Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How to make a chapteh (feathered shuttlecock)!

Dumpling and I recently attended a Kampung Heritage Carnival and had a blast! There were food stalls and some game stalls too. In addition, there were several workshops - composting, kampung crafts, etc. The focus of the carnival was on "sustainable living" where the key messages were on recycling and reducing.

Dumpling and I decided to sign up for Chapteh (feathered shuttlecock / 毽子) making workshop and we discovered that it really is not that hard to make. Here are some quick steps to make one of your own.

Materials needed:
1. Nail

2. 2 circular pieces of rubber which act as the base (the workshop used some rubber hose
pieces from SCDF if I am not wrong. You can easily look for appropriate items around your home such as plastic bottle caps)

3. A short stub of recycled straw (one inch is a good height) to poke feathers through

4. Feathers

5. Some tape

Step 1: Place 2 pieces of the circular base together

Step 2: Hammer a nail through and then push the circular base right through to the end
Step 3: Put the straw through the nail and place feathers through the straw

Step 4: Secure with tape along the length of the straw


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Read aloud tips for fun reading with your preschoolers!

It may be an inborn trait or perhaps it is exposure, or even maybe a mixture of both. Dumpling has always loved performing arts. We have been attending regular theatre productions since she was quite little and once there, she'd be totally engrossed from the start till the end of the play without talking to us much (a very rare occurance :p).

Needless to say, dramatization is one area which we encourage at home to cultivate her interest and also her natural affinity towards story telling. Amongst some of her favourite activities are playing with felt pieces and creating our own story boxes.

Hence, I approached Sarah Lee-Wong, a professional story teller, to be my second guest blogger where she shared her thoughts on books, read aloud tips and even Tin Tin!

I shall now bow out and leave the story telling (all pun intended) to Sarah!J

Hey Sarah, firstly, tell us a bit about yourself.  

My current full-time job is at a domestic circus (yes, really). I live my days balancing precariously on the edge as Mom-makes-all-better, Milk-lady, Washer-upper, Tasty-treat maker to my two little boys, and Lady Love to one big man.

I started my career in advertising, jumped to journalism before landing myself in education. 

1) A lot of parents are keen to read to their children, how and where should we start?

I think it is great that parents are willing to set aside time to read with their children. It is a fantastic way for us to bond with them, as well as understand them better. Below are 2 tips on that:

Sustaining A Regular Reading Session
• Set aside a regular time for reading daily. It doesn’t matter if you can only start with 5. Just start, and protect that daily time.
• Choose a time of the day where all of you are most relaxed, and when they are most likely to be able to settle down and listen to a story. The best times for me have been just before nap or bedtimes when they are well-fed, clean and drowsy. The younger babies may want to crawl off halfway through a story, but carry on reading, because they will most certainly be still listening.
• Set up a simple book corner to do your reading. You can have several – one in each room – around the house too. The idea is to just have books around the house that you can pick up and read.


Choosing Books
When our children are younger, parents do most of the choosing. But as they grow up, and even by toddlerhood, you should also consider their interests in choosing the themes and topics of the books you share together.

Regardless of age, here are some things to bear in mind:

Subject: Will the theme of the book interest my child? Subjects that talk about the body, feelings, places in the neighbourhood, the natural world, animals and plants, transportation and occupations are often popular with children. Choose books in a variety of genres to expose your child to develop his general knowledge, worldview and also to different text structures.

Length of book: A child’s attention span corresponds to his age. The general rule of thumb is 2 – 3 minutes per year of his age e.g. A 2-year-old can concentrate on an activity for about 3 – 6 minutes. So choose something that you are likely able to finish within that time frame. But there is no hard and fast rule as I did read books that are quite lengthy like Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Journey to my then 2-year-old in one sitting.

Language: Rhyme and rhyming prose are fantastic for the younger ones. We are really loving Helen Oxenbury and Julia Donaldson right now in our bedroom.
Beautiful language - language that uses vivid imagery, rich vocabulary - is what I am always after in books as I believe that only quality literature can feed their fertile minds and enlarge their hearts.

Well-illustrated books are a joy to read for young children as they can still enjoy the story independently and without reading ability. Look out for Caldecott Honours and Kate Greenaway award book winners.

Consider the material of the book – board, cloth or paper? These are especially important when the children are younger since you would want to allow your child to handle the books without worrying about damage.

Love it!
Barring the adult boredom all parents have to endure with repeat-a-100-times favourites of our kids, we should always enjoy these reading sessions and enjoy the books we share with them.

2) Are there any books to avoid?

Sarah: I personally would not recommend books developed from TV series or cartoons as I find the writing quality inferior to children’s literature. That said, I do have a series of phonic readers based on Diego and Dora. I also do not like ghost stories for children.

I think parents have to decide what subject material they are comfortable with, and choose books that meet their standards and values. Parents often ask me if their children should read comic strips like Tin Tin. I am a great fan of Tin Tin! I don’t recommend only reading comics, but as part of a healthy balanced reading diet, comic strips are fun to read and can teach a child a lot! You can learn about impactful dialogue writing, plot development, and wit from comics.

My 3.5 y.o. has been enjoying the comic strips, Molly & Emmett, and Mop and Family from the Ladybug magazine.

3) While parents are keen to read aloud to our children, how do we make the story "come alive" to engage the little ones? Do we need props and what about acting out with "voices"?

Sarah:If you’re not used to the idea of reading aloud, I do suggest that you read the book a few times before reading it aloud to your child. Being familiar with the story helps you feel more comfortable with dramatising it.

 Dramatising it doesn’t mean you need to break out the costumes and act it all up, but it does mean expressive and energetic reading and letting your imagination run wild with the story!

To make it fun and enjoyable for both of you, try these easy tips:

- Play with your voice to make the characters and emotions of the story come alive. 3 easy ways to change your voice: pitch (high, shrill voice or a low, gruff one), volume (loud or soft), pace (fast or slow)

- Actions & Audience Participation: Children, especially the little ones, love to be part of the reading. So be creative in throw in some action or chant they can do as you read. Even helping you turn the pages helps them feel more involved in the reading.

- Story-to-life connections: Help make the story relatable for your child by discussing story elements or situations that he would be able to identify with.

- Dramatize the story: After reading, have fun acting out the story together. You could even do it with toys. Go around the house and pick out toys that you can use in your re-enactment of the story. Ask your child to help you pick them out, and you will be surprised at his fertile imagination! My bed has been an iceberg, a boat, plane and house. A blanket could be a fishing net or a cave or the beach.

Sometimes, we can try to do too much in one reading of the book. There is no need to cramp in the discussion about the entire book – story, vocabulary, illustrations and such – in one sitting.

Remembering that there is little we can do to avoid being asked to read a book over and over again can help us kick back, and relax and enjoy the book. (It’s actually great that a child would want a book read repeatedly because it means he loves it!)

Try to focus on a different element in each reading of the book.

The very first time you introduce the book, allow the child time to look at the cover. Discuss what is on the cover page. Read the title and invite the child to make guesses on what the story might be. This is also a good time to introduce the author and illustrator of the book.

During the first reading, it is natural that the child would want to look at the illustrations. You can do a book walk-through. Look at the pictures and use his natural interest in the pictures to engage him in conversation. Questions you may want to discuss include: Who are the characters you see? What are they doing? How do they feel? Why do you think it is so?

After looking at the pictures, read the story. In this reading, the main purpose is to read aloud the words for the child to listen. But as you read, do have the child contribute his opinions and feelings about it. If the line on the page says, ‘Mr Fix-it can fix anything.’ Lead the child to study the illustrations to elaborate on what Mr Fix-it can fix.

In the subsequent readings, you can choose work on deepening comprehension of the text, discuss specific vocabulary or contexts that relate to life.

There are no hard and fast rules about how you should read to, or with, your child. The most important rule, however, is that both of you must enjoy reading together!

5) Lastly, any other final tips?

I’ll like to end this with a quote:

"Stories are at the very heart of being human;
they talk about where we're from,
where we are, and where we're going.

They're like bread; you need to hear and tell them everyday."

Bill Harley

I believe that stories have the power to teach and enrich our lives like nothing else. There is no need to moralise at the end of every tale. There is no need to expound and drive home the ‘teaching value’ of every story.

Let the stories simmer in their souls, and you’ll be surprised just how much they can, and will, teach them about being better people.

Finally, as you begin building a reading relationship with your children, feel free to begin sharing the stories from your lives, as a child, with them too!

Enjoy every moment you have with your children.

Sarah Lee-Wong is a work-from-home mother of two young children who enjoys "experimenting" her ideas on her children and getting the chance to have another childhood. Sarah also spent the last 12 years in various aspects of education ranging from teaching to curriculum development and teacher-training. Literacy, drama and storytelling are Sarah's pet interests.
Sarah blogs regular at http://www.theplayfulparents.com/ and can be contacted at sarah.wong@theplayfulparents.com


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Motherhood: It's a conspiracy!

When my Dumpling was still an infant, I remembered looking at the other mummies who have older kids in envy and wondering when my little girl would grow up and when parenting is well... easier. No one prepared me for the night feeds and certainly no mentioned anything about fussy babies. My nephew was and still is a chilled out little dude who settles down easy into the night and does not fuss much over his naps too. My Dumpling naps less than 30 mins as a newborn per nap and sleeps very little at night even now.

So my theory? I am quite convinced that motherhood is a conspiracy theory. Think about it: somewhere somehow along the line, many mummies decided that we do not need to know the gruesome details of labour (I hated that it was messy and wet and well, you get the idea), leaky breasts (without much warning at a shopping mall) and mastitis (OMG! and the massage by the lactation consultant!?!?!? Say AYE if you remember this!)

Well, since I am at it, I figure this is a good time for a list:

1) How many mummies you know would explain to you about labour pains? I went drug free for 15 hours where my contractions progressed to less than a minute about and were literally off the chart. (Thank God for Hypnobirthing!) How would I describe it? Errmmm.. Try being run over on your back by a truck... 10 times.

2) How my hot flushes lasted for weeks after birth

3) How I suddenly seem to have a sudden spurt of white hair

4) How the nice cleavage is not here to stay (sigh....)

5) How people "advise" you that a 3YO is much better than a 2YO because they outgrow the terrible twos but no one mentioned anything about their chipmunk-fussy-eating-mode where Dumpling would just stop chewing and stores the food in her cheeks. -__-

6) How your pelvic floor muscles are never quite the same again especially when you laugh or cough violently

7) How my memory cells seem to have depleted permanently and ... oh, darn it, what was my train of thought again?!?

8) How it is so much harder to be a full time working adult when you have to rush off to pick up your kid and...

9) My all time fav: How I have become an IMMORTAL especially when my child contracts a viral fever: my mobile alarm goes off at 1am, 3am, 5am and 7.20am to check her temperature, sponge her and administer meds and yet, having to head off for meetings in the morning for 4 - 5 days in a row.

Yes, this is certainly a conspiracy theory.  But one, which I believe, which many mums do not talk about because they have simply forgotten and overlooked all the hardships as the joys of parenting have constantly and consistently overshone all the trying moments. And this is why I thank God daily for blessing me with such a miracle in my life. :)

and with that:

10) How a smile and a kiss from my child have magical healing powers and my days are now brighter and happier (at this juncture, I have to add that Dumpling read this and gave me a hearty kiss!)

Put simply: I love being a mum and I love motherhood. Happy belated mother's day to all of you wonderful mothers out there! :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making Chinese Fun for your Preschoolers!

For my second post this week, I am pleased to share with you a guest post from Katherine Tay, owner of Happy Cottage, an online webstore for Chinese books.

I have been buying books regularly from Katherine and have also attended a workshop where she shared more about Chinese homelearning. So, I thought that it would be great to have Katherine share with us top 5 tips on how to engage preschoolers in Chinese language on the homefront!

Many mommies often comment that it’s difficult to teach Chinese and their children are resistant to learning the language. Indeed, Chinese is a more difficult language to learn as compared to English; you need to remember the “shape” of the words as they are pictorial in nature. I have shared about the nature of Chinese characters here.

While classroom teaching is necessary to get structured learning done, learning a language is best done through listening and reading. It is difficult enough for adults to understand and remember the rules regarding the use of grammar and sentence structure, let alone a young child. It is the constant listening and reading that ingrain the use of correct grammar and structure into our system.

What can a parent do to help our child(ren) in the learning of Chinese language?

#1. Be a role model

We are our children’s role model. I’m sure everyone agrees. So lead by example with regards to learning the Chinese language. If you are able to converse in Mandarin, I encourage you to do so with your children so that they have the chance to learn the language. If English has been your primary language of communication, are you able to integrate Chinese into your communication? Maybe a certain amount of time per day, or certain days in a week. When they listen more, they will feel more comfortable with the language, and "absorb" more words to engage in a conversation with you. Even if your child replies in English, you can repeat what he says in Mandarin, and continue to converse with him in Mandarin. Encourage him to speak to you in Mandarin; gently correct him when his wrong by repeating what he has said in the correct way.

Have you ever have the experience of someone speaking to you in Mandarin, you had the tendency to reply in Mandarin as well, even if it’s mixed with English? That is the same way we want to influence our children.

Learn together with your child if you are not so proficient in it. Listen to Chinese songs or watch a Chinese show together. Your child(ren) will catch onto your enthusiasm and learning spirit.

#2. Make Chinese real and practical for the child

When a language becomes a subject, it becomes a chore to learn it. As adults, we are motivated by our needs to learn a new language. For children, they won’t give you their attention if you tell them they need to learn Chinese because they are Chinese, or that they need to pass the examination, or that it will benefit them in the future etc.

Make Chinese part of their daily life. Use it at home while playing games, watching TV, during meal time… Also, many grandparents can converse in Mandarin (no offence to grandparents who converse in English) but I see many old people try very hard to communicate with their grandchildren in English. Grandparents are actually a great source for the children to learn from and practice Mandarin/ Chinese with. Let the children speak to them in Mandarin instead.

Besides the opportunity to use it at home, you can find the opportunity for them to use the language in the external environment, for example when ordering food or reading Chinese signages.

#3. Reading with your child

I cannot emphasize this enough. Read to learn more words and sentence structure. Highlight to them the words which you are teaching or have taught them that appear in the story so as to build up their confidence in reading. This is especially for books which use good description as they are a great source of learning for composition writing.

#4. Do learning activities he likes (投其所好)

You can slowly reduce the resistance when you engage him in doing something he enjoys. Like for my kids, they like to cut and paste. So a lot of my learning activities involve these two skills.

You can teach Chinese at anytime, anywhere. I’ve done it while they were playing with Playdough.
There are a lot of things you can do with story books. You can do dramatization of the story, change part or ending of the story with your child, engage in oral comprehension with your child, or play games based on the story.

 I’ve done it when we were playing on the beach too.

#5. Reuse resources you have for teaching other subjects

Many mommies have great resources you have purchased or made for teaching other subjects. You can use the same materials to teach Chinese too (except Phonics materials of course ^.^).

For example, I have boxes of flashcards that I used to use with my son when he was younger. I used them for both English and Chinese, on separate occasions. In that way, he learns the English and Chinese version of the same item.

Every child can learn Chinese. Give them the opportunity to do so.

Katherine Tay is a mother of two preschoolers and is an ex-Primary School Chinese teacher. Katherine started Happy Cottage as a means to share the Chinese books and useful resources she has used with her children in her goal to create a condusive environment to encourage and cultivate the love of Chinese language and Chinese books at home.

Happy Cottage is located at: http://happycottagesg.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 14, 2012

For the fun and love of reading - Chinese titles!

As I was going through my cupboards, I thought I would take some photos and share some of the Chinese titles Dumpling and I have read over the past few years. :)

This set is below was something which Dumpling enjoyed when she was much younger.

It is a hardcover series and the "lift the flap" concept makes it interactive for Dumpling. It comes in a set of eight and I bought these at the Book Fest in Suntec City. Here's a quick look at this series:

The illustrations are bright and colourful. Most pages have only one sentence of text and the font size is big and bold for easy reading.


Besides lifting the flaps, the pages also incorporate other cute concepts - below is a page from a swimming title and the child is able to "turn" a circular layer to mimick the swirling water in the pool

The series shares some basic general knowledge too. For e.g. the title below touches on some information and introduces simple verbs on the various modes of transporation.

Before lifting the flap...

Scene changes after turning the flap over

This series has my vote for introducing Chinese to younger children of 2 and below where you are not into the technicalities of word recognition but for read aloud moments. :) 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Retail Therapy!

It has been a bit of a crazy week for me.

Thankfully besides Dumpling, I have good friends who stand by me, believe in me and help me along the way especially when there are silly incidents of dealing with people who have over-active imaginations and who just like the sound of their own voices. LOL. But I will not go there since these "things" do not even deserve any airtime here.

I am also adding more blogs to my blog roll so please drop me an email if you should wish to be linked up! :)

For me, nothing beats the stress better than coming back home to my family and also some good old fashion retail therapy!

Here's my purchases for this week! 

Yay! I finally collected my Happy Call Pans!

Part of my loot from Book Depository! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

The "Unsinkable" - Titanic

It was hard to ignore the fact that the Titanic sank 100 years ago. Dubbed as the "Unsinkable", the Titanic is definitely one of the most well known Ocean Liners of all times. Dumpling caught snippets of the story on cable and asked me about it one evening at length and hence I decided that there is no better time to learn more about this with her.

Though we have worked on it for two weeks, this tragic story/topic presents so many endless possibilities that I feel that we have only been scratching the surface. :) After putting in many late nights into researching and putting together materials for this topic, I decided to bring Dumping and my helper for the Artifact Exhibition.

Dumping was excited beyond words when she saw the huge banner that was suspended on the wall. It was our first time to the Art Science Museum too.

She is also at a stage where she is becoming her own little person and would insist on doing things all on her own. Top left: though not tall enough, she went on tippy toes and stretched out so high up to "beam" herself through. lol

Unfortunately, the exhibition in Singapore did not allow for photography which was a great disappointment because there was just so much that I could have "shot" great photos of. 

The exhibition was well planned and well thought of as it brings the visitor through a journey. It started off with the basics - ship model, a short bio on Captain Smith and some displays of the ships parts such as the steel rivets.

Thereafter, we moved into a different section which showcased the replicas of the cabins along with the artifacts of what were in those cabins (faucets, brushes, bottles, etc.) before coming to a display of the cutlery used, etc.

A replica of the first class cabin

A replica of the third class cabin

The tour then continued onto other items such as the crockery and cutlery used for the various classes. It was amazing to see how grand the first class plates (with gold trimmings no less) were as compared to the third class plates (as above) which were simply "decorated" with the White Star Line logo (artifacts as above).

Two of the main draws were definitely the "Grand staircase" with the glass dome as well as the Promenade Deck. 

Above: Replica of the Grand Staircase

I was especially impressed with the latter as the set up was very tastefully done - the deck was done up with a night scene using a dark (velvet?) cloth and the clever use of lighting for "stars". There was also special lighting effect to create a "wave-like" movement on the ground which the visitor sees if he were to look down from the "deck".

Above: the actual deck

The replica

The exhibition then slowly reveals the various key incidents leading up to the fateful accident at 11:40pm on April 14, 1912 with a mock "iceberg" at one side of the section.

The mock "iceberg", needless to say, entertained the little one greatly!

The exhibition also showcased personal belongings of some passengers as well as touched on some famous survivors ("Unsinkable" Molly Brown) and those who did not make it (Captain Smith himself, Jacob Astor, etc.) Dumpling and I read up on some of these passengers too.

Though the exhibition in Singapore is over, this Elementary School Teacher's Guide (Winner of 2007 NAI Interpretive Media Award for Curriculum) will definitely come in handy with its amazing details and explanation. :)

If the exhibition is heading your way, I would highly recommend for you to bring along your little one(s). Just read an age appropriate title (DK Readers has a few as shown below) to prep your child so that he/she will enjoy it more.

Some of the activities in our unit study and some of the resources we used

Exposing Dumpling to Geography. Incidentally, she heard the words "New York" on the radio news while we were driving and said "Hey Mummy, I know New York! That's in America and the Titanic was supposed to head there but it sank!" So, do not underestimate what your little ones can recall :)

The exhibition certainly added dimension and depth to what we learnt and read about in the books. We are still waiting for some more books to arrive before wrapping this unit study up. While waiting, I have also extended this to some simple Chinese activities.

As I am typing this, I have my eye on a ship model.
Now, how do I go on convincing the man, on the model, when he is already lamenting that our place looks like a kindy! Hmmm... Ideas anyone? :p

Here's a link to another mummy blogger's post who has visited and enjoyed the exhibition: A Juggling Mom - The Titanic Exhibition in Singapore

Friday, May 4, 2012

Downunder - Perth!

I was looking through my FB photos and I realised that my last decent family holiday was about 1.5 years ago! Granted that we did a staycation recently but unfortunately, I was down with gastric flu and OMG, it was a horrible horrible experience. :/

When I first started planning for the trip, I was stumped over where to bring Dumpling to. Anything too long on the plane (read: 6 hours or more) is a no-no for me. I was also not keen on any place which is crowded. Availability of food choices, etc., was also a great concern as Dumpling was on half solids and half milk then.

We finally shortlisted Perth and though it was a short trip, it was enjoyable. Now, depending on what you look for in a holiday destination, Perth may or may not be for you. It is definitely a much slower-paced country but I wanted to get out of a city landscape. At the same time, I was very keen on going to somewhere which has lots of space for Dumpling to just roam and run about. What I wanted very much to do originally was to try a farm stay but as I booked it too late, they were all taken up. Nonetheless we still found much to do. 

We decided to stay in Swan Valley as it was a short drive from the airport. Instead of a hotel / resort, we chose a service apartment because I wanted to be able to cook for Dumpling if I need to and not have to worry about meals for her. This turned out to be a great choice as we enjoyed a lovely BBQ on one cool cool night (10+ degrees) and we had many pleasant meals in the apartment since Coles was just less than 15mins drive away. (Did I mention that I have an obsession with supermarkets? :p)

The service apartment we stayed in was Burgundy Retreat and these are some photos from our morning walks :) The beautiful thing about this location is that it is next to the The Vines Novotel Resort and we were separated only by a small gate. 

So beyond this gate, every morning, we were greeted literally with tens and tens of kangaroos lounging around the golf course, when we headed out for our morning strolls. The morning strolls were sometimes led by Dumpling's paternal Grandpa while I "busied" myself preparing breakfast for Dumpling. :)

We also went to some nearby vineyards where it was just such joy to watch  Dumpling run and groove around with all that open space! What can I say? Dumpling's got the moves! LOL

And of course, we had to visit the Cuddly Animal Farm!

Like most kids, Dumpling enjoyed this visit tremendously. The smaller animals were kept in an indoor "shed" and the entrance fees includes small buckets of vegetables which visitors can feed these animals with.

The free range animals like ducks / goose can be found outside while the larger animals such as the goats and ponies were kept in enclosures.

Visitors could feed bunnies at the bunnies enclosure too 

We took the chance to also catch up with some cousins who prepared a lovely dinner for us. (Check out the homemade Pavlova cake!!!!!) Dumpling had a lovely time playing with Duke which was just a puppy then while the adults had a great time chatting and catching up in the garden.

For chocolate lovers, The Margaret River Chocolate Factory is of course another popular spot. A clear glass panel on one side reveals the various stages of the manufacturing process. But nothing beats attracting the visitors to...

THE SAMPLING STATION! (The counter in the top left photo!)

Other "must-visit" places are Fremantle Fisherman Wharf for just a nice relaxing morning as well as the weekend market there. I love the bright colours, buzz and the wide choices of organic food at this market along with som really nice handpainted / handmade wooden puzzle toys for young children. I have those pics somewhere and will try to search for them and upload. But for now, I shall leave you with some of my favourite photos of us both! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be warned: All content in this blog is copyright protected.

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected