Tuesday 26 May 2015

Come and Frog with me *croak*

I am very grateful to Doll's kindergarten teachers. They are doing a fantastic job teaching her how to read, write and study thematic topics. She's having a lot of fun learning at school too. That explains why I have been pretty laid back with the home teaching.
But recently I was suddenly inspired to make some frog theme activities for her.
 Bouts of inspirations like these does wonders!
Doll's teacher will go through the day of the week with her class everyday. To the point where, she can read almost all the days in words. I made this matching 'Days of the week' cards to help her reinforce her reading.
To make it interesting, I threw in the 'lily pads' into our sensory box. Doll makes the frog jump according to the day of the week from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday etc.

I bought this Safari Toob a long time back. So I took it out and have Doll find the matching poison dart frogs to the card.
I printed these free Frog Nomenclature cards from here. First I have her match the picture cards.

Later, she matches the word cards to the pictures. She can't recognise the words on the cards so she's expected to compare the spelling of each card and determine if they are the same. I would also read aloud each word card as she picks.

Learning parts of a frog. 

I managed to borrow two very interesting reads on frogs from the library.

As we flip through the pages, we try to spot some familiar looking frogs :).
Doll was taught writing alphabets and numbers in school. She's learning them very well and can write most letters and numbers independently. Still, I created these cards for her to practise her writing and hopefully, remember the spelling of the words :D.
Learning a simplified frog cycle. Matching the correct figurine to the right cards.
Since our last math learning, she now understands that 10+3= 13. I whipped this up just for her to practise and reinforce what she learnt. This time no visual aids, all done mentally and from recalling what she learnt the last time. 
If you need more ideas, there are lots more ideas on this theme over at Living Montessori Now here. Lots of free printable too!
Have a croaking good time!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Thankful Tuesdays

This post by Petunia Lee has somewhat knock me in the head. Indeed I have been far too focus on what my son cannot do than what he can do best. I always hound him for that 0.9% rather than applaud him for that 99.1%. I am hereby challenging myself to list down his strengths.

1) He's independent
I can trust him to manage his own school work. Very rarely I have to hover around neither do I need to send him constant reminders. I can fully rely on him to tell  me his homework  for the day rather than checking what was instructed in his hand book. I can also leave him alone to complete his homework; I don't have to nag him to do his work nor coach him.
2) He always does his best

Sonshine puts in effort in his school work. He's been like this since kindergarten days. I recall the kindergarten teachers, even those who didn't teach him, would come up  to me and praise him for his efforts. They said they could tell he really put in a great deal of effort to achieve what the teachers want. Now at primary school, he's Chinese teacher also recognises Sonshine efforts when it comes to his school work. She was so impressed once that she sent me a Watsapp during class praising him for his good effort. 

3) He is responsible

I was prepared for reports of lost items f& replacing water bottles, pencil cases and what nots when he began his primary school journey. Surprisingly I have none of that. He always brings home his belongings intact- nothing missing till to this very day. I can trust him to take care of his belongings.

4) He is self motivated

Once I totally forgot that he had spelling the next day. I was only reminded when I saw him taking out his textbook and revising on his own. Still clueless, I questioned him why  only then did I realised he was revising for spelling. Needless to say, I was more than happy that he takes ownership of his work. 

The other day, he had to list down of words with a particular ending that was difficult to look them up in the dictionary. I had to help him by giving him clues and how to think for more words. After he managed to list down about 5 words, I told him to stop there since he was only required to 'list down as many words as possible'. But he insisted to complete all the blanks. But this mama was lazy and refused to help him any further. Instead of closing his book, he persisted and thought hard on his own until he completed the list.
5)  He is a planner
We are a party family. So over the weekends (which starts on Friday for us) we regularly chill out till late into the night. There's hardly pockets of  time for Sonshine to do his homework. However, he surprises me by waking up earlier than all of us on Sunday mornings so that he can quietly complete his homework before we head to church. I'm heartened that this boy is able to think ahead & plan without our inputs.
At school, he also manages his time well. He tells me that he will break his recess time such that he has enough time to eat, visit the loo, play and head to the assembly area before the bell rings. Everyday. Whoa, the discipline he has!
I am thankful that he posseseed these traits, I cannot say that the credit is all mine (although I would love too, LOL!). These characteristics are indeed more valuable than scoring the As in schools. For if he continues to hold on to these traits, I know it will bring him far in his adult life (of course with Christ guiding & honing these traits in Sonshine).
Creating this list does help me to see Sonshine in a different light. It helps me to appreciate his strengths more than set my eyes on his shortcomings. I am truly thankful that he is blessed with these strengths. And I am blessed to be called his mama.
Now it's your turn to list down your child's strengths.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

I'm a tiger mum, helicopter & a kiasu* parent!

In many ways, I have the DNA of a tiger mom stamped all over me. There are dozen of areas where I simply cannot keep my hands off when it comes to Sonshine's schooling. One of which is his academic results.
I have no qualms about sending him to school knowing that he is going to get a scolding because he has forgotten to pack his bag or due to an incomplete homework. I can also easily allow him to pepper mistakes all over his homework and let him get corrected by the teacher. But when it comes to graded work, I morphed into a different parent. I keep myself up to date on his test dates, the percentage weightage and scrutinise every mark Sonshine is given or not given. I ensure that he gets ample revisions before each tests. I scream bloody murder at him over some careless mistakes and horror of horrors, if he doesn't bring home the full marks. So what happened to all that talk about letting him fail and learn? I confess with both hands punching into the air, I dare not allow him fail his tests. It will mortify me and send me panicking like a headless chicken in a coop. But how come I am ever so willing to let him commit mistakes in some areas but not in others? I stump myself too.
Perhaps it's because I am aware of his potential. I want him to perform at his maximum capacity, no less. If he is capable of a certain grade, be it A or B or C, then he jolly well bring it home. Anything less than what he is capable of is unacceptable to me. You may 'tsk' at me for expecting full marks from him, but in my defence, his school papers are relatively easy. In fact, they are way below standard. For now, I know he is capable of  bringing home that full marks, and that's why I am hound at him even for that missing 1 mark. 
The thing is, I want him to cultivate the right attitude in the task he is given. I want him to learn that he has to put his best efforts in his work and reach his fullest potential. I don't want him to settle for anything less than what he is able to achieve. I don't want him to think mediocre effort, and hence mediocre result, is okay. That's why I burn with anger and get down hard on him if he brings home less than acceptable results.
Since we stepped into this primary school journey, I also learnt that it not always the smart students who are at the top of the game. It is mostly the hardworking ones. The former is confident of his own abilities hence becomes complacent & less meticulous. While the latter knows very well he is lacking and hence puts in the extra effort. I don't want Sonshine to just limit himself to what he is capable of. I want him to understand that one needs to work hard in order to reap the results. That's why I pushed him alot to revise for his upcoming tests and what nots. Truth is, quite often, I suspect he can do without the practise. But I don't want to let him know that. I want him to think that it is because he had put in extra effort to revise and that's why he can score well.
I don't think I'll put on the same demands on Doll because I know her learning abilities are not that of Sonshine's. I would accept less than a full marks from her because it takes alot more from her to achieve that than her brother. As long, as she brings home her best, it is all well with me.
Or perhaps, I am just kidding myself. Perhaps, I belong to the kiasu parents who wants her child to be the best and not lose out in the rat race. Perhaps, when the time comes, I will be the same tiger mom to Doll.
I so yearn to not be academic driven. It eats me up and I hate morphing into an angry monster over that pathetic one mark. But the flesh is certainly very weak. However, what is encouraging is that I am less anal this year than I am last year. Perhaps, I would be even more chill next year and the year after, and the year after? I certainly hope so. Check back on me, 3 years later, will ya?
*kiasu- someone who is afraid to lose out in the rat race (my own definition)

Thursday 7 May 2015

Day In A Life

Have you ever been curious how other mothers, be they working or stay home, manage their daily lives? Now it is a chance for you to take a peak into some of our lives. A group of us SMB is on a blog train hosted by the very sweet Justina over at Mum in the making.

And today is my turn to invite you to peer into my typical day.



That's the time my alarm thunder into my ears. I wrestle with myself for the next ten minutes before I finally get down from my bed.

Soon after a quick wash up, I snail my way to the kitchen to prepare snacks for Sonshine's recess as well as his breakfast. The boys awake and get wash. I police Sonshine to finish his breakfast.
At 645am, my husband is ready to send the boy to school. He goes to work straight after. The minute they leave, I dive right back into bed & get my first (quick) nap of the day! 


My alarm nag me to wake up a second time. This is my most challenging time of the day- dragging the girl out of the bed & preparing her for school. 

15 minutes later, we're off to Doll's school! This marks my first of many exits for the day. 
I return home alone to an exceptionally quiet house. I spend the next 30 minutes doing a myriad of things in heavenly peace. I would be eating my breakfast or listening to worship songs, reading the bible, a book or just surfing the waves on the internet. 
All too soon my day slumps down as I make war in the kitchen and settle my longstanding scores with the chores! 
The clock screams at me again, time to make my second exit out of the house. This time to pick Doll up from school. I let her hang around the school for another 30 minutes to play with her buddies.

We rush home and I race against the clock to feed Doll her lunch. I've a very short window period before I pick Sonshine from school. During this time, I squeeze in a very quick home learning with her as she eats.
The girl and I head out once again to fetch the boy.
Mid Noon
We all return home. 
The kids make it easy for me as they know the drill. They automatically march into the bathrooms for their baths without my prompting.
Sonshine eats his lunch, Doll self entertains while I cool myself down with a nice bath. Sonshine gets to play & wind down after his meal. 
3pm, it is NAP time!
All 3 of us crawl into our beds and I embrace my second nap with delight. I knock out for 1 to 1.5 hours while the kids sleep for 2 hours. YAY.
Late Noon 

I wake up from my nap, somehow I'm more tired than before. So I perk myself up with a second cup of coffee; I savour the stillness and quiet moments before the kids send a tsunami of noise and mess into the house.

Doll awakes and breaks my peace. I take the cue and reluctantly wake the brother up as I brace myself for another bout of chaos.
The battle begins.

Sonshine takes his homework out (if not, he will do my assigned revision) while I hurry into the kitchen to prepare dinner. Doll joins her brother in the study room and makes a lot of distractions for him. I find myself shuffling back and forth the room and kitchen, juggling between barking at the kids (one to stop getting distracted and another to stop distracting) and cooking.

When Sonshine is done with his work and if there is free time, he will have his down time.

The kids have their dinner at 630pm. They are allowed to have their first TV time for the day while eating.
My favorite person arrives home and I shut down, mentally, physically, emotionally and immediately. From now on, my husband takes over!
He takes his meal (I will join him if I have not starved by then) and washes the remaining dishes in the sink (my hero). I retreat into my room, doors closed, for I am an introvert this way. I need to recharge in solitary. The kids have a whale of a time with their daddy, playing board games & what nots.
The dear husband settles the kids for bedtime. Sonshine quietens down and reads a book while I take Doll to the room for story time.
Lights out. If I don't lose the battle with the zzz monster, I will join my hero in the living room and watch my first tv show for the day.
The dark night creeps into the house and the still of the night looms before the cycle begins again the next day.


As I typed this, it occured to me that my life seems so mundane and 'dead'. I wondered if all that I do has any worth and meaning to it. After all, cooking & nagging the kids don't bring in money nor make my brain any more smarter.

But God spoke and assured me that there is annointing in all that I do as a mother. Even the very act of chopping the vegetables, He has annointed me to do it. And I was reminded not to demean my role at home for He has placed my role at home for a purpose. Oddly but surely not coincidentally, my pastor honored the mothers in our church last Sunday (early Mother's day celebration) and said the same thing. I knew then that the Lord is assuring me that I am where He wants me to be and annointed me to do so.


Coming up next on the blog train is Ing, a mom of 3 and former primary school teacher. She juggles an "insane schedule" (a term coined by her closest friends) running after her 3 kids, tackling the never-ending housework and at the same time stepping out as a mumpreneur. She shares mommy tales, kiddy thrills and learning activities on her blog, Ingspirations. Find out how a day in her life is like.

Blog train:

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Bitten by the math bug!

We have been hit by the math bug! Here are a series of math activities I have been working on with Doll.
The hundred board was getting dusty! I took it as a call to bring it out and have Doll work her numbers from 1-40 (just to refresh her memory).

Just like when Sonshine was a toddler, I accidentally found out Doll could do simple addition and subtraction. One day, she told me that after she drank one bottle of Yakult, there would be xx remain. Curious, I asked her if she had say, 8 bottles of Yakult and mummy drinks 1, how many would there be left? She yelped out '7'! I threw her more questions like these that require her to either add or substract by ones and twos. I soon realised she is getting the concept.
Wanting to seize this sensitive period of hers, I hastily drew up the above activity. She had to draw two cards and add them up with the help of animal counters.
Also, I thought it was high time that she tried her hands on the teen board. It is not my intention to teach her place value at this point, but I wanted her to see the pattern. What better way than to use Montessori materials!
I showed her that each of the yellow string of beads has ten beads. And if we add say one bead, the total becomes 11 and on and on. By the time I hit 13, she wanted to do it herself and I let her.
Much to my surprise, she grasp the concept almost instantly. Later even without the teen board, she could tell me that 10 + 6 = 16 or 10 + 9 = 19. She even figured out that 10 + 10 = 20!
I love montessori!

Over lunch, I would try to do a quick activity or two. Some time this week, I took out the number counters and we fiddled with it. I showed her that the number '2' has a partner (see the round counters) whereas '3' has no partners. She got curious and took out the other times in search of which numbers have partners or which do not have. We sorted out which numbers have partner and which do not.
If you have not figured out by now, I am taking a step forward to teach her about odd and even numbers. I still think she is not ready so I introduced to her the terms 'partners' first. Hopefully, it will help her understand the terms odd and even better later.

I got these huge dice and played with her over lunch. Sometimes we would count and add the numbers. The other day, we each took a dice and we rolled to see who gets the bigger number. I introduced the terms 'more' and 'less' while playing. I simply asked 'who has more?' or 'who has less?'.
Ah, I feel so at ease with math. I just love math home learning with my kids!