Monday, August 24, 2009
Can help to save some $$$ by downloading the audio files onto the MP3 player and let T listen to them.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Its a good game to teach young children about colours and shapes and helps me to add another fun lesson on our homeschool curriculum rather than just rely on flashcards.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So I draw up this graphical time-table for her and posted it up for her in our home. She seemed to be very attracted to the idea and enjoyed looking at her photos on it. We went through the schedule together and she was able to tell me from the photos what she was suppose to be doing at the allocated time
Example : I told her that she is suppose to wake up every morning at 7 o'clock and pointed out the clock to her, then I asked her, so after you wake up what should you do? and pointed at the photo, she tells me go pee pee. I reply 'yes, go pee pee and poo poo, brush, teeth and wash face. and then what do you do?' and I point to the next photo. she says ' eating'. and I continue, yes, and after eating breakfast, what do you do? and she says 'go to school'So we went through the whole the whole schedule until repeated a few times, after which , she can now recite the routine without being prompted.
I think its good to have the child's routine visible to them. I feel it really helps them to establish the ability to self care and instill some discipline. It's only been less than a week that I put this time-table up, and it already saved me a few arguements with T about night time shower and bedtime. I just tell her and when tried to escape from her night time shower. 'Its eight o'clock now, and mummy finished playing with you. What are you suppose to be doing now.' She walks over to look at her notice board and come back to tell me meekly 'shower and read story books'. Battle won, no arguement.
I intentionally used the graphic of the analog clock so that it can help to give her the concept of how to use the clock to tell the time and slowly as she learns to read the numerals and understands how long hand and short hand works, she may tell the time for herself.
Once again, pink was also picked intentionally, as this is still her favorite colour for now and perhaps can keep her interest in this time-table longer.
On this day, we were having lunch in a restuarant. For some reason, she wanted to take out her sunglasses and put them on in the restuarant. I refused her request, explaining to her that sunglasses (she calls them eyeglasses) are only worn outdoors to protect the eyes from the sun, and there's no reason to wear them indoors. She whined for a little repeating her wish to have her sun glasses. I then told her not to be so vain to want to wear sunglasses indoors. Her answer 'I am not vain, I want to be like daddy, he is wearing eyeglasses too' (daddy is a specky).
hmphrm.... I have to spend another few minutes to explain the difference between prescription eye wear and fashion sun glasses, before she said 'ah... OK lar.' and stopped asking for it.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
She's also in the phase of asking 'why, why, why'. Its not easy to always come up with an easily understood answer for her and I don't always know if she really understood. But when she asked enough of 'why' she will end the conversation with 'oorrr' as if she really got it. (and frankly, I'm relieved not to have to continue to answer the 5th or 10th consecutive 'why' in that series of questions on the same topic)
Now that she is able to communicate her thoughts much better, we also realise the importance of consistency in our teachings in the house. With her ability to ask why and vocalise what we are doing, we become more aware that she really notices the adults behaviour in the house and questions when rules are different for her than for us.
Example 1 : I have the habit of taking my multi-vitamins right before I sleep, so we have them in the bed room. One night T told me 'Mummy, dont eat in the bedroom, its dirty'. Once again, she was not wrong, I could only revert, 'yes, you are right, I'll eat it outside next time'.
Example 2 : When daddy or I am reading a book, or working on our computer, we will always ask her to quieten down. This evening, she was playing in her living area and daddy turn on his PC to watch a trailer, the sound from the PC was quite loud and distracted her from her play. So she walked up to him and said 'Daddy, not so noisy. I am playing'.
My craving for cheesecake haven't ended, so we made this strawberry cheesecake together and I think I alone consumed almost half of this 18cm cake in just 1 day.
On Sunday mornings, we have a bit of time to occupy as we usually wake up before 8am and the english mass we attend starts at 11am (which means we don't have to leave the house till 1045). So what I try to do now is to occupy our Sunday mornings by having T with me in the kitchen busy making a late breakfast for daddy. This Sunday, we made 'doriyaki' (japanese pancake). She helped me along with making the batter, but the frying is too dangerous, so I have to let the TV keep her busy instead.
The manual recommended to first let the child recognise the form of the letter before attempting to introduce the sound of the letter to them. This made sense. What's the point of learning F sounds like 'fer' and T sounds like 'ter' if they keep mixing up these letters anyways (Our T is mising up these 2 letter and a few others, but get say 20 of them correct mostly).
Anyways, after playing with the wall chart a few times, I found it cumbersome to have to take it out, hang it up, keep it afterwards. So I made a simple cardboard matching game myself and here's T playing with it. Pink is her current favorite colour, so I use pink to keep her attracted to her 'toy'.
Go ahead and make one for your toddler / pre-schooler too. Its a fun matching game and helps introduce pre writing / reading skills. To make the card more sturdy, you just have to laminate it.
I'll probably make another one for the upper case letters and also one for numbers 1 to 20 soon.
It is not about trying to make her the smartest kid around, but our bigger concern is to try to cultivate her interest in learning and encourage self motivation. I always worry about the method and approach to learning/teaching and how it can influence a person for live on what education / learning is about.
Give an example. During T's year end review with her school teacher. Teacher disclosed that T does not boldly use colours in her drawings and looks very 'stressed' and always colour only in one area of the picture. She doesn't seem 'creative' and 'confident' enough to change her colours and colour outside of an area. I was quite surprise about this as T is complete opposite at home. She keeps changing colours, is very happy and makes a 'mess' of colouring all over the page. After a short discussion, we concluded that in school, teacher always reminds them to colour nicely / neating, try not to go over the line, so as a result, the colouring session becomes more demanding than simply colouring as you wish. That is why T then opts to just stick to one colour and only one area. On the other hand, during our 'toilet wall' painting sessions at home, there's no limit set on what she can draw and we don't judge her for quality of drawing / colouring. For me, at 2.5 years, I really don't mind if her apple looks like a triangle and a pink blob of paint is a pretty flower to her. I think at this young age, its more important to encourage them to continue to draw / colour, be bold to use all the different colours / mode of arts as they wish and when they are older we can slowly introduce the rules of the game. I understand that traditional schools are there to teach the child the rules of society, to conform and obey, to respect and not question authority, etc..., but there are other approaches to life too.
This is the main reason why we try to maintain some homeschooling activities at home, so I can have a chances to expose her to less traditional method of learning, encourage her to attempt to solve the problems and find answers by herself and also observe for myself her strengths and weaknesses. Being 1 to 1, I can adapt our materials and lessons to her learning style and making timely decisions to change our lessons to match her current interests (windows of opportunities).
I realised these weeks when we try to pick up on the homeschooling that I lack a focus and direction on this topic. What we do is too random and ad hoc and I have no clue if the activities are age appropriate, if I am missing an important element to build a good foundation, if we are moving in the correct direction? As such, I also spend / waste alot time doing random research and getting distracted by all sorts of information that I think may be of interest, but might not really be useful. The conclusion, some proper planning needs to be in place so we can be more efficient and effective in our efforts.
So I put aside 2 whole days and seriously researched into preschool / kindergarten education. First was to find out what are the norm milestones for a 3-4 year old to reach, second was to think about besides these basics, what other 'stuff' to we wish T to learn during this time? Lastly was to organize the information in such a way so that we can make lesson plans and easily track and follow up on how we are progressing until we achieve the goals.
I gathered the info online from a variety of sites, reviewed, filtered and consolidated what I felt was reasonable for 3 - 4 yr old into the below charts. (I haven't figured out how to put downloadable files on blog, so if you are interested, you will have to print them or save them as photos). For curriculum planning and tracking, I referred to http://www.donnayoung.org/ and got some templates and ideas from her, made some customization and now I have a thin binder book to help me track our homeschool progress. If you are interested in taking a look at my homeschool planner book, drop me a line in the chatbox. With these tools in hand + my Montessori pre-school teaching manuals + the lovely BFIAR recommended curriculum for lapbooking, I now feel alot more confident that we will be able to have an enriching and enjoyable preschool home school experience at home. I also no longer spend alot of time browsing and researching like a headless chicken and wasting alot of time, instead, I just have to put aside a couple of minutes a day, or an hour on the weekend to plan ahead for next week's activities. Its been a great time saver (goes to explain why I have time to update the blog now)
By the way, we've worked on 2 more BFIAR books these weeks, stay tuned for post on them once we finished.
See.... with a little bit of creativity, big lessons can be learnt in the midst of a fun game session
Great weather, daddy's at work, lazy morning. What else better to do than hop onto a taxi and off to the beach to spend the morning. Its just wonderful that our current place is less than 15 car ride from the beach. This is something else that I will miss when we move back to Singapore.
Its the first time that T actually 'swam' in the sea. On all the other occasions we've been to the beach, she's only played on the sand or walked along the shoreline. It was big fun to sit in the water along the shore and giggle ourselves crazy whenever a big wave come and push us over.
The weather recently has been mostly great. On most Saturday mornings, we try to go for a swim and spend an hour or 2 in the pool. With the light breeze, sea view and warm water its a great feeling. After a few sessions T is now even daring enough swim around the pool independantly wearing her arm floats. She used to insist that I hold her hands in the water. Now that the Typhoon season is here, I hope we will still have good luck to have great weather on the weekend mornings.
We reused things around the house to do this. Mini muffin tray, a bowl of peanuts (same pack as those we used for dry pouring activity we did a year ago), a pair of tongs.
Then I showed her how to use the tongs and instructed her to put 1 nut in each compartment, moving gradually from left to right, top to bottom. When she is done, she put the nut back into the bowl, then I instructed this time to put 2 nuts in each compartments, and so on...
See from the photo how focused little children can be when doing this kind of work.
To them it is fun work, in the process they gain:
- fine motor skill practise
- holding tongs properly >>> early practise to holding pencils properly (pre-writing skills)
- maths >>> counting 1, 2, 3....
- math >>> fractions, seeing how a bowl of nuts can be divided into so many small portions
- science >>> how to visual volume of the bowl of nuts changes as it gets separated into so many portions, and be restored back into the same bowl later.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Here is a Oreo & Raisin Cupcake recipe that T is able to manage quite well (with some help from me of course) and we made it at least 3 times already in the past 6 weeks. In fact, she loved the raisins so much, she now keeps trying to put raisins in all the cakes we make, even chilled cheesecakes.
Cream butter and sugar
add eggs one at a time (don't forget to remove the shell after child drops it into mixture)
Here's T whining about the sticky eggs on her hands cos she made a mess from trying to crack them
stir in flour
We never really stopped T from having her candies and ice cream as long she has them in moderation. (OK, I have to admit, I have never been able to stop Daddy from offering them to her). Fortunately, T seems to have good self control over these things. Somehow, I feel this is in some ways related to our eating habits at home. We never force her to eat more than she reasonably needs to in her proper meals. If she tells us she has enough, and we see that she has had her reasonable amount of rice or noodles or whatever she is having for her meal, we let her stop. We don't insist that everything on the plate needs to be finished. If she has poor appetite for a day or two, she usually eats more later in the week. Now, even when she is having lollies, chocolate or ice cream, she will stop when she has had enough. I've never seen her gorge herself with them. In fact, after she has had her piece or two and feels that she has had enough, she will give the rest back to us and say "I have enough".
After she past 2 years old, we didn't stop her from having her candies and ice cream. But I do keep an eye to see that she doesn't have an over dose. However, we do make it a habit that she only indulges in them after her meals. If she asks for candy around meal time, I will always tell her "Sure, you can have your candy, but you have to finish your dinner / lunch first. After that, you can have all the candy you want." After some time, she becomes very familiar with the concept and only asks for her snacks after she has finished her meals.
This evening, she has finished her dinner and mine was in the midst of being served. She was sucking happily on her choco vanilla chuppa chup lolly. I haven't had a chuppa chup in ages and asked her if I could have some of hers. She paused for a moment and thought about it seriously (no joking, she really knitted her brows and think) and her reply was
"Er... OK, but you finish your dinner first OK."
I was embarrassed. But on the good side, I am also glad that she managed to think carefully about the action and responsed appropriately. Hopefully, this means that she is able to be responsible independantly.
Hiking at Lamma Island. Woke up on 1/Jul (Reunion Day in HK) and the weather was simply beautiful. Light blue skies and gentle breeze. Must say our humble apartment felt like a resort that morning. Won't it be a waste to stay home on a day like this. So we made an impromtu decision to go to Lamma Island and was out of the house in 15 mins (if we miss the ferry which leaves in 20mins, we will have to wait for 1.5 hrs, which would be smack bang mid noon). Had to make a sprint between the taxi drop off point and the ferry pier, but yes, we made it in time. So nice to hike across half of the island in the gentle morning sun and breeze. By noon we reached the beach which was on the other side of the island and of course, T had no problem convincing Daddy to buy her a sand play set on the spot too.
On the weekend, the weather was beautiful again. Somehow, the humidity of tropical summer is a little late this year. So off we went to Ocean Park again. This time, we even managed to catch a seal and sea lion performance. Her favorite attraction must still be the huge aquarium. She waits for the turtles and sharks to come around and snaps away with her camera.
- contents, all free. Found from things around the house.
- tray to hold container purchased from $2 shop.
A good thing about making your own sound boxes is that you can change the materials in the box whenever you wish to adapt to the abilities of your child. It is always good to start off with something easy that makes distinctively very different sounds, then slowly increase the difficulty by changing the contents of the boxes to produce more similar sounds.
Monday, June 29, 2009
0630 - 0700 : wake up, get ready for work
0700 - 0800 : bus journey to work. Make use of time to study and prepare assignment for diploma I am currently doing
0800 - 1700 : full time job at work. Use lunch hour to have a quick lunch and rest of the time to research and prepare homeschool activities for T.
1700 - 1830 : bus journey back home. Make use of time to study and prepare assignment for diploma I am currently doing
1830 - 1915 : have dinner and bath
1915 - 2045 : do all sorts of activities with T
2045 - 2130 : night bathe for T and reading in bed
2130 - 0630 : sleep.
I know, I know. I should just get my lazy ass out of bed stay up till midnight after T sleeps to do my own stuff. But with such a condensed day, I just don't have the energy to get up and do anything else. For the weekends, its usually also jammed packed with doing all sorts of things with T around the house and out.
Again, if anyone has any tips to improve my schedule, feel free to advise.
One good things about T is that I rarely had any separation issue from her when I leave for work. (OK, her separation axiety about going to school is another story). Since she was a baby, she rarely cried and whined when daddy and myself have to leave her at home to go to work. She always sends us off with a big hug and kiss. Nowadays, if she get up before I leave the house, she will bring over my bag, and open the door for me. This morning, she opened the door for me and I was in a rush so off I went to press the elevator button. Guess what. She calls after me to say
"Mummy !!! come back here so I can give you a big hug" awww... ok, so what if I will miss the bus and be late for work. What can be more important than a hug with my girl.
School is officially out and the summer holidays are here for all the kids. I haven't had enough time to plan what to let T do during her long hours at home. This week, I just randomly printed some tracing worksheets, activity worksheets and colouring pages off the internet to keep her busy.
:-( bad mummy. Must make a better effort at this.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
- maid would help to get her ready for bed. IE, brush her teeth, put on diapers, change into pyjamas.
- I will be sitting on the bed wait for her reading my own book at the same time.
- when T is done, she will come to bed and sit next to me with books of her own choice
- surprisingly, last night, she just quietly started to read by herself and did not disturb me reading my book (so nice).
- so we sad there for about 30 mins each reading our own book.
- when she's had enough, she turned to me and asked me to read to her which I gladly obliged.
It was such a nice experience. I hope we can continue this routine.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Just this weekend, we took this book out again and read it together. This time, she is able to appreciate the illustrations much better and was able to 'discuss' about why baby shouldn't be sitting and playing on the toilet floor. She had a bit of difficulty trying to understand where the the baby / boy go towards the end of the book, why is there a man in the story instead. I had to explain to her about how people and she will grow up.
I think she appreciates and understanding the deep love of the mother for the child and vice versa, cos as we read the story, she would cuddle close next to me and put her arms around me and ask me to put mine around her.
We've been reading the book everynight at her request for the last few days and would repeat it 2 to 3 times each night. Since young, I have been holding her finger to follow/point to the words as I read along so re-enforce in her concept of reading/writing from left to right and the rhythm of reading each word/sentence. Last night, I noticed that she is able to trace the words very well. Her finger will stop as I pause and slow down when I do. In fact, we managed to read through the whole story with her pointing / tracing accurately to the written text.
After 3 nights, she can now also read part of the book by memory.
Example (she recites the part in italics) :
The mother rocks the baby "back and forth, back and forth, back and forth",
Singing I love you forever
I like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be
This book will definately be a keeper for us.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Once again, we used the resources from HomeSchoolShare site and printed out this find the item sheet. It's a little like "Where's Wally". T has to find all the items listed at the side of the sheet on the colour picture and circle them out. Surprising, she did very well and found all of them quickly. I noticed she enjoyed this activity and must make it a point to self make some more activities similar to this one.
We did some colouring activity here where she various medium of art. First with crayon, then with water colour. She doing the watch colouring, she started off nicely painting each cap a different colour. But somehow towards the end to decided to get abstract and started to splash colours randomly all across the the page.
Here we did some maths counting activity. On an earlier occasion, I attempted to introduce T to counting and numbering using this . It was too difficult for her to relate the quantity in the picture to the number dots. Somehow 3 bears and got nothing to do with 3 black dots, so why should they be the same? (this is what I decipher from her expression). So I gave it some thought and used Caps for Sale story to re-introduce sequencial counting to her. While reading the story, we were already counting the caps and monkeys in the book, so monkeys and caps are something very close to her heart now. I made out our own worksheets for her to match the correct number of caps to the monkeys. I made it a point that the 'lenght' of the the monkeys and caps were the same so that she increament of number is visual to her and this game is self correcting. (Eg. 1 monkey = same lenght as 1 cap, 5 monkeys = same length as 5 caps. If she matches a wrong number of caps to monkeys, she will have a cap with no monkey or a monkey with no cap). After a few rounds of me explaining and helping her along, she can now easily match correctly up to number 5. So knowing that she can now count accurately and not just blindly recite the numbers (which she does very well), we moved on to do something a little more difficult. The second worksheet (from HomeSchoolShare) requires the child to count and write to number. Since T has yet to learn the numerals and I don't intend to teach her that yet, I adapted it and asked to to draw the same number of circles as the monkeys she counted (similar concept - 1 monkey - 1 drawn circle, 4 monkeys = 4 drawn circles). With the laid foundation, she understood it easily and enjoyed drawing the matching number of circles.
Here we made a paper plate monkey mask and had a good 30 minutes of fun just chasing each other around the house. As you can see here, T is wearing a red cap pretending to be a monkey and I was the peddlar who had to run after her shouting "Give Me Back My Caps".
There are still alot of other activities that can be done with this story such as :