Homelearning | Botany 

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been using the time in the morning to teach the girl before she goes to school. We spent some time learning about a few famous artists, a little about the animal kingdom and ‘visited’ some countries. More recently, I have started to teach based on themes. And since it was Spring in May, I thought it would be good to get the kids to learn a little about botany.

The following is a record of what I did with the kids and the related resources.

 

The idea to start on Botany started quite innocently. I had extra stalks of celery and I was teaching the boy colours and then I thought why not show them how plants take in water through the stems? So, this was how we started.

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So I quickly gathered the resources that exist at home and took a trip to the library to borrow the books that I need to teach. By the way, I love this website – The Helpful Garden. It has lots of resources that I printed off for the children’s learning.

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Love this book from Gail Gibbons. It really is a gem. From this, I taught the parts of the plants and got the girl to make out the words.

 

From seeds (and the girl planted bok choy)…

 

… to flowers. The children learnt about the parts of the flowers and the reproduction of course. It might be a tad too abstract, I feel. But there’s certainly no harm in introducing!

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We took a trip down to the florist, bought a few stalks of flowers…

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…after introducing her to some flowers via the 3-part cards.

 

Lessons turned out to be very beautiful indeed.

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The girl learnt to paint poppy flowers, a very doable art piece for a preschooler.

 

With this book, we learnt the different parts of the plants which we consume. Dan showed his ability to match the concrete to the pictures.

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We then zoomed in into the life of a Dandelion.

 

And we dabbled in more artwork. This time round, it was finger-printing.

It was a very interesting and wide topic. So much to learn but I guess we shall take a few steps at a time. Learning can never cease.

[Friday Flips] The Green Sea Turtle

I first got hold of this book ‘The Green Sea Turtle’ by Isabel Muller three weeks ago and knew that I have to do a simple study on Turtles. The story tells of the journey of one green sea turtle and the many intriguing events that happen during the course of her life’s journey. I was captivated by the story and no doubt, the beautiful illustration as well.

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The many creatures that she meets in the ocean…

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What does this remind you of? Life cycle of a turtle. I can teach the girl!

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The reader is introduced to the seven kinds of sea turtle. Okay, I must admit that I know very little about this creature so you can understand why I really like this book. It’s an information book written in a simple manner. I told myself that I need to share this story with the girl and went about gathering resources for this study.

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If you have followed me for a while, you would know that I like to do art with my girl because personally I like it. And I love to integrate art, science and other discipline into language arts. I thought I could get the girl to learn about the different parts of the turtle and of course the life cycle.

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Both the children love the story and the boy kept calling out,” Turtle, turtle!”

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I printed out these 3-part cards from thehelpfulgarden. The website has a wonderful amount of resources for us to use so please look through it!

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Going through the life cycle of the turtle with both kids. I find it difficult to design learning for both kids at the same time. Time is often not on my side. So I hope that the younger one will be able to learn something together with the sister. I hope.

We went on to the artwork and got Faith to continue to learn how to blend three colours for the carapace. The boy worked on a simple craft.

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The boy and his turtle.

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There you have it. This morning’s lesson based on this marvellous book. I think I learn more as I prepare the lesson and I like it that I’m constantly gaining new knowledge together with the kids.

#montessoriathome

There hasn’t been much update on this space because life is really busy and fun with two kids. I have not baked in ages even though I’ve been itching to make some baked goods. Fact is, whatever time I have with the kids is spent teaching and learning together with them. When they are asleep or napping, that’s the time for me to cook or create learning resources for them. Moreover, I am now going through an online Montessori course which makes life even busier for this mom.

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I’m not sure why I didn’t take up this course earlier. I had known about its existence two years ago from a friend who had graduated from it and she found it useful and so recommended me. Alas, procrastination took over and it was only until I found difficulty in teaching the girl the blue and green series in the language component that I decided to register for the one-year course. Moreover, I’m toying with NOT sending Dan to school next year.

I love the Montessori preschool that Faith is in now. But the timing for Dan’s and Faith’s level differs and that would mean I have to be on the road a lot if I was to send both to the same school. Time that could otherwise be spent teaching at home would reduce and perhaps frustration would set in?

With these thoughts, I decided to take the plunge and took up the course in late January. I might as well test out how ‘homeschooling’ Dan would be like and spend the morning effectively with both of them.

Before I took up the course, ideas for teaching Dan were gathered from Pinterest. They are good, no doubt, but since taking up the course, lessons have been more focussed and less sporadic.

There is so much to share with the two children that I feel time is running out. So, whatever time I have is dedicated to teaching them. It’s really fun!

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Dan is very into animals now, especially since we came back from the WA trip in which we visited a farm.

LivingMontessoriNow.com is now hosting an awesome giveaway of the KHT 12- month Montessori Online Certificate Course. I am currently going through this course and find it really useful for my personal homelearning use. If you are interested, why don’t you give it a try?

Paul Klee and his artwork

Our ‘Art education’ at home continued with Paul Klee. I have yet to find an art class suitable for Faith so meanwhile, we will have to learn what we can through books and the Internet. Normally, I will scout the local libraries for children’s books on the particular artist, read to the girl and then explore the artist’s work with her. I’m not an Art teacher by training but I can always learn!

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The book that I used for this lesson is The Cat and the Bird and the illustration is based on Paul Klee’s work. My objective for this lesson is simple. I wanted Faith to observe how colours are being used in harmony and to apply it in the colouring of the cat which I drew the night before.

Faith is in this phase in which everything is colourful to her. If you are to ask her to complete a piece of colouring work, chances are it will resemble the colours of rainbow. For this lesson, I wanted her to observe how the colours blend and we used crayons for this task. Initially, she was doing well.

While the sister was doing work, the brother couldn’t be ignored, of course! It’s doodling time for him!

“Hey! Pay attention to what you are doing!”

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Before you know it, the girl continued the colouring, this time in multi-colours. She gave me all sorts of reasons why the cat should be full of colours. I wasn’t going to fight this battle. Besides, it’s her work. I’m just going to let her enjoy the process.

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There you have it. A colourful cat. Her version of Paul Klee’s The Cat and the Bird.

We continued with the next artwork called ‘Castle and Sun’. Here, I got Faith to observe how the artist used shapes and lines to create this piece. I could have asked her to cut out different shapes using coloured paper but decided that she could spend some time working on the designs that are to be cut into various shapes as buildings. We even took out the blocks to create a ‘castle’.

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By this time, the brother was tired out and needed to take a short nap. While I carried him to nap, the girl continued to her work. We couldn’t quite finish the second piece since she had to get ready for school and had to continue the following day .

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Each of our ‘art lessons’ takes about two hours and while it can get really messy with the toddler around, I must say it is also satisfying to see how the girl has progressed. My only hope is that I will remain calm and not think about the mess that could be created. Learning should be fun!

Blending of CVC words

Faith spent the whole of last year (in school) working on the blending of CVC words and I thought I should just record the resources that I used to help her with that for Dan’s sake.

We started off using Jolly Phonics for the individual sounds and then slowly worked on blending. Obviously, consistency works. In the earlier part of last year, I wasn’t that diligent and because she couldn’t blend well, I was rather discouraged and got her to do so only when I remembered it. Gradually, she got better, thanks to the effort of the school and that’s when I started to be more consistent.

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I’m sure many of us are familiar with the wonderful website of The Measured Mom. I found myself hardworking on a particular day and decided to print these booklets for Faith. The sentences in these booklets are simple and highly achievable for Faith which is good because we want to build confidence in her (when she could read the books by herself).

One fine day, as I was shopping at Robinsons, I came across this set of cards from Leapfrog and knew that I had to purchase it. Faith has a leapreader and I thought it would complement her learning (independently). The cards were a great help because each day I worked on a specific set with her and it didn’t really take long to complete the exercise. Because we did that everyday, it became a routine.

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After she got better with the blending, we moved on to Bob books. I have a slight preference towards them because there is a little more storyline as compared to the ones which I downloaded from the internet. Each story is short and manageable and when the child finds that she is able to read the whole book by herself, she got motivated and wanted to read more. That happens to Faith. Before we start on each book, I went through the related set of words with her. This set of cards was gifted to me by a friend (hand-me-down) and some of my friends have asked me how they could get hold of it. I’m afraid I don’t have the answer but I have made a soft-copy of the set and they are available here – cvcwords-2.

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I have arranged the sets based on their sounds and it would be good to print each set on a different coloured sheet of paper, laminate and then cut them accordingly. In this way, they can last longer. 😉

Oh yes, still on the topic of Bob Books, do you know there are free printables that are available online? This Reading Mama, another great site, has a good range of Bob Books printables that we can use and they can be found here.

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Another set of readers that I used is the Fitzroy readers which I would use after Faith got more confident in blending the various sounds. For these readers, each story is longer and IMHO, the beginning reader might find it more ‘tedious’ to complete the story as compared to the Bob Books.

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Faith attends a Montessori preschool and I try to use the method in my homelearning effort as much as possible. I stumbled upon a great website which provides us with the necessary online materials for teaching using the Montessori approach. The question lies in whether I would have the time to create the materials and in using them faithfully. *shrugs shoulders*

Now that the girl is going on to consonant blends, I find myself playing catch-up and trying to relearn as much as possible so that I could teach her at home. *pant*

There are many phonics resources in the market and from the internet and many are good. I have learnt to use those that I’m comfortable with and be consistent with them. Consistency does pay off in the end. 

[Friday Flips] F’s rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night

After almost three weeks into 2017, we are more or less settled with the new schedule. The family is still coughing our way into the nights but at least we are on the road to recovery. Mornings are precious because those are the times when the kids are fresh and eager to learn. So far, we had fun doing grocery together, exercised and enjoyed our playground time, busied ourselves in the kitchen and had an artistic morning.

Faith has always indicated an interest in art and I have wanted to enrol her in some art classes. Alas, our last school holidays were so packed (with activities and rest and getting sick) that she didn’t get to attend any in the end. Despite that, we attempted to learn about artists and their works last month and I thought we should continue what we have started.

The next artist that we learnt about is Vincent Van Gogh.

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This book talks about how a boy followed the attitudes of the adults around him and bullied an eccentric painter (Van Gogh) before realising that there is more than one way to see the world when he met the painter face-to-face. I thought this book is one that helps to address bullying and how one ought to treat others. Our girl ‘catch no ball’ (couldn’t comprehend) although she got acquainted with Mr Van Gogh and his artwork through this book.

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The next book that we read was Katie and the Starry Night which is definitely more interesting and enjoyable. We went through some of the paintings of Van Gogh such as Vincent’s Chair, Noon, The Olive Grove and Fishing Boats on the Beach before starting to work on her rendition of The Starry Night. The main materials that we used were square sponges, cotton buds and the heads of Bok Choy (because I was cooking them the night before).

Using the square sponges, she dabbed them in blue to paint the sky.

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The next stage is to use the cotton bud to create the swirls in white and yellow. This was when Dan came in. He could well have fun with it too!

After the paint had dried up a little, it’s time to put in the stars using the head of the Choy. The design is lovely, isn’t it?

Lastly, I got Faith to cut out the houses from the corrugated paper and pasted them on the artwork.

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This took us the whole morning (plus playground time while waiting for the paint to dry up a little) but we were all satisfied at the end of it.

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We love the Katie’s adventure series a lot and thankfully our libraries stock them. You can read more about Monet’s works through Katie and the Waterlily Pond!

Which artist shall we touch on next?

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Fun with scissors: Cutouts with Henri Matisse

I had wanted to sign Faith up for some art classes during this hols but because of her cough, I had to stop the plan; I don’t want her to spread germs to the other children. So, I would have to scout for ideas for art and I thought reading about the lives of artists and learning about their art forms would be a good way to start. It’s pinterest to the rescue once more and I found some interesting resources that I could use.

After listing down some artists, I searched the catalogue of the local libraries and I’m so happy that there are good children’s books on artists.

The first artist that Faith and I learnt about is Henri Matisse who was famous for his cutouts later in his life. We read these three books to get to know the artist more and all three can be found in the Junior Lending Picture Books’ section in the (selected) libraries.

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After reading, I selected some key words to go through with Faith. She could sound out CVC words but I thought there’s no harm in getting her to learn some new words.

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Prior to the ‘lesson’, I drew some squares and rectangles on a drawing paper so that she could paint on them.

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It’s interesting to observe the colours she chose and how she painted the shapes. I tried not to interfere but to allow her to enjoy the process but…

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While waiting for the paint to dry, I got her to imagine and cut out any shapes she could think of. The girl loves to cut but she often cuts the paper into small pieces. This time round, I requested that she be bold and cut big curvy shapes and guided her into cutting them. She wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t too keen to do so but at least she tried, for some.

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After that it’s pasting time! I wanted her to pair contrasting colours together just as Mr Matisse did.

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Almost done! Since she was the artist behind this piece of art, she must sign off!

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Our first lesson on the study of Henri Matisse and cutouts!

Related and useful resources:
:: Painting with scissors: Kids study Matisse
:: In the style of – Henri Matisse

 

A Day in A Life (of a mom of two)

The last time I participated in the DIAL blog train, I was a mom of one. Then I could plan and carry out a lot of homelearning activities for Faith. Fast forward one and a half years and I became a mom of two. Attention is divided between the kids but I am thankful that I could count on the older girl to take care of her brother when household chores call out to me.

On average, my day begins at 6am. On good days, the boy would wake up later, like 6.30am but more often than not, he wakes up before 6am. The hubs would have gone to work before 6am and thus my duty commences then. When the boy wakes up, so does the sister. Yawn!

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Breakfast is usually bread and I absolutely need my coffee to stay calm and loving. When I’m more hardworking, I would prepare a more decent meal but most of the time, not. Once the kids have had their fill, they would go off to play on their own while I have my five minutes of coffee break. Most of the time, Faith would play pretend and imagine herself to be a teacher. Occasionally, she would do some work. Dan, meanwhile, would seek to disturb his sister. Thereafter it’s a rush to get everyone ready before we set off for Faith’s kindy at 7.50am.

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Faith’s in school! It’s time with Dan! Before the boy turned one year old, I spent most of the morning at home because he needed to nap. These days, I try to go out with him more often. I would use one day for grocery shopping, either in the wet market or supermarket. It’s a good way to let him know about this world he’s living in and the things he sees as we shop. Two of the mornings are for exercising. I would put Dan in the stroller and do a slow run or brisk walk. 90% of the time, he would fall asleep in the stroller. If I could get help with childcare, I would go for my Minus Calories session.

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Once a week, I would also visit the library with him. I would love to bring both my children along but I know I will go mad with them going in different directions and in the end, I wouldn’t be able to pick out good reads for them.

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Faith has her lunch in school and this frees me up from having to prepare her lunch. Normally I would just grab anything to fill my stomach. Dan’s food is easy to prepare – just steam and puree. Yea, he still needs to eat pureed food.

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We would pick up Faith at around noon time. Dan would have a little playtime at the school compound. Faith would also spend some time playing with her schoolmates before we head for home. While she plays, I chat with fellow moms. Oh! First adult conversation for the day!

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By the time we reach home, it is 1pm. Faith takes a quick shower before spending some time with her brother. Once in a while, I allow screen time but more often than not, I don’t because the boy would find his way to the screen and stare at it. Not good!

Nap time is 2pm. Faith could nap on her own while I need to babywear Dan. It’s a bad habit, I know but he takes a really long time to fall asleep and if I am to get him to nap on his mattress, he would disturb the sister. I’m not sure when I can stop babywearing him; I hope I could see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

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Faith normally wakes up earlier than the brother and since I’m still carrying Dan, she would have to work on her own. I wish I have more time to coach Faith but it’s been tough. I have to steal whatever pockets of time that I have to teach her. Thankfully, she is rather independent and would get to complete the task that I have set out for her to do. These days, I tend to focus more on her recognition of English sight words rather than the Chinese characters.

Most of the time, Dan would have gotten up at around 4pm and it’s ‘Big Muscles’ time after some snacks (which mostly consists of fruits). I believe in outdoor play for children and it’s also a good breather for me. If I can find fellow moms to chat, that would be my second adult conversation for the day. Sigh!

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Once a week, I send the kids to swim at their cousin’s and when I’m in the mood, I would bring them out for waterplay. Other times, it would just be playground time.

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5pm. It’s time to prepare dinner. It’s always a challenge with Daniel around. More often than not, he would crawl into the kitchen and want my attention. I can’t move that freely too because he is hanging on to my leg for his dear life. That’s when I get the sister to ‘entertain’ him. Most of the time it works. Those times when it doesn’t, I roar!

Dinner is mainly one-pot dish. I wish I could cook more dishes but I have to be practical and settle for easy-to-prepare meals although at times when I have the mood, I would prepare dishes. I’m bored with the same old stuff that I prepare and suspect that my girl is getting sick of the menu too. That day will come when I will try out other dishes…when Dan is a bit older and more independent and you will be sure that I will post pics of them on my instagram account.

The hubs comes back home around 6.30pm and I can finally have some real help. He has dinner while I clear the dishes and after he’s done with the meal, he would help to bathe the boy and sometimes the girl if she requests for it. I would have my time alone without the kids when I’m in the shower but at times, they will still look for me. Grrr…

By the time the hubs is done with shower, it is 8pm and it’s time for Dan to turn in for the day. He would have his last feed and we have our family prayer time. Then the hubs turn in together with Dan while I spend the next 30 minutes with the girl.

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We usually read storybooks or work on the world map (Geography) before her bedtime. Sometimes when she feels tired, she would inform me that she wants to sleep and she retires for the day. From 8.30pm onwards, I could have peace and no more calling of ‘mama, mama’.

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What do I do after they have gone to bed? Meal preparation, reading the Bible, reading up on early childhood education, reading and replying emails and more recently, doing up teaching and learning resources for the kids. I love the free resources from these two websites – this Reading mama and the measured mom – and as you can see from the picture, I’m working real hard on the materials.

I normally turn in latest by 11pm. I could have slept earlier but I really do cherish the time alone to do my own stuff. 😉

This post was written as part of the Day in a Life (DIAL) blog train that is being hosted by Mum in the Making. Do click on the button above to read more DIAL posts. It’s been so interesting to take a peek into the lives of fellow mums!

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Next up on the blog train is Dawn, the voice behind Daprayer.com. She’s a modern mama who seeks to live life beautifully, while #LearningParenting and #LearningGrace along the way. Through her blog posts and hand lettering artworks, she hopes to offer some inspiration and encouragement to mamas out there to create beautiful memories, build beautiful relationships, and be the most beautiful versions of themselves, inside and out.

#DIAL (Observation for HFMD)

It’s a usual Wednesday. My day started the moment da man stepped out of the apartment. The girl woke up and the boy stirred in the bed. It was 6am.

It’s the usual routine of getting the girl ready for school. But today, she was denied entry because there were some red spots on her palms and the school staff members decided that I should bring her home to monitor her development for the rest of the day. The school has three confirmed HFMD cases and it is understandable that vigilance is needed.

Oh well….it’s a homeschooling day for us then (I use this term loosely here). Here’s a record of such a day, a Day In A Life of a SAHM whose kid needs to stay at home. Please be warned that this is also a photo-dumping post.

9am. We reached home. The girl was not going to bum around because the mom had put on her teacher mode and hat on. First up is phonics and I’m using Jolly Phonics to teach her.

M: Why is your donkey so colourful?
F: 因为我喜欢五颜六色。

9.30am Practise writing 1 – 10. It’s a pain to teach when the brother was around because he wanted to be involved in the learning process. I’m sorry dude. I can only handle one of you at a time. 

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On normal days, I would be spending time reading and working on the muscles of the boy but today, he just had to learn together with the sister.

9.45am Faith had completed her numbers and wants to do cutting. Whatever. I have a cranky baby who needs to nap but he is struggling to stay awake.

She continued with pretend play while I put Dan in the cot. He had fallen asleep. I guess he’s just too tired.

10.05am Morning snack – strawberries

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Soon after, we baked madeleines. It’s a very good activity to share with the girl and she would definitely oblige because she liked them.

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The madeleines didn’t turn out to be to be picture perfect. I was rushing because I know the boy would wake up 30 minutes later.

10.45am The boy was up and I started steaming sweet potato because I wanted the girl to relate to the book which we have read earlier. And of course, to have a taste of the root vegetable.

11am I took out my secret weapon – Duplo – which we have acquired very recently at a very decent price. They are second hand but worked absolutely fine for us. While they played, I continued to wash the dishes. How I wish I have a dishwasher in times like this.

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11.30am Lunch was this set. Don’t judge please. It’s the best I could provide at this point in time. I wanted Dan to have a taste of the sweet potato too and he liked to disturb the sister during meal times.

12pm. Chinese.

6 months ago, I started getting her to recognise Chinese characters, first by flashing the cards and then subsequently reading text. Now she can read on her own.

Seven readers today. Her reading in Chinese is definitely much stronger than English. Time to step up on her English language!

12.30pm I wanted to get the girl to watch some TV programme but the boy would plaster himself to it. How???

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Have to keep carrying him away. I’ve my fair share of workout already.

12.50pm We continued with the study of the fruit of the spirit. Today we touched on self control.

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1.30pm Thankful for FIL who came to look after the kids. I wanted to cancel today’s minus calories workout but decided to just go ahead because the kids would be napping during this time anyway and FIL would not be overly taxed.

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I have given up a few things in life for the family/kids but I’m not willing to give up running/exercising which is a pleasure to me. Keeping fit and sane is important to me!

3.15pm Went to the library to borrow books for the children. Reckoned that the kids would still be napping so there is no real need to go back so soon. I wish I could spend more time to select books for the kids but I have to make do with whatever time that I have.

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 Borrowed a lot of books. I think I should bring a trolley along the next time.

4.15pm When I reached home, the kids suddenly awoke from their nap.It always happens this way. I have no idea why. It’s rather magical.

Asked FIL to stay for dinner and so I could cook in peace while he reads to the children.

Best arrangement.

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5.45pm
Dinner… It’s still a long way to go before I could take a break!!! Arghhhh. The boy was getting cranky. Too tired.
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I’m getting tired. I’ve mopped the floor four times already in the day. It’s time that you help out!
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7pm While I showered, the man spent time with the kids.
7.45pm Dan slept. The man left for a meeting in church and it’s the girl and I.

We spent time reading the books I borrowed from the library and after we read this ‘Katie Takes a Plane’, I decided that it was time that we take out the map and learn a little of the world we live in.

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8.30pm  It’s sticker book time! A routine before we turn in for the day.

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Good night.

I realised I truly enjoy teaching Faith and toy with the idea of homeschooling her. There are so many things that we can learn together. If she does not have to stay at home today, we would have gone to the museum, the park where she could skate-scoot or to the seaside to have a mini picnic. Each day, after she comes back from school and has her nap, I’m only left with an hour or two to teach her. Time is not on our side, really.

Kids grow up too fast!

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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I think her brother wanted to join in too.

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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.

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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.

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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. 😉

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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

Friday Flips | 乐乐趣 奇妙洞洞书系列

I love Chinese books that have good illustrations, well-constructed storyline and more importantly, hanyu pinyin to guide me as I read to my children. One of those books that I personally enjoy reading and therefore to the kids are these books from 乐乐趣 奇妙洞洞书系列.

I was just randomly looking for Chinese books from the library one day and found this.  

This book tells of the twelve different months in a year and each line rhymes with the next, making the story a catchy one. After reading once through to Faith, she enjoyed it so much that she asked me to read again and again and again. So I must have read the book thrice in one sitting. And it didn’t stop there. The girl grabbed the book, came to me and asked me to read to her the subsequent days.

I was definitely more than willing to read to her since I enjoyed the story too. I must say that the hanyu pinyin helps a lot in enabling me to read fluently to her.


This book is also a great follow-up to the above activity in which she learnt the numbers in Chinese. The cutting and pasting helps in honing her fine motor skills.

We love the book so much that I went on to ask my friend to help me purchase the series.


These board books are suitable for babies too!  When I read the story to Daniel, he was listening intently and each time when I end the statement at a certain intonation, he would smile at me. Someone appreciates my reading!

Go on and borrow some from our local libraries soon! They can be found at the Junior lending section.

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Book Study -One Smart Cookie

[This post is first published in the Asian parent]

Reading is one of our favourite past time and recently, I decided to plan learning activities based on the stories that we have read. One of the titles is ‘One Smart Cookie’ and boy, did we have fun!

I must say that the content of this story is a tad difficult for a 3-year-old but we can always improvise. I like it that the illustration is clear and that there are values that we can learn from the story. We read the story once through before the commencement of each activity. Don’t worry, the kiddo doesn’t mind rereading the book.

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One smart cookie : bite-size lessons for the school years and beyond
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Available in NLB
Call Number: English ROS

Practical Life

Faith and I had a baking session after reading this book. Since it is about cookies, I got the girl to help me bake a batch of buckwheat cookies. During the process, I introduced her to the names of the various equipment as well as the ingredients. The little girl was proud to be able to assist her mother and definitely enjoyed the cookies after they came out of the oven!

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Values

One of the words in the story that I want to highlight to Faith is ‘Kindness’ and that means giving some of the cookies to her friends. I got her to pack them in a bag and give it to a family whom we were visiting the other day. The word literally came alive!

Art & imaginative play

Faith loves to play with playdoh and it would be fun to get her to cut out various shapes from the cookie cutters and decorate the cookies herself. It was followed by a time of pretend play in which she ‘baked’ the cookies in her own kitchen oven and then offered the baked goods to her furry friends, the soft toys. So much conversation was taking place!

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Math

Numbers and counting can be boring on paper. Why not use food to make it more interesting? After printing out pictures of cookies, I laminated them and have Faith count and put the specific number of M & Ms needed onto the cookies. There was so much energy and motivation from the little girl. Who says Maths is boring? 😉

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Language arts

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me

Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C

After reading the story, I got Faith to think about words that start with C and to revise the initial sound ‘C’ with Faith.  Scaffolding is needed and I thought the video on C is for Cookie helps to set the stage for this activity.

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What would the next title be, I wonder?