Friday 30 August 2013

RedMart- a smarter way to shop

Grocery shopping used to be enjoyable until the kids came along and marred the experience for me. Any parents can relate to that. Grocery shopping with kids has somewhat become a military operation; it is like a battle with the motto 'take, go and get out!'. There's simply no luxury of time to study & compare the products, you just have to take and go before one of the kids act up.
Here's some of the inconvenience we face:
I cannot cope alone with 2 kids hence, I have to wait for my husband to be home for our grocery shopping. This means, we can only afford to do grocery during the weekends, which in turn means...
...every other person in Singapore is there too. Everyone is pushing a trolley and I find myself stopping every now & then either because I am blocked by a trolley or I am blocking someone else. Super frustrating- especially when I am racing against time!
It also means we have to spend some time waiting at the check out counters. With restless kids in tow, this can be quite a pain.
One of the things I detest MOST about physical grocery shopping- lugging heavy bags and bags and bags of grocery back home. We live in a high rise apartment which means we have to carry the stuff up a short flight of stairs, walk some distance to the lift lobby, and endure the pain on our arms as we wait for the lift before finally reaching home. I feel really awful because my husband carries most of the stuff as I need to mind the little one while the older one can only carry one or two bags himself.
Then a little Red bird introduced me to a better & smarter way to do this- right in the comfort of my own home through RedMart!
RedMart literally allows me to shop while my kids are sleeping! And there's NO crowd, no queue, no battles - BEST!!
While shopping at RedMart, I took my time to browse through the products over a cup of hot coffee. There is no time limit, no fidgety, restless kids to entertain! I am no longer dependent on the husband nor do I need to lug my entire kampong (malay word for village) down to the supermarket.
Moreover, what usually takes about 50-60 minutes (including travelling) of grocery shopping is drastically reduced to mere minutes with RedMart! With the time saved, I can get Sonshine to do more assesment work! JUST KIDDING!
RedMart even remembers what you bought earlier so that on the next visit you can zoom straight into 'My List' and click on the items you want to buy again. There's no need to re-navigate the entire web page on your next visit for that same items. Another time saver! 
I shopped online from my laptop but you can easily shop for your grocery while waiting for the bus/train to arrive, to pick your kids up or even in the loo! All you need is an iphone and download the app on your phone and you can literally shop anywhere, anytime! 
Above ALL, I do not need put my (or rather my husband's) arm muscles to test! This is made possible because RedMart delivers my order right to my door step. There's a promotion now: for purchases above $49, you get FREE delivery (valid till 30 Sep)! Now that's easy to achieve!  
If you have not discovered the luxury of shopping your grocery with RedMart, here's a chance for you to do it now! 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#

Friday 16 August 2013

Word recognition activities

This week, we focus on literacy activities.
When teaching my kids to read, I am very mindful that they may forget the words. Hence, I make sure they see and read the words as often as possible. Perhaps when reading aloud to them, I would stop at the words they know and have them read to me instead. Or I would follow up with activities to make sure they remember the words AND understand it meanings. I'll repeat and repeat and repeat until it is deeply rooted in their brains-no less! Some of the stuff I like to work with Babydoll as follows:
Word jig saw puzzles on 3-letter words.

Forgot to take a photo of the end product. Essentially, each puzzle is split into 3 parts with a letter one each piece. After piecing them up, the child will see a picture and the corresponding word. To make it challenging, I mixed a couple of puzzles for her and she has to find the matching pieces. She can do this rather independently and would say out after piecing each puzzle, like 'dog! box!' etc.

Another word puzzles- but matching a whole word to a picture. I mentioned before she can recognise these words and can also complete this without my help.

Matching animal toys to word cards. These are the new words she is learning at this moment.

Matching fruit cards to words.

Whipped this out for revision! I am so glad that she remembers all her words. I'm relieved that both Sonshine and Babydoll rarely forgets the words they learnt- perhaps my over-doing repetitions (until they get bored) helps? Hee.

I made her match the colored Duplos to the mandarin cards. I also up the challenge by making her match the English word cards to the Mandarin ones. She completed it with ease, no help from mummy. Yay!  

Sometimes, I just take out the cards and make her read aloud to me. Thanks to the above book, Babydoll can instantly recognise these Mandarin words & translate them in English for me- even without picture aids. Whoohoo!

Revising number sequence on my DIY number board. I can let her do this on her own we need to work on beyond 10!

Unconsciously, I made '6' and '9' too similar. But that's also how she realised on her own that when she turns '6' upside down, it becomes '9'- she told me herself! Ah, unplan lessons & self taught, I love that!

Tuesday 13 August 2013

The Three Trees

I rarely blog about books that I read to my kids but this one, this one takes my heart away and I just have to share it. It's a Christian folktale by the way.
It is about 3 trees, each with different aspiration. The first, wanted to be made into a chest so that it can hold the treasures of this world. The second, wanted to be carved into a boat so that it can carry the mightiest king of all into sea battles. The third, just wanted to stay still and point it's branches up to heaven.

Woodcutters came and carved them. At first, it seem that their dreams were dashed. The first was made into a lowly trough, to be filled with hay. The second was made into a fisher boat, carrying only poor fishermen. The third, was chopped and stashed away, forgotten.
Then one day, a man & a woman stayed in the inn where the first tree -made into a trough was. They laid their baby in it's lowly trough but it was then the first tree realised that it's dream was fulfilled- for it was carrying the most treasured treasure of the world- baby Jesus.
Years later, Jesus sat on a boat and calm the stormy waves. Yes, that boat carrying Jesus was made of the second tree- and there it also realised it's dream has been fulfilled for he was carrying the greatest King that the world will ever know.
The third tree was roughly made into the cross where Jesus was nailed. The tree had it's dream fulfilled too for it is standing still, gloriously pointing itself up to heaven.
Many a times, in our lives we feel that we have lost our purpose and dreams. We get dismayed and lose hope. But what we don't see is that the bumps in our lives are actually moulding, grooming us into what we were made and called for.
What a beautiful story and a awesome reminder! I have my own sets of challenges, but I have good hope in Jesus, that one day I will look back and be awed by how these challenges were used to transform me into the woman, wife & mother that God has called me to be. Amen!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Babydoll's working on....

Activities for Babydoll this week:
Transferring water with sponge

Squeezing...working out all her hand & finger muscles.

Sorting shape & color buttons.

Matching & counting.

She used Montessori counters and match them to the cards- this helps her to count in correspondence to the red dots on the cards. Otherwise, she would be counting till 10 when there's only 3 dots on the cards or she would be pointing either missing a dot or double count.  

Another practical and fine motor skill training cum sorting activity,

Inspired by Playhood! The wooden cylinders can be found at Daiso. Here, doll stacks the cylinders according to numbers. Each time she places one on top, she counts from the bottom to determine the next number.

Then, she created her own activity and decided to 'tong' the cylinders.


I bought these puzzles from Toysrus. Instead of facing the flashcards, I used these to inject more fun in her learning. Actually, this is just revision. I only took out those words she can read- just so she can keep seeing these words while learning new ones. I use this activity more for revision (wow that word sounds so odd to use on a 2 year old!).

A better look of the puzzles.

Friday 2 August 2013


I am in a bit of a fix now. I am so haphazard in my lessons with Sonshine that I don't even know what I'm doing nor do I feel he's learning anything new. Right now, we are just doing assessment books. But that's mainly revision and sometimes he needs to be taught before he can work on the books properly- especially for Mandarin.
That's why this post is born. I am trying to sort out my thoughts here. I find I think better when I am blogging- or writing it down.
For Mandarin, there are a few areas I want to tackle; writing (not just spelling but also composing sentences), vocabulary, Hanyu Pinyin, comprehension and oral. I know there are alot more, but that's overloading my plate already. While I know what are the areas I want to work on but, my problem is I don't know How. Here are some of my possibilities:
1) I read that the most traditional way of teaching writing is using 扑部 ( Sorry, I don't know if I'm using the right term). I can see why so. I think it is a reasonable way to teach writing (and word recognition too). It gives good visuals to the child; how the words can have the same 扑部 but form different words and meanings.

I could supplement 扑部 methodology with these visual aids I own which means I can incorporate some fun learning.

2) Or I could teach by theme. He learns to write the words within a particular theme like body parts, things in the house, school etc. I think this is good way too because it helps in learning new words more meaningfully.

3) Or I could rely on this other assessment book. I like this because it is a quick way to teach writing. The lessons are planned in such a way that it builds on each other, the words he learn can eventually write in sentences. Good way to learn sentence building too.

1) I could use the famous SWKD. I like it because the lessons have been nicely planned out for me. Each lesson is built on the previous ones therefore enabling the child to read in sentences and later paragraphs. I also like that Sonshine can learn a lot of words in a short time.

2) Again, I could use thematic approach. I can teach vocabulary by things in bedroom, classroom, playground etc. I think thematic is good because it helps him to compartmentalise the words into different categories. Again, hopefully that would be helpful in his oral.
Hanyu Pinyin

I have no doubt how i want to teach this. I'll use this as the base of my lessons.

And do alot of assessment books! HA!

I reckon there is no other way to practise comprehension than to work on assessment books?


I bought an oral assessment book and notice that most of the picture exercises go by theme like a picture of a classroom, living room, birthday parties etc. That made me realised it is important for Sonshine to know the words relating to each scenarios.
Next, comes the big picture question. Do i use different approach for each areas or use same approach for all areas. Like I could use thematic approach for all areas. For example, he could learn to new words (vocab), write words (writing), hanyu pinyin and read comprehension passages all relating to a birthday party. But that means alot of homework at my end. I have to source out the related themes under each category- ok that thought is making me tired already. And if do use the all thematic approach, it means alot of things have to go like SWKD and my other teaching aids- what a waste of money. 
But if i use all different approaches, would that confuse the boy? Yet, I think it is also a quick way to up his vocabulary if he learns writing say relating to body parts, while he learns vocab relating to the zoo and so on. The good is, I have everything planned out for me. No homework is needed on my part (ooo, that sounds SO good).
Lastly, my greatest challenge of all. How do I teach all these systematically when I've to consider other subjects as well? And I only have about 20 minutes tops with him everyday (not willing to compromise anything else).
*Shrug* I don't know.
And the morale of my story? Don't buy too many assessment books and teaching aids. You'll end up more confuse than ever! That's where I am right now! And I haven't even talk about English too!

Draw & Write

I have been neglecting the drawing lessons. I really didn't think it was that important, okay more like I was being lazy. Also, Sonshine is NOT good at drawing, even though he's following instructions. SiGh. It is not pleasant teaching him to draw.
Anyhow, during the past weeks, he is asked to draw animals after animals for his Mandarin, YAH (?!), Mandarin homework! Obviously, he's clueless and I've to invite Mr Youtube to come play at our house. It has been quite tramautising (for me)  getting Sonshine to follow step by step drawings accurately.
So the husband has been nagging at me to drop Math & focus on teaching our son how to draw properly. That's why I made him do this today:
Draw & Write. I wrote about this before. The child follows step by step instructions & after which write about what he's drawn.

No guessing which was drawn by me and which him. The circle thing with a stick hanging below it, is apparently a balloon (Doll says its lollipop), compliments from Sonshine of course.

Then, he composed his sentence. First, we break down the 4 Ws and then string the sentence. He didn't write this down but we talked about what adjectives he could use to describe the elephant- he used 'horrid' (all thanks to his favourite book now, 'Horrid Henry').

The end product was: The elephant is pushing another elephant today because it is stuck. Okay, I know it can be better but..

Actually, I failed to share the other time that for each drawing lesson, there are 3 sections. First, you draw the elephant, then you fill up the blanks in the cloze passage.

The second part is what Sonshine did today. The third part, as with the previous section, you draw the elephant- this time without the step by step instruction.

Then you composed a short story according to the instructions.
I bought this book from Kinokuniya or was it Open trolley? I cannot remember. But I ordered in online so I am not sure if this book can be found on their physical shelf. Do call to check before heading down.