[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

Hello 2017!


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Good morning to a brand new year! We are off to somewhere! Guess where?

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To the Botanic Gardens we go! This year, I hope that we will be in the outdoors more as a family, to learn and explore!

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Learning takes place everywhere and every moment. So don’t waste the opportunity! There’s so much in nature that we can learn. I only hope that we have the patience and knowledge to share with the kids.

This year, I want to continue to focus on relationship – God, husband, children, immediate family members, friends (new and old). So, yes, I want to make time for them. My family is important to me and I want to invest my time, effort and resources on them. I have chosen to be a SAHM and I want to stay focused on my calling and STOP thinking about venturing into other areas. It’s not fair to anyone if I don’t do a good job in the various areas that I am involved in.

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I want to give more attention to Dan this year. I hadnt’t been able to give a lot of my time to him last year and his development hasn’t been as good as the sister. There shouldn’t be any comparison but to be honest, he is spoken less to, read less to, taught less and less stimulated. There is always the guilt in me but it hadn’t been a smooth ride last year. So I hope I could concentrate on him more this year.

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Needless to say, I will still continue to work on the girl but at the same time I’ll get the girl to teach the boy. It’s time for her to impart some of her knowledge to her brother and one learns more when she teaches. Since the girl would be in the afternoon session this year, I hope to utilise weekdays’ mornings well.

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I’ll be more diligent and work on teaching and learning resources. I mean, as a teacher, I have to come up with lesson plans and related resources. Now that I’m a teacher to my kids, I should be equally diligent, if not more!

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As a family, we will still be attending BSF and this year, I hope to have small scale family devotion on the materials given by BSF rather than to be doing it on an ad-hoc basis. Faith could sit through longer stories and I want to read more biblical stories to her this year. For family worship, we could sing worship songs together. The hubs will play the piano and the rest will sing. It’s time to be intentional about teaching her gospel songs and not merely leave it to her to learn by listening.

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I want to save more for the family and that means we intentionally don’t eat out that often and even if we have to, we will go to the hawker centres and coffeeshops more often.

The other day, the hubs and I were discussing about some financial issues after a recent talk which I have attended. He mentioned that if we want to model thrift, we should eat out at restaurants LESS often. I agree.

I need to start teaching Faith about the value of money and shall start this year. Will write more on this (if I have the time).

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Direct application: So we stopped by Food for Thought for playground time and knowing me, I would normally order a drink or small bite. But today I decided not to. We will just (shamelessly) use the playground and not spend unnecessarily.

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I’m still trying to figure out Faith’s interests. I don’t think I will get Faith to have music lesson unless she specifically asks for it or that I could find a good teacher. I’m not even sure what I want F to learn. I can expose her but till now I don’t know what instrument she wants to learn although she is still keen on ukelele.

I will concentrate on sports because that is the area the adults are interested in too and thus could motivate them a wee bit. Swimming for both, hiking, frisbee, cycling, in-line skating, rock wall climbing, ⚽️…

Oh yes, they do need to play and pray more.

Personally, I want to read more and enrich myself. I do think that my language ability has deteriorated over the years. I could no longer write fluently and at times, I need more confidence to speak. Of course I’m all right when it comes to casual talks with my peers but it’s a different story if you ask me to present before a crowd. Maybe I should really sign up for a course eh?

So yea, these are my quick thoughts for 2017.

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Some food-for-thought.
[Source]Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school years

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!

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

Be present

I’ve been quiet on this space. Fact is, I have been busy…with the kids.

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It started off with this cake, the first cake I made on the first Friday of January. I was mighty pleased with it but it did take a bit longer to make as compared to the other cakes, just because I couldn’t fully concentrate on working on it since I have two other human beings to take care of.

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I love making figurines and these took me two nights to complete after the family has retired for the day. I spent another afternoon baking the cake and working on the Italian Meringue Buttercream before assembling it. It was fun but I have to admit that it was rather stressful as well. I couldn’t give my full attention to the kids and the cake. As a result, the older girl became difficult to manage and needless to say, frustration gripped me.

The cake was delivered but the heart was unsettled. I enjoy making cakes and appreciate the extra ‘pocket money’ that comes with it. Till now, having no income still needs to get a little used to.  Baking cakes for others gives me a certain amount of self-worth. Of course, I know my identity is in Christ and not in these cakes but …

I know that being a SAHM is a calling and boy, it is so difficult and challenging. I was handling a lot of things at one time and that got me short-tempered and exhausted. I was always in a hurry and when Faith does things slowly, it got to me. Some of the common phrases she would hear from me are “Hurry up!”, “Wait,” “I’m busy. Can you be patient?”

Then I came across this article which spoke to me. It couldn’t be more timely. It’s a wake-up call for me to “be present”. I may physically be in the same room as the kids but my mind is elsewhere. Most times, it would be in the kitchen. Other times, it could be found tangled up in the to-do list.  The kids are smart beings and could catch that no matter how interested I may act.

The day I decided to “be present”, things started to turn for the better. I became more relaxed and started to play (I mean, really, I play) with Faith. She must have sensed that change in me and her usual sweet demeanor returned. We could work on a lot of homelearning stuff together because there is no need to spend time on disciplining her. It’s that wonderful.

I really ought to reflect on myself when I see changes in the kids’ behaviour. More often than not, it is a result of our own attitude and behaviour towards them. If they feel loved and secure, I’m sure they will bloom.

Because of my decision to “be present”, Faith’s emotional tank was filled and she could leave me to cook in the kitchen in peace while she busied herself with her own work. I didn’t have to tell her to do that. Sometimes, she even helped to entertain Dan!

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Then a most wonderful thing happened. I’ve decided to be bold and get the girl to take off her diaper when she goes to school. Her school teachers had told me that she was ready to be potty-trained some time back but I didn’t have faith in her ability to do that. All these while, she would wet her pants at home and I would fly into a rage, thereby frustrating her in the process. This time round, I was all cool and the amazing thing was there had been no “accident” at all except on one occasion when she was too engrossed in play when we were attending a workshop. You have no idea how elated I am and I’m praying that she could continue to keep this up. Perhaps by being relaxed, I have indirectly helped to potty-train her?

These past two weeks have been great. Faith gained back her confidence and was joyful all the time. Even the teachers and principal have given me positive feedback. It’s true to a great extent that the children are a reflection of how the parents treat, nurture and develop them. At least, it’s true in my case. I’m a happier mom and wife now and this also translates into a happy family.

I have had victories but I am very aware that there are still challenges ahead and I need to guard myself lest I fall prey to tiredness, frustration, worldly desires and bad thoughts planted in my mind. Pray…and pray unceasingly.

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[via]

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4: 8

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?

Cardboard Christmas tree

A Christmas tree set up in the home gives a very warm and cozy feel and the spirit of that festival is immediately felt. Alas, our apartment is too small for a real tree but we can manage a small one all right. So I got Faith to work on one using cardboard.

While she was at the church camp, I got my materials out and all I needed to do was to cut the cardboard and green felt cloth in the shape of a Christmas tree.

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This set of materials could be packed in the busy bag for the kid to work on.

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This is really a simple craft. All Faith needed to do was to get the double-sided tape to paste the balls onto the tree and the star on top of it. Since she knew how to handle the scissors and the tape, I left it to her to complete the task.

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This requires a certain level of concentration though.

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I tried very hard not to interfere with how she decorated the tree.

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This is her completed tree, all done in 15 minutes. Notice the two red balls at the bottom of the tree? I really did control myself by not readjusting them.

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The Christmas tree, sitting proudly on top of the piano.

Farm visit (#junehols2015)

When I was younger, my ambition was to be a farmer. I like the idea of tending to the farm animals, growing my own crops and living a simple life in a rural setting. The fact that I had just returned from a very relaxing New Zealand trip helped to seal the decision then.

Of course, that didn’t materialise. But that will not stop me from visiting farms, will it?

And so I did. Last week, we brought the little one(s) to have some close encounter with the farm animals and though it was tiring (because of the heat), it was well worth it.

Our first stop was The Animal Resort. It was our second visit to this farm and we love how close we could get to the animals. This time round, I purchased the feed at $2 for 3 assorted packs for different kinds of animals so that the kiddos could get to experience feeding the rabbits, guinea pigs and the birds.

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For the past two terms, Faith has been learning the names and songs related to animals and when she saw this rooster, she instantly told me about that particular song taught by her Chinese teacher. I love how her face was lit up!

20150602_132448 Happy gal!

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For a while, I thought she was just so brave a girl until…

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…these 2-legged creatures came swarming towards us as I fed them and she hid behind me and shouted, “Go away!”

The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798061
Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am to 6pm
We stopped by a mushroom farm since it is located near The Animal Resort. Mycofarm is Singapore’s only specialist mushroom grower. Alas, when we were there, we were told by the staff that they have just harvested the mushrooms and all we could see were the logs. They kindly obliged us by having us view the Grow Rooms as they didn’t want to disappoint the kids!

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Faith loves mushrooms A LOT but she definitely didn’t like the smell in this room.

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We were treated to samples of warm mushroom soup and mushroom Bak Kua as we returned to the office. The ladies in the office were so hospitable and we left the farm with a few packets of mushroom soup and a few dollars poorer. ;p
Mycofarm Pte Ltd
9 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798057
Opens daily
The next day (yes, we spilt our farm visit into two days), we went to the other end of Singapore to visit the Kranji Countryside. There are many farms that we could visit but obviously we had to be selective. We visited the Hay Dairies but we didn’t manage to catch the milking of the goats which is actually the highlight if you are to visit this farm. So, we were out within minutes.
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I had wanted to visit the Jurong Frog Farm because on our last farm outing with Faith’s playmates, we didn’t make a reservation with them and couldn’t tour the farm. This time round, the timing wasn’t good for both parties and in the end, we had to give it a miss as well. But we’ll be back!
Off we went to Bollywood Veggies for some veggies tour and refueling at the bistro. I have personally been here for a few times (for food) but this was my first time touring the farm. I wish the weather was a tad kinder but the sun’s rays were beating on us mercilessly and we had to cut the tour short.
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Managed to pose for me!
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Look, Mama, it’s a banana plant!
Our last stop was Qian Hu Fish Farm because the girl just loves to watch the fish swimming in their habitat and the hubs wanted to try the fish spa. The little girl got to experience fishing (but caught none), feeding the fish and was fascinated by tortoises.
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After a few days of venturing out, the little girl had quite enough of it and wanted to stay at home. The learning journey to the farm would not be complete if there isn’t any follow-up activities! Haha!
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Reading is definitely an activity we cannot do without and I love the Usborne farm storybooks and colouring books. Faith loves to find out what’s under the flaps and I enjoy the information I read from the books too!
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Reinforcing vocabulary words through the colouring book in which she could learn the words of the various farm animals. Obviously, I have to read them out to her.
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Then, I got her to bring out her farm animals set and the word cards which I have made for her when she was younger. Now, she came and asked me what the words were and placed the animals accordingly. Goes to show that she understands that words have meanings attached to them.
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It’s time for some art! I wanted to teach Faith about the hooves of some of these animals and then she went on to pretend play. Oh well…
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The completed work
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We continued to work on the beginning sounds. Using corrugated paper for the letter, Faith was able to trace it using her finger and I searched words with that beginning sound and those that were related to the farm theme.
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We also revised some Chinese words that she has learnt in school lest she forgets all of them during the school holidays!
Hmm… where shall we be heading to next?