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Gasp, Only One Year Left!

I used to think that I still had a lot of time with the children… After all, Kor Kor will only be starting school in Primary 1, i.e. when he is seven years old (actually, when he is six years and 10 months old). As a stay-at-home-mum, that means I have many, many days of 24/7 with him!

But to my horror, the past year had zoomed past. The years before that… I was either pregnant or taking care of a very small baby, so I forgive myself 😛 But at the beginning of 2014, Meimei was already sleep-trained. By June she was no longer breastfeeding, which freed up a lot of time. I had tried to be more purposeful in our homeschooling – still not going the academic path, but nevertheless I had hoped to be more structured and productive. But looking back on the year… Hmm, we did many interesting activities and visited many interesting places, sure. But they felt rather scattered and random.

And you know what, I did not manage to fulfil even one of my 2014’s New Year resolutions. This is very jia lat, cos quite a few of them are supposed to have direct impact on the kids’ well-being, such as learning to cook better (health and appetite), and learning sewing (to teach them a new skill). While a few resolutions have direct impact on my well-being, a happy and content mother would benefit the children too.

Over the past few days as I read others’ 2015 New Year resolutions, I had initially not wanted to make any for this year. What’s the point when I fail to achieve them, or even think much about them over the course of the year? But since I do want to be purposeful in how I spend the time with my kids… and I did feel a kick on the butt when I realised I had fulfiled none of the previous year’s(!!!), here goes…

First and foremost, I hope to be a better mother to my children. Gentle, patient, kind, soft-spoken, nice, understanding. 100% difficult. But I must try.

Remember structure and priorites when planning activites/outings. Main focus shall be Making, including woodwork, general tinkering, sewing, Lego, and hopefully robotics if I can figure it out (ha). But around mid-year I have to start on academic preparation for Kor Kor’s P1 journey. I have done daily planning for January. To do for every month.

Health is very important. The usual – eat better, exercise more! Sleep is also very important, but I know I cannot 😛

ONWARDS for the new year! All the best for your resolutions!

exactly one year to P1…..

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Making Makers

This is actually the title of a book I just started reading, and it’s exactly what I am trying to do – make makers out of my kids. My goal is for the kids to make, to create, to build, to invent! Came across STEM for kids and I am hooked. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math! (Sometimes Art is added to make it STEAM. But… science and math stuff are easy for me, but errrrrr, art… maybe later :P)

But after reading quite a few books like Tinkerlab and Tinkering: Kids Learning By Making Stuff, I realised there was one big problem. Firstly, I am not a creative person. Secondly, the books give instructions for how to DIY amazing things, but I don’t want my kids to be just following instructions! So, after some brainwork…

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A new tinkering area for the boys!

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The boys have a tinkering box each – with things from my craft stocks and random stuff around the house.

Next step. If I just leave it up to them, I really wonder how long it would take them to start making, despite all the materials they have access to. I think making is a habit, a culture. They probably wouldn’t know what to do with all those random loose parts, until inspiration struck dunno when… Boredom is supposed to be good for creativity, but for a book lover, it is very difficult to feel bored, especially with a book-loving mummy who buys many books and with a wonderful public library 😛

I decided to take the bull by its horns and CREATE the culture! I shall let the boys see me making things. But I do not want them to see me referring to instructions in the books or on my iPhone. I shall pretend they are my own ideas, ha! So, the night before I plan to ‘make things’, I do my homework. I read the instructions and remember as much as I can. I also draw the drafts in my notebook, to set a good example for the boys to plan and to put in ink their ideas.

Then, when I am making, the boys only see me referring to my drawings! But seriously, because I sometimes forget the exact instructions, or because I do not have the exact same parts as in the books, I have to do a lot of improvisations and trial-and-error.

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Wooden spoon catapult

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Propeller-driven car ver 1

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The 1st car didn’t move too well, so I experimented with other wheels and axles. Success!

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Sail car

I made all those in one day! Thanks to having an entire free day at home : )

Two days later…

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This dump truck is my first baby! I thought of the whole thing myself, with a movable dumping bed, a door that opens, and a see-through windscreen!

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I made the trolley in Meimei’s hand!

Then we moved on to something more exciting – moving robots!

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Drawing machine – markers attached to a plastic cup. The motor moves the cup and the markers draw on the paper.

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Didi’s robot

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My robot haha

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Kor Kor’s draft for his robot!

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Kor Kor’s robot

Red Ted Art’s Blog has a post on making mini robots, and I also referred to the Tinkerlab book for instructions. I had no prior experience with using toy motors before, but as I was making the robots, I realised it’s much easier than I expected!

Start with making the robots, just like doing a craft – glue or somehow attach cardboard rolls or whatever to make the robot, then add googly eyes, stickers, anything to decorate. Then connect the battery holder with the motor, and attach it to your robot. The interesting bit is you have to attach something to the axis of the motor as an ‘unbalancer’. A small coin will work fine. Tata!

Urmm, don’t expect too much though. I have no idea how to upload a video here, but as you can see in the video at Red Ted Art’s Blog, the robots just sorta vibrate and spin. Hmm, I guess it takes high-tech robotics to make the robots walk in a straight line? I need time to figure that out 😛

The best part about this whole experience of making to make my kids makers? After just two days of making, making, making, I am already feeling a lot more competent! Much faster too, and I have started to really like doing it (instead of just doing it for the kids). Hopefully my kids will feel the same way as they start tinkering and experimenting with what they can do. Yay!

(By the way, yes, I made all these. Not my kids. Not my kids with my help. They hardly did anything at all except be busybody and touch this touch that or just run off at times. The only thing they really did was the craft part to make the robots’ bodies. Cos my goal was to create the culture of making, NOT to give them instructions to follow.)