Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Puzzle craft

Waiting for the brother to end his tuition class can be dreadfully boring for a 5 year old. In order to kill that 1.5 hours of wait, I would often bring stuff out to entertain her. From books to coloring to worksheets, anything and everything!
Yesterday, we did something quite different and fun. Doll dug out my old purchase from Daiso and begged me to let her have a go at it. And I thought why not? We needed to entertain ourselves anyway.
If you have been to Daiso, you may have seen this peculiar looking product. It is usually located where the children items are.

It is actually a blank 25-pieces puzzle. We can personalised the puzzle by drawing our own pictures on it. I actually bought this puzzle long ago for my numbering sequence activity. (Yes, I was being overly eager. I bought one too many :P)
I numbered each puzzle for Doll who was 2 then, to learn her number sequencing. She just had to connect the puzzles in numerical order. More about this activity at this link.

Well, it was a good thing I bought extra because we had quite an enjoyable mother-daughter time. Each set comes with two puzzles (what a steal isn't it? For just SGD$2!). So, she drew on one and I drew on the other. This mama also needs to kill time you know?
She drew a picture of herself and me. I apparently have a yellow face. :I
She made a mistake with the green marker and I told her she could use her imagination to try to correct her mistake. She doodled and finally drew up a table (looks more like a cradle to me). But. I am happy she learnt that she could recreate something else over her initial mistake.

And ta-da! My cute penguin drawn by yours truly :D.
After ink dried, she took it out and tried to build the puzzles with her friend.
Now make a guess which of the two was the harder puzzle to piece up?

Friday, 11 March 2016

Paper Quilling at the Gardens

Last weekend,  we were invited for some craft fun at the Gardens. I rarely accept such invitations but I plunged into this event because I felt that the activity was right up my Doll's alley. And boy, was I right!

For the craft, we were given a packet of colorful paper strips and a picture relating to nature. The craft we were invited to do was Paper Quilling- something very new to us. 

Basically, you take a strip of paper and roll it into a coil. The coil can later be manipulated into more complex shapes. But Doll wasn't that adventurous. She insisted on just doing basic coil. 

Next, simply glue the coil onto the picture. Keep doing till you get the results you want.

Here's my daughter's piece of art. I was struggling within me with her choice of colors. I just could not take her random selections. I also felt my soul cringed as she scribbled some irrelevant drawings on the paper. But ah, why stifle the child's creativity? It's her work not mine, I told myself. So I held back and allowed her to flow. 

More importantly, Doll had a whale of a time. She chimed continuously that Paper Quiling is so fun! I've had a fantastic time myself. Not only did  I learn a new craft, I had the chance to bond with my daughter over an activity we both enjoyed. 

This craft and fun activity was held to promote the Garden Shop's new initiative- The Book Bank. This is its bid to cultivate the love for reading in the little ones- and what better place to enjoy a good book than the Gardens.
The book bank is a book corner where visitors can drop a book and pick up another book in exchange. Also, if you are looking for a place to donate your books- look no further. The Book Bank is located next to The Garden shop at Tanglin Gate.

I totally embrace this new intiative! We frequent Botanic Gardens but we are often torn apart. While the daughter loves to take a stroll through the garden, my son is the complete opposite. (He gets bad allergic reactions from insect bites which he is prone to get.) So while one takes her walk in the premise, the other hangs around the Garden shop until she returns.  Waiting can be boring. So I'm happy with this newly introduced book bank as it is sure to keep him occupied the next time we visit again.

Thank you Singapore Botanic Gardens for the invite and the thoughtful initiative!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sentence Analysis (Montessori)

I have read about sentence analysis or some might call it, sentence diagramming, a long time back. But at that time, I had no idea how to do it and what was the purpose of it, despite reading about it up teen times.
Recently, I looked it up again because I wanted Sonshine to learn more about sentence structure. I find that our schools don't take enough time to teach the students about proper sentence structures. In fact, our students are made to dive right into writing a story even before they truly know how to compose proper sentences. Hence, many are left to guess or go by their 'feel' when it comes to writing. I am a living product of this education, sometimes I just know a sentence is wrong because, it just 'sounds' wrong. I don't really know why nor can I explain it. And that's why my grammar is so bad.
So I went researching and sentence diagramming appeared on my screen. This time, I studied it thoroughly. Something must have changed in me like maybe I got smarter over time (yah right!), this time, I understood sentence diagramming perfectly. I was blown by it and even had loads of fun learning how to diagram sentences.
That said, while I have finally have the know-how in sentence analysis, I am still not clear what is the true objective of it.
In her book 'Writing with Ease', Susan Wise Bauer believes that to write well, the student needs to know put his ideas into order. She feels that diagramming will help the student in this aspect. There are other benefits of diagramming, raised by others. You can research more here if you like. But of course, there are also the detractors who feel that it is unnecessary.
Well, it did help me to 'see' the relationships of the words and phrases in a sentence better. Also, I do feel that I am more equipped to understand complex sentences now that I know how to diagram sentences.
But what bugs me is that I fail to understand how diagramming can help to improve writing and correct grammar? I still have not figure this out yet at this point. This was the reason why I toiled and wondered if I should teach Sonshine this, because if it doesn't help in writing, then why bother learning?
In the end, I made the decision to teach him for one simple, and probably shallow, reason- because it is fun. I have decided that anything else that comes with it is added bonus. But like I said, I have discover some of the benefits of diagramming and so I do think it is good for one to know this skill.
After that much blabbering, what exactly is sentence diagramming or sentence analysis? It is essentially graphing out a sentence or breaking it down into parts. If you want to know more, you can google for it and many articles will show up to fill you in. It is essentially an American 'thing'. Apparently, the American students in the past were made to learn this but not so much now.  
So, I shall now present how one can diagram a sentence using Montessori method. Note I am not following the authentic way but you will get the idea. To do the following you need to have a set of Montessori sentence analysis symbols. You can download this for free here.
First let's take a look at this sentence: 
Read the sentence and identify what is the predicate; what is the main action of this statement?

You should have picked out 'read'. 'Read' being the main action is called the predicate (of this sentence).

Place black arrow indicating 'Who is that? What is that?' on the left side of the predicate. Ask the child, who or what is doing this action?

It is 'I' who is executing the action 'read'. Hence 'I' makes the subject of this statement.

Next, place the black arrow 'Whom? what?' on the right side of the predicate. Ask the child what is the subject reading?

The subject is reading 'a book' and that makes the direct object of the sentence.

By now, the chart should look like this.

The phrase 'at home' is the only one left uncharted. Take the orange arrow 'where?' and place it under the predicate. Ask the child 'where is the subject reading the book?'

The answer is 'at home' which is the preposition object of the sentence.
Your final chart should look like this.
Here's another example:

The final diagram of the second sentence.
These sentences are fairly simple and easier to chart. It gets more complicated and fun with more complex sentences (like complex or complex- compound sentences) and more challenging if we  further diagram the words by adjectives, prepositions, articles etc. What I showed earlier is a fairly simple version of it.
You may be surprise to know that I didn't do the above presentation to my son. In fact, I taught him another diagramming method.
If you google 'sentence diagram' you will see images like this:
And that was how I taught my son. This site gave the best and most detailed explanation on how to diagram sentences. I even picked up grammar terms like predictive nominative and predictive adjective, auxiliary modifiers etc - I never knew!
I only started to give my son  a quick15 minutes lesson on this. I don't plan for him to be an expert in this but I do want him to be familiar with this as I am slowly recognizing how it can be useful in helping the write sort out his ideas in order as Susan Wise Bauer has said. It does help the writer to structure the sentences properly.
Phew, this is probably my longest ever. But I sure had a lot of fun reading; learning and sharing about this!