Thursday 25 April 2013

DIY mini activity booklets.

We did little this week, been busy doing some other fun stuff! :P
But, in the midst of all the hectic schedule, i managed to make a little activity book for doll.
I made a mini alphabet activity booklet for the little one.
In this book, she has to match the small letters to the capital letters. I could make it a little more prettier, add a flower, birds and bees here and there. But i chose not to. I don't want to clutter it with too much 'noise'. I made it to be what it is meant to be. Also, i deliberately chose the capital and small letters to be in the same color (actually, i prefer it otherwise) to help doll match. At the same time, it works as a 'control of error'.
I packed the booklet into zip lock bags so that i can easily bring it along with me to entertain doll when we are out.
Another booklet, i made was on numbers.
Matching numbers. In this case, i deliberately chose the numbers to be in varying colors. I wanted her to match purely by recognising the numbers and not by color.
Laying out the cards for her to match is easy for her-no matter the number of cards we play. So i reckon these mini books would help to bring up the level of difficulty for her. She now has to search the page herself by flipping the book in order to look for the right match. I can see it is alittle challenging for her- good!
I also made some mini color cards (for easy travelling). Here she has the match the correct colored words to the cards.
Learning about big and small.
These are cards to help her visually discriminate big versus small. As she work on them, i can hear her say 'big frog' *match the cards*, 'small frog' * match the cards*. Oh, i am but a proud mama! *Beam*
I would love to share these printables here. But bear with me while i figure out how to share documents on the blog. So do keep a look out!

Sunday 21 April 2013

Questions and Answers

A reader wrote to me and had a few interesting questions for me. I decided to post them over here for the benefit of others, who may have the same queries.
(1) During your experience in homeschooling your kid, especially the Montessori way with the materials - what obstacles or difficulties do you face? Was it easy? How was it like?
First of all, i would like to emphasize again that i am not fully homeschooling my kid. Although i did homeschool sonshine until he was about 4 years old.
My toughest challenge was probably learning to let go. In Montessori, the teacher is to follow the child's lead and must be prepared to pull away & stop the activity if the child shows no interest. This was reallly difficult for me initially.
When you spent so much time & effort planning the activities for your child, it is natural that you would harbour high hopes that your child will receive your lessons with enthusiasm. However, this is not always the case. At times, he will show no interest and that can be very discouraging and disappointing. The natural reaction in me then was to insist that he continued with the lesson. Of course, i was received with more resistance which made me more infuriated. It is suffice to say that we both had a very stressful time.
Fortunately, i was able to get hold of myself by pulling myself away from homeschooling for a week. I only re-started our lessons when i was absolutely certain that i could let go. It was extremely tough but i did it. From then on, there was no looking back for Sonshine enjoyed our homeschooling time very much & always have been eager to start lessons with me. I learnt the hard way why it is important to be child-led.
I think it would be easier if our relationship was purely teacher-student relationship, but i am not just the teacher but also the parent. It was hard to play the two roles simultaneously- that was another struggle i had to overcome. As a teacher, you'd have no intention other than to educate the child. But as a parent, you have more desires and expectation other than just to teach the kid. It's a whole different ball game here.
As of this moment, my biggest challenge is to teach Sonshine with a toddler who also vys for my attention. It is really hard to find a time where i can just have some quiet one to one moments with him.

(2) What kind advice would you give to parents that wish to homeschool their toddlers at least before kindergarten or primary school. Any encouraging words? : )

Do it only if are truly passionate about homeschooling. Otherwise, it will take a toll on you and maybe even hurt your relationship with your child. Homeschooling involves alot of preparation work, the process can be quite tedious (and i am not even doing this full time!). You must enjoy planning, researching and making the materials for your kids or else it will be difficult to keep it going. What kept me going for so long is because homeschooling gives me intense satisfaction, more than any jobs i have ever had. 

Set very clear objectives and be very realistic about it. They are young kids after-all, don't expect the moon & the stars from them. Instead, expect that there will be days where they will lose focus, have short attention span, have no interest or maybe even throw up a tanturm. Give yourself allowance for such days. Be cool about it. Take a break and try it again later.

Have a clear plan how you are going to homeschool. Choose a methodology/curriculum that suits your family, decide which part of the day is the best for homeschooling, where are you going to do it (in the room? dining table?) etc.

Homeschooling pre-schoolers is, really, easy peasy (provided if you love doing it in the first place of course). Seriously, how difficult is it to teach the ABCs and 123s, apart from the preparation? You don't need to revise much in this case. It is actually VERY fun to home teach toddlers in my opinion. The educational games you can play with your kids- oh! So many ideas out there! SOOOO much fun!  Go for it, if everything i said sounds like a blast to you. I guarantee you, it is fun stuff and no other career can give you this kind of job satisfaction.

3) Also, what kind of products and services you wish you have had that would assist you previously to make your journey a more pleasant one?
None! LOL! I am very blessed i have everything i need in my homeschooling journey! That said, here are some of my basics 'must-have' for homeschooling preschoolers:
1) A computer with Internet access- of course! The Internet is heavily pregnant with a pool of ideas for teaching toddlers. SO MANY! There's no need to fret if you are not the creative sort; just look through the Internet- the curriculum is already written out for you!
2) Printer- This is necessary if you intend to make your own materials. Get something that can tolerate medium-range heavy duty printing. There are alot of printing to be done if you are going to make your own stuff.
3) Laminator- i lived without one for years and when i bought it, i almost wanted to kill myself for not buying it earlier. It helps to make your materials durable and prettier!
4) Household items. Don't throw away boxes, bottle caps, egg cartons etc so readily. These things come in very useful for home teaching- so economical!
You are probably waiting for me to name some Montessori materials. Well, i am going to name none. You don't need to own any Montessori material to teach Montessori at home. There are alot of free printables out there (and that is why a printer is SO important) that you can use, lots of materials can be EASILY made. So, no, there is really no need to purchase any.

I do think i have ALOT more to say but i guess this is the best & most concise answer i can give- while entertaining the little one. Hope this helps!

Friday 19 April 2013


When sonshine was 2.5 years old, i taught him about country flags. He loved it so much that every night he made us 'play' the country flags card game with him till i was so sick of it that i had to hide it away from him.
From there, it sparked his interest in World Atlas. I bought him his first Atlas book-Young Learner's Atlas (see photo above) and he read it everyday like it was the bible.
As he grew older, I taught him about continents, pointed to him the different countries and it's capital cities as we read the book etc. He was hooked. So, i would occasionally get him books on world flags and my mother couldn't resist adding on to our collection either.

But now that he is 6 years old, those books were too easy for him (also because he has already combed through the books from front to back). So my husband (who was also an Atlas fanatic when he was a kid) decided to get him a more detailed book. I was hesitant because i thought it was TOO detailed. But we bought it anyway.
I was taken aback how Sonshine dove right into the book. Again, he treated this like his bible. He reads this book religiously, morning, noon and night. I don't know what he reads about really, i have never sat down and read together with him.
Until one day, i was bored and asked him to tell me about Africa, and immediately he told me in excitement that there are 54 countries in Africa and the smallest country in this continent was erm..was sorry i can't remember but i checked- he was correct. So, i asked him where this country was and instantly he flipped to the map and without hesitation pointed to me it's precise location. I didn't even know that country existed nor where it is exactly on the map (i can hear my husband going 'tsk tsk tsk' at me). He even knows what's the biggest country in Africa, which has the highest population etc. Not to be outwitted by him, i randomly asked him about other continents and he readily tells me in a flash, pointing to all of the countries i never heard of.
And, even if i randomly pluck a country out and quiz him, he is able to tell me which continent it belongs to, yes even if it's an African country.
I suspect and won't be surprised, he already knows all the African country flags.
Once, even my sister had to enlist his help in identifying an unknown African flag for my niece's homework.
I think he has long surpassed me in his Geography. How embarrassing is that.

Teaching Letter sounds- My way.

Since i never taught sonshine the alphabet, having to teach it to babydoll was abit of challenge for me. I really had to start from scratch with her.
So i did the most clever thing ever- i let her watch television program. Well, she is a poor eater so i merrily plonk her in front of the TV and let her watch Leapfrog's Letter factory.
Alot of mothers rave about it- i am no different. It has been tried and test TWICE in my house. Both sonshine and doll learnt their letter sounds just by watching this show. Doll also learnt letter recognition from here.
I was over the moon because it just made my job easier. She learnt her ABC AND letter sounds just by watching this. I didn't have to go through letter by letter with her- which i think is really, time consuming & tedious. However, i do think the storyline in the show is too complicated for young kids (it is meant for 3 years old and above afterall) so i usually skip straight to the letter sound episodes.
The rest, i simply gave her tray activities to help reinforce her learning.
I find matching activities work very well with her. If i want her to learn a new topic say an animal, word, etc i just get her to match it to the corresponding cards. As she work, i name the object. From there she picks up the new names/word.
Same for letter sounds. I get her to match the letters and we say the sounds of each letter.

Another matching letters to cards activity.
Of course, read, read, read!

我会读, WO HUI DU

我会读 is a very popular Chinese book series here in Singapore. The book is designed like a flashcard format, first a word is shown on one page and then on the following page it shows the corresponding picture.
To be honest, before babydoll, i gave little thought to this series. By the time i discovered this series, he already recognised most of the chinese words through our Glenn Domna flashcards. So, i didn't want to waste money on it.
However, with doll, i felt compelled to buy this set for her since she is not taking to Glenn Doman flashcards well. I didn't think much but was hopeful. Still, i was very surprised by the result of reading the books in this series religiously everyday.
So far i have read 3 books to her, the topics covered were Body, animals and fruits. After reading the first book (Body), she could point to me her body parts when i say them in Mandarin. She can even name her body parts herself in mandarin. Although she wasn't recognising the words, i was delighted! Now she understands some mandarin without much effort on my part! Whoohoo!
We moved on to the next topic which i chose to be on animals. I read it and read it and read it until was stiff bored & alittle scared when she ask to read that book. It took her while but she now knows to name some of the animals in mandarin. I like to ask her "what is pig in Chinese?" and she'd pout her tiny mouth to say "ZhUUUUU", how cute! Or sometimes i would ask her '这是什么?' pointing to say a horse and she would say "MAAAAAA".
Just today, i caugher her sitting quietly by herself flipping these books. She flipped to the word page and read 'MAOOO' and then turned to the next page of a cat & repeat 'MAOOOO. CAT!' (just as how i would read it to her). She sat there and read two books to herself! I was tickled!
I don't think she can read yet though, i am pretty sure she has memorised the sequence of each page. Nevertheless, i am already very grateful that she can name some words in mandarin!
So this series comes highly recommended by me! I am sure i am there's many parents who agree with me on this one!

Thursday 18 April 2013

Montessori- Stamp game (Substraction) Part 2

Here's solving another type of subtraction sum.
Let's work on this sum.

First lay 4 ten stamps and 5 one stamps accordingly on the mat.
We need to take 8 ones away.
Looking at the One column on the green mat, we can see that we have insufficient one stamps to subtract from.

This is where we 'borrow' 1 ten stamp from the tens column and shift it over to the ones column.

1 ten stamp is equivalent to 10 one stamps (this is a pre requisite knowledge the child must posses before doing this activity). Exchange the blue stamp for 10 green stamps & remove the blue stamp away from the mat.

Now you have a total of 15 one stamps.
On paper, it should now look like this.
Point out to the child that now only 3 ten stamps are left on the mat.

So now, we have enough one stamps to remove 8 green stamps.

We are required to substract 2 tens away, remove 2 blue stamps accordingly.

Finally, you get your answer.

Montessori- Stamp Game (Subtraction) Part 1

This week, Sonshine worked on subtraction within 3 digits & learning to 'borrow' from the tens & hundreds to the units.
Just for fun, i whipped out our Montessori stamp game- also to give him a visual of how this all works.
So i decide to share here, how it is done.
(Note, i am not an expert. I do this within my own understanding).
You need:
1) A green mat. On the mat, there should be 4 (here we only need 3) columns to represent the Thousand, Hundreds, Tens and Ones units.
2) A huge pool of square-shaped pieces (resembling a stamp). The stamps are divided into 3 colours, green, blue and red. Each green stamp is labelled '1', each blue is labelled '10' and the red labelled as '100'.

For simplicity, let's use the above question.

First, lay out 135 units on the mat.
Sort them in their respective column ie. put 1 Hundred (red) stamp under the hundreds column, 3 Ten (blue) stamps under the tens column and 5 one (green) stamps under the unit (ones) column.
Looking at the ones column in the question, you are asked to take 3 ones away from 5 ones.
On the green mat, take away 3 one (green) stamps.

The question also requires you to subtract 2 tens from 3 tens.
On the green mat, take 2 ten stamps away. 
There's nothing to subtract under the Hundred column, so we leave it as it is.
The remaining stamps on the mat gives you the final answer.
You have left 1 Hundrend (red) stamp, 1 Ten (blue) stamp and 2 One (green) stamp, so you have your answer as 1(hundred)1(ten)2(ones); One Hundred and twelve.

I love using Montessori method to teach math because the explanation is extremely clear. And really, there is no need for lengthy explanation- you just need to demonstrate & the child WILL understand the concept.
If you think, well, Montessori is too expensive to own, well think again!
You can EASILY make your own with some creativity. I am sure you have some spare green, blue, red Legos at home, yah? Using some sticky labels, you will have your Montessori stamps in no time!
A green mat can be replaced by a green paper with lines drawn on it, yah?
Well, if you are still not feeling up to making your worries.
Here's a free printable you can print from Montessori Print shop.
If you need more explanation on how to use this, you can refer here too
Enjoy! ")

Monday 15 April 2013

Some ABCS, 123s and colors!

Here's what are on our shelf for Babydoll:
Practical Life activity; scooping & transferring rice. (Picture of rice not included because I don't leave the rice in the bowl when shelved, i only take it out during actual work).
Matching animal figurines to picture cards.

A closer look of the cards i made.

Matching cut out numerals to sandpaper numbers.

Matching cut out letters to cards. Here she is revising the sounds of each letter. I deliberately kept the letters in a zip lock bag. She loves to open the bag, dig her tiny hands in and draw the items out of the bag.
She has typically learnt all the letter sounds. I don't think i can move forward yet because she hasn't given me te green light. While waiting, i am just letting her revise, take the chance to drill it deep into her brain!

More matching, this time, matching colored items to color cards. This week she is learning the colors, Black, white, orange and purple. 

This is still on our shelf. She LOVES this activity. I have up the cards and added 5,6 and 7 (because she keeps asking for 'more!').

I bought this so cheaply during my trip to Malaysia. She loves to poke each numbers out of the board and fit them back. As she works on this puzzle, i took the chance to name the numbers to help her recognise the numbers. So far, she already knows from numbers from 1-5, whoohooo!
I love that Babydoll is always asking for 'more! more!' during our activity time. It tells me she enjoys them and looks forward to our time together. :)
Linking up to:

Montessori Monday

Rotten day

Today, i have been a lousy mother. A bad, rotten one.
I was unforgiving, hurtful and ungracious towards my 6 year old. All because, he couldn't do a work that i deemed easy.
Yes, i was being one of those tiger moms.
He sobbed, cried and said he told me he was sad (i think what he really meant was hurt) by me.
It is really easy to read my blog, or any other mummy blogs for that matter, and feel that life is all so perfect in our lives. It is not difficult to read and leave with the impression that we are moms who have it under control 100%. Truth is, we are all the same. We are all struggling to be that ideal moms but always failing & taking guilt trips.
So, don't for one moment think that I am a Supermom. Today, is one of those days that shows that I am far, far, far from it.
Soon after that episode, i called him over to my lap and told him I had no right to say those things to him. I told him i was sorry.
I deeply appreciate that he's very forgiving (and even forgetful) and recovers as quickly as 10 minutes. Right after I made peace with him, he was instantly back to himself, leaving no trace of remembrance of what just happened. He never bore grudge with me, never held any anger towards me, never resent me, never threw a dirty look at me, neither complained to his father nor gave a slightest hint of the earlier episode. He simply smiled at me, said he forgave me and moved on.
Sonshine, you are truly the sweetest little angel a mummy can ever have. Always smiling, forgiving and happy, never throwing a tantrum or anger at us. Mummy is really sorry and have much to learn from you.

Friday 12 April 2013


I bought this set a long time ago but never got to use them. I was stunned by the sheer number of parts & i had no clue how to sort them or store them So i tucked it in a cupboard in its mint condition. Until, inspiration hit me.

I bought these compartmental boxes & store the pieces, sorting them by the varying strokes.

This is how it looks like on the inside.
Now that i got the storage sorted, i used this set to help sonshine in learning his 听写. Actually, truth is, he doesn't quite need this aid to help him but it adds a little more fun into his learning. He loved it!
To be really honest, i don't know how to use this learning aid. I thought i could use it to teach Sonshine the writing strokes but, the pieces are not broken down into individual strokes (the 王 in the 玉 is already pre-fixed). And i said earlier, the number of pieces is really overwhelming. It is very difficult to sort them. If you sort them by color, you may not know where to find a particular stroke you need. So i sorted them by strokes, but still it gets complicated when some strokes are the same but different (these parts are very hard to sort). Finding the right (size) stroke is another challenge. You want the words looking proportionate so you need to make sure each strokes are of similar size as the rest.
Guess, you can more or less tell if i would recommend this product huh? However, i cannot deny it is quite fun for the child. It is like playing with puzzles and adds some tinge of fun in learning. So, I'm sitting on the fence on this one. It is a 'good that you buy but no lost if you don't' in my category!

Homeschool@sg Fun!

This being Sonshine's last year before getting suck into a rigid school routine for the next what, 10 years (?), we have been liberally allowing him to skip school just to play. Yeah, just play. From the begining of this year till todate, he's already skipped thrice! And more to come, LOL!
I don't usually blog about the fun things we do as a family. But i like to pepper the blog with some fun stuff we do, just so you know we are not always about academics.
Skipped school part I, to visit the zoo!

We went to Kuala Lumper for the March holidays. Loads of fun! And i got me pair of chic looking shoes for just $29.90 RM!! (I bought two, just for the record!)

Daddy was returning from his business trip, so Sonshine got to skip school again! Since we were there, we plot them into SingKids! Of course, they went ballistic!

And to celebrate our 7th anniversary, my husband whisked us away for a staycation at Marina Bay Sands. (That meant, sonshine skipped school for the 3rd time!) It was a sweet celebration! And ahem, it was me first time in bikini and i was liking what i see in the mirror! Who says mommies of 2 can't be looking hawt (if i can say so myself!)? :D And erm, no pictures!
This was over the last weekend which explains why this week, i've been sluggish and haven't prepared anything for doll to work on. Hee hee!

Signs that you are a mom

Being a mom means:

1) Your boobs are no longer private property.

2) You become a subject of your kid's imaginary world.

Let's see i have been tasked to be
a) an audience in a TV studio watching a live show,
b) a patron to his restaurant,
c) a fellow commuter on the train & lift,
d) a fellow Liverpool team mate trying to score in a football match against West Ham,
e) a student in his class sitting for 听写
f) his child as he pretends to be my parent barking at me to do copywork
...and counting

3) While inspiration is raining on you & you're furiously typing away on your blog, your 2 year old sneaks behind you and curiously click the main switch, shutting down your laptop in an instant. *Ouch*
4) You are not in the know of the latest hip hop song. Instead, your car stereo is always blasting 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!'
(And you actually clap along- whilst driving!).

5) You get greeted with huge hugs and much love as if you away in Timbuktu for weeks but in reality, you were merely gone for a 10 minutes shower. (Awwww, sweet love!)
Cheers to all moms! :)
Linking up:


Monday 8 April 2013

Sonshine's Week #2 (Math)

I gave Sonshine some practical life activity.
Instead of polishing silver (which i find irrelevant in our context), i prepared this activity for Sonshine. I smeared washable paint on a Duplo block, gave him an old toothbrush and a cup of water. He was tasked to wash the Duplo.

I found the tray activity too difficult so i brought him to the bathroom instead. He washed the Duplo under running water. He cleaned and washed it till it's spick and span!

Last week Sonshine was let off again and was given minimal work. He worked on a chapter from this assessment book.

He practised his Division.

There were word problem sums on division. The first few questions were rather straight forward and he had little issues. I am thankful he remembers his division even though i hardly practised with him, LOL! The last few questions needed a bit of thinking- two step equations involving subtraction & division.