind.
‘I blew and blew as hard as I might.
I toppled the tree found by the frog,
shaped by the snail,
that the bird made into paper
that the fish cut into the pieces
that the chicken saw lying around.'”
— from the book

This story tells of seven scraps of paper blown along by the wind. On each page, the scraps create an animal who claims to be the owner of the scraps. The chicken claims they are his, the fish claims them too and so do the bird, snail and frog. Finally, the wind claims the scraps and blows them with one gust to the reader. “They are yours now too. What will you do?”

As you can see, this story screams for us to create something from the seven scraps of paper. So, I cut out the shapes (you can print it off here and laminate) and went through the story with Faith. With each page, the girl recreated the animal using the scraps of paper. You can bring along a piece of blank paper and have the child complete the picture by drawing the lines. In response to the last page in the story, I invited the girl to design a creature based on the scraps but she chose to work on the frog instead.

img_0616

I know it’s a safe choice and I respect her decision.

img_0617

I think her brother wanted to join in too.

img_0632

I decided to stretch the activity further by asking her to paint the picture since she kept asking me when she would be going for another art class. Moreover, we have just read Mix It Up and I thought it would be a good follow-up activity to the story.

img_0633

The activity actually became really fun when painting was involved. So I reckon this book is good to bring along to engage the minds of the young ones when you are out and as you go back home, you could continue to work on it like what we have done.

img_0648

I’m actually pleased with the outcome and frame the picture up.
This is a good home learning activity and we took about an hour to complete it. 😉

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips
If you have been reading Raising Faith’s posts and wish to be updated, do follow us on Facebook and Instagram! 😉

Faith’s first art class

Faith has often expressed an interest in painting and would ask me to do art with her at home. I’m not trained in this area and could only work on some simple forms of artwork with her. So, when growingwiththetans asked me if I would be interested to get Faith to attend some art classes during the school holidays, I agreed readily.


She can be a tad shy when she’s with new friends. Thankfully N gor gor was there. We signed the kids up for Flower Vase (Finger Painting) at Artflock studio.


She was rather apprehensive at first because she has not seen this art teacher before. So, you can expect her to be rather quiet.


Once the lesson started, the kids were all on the ball. See how serious every one was.


While the children were hard at work, the mums were busy catching up with one another over brunch. I like this location a fair bit because there are some good cafes around and that means “caffeine, here I come!”


Came back and they were at the last stage. Such beautiful art pieces! I could never do such a work with her.


She was all smiles and I think she enjoyed herself.


Her artwork is the only one with a pink background.


The artist and her masterpiece.


So this concludes her first art lesson. When I asked her why she didn’t choose purple as the background since that’s her favourite colour, she replied,”I thought pink is your favourite colour?”

I’m not sure what that means. Did she choose pink because I like it? I’ll be honoured if that is the case. 😀

She did enjoy the class and when I asked her if she wanted to go for another lesson, her reply was an enthusiastic “yes”.

At this age, I’m still trying to find out what she is good at. She seems to be interested in a lot of things which is good. But how do you tell where her talent lies so that you can help her develop it? I’m not keen to crowd her childhood with enrichment classes but if she is not exposed to such an opportunity, how will we know?

Oh well, I’ll just use the school holidays to enrich her then. *shrug shoulders*

On language development

Our family adopts the One Parent, One Language (OPOL) method when we communicate to the children. I would speak to Faith in Mandarin and the hubs to her in English. Faith’s first words are in Mandarin and I was mighty pleased with the progress and outcome until she was a little older, about 1.5 years old. 

As I’m the main caregiver and teacher to the children, I find that I have to split between speaking in Mandarin and English. Initially, I was concerned that Faith will be confused but apparently, she could distinguish between the two languages. What I need to do and be mindful of, is NOT to mix the languages when I speak to the children and if I should speak in either of the languages, I should do so in complete sentences and with the right intonation. This requires a fair bit of discipline and effort on my part. 

Upon attending school, Faith speaks English more than Mandarin which is not surprising even though the school spends more time in Chinese instruction (60%). Subsequently I signed her up for one more hour of Chinese class because she likes 儿歌 and I need more time to rest. Hah. Four hours of school is just right. 

Currently, Faith speaks well and more regularly in English as compared to Mandarin but she could definitely recognise more Chinese characters than English words. I didn’t leave language teaching only to the school because I believe there is much that I could teach at home. Having said that, #iamnotatigermom. 😜


Flashcards. I have quite a fair bit of them lying in the house, thanks to friends and my sister who do not have any use of them since their children have grown up. I didn’t use them until the girl was around 2 years old. A few months down the road, I bought this set of Chinese characters and got Faith to learn them. I prefer this set because the characters are big (font size) and the pictures are clear. Initially, she took quite a while to remember the words but at 3YO, it seemed her mind had opened up and she could recognise one set in a week and we moved on very quickly since then. Consistency is key. 


This set of readers helps boost Faith’s confidence in reading. Since she has learnt the characters, she could read the books on her own. You could see the pride that is reflected on her face when she completed reading each book. Priceless. 


I also signed her up for a Chinese enrichment class because I need her to acquire a love for the language. I could definitely drill her in recognising the characters but she does need the environment to speak. I have heard good review of this Chinese class and thankfully, Faith likes it! 

I do have to be honest that she was rather apprehensive in the beginning and had told me that she didn’t want to attend the class. However, by the third lesson, she was looking forward to it.✌️✌Having said that, I still see crying students in the class and they are pleading not to attend. 


I used a few materials to teach Chinese to Faith and I want to specially mention this book. The book is organised in a manner in which the highlighted character will appear in every sentence, thereby helping the child to remember the word read in context. When the child finds that she could read, it boosts the confidence which happens to Faith and she wants to go on learning the characters and reading the text. 



I have had success with using this set of books and subsequently went on to buy the whole series. #kiasumama


I wish Faith could read that well in English but I can’t expect a lot since I have not really focused on teaching her the English words apart from helping her work on her phonics. 

A few things to note: 

:: I am recording this as a reference for me to teach Dan in future.

:: Faith started off with fewer spoken words in English and I have friends who suggested that she might have speech delay but fret not, she had been storing those vocabulary words in her mind and now I wish she could give me some peace.  The seemingly fewer words could be a result of processing /storing words in both languages.

:: At home, there will always be music playing in the background and more often than not, it’s Chinese 儿歌。But when I’m reading to them, the music will have to stop. 

:: Faith could well communicate in Mandarin given the right environment. However, she much prefers to speak in English since everyone else is speaking in that language. 

:: Reading is key. Start reading even when the kid is a baby or in the womb. Read both English and Chinese books because they have the ability to distinguish the different languages. 


This kiasu mama has acquired the entire series (from Popular bookstores). This is not a sponsored post.

I really ought to be more diligent in recording what I do with Faith at home for my and Dan’s sake. #homelearning.

Stay tuned! 

Related articles:

Parentingjoy wrote a post on the use of 四五快读

Teaching the little ones

“Perhaps, it is a calling to teach your own kid during this season of your life?”

This is a statement that spoke to me when I decided to resign from teaching after giving birth to Faith. I didn’t know what to expect then because teaching very young children can be so different from the ones that I had been trained in teaching. I guess we (parents) all learn along the way and am so glad that I have a team of mothers to co-teach the little ones during our weekly playdate/co-op.

IMG_20141106_200618

It’s definitely a joy to see how the little ones have developed during these few months. They were strangers before but now are friends. They used to be distracted easily by toys in the house but now are captivated by the stories found in the book.

IMG_20141106_1927350.461563356971072
Once we had to handhold them a lot in their craft work, but now they gradually want to take over (although our girl is still not very enthusiastic about it).

20141113_102756

The mums used to say grace for the food on their behalf. Now, they could utter the prayer themselves.

IMG_20141106_1957120.5877388337793489

It’s always a joy to see how they have progressed during the Practical Life segment. They certainly have improved in their fine motor skills, amongst others.

Though I am no longer working in the school, I’m glad that I’m teaching the little ones, together with the awesome mummies in the group (and the majority of them are teachers too). Yes, I do miss interacting and discussing about lesson plans with fellow educators but now’s not bad too.

IMG_220286143596659-1I still get to introduce books such as My Red Balloon by Kazuaki Yamada to the children.

IMG_220323014265448

I can still practise my storytelling skills…

IMG_220339320884400

…and plan follow-up activities for the little ones. Here, I’m getting the kids to use round shapes to create the penguin which is one of the characters in the book.

IMG_220344513747522

Of course, I get to hone my art….

IMG_220359768012151

…and learn from fellow educators.

20141113_101806

What joy to see them grow!

Will I go back to teaching again? I guess there is still a deep desire in me to teach because I believe in education. However, it has to be in a different capacity for now. Perhaps, I will volunteer my time at Faith’s school? Help out at Sunday School? *Shrug shoulders* There are a lot of unknowns but I’ll just take a step at a time.

Read Mummy Ade’s account of the coop here.

Tuesday thoughts: Loneliness

Someone’s feeling lonely. It’s not me. I’ve gone past that stage, at least for now. It’s Faith.

In recent months, I have observed that the little girl loves company and would jump for joy when I told her that we would be meeting so-and-so. Even when we are going around the neighbourhood, she would greet the people she meets and tries to befriend new ones especially at the playground and library. She has grown out of the solitary play mode and increasingly loves to hang out with people.

Bad news for me, huh?

That means she gets bored at home more often because her mother doesn’t always have time to think of new activities to engage her. Thankfully, there are the weekly playdates and co-ops and the occasional swimming sessions with her cousins. However, these might not continue the following year since her playmates would be in preschool and there would be fewer opportunities to go out with them.

20141106_095429

So I did the unthinkable (in my case). I went to shop for schools for her.

I really didn’t want her to go to school until she turns 4 years old. She is, after all, still so young! She needs to play and enjoy her childhood. Besides, I don’t think we are doing an awful job in our homeschooling effort. However, since she is born in the popular year of the dragon, I thought that I should start looking for schools just in case there are no vacancies left by the time I decide to put her in school. I should at least put her on a waiting list or something, that’s what a lot of mummy friends were telling me to do.

In the end, I visited two schools. The first one was none too impressive although it seems like a well-known preschool. The moment the marketing executive (yes, not the principal!) told me that they emphasize on academic excellence, I lost complete interest. I want a preschool that focuses on building the children’s characters, where each child’s uniqueness is respected and that they can learn at their own pace. The second school fits my criterion to a tee. It’s not a well-known school and in fact, the preschool is rather young but as I spoke with the principal and visited the premise, I was won over.

That is the preschool for Faith. And on the spot, I decided that Faith would go to school the following year.

After leaving the compound, I started to have doubts and was uncertain if I have made the right decision. On one hand, I would want to continue what we have been doing. I can always find a new group of playmates for her and we can always go out and learn stuff together. On the other hand, getting her to go to school might do her good too since she can have more friends and learn from the wonderful teachers and principal in that school.

We shall see.

For now, the decision is for her to go to school.

So, yes, Faith is going to school. *sobs*

IMG-20141110-WA0002

[Review & Giveaway] JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets

When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading comics because the content is light and the graphics entertaining. I still do, as a matter of fact, and am happy to help review a comic book – JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets – that is educational in nature.

book cover

 

JJ’s Science Adventure is a series of educational comic books designed to help readers master key learning objectives stated in the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Primary School Science syllabus. The author, Aurelia, an educator herself, has observed that students were often reluctant to read their science textbook but would ask their parents to buy storybooks for them to read. She concluded that children’s motivation to learn is directly linked to their interest and observed that an interest shared by most of them is reading comic books. This led her to commit two years of her life developing this first book on Magnets.

This book has won the Readers’ Favourite Illustration Award which recognises books with quality illustrations. The learning objectives are brilliantly introduced in the storyline and it is an absolute delight to read it.

sample 1

What I appreciate about this book:

:: The story has a science fiction fantasy setting which has a tendency to capture the attention of readers. I read it in one sitting and I can be one easily distracted mom if you know me. This book gets me reading till the end.

:: The key teaching points are printed in colour which help readers identify them easily.

:: Besides the key teaching points, there is additional interesting information that is relevant to the topic, thus catering to the needs of different students. I find myself understanding more about MRI and MagLev after the read. Feels good gaining knowledge! 😉

:: The language used is wholesome.

:: The graphics are colourful and attractive and will certainly be appreciated by visual learners.

unnamed

 

This is one book that should be found in the class library where students can have easy access to it! It certainly is a great complement to the textbook and one which helps to reinforce the students’ understanding of the topic. I’m actually looking forward to the next book on Heat and Light which can be pre-ordered here.

JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets is retailing at S$18.90 and is available at these stores or online. They are wonderful gifts for Christmas! 😉

GIVEAWAY!

The good folks at Harvest Edutainment are giving away 2 copies of JJ’s Science Adventure – Magnets to 2 lucky readers who are residing in Singapore (1 copy per winner). Please state your email address as winners will be notified via email.

Giveaway will end on 13 November 2014.

Enter the giveaway here!

Winners will be announced on this blog post and my facebook page.

All the best!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are mine.

Update: Thank you for all your participation in the giveaway! The winners are Jolin Poon and Yu Meiyi. You will be contacted shortly via email. Enjoy the comic book! 😉

Memories of our playdate (today)

I’m writing this post with quite a heavy heart. You see, over the course of this year, I have grown attached to this group of mothers who come together to plan lessons for our children’s weekly playdate. I love the dynamics of this group and appreciate their care and concern for the children. We pool our resources and chip in whenever one couldn’t make it or have difficulty with any segment of the playdate. And I also love it that our children have forged friendship with one another.

But it would be a different story come next year.

All but one of the children will be going to school the following year. And yes, that includes Faith (that is another story in itself).

20141030_093937

I’ll miss the ‘Good Morning’ song that we know so well by now.

20141030_094015

And Circle Time in which the mummies will think of creative ways to introduce the farm animals (our theme for this term). There is always something new to learn each session.

20141030_094311

Love Mummy Ade, the lobang queen and one avid blogger. We love her outgoing spirit and she is always willing to take on new segments even if it is out of her comfort zone. Part of the objective of having the mummies to lead the various segments is for our own development too. We grow in love and knowledge together!

It is really heartening to note that the children could sit down and enjoy the storytelling session. When we first started during the earlier part of the year, our children couldn’t sit still and were distracted by things around them. But now, they can and even respond to the story! Yahoo!

10376846_10152569238764234_2896310065311523765_n

Mummy C and I have been friends for almost two decades and since the days of our youth, we have known her to be one ‘crafty’ lady. She would send homemade encouragement cards to us and they were always so pretty. So, it is no surprise that the children learn some useful art and craft skills from her. Mummy C has a lot of creative juice in her and it is a pity that she doesn’t have the time to blog about them. ;( Thankfully, she shares her ideas and knowledge to fellow mummies and those who come into contact with her. A very wonderful and patient mother.

1797497_10152569240359234_5420417355174356497_n

We had full attendance today!

20141030_100319

Mummy Jenna, the best Chinese storyteller in my humble opinion! She is so animated and speaks with clear, crisp Mandarin. As you can see from the picture, everyone was all ears!

20141030_101016

Our little girl led her peers in giving thanks for the food.

20141030_104547

Since today we had our lesson in the outdoor, we decided to get the kids to play with the balloons and balls. They had great fun despite the heat and we ended off with the feeding of the fish at the nearby pond, thanks to Mummy Jenna.

10606551_10152569243309234_6544468977327090004_n

We had such great times together and I believe we have provided our kids with a fun and safe environment to learn. Faith would come back and hum the songs she has learnt during the playdates and would often utter the names of her playmates. I’m thankful that the mummies help to correct the behaviour of the kids if anyone misbehaves and would not be stingy with encouragement for the kids and fellow mummies alike.

It is entirely possible to plan regular playdates such as ours. All you need are like-minded mummies who are willing to do a little bit of homework in planning for the lessons. Mummy Ade had written a very useful post on organising playdates. Do check it out!

Playdate with little distraction

Our last playdate was held in a function room of one of the mummy’s condo. Turned out to be awesome because there was little distraction from toys and the kids were more attentive.

20141023_095451

After storytelling, we got them to create a lion’s face using the tines of the fork. Again, this was designed with kids who don’t like to get their hands dirty like Faith.

20141023_111204

Faith’s lion is the one of the left and the right is mine which I used to demonstrate to the kids. Again, Faith wasn’t that interested in craftwork but I shall persevere!

img1414047344104

Practical life segment

20141023_105818

Playground time: The Children’s favourite!

FfnHEMiXgB9V8iddrv816uXtCx7QJwRodM--yInPNkVd=w379-h524-no

“I wonder where we will be going next week?”

Protected: My kind of preschool, finally!

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

[Giveaway] A family set of 4 top category tickets to HAIRY MACLARY AND FRIENDS

Life as a mom can be exciting when the little one grows older. It’s really much like having a constant adorable companion by your side and doing things together with your mini-me. One of the things that I enjoy doing is watching musicals and performances and now, as she approaches the wonderful TWO, it’s time to expose her to such shows!

unnamed

The very first show that we are watching together is Hairy Maclary and Friends! I’m looking forward to this show because I know Faith loves dogs and would go up to the furry animal if she sees one. She’s just not afraid at all! Besides, Hairy Maclary and Friends is coming to Singapore for it’s very first time and promises great fun for the family!  It is an official stage adaptation of the much-loved Hairy Maclary children’s books by Lynley Dodd. This hugely popular performance is suitable for children ages 2+ and above and is packed with live music, singing and colourful costumes. There are also opportunities for the young ones to sing along and do the actions with all the characters from the books. I’m sure the young ones would enjoy this 55-minute show!

1397706577076 1397706603054

14036019026601403604343683
[via]

DETAILS

Venue: Drama Centre Theatre, National Library Building
Season: Fri 10 Oct, 5pm; Sat and Sun 11-12 Oct, 11.30am, 2pm, 4.30pm
Duration: Approximately 55 minutes
Tickets: $35 onwards
Bookings: Tickets are available via SISTIC. Quote ABA2014 to save 10% on the tickets!

GIVEAWAY!

You can get to watch the performance with your loved ones! ABA Productions has kindly sponsored a family set of 4 category 1 tickets to ONE lucky reader of this blog (you will have to be residing in Singapore though). The tickets will be for the opening performance on Friday Oct 10th, 5pm, at Drama Centre Theatre – National Library. Enter the giveaway here! Results of the giveaway will be announced on Tuesday Oct 7th at 5pm on this blog post and my Facebook page.

All the best!

Disclaimer: Our family is invited to review Hairy Maclary and Friends. No monetary gift was received. 

Farm hopping!

While others do cafe-hopping, our group of mothers and children prefer to do farm-hopping and since this week is the school holidays, we took the opportunity to do that!

Our initial itinerary included six places but in the end, we managed five which was a great feat! Am thankful for Mummy C who came up with the plan and helped to liaise with Bollywood for our lunch. Thank God for her serving spirit!

Our first stop is Hay Diaries where we got to watch the mother goats being milked and view them in their pen.

20140911_092743

20140911_093821

If you are going with a group of more than 20 people, you would need to pay an entrance fee of S$3.21 per person and this price includes a 200ml bottle of milk, a souvenir and a 20 minute orientation on goats & milk. Not a bad deal!

20140911_094052

 

We got quite close to the goats when they were about to return to their pens. Faith was fascinated by them and even witnessed their pee-ing and poo-ing. Ah…nature’s call!

15268_10152463890939234_5343977963016950014_n

Taking a stroll and viewing the goats and kids.

20140911_101808

Our group was not considered big and thus we did not have to pay for the entrance fee (#funforfreesg). However, if you want to drink the fresh milk, a bottle will cost $2.50. Mommy C’s sons enjoyed the drink whereas Faith preferred to mess up the leaflets.

Hay Diaries
3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
+65 6792 0931

Our next stop is the Jurong Frog Farm. However, we missed out on making reservation with them and thus we could not have the frog tour. There are various types of tour packages in which  you can can have a personal encounter with the frogs or even fulfill your dream of kissing the frog prince (kidding). But I think it will be quite an experience for the adults and children alike. Our kids could only see the tadpoles and a few frogs in the tank outside the farm but they were already excited. Just imagine if they go through the tour! We will definitely go back again!

20140911_105501

Jurong Frog Farm
51 (Plot 56)
Lim Chu Kang Lane 6
Singapore 718864

We proceeded to a hydroponics 0rganic farm (not in our itinerary and thanks to a reader for pointing out my mistake for terming it as a hydroponics farm! ) instead of the intended Fireflies Health Farm but we didn’t stay long since the sky was overcast and promised heavy rain!

20140911_111254

I don’t really think that the kids like the hydroponics organic farm since the vegetables can’t really be interactive. To them, it’s probably just patches of green. Hah!

20140911_111604

Oh no! Dark clouds! Run!

20140911_111925

Before that, who can’t resist buying a few packets of fresh vegetables at very reasonable price! We are ‘aunties’ after all!

20140911_114309

We started the tour at around 9.45am and by the time we were ready to move on from the hydroponics farm, it was already a quarter past 11am and it was time to makan (eat)! We headed to Bollywood where Mummy C had helped to make reservation. Mummy C and I whipped out our busy bags once the kids settled. I think we kind of know that the kids were cranky and needed some form of distraction or entertainment.

20140911_115512
Some of us had The Warrior’s Platter and we all agreed that the food’s good! I had the Bollyccino (coffee) since I needed the caffeine!

Bollywood Veggies
100 Neo Tiew Road,
Singapore 719026 (Kranji)

Our last stop is Qian Hu (fish farm) and this place never fails to captivate the children. Faith and I visited this place when she was about 14 months old and she was attracted to the colourful fish. As we visited this place again, she was equally mesmerised by them.

20140911_130841

20140911_131414
We decided to call it a day at around 2pm. The kids were getting restless even though some of them continued to practise their big muscles ( running around). They needed their naps and so did the moms! We had wanted to complete the tour with a visit to the Farmart Centre but I guess we had to reserve that for the next time.

Qian Hu
No. 71 Jalan Lekar
Singapore 698950

We had much fun and thankfully most of these places allow us to visit without a cost. Yay to #funforfreesg!

What’s your ideal preschool?

When I was still training as a teacher, there was this module called Educational Philosophy and the lecturer gave us our first piece of assignment entitled ‘My Ideal School’. Sounds easy to write? Perhaps on first thought. On further reflection, you will realise that it is not because you need to consider the principles behind those ideals and how those could work out in our society.

ABM_1410139822

Now, as a mom to a toddler, I ask myself the same question but obviously I’m thinking more in terms of a preschool for the time being.

This video on how a 4YO boy spent his morning in a Montessori classroom excites me. Somehow, it reminded me of Totto-chan who received a delightful education in a railroad car and where her individuality and creativity was nourished. I wish the same for Faith but I’m not sure how many preschools out there stress on this. In any case, I have not done any research and judging by how things progress in our household, it is quite likely that Faith would not be enrolled in a preschool any time soon. Hmmm…

If I am to teach Faith myself, then I had better design a curriculum for her and to find a community in which she can grow and learn with. This can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. And as each day passes, I am acutely aware that she is growing up really fast and there is no time to lose. So much stuff to teach her!

IMG-20140907-WA0000-MOTION

This week, I will be reflecting on this issue and if you are into montessori education and want to try some of the ideas at home, you can look for them at #montessoriathome on IG.

Here’s another video for your viewing pleasure.

I want to state that I’m not advocating that Montessori education is the way to go and that I would enrol Faith in such a preschool in days to come. In any case, I’m not even sure if those in our neighbourhood carry out lessons in the true Montessori spirit. However, there are areas with which I’m obviously impressed and would love to employ those methods to teach Faith.

These are some of the features that I love about Montessori education:

  • The children work individually most of the time, coming together when they wish to, at different periods during the day. These periods are not set, but arise out of the needs of the children on a daily basis.
  • Children are vertically grouped (mixed ages).
  • Written observations of children are made regularly.
  • Children have continual and free access to a full range of the Montessori materials appropriate for their age.
  • Classes are run in such a way that they promote the children’s freedom to make spontaneous choices; to be independent; to complete cycles of work; to develop a sense of responsibility within the group; to use the materials properly.
  • Children actively engage with materials that are designed from a developmental point of view and which lead them to successive levels of discovery about their world.
  • Materials are displayed in an orderly way, well maintained and complete.
  • The environment is prepared to be simple and beautiful, and is continuously maintained to a high standard.
  • At any time in the classroom a ratio of no greater than 1 adult to 8 children engages in classroom activity.

Just some notes to remind myself in terms of choosing a preschool when the time comes. These ‘tips’ came from an ex-preschool teacher.

– Do you feel comfortable communicating with the principal and the teachers?
– Ask about the teacher-child ratio and the turn- over rate and qualifications of the staff in the centre as this will affect the quality of care that they can give to your child.
– The environment plays a part. If the centre is air-conditioned, children will fall sick often and virus such as HFMD and chicken pox will spread more easily.
– Curriculum wise, you could ask yourself if you are more concerned about your child’s academic learning or character/social development. Find a centre that supports your belief in how children should learn (e.g through hands on projects/activities or worksheets/drilling ).

Faith at Sunday School today

Faith at Sunday School today

Farm animals!

Our playgroup/playdate/co-op is moving into farm animals theme for the new term and how exciting that is! I thought it helps the moms streamline what we are going to teach the kids and it definitely helps in the preparation of the lesson.

To prepare Faith for the lesson, I created a sensory bin using salt and placed the farm animals in it. She was thrilled when she initially saw the bin and attempted to touch the salt. Thankfully, she is more willing to do so as compared to the previous time when we had our co-op and one of the moms set up a similar kind of sensory bin.

IMG_20140827_143017

Faith has this book from which she inherited from an auntie and it’s about farm animals. The Old Macdonald song can be played with the press of a button but it got so irritating that eventually I had to hide the book from her. Of course, she went searching for it and played it the first thing she woke up (on a particular day). Noooooooo!

20140827_145124
On our last playdate, Mummy C set up a ‘farm’ in her living room for free play. Awesome, isn’t it?

20140828_093044

Recently, I came across some toy farm animals and they complete my collection of them. Yipee! Faith and I organised the farm animals and a related book helps a lot in understanding about them.

20140829_101440

 The setup in our place. Are you ready for more lessons on farm animals? 😉

20140829_105814

 

Playdate 210814

We had our usual playdate and this time I was supposed to host it but I suggested going to the reservoir nearby. Thankfully, the mummies obliged! Phew! It’s my belief that kids should be out in the open as often as possible, to be near to nature, to learn more about the environment and not be cooped up in the somewhat comfy environment – the home. Perspiration is ok, ants are fine (though we were almost greeted by an army of ants!). They just have to learn to deal with it. Kids are survivors. Don’t shield them from all these! (By that, I’m not saying that you purposely place them in danger, yah?)

IMG_34199889006146

Everyone arrived on time and after we had settled, we had the welcome song so that the kids would understand that the programme is going to commence.

IMG_34219824142650

Recap of the colours and shapes since we are on this theme for the term.

20140821_095030

We had storytelling time told by A and this time round, it was Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider.

20140821_095656

Following that, we got the kids to do some texture rubbing of barks of trees, granite flooring, leaves, etc. I don’t think the kids know what they were supposed to do but well, we’ll just treat it as an exposure? Faith, as usual, didn’t really enjoy craft time. ;(

20140821_101110

Snack time! Faith’s favourite activity! She could down many pieces of biscuits, blueberries and grapes. *Faint*

IMG_34262576859508

Next up is the Chinese storytelling time! Always love this segment because I like how J reads the story. We had an action song following that which was a tad difficult to follow. Hah!

20140821_103318

20140821_103620

For practical life, the kids learnt sorting which was a continuation of last week’s activity. I think the children knew what they had to do and could generally complete this task. We sang some songs again before having the children play at the playground.

20140821_110108

I got Faith to walk on sand because I know she’s not comfortable with it. But I also know that I need to help her overcome her fear and forced her to step out of her comfort zone. She did so, thankfully. That day, the kids were not too keen to play at the playground (possibly because it’s hot) and got attracted by bubbles!

20140821_112514-MOTION

Group photo before we left the reservoir. It’s so hard to get a decent photo!

Next week’s lesson should be interesting. I’m looking forward already!

Seminar: Discovering The Joy Of Teaching Your Baby

Increasingly, I’ve found early childhood to be an area that interests me greatly, obviously because I’m a parent to a young kid and also because research has shown that the first five years of life is when the most significant growth and development occur in a human (I’ll write more about this soon). Therefore, as a concerned parent, I would want to ensure that I have the necessary knowledge and skills in raising that little person. I’m sure you, as a parent, could identify with me. 😉

During these (almost) two years, I have attended seminars and read up on the different early childhood approaches namely Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia since I have the intention of homeschooling Faith for the first few years (or until my patience and stamina run out). And I’m pleased to share with you that there is a seminar – Discovering the joy of teaching your baby – coming our way.

To be honest, I have not heard of the speaker (pardon my ignorance) nor the book that she co-authored. But I’m interested to find out what she would be sharing on the reading programme and teaching the baby music and foreign language, amongst other topics.

If you are interested, why not sign up for the seminar? The details can be found below.

HTM Seminar Aug 2 by Janet Doman FINAL

Toddler Busy Bag Exchange (under 3YO)

I was introduced to this term – Busy Bag Exchange – via a meetup and thought the idea is brilliant.

Basically, a busy bag is a simple, fun and age appropriate activity that will keep your child engaged for a while. You can throw one in your bag to take out at a restaurant, on an airplane, use it at home or somewhere else when you need some time to get something done! This, this and this are cool examples.

In an exchange, each parent chooses a busy bag to work on and give to all the other parents at the exchange. During the exchange they swap bags and each gets to leave with a variety of activities for his/her toddler!

toddlerbags[via]

I’m listing the various activity ideas and hopefully I’ll be able to work on some in preparation for Faith’s homeschooling activities.

Oh what busy and fun days ahead!

First attempt to homeschool Faith

Recently, I posted some pictures about planning activities to homeschool Faith and received requests from mommies who asked if their kids could join. Fact is, my friends and I were just starting out and we want to see if the kids benefit from the session. We are not preschool educators, just your regular mothers. One had worked in a childcare centre before while the other had gone through some online Montessori courses. Me? I was just an elementary school teacher. Nevertheless, we just came together, pooled our resources and experience and started a session for the kiddos.

We started off with Circle Time with C going through BLUE items since the theme is on the colour. Each child took turns to touch the item as C explained them to the kids. But I must say, the kids could not really sit still except for F.C.! Well done, little girl.

IMG_2610

The next time when the little ones could talk, I would use the Circle Time to talk about the day, weather and probably ask them to share about stuff related to a theme. I learnt this while I was doing my work attachment at Park Street School a few years back.

IMG_2615

After the Circle Time, I read a book on Shapes to them with a follow-up activity of getting themto recognise the shapes of items that I had prepared for them and then pasting them onto the paper (with shapes drawn). The peeling of the double-sided tape requires them to use their fine motor skills. Faith, being the youngest of them all, could not really manage this task well but got all excited when she saw the biscuit in its rectangular packaging. SIGH!

So, we changed the plan since we realised that the kids needed time out and decided it’s time for refreshment! Sab prepared fruits and we got them to sit down and feed themselves. What an adorable sight!

IMG_2624

We had physical activity next. Kids at this age really need to move. Okay, I know it was right after a snack but our activity wasn’t really vigorous. It’s just playing with balloons and fruits & balls relay (getting them to pass some balls and toy fruits from one container to another), an idea I got from Gymnademics. I must say the kids love to move, move and move!

IMG_2631Who doesn’t like balloons?

IMG_2634 IMG_2635
Counting the number of balls they could transfer. Faith, having had practice at Gymnademics scored in this segment.

The last part of this ‘programme’ is some stations on practical life which C learnt from her online course. Kids should learn simple real life tasks even from a young age. So we had scooping of woollen balls from one container to another, choosing and closing of container using the right caps and stacking of cups.

IMG_2647 IMG_2649 IMG_2651

In 2 hours’ time, the kids, as well as the mothers, were famished and it’s meal time again. We served bread for them and they gobbled them up.

IMG_2658

IMG_2669

My dear girl didn’t have enough and ‘stole’ from her friend. SIGH!

IMG_2672

So, there you go. Our first attempt in getting them to learn as a small group. I’m sure there are many experienced parents who are also homeschooling their kids. Do share your ideas!

To the farm we go!

My brother and his family came back for the CNY period and we took the chance to plan some activities for the kiddos. Our first trip? To the farm!

After listing some choices, we decided to go to Farmart which is located at Sungei Tengah Road. But before that, it’s breakfast at Riders Cafe since the kids could have a view of the horses and perhaps we could educate them on this animal. We tried…

Faith and Lester

Faith and Lester

BIL trying to read to them...farm animals!

BIL trying to read to them…farm animals!

IMG_0735 IMG_0624

Cousins unite!

Cousins unite!

We were all excited for this farm trip but were disappointed that many of the shops were not open. Nonetheless, we made do with what was available.

Thankfully, the animal corner was open and the kids could get up close to goats, bull frogs, tortoises, rabbits and fishes. Oh yes, pay a small fee and you could feed them!

IMG_0631

IMG_0733

Faith and her moo moo!

Faith and her moo moo!

The animal corner was rather small and we proceeded to a shop which sells live seafood such as fish, lobsters, frogs, etc. My nephews were excited and Dallen taught Faith a few of these animals. Educational indeed!

IMG_0653 IMG_0646

IMG_0654

Ah! Lobsters!

The children got bored after a while since there was nothing much to explore after that. Thankfully, there were a few toy machines at the dining area.

IMG_0657

Taking a good group photo of the kids can be very exhausting!

Taking a good group photo of the kids can be very exhausting!

Our next stop is Qian Hu Fish Farm which is just a short distance away. The kids were really mesmerised by the different variety of fish and were amazed. We spent quite some time at this place, not forgetting the fact that the adults treated themselves to a 30-min fish spa at $10/pax.

IMG_0672

IMG_0678

IMG_0701

IMG_0685

IMG_0729 IMG_0730

It was my first time treating the fish to some bites and it was so ticklish. We had a laughing good time there!

IMG_0717

We had wanted to complete this farm trip with a late lunch at Bollywood. Alas, it was closed. Bummer! If you intend to do this type of trip, do visit Bollywood! The food is rather delish.

=)

My kid is going to school!

2 January, a day when my FB was swarmed with posting of friends whose kid is placed in Primary 1 or Nursery or Kindergarten. Pictures of the kids in well-ironed uniforms, white pairs of shoes and new bags were all over the page. “My baby is going to school!”

Normally on this day, I would be busy receiving these students. Many were excited while some cried, refusing to let go of their caregivers. It would be a challenging and undoubtedly exhausting day for the teachers. But today, I no longer do that. Instead, I hung out with Faith. And from this day forth, there would be less of staying at home but more of outdoor activities.

I have decided to make it a routine to bring Faith out for morning walk on alternate days. This is a good way to tell her about the park – from what she sees, hears, smells and touches. Thankfully, the reservoir is within walking distance from our apartment. And boy, was she happy to be out.

20140103-074352.jpg

She was mesmerized by the aunties who were doing some stretching exercises and sat there watching there for a good 10 minutes. Then we proceeded to the boardwalk where she took the opportunity to climb up and down the stairs. Then there is the playground near our block of flats and she had a great workout there! All these took us 1.5 hours. Amazing!

20140103-074406.jpg

20140103-074415.jpg

20140103-074440.jpg

The little one was so tired that after a shower, she felt asleep quite immediately which was really awesome! Finally, I had some time to myself!

20140103-074503.jpg

 A few minutes into Faith’s sleep, sis called me out for lunch. Dayen, the younger son had just completed his first day of school and he didn’t cry! Brave one!

20140103-074524.jpg

We dined at the coffeeshop where my uncle and auntie had a stall each. Wanton mee! Mom was there too and I could eat in peace for a while.

20140103-074533.jpg

It’s so wonderful that the cousins are finally back because Faith has got company! More cars, planes and trains! After lunch, I brought Faith to the library which she loves. Not necessarily reading though. But I guess that’s a good start. Reading begins at home!

20140103-074605.jpg

 So, there you have it. Faith’s first day of moi’s homeschooling effort. Hah!

Will be recording daily activities via Dayre from now on.

20140103-080808.jpg

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.

Busy Bee

Since going back to school this week, time just whizzed past like nobody’s business. Stepping out at 6.15am, I only got to leave the workplace at 5pm daily (that’s the earliest). There are so many things to catch up on. These last 2 weeks have been brutally exhausting to the staff and people kept falling sick.

For some of us, after classes in the first half of the teaching hours, we are down for report writing all the way till we end work. It’s terribly brain-draining. Oh! My poor colleagues.

I.Don’t.Enjoy.This.Part.Of.My.Work.

Each day, I was so tired that I could fall asleep quite immediately which is a good thing. And then when it comes to Friday night, the body seems to know that I am free the following day and refuses to get a proper rest. Like now….

*_*

What is a good school?

Opening Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the Ministry of Education (MOE) Work Plan Seminar, on Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 10.00 am at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre
 

What is a good school? A good school is not one which produces straight As or top honours per se; a good school is not merely ‘good’ relative to others. Rather, it is one that caters to the needs of its students well. Given the diversity of students, there cannot be a single ruler to measure success.

A good school needs to know who their students are at the point of entry, studies their needs and strengths; states what it would like them to become when they leave the school; then exercise diligence and imagination to get there. A good school creates a positive experience for each student – allowing him to acquire the basics, but more importantly, making him a confident and lifelong learner. It provides a supportive and appreciative environment for teachers to experience the joy in impacting lives. A good school is student-centric and allows teachers to do their best for every child.

The end has come

Four months flew past just like that. It seemed not too long ago that we attended the first lecture with all the expectations spelt out. Assignments poured in relentlessly and then we got the hang of things. The laughter that we had with the many good lecturers is something to cherish in our hearts. Their words inspired us. By their actions, they showed us how to light the path for others. Their grace humbled us and we were changed in one way or another.

Would we go back to where we have left off when we return to our jobs? This is perhaps the fear that some of us have. It’s so fast-paced you can hardly breathe, let alone think and reflect. One comfort we can take is that we would surely lose those extra pounds that we have gained in those 4 months. The place we work in is a great gym. =p

These are my group members for curriculum project. We were still hard at work a few days ago since we had to present our project to the school and the cohort. How ‘fortunate’. And the following was when the presentation was over and again, a pic of us having the final meal at Bollywood Veggies with the rest of the cohort.


I met a lot of passionate educators in this course and many really want to make a difference. I came across a lot of mothers too who showed much concern about me, giving me advice and helping me with this and that. What privilege! Though it is a real pity that I could not participate in the regional trip with my members, I must say the whole experience was enriching and I’m sure Faith has learnt a lot too!

All good things must come to an end. And am going back to reality the following week. Jitters again. What would life be like?