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Learning About Electricity

Sometimes, our topics/themes are not really child-led.. Rather, they happen because… urmm.. I bought a set of books and well, we gotta read all the books in the set eventually, right? So, I had these three books on electricity lying around…

My plan was just to read all three books to the boys, no matter if they didn’t really understand or not interested or whatever. I just wanted to read once so that I could put the books neatly on their bookshelves.(OCD Task-oriented Good housekeeping, right?)

(I go through each new book with the boys at least once, so that if/when they pull out the book to read on their own, they have at least some inkling what the book’s about. Even if they can’t read all the words yet, they have at least the pictures and what they remember from my reading to try to figure things out. For science books, especially those not at their reading level, I think it will be quite difficult for them to ‘read’ from scratch. Frankly speaking, I am amazed at the things they manage to ‘figure out’ just from pictures. But err, sometimes wrongly, haha.)

Anyway, reading is never ‘just read’ la. I do try to explain the chim stuff and of course, they have tons of questions. 一万个为什么!The problem is, I could see the 100% perplexed look on Kor Kor’s face… you mean electricity comes out from the wall??? (Didi is lucky to be still young enough to accept all things as magic.)

Good thing that the books have clear pictures of how electricity is produced at the power stations and travels to our homes, through the walls and to the appliances. I really, really absolutely LOVE the look on Kor Kor’s face when he GOT IT! Priceless!

Since the boys are keen, it’s a good chance to explore more with them. Very luckily, we have one old waffle maker in the storeroom! (Not purely by luck, I kept it because I was waiting for such a day, hee hee.)

And… finally, it’s time to break out our Snap Circuits! It’s very easy and safe to do, and a good way to kickstart circuit-building.

The boys love it!

 

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How We Learn

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Recently I have had an awakening. That Meimei is no longer that small a baby, and I really should get my a** back to doing MORE with the boys. Drew up a new schedule and the first step is to start (resume?) a daily morning reading session.

This morning I didn’t really have a clear idea what I wanted to do during the reading session. Read which books? Just read? Do I choose the books or let them choose? Never mind, just try first.

Decided to start off with 弟子规。I plan to go through the whole book, one page at a time, and explain the teachings thoroughly to the boys.

弟子规 圣人训

首孝弟 次谨信

泛爱众 而亲仁

有余力 则学文

While explaining “信” (be trustworthy), I told the boys that they should keep their word, for example, if they promise to keep their toys after playing, they have to do it. (Haha.) So they started asking, what if we don’t? I replied that I would then give their toys away, and that there were many less fortunate children who did not have any toys.

Ah-ha moment. I got out our book Material World, and showed them photos of families in other countries. That in turn led to a geography lesson with the globe (Ethopia vs South Africa).

Good chance to teach the boys some Singapore history – that our country didn’t use to be as prosperous as it is now. Out came the Social Studies textbook.

And that’s how we spent the 30-plus minutes of reading session. Just read… chat… follow the flow! No concrete plan, didn’t do much other than talk, but I am sure the boys have benefited and know more than before the session. I am looking forward to tomorrow morning! : )

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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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Learning About Solar System (Part One)

Our topics are chosen based on the boys’ interests, for example if they happen to choose a Magic Schoolbus DVD on Space when we go to the library, their interest might be piqued after watching the DVD and they start asking lots of questions. And I guess once we start to delve into the topic, they get more interested and ask more questions. As it is, I have no idea when we will finish up on the Outer Space theme, and neither do I know what activities we will be doing next.

For a start, we read National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Space.

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Then we watched National Geographic’s Planets. The boys, especially Kor Kor, were very captivated by this DVD. It has separate episodes for each of the planets (excluding Earth), so we watched one episode each day. Since it’s not really meant for preschoolers and the difficulty was beyond even me at times, I made sure I was free to sit with the boys throughout. So that I could answer their 1000 questions and know what they watched in case they wanted to ask more questions or refer to the DVD afterwards. (There are also special features, very short episodes, on the Sun and Moon. But I think those are not as well done. Too brief, I guess.)

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Then we made our very own Solar System!

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I have received comments that the boys managed to paint the planets a convincing colour. I think it helped that the book and DVD we use are both National Geographic, so the planets the boys see in the book and DVD are the exact same colours. (Truthfully, I wasn’t very satisfied with the boys’ works when they first finished. I didn’t think they got the colours right. But luckily, I just kept my comments to myself. Good judge of art? Definitely not me :P)

No prizes for guessing, but one of the things which the boys like most is the asteroids and meteorites. Or rather, they are interested in the burst of fire and ‘explosion’ when things CRASH and BOOM. Ya, boys -.-”

So, they thought those were asteroids, until Mummy here got herself educated (thanks, Google!) and corrected them about the differences between the two. Then we did a fun hands-on activity – throwing marbles into a container of flour! The kids saw how the impact made craters and how it made the flour ‘fly’ up.

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There are more things which I would love to explain and demonstrate to the boys, more questions they asked which I do not know how to show them – the Earth’s atmosphere, how the atmosphere prevents more meteoroids from hitting the ground, the Earth’s magnetosphere, how the magnetosphere protects Earth from solar flares and geomagnetic storms. But these are things which we can’t see, so I am really at a loss.

On the positive side, in order to explain the difference between the gas giants and rocky planets like Earth, we have done a few simple experiments and observations about gases, liquids and solids, which are all around us. I had thought it would be difficult to teach about gases, since they are invisible. But hey, I guess ‘earthly’ things are still comparatively easier!

I was also very disturbed (haha) that the Planets DVD did not include Earth! Earth is a planet, isn’t it? After seeing all those volcanoes etc on other planets, how could I not let the kids marvel at our very own Planet Earth? Thus, while we are not done yet with Outer Space, we are quite into geography now. Am not a fan of television for the kids, but when it comes to planetary magnificence, I surrender.

Time for some volcanic action!

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No craft for the kids, the volcano is 100% made by me! Painstakingly. The boys are given baking soda, vinegar and food colouring. There is a plastic bottle in the volcano with warm water and a few squirts of dishwashing detergent. (The volcano is made from clay, and it’s still standing strong after a few days of play. Worth the effort!)

That’s all for now, while I wait for more inspiration to strike : )

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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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Stranger Danger

Chanced upon this book and I find it very useful in teaching stranger danger to the boys. It makes use of well-known fairy tales to bring across important safety messages. If your child is not familiar with these fairy tales yet? It’s a good chance to introduce the tales to him now as well!

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood – Don’t follow a stranger to take ‘shortcuts’

 

Hansel and Gretel - Don't enter a stranger's house/car even if he offers you candy

Hansel and Gretel – Don’t enter a stranger’s house/car even if he offers you candy

 

Snow White - Don't open the door to strangers

Snow White – Don’t open the door to strangers

 

Bonus? It’s a very funny read and entertaining for the parent as well : )

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Books Recommendation: Math Fables

I really like these books by Greg Tang! We bought the Math Fables quite some time ago, and only recently (after Kor Kor’s math obsession) did I realise the book was about NUMBER BONDS! Haha!

For each number from 1 to 10, the author gives all the number bonds in the form of a story.

For each number from 1 to 10, the author gives all the number bonds in the form of a story.

4 = 3 + 1 4 + 2 + 2

4 = 3 + 1
4 = 2 + 2

I bought two more of Greg Tang’s books, and was not disappointed!

A short poem introduces each piece of art, Very informative and a good intro

A short poem introduces each piece of art, Very informative and a good intro

As we read, Kor Kor tries to find the different number bonds

As we read, Kor Kor tries to find the different number bonds

Multiplication!

Actually, multiplication or not, I like the simple riddles & poems. A good read regardless of the maths

Actually, multiplication or not, I like the simple riddles & poems. A good read regardless of the maths