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Kor Kor’s Current Favs

The hottest books in our home at the moment…

Dinosaurs and more dinosaurs

Dinosaurs and more dinosaurs

We have had dinosaur books at home since very long ago, but Kor Kor wasn’t always particularly interested in them. His interest was revived recently after our visit to the Titans of the Past exhibition. Just received the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs and we are loving it! The book introduces 52 dinosaurs, each over a two-page spread with lovely illustrations and bite-sized information.

To space we go!

To space we go!

Our affair with the planets started very innocently… One morning Kor Kor asked to play with stickers and the choices I gave him included one of planets and rockets. From our earlier readings he easily recognized Earth and started to ask questions about the other round things. I stumbled along trying to answer his questions to the best of my knowledge (i.e. very limited). Sensing that his curiosity was aroused (no help from Mummy’s inadequate answers), I gave him the relevant books from our set of encyclopaedia.

As I looked at him eagerly flipping through the books, I realised it was one of those MOMENTS – one of the reasons why I decided to be a sahm, so that I could ‘catch’ his passions and stoke the flame! As soon as I could, I googled for good books on the topic and reserved two books from the library online.

And, err, I had ‘accidentally’ ordered the NG Little Kids Big Book of Space when I was ordering the dinosaur book. BEST! Really, these First Big Books are very, very good. I strongly recommend them!

Borrowed the Chinese books during a trip to the library. It IS taxing to read them to the boys, but I would like the children to know Chinese not just as a subject, but also as a ‘common language’ – whether it’s Science, Math, Geography, etc, we can learn about them not just in English!

Loving the series!

Loving the series!

We have had the Magic School Bus book on dinosaurs for quite a while, from our neighbour whose kids have outgrown it. But the book was sorta cast aside as I found it too wordy. Now I know it was because Kor Kor wasn’t that keen on the topic back then, so he didn’t really pay attention when I read it to him, so I found it difficult to engage him.

Then I happened to find the MSB Lost in Space book recently when he is in his Space obsession… and the rest is history! He totally loves MSB now! The next thing I know, he has dug out the dinosaur one from dunno where and is flipping through it on his own.

It’s a very different feeling now that he’s captivated and engrossed and asking relevant questions whenever I read this book to him. Very easy for him to learn and for me to teach when the MOMENT is right : )

(I didn’t purposely only borrow the Chinese MSB books. I would prefer the English ones as they are easier for me to read and understand. I can understand Chinese but my processing speed is only half at best. But the English ones are usually unavailable, while there are soooo many Chinese copies on the shelves. My brain told me not to take the Chinese books… tired you know… But my heart said, ‘take them… you know your son will love them regardless of language…’ Multiple brain cells gonna die in the next few weeks.)

What are your child(ren)’s favorite topics? Do share!

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Beach Clean Up!

A mummy friend had a great idea to get the kids to pick up trash at the beach, and that’s what we did!

Before the outing, I prepared the boys by reading the book ‘Bella Saves the Beach‘ with them. It is a story about a girl getting worried about the beach becoming dirtier and dirtier, and how she took action to clean up the beach. Most apt for my purpose! (I found the book by trawling the Internet for suitable books on the topic, and only found this. It is not available at the library, so I bought it online.)

After going through the book, I showed the boys some photos of sea animals getting stuck in trash like six-pack rings and fishing nets and dying from swallowing too much plastic. Also showed them a photo of jellyfish and plastic bags, to help them understand that sea animals who feed on jellyfish might not be able to tell the difference and thus eat a lot of plastic bags. (Just google for more!)

Explained to them that the sea animals were suffering because people threw trash into the sea and that we could help the animals by picking up trash from the beach. The boys had seemed quite affected by the pictures of the poor animals… and I was just about to give myself a pat on the back for a job well done…

Me: “So tomorrow we go and pick up trash from the beach, ok? We must help the poor turtles and whales, right?” (Already told them we would be going to the beach a few days ago.)

Kor Kor: “No!”

Me: “You don’t want to go to the beach???”

Kor Kor: “I want to go to the beach to play with sand! Don’t want to pick up trash!”

What to do…

The next day, we headed to the beach to meet up with a few other mummies and their kids. After we managed to tear the kids away from sand play give the kids a briefing on what we were going to do and why, we got started armed with gloves and plastic bags.

Yes, that’s my eldest picking up trash, not a stand-in. He didn’t say anything when we told the kids to get started. No complaints about wearing the glove or whatsoever. I was the one who surrendered to the hot sun first and got the boys back to drink water. (See, the POWER of peer influence. Not that any of the other kids were trying to influence him, not even with a suggestive glance. I must remember this as the children grow older. The power of peers.)

After the trash-picking, one of the mummies gave the kids a debrief, showing them the trash items collected and explaining how they would harm the sea creatures.

Despite Kor Kor’s initial callousness reluctance, I think the beach clean up was a success! It was a good experience for the children, and as I always say, there wouldn’t be a second time without the first!

 

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Pretend Play – Hats!

Those pretend play costumes are soooooo adorable, aren’t they? Unfortunately, they are usually not cheap and too big for my boys. Furthermore, who wants to waste those precious minutes putting on &/or taking off the costumes when they are really into the spirit of things NOW?

All the hats are from Daiso the $2 shop! No intention to dress my boys up as reindeer for Christmas, but I thought they were a great prop for pretend play.. all year round! I didn’t see them until recently though, guess they were part of the Christmas seasonal items.

Hats are very conducive for pretend play dress-up, cos the boys can change hats very quickly – one moment a soldier, the next a bunny! And very convenient to stack up for storage!

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Learning Without Teaching Chinese ่€ณๆฟก็›ฎๆŸ“

Since Day One, both Daddy and I speak mostly Mandarin to the kids. Other than feeling more comfortable in our Mother Tongues, I have always felt that Chinese is way more difficult to master than English.

Thus I read a lot of Chinese books to the kids, including non-fiction books. Often, I realise that the Chinese translations of well-known English books are very, very well-written, sometimes even better than the originals in my opinion. And if the original is not English, I will always choose the Chinese version over the English version. And since we converse in Mandarin, the Chinese version feels more familiar and endearing too. (Whenever possible, I choose books which do not have hanyu pinyin, because I do not want the kids to rely on hanyu pinyin to read the words.)

I make sure that their name stickers have their Chinese names. Our reward chart and routine are written in Chinese too. More than a year ago, I realised Kor Kor was talking to/for his trains in English. He wasn’t speaking much then (he only started speaking at three years old), so it was just bits and pieces, like the trains’ names. (Yep, I even used the trains’ Chinese names with him.) Immediately, I bought him Chinese Thomas and & Friends books, to nudge him back to using Mandarin.

(We do have many English books as well, and we often read English books to the kids too. Thus, I think the boys had no problems understanding English, though they might have some difficulties speaking English. Anyway I wasn’t worried at all.)

Recently I decided to introduce the character strokes to Kor Kor (but Didi also listens in most of the time).

And to introduce dictionaries as well!

I wasn’t really expecting Kor Kor to use the dictionaries. Just thought I would leave them where he could see them, so that when he was ready to start using a dictionary, he would know where to find one. But just a few days after I bought the dictionaries, I saw Kor Kor flipping through the beginner dictionary, and using his finger to trace the strokes of the words! Then he told me ‘this word has four strokes’. WHEEEEE..! Never underestimate a child’s readiness! The morale of the story is, if I didn’t provide the dictionary, he wouldn’t have had the chance to use it, and I wouldn’t have known he could. Granted, he wasn’t really using the dictionary to check words yet, but at least he is now familiar with thick thick dictionaries and using them to learn strokes. What’s the worst that could happen anyway – some dust on the dictionaries? ๐Ÿ˜›

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School Dental Service – Awesome!

The boys had their first visit to the dentist recently, and the experience was simply awesome!

I first started thinking about bringing Kor Kor to the dentist three years ago (he cut his first tooth at five months old and had almost all his baby teeth by one year old), but kept putting it off because I did not know of a suitable dentist, especially since I expected Kor Kor to have a meltdown difficult time there. Didn’t wanna waste money…

Until a month ago. I learnt of a friend’s positive experience bringing her son, who is the same age as Kor Kor, to the School Dental Service (SDS). And it’s only $9 for basic consultation! Hmm, it’s definitely worth $9 to let Kor Kor have his first experience with a dentist, even if his teeth doesn’t get cleaned. I told myself, no matter how horrid the visit turned out to be, there would be no second visit without a first. So I bit the bullet and made an appointment.

Went through the books with the boys to prepare them for the dental visit

Went through the books with the boys to prepare them for the dental visit

Kor Kor didn’t disappoint. He absolutely refused to get onto the dentist’s chair, and started crying and screaming and kept pushing Didi to the gallows dentist. Sigh, I thought ok, that’s it, let’s try again next time.

But the dentist (Dr Ng Hin Yeung) was very patient and kept trying to reach out to Kor Kor. Since Kor Kor was adamant in refusing to sit on the chair, Dr Ng bent down and knelt on the floor to check his teeth. He patiently introduced each instrument to Kor Kor and sought his permission to put it in his mouth. And guess what, Kor Kor eventually agreed to go up on the chair! And he passed the teeth check! And got his teeth polished! *celebrate*

Then it was Didi’s turn. We had to register again as the counter staff said she could not help us to schedule the two boys with the same dentist. While we were waiting to go into the clinic again, the dental assistant surprised us by calling us to go back in. The dentist had taken the initiative to request to see Didi! It was sooooooo considerate and sweet of him!

Didi, the super brave boy. Not even a whimper from him. Went up on the dental chair without any fuss. 100 marks for courage, Son!

Unfortunately, his teeth didn’t get 100 marks. His teeth had always been quite yellow, and Dr Ng found two cavities in his upper front teeth : (

(I asked why Didi’s teeth were in a worse condition despite starting to brush his teeth at a younger age and having similar diet and hygiene practices as Kor Kor. (Kor Kor was 3.5 years old by the time we enforced the twice-daily brushing habit. Didi was only two when he started together with Kor Kor.) Dr Ng said that it was probably because Didi’s teeth somehow had higher plaque production. Oh well, so unlucky.)

Didi got his cavities filled, and we were advised to monitor more closely his brushing and to brush & floss his teeth for him. Didi has to return for a checkup in three months.

All in all, I didn’t expect the visit to turn out so well! All credit goes to Dr Ng and his assistant! Thank you so much! Now that we have got the First Time over, things should only get better in future. We will definitely return for twice-yearly checkups!

(The School Dental Service is located at the Health Promotion Board, within the premises of Singapore General Hospital. Click here for more information on charges and how to make an appointment)

After the checkups, we went to Healthzone, located in the same building as SDS. Heard about this from other mummies, and since we were already there, I wanted to use the resources in Healthzone to reinforce good dental hygiene habits. At the very least, I knew the boys would be happy with the playgym!

The next day,when Kor Kor asked to play with stickers, he chose the teeth stickers : )

Narrating a story about good tooth and bad tooth as he pasted the stickers

Narrating a story about good tooth and bad tooth as he pasted the stickers

Then we did a follow-up activity! Printed out the tooth from Kidssoup (thanks Motherkao!), laminated it, then used my finger to smudge some yellow paint on it. Let dry overnight. Gave the boys a toothbrush (disposable ones from Hubby’s hotel stays for work trips) and ‘toothpaste’ (white paint. Tubes from Daiso), and told them to brush the tooth clean!

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Learning Without Teaching Series

I am supposed to be a homeschooling mum… This is supposed to be a homeschooling blog… But… Why nothing about lessons?

I talked about it previously here. In addition I have decided to do a series on how the kids are learning without any formal teaching.

I guess what is at the core of my homeschooling style is that, children have the innate ability and desire to learn. Thus we should provide the resources and opportunities for them to learn at their own pace. I do not want my children to dislike or be fearful of learning or studying or reading. I am always mindful to not stress them or push them where academics are concerned, because I believe that even a bright child might grow to hate learning if it is not done in a way suitable for his maturity or developmental stage.

Hopefully we will be able to inculcate in the children the values of responsibility and self-monitoring. Just read yesterday that parents should not be checking their children’s homework. I like that, though I do not know yet whether I will really be able to be so laidback when my children go to mainstream school eventually. I hope that my children will be self-motivated to work hard in their studies and attain the goals they aspire to.

The greatest challenge which I face is overcoming my own competitiveness and kiasuism. Many a times I also wonder whether the boys are ‘on target’, and have to resist the urge to test them. Happily, it has got easier over the years, as I am often pleasantly surprised when they show me that yes, they can do it, when I am not expecting it.

No idea whether what I am doing is right… But since I have to make a choice now, I would rather err on the side of fun and play for these precious early years. Wish me luck!

Edit: Nap update. Kor Kor napped this afternoon, probably because we spent the whole morning out and only got home after lunch. Woke him up at 5pm. Bedtime was at 8.30pm.

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Learning to Use Chopsticks

One fine day, I suddenly got to thinking โ€“ hey, when should the kids learn to use chopsticks??? So I started plotting planning some activities for them to practise their chopsticks skills.

We usually use fork and spoon for our meals at home. But with my plans in mind, I switched to using chopsticks about a month ago. Just me, no need to say anything, let the kids see Mummy use chopsticks everyday. *INCEPTION*

Then, itโ€™s their turn! To entice them to try, and to avoid big messes at mealtimes, I gave them chocolates (M&Ms and Maltesers) to practise on. They were very motivated!

Next step: I am going to give them different shapes and sizes of various foods to try. Then it will be time for them to use chopsticks at mealtime! At home, of course. Shall wait till they are more proficient (read: less messy) before bringing their training chopsticks along when we go out!

The correct way to hold chopsticks - the chopsticks should NOT make an "X" http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-with-Chopsticks

The correct way to hold chopsticks – the chopsticks should NOT make an “X”
http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-with-Chopsticks