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StickerKid For The New School Year! 

(Sponsored review)

Just as Kor Kor’s venture into primary school was occupying my thoughts most of the time, I received an offer from StickerKid to try out their sticker labels. Timely, indeed! 

Once I placed the order via their website, the stickers arrived in the mail within the week. The ordering process was very convenient – you get to choose the font, size, background colour, logo, and immediately preview the stickers. 

And of course, once Kor Kor saw the stickers with his name, it was a sticking frenzy!

Specially shaped for shoes! such a great idea!

   

Books…


 

Stationery…

File folders…. everything!!

 

I received the Discover StickerKid pack of 94 stickers (60 small, 20 clothing, and 14 shoe). Seems quite sufficient for our needs so far : )

The small stickers are dishwasher- and microwave-able. (I don’t have a dishwasher YET but this will come in handy when I get one. Yes, when, not if.) And the clothing stickers can withstand hot water washes in the washing machine. (No need to wash separately, yay!)

What I like most is the customization and the easy care for these stickers… almost no special care needed. Which is great considering I have a lot more on my mind with the foray into formal school!

If you would also like to try the stickers, StickerKid is offering a 10% discount. Just use the code 10discountSGSTICKERKID when you order before 31 December 2015. 

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The Lost Hour

I used to be very obssessed about the kids’ bedtimes – MUST sleep early. Must nap. Why? There are many, many books and online articles advocating the importance of sleep for young children and how they should sleep – how many hours of sleep they need at each age, what time they should sleep, etc. In short, young children need to sleep a lot, and they need to go to bed very early.

But somehow, I had lost track of this very important brain factor along the way. We did not start having late-night activities. We did not start returning home very late. When I became aware of the problem and reflected, I realised that it was because I decided to take things slooooow, to let the boys take their time instead of rushing them all the time. (Still rushing them when we need to be somewhere by a certain time though.) So when they were engrossed in their play when we were supposed to be preparing for bedtime, I tried to let them play and to just wait, instead of hurrying them to drink their milk, brush their teeth… I also patiently read them many bedtime stories………….

It was good, cos everyone felt more relaxed and there were fewer tantrums. I was happy too cos task-oriented me could finish doing all the miscellanous stuff like washing their water bottles, unpacking & packing their bags. But it meant the boys often ended up going to bed around 10pm >.< And yes, they still woke up at their usual 7.30am, often even earlier.

Then I read this book and it woke me up.

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An experiment was conducted where groups of fourth-graders and sixth-graders were randomly told to either go to bed earlier or stay up later, for three nights. The difference in amount of true sleep turned out to be an hour. Only an hour, yet the effect was significant – a slightly sleepy sixth-grader would perform in class (test of neurobiological functioning) like a fourth-grader.

Truth be told, it didn’t take much to convince me, because of my sleep-fanatic background. All I needed was a reminder. Nevertheless, I find this book to be a great read. It covers ten topics, each in a very digestible chapter. And it’s available from the library! Happy reading!

 

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How To Buy Books From Dangdang (Science Books recommendation)

(not sponsored – but I wish Dangdang would sponsor me! Please?)

I try to provide Chinese books on most topics so that the boys see Chinese as a language medium on its own, not just as a separate subject. More specifically, the only subject taught in Mandarin.

One might point out that it seems pretty useless to know jargon or specialised vocabulary in Chinese. The thing is, each Chinese character has its meaning. For example, when the child knows 长颈鹿,he will probably know 颈 means neck.

It also helps the parents to improve our own language ability when we read the Chinese books to the child. For example, I do know that a plug is 插头 and often use this term when speaking to my kids, but it was only after I read a Chinese book on electricity that I started to refer to a socket as 插座。

And I am so glad I found this set of books and wanna share with you all!

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Sample pages from the book on volcanoes:

Each book also comes with a 1-2 pages of a Parents’ Guide, a few questions to test the child’s understanding, and a hands-on activity.

Sample pages from the book on Earthquakes:

Other than this 《地球》 set, the series has two other sets 《物理、化学》 and 《生物、人体、环境》。Each set (more than ten books) costs around SGD30 excluding shipping. Which is very cheap compared to local bookshops! But some of my friends have had difficulties ordering from Dangdang. I have done it many times using a local credit card with no problem at all, with direct delivery to my doorstep. My most recent purchase arrived last week via UPS. It took less than two weeks.

Step 1: At the book(s) you want, click “加入购物车” (Add to shopping cart.)

Step 2: Go to your shopping cart ( “购物车” ) at the top of the page.

Step 3: Click “结算”

Step 4: You will be asked to log in. If you do not already have a Dangdang account, click “注册” (Register.)

Step 5: To register, fill in your handphone number OR email address. Then your selected password. Lastly is re-enter password to confirm.

Step 6: Click “结算” again.

Step 7: Enter your delivery address, i.e. Singapore address.

收货人 Your name

收货地区 Country: Select 新加坡

详细地址 Your address (Block, road name, unit number)

邮政编码 Postal code

手机 or 固定电话 Mobile number (65xxxxxxxx) or Land line

[For the address, I used to be able to use just my English road name. But now it requires at least 3 Chinese characters??!! Anyway, just add on the Chinese name of your street at the end of your English road name. Because our local deliverymen might not understand the Chinese address.]

Step 8: Not very sure where this step will be for new users. For payment method 支付方式,choose “网上支付”

Step 9: You will be asked to confirm your delivery method. Urmm, I only get one option anyway. So just agree lor. “确认送货方式”

Step 10: Submit order 提交订单

Step 11: You will be asked to choose your specific payment method (选择网上银行或平台支付). Click “支付平台”, followed by “国外信用卡” (overseas credit card).

Step 12: Choose your card type – Visa / Mastercard. You will be redirected to the next page to fill in the credit card details.

持卡人姓名 Cardholder’s name

卡号 Card number

卡有效日期 Valid till

Then I can’t help you anymore. I think that should be the last step. Cos I can’t click any further since I don’t really want to buy anything now. It’s quite common to get an error message saying that the payment was not successful. Don’t worry. Just check your Dangdang Order History in 1-2 days. Nine out of ten times that I got this error message, everything was fine when I checked my account later and my books did arrive. If there is nothing in your Order History after waiting two days, do check your credit card transaction history to confirm the payment has not gone through. Then just repeat the order process.

Happy shopping, and do let me know if you have any recommendations on books to buy from Dangdang too!

 

 

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Teaching Chinese

This is not a sponsored post.

I recently attended a short workshop conducted by Eeva Chang, the principal of Eduplus Language Centre (among the many other hats she wears). It was a free workshop which anyone could attend, so it’s not considered sponsored, right? And nobody cared that I was a blogger lor. Frankly speaking, when I realised she was the principal of a private tuition centre at the start of the workshop, I felt quite sian and thought it would be like an advertisement and that it would be a waste of my time. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise. I even took notes when I felt what she was saying made sense, and good things must share! The main gist of the workshop is on three factors which affect a child’s grasp of the Chinese language.

Family Language vs School Language

According to Eeva, the child’s grades start to fall as the discrepancy between the standard of the language spoken at home and the standard in the syllabus widens. Typically, this happens in Primary 3 as the syllabus in Primary 1 and 2 is still relatively simple and sounds like the casual Mandarin spoken at home. Thus, for the child to be able to catch up with the school requirements, the home environment has to provide progressively higher standards of the language.

My thoughts: As I listened to the speaker’s examples of different standards, I knew that while I have no problems understanding up to Primary 6 standards (she didn’t go beyond that), I only spoke perhaps Primary 3 standard or lower to my kids. Isn’t it such a waste when I have the ability to ‘teach’ my kids but I am not doing it?? After pondering on it for some time, I concluded in my case, it’s not so much a worry that it would be too difficult for the kids to understand… but that I am too lazy to speak properly to them! Cannot, cannot. I must stop being lazy!

Also wondering, if I continue to be lazy, or if the parent isn’t confident in speaking Mandarin, will reading Chinese storybooks with level-appropriate chim-ness be adequate? I am sure it will help somewhat, just not sure whether it is enough. Hmm. (I didn’t ask the speaker cos I prefer to be a silent participant. That’s me – shy :P)

The Golden Law 黄金定律

The sequence of learning Chinese is from Listen >> Speak >> Recognise >> Read >> Write >> Use.

听、说、认、读、写、运用。

The more the child listens to the spoken language, the more he will be able to speak with ease. As he speaks more in the language, it will be easier for him to recognise the words he sees. Eeva gave the example of 举一反三 — when the child knows this idiom, he will be able to recognise it just with the words x一x三.

听了就会说。说得多,认得快。

Then reading is about recognition anyway. And once the child can listen, speak, recognise and read, he won’t feel tired writing and using it. This is in contrast to what many parents and teachers make students do – copying words many times in an attempt to memorise them.

以口为文。修口,不是修手!

Visualisation 语言视觉化

Eeva told us that the image in the child’s brain when he hears the word is his understanding of the word. Thus she often asks her students to draw a picture based on a word she gives. From the picture, she can then assess their language abiilty.

She did a simple exercise with us at the workshop – we had to do an action based on the word ‘flower’. Many of us used our hands to do something like a cupping action. Eeva demonstrated that there were many other ways to do ‘flower’, e.g. taking a deep breath to show the flower’s fragrance, or pointing to herself to indicate she was pretty like a flower. The more varied the child’s visualisation of a word, the more he will be able to describe things or emotions etc and write well.

The above points are what I remember from the workshop and my translation based on my understanding. I was intrigued by Eeva’s sharing and had almost decided to attend her talk in September, despite the hefty ticket price. I think it will be an useful session, but it’s in the afternoon so childcare will be a problem. So it’s no go for me. But do click on the link to find out more about her talk if you are interested.

Meanwhile, I shall start reading books on teaching languages, especially Chinese. No idea where to start, shall visit a Chinese bookstore soon for recommendations. If you know of any good books on this topic, please share with me! If it’s good, I will do a review and summary here after reading. Thanks in advance!

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Our First Books From NoQ! (With Discount Code)

Urmm, you know I buy a lot of books hor? I used to buy from Kinokuniya, but since it became more difficult for me to go shopping with the kids in tow, I have been relying on online bookstores. My default is Book Depository, as it provides free delivery so I don’t have to worry about the shipping cost and can buy BIG and HEAVY books, ho ho ho. Yes, the books might be cheaper at Amazon but there is a minimum of $125 to qualify for free international shipping (which is good cos it’s one more excuse reason for me to buy more stuff, but it’s not so good for matrimonial harmony :P).

Had also heard of many other online bookstores but I was always worried that the selection of books would be limited, especially since I often buy books which are not the usual popular ones. And there was the inertia to to just stick to what I was familiar with. So, when NoQ kindly offered me a book voucher to shop at their online bookstore, I immediately searched for the books on my to-buy list.. Voila!

I don’t usually compare prices, but out of curiosity since it’s the first time I am buying from NoQ, I did a check.

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Book Depository $27.20, NoQ $22.65

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Book Depository $24.36 NoQ $26.87

This means that I saved a nett amount of $2.04 even though one of the books was cheaper from Book Depository. Shipping is free for purchases above $25 (much easier to hit than Amazon!), and usually takes 7-14 business days to be delivered. I received my books in 12 business days.

Would I buy books from NoQ again? Definitely! Especially with the 15% discount which NoQ is offering to all my readers! (I am my own reader too, haha.)

Simply type in the code SAHMOT at checkout.

The code is valid till 31 August 2014. (The code is the abbreviation for Stay At Home Mom Of Three, by the way, for easy remembering.)

Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: I topped up the balance after using the voucher from NoQ in order to purchase the two books abovementioned.

 

 

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More Ideas And Inspiration For Parents

I have always been inclined towards very hands-on activities with my children, which usually translates to messy sensory play. My favorite blog is Play At Home Mom – I have read all their posts and often refer to their older posts for ideas to do with my kids. Recently I started following An Everyday Story and I really like it too – staying up many nights to read the older posts! To be honest, my homeschooling style and parenting style on the whole have been very much influenced by blogs from western countries (read: non-kiasu).

The good news is, I have recently discovered a Singaporean blog, Growing Hearts, which I like very much too. It is great to read a blog which shares the same resources and environment as me – limited space (HDB!), no Amazon (but we have Daiso!), kiasuism… instead of drooling over the big yards that so many western bloggers seem to have at home. While it’s still good to read more and across a wider context for knowledge and inspiration, blogs that are closer to home will probably make it much easier for us to actually try out an idea we see and like on the blog.

Ready to get hooked on more local blogs? Click to view a comprehensive list of mummy bloggers in Singapore!

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ASK! A Librarian

Did you know the library offers this service?

You can ask any question and the librarian helps you to search for relevant information. I find it very useful for homelearning/homeschooling purposes. Try it!

(You can follow the directions under each picture above, or just click here.)