Tuesday 31 March 2015

Post Term 1

I mentioned earlier that Doll returned home with two books from school. One book in Mandarin and the other in English. She rattled off when I asked her to read but I knew she was reading it off her head i.e she didn't truly recognise the words.
True to myself, I refused to let this go and decided to strike while the iron is hot. Since she has the words in her head, I thought what best time than now to teach her to read these words. And so, we embarked into our reading journey!
This was the Mandarin book. The photo is a little blurry- whoops.

A peek inside the book. I was alittle surprise that the school used this book; I thought it was a little too wordy and challenging for a nursery student.
(Some readers may ask me where to purchase this book. I have not seen it in any retail shop. I reckon that the publisher only sells these books to school specifically not to individuals.)

Like most Chinese readers, the book came with word cards and to my pleasant surprise, picture cards too! I LOVE IT!

However, I quickly found fault with the given cards. The characters are not separated into individual cards. For instance, "糖果" is printed on one card. If we use this, the child may read the words as one- she may not recognise the individual words i.e. "糖" or/and "果" if we split the characters up.
And that explains why I made my own cards with each character printed onto a card. :I Just as I suspected, Doll didn't know how to read when I split the characters up.

And the beauty of splitting the characters is that I can shuffle the cards and have Doll searched the lot and build a sentence, one character at a time. As you can see, I am a stickler for reading every single word. I refuse to acknowledge that she can read until she can clearly read each and every word with or without the accompanying characters.
I have to say, I would never have thought to introduce these words at nursery level. I think my primary two boy cannot even read words like "辣椒". But oh well, I am grateful that the school did in a way.

Here's the English reader she brought back. I had to cut away the top part of the book as her name is on it.

A very apt book, repeated words and simple.

Like the Chinese cards, I made my own word cards. It didn't come with any learning cards. Again, I split the words. The words that appear on the book are 'painting, playing' etc. I want her to recognise the root words i.e  'paint, play'.  

Lastly, because of the book she recognises the word 'at'. I seized this chance to try blending phonics with her. I prepared an 'at' word card and whipped out my DIY movable alphabet.
I placed the consonants that make up words with 'at'. I showed her that if 'C' is in front of 'at', it sounds out as  'K' + 'at" which makes 'cat' and so on. She did wonderfully well to my surprise (because I am not a believer of phonics, truth be told). All of a sudden, she could read 'mat', 'sat', 'rat' etc. Also, she can now spell the words without any visual aids.
And so, I am somewhat a bought over by phonics. I am quite impressed. Hmmm.

Monday 23 March 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew

It is a extremely dark day for Singapore. Our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has ended his journey. 

I didn't expect that he's demise will hit me so hard. I couldn't stop tearing the entire day. When I picked my kids up at their schools, I saw other moms, red eyed & teary. He's departure hit us like a ton of rocks. I feel like I lost a beloved grandpapa.

Mr Lee, you knew me not. But you forsaw me and my generation & fought hard for us. You strove all your life so to give us an education, housing, clean streets and clean government- a country where we can live in peace and securely. 

I thank you for taking the hard road for us. Your work has not been wasted, what you have endeveoured to give us, we now have. I hope our generation and generations to come will carry on your legacy, continue to build our nation. You will forever be in our hearts & minds. 

Now be at rest. 

Sunday 15 March 2015

Update- Doll

First of all, THANK YOU for the new likes on FB! I never knew anyone was interested in reading this blog. Honestly, the more 'likes' there are, the more I feel bad. I have been lackadaisical in updating the blog. It's just that there are two crazy routines in the house to adhere to that it has been really difficult to do any home learning. I hardly have time, more like no energy to prepare and teach. :/ (This post alone took me days to write!)

But here's a quick update on Doll. I try to take little steps with her. I reckon that a little each day is better than nothing at all.

Recently, I noticed she was confused with numbers like '25' and read it as '35' or '15' and likewise for the other numbers from 1-39 (12, 22, 32 etc). I tried all ways and means to help her differentiate but to no avail. To be truthful, I got very frustrated. Then, I decided the best way is for her to learn is to match the numbers. I made four sets of every number from 12-39. I intended for her to match the numbers, I printed and painstakingly cut them. 

But before I could even start on the activity, she woke up one day and all the confusion magically disappeared. She read all the numbers perfectly. So much for all the leg work. Now I've a stack of number materials- unused. Oh well, I am more than happy that the confusion has blown away. 

Despite the lack of learning, i am very thankful and pleased that Doll is learning well at school. When I sent her to school, I didn't expect her to learn much, in academic terms. Because compartively, she doesn't pick up concepts as fast as her brother.  I sent her to school because I wanted her to get use to the idea of school. I didn't want to wait till she's 5 to put her to school as she may play catch up with her peers. 

But she surprised me. 

After one term of school, she now can write her alphabets and numbers independently. I studied her school materials and they didn't give much drilling on writing, just one or two lines. But she picked it up well- I think all her practise on the iPad helped too. It brings me delight when she attempts to spell words and writes them on our doodle board. She managed to write simple words like 'cat', 'pop' all by herself. Also, she enjoys writing and I really think we are off to a good start with her! (Sonshine dreaded writing and still do.) It makes me feel less guilty for spending less time on teaching her, seeing that she picks up words and skills fairly well. :p

End of term 1, she brought back two books, one in English and the other in Mandarin. Before I could prompt her to read, she rattled off the entire book on her own. Although I am quite certain that she memoriezed the sentences instead of reading word for word, I'm still happy to hear her read out loud, especially in Mandarin. We speak very little mandarin at home so it is refreshing and encouraging to hear her read in mandarin. Although she can't recognize the words, I thought it was great that she is attempting to say out the mandarin words and hearing herself speak in mandarin. That's a good start. 

But me being me, I cannot let her off without recognizing the words on the books. So I'm doing my usual drilling to help her remember the words. I think this a great opportunity for her to learn when the books are still fresh in her mind.

Also thanks to school, it helped her to break the confusion with the numbers. I figured the teacher must have tell the kids the dates everyday that she eventually differentiate the numbers.
Thank God! It really drove me nuts!

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Long Division with regrouping

I have taught Sonshine division using Montessori. From then, he is able to do mental division without regrouping i.e 266 divide 2 or 369 divide by 3.
Recently, I decided to teach Sonshine how to do long division that require regrouping and how to do the step by step working.
I tried teaching him by making him memorise the steps (which is a mix of division, multiplication and subtraction) but it didn't sit well with him. Realising that he needed to understand the technicalities behind the steps, I started to search for inspiration on how I can teach him. And lo and behold, I found it in our very own Primary 3 textbook. I was pleasantly surprised that our Math curriculum is adopting the Montessori method in explaining the subject to our kids. Finally someone up there see the good in Montessori Math! They have very wisely and cleverly combined the Montessori Math with the long division method. I was impressed!
Anyway, I studied it and presented to Sonshine exactly the way the textbook depicted. It worked!
 Here's how:
Let's work on this question 265 divide by 5.
You need Montessori 100, 10 and 1 stamps as well as green skittles. If you don't own these, you can easily make them using colored papers and simply writing the values on the paper. As for the skittles, you can use any objects really.

First, take out 2 hundreds, 6 tens and 5 ones to make 265.

265 is to be divided by 5, so take out 5 skittles. To make it more interesting. you can tell the child that there are 265 stamps to be distributed among 5 people. Pretend the skittles are people.
Next show the working as above.

Tell the child, always start with the largest value first. In this case, hundreds is the largest value. Next, he should try to distribute 2 hundreds to the 5 skittles. Notice, there is not enough hundreds to give out. The child has to convert all the hundreds into tens. 2 hundreds equals 20 tens.
Show the working:
Explain that the top part is the number of stamps distributed to each skittle. In this case, zero hundreds skittle was used. So put a '0' on top. And zero hundreds were distributed, hence '0' below the 2 under the hundreds column.  
After which, point out to the child after the conversion, he now has 26 tens (20+6) tens altogether. Show this in the working:
He can now distribute all the tens stamps.
Notice after distributing 25 tens stamps (5 tens stamps to each skittle) he has 1 ten stamps left over.
Divert the child's attention to the working. Tell the child that each skittle now has 5 tens stamps, hence have him write '5' on top of the working.
Ask him how many tens stamps did he distribute in total? There should be 25. Write it down in the working as shown above.
Remind him there were 26 tens stamps but he used only 25 stamps, hence there is 1 ten stamp left over as shown in the working.

Point out to the child that 1 ten is not enough to distribute to each of the skittle. Hence, he has to regroup or convert the ten into ones. He should now have 15 ones altogether.
Distribute all the one stamps to the skittles. Notice that there is no more stamps left. Show working:
Focus back to the working. Have the child count how many ones stamps did each skittle get. The answer should be '3'. Show in the working.
Also point out to the child that he had 15 ones stamps remaining and he has distributed all the 15 ones.

Have the child to count the number of stamps EACH skittle received. In this case, it is 53.
Point out to the child that there are no stamps left over. And the answer is 53.
Phew! I hope i didn't butcher the explanation. It is alot easier to explain in person then over the screen. If you intend to use this method to teach, you have to practise the steps out yourself first! Unless you are very certain, otherwise you will find yourself fumbling over throughout the lesson and you will lose your child's interest or worse, trust. If you didn't understand a single thing from the above, you can try studying the Singapore textbook, 'My Pals' for Primary 3 level.
Some things to note before embarking this lesson, the child must have a good grasp of the place values (2 hundreds is the same as 20 tens etc). He must be able to understand the meaning of division. It is important the child has a good foundation in his basics. Sonshine is able to grasp this because he was first taught the basics, read here. So he was able to understand the above concept very fast.
It may take a while for the child to 'see'. Practise makes perfect! Sonshine took this explanation very well and because of this method, he can now do long division regrouping mentally. All thanks to Montessori's very clear and visual explanation!