Thursday 27 February 2014

Count my ribbons!

I wanted Doll to practise counting from 11-20. She can rote count from 1-29 but I wanted her to do 1-1 counting. So I improvised the Montessori red counters activity by having her lay out pretty ribbons accordingly starting from 11.
Got to stop here and be real. Doll didn't take this activity like a fish in the water. No matter how I tell her, she didn't seem to get it right. I was hot frustrated and I had to walk away 3 times to cool down leaving her sobbing in the room :(. Yes yes, I know, I was being unreasonable, don't start that on me. I am not perfect, we all slip every now and then don't we? :(
I was frustrated because I knew this was not something beyond her but why couldn't she do it? On reflection, I realised what I did wrong. I didn't present the activity to her. I merely gave her verbal instructions and expected her to get it. She didn't understand what she was suppose to do.
So, I tried it again the next day. I am very fortunate because that episode didn't deter her and she didn't resist working on this activity again. This time, I  demonstrated to her in a very calm & cheerful fashion as well as worked together with her. And, lo & behold, she took off and did it herself.
Ah, lesson learnt (again)!
Anyway, while keeping this activity I decided that we might as well sort out the ribbons- another pre math skill. Hee Hee. I was making her keep and learn at the same time. :D

Sensory Play: Hear the bells ring

Here's a Montessori inspired sensory activity. These capsules were collected from our numerous Kinder surprise purchase. Instead of throwing them away, I used them for our sound play.

The last time we played this, I put in different items that make different sounds in each pair. This time, I wanted to make it more challenging by putting in the same item (bells) but of varying number. The kids had to distinguish each sound and find it's match. The kids had fun! Shaking away with a huge grin and an 'Is this it?' expression plastered on their faces. :)
You can use any bottles but make sure they are covered and opaque so that the kids cannot see what's inside from the outside. Have a blast playing this one!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Working the fingers

This week's work is all about pincer grasp, counting and some thinking is required!
This was meant for Chinese New Year activity which we did and are still doing. Sequencing the alphabets in order. Doll has to figure out which alphabets are missing and where to place them.
*If you scrutinise the board you will notice some errors- I'm well aware*
Another sequencing activity and a pre math skill. Laying out pom pom balls on Velcro strip in alternate colors.
Scooping beads from jar to jar
But as usual she was more interested in pouring and pouring.
Threading. In the past I'd let her string through the holes randomly. This week I ask of her to string systematically i.e  from one hole to the next hole. 

I delayed this activity until now because she didn't have enough strength to work on the clothes peg. Now that she has, I have her remove the pegs and snap them back again.
Mama's never going to let a week a go by without Math! I love math activities especially Montessori ones! Here Doll is counting the Montessori beads.
After she counts them, she lay them in correspondence to the number plates.
Linking up to:

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Monday 24 February 2014

Teaching Subtraction

I was looking through my old blog for ideas to work with my  soon to be 3 year old doll. I couldn't help but gawk at the things my then barely 3 year old Sonshine was learning! I cannot imagine teaching the very same stuff to doll. It was as if I was reading about someone else's kid! You can say I was a crazy mother then, but I say I was merely following my child's pace of learning. If I wasn't then by now doll would be learning at the exact same pace! But no, I am following doll's pace and she's not at the same page as her brother was. I am still sticking to my belief in following the child.
Anyway, I wrote too much. Here's an old post on how I taught 3 year old Sonshine subtraction, without any visual aids, books, long lectures etc. Just over a meal time and the lesson was done in 5 minutes.
{blast from the past}
I never intended to teach N subtraction this early, not until he somewhat masters the additions. But i accidentally found out that he was actually learning it from our daily ongoings.

It happened one day, in my desperate attempt to make N eat faster, i promised to 'free' him from the table after he finish 10 more spoonful of his food. As i fed him the 10th spoon, i heard him asking me '9 more?', and on the 9th spoon, he asked '8 more?' and so on until the last spoonful, he would declare 'no more!'. This went on for many weeks until it struck me that there in my face was the perfect opportunity to introduce to him subtraction!

And so, i began to teach him subtraction...during our next meal. Yes, i decided to go without any visual aids and go verbal and be informal. So as he ate his 10th spoon, i would simply ask him 'how many more?' and he would reply '9 more'. And i would say so '10 minus 1 equals 9!' and so on. It didn't take long after he got the hang of Subtraction. Subsequently, i wrote the equations on the some cards so he can have a visual on what subtraction equations look like.

Since then, he is able to do any subtraction equation (i.e. X minus 1) even for higher numbers like '100 minus 1' or '300 minus 1'. I think what made it easy to teach was that he could count backwards prior to this and he understood that minus 1 means going down a number by one.

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*extracted from my old blog*

Giving thanks

I try to raise Sonshine to be as independent as he can be. He is not there yet, there are loads of things I have to help him still. But I try to be conscious of what he is capable of doing. My philosophy is, as long as he is more than able to tackle a task then, do it himself he must.
It started when he was in Kindergarten 1. Back then, I had an infant to mind and there was no other adult at home in the day to help. You can say circumstances forced him to be independent. From then onwards, I only gave verbal instructions to him and expected him to follow up. It was then he started a wee bit of independence, he learnt to put on & buttoned/unbuttoned his uniform (which help us greatly now since he's primary uniform is also button on), he even watched the clock & would automatically put on his uniform when it was time! Gradually, I got him to pack his own bag (though there was nothing much to pack), I held him accountable for remembering things to bring to school and follow up his own homework. Even for spelling revision, I didn't sit down and teach him but made him learn on his own.
All these are catching up with us today- in a good way. These habits are still in existent now that Sonshine is in primary school. It does not matter that it is 6:30am in the morning, everyone is bleary-eyed and the sky's still dark, I still make him put on his uniform, shoes, socks on his own. He carries his own bag to and from school-rain or shine. I casually told him he should pack his own bag and I was pleasantly suprised when he actually packed his bag without my prompting! Today, he is still learning his spelling on his own while I merely spring a suprise test on him every now and then.
While it is natural and normal for 6-7 year olds to be forgetting their homework, instructions from school, losing their belongings etc, Sonshine is sparing us from all of that. I suppose the little independence training he had helped him to be on the ball i.e. he brings back what he's suppose to bring back and hands in what he's suppose to. He is fully aware that he is responsible for his own school matters- not mummy.
I am humbly thankful and grateful. Because of him, I get to help other mothers with kids in the same class (yes, he makes me look good). It spurs me on to make him as independent as soon as possible- then my life would be so easy! LOL!

Thursday 20 February 2014

Counting, reading & fruits

I taught Doll how to read number words from one to ten. Since she can also count and recognise words relating to some fruits, I decided to create the following work for her.
My objective is to 1) expose her to these words as much as possible  so that they are deeply rooted into her memory
2) help her see that when words join together they mean something
3) get her started on reading short phrases
4) practise her counting
I made her fruit picture cards, on each card there are a variety number of a particular fruit. She's to read the word cards and match to the correct picture card.
At first, I would lay out 3 picture cards at a time in order to avoid confusing her. But she tend to guess the words by looking at the picture cards. So I took away the picture cards and made her read aloud from the cards.

When she was comfortable reading each card, I whipped out all the picture cards at one go and have her match the word cards one by one. One thing I notice, she didn't need to count the number of fruits on each card, she could instantly tell which card has say 3 pears or 4 bananas. (Ok granted they are a small number)

Before you think she took this like a fish in the water, not really. I had to get her to do this activity repeatedly over a few weeks. She tend to confuse the word 'apples' with 'pears' although she can recognise 'pear' *shrug*. But with repetitiion, she eventually sorted out the two. :)

Wednesday 19 February 2014

A Love letter to my Champion

Dear Sonshine
When I look at you today, I can sigh a thousands sighs of relief over and over and over again. How far you have come and what a journey we went through last 2-3 years! I am simply grateful that everything turned out good.
Remember when you were 3 years old? How you were barely speaking and got me so terribly worried? Even when you spoke, your pronunciation was way off. Do you recall how your worried mom whisked you away to see a speech therapist? Only to have you speak accurately the very next day!
Then when you turned 4, I became increasingly worried because you were not interested in any social interaction. It was always common to see you absorbed in your own play at one corner and your peers in another. In preschool, the teacher would say how quiet you were and how you'd avoid eye contact. I was worried enough to send you for an assessment even though at home you were like any other kid with good responses & eye contact & showed no other signs of developmental delays.
Turns out that you are alright. You are the way you are because you are. :) Later, I read up on introverts and I felt I was literally reading about you. (That's when I also learnt that some introverts avoid eye contact too)
While I was busy worrying and scouting for answers, you were slowly, very slowly emerging from your shell. You started by playing and talking with one, just one, friend. After a whole year or so, you began to play with kids you meet at the playground. With each birthday mark, you became more and more comfortable & interested in interacting with people. It is also evident in your eye contact with others that you are gaining more confidence in social settings.
Just last night, I saw how you played with your peers whom you met only the second time, how you chatted with the girl- it made me really proud how far you have come. I was once again reminded that all that behaviour was unheard & unseen of you years ago. Did you know I heaved another sigh of great relief and thankfulness?

I remember worrying about how you would cope in primary school. I worried that the teacher would call me up and suggest that you are not suitable for school. Thank God, those fears were unfounded. You are doing excellently well as recorded by the teacher in her weekly report. Can I just say, 'PHEW!'?
I cannot help but swell with pride whenever I am reminded of your progress. To others, this is nothing or even taken for granted. But those days of worrying & crying over your future was not fun at all; it made me appreciate your growth & progress even more. I don't care if you are far behind your peers (or even ahead for that matter), all I care is that you make improvements. I remind myself to compare you with you and not some other kid. When I do that, I see great progress and it makes me want to shout it out-too bad that others read it as bragging. In any case, seeing your marked improvement, you do deserve some bragging rights baby, :).
My only regret is that I was so caught up with worry during those years that I pushed you so hard to come out of your shell. I was so absorbed in doing that, that I forgot to enjoy you. But you always kept your composure, smile, joy and love despite it all. You're an amazing kid, you know that, son? You truly are. You are a champion in your own rights! Mummy loves you more than you will ever know! I am glad that I am enjoying  you more and your sillyness. I'm looking forward to more victorious years ahead with you Champion! MUAKS!
Your Sweet heart
(Yes, he calls me that)

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Prep for Primary One (1)

I am going to start a series of Primary 1 (P1) preparation posts. It is a tad early for those due for P1 next year, but I better jot it down now especially when my memory is still fresh! So, if your kid is going to P1 next year, remember to bookmark this page!
My first of the 3 post would be on Preparing for P1 Orientation. What? We need to prepare for orientation? Well, yes and no. It is of the mindset and some strategies is needed. I'll tell you more.
Before I go on, please be aware that different schools have differing programmes. I am sharing based on my own experience. However, I know the orientation programs are generally the same across the schools.
So here goes:
1) Be prepared to let go.
Again, other schools may have different practice. In our school, parents and their kids were immediately separated the moment we stepped into the assembly area. I'll be honest and say it made me panic alittle. I wasn't prepared to let him go out of my sight especially in a new environment.  I was worried that Sonshine may get lost in the big school, or that he may wander off  etc. It is no longer like it was in kindergarten where the kids are nicely secure within the school premise. In primary school, there are a thousand and one ways the kid can run off and get lost or even out of the school. However, I plucked up enough courage to settle him in his class group and forced myself to walk away while a few parents were still hovering around their kids.
When  it was due for me to pick him up. I was horrified. I walked into the hall and was greeted by a sea of 6 year olds running amok. For a while, I couldn't locate Sonshine  as he seemed to have disappeared into the crowd & suddenly all the kids looked the same! It was quite scary. Imagine my relief when I spotted him!
It was there and then, I told myself that it was time that I learn to let him go & not to depend the teachers to hover around him 24/7 but groom him to be independent & trust him to take care of himself.
I said all that to share that you may be separated from your kids. Some may be alright with this but it may be quite challenging for others. If you are the latter, make sure you give specific instructions to your child to follow the teachers' instructions, not wander off and wait for you.
2) Arm yourself with pen and proper documentations
This seems like redundant to say but yours truly forgot her bank details neither could her husband remember their account number. You can imagine the hassle thereafter. You need your bank account number if you are planning to pay the school fees via GIRO.
Also, be prepared that there will be a number of forms to fill in. I say 'a number' but I really mean 'a lot'. I was overwhelmed by the forms to be filled in (to be submitted on the very same day) and I seem to be writing the same details again and again and again on each form. It doesn't help that I can't recall Sonshine's identity number and *cough* even my own house number. So filling the form wasn't a breeze for me. I was scolding myself for not sending the husband to do this since he is much faster and better at this than me. Take it from me, get all your details ready and send the better parent to do this task!
3) Strategies!
Besides the orientation, you likely need to buy textbooks, uniforms and book school bus on the same day. Be mindful that you are not the only parent there, hence the queue for each station will be massive. I talked to some parents and was surprise by how some came prepared with strategies!
a) While one parent sit in for the orientation talk, the other parent scoots off to do the purchasing! This is the time when the queues are non-existent or very short. How clever!
b) After the orientation, one parent queue at one station at the same time, killing two birds with one stone.
Poor me, my husband left the school with a tired babydoll and I was left to settle all of it myself! It was overwhelming. So make sure, you get your other half to come down with you (leave the younger ones at home). If not, make sure you have your mother, father or helper come with you! Obviously, they need to know what to buy.
You may be wondering why would one bother to queue to buy textbooks in the school when we can get them at Popular bookshops. Ah, you see, you still need to join in the queue because it is the only place where you can get the schools' exercise books and what nots. I bought some textbooks from Popular but I still end up joining the queue for books. :( I notice some parents lug along a luggage bag or a trolley bag. At first sight, they look ridiculous but on second thought they came well prepared. The textbooks are not light (especially if you are buying everything on the list on that day). The trolley bags will help you lighten your load particularly if you are taking public transportation.
So there, I hope these will help someone out there.
For me, I wasn't prepared (physically & mentally) at all. I had thought it was merely to attend a talk, fill in some forms and the purchasing would be a breeze. It might have been if I didn't bring along doll and that the talk & filling up form didn't zap up my energy. Even if you didn't do any preparation- no fear. You will still get by. Above all, both parent and child enjoy the process!!