2

Using Mirrors In Play

Came across the idea of using mirrors as part of children’s play a few years ago and I have let the kids try painting on mirrors a few times, and even drawing on their own reflections in the mirror. When I did our art corner, I included mirrors as a permanent fixture. I have observed mirrors adding a new dimension to the boys’ play, whether with blocks or trains or art mediums. Check out An Everyday Story for more ideas!

To be honest, I am not very sure about the origin or theories behind the use of mirrors in children’s play. I think it is a very large part of Reggio-inspired environments, which I am currently reading up on. The thing is, theory or not, the idea of mirrors makes sense to me, especially after firsthand observations of my own children. Thus, I have recently added more mirrors to our play areas.

In the bedroom

In the bedroom

 

For blocks play

For blocks play

 

And of course, the trains area where the boys spend the most time

And of course, the trains area where the boys spend the most time

Mirrors are good for outdoor art explorations too!

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Big-Scale Mess.. I Mean.. Painting :p

Inspired by Growing Hearts, I decided to copy her idea and let my kids do something similar! And it’s not just the activity idea, I also like the entire post where she wrote about the importance of granting children freedom to paint.

The initial setup

The initial setup

 

Sponge brushes, rollers, paintbrushes, paint scrapers, water, rags

Sponge brushes, rollers, paintbrushes, paint scrapers, water, rags

 

One piece of majong paper each.. But meimei preferred same setup as her brothers! Next time ok, baby?

One piece of majong paper each.. But meimei preferred same setup as her brothers! Next time ok, baby?

 

Paint = sensory play : )

Paint = sensory play : )

 

The younger ones bonding together

The younger ones bonding together

 

2nd round while Meimei was napping

2nd round while Meimei was napping

 

Didi's palette....

Didi’s palette….

 

Kor Kor's palette.. Neat from beginning to end

Kor Kor’s palette.. Neat from beginning to end

 

Though Didi tried many of the brushes etc, he used his hands a lot a lot too

Though Didi tried many of the brushes etc, he used his hands a lot a lot too

 

He wanted to go one round.. so he did this.. hahahha..

He wanted to go one round.. so he did this.. hahahha..

I really like the look of the painting area in the Growing Hearts post, and I really like how our art corner look with the white shower curtains. Very uncluttered. So I decided to shift the toy kitchen away, so that there is more space between the easels and the art table.

More of the mirrors are exposed, which further contributes to the brightness of the area

More of the mirrors are exposed, which further contributes to the brightness of the area

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Our Art Corner

Other than painting, this is also the place where the boys do most of their messy play activities. It is in the kitchen, which makes it easy for us to clean up and for me to do my cooking etc while they play.

The boys’ artwork are showcased in the picture frames. I use 3M Picture Hanging Strips so that the frames can be easily removed for me to put in new drawings. The letters ‘CREATE’ are cut out from the boys’ drawings too. (No, I am not sentimental about cutting or throwing away their works. Too many!!)

The mirrors are my favorite part of the art area, inspired by Play At Home Mom. See here for the reasons for using mirrors.

The boys have basic art materials accessible at all times and they are allowed to draw or paint any time they like. Now they only have colouring pencils, crayons, dot markers, paint and watercolours available to them 24/7. I hope to put out more craft materials like beads when Meimei is older and not mouthing everything anymore. In addition, there are also scissors, letters-tracing cards, cutting exercises and playdoh in the drawers for them to use/play at their own time.

Sidetrack a bit: This is the first time he drew a building and described them to me! Don’t they look very much like the word “宫”? (meaning ‘palace’)

What other art materials do you allow your kids access to? I would love more ideas! Continue reading

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We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

We watched this production which was part of the KidsFest, and I was impressed by the different use of sensory experiences as part of the performance.

In the story, the family went through quite a few terrains in their search for a bear. These terrains were ingeniously presented to the audience –

Long wavy grass: Curtains of green paper

Deep cold river: Pails of water for the performers to step into, and water guns which they sprayed mercilessly into the audience! REAL water in a theatre!

Big dark forest: Trees made of cardboard boxes

Snowstorm: Another of my favorites. Mainly used lighting effects. Something like a disco ball? Small round white patches of light, plus sound effects for wind, a very convincing snowstorm!

Thick oozy mud: Simple brown paint. We were inspired to do the same!

1

Books and Paint at Botanic Gardens

I would really like to let my kids spend more time at green, open spaces. Preferably places with no playground structure. Because playgrounds are all similar, aren’t they? Run around the playground, climb up and down… Yes, playgrounds are good. But the playgrounds in my neighbourhood and indoor playgrounds also allow the kids to expend physical energy.

An open space… would allow the kids to have free play… in the outdoors! Kill two birds with one stone! But when I tried to think of green, open spaces near my home, I couldn’t think of any. I really need to explore more. Decided to go to the Botanic Gardens for now.

Admittedly, it wasn’t true free play, since I prepared a painting activity. Start small and slow first 😛 Still, I enjoyed the outing. Though we could occasionally hear loud vehicles, it was very quiet for the most part. As we were sitting in the middle of a huge grass patch, we could see others playing (bubbles, kicking ball, skate scooters, running around) and yet were not bothered by thier noises. With birds chirping and insects calling, it truly felt very idllyic to be reading with my children and watching them paint and play. I do not know whether they felt the same way, but I am sure they will learn to appreciate it more as they get more opportunities to experience.

I actually got the idea for this outing after being inspired by these books. A Tree Is Nice is a Caldecotts winner, and the author gives many reasons for appreciating trees. The ‘Building on Books’ section in the resource book suggests reading Sky Tree, which illustrates how a tree can be so many things as the weather and seasons change. I enjoyed reading these two books at home, and truly, I was able to appreciate them even more while reading with the kids amongst so many trees. Not sure whether I was imagining things, but it seemed like the boys were quieter than usual, perhaps feeling the books while I was reading?

Do let me know if you know of green, open spaces in Singapore!

—–

Behind the scenes:

Within five minutes of reaching the Botanic Gardens, Kor Kor started complaining it was too hot and dragged his feet. But it WASN’T.

While walking across the grass, Kor Kor complained his shoes were getting dirty.

Shortly after we sat down on the mat, Kor Kor complained there were too many insects flying around.

Didi decided he needed to poo. Even though he very rarely does a Number Two when we are outside. So I had to clean him in the middle of nowhere. Very smelly too.

When we reached home, I had to clean three caps, two pairs of shoes, one ball, one ball net, one picnic mat, three paintbrushes and four paint containers.

Oh well.

0

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!

2

How to Play with Toilet Plungers

They are circles.. they are eggs.. they are moons.. they are 8s...

They are circles.. they are eggs.. they are moons.. they are 8s…

I really can’t recall where I got this idea to paint with toilet plungers, cos it’s usually quite a while after I see an idea that I get to execute it. Then I decided that it would be interesting to use fluorescent paint on black paper, since the boys seldom get to use fluorescent paint.

Other than the painting itself, the boys also loved the sound when they pulled the plunger up from the plates (of paint) and the paper. Which boy (or kid!) doesn’t like such funny sounds??

During the play, Kor Kor looked at Didi’s paper and commented that it looked very different from his. I took the chance to put some ideas into his (innocent) head about ART, and that art looked different to everyone and there was no better or worse.

they played, they cleaned

they played, they cleaned

By the way, did you know that what is commonly known as toilet plungers (in Singapore, at least) are actually sink plungers??? They look different!