#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!

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Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (#junehols2015)

By now, you would have known that I am a great supporter for the outdoors. If our country is blessed with the woods, jungles and mountains, you bet we would have gone for some trekking or camping by now. Thankfully, we have nature reserves, reservoirs and gardens for the children to roam and the next stop for us is Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

Again, this was not the first time that we visited this garden. It was our third visit and this time round, the hubs was around to explore the garden with Faith. Hopefully, he would enjoy it!

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The garden is really not very big but each time we visited this garden, we couldn’t fully cover it because the weather was basically too hot and in the end, we would end up at the fountains. So, if you intend to visit Jacob Ballas, always bring along your waterplay equipment!

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Experiential learning at the garden!

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When Faith was younger, she was scared stiff with this swinging suspension bridge but now I saw an improvement! She wasn’t rooted to the bridge anymore but gamely walked across it with her Papa.

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Who can forget this treehouse that is fully equipped with slides and ladders. For the previous two occasions, I wouldn’t even think of getting her to go on the slide. She was too young anyway but this time round, she agreed to go on the slide. Could you sense my excitement and pride?

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I know it is really no big deal for many of you but to me, it is. It shows how she has grown and developed over the months and how she is willing to attempt things that are out of her comfort zone. She went on the slide, not just once, but four times and we had to ask her to stop because the adults were bored. Hah!

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Doing the balancing act with Papa

20150606_085512There were really a lot more to explore in this garden but we were just sapped by the heat. We went through the Fantastic Forest, Photosynthesis Exhibit, Sandpit and Sensory Garden with much speed and finally ended up with the water play area which Faith looked forward to.

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With the hubs around, I could rest more and took on the role of the photographer. It’s so wonderful watching both of them spend time and have fun together. We should do more of such activities!

20150606_164824Back home, we worked on some playdough fun. The little girl has been hooked on playdough for the past month and I thought it would be good to have her work on stuff related to the garden. I found the gardening and growing playdough mat via this website and Faith had fun working on them. There are many free printables available so if your child is into playdough, you might want to take a look, print and laminate those mats!

20150531_170417To get her to continue to work on her beginning sounds, I got Faith to use playdough to create the letters (on the mat) and at the same time, practise the sounds together with her. Such activities can take up to one hour when she has the interest. No kidding!

Obviously, you can make your own playdough too but I’m just too lazy.

Some useful resources:

:: For playdough mat for counting to 10, click here.

:: Playdough mats of all sorts, from letters to shapes to numbers. Click here.

Faith graduated!

On the third week of December, the mummies of our regular playdates came together and threw a Christmas cum graduation party for the little ones. Oh my, I still remember the first lesson that we had, with only three children. By the end of the year, the group has enlarged to 6 (full strength). When Faith first started the coop/playgroup, she was only 16 months and now she is already 2 years old!

I regret not being diligent in recording EVERY single coop because they really are sweet memories. I MUST blog about this Christmas party!

IMG-1628-1We were a tad early for the celebration and did the usual – photo taking! Mummy Ez had kindly bought the Christmas decors from Daiso as she wanted the function room to be more festive-looking.

IMG-1639-1Children love balloons and what’s a party without balloons? The kids were thrilled, of course, while the mummies laboured.

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Faith loves balloons and has recently discovered that they can burst if she continues to use her fingers or fingernails to scratch on the surface. Such a terror!

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We had snacks and I baked the group a Hello Kitty strawberry-flavoured cake. F, as usual, was my fan, but the cake was well-received! I baked this cake for one of the mummies who is crazy over Hello Kitty. It’s always a pleasure baking cakes for friends!

IMG-1726After everyone had arrived, I started reading the Nativity story, complete with some cardboard figurines. It’s difficult to find a big book on Nativity and one that is easy for the toddlers to comprehend. So I hope the extra materials would help!

IMG-1732Cute eh?

IMG-1741Mummy Ade went on with craftwork and the children were supposed to make angels!

IMG-1753Mandatory photo – the kids with their completed work.

10881477_10152666605599234_5186933916461912703_nWe had a game of musical chairs (replaced by coloured papers). Our dear girl couldn’t catch the concept and was the first to be eliminated. Sigh! Her mum was queen of musical chairs when she was a kid but she clearly didn’t take after her. ;p

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Balloons again!

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We had Christmas gift exchange and Noah gifted Faith with a toy she likes!

IMG_20141218_125958Faith received her graduation certificate (done by mummy C) that day and she was immensely proud of that certificate. In fact, she was beaming with joy when she saw her photo on the sheet of paper. We had only missed one session thus far and it’s just so heartwarming to see how she had developed over the months. A special friendship was formed too among the mummies and I really appreciate every one of them.

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😉

Memories of our playdate (today)

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

But it would be a different story come next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We had full attendance today!

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

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

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

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

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

Playdate with little distraction

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

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

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

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Practical life segment

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Playground time: The Children’s favourite!

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

Homeschool or preschool?

These few days have been rather challenging basically because Faith has become more aware of herself and testing limits more often. Her mom, of course, feels very drained each day and her frustration level increases daily. And today she’s contemplating if she is able to take yet another year to homeschool her. Patience is wearing thin.

I have the group of moms to thank that I am still in this journey of ‘homeschooling’ Faith. We encourage one another and share ideas. As always, I feel enriched after each session of playdate/coop because there is always something new to learn.

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Mummy C hosted today’s session and for free play, she set up this painting area along the corridor so that the little one could express their appreciation for art. Hah. Faith stopped after a mere three minutes. She really doesn’t like art! Is it a lack of exposure or is it the genes? Sigh!

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For craftwork, Mummy Ade had the children colour the different parts of a lion and the mums helped to put them together using paper fasteners. Mr Google is a great resource for ideas! We just need time to search!

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Faith, with her completed lion.

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Group photo. It’s uber difficult to get everyone to look at the camera!

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The children learnt about the names of the farm animals in Chinese.

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I love the practical life segment that Mummy C organised. I have always loved her ideas as she has more experience and could come up with really useful stations which we could re-create at home.

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Station 1: Matching of bears which is an okay task for Faith since she has been doing quite a lot of matching at home.

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Station 2: Cutting homemade dough into pieces. Child-size knife is from Ikea and I’m pleasantly surprised that Faith was willing to touch the dough and attempted successfully to cut them up. More practice needed though.

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Station 3. Recreating the patterns using blocks. Faith didn’t follow through and piece up the blocks as she liked it. Sigh!

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Station 4. Pouring of water into cups. I guess a smaller jug would be helpful because the little one doesn’t have sufficient strength. Good to practise at home!

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Station 5. Hanging of clothes. Faith’s pincer’s grip is not there yet and could not perform this task. I’ve been looking out for clothes pegs that don’t require so much effort but till now, have not found suitable ones. Anyone has recommendations?

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For big muscles segment, we got the children to play at the playground. The restless kids came alive all of a sudden and played to their hearts’ content! Up and down the slide they went and each wore a smile on their faces. *Bliss*

Alas, my joy was cut short as we headed back home. Faith kicked up such a fuss on our way back that I had to raise my voice many times. Bad! Bad! Bad! And then the thought of sending her to school came back. Guilt gripped me once more as I was reminded that this is the wrong reason for having her in school.

The cycle continues…

You may want to read Mummy Ade’s account of the coop here.

Curriculum planning??

We are almost coming to the end of the year and for the following year, our playgroup would shrink in terms of the number of children. A majority of them would be entering preschool and it’s back to Mummy C and I in the end. Both of us are not that keen in sending the little ones to school…yet. We intend to homeschool for at least a year more and I guess it’s time to do some planning for the following year and by that I mean the ‘curriculum’ for Faith.

20141002_101059-MIXI’m not trained in early childhood education and to do curriculum planning for Faith can be daunting but that’s no harm trying eh? Thankfully, a friend who is a preschool teacher had shared a little with me with regard to that and I guess I would be doing a lot more reading and planning for these remaining few months.

The above is an activity in which Faith (and I) made a sheep for craftwork during her last playgroup. You can read about it from Mommy J’s perspective and that of Mommy Ade’s.

Certainly hope to come up with some concrete plans by December!

Farm hopping!

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

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

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

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

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

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Taking a stroll and viewing the goats and kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oh no! Dark clouds! Run!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qian Hu
No. 71 Jalan Lekar
Singapore 698950

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

Farm animals!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Playdate 070814

It’s been a crazy week with teaching and baking of cakes for friends but I always look forward to our weekly playdate. I’m thankful that the moms in this group are all enthusiastic when it comes to teaching the kids and I always go back home with a few more teaching ideas. Inspired, no doubt and hey, majority of the moms are were teachers!

We decided on Bishan Park as we did have an awesome time the previous week. Thankfully, we were blessed with good sunny weather!

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We first started off with a welcome song (as usual) and then the recap of the colours and shapes that we had learnt. Then we introduced the colour that they had to learn for the day.

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C then read the story ‘Dear Zoo’ to the kids. I love interactive books such as this. The children got to open the flap and this got their attention.

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The follow-up activity requires the kids to colour the various animals in the book. Obviously the little ones couldn’t colour at this point in time but the mothers took every opportunity to teach colours to them.

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And it’s time to move about! The kids got to pick the fallen leaves, feathers and twigs for their art and craft session.

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Adeline got 3M to sponsor some tapes for us and the kids learnt to use the tapes and stick them on the items that they have collected. Thanks to both!

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Our dear girl decided to explore a little more and didn’t follow the ‘curriculum’.

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If you see such neat artwork, it’s definitely NOT Faith’s work. Not yet, anyway.

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The completed work.

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After sitting down for a rather long time, the children sprang to life when they saw food, glorious, food! It’s not surprising to see Faith popping grapes, blueberries and biscuits into her already-full mouth. Sigh!

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The children love it when it comes to physical activity (who wouldn’t?) and I really felt that Faith scores in this segment. I’m not comparing her with the other kids. What I have observed is that Faith came to life when she is asked to move about and her actions are more mature. However, when it comes to artwork, she doesn’t show interest in that area. Is it about exposure? Her preference? I’m not sure.

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We added soccer time!

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We added a Chinese Storytelling session this month onwards because we have a Chinese teacher in our midst! I must say that the children were all ears and I’m truly captivated by the language. Oh, the way Jenna read the story… it sounded so soothing to the soul!

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Certainly hope you guys have fun!

The weekly playdate 240714

We had 3 children in attendance today but no worries, we still had fun!

As usual, we had our welcome song and circle time and today, we introduced purple and square using blocks (as seen in the picture).

20140724_101607For storytime, I chose a book that I bought from the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. It is a simple book on fruits and vegetables and there is a repeated phrase, “I pick it and eat it.” For the past sessions, I realised that the children couldn’t sit through the whole story and I thought this short story would suffice. In addition, I wanted them to see the fruits and vegetables in real and brought them out.

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As I read, I showed them the items and had the kids touch them. The repeated phrase helped and Faith who has read the story a few times, pretended to pick the fruits from the book and eat them. This time round, I also got them to eat the grapes and blueberries and this really got their attention all right. They sat through the story. Hooray!

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Adeline then supplemented with another story of a similar theme. I love team work like this. 😉
It would be better if we have bigger board books. I find it hard to search for them in the library. Oh, NLB, please have more of such books?

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After some action songs, we had art and I carved patterns on some vegetables, namely carrots, potatoes and corn so that the kids could use them to stamp patterns on the drawing paper.

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Our little girl still could not get over messiness and refused to touch the vegetables and paint, much to the frustration of the mother. I know I can’t force her; she’s just not ready. Sigh!

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There’s good news though. Noah, the boy in the middle, started our playdate not liking paint but today, he did an awesome job. He actually filled the paper with paint on his own! I’m so proud of him! The paper with the yellow border is Noah’s and the one with the flowery border is Faith’s and the work is not counted since her mother helped a lot to achieve that look. By the way, to create that border, I used washi tapes to do the job.

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After a few action songs, thanks to Adeline, we had our snack time and it comprises corn, grapes, blueberries (yes, items taught from the storytelling) and chocolate-nutella cupcakes that were sent over by my sis in the morning. How timely!

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While taking a break, the moms decided that we should head over to Ikea for lunch. The kids could expend their energy there. Hah! Before departing, we had our Big Muscles Movement and got the kids to retrieve the needed shapes and put them in the right container. I’m heartened to note that the kids really did observe the shapes that they had in their hands and place them correctly in the respective containers. Smart!

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This is Faith doing Yoga… nah…

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Had a fun day today!

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See you next week. It will be in the outdoors and we are praying for good weather.

😉

(Handmade) Toy of the moment

A month or two ago, Faith loved to play with the homemade toys – pom pom stuff it in and pipe cleaner. She could spend minutes into it and each time I brought them out, she would not get sick of them. Now, she has moved on.

At 20 months old, she is ready to improve on her fine motor skills and currently, this toy enables her to practise her pincers grip, hand-eye coordination and definitely train her to be more focused.

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Similar in concept to the button snake, Faith has to ensure that the string goes through the holes in the blocks. Easy for us but challenging for them and it does require the child to concentrate on the task. Somehow I feel these blocks are easier for Faith to handle than the felt material used for the button snake. (The blocks can be bought from Toys ‘R’ us by the way, according to my friend). I love the bright colours on both and you can definitely teach shapes and colours with these toys.

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Wonder how long Faith will be interested in these toys before she moves on to the next.

* If you have read our weekly playdate activities, the wooden blocks and string is included in one of the Practical Life activities.

The weekly playdate 170714

Our weekly co-op/playdate brought us to C’s place. Her place is so cozy and she has this painted black wall where the kids could draw using chalk. So cool!

Our first activity was at the sensory bin where the kids got to play with the salt, blocks, plastic cups and toy animals. It was brilliant because all we need to do to clean up was to wash it with water. I say it’s a better choice as compared to sand! Some of the kids needed encouragement to play with salt. Our dear Faith only played with the toy animals. Think she is into animals now.

We have very engrossed kids!

We have very engrossed kids!

We went on to start the programme with a welcome song and circle time in which we revised the colour and shape taught the previous week and introduced a new colour and shape for this week. Following that was Storytelling and then craftwork!

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The tired Faith clung on to me! Arghh!

We decided that we should continue with paint even though it may not be the kids’ favourite. Coincidentally, the kids who do not really enjoy this segment are the ones with no siblings (yet). Little exposure, I guess?

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Our star student!

Our star student!

Teatime!

Teatime!

We had our practical life as usual before we moved on to big muscle movement time and the kids got to do ‘shuttle run’ to retrieve round shapes from the bin. I love wide corridors like this. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Run, children, run!

Run, children, run!

We taught the kids some songs before the end of the playdate and then it’s on to lunch for all of us! What a lovely morning spent with the mums and kids.

All except one who's with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

All except one who’s with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

🙂

Playdate resumes!

Our playdate resumed yesterday as the school term starts. It was only C and I but it was still fun!

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Our theme for this whole term is on colours so we got the kids to do leaf printing using Crayola’s washable paint. But before that, we got the kids to pick the leaves themselves and put them into a bowl. The little children needed some coaxing and much guidance to just pick up the leaves!

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 We settled at a sheltered area and set up our stuff – picnic mat, crayola paints, paper plates and wet wipes!

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Obviously, the kids needed much help from us. Little Faith didn’t like the idea of mess and I had to coax her to get her hands dirty for this task. And then, I saw the great difference between Ray and Faith. The boy painted his legs and hands as well while Faith looked on with disgust. Hah!

This is the next thing she did. Went to get a piece of wet wipes and cleaned her hands. No help required!

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3rd pic: Guess which piece belongs to Faith and Ray respectively?

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After the art session and cleaning up, we went on to Practical Life where we got the kids to scoop some jelly-like balls called water beads into their bowls.

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Gotta get hold of more of these water beads! Good to teach about colours and texture and use them for other teaching purposes.

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Getting ready to move to another site for our tea-break!
Reminder to self: teach Faith to wear her own shoes.

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We love the view of the reservoir. So we had a mini picnic here but had to move on since it was getting real hot!
Reminder to self: bring a hat along!

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Our last stop is at the nearby playground where the children made noise with the branches and the metal parts of the playground and expressed their artistic ability by drawing pictures on the sand.

Looking forward to the next playdate!

Home-made toy of the moment

As you dine out, don’t you wish that your toddler kids could sit in their chairs without making too much fuss? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we expect them to behave like adults who could occupy themselves with food and conversations. I know kids being kids, they would need to move (and fidget a lot they do!) since their attention span is only that long. So what do you do to occupy them?

I always bring along a small bag of goodies with me when I go out with Faith. When she gets bored, that’s when I dish out that bag, otherwise known as busy bag.

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If you can recall a previous post on toddler busy bag exchange, I actually went home with fourteen sets of homemade toys after that meetup. I must say that some toys are not that attractive to Faith while others captivated her more. I guess it all boils down to age-appropriateness.

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Of the 14 home-made toys, two stood out. They are the pom pom stuff in it and pipe cleaner. Faith takes a special interest in them and could spend at least half an hour on them. How awesome is that?

I don’t know what is the fascination about them. It could be the colours. It could be the excitement she gets when she can stuff the pom pom in. The pipe cleaner is a tad difficult for her. Instead of stuffing each wire into the small holes on the cap of the bottle, she just stuff all of them in without the cover. Easy and rather boring eh? But she likes doing it over and over and over again.

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Faith has been playing with these for a few weeks now and she hasn’t gotten bored of them. Just yesterday, I dished out these toys during Sunday service and she was playing with them quietly on her own until another younger girl joined in. Today, during an outing with her playmates, I took these out again while waiting for our lunch to be served and the older kids were enticed by these simple toys. Of course, they devised their own game using the same materials but hey, these home-made toys can be so versatile!

There are still others for Faith to explore and I’m taking my own sweet time to introduce them to her.

Try these toys on your child and see what happens!

Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

Toddler Busy Bag Exchange (under 3YO)

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

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

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

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

Oh what busy and fun days ahead!

First attempt to homeschool Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My kid is going to school!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will be recording daily activities via Dayre from now on.

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