Monday 29 July 2013

What is success?

If I were to describe myself as a mom it would be ill-tempered, impatient, irritable, prone to outburst, mean and demanding. Does that surprise you? I won't be surprise if some readers (I hope there is none) hold the opinion that I am patient & nurturing. There, I hope I've debunk any wrong ideas about me.
This side of me stems from juggling everything on my own & especially when things don't go my way. But I also realised I am most impatient & demanding whenever i Think Sonshine does not conform to as the society expects him to, I'll get stress, worried and therefore push & (angrily) demand him to measure up. If you don't, you'll be labelled as abnormal or even a weirdo, stupid and doom for failure. Like any parent, I fear that Sonshine will be out casted if I don't push him. I notice that the more I worry, the harder I push him. And this would result in the worst treatment he will get from me.
But that's so typical isn't it? We are all racing to get our children to be society's definition of a successful child. A child, the society says, is successful only if he scores well in school. An adult is considered successful when he owns private properties & flashy cars. And so, we are pushing our children to get those full marks and ourselves to get those costly materials under our belt. But, we all know that these are but shallow measurement of success. It is not necessarily true that a child with poor grades would never succeed. Neither does it mean a man with no properties and expensive cars is not successful. As long as he is healthy, happy & does not tie his joy with money, who's to say he's not successful?

While pursuing these definitions of success, we (well, at least I) lose sight of what is more important: our relationship with our children. It is very apparent to me that when i drop the pursuit, i drop the angsty nagging & I begin to enjoy my relationship with Sonshine. What is most odd is, during which, I will see more of his strengths than his weaknesses. Suddenly, he doesn't seem to be that bad after all. The thing is whenever we use yardstick set by the society, we will immediately see the shortfalls in our children. That's when we panic and start to push our kids to be and do beyond what they can. Oh, and how we fail to understand that whenever we use one-size-fits-it-all yardstick, there will surely be children who will fall short just 'cause every child is different. But once we throw away this yardstick and start to measure our child's success by his own abilities, we will instantly see that there will be a place in this earth for him & he will succeed in his own right. That takes alot off our shoulders and we begin to chill which results in better performance in our children since the pressure's off.

If you think this applies to the rat race in getting good grades, well it is not just that. How about those times when we push our kids out of their shells? When they are introverts, we hanker them to be extroverts because society says introverts are oddballs. When they prefer to play to learn, we push them to sit down in a rigid classroom instead because otherwise they are labelled as one with poor attention span. Oh! Isn't it tough to be our kids these days? Or even us women who strive to be thin & beautiful because, well society says they are more 'acceptable' and maybe even 'better'?

Yet, it is SO hard not to be suck into this rat race. Everyday, we are told either through television, commercials, newspapers,  Facebook and even friends & relatives of what the society's measurement of success is. It takes a conscious effort to step out of this mindset and make a point to think & believe otherwise.

I then think it is important, we sit down and think about our own definitions of what success means to us. A friends asked me once, 'What is my measurement of success for my children'. Wow, that was a tough question that needed weeks to ponder over! I couldn't find my answer so I turn to myself. At this point, I think I am successful. Yes, I do not bring in the money, but I still feel that I am as successful, or even more, than that female CEO in that multinational company. Because, I get to change my kids' diapers, pick & send them from & to school, be the one to teach them the ABC & 123s- because I get to be hands on with my kids. That to me is success but another woman may deffer- but that's okay. God made us differently & gave each of us different dreams & talents. Which then, brings me back to my definition of success for my children. I think it would be that they live according to their own measurement of success, according to the gifts & desires that God has planted in them. Yes, even if it is a lowly executive, a cashier but if that makes them feel like a million dollars- then that is success.

What is your measurement of success for your children? Take time to think about it. And when you find yourself suck into the rat race, pushing your kids to measure up to the society, point yourself back to your own definition of success for your kids. Hopefully that helps you to get out the rat race, relax and have a more successful and meaningful relationship with your children. That reminder is also, if not, mostly for me. :)
Linking up

Friday 26 July 2013

Word Recognition

Whoo-hoo! The girl is on the road to reading! Whoopee!
She's late as compared to Sonshine but okay, better than never.
Babydoll learns better with hands on activity, she is not particularly good at just looking at flashcards. Sonshine could learn both ways which made my life really easy & that also meant he learnt alot of words in a short time. No repetition is needed for Sonshine- just showing him the words once or twice and they stick in his head for good. Whereas for Doll, she takes a longer time and she needs repetition.
Now a word  about toddlers being able to read. I know there are experts who say that it is impossible for toddlers to learn to read and even if they can it is just memorising & they may end up being poor readers (especially if they learn by sight and not phonetically).
I don't know about that neither am I going to debate with the experts. Who am I to? I am only a MOM. But I reckon that if the toddlers can 'memorise' pictures say of an apple, plane or shoes and identify these pictures, I don't see why they cannot do the same with words. I mean, people accept it when the toddler can yelp 'bear!' on seeing a picture of a bear. But they cannot accept it when the toddlers do the same for words. I know English words are phonetic and not pictorial like Mandarin but still, it is an image, it is a form of symbol, a picture. So I don't understand what is so abnormal about a toddler reading.
And for the 'dire consquences' of reading by sight, well, I don't know either. But Sonshine learn by sight-mostly (and so did I), and he is far from being a poor reader. However, i would admit he doesn't spell very well on his own. So, I would buy the pro-phonics argument when it comes to spelling but not reading.
Anyhow, i wrote too much. I started this post to share the activity i used to help Doll read.
I discovered she learns faster and better through matching games. So, I set this activity up for her. (Before I go on, do note that the child should be able to identify the colors before working on this word recognition activity.) For a LONG time, she didn't and couldn't read the two words. But, recently, she could recognise the two words. It was an overnight phenomenon!
I wanted the words to edge deep into her mind and kept going through these words over and over and over and over again until I was sure that she can read. When i say 'sure', I mean she can instantly read out the words to me even when she sees the word on different mediums, be it one cards, books or my own writing.

Once I was certain, I then moved on with a new word. Again, using the same activity.
I let her match the red and yellow first ('cause she knows them) and the new word 'blue' the last- so there is no way she can get it wrong. With one lesson, she instantly recognised 'blue'.

And I repeat the same with the remaining words.
The other day, we had an impromptu play using Duplo blocks. I wrote the color words on a board, she read on her own, pick up that particular colored block and aim before throwing it into the basket. She had a lot of fun with that & it also serves as a feedback to me that she knows her words. :P

The moment she could read those words, she also suddenly took to flashcards like a fish in the water. These were the cards I flash to her (over a LONG period) and she finally recognise them.
I try to make it a game. I gave her our animal toys and have her match them to the cards. And just to make her think, I also gave her Mandarin cards to match to the English words. She could do it, possibly because each time I read a mandarin word, say 狗, I would follow up with an English translation, here I'd say 'dog'.
Yes, I admit, I am very eager for Babydoll to read. Why? Because I feel reading is the basis of most, if not all, skills. Once she is able to read, it will unlock many doors for her & it will enable her to acquire knowledge, yes even Math. Sonshine learnt alot of Math concepts just by reading books. That's why I wanted to get reading out of the way so that we can move on. :D That said, neither did I push nor force her to read. I only expose reading (through books, cards & activities) to her but did not made it like it was do or die. Anyhow, I am excited! YIPEE!!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Parts of Speech- Montessori

I Love Montessori method; I love using Montessori to teach my kids. That is why when i read up on Montessori's part of speech lesson, I just had to do it for Sonshine.
But I hesitated for a long time because, Sonshine was learning most of them through working on assessment books. In a sense, he already knows most, but not all, of them. I didn't want to bore him because Montessori recommends we teach each parts of the speech separately which means it involves multiple lessons. I didn't want to repeat what he already knows nor did i feel comfortable in skipping. So, in the end, I decided to tweak the lessons and combined them into one- tailored to his learning pace.
I made the word cards to describe each part of the speech for his reference (3 more cards are not pictured). Just a short explanation, each parts of speech is represented by a symbol. For a verb, it is represented by a big, red circle, a preposition a green crescent and so on.

First, I wrote a short phrase "The cat". We placed the grammar symbols after identifying which word is the article (small, blue triangle) and which is the noun (big black triangle).

I then explained to him we can expand the sentences using adjectives and that we use adjectives to give more description about the noun. In the above exercise, Sonshine & I brain storm on what adjectives we could use.

He chose to use 'horrid' as the adjective for this sentence. Again, i told him we could further expand the sentence with a verb. He chose to use 'pushing' and again, indicated the verb with the grammar symbol.

Again, we beef up the sentence using an adverb. This is where I briefly explained to him what an adverb is.
We did a few more sentence just to practise.
I enjoyed this activity alot. Yes me!
This takes away the boredom and technicalities of learning grammer.

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When it comes to choosing a diaper, 3 criteria comes to my mind

1) Minimal leakage
2) Comfort
3) Easy on our wallets 
Drypers Dry Pantz fit the bill!

One of the things I really love about Drypers Dry Pantz is that it rarely leaks on us and it is long lasting-ALL thanks to their newly designed absorbent core!
 When I am rushing for time or just being pure lazy, I tend to stretch babydoll in her diapers for long period of time. Amazingly, Drypers Dry Pantz still hold up during that long hours neither does Doll complain of any discomfort.  Despite delaying her diaper change, I always notice that her bottom is always kept dry, never wet nor damp. This, I attribute to Drypers premium soft layers that drives the urine into the core thereby preventing flow back.
Doll taking off the diapers herself
I am so confident that her Drypers would not leak on me that i never bring out extra clothes for her. Not even when she was an infant- i kid you not. This gives me more room space in my bag and allows me to travel light whenever i go out. Awesome!
Also, recently, I learnt that we are not suppose to put on pull up diapers on our kids at night because that is a recipe for leakages. Well, not for me! I use Drypers Dry Pantz even at night and I have yet to have a single rude awakening in the middle of the night. Whoo hoo! So this pretty much tells you how 'powerful' Drypers Dry Pantz is!
Because I don't have to worry about changing her diapers on time, I get to put my mind on other more important things like home teaching her, playing or even spend quality time with her. And while we are doing these things, we never have to break our concentration and momentum just to change her leaking diapers.  
The other thing I love is how soft the Drypers Dry Pantz feels. That gives me instant assurance that my girl is comfortable in the diaper.

I also especially love its soft waist elastic. It doesn't eat into her skin nor leave marks on her. The waist band is soft such that it is easy to tear off at the sides during a diaper change. Yet, it is durable and it holds on despite being worn by an active toddler.

As if these are not enough, Drypers is economical and easy on our wallets.
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If your current choice of diaper is doing you more wrong than right, then consider switching to Drypers  & enjoy a peace of mind like me! You can hop over Drypers FB and request for samples. Try it today!

Friday 19 July 2013

Pour & read with doll

This week...
Pouring activity for doll. Man, these jugs were hard to find! I got mine at Daiso after walking up & down the shop multiple times! The tray is also from Daiso, given by my good pal, Playhood mummy!
Instead of the beads that i use, you can opt for rice, grains, beans- anything bead like.  

This is a Montessori inspired activity. This is a life skill activity aim to train the child in learning how to pour (without spilling) so that she can pour her own drink in no time! Once the child can do this profficiently, you can replace the beads with water.

Scooping the beads into the ice-cube tray. Again, you can always use rice or any type of grains.

This is a Montessori inspired puzzle. It is used to sharpen the child's visual discrimination skill.

Lastly, reading. Matching the color duplo to the corresponding card.
I am SO SO happy babydoll has finally shown that she can read. So relief *PHEW*. She now can read a few words like red, blue, yellow & green. I wanted to make sure she truly can recognise the words so i re-wrote the words on a board (instead of using the word cards) for her to read. No problem there- whoohoo! The other word she can instantly read is 'nose'. heh.
I didn't teach her through Glenn Doman flashcards. She does not seem to be able to absorb through flashcards like Sonshine can. She needs to have hands on activity like the above to register the words. Even then, it took her a while to recognise the words. I started with 'red and yellow' but she couldn't read them for the longest time. But now that she is ready, she learnt 'blue' & 'green' over 2 days and can remember the words instantly. I guess, that means this is her sensitive period for reading. YAY!
Apart from English she can read some Mandarin words like 猫,牛,羊, 草莓, 苹果, 吃, 哭 just to name a few.
Doll is 27 months old.

Preparing for Primary school

The transition from Kindergarten to Primary one is a huge leap. The environment and expectations from the former is far different from the latter. Most parents would inevitably feel anxious and worried about how their children cope with the drastic changeover. Typically, most parents would be scurrying to make preparations to help ease the cross over.

I have done my own share of preparing Sonshine for Primary one. Some of which, I've prepared him earlier, some I am just starting. Here are some of the things in no particular order:
Some of which are:
1) Teaching him to clean up after a visit to the loo.

This was a useful tip I took away while reading one of Ingspiration's blog post (sorry I lost the exact page). She is a former primary school teacher & was sharing from a teacher's perspective. She shared on some of the things most parents would overlook.  I would have completely miss this point if I hadn't read her blog!
2) Telling time.

Sonshine could tell the time at earlier  age even the analog clocks. Lately, he has been over reliant on the digital clock and became rusty in reading non-digital ones. So, I gave him a quick refresher revision & bought him an analog watch. He's to put on the watch when we go out & I'd randomly get him to tell me the time. This is to get him used to telling time & wearing a watch (he's not used to it yet). Fortunately, Sonshine reads both type of clocks with ease, right down to the minutes. I am very strict with him, as in, he has to tell me the exact minutes ie. 3:19 vs giving me an estimate of 3:20. Hence, he takes a longer time to tell me the time because he is busy reading the minutes! LOL!

3) Carrying wallet.

I also bought him a cheap $2 wallet from Daiso and like the watch, he's to carry it out with him. I'd stuff $2 into the wallet and he's at liberty to buy anything he wishes with that money. This is to build he's independence. At the same time, I want him to take ownership of his belongings.

4) Counting money.

Like telling time, i started this way earlier. Sonshine was able to count money and calculate the change when he was 4- i think? He's able to calculate the change right down to the cents! Frankly, I am not worried about this aspect at all. I am sure he will do just fine in this department. I am just concern that he doesn't have the guts to tell the vendor when he gets the wrong change. Sonshine is introverted and sometimes too timid to speak up. Abit like me, actually. I'd rather walk away then to confront- if the amount is small. :P

5) Using a pay phone to call home

Sonshine remembers both our mobile phone numbers. However, he's not used to using the phone to dial out, much less a public phone. I have plans to teach him how to use those public phones in case he wants to contact us while at school. I am also planning to teach him to describe his exact location; I mean what is the point if he knows to call us but he doesn't know how to tell us where he is (if he is lost)?

6) Saying no to strangers & staying in the school premise

One of my concerns about primary school is security. I don't know, I may be paranoid but i think it is rather easy for any kid to run out of the school compound without anyone's knowledge. I have visited the primary school during recess and man, it is CHAOTIC. It is rather easy for any kid to simply run out of the school gate. Moreover, any strangers can walk into the school. Sure, there are security guards but uh, it does not guarantee full proof security still. So, I am going to nag at Sonshine at no end about the dangers of following strangers and leaving the school compound. I may even use fear tactics- yes I am desperate.

7) Taking public transport home

This is the least urgent on my list but one of the MUST do. I feel secure knowing that Sonshine knows how to make his way home on his own i.e take which bus number to where, take MRT to which station, which bus stop to go. My mom leaves nearby the school, so I'll, at the very least, teach him how to take the public bus to her house.

8) Seek God for help

I cannot be with him 24/7. So I am inculcating in him that whenever he feels sad or  troubled, one of the things he can do is cry out for help to Jesus. I've been reading bible stories and pointing out to him how those characters fell deep into trouble only to be rescued & protected by God. I told him God can do the same for him. Well, I really don't know how much went in his head- but at least i tried *shrug*.

I could go on and make myself even more paraniod than ever. I don't know how some moms can breeze through this phase! I have so many worries, questions and the 'what-ifs' and probably scaring myself silly. But, I know that this is the time to let him go. This is where he will truly gain his independence and take a step further away from mummy. :( I can only take a step back and leave the rest to God.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Number recognition game

Here is a simple Number recognition game you can play with your toddler.
Write the numbers on a paper.

If you own a Dot-a-dot marker, let the little champ 'dot' the numbers as you call them out.
I have seen other bloggers using this same activity for word recognition games too. If you don't have the markers, you can always use stickers instead or paints or stamps- plenty of other stuff you can use!
Have fun!

Obviously, I took the easiest way out in choosing a school for my children- my former school. I say its the easy way because I do not need to put in hours of volunteer work at the school just so i can have a chance to ballot for a place. Choosing this route means, I am more or less guaranteed a spot for my children; no uncertainty no stress.
I used to tell my friends that even if my school is the worst in Singapore, I would still choose this path just to avoid the undue stress. However, I am fortunate that I came from a relatively good school- not 'branded', not top of the tops.
Parents who have gone before me, that is, already have kids attending this school, are all raving about this school. Not because it guarantees supreme academic results. In fact, the principal have told them academics is secondary, character building comes first. This school is good because it is holistic, it does not over emphasis on grades alone but considers non-academics and character building as equally important. And i have seen my niece's report book. 95% of the report was on her character & behaviour while a tiny 5% of it was on her grades. That shows me this school, truly place grades at the bottom. I like that. I am so happy that this is my school, the same school my children are going. Phew. What a relief.
To be honest, if my Alma mater was one of those highly sought after schools, I would reconsider sending my kids there. I would much rather take a chance at balloting other schools than to send my kids to 'branded' school. As I have shared with other moms, my number one criteria in choosing a school is: It mustn't be too academic focus. The more it is, the further I would run away from it. Even if it is just 10 steps away from my house, I would rather my child travel the distance to a less academic focus school.
Why? If my kids go to any of these schools, i foresee 6 years of academic stress. Mind you, that is just for ONE child. Two children? You do the math. Even if I go in with a mind that I would not be bothered by their lousy grades, I suspect along the way I would be sucked into the rat race at one point in time. If it's not because other kids are doing way better than mine (causing mine to feel lousy about themselves) than it would be due to the teachers constant reminders that my kids need to buck up. I don't want that kind of life for my children and me for the next 6 years- thank you. I am sorry but there is no way a parent would be undeterred by the rat race. You choose a school that is competitive, you have no say in opting out of the race. N.O S.A.Y.
But well, there are parents who think otherwise.
Anyway, my definition of a good school is
1) Not overly focus on academics. The school's learning journey must not be stressful but must be at an acceptable pace.
2) Distance. The school must not be ridiculously far from my place. When i mean far, i mean anything more than 30-40 minutes of journey.
3) Demographics of the students in the school. As much as this may make me sound like an elitist, i feel this is important. I do not want my children to spend their 6 years with other kids who come from families with different values as ours. I know it is hard to control who joins the school but certain schools do attract certain types of families.
Fortunately, the school of our choice meets all of my requirements (or maybe the school has pre-set my criteria). I am happy and thank the heavens that my mother enrolled me into this school because now i can enrol mine! Actually, my own mom (and aunt) were from the same school too! This makes sonshine & doll the third generation in my family to attend this school. Wow, that's surreal! Hopefully, we can make a forth generation! :P

Friday 5 July 2013

Primary school registration jitters

So it is the parents of children born in 2007 turn to hit the panic button. Registration for primary school has started this week and will go on till the end of the month. It is a time where many parents go through anxiety, apprehension and stress.
And I thought I was spared being able to register under former student phase. Until I checked the latest update today and I was horrified to discover about 50% of the place has been taken up by the first phase! I truly didn't expect this because i never thought my school was a popular choice. The school's intake after the first phase is even higher than some 'top' schools. I was stumped, really, truly stumped! I hyper ventilated for a moment after realising my turn was not until another week. What if another 50% or worse, more than 50% of the place be snapped up by the second phase (I belong to the third)? O.M.G! Horror! Panic!
I always assume I will have the safe chance to get a place in my old school and hence didn't even consider a second choice. I will be at a total lost if Sonshine fails to enter into this school. Now I am scrambling, checking out the other schools around my area- just in case!
Oh wait, for my overseas readers. Let me explain. Registration to primary school here in Singapore is very complicated. It goes by phases. Priority is first given to children who already have an older sibling studying in the same school- that is phase 1. Second phase, belongs to children whose parents are former students of the school AND are alumni members. The third, which is me, are for parents who are former students but not alumni of the school. And there are a couple more phases after that..if you want to know more, it is here.

I was pretty relax, calm & maybe even laughing at other parents for being anxious until now. Okay, this is not fun at all, NOT FUN, NO NOT AT ALL! I know, I know. I still have a high chance of getting Sonshine in the school. But still, the result after the first phase has triggered the worry warrior in me and won't be shaking my legs until I get the all clear that he is officially in! Till then, I think I am going to breathe alot more harder!

To all fellow 2007 parents, I wish you all the very best. I am sorry I even sniggered at you for being stressed out over this. Now that I have tasted a bit of that anxiety, I can truly understand why you go through what you go through. Big pat on your back & mine! :I All the best!

*Breathe, breathe*


Thursday 4 July 2013

Math Assesment books for Sonshine (6 Yo)

This is a (boring) post on what Math assessment books I used. I never thought this was of any interest to anyone until someone asked me. I was also quite surprise that this topic (on what assessment books to use)  was even posted on a parenting forum!
Kumon books are probably a common choice among parents. I don't know why! But i first chose Kumon for its word problem sum series. It offers exactly what i wanted- lots of practice. Also, i like that the sums are similar; it gets repeated but in different storyline, because it gives the child lots of repetitive practise. Subsequently, i also bought their Addition and subtraction series.

If you are looking for a confident booster for Primary 1 Math, this is it.
It is relative easy and won't kill your child's interest. If I didn't remember wrongly, I got this for him when he was 5 years and he was able to do this with much ease.

I find it useful that it is topical. This means that after the child learns one topic, you can follow up by getting him to do one chapter as some sort of revision.

Subsequently, I decided to up his challenge and got him this book. I knew he was good at operations (addition, subtraction) but i wanted to know how well he can apply it. I deliberately got him a slightly challenging book because i knew the basic ones were too easy for him.

I can't say this is a very difficult book. But it does pepper its chapters with some questions that need a little more thinking versus those straight forward ones.

The Topical practice book was too easy for Sonshine (and he has completed it) so I went on to find him something more difficult. Well, who can set challenging questions better than our local 'TOP' primary schools? :D

Again, I wouldn't describe this as difficult. Rather, I would say some or maybe most questions are pretty tricky. I was quite shock to see a division question appear on a Primary 1 paper. Not just any division question, but division involving 2 digits question. From what I understand only simple division (maybe up to division by to 3 or 4?) is in the Primary 1 math syllabus. But Sonshine got the answer correct. I watched him read the question, stare at the illustration for a moment without scribbling on the page and then wrote '12'. I think the illustration gave him the visual to work on the problem.
Heh heh.
Edit: Okay, thanks to a reader, i just realised the above answer is wrong. :P Ah see I told you this book is tricky!
I shall return and correct his (and my) error! :)
 Oh well, I still am grateful for my error. It led me to discover that Sonshine can do division beyond 10, mentally. After he cracked 36/3, I went on to ask him what 45/15 is and 42/14 is. Without any pen & paper, he thought the questions for a moment and gave me the right answers. But obviously, he still needs some help in deciphering division word problems. :)

Color Play

Food coloring (I used yellow, red & blue)
Tissue papers
And fire away!
Let the child drop colors on the tissue paper and watch the transformation!

The primary objective of this activity was meant for doll to practise her pincer grasp while using the dropper.
For older kids, you can use this activity to teach them about primary colors and the results of color mixing.

Doll absolutely loved this activity! She was smiling and squealing away with each drop. She keeps telling me 'I Like Colors!'. I love how she talks and talks while working on this activity, she would describe the colors, tell me which color she will be using i.e. 'I want yellow'. At one point, one of the color in the cup turned purple and she even declared 'Purple!'. Absolutely love watching her do this activity. :)

Homemade Printables

This week, doll had some fun with  math printable made by mama.
Matching colored symbols.
For each symbol, I made two of each but in different colors. I wanted to her to exercise her observational skills i.e it may be the same shape but is it the same color?

Matching numbers from 11-20.
This was intended for her to learn counting beyond 10. She is at this moment comfortable in counting from 1-12 and then it gets fuzzy in between but picks up again from 18-20. Hee Hee!

A montessori inspired number board. Instead of the 100 board, i made a 20 board for doll to arrange the numbers in order. 
Another printable to help her in counting.
Each tree has a number indicated on it and she has to put the corresponding number(s) of apple(s) on them. The permanent Velcro stuck on each tree acts as a control of error for her. It guides her on the exact number of apples she should put.

Tong-ing cotton balls.
I thought she didn't have the ability to use tongs which was why i put this activity off for a long time. I have under estimated her. She took this like a professional! She even knows how to angle the tongs such that she can clip the balls into place. Lesson learnt from this mama!