Thursday 19 December 2013

Fa La La La La....

Christmas is around the corner and if you are (STILL) scrambling to buy gifts or cracking your heads to what to get for your kids or are some of my 10 recommended Montessori Xmas gift ideas! (In no particular order)
1. Movable Alphabet
photo credit: here
2. Stamp game
photo credit here
3. Montessori beads
photo credit here
4. Number and red Counters
photo credit here
5. Montessori Pink tower
photo credit here
6 Grammar kit
photo credit here
7 Sentence Analysis
photo credit here
8. Knobbed Cylinders
photo credit here
9. Golden Beads
photo credit here
10. Continent Map
photo credit here
I probably have another 10-20 other favourites but these are straight off my head (which means they MUST be my 10 MOST favourite). Granted, these are rather costly, but if you are in the season of splurging these are GREAT buys! Oh, if you are going to ask me where to buy these locally- try Right to learn. Erm, no, I am not given any commission for directing traffic over there (I WISH!).

Friday 22 November 2013

3 activites we did this week with doll...

These are the main activities we did this week.
Sorting/classifying fruits and animals.
I am not a phonics fan but still this activity is too fun not let Doll have a go. She had to sort the pictures by their beginning sounds.
Counting each column and placing the corresponding number below it. 

Friday 15 November 2013

Mandarin with Sonshine

We rarely, or maybe even never, speak in mandarin at home. The result? Sonshine can read, recognise words and understand mandarin passage but cannot communicate in mandarin. I would have let it pass if not for the oral examinations in primary school. :(
I try to speak as much as I can but my mandarin is limited. The next best thing I thought I can do is to make him read aloud a simple mandarin book everyday. I make him read the same book over and over and over again until I think he's got them in his head. The purpose is to get him familiar with the mandarin sentence structure, phrases and hearing himself speak in mandarin.
This is a typical book he would read each night. I deliberately choose a very short & simple book so that it won't deter him from reading. These are Pelangi books which are readily available in most Popular book shops.

A look inside the book. Picture illustrations for each sentences; I find this helps him to understand sentences that he does not know.
And yes, there is Hanyu Pinyin- that is deliberate too. Why? While my mandarin isn't great but I dare say my Hanyu Pinyin is superb. I learnt it purely by reading books with Hanyu Pinyin- but that also means I read the Hanyu Pinyin more than the words itself. Hence, I made Sonshine read this book so to brush up his Hanyu Pinyin.
Of course, I worry that he reads the Hanyu Pinyin and neglect looking at the words. But my worries were unfounded, fortunately! I made these cards based on the new words he learnt in the book. I had him read those words; I mixed the cards & he arranged them accordingly. Other than recognising words, I also want him to be familiar with phrases. So far, this method seems to be working. He is able to use the phrases in the books and apply them in simple conversation. But, he still has a LONG way to go. God bless me & him!

Mish a Mash

So, we have been out of action- I totally blame it on the Korean wave. I have been watching too many dramas and entertainment shows. *Hiak Hiak* Also, I have been too lazy to take photos, edit and type a post. It is getting a bit of a chore lately. :('s some meager effort I made.
Doll wanted to paint so I reluctantly obliged. On the whim, I threw in a toy corn, a piece of Lego and a car wheel. I let her paint on them and stamp/roll them on the paper. And there you go! Sensory play in an instant! :D

I love to make learning material using felt! I sew a tree & call it 'counting tree'!
I place a numeral at the side and doll has to put the correct number of counters on it.

My DIY counting cards in mandarin.

We have been reading about body parts in mandarin for a long time so I decided to make her these cards for her to practise. Glad to discover she's recognise the words!

I dug out this number sequence card again- for Doll to learn counting BACKWARDS. Learning to count backward is important for learning subtraction. So instead of starting from 1, I made her start from 10. I also tried to introduce to her the term 'before' by asking her 'What number is BEFORE 10?'
There you have it, these were the work done this week. Simple.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Montessori- Stamp Game (Division)

Sonshine is learning about division in school, so I decided to 'help' him out. Well, not exactly. He already knows how to divide but I thought he has trouble identifying a division problem sum from the last time we tried it which was like months ago.
Since I have the Montessori Stamp game, I thought I might as well present to him Division using Montessori Stamp game.
Apart from the Stamp game kit, I prepared slips of paper on which I wrote division word problem sums.

We read the first problem sum together. But before I could do any presentation or explain anything, Sonshine dished out the kits like a pro, allocated the stamps correctly and declared the answer. I was momentarily stumped (since he was never exposed to this activity before) but found enough composure to ask him to move on to the next question. By the 3rd question, he gave me the answers even before he finish dividing the stamps and he did the same for the rest of the sums.
 I told him since he was acting like a smarty pants, he was to divide 72 by 2 for me without using the visual aids. At first, he said it was too difficult. I pointed to the stamp game and told to 'use this method'. He took a moment to calculate in his head and told me 36. Then I gave him more divisions like 85/5, 82/2 and even 250/2...he gave all the right answers.  
I am in total awe of Montessori yet again!
I truly doubt Sonshine could mentally divide (beyond the 11 times table) before this game. This game gave him the visual to help him instantly understand the concept and calculate quickly in his head by 'seeing' the stamp game in his head. Thank you Montessori- you are genius!
If you want to read more about this activity on the how to- go here.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Cards & Counters: Montessori

It is one thing to be able to rote count, it is another to understand the quantative value to each number. The objective of cards and counters activity is to help the child understand the latter.
I love how this activity shows the child what '1' means, how many '2' is etc. It is visual, clear and very easy for a young kid to digest.
I am glad babydoll has progressed and is now able to allocate the correct quantity to each number. Whoohoo! I was looking back at how she started and recall at an earlier point I wasn't even sure she was going to get over counting! But she has come to this point and I am reminded the importance of being consistent, persistent, patience & have faith.
So anyway, one does not need to own these materials to do this. You can always write numbers on cards and use simple household items like straws, cotton balls, Lego, Duplo or...
You can purchase these from Daiso for $2 and use them as counters! To make it interesting and fun, use a variation of counters.
Have fun!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Learning grammer the Montessori way

If you are a grammar nazi, you know that I am very weak in grammar. I know that very well- my best friend has no qualms telling me that! But that's how I learn.
Sonshine is, no better. He's spoken language is quite a pain to hear. :( Hence, I have been researching on methods to teach him the technicalities of grammar. Honestly, I am discovering things I never knew! You can tell I didn't pay attention in class huh?
By far, I found Montessori method (surprise, surprise) the best for us. It is clear, concise and each lesson doesn't take long. We are now working on the mechanics of a sentence. Sonshine is currently learning that a simple sentence involves a subject and a verb.

I first showed him the above. I asked him if this made any sense and if it was a proper sentence. We concluded that this is not a complete sentence because there is no subject in it.

I added on 'a baby' to the previous strip. We now have a complete sentence because there is a subject ('baby') and a verb ('crying'). At the same time, he revised that every sentence starts with a capital letter and end with a period. I gave him a red marker to correct the punctuations.

He also learn other areas where he needs to capitalised the letters i.e. proper nouns. I gave him a few strips of papers like the above and he had to correct them.

He also learn when to end a sentence with a question mark.
I should do more of these activities with him. It is so much more fun than making him do assesment books. But I wish I have more time and energy!

Parts of a volcano- Montessori

We read up on volcanoes a couple of weeks back. Sonshine and I were rather fascinated with the new discoveries we made. I never read up on such things until now-sheesh, so I am learning along with my son too! Well, never too late to learn!
As a follow up, I printed these cards from here and display this activity on Sonshine's shelf. These are part of volcano cards.

There are two sets. One set is the master card and the other is for the child to match the label to the picture using the master cards as reference.
It's been a long while since I sat down with Sonshine to do an activity like this. It  reminded me so much of the time when I did this regularly with him when he was a toddler. I remember how he would absorbed and learnt everything at one go.
He did the same again this time, and I really wasn't expecting it. He suprised me by looking at the reference cards just once and was able to match all but two labels correctly. How in the world?
But anyway, my purpose is not for him to be an expert on volcanoes. I don't mind if he can't remember anything about it years down. I merely want to expose him to such knowledge; something that he may never find in his school textbooks. Great that he recalls but it's ok even if he doesn't. More importantly, he (and I) enjoyed what we learned through our readings together. :)

Friday 18 October 2013

Home learning tips

I am no expert but here are some basic pointers that help me to successfully implement homeschooling for my very young. I think it may be helpful for those who are just starting out and with very young kids- I hope. :)
1) Home learning corner
First and foremost, designate a corner specifically for home learning. This is where you keep & display all your educational materials. You want your child to associate learning with this corner and nothing else. Such that whenever she is in this area, she knows it is time for learning and nothing else. At best try not to use a common area i.e dining table for home learning because you want the child to understand it is time to learn not to eat or play.
Also, as far as possible ensure that this corner is kept separated (read: FAR FAR AWAY) from where the toys are. You want your child to focus on home learning and not be distracted with the toys.
Like most, I don't have the luxury of space. So I have a home learning shelf in the kid's bedroom. On this shelf, i store and display all the learning materials. When we approach this shelf, Doll understands full well that it is time for learning. She is there not there to play, sleep or eat but learn.
2) Set a routine
Just like nap/bed times, meals etc, set a routine in your day for home learning. I am not saying set a fix time like 12.00pm, but set the flow of events fix in your day to day. For instance, Doll knows that we do home learning after her lunch. She knows the drill so well that she will automatically ask to go to our learning shelf after her meal even when I don't lead her there.
3) Be consistent
Once you have set your heart and mind to it, make certain you are consistent with it at the same time, same place. Of course, there will be days when you or your child will feel off- that's okay. It's better to stay off track when either of you is feeling wonky than to force everyone to do it & be unhappy. But in general, be consistent as far as possible- just like sleep training! HA!

4) Name your learning session
When I first started, I always yelp excitedly 'DO WORK TIME!' (yes, it lacks of creativity and sounds super boring but ah well) and lead the kids to the shelf. Over time, they understood that when I say 'Do work time', they are to proceed to our learning shelf. Think of it like a school bell.
5) Have low expectations
Keep in mind that young kids have short attention span. Say that 1000 times before you start the lesson! Don't enter into the lesson thinking they will sit still, listen and follow your instructions to the T. In fact, do EXPECT and be prepared that they will do just the opposite. For one, don't prepare hefty lessons- make sure the concepts can be put across to them in a clear, concise and quick manner. Personally, I think our home learning is more than successful if we accomplish just 15 minutes with doll!
6) Be prepared to stop
Montessori's rule is be prepared to stop when the child shows no interest in the lesson. You want your child to be in a joyful state of mind when doing work not feeling like she is being forced into it. Also, always end the lessons when her interest level is still high. Don't wait for her to feel bored or tired to end the lesson. You want her to remember learning is fun and make her want to come back for more.
7) Follow her interest
The rule of thumb is prepare lessons that are skewed towards her interest. You can offer her to try something new but if she declines, respect that. Don't force it on her no matter how many hours and sleepless nights you have put in to prepare that lesson.
During our first few lessons, I purportedly gave her activities that I knew would make her squeal in delight. I wanted her to think that home learning is so much fun so that she will be attracted back to the shelf.
Once these are in place, the rest of the journey would be relatively easy. At this point, I rarely need to negotiate, bribe or convince her to attend my home lessons. It is a breeze. In a nutshell, make home learning into a habit and fun!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Montessori- Geometry Solids

I am mostly presenting Montessori work to doll this week. One of which is Geometry solids.

The intent is to teach the child the formal names of these solids. If you are interested, I printed this set of cards here.

Of course, I do not expect my 2.5 year old to know the terms 'triangular based prism' etc. I whipped this activity more for her to do matching which is a pre-math skill. Anyway, I gave her this more for the fun of it.

In David Gettaman's book, I remember he mentioned about allowing the child to explore these solids particularly stacking the solids and showing the child that not all solids are 'stackable' like the sphere. Surprisingly, Doll explored these solids exactly  this way without my prompting. In fact, I was trying to pack up and turned around to see her trying to build a tower with the set. Instinctively, she discovered she cannot add more solids above the pyramid (because the base is too narrow- but of course she doesn't know exactly that!) or that the sphere will no stay on top either (because it is rounded).
This is why I love Montessori! There's little need to give extensive explaination- just let the child explore & learn!

Montessori- Cylinder Blocks

This was the activity that first attracted me to Montessori- Cylinder blocks.
It consist of 4 blocks and in each block there are 10 (mine only has 5) drilled holes to fit the cylinders in.
Each cylinder differs either in diameter or depth or both. For instance, in one block, all the cylinders have the same diameter. However, they vary increasingly/decreasingly in depth. In another block, all the cylinders have the same depth but vary increasingly/decreasingly in diameter etc (sorry, to lazy to give lengthy explanation but read here if you want to know more) 
The direct objective of this activity is to sharpen the child's visual discrimination of varying dimensions. The indirect goals are for pincer grasp exercise (as the child use her index finger and thumb to manoeuvre the knobs on the cylinders) and if I may add, eye-hand coordination skills as well as Mathematical concepts.


During the initial work, present only one block at a time. Once the child is seasoned in working with each block; present all 4 blocks at a go to her & mix the cylinder blocks for more challenging work.


The best part of it is I don't need to give her lengthy lecture. As she worked, she instinctively learn that each cylinders have differing dimensions. I thought it was very interesting how she always pick up the largest pieces first- I guess these were the easiest to identify & match. She naturally discovered that the bigger cylinders don't fit into the smaller ones and some smaller ones don't fit into the smaller holes because they may differ in depth.
According to David Gettman, when the child matures, we can use this to explain the terms 'shallow' vs 'deep', 'thick' vs 'thicker etc.
Admittedly, this is something you can't DIY easily unless you are an expert in sawing and drilling wood- even if you are, you must be well equipped! However, if you like you can pick this book up. It comes with a template, though 2-dimension (but better than nothing & much cheaper than purchasing) which emulate this activity.

Monday 14 October 2013


Babydoll has progressed! She can now rote count comfortably up to 39. At the same time, she can also count one to one correspondence without any aid.
So I took out my Duplo cards and have her count- this time without the counters. She is able to point and count in correspondence accurately. Whoohoo!
I also started her with Montessori counters. I learn that it is one thing to count 'how many' items are there but it is another thing to be able to allocate the correct amount of counters according to the numeral. Oh well, we will just have to practise, practise!


Montessori Red Rods

Here is another Montessori visual sensory activity.
The goal here is for the child to arrange the rods from the shortest to longest. In this activity, the child visually learns what 'short/shorter/shortest' and 'long/longer/longest' means.

Lay the rods in random order.
Have the child arrange the rods according to it's length.
Read here to learn more about this activity.
Again, you don't need to own these Montessori materials to conduct this activity. Think out of the box and look around your house to see if you can improvise. You can, say, use straws and cut them accordingly?  

Wednesday 9 October 2013

What's on my refrigerator?

I am stepping it out and showing you a personal space of mine- my refrigerator. Quite embarrassing- I was going to tidy it up but ah well.
I think this is quite common in Singapore households. We have this funny habit of collecting magnets during our travels and sticking them up on our refrigerators. We are no different.

At the bottom of our refrigerator, is an over-collection of erm...paper mess.

Let me give you a closer view- in the midst of the mess are Sonshine's spelling lists.

And Sonshine would liberally add to the mess by sticking his drawings up for show.
There, my beautiful, messy refrigerator!
Linking up with:

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Shop Smart with RedMart

I used to be deterred by online shopping until I became a mom. It is hard to get out of the house these days especially when I am quite strict in adhering to our daily routines. That's why I succumb to online shopping and boy, am I sucked right into the heart of it! Online shopping is supremely easy & convenient. Best of all I can shop even when the kids are sleeping! I have shopped mostly for my kids clothes and their educational kits but recently, I am into grocery shopping with RedMart!
I know some are very put off by online shopping. It is true that some online websites can be frustrating to navigate & one can't tell much about a product virtually. But RedMart made it all too easy for shoppers that I'm certain my 6 year old can do it too!
Allow me to take you through...
On the main site, you will see varying categories at the top bar. This helps you to straight away zoom into the product you want. Looking for food products? Just select 'Food Cupboard'.

On selection, you will see sub-categories- again this helps you to get to the product you want quickly.

When you select the sub category, you will see a whole range of brands available appear in one page. This helps you to compare the prices without much ado. So once you find your item, just click 'add to cart'!

I hear you naysayers & all you who insist on reading the product nutrition facts. No problem here! RedMart allows you to read even the very fine prints on the packaging. Simply place your cursor at the desired portion & the product details will be magnified for your reading pleasure. You can take your own sweet time and read through what you need to read, calculate what you need to calculate- all while slouching in your comfy sofa!
Once you are done choosing your grocery, simply click 'Check out Now' and follow the easy step by step instructions. And then you are done! Easy Peasy eh?

A feature of RedMart that needs a special shout out is it's 'My List' function. RedMart records down what you bought under 'My List'. In here are the items you have bought or you can also manually select (regular) items (that you buy) into this list. So that on your next visit, all you have to do is to go straight to 'My List' and select the items you want to re-purchase. Saves you the hassle of navigating the entire website again. Cool huh?
I can't say this enough- it IS absolutely easy to shop with RedMart- anyone can do it! And oh! Even if you find trouble shopping with RedMart, you can always give them a call or select 'Chat' to get instant assistance.
Shopping with RedMart saves you time, it is convenient and navigation on their site is easy & secure. What's there not to like?
Homeschool@sg readers get 10% off on your first order. Start shopping at RedMart and simply enter discount code "rm_hsshine"!
#This post was sponsored by RedMart but all opinions are of my own#