Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Gaming All Bad 2

Continuation:

Inspired by how playing boardgames can truly let one learn through play, Pamela Tan started an online store at www.MyFirstGames.sg to retail and distribute the games which she mostly imports from US and Europe.

In the first instalment, I reached out to Pamela to discuss if Gaming is all bad. Here’s part 2 of our chat:


Me: What are the other “lessons of life” can one take away from Board Games?

Pam: Other than those listed earlier, my children have benefitted from the below:
Taking instructions. Board games are excellent for training children to listen to instructions and carrying out the instructions correctly. I started playing Go Away Monster (a board game meant for ages 3 and up) with Isaac since he was 17 months old. By 18 months, he could play the game with its full rules – he could understand the instructions I gave him and he executed them perfectly.


• Taking turns. With the same game, Go Away Monster, Isaac learnt how to take turns, and wait for his turn, at 18 months. Our paediatrician says this is unheard of in an 18 month old. Apparently it is normal for a child in their earlier years to always think and want it to be their turn ALWAYS. This is normal and common. But it just shows, that with some conditioning, it is possible to teach children from a young age to learn how to take turns.


• Cultivating of patience. Now that I have two younger children, we have had to bring back the games that Isaac played with when he was 2 years old to play them with his younger brother Asher, and sister Shawna. Now at 5 years old, Isaac would prefer to play more challenging games, but gets frustrated when he has to play simple games (such as Go Away Monster which he mastered earlier on) and he does not like it when the twins mess up his game or if they do not know how to play his game. This is where we teach him to be patient with the twins. We remind him that he was once a 2 year-old who played Go Away Monster seven times a day, and that he too, had to be taught how to play the game by its rules.


Developing leadership. Now that my message to Isaac to be patient with his siblings has sunk in, he has started to teach them how to play the games, by himself. He will aid me in trying to teach and guide the twins during game play.


Encouraging perseverance. “Try, and try again.” is our mantra that I teach Isaac when he does not win a game.


• Developing a strategy. Even in games for young kids, you can employ different strategies to win. After the child learns how to play the game, you can teach him how to strategise. Get him to consider different methods to win. Teach him to learn how to think ahead and anticipate their opponents’ moves. Encourage him to experiment with different tactics and strategies and techniques, to see what works and what does not. Let him practice and train him to think of all possible options and explore where those options lead him.


Read body language. Improve Negotiation skills. Foster co-operation. There are all sorts of games out there. Some games which require reading of body language of that of your opponents, some require you to negotiate with your opponents while for others, you will need to co-operate with your fellow game players to work together to win the game together. As Isaac grows older, we look forward to being able to introduce him to more complex games.

Laid out above is all the stuff you can teach your child while playing board games with him/her, and I did not even list the ‘obvious’ stuff that you can learn from board games that some parents only look for, like Maths, and Language (vocabulary, spelling etc), and themes touching on Science, History, Geography… To me, this is the surface learning which is used to reinforce what the kids learn in school. However, I feel that the true value of board games is in the abstract learning that is gleaned from parents playing with their children.



Me: Lastly, what games would you recommend for the preschoolers?


Pam: There are certainly loads to choose from and I will list the ones which are popular with our customers as well as my children.

Below 3 years old• Go Away, Monster! http://www.myfirstgames.sg/go-away-monster.html
• Froggy Boogie http://www.myfirstgames.sg/froggy-boogie.html
• Kleiner Teddy (Little Teddy) http://www.myfirstgames.sg/kleiner-teddy.html


3 to below 5
• Duck Duck Bruce http://www.myfirstgames.sg/duck-duck-bruce.html
• Viva Topo http://www.myfirstgames.sg/viva-topo.html
• Zoowaboo http://www.myfirstgames.sg/zoowaboo.html

 5 and above
• Sleeping Queens http://www.myfirstgames.sg/sleeping-queens.html
• Super Circles http://www.myfirstgames.sg/super-circles.html
• Quoridor Kid http://www.myfirstgames.sg/pirate-versus-pirate.html
• Pirate versus Pirate http://www.myfirstgames.sg/pirate-versus-pirate.html

Many of the games listed above are also good with older kids, right up to teens and even adults. (For e.g. games such as Quoridor Kid and Pirate versus Pirate).



Pamela Tan is a board games enthusiast with a personal collection of more than 300 board games. She is a mother of three young children, the oldest turning 5 years old this year. Initially starting out with the intention to train her children to play strategy boardgames with her in future, she found that boardgames are an excellent educational tool when she started playing them with her son and went on to start up her own online games store: www.MyFirstGames.sg!

Pamela blogs about her parenting thoughts and journey regularly at http://tanfamilychronicles.blogspot.sg/ /From now till 31 July, readers who quote "SMB-BEANIENUS" will receive a 10% off your purchases (not applicable on delivery and shipping)



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is Gaming All Bad?

In recent years, “Gaming” is almost deemed as a dirty word as parents are concerned with the time that their children spend on games. So is “gaming” all that bad for kids? Are there any merits to “gaming” at all?

In this guest post, I reached out to Pamela Tan, mother of 3 preschoolers and founder of MyFirstGames. Here's part 1 of our chat. :)


Me: Pamela, how did you start on Gaming?

Pam: I first started out being a board game enthusiast 12 years back and I would play them with friends, my then-boyfriend who later became my husband. No surprises that one of our hobbies was and still is playing board games. After I became a mother, I enthusiastically searched out games that were suitable for young children and would play them with my son, my nieces, and now my two youngest children too.

Some parents react negatively when they hear the word “gaming” as they associate “gaming” with “computer games” and as such, all forms of games are bad. However, “gaming” in its traditional form of board games, can be beneficial.





Me: When is Gaming bad?

Pam: Gaming is bad when it turns into an obsession. When the individual (the child or the adult) is so obsessed with gaming to the point that he skips meals, does not bother with personal hygiene (does not brush teeth, bathe etc), does not want to go to school/work and does not even want to talk to anyone face-to-face.

Gaming is bad when it isolates the individual as a result of zero social interaction whilst gaming. This is especially apparent in computer gaming. Whilst it is true that some computer games are played against “human” opponents, most of these opponents are either seated opposite the room, on the other side of the country, or on the flip side of the globe. There is also minimal communication between the opponents during the game. Hence, for all intents and purposes, there is little or no social interaction during playing of computer games.

In this day and age of technological advancement where phones have games, iPads are commonplace, and television sets have never been cheaper, it is no wonder that these gadgets have been harnessed (using appropriate applications and programmes) and turned into nannies for children. As it is, we are already moving towards the day when all the textbooks in schools would be replaced with a slim touch screen tablet computer.

Given how quickly children can get the hang of using such gadgets, it is really not necessary to start them on it at such a young age. In fact, in view of this state of affairs and what we are moving towards, it is all the more important that children be exposed to as much human-to-human interaction as possible.

Therein lies the main difference between computer games and board games and the best reason why board games are better and more preferable to computer games.





Me: When and how is Gaming good?

Pam: One of the biggest disadvantages to playing board games is that you need to find someone to play them with. But this is also its biggest advantage, for by playing a board game with another person, there is face-to-face interaction with another person. This is fantastic for parent-child bonding. I love playing games with my children. We get to spend time with each other. I get to analyze my child to see what his temperaments are, to observe how he reacts to different situations, to teach him and see him learn, understand, and grow. It is a very satisfying experience. And when it is just the kids playing the games on their own, the lessons I have taught my children get put to the test.




With your guidance, let your child learn the lessons of life while they play board games with you. Here is a sampling of what I have taught my son, Isaac:


• It’s a dog eat dog world out there.
Everyone wants to win. Everyone plays to win. “Isaac, there is no such thing as “Mummy should let you win.” Because Mummy wants to win too.”


• Channel the child’s energies toward positive avenues.
“Isaac, if you want to win, then you should work towards winning. Perhaps you have to pay more attention to the game, or use a better strategy or technique, or maybe you simply need to persevere and practice more often. Just try, and try again. So, rather than throw tantrums, you should spend your time and energy towards doing all these things, to work towards winning. No use wasting your time and energy crying.”


• In life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
There are some games out there, where, no matter how good the strategy or technique you employ, you may still lose. This is very true for games which are based on chances – where dice throws determines pretty much everything (a good example is Snake & Ladders). Isaac would get dejected and frustrated because no matter what he does, he cannot control whether he wins or not, in that particular game. I would talk to him, and tell him that games are like that, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose… which leads us to…


• Winning is not everything.
That there are more important things in life than “winning everything” (Isaac has started to compete with his brother and sister in everything a la “I finish drinking my milk the fastest!” and “I press for the lift first!”). “Isaac, winning is not everything. When you play games, it is more important to have fun. Are you having fun? Yes? Then you’re a winner already. We play games to have fun together. What’s the point in winning if you end up not having fun?”


• Be gracious.
When you lose, lose graciously. Everyone knows to teach that with playing games. No throwing tantrums, no crying. Teach the child to channel his “fear of losing” or “want to win” to positive actions like trying harder etc, as mentioned above. However, just as important, is to teach the child to win graciously. No taunting opponents about their loss. No “neh-neh-ni-boo-boo”s. No sticking out tongues and blowing raspberries.


• Have integrity. Be honest.
When you play board games, there is actually a lot of opportunity to cheat, if your opponents are not paying attention. You can take more resources than you are supposed to, go an extra turn if no one is looking… etc. Teach that it is important to be honest to oneself. So what if you win the game if you did it through dishonest means? Even if none of your opponents have found out that you cheated, YOU know. How does it make you feel if you know that you did not win the game honestly? Not good.


• Take responsibility for your own actions.
 In games, in life, you can make choices. You can choose whatever you want to (within confines of the game rules), but for whichever choice or decision you make you take responsibility for it, you bear the consequences. “Isaac, why are you crying? Because the cat ate your mice? But just now you chose to move your mice straight instead of going into the hole to take cheese and stay safe, right? So that is the choice you make, and the consequence is that the cat ate up the mice still in the race. Don’t cry. Learn from this. So maybe next time, you may want some of your mice to move into the hole, take cheese, and be safe. Alright? No use crying over dead mice.”


• Play by the rules.
Playing a board game is very much like life, in which, there are rules. You cannot do anything you like simply because you “feel like it”. You have to learn to play by the rules, and do the best you can with whatever resources you have. You can be creative and think out of the box, so long as you do not cross the lines and break any rules. Board games have rules, but there is sometimes grey areas it is not certain if something can be done; rules are silent. When Isaac comes up with a strategy or technique to win which is not prohibited in the rules that were laid out, I will allow him to win. Sometimes, especially when learning a new game, or if the child is very young, they may want to play the game “their own way”. This is fine in the beginning, so long as the child knows that this is not the proper way to play the game by the rules. Sometimes Isaac just wants to play it a certain way, that he knows makes it easier for him to win. I will tell him “Okay, just this once. But you know this is not playing by the rules, right? Because if you play this game with other people, everyone will play by the rules. If you don’t want to play by the rules, no one would want to play with you.”


Pamela Tan is a board games enthusiast with a personal collection of more than 300 board games. She is a mother of three young children, the oldest turning 5 years old this year. Initially starting out with the intention to train her children to play strategy boardgames with her in future, she found that boardgames are an excellent educational tool when she started playing them with her son and went on to start up her own online games store: www.MyFirstGames.sg!

Pamela blogs about her parenting thoughts and journey regularly at http://tanfamilychronicles.blogspot.sg/


From now till 31 July, readers who quote "SMB-BEANIENUS" will receive a 10% off your purchases. (Does not apply on delivery / shipping)

Monday, June 25, 2012

When help is needed - to tuition or not?

There have been many discussions lately regarding the primary school education system in Singapore with many parents airing their concerns in the local media over the academic stress and focus.

So, how does a parent determine when and if help is needed? And, what should the selection criteria be?

In this post, I reached out to Pamela Gordon, an ex local primary school teacher-turned-tutor to share her thoughts and some tips in choosing tutors / tuition classes.

Pamela:
It’s quite a common sight to see kids in Singapore going for tuition and one cannot deny that tuition centres are doing very well. There are many reasons on why parents send their kids to tuition classes or spend exorbitant amounts to hire private tutors for their children. We can blame the education system but since it’s here to stay (like it or not), we could perhaps look at whether tuition is really necessary and if so, how can it benefit your own child.


Q1: Pamela, how does a parent decide if his/her child require tuition?

Pam: Your child only needs tuition if he/she is not coping in a subject in school. As most primary schools now do not have exams for Primary 1 children, there is really no need for your child to attend tuition classes. However, schools do conduct informal assessments and through the teacher’s feedback, you will be able to understand your child’s progress in school. Try to set aside some time everyday after school to go through your child’s work and get them to recall what had been taught in school for that day. Consistent revision is vital and eases your child’s stress.

Importantly, ask yourself these questions: Is my child failing or doing badly in exams? Is my child finding difficulty in coping in school? Have my child’s grades fallen drastically? (A drop of marks from 100 to 95 does not constitute a drastic change). If you have answered ‘yes’ to all 3 questions, you might want to consider tuition.


Q2: So how does a parent decide on which is the best tuition centre or where can I find the best tutor for my child?

Pam: There is no best tuition centre or tutor. What’s important is to find a perfect fit for your child to benefit from. Bear in mind that some tuition centres are enrichment centres and their standards may be higher than schools in general. Determine your child’s learning needs before deciding which centre your child should go to or if you should hire a private tutor for your child.


Q3: Should a child attend a group tuition class or have one-to-one sessions?

Pam: This depends on your child’s learning style and grades in school. If your child is doing badly (i.e. marks below 50%) you may want to consider one-to-one sessions. Otherwise group sessions can be beneficial too.


Q4: What tips do you have for a parent find the right place for his/her child?

Pam: Do visit the centres to ask more about their programme and teacher-student ratio. Ask if your child can do a trial and have a quick chat with the teacher after the session. For one-to-one, you should be able to see improvements in your child’s grades after half a year.



Pamela Gordon is a mum to a 3 year-old girl and has taught in local primary schools for eight years. To continue with fuelling her passion in educating young minds, she is now a private tutor.


Pamela Gordon can be contacted at pamgordon@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 24, 2012

DIY your own Puffy Paint!


I have always liked making our own paint. The colours are bright and the process fun. If you are concerned about cleaning, all you can do is to lay newspapers on the floor and then throw it all away after the session. Or, you can rear a dog or 2 like me that moonlight as a vacuum cleaner. Works everytime. :)

I used the recipe from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. Here's to share:

Puffy Paint Recipe:

- 1 cup flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp salt


Step 1: Mix all the above inside and add water to get the texture of pancake batter
Below pic: The "ingredients" and the final mix




Step 2: Portion out and mix in the food colouring you like
Below pic: Adding in the colours with Food Colouring (Here I made beige, blue, green and yellow)



Step 3: Put the mix into bottles
(Pic below: I use some of the bottles which we have for baking but you can get some from the local NTUC supermarkets at about $1 each)



Step 4: Off to paint we go!
Pic below: We used some old book depository packaging which we have kept for craft




Step 5: Bake it!
(We set it at 190 degrees celsius for about 3 - 4 mins. But we checked on it periodically)
Pic below: Before baking - note how the paint was not runny? This is the beauty of Puffy Paint!



Step 6: Leave it to cool!
Pic below: The paint dried up but it did not lose its "puffiness", giving the pictures on the card more depth and dimension. :)



Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Fun!

I am dedicating Fridays for fun activities.

I discovered I have an Augustus Gloop. What about you?!?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 weeks of creative fun with your kids!


I am pleased and certainly very excited to host a "2 Weeks of Creative Fun" blog hop party with 14 other mummies starting from this week!

The aim really is to share fun and easy creative art and craft ideas which we can do with our kids at home especially during this June holidays where you may have some time to spare. :)

Dumpling and I had so many fun ideas but we finally decided to narrow to one. Our theme last week was on Eric Carle to mark his birthday on June 25. Besides the language arts aspect, we have also extended to creating Eric Carle inspired art pieces, having fun modelling after his "technique" and "style". The final pieces were truly gorgeous!

Step 1: we painted, stamped and use sponges on tissues. You can also use a brayer, or anything textured to leave interesting prints. 


Step 2: We did different strips of designs and colours for more varied prints and colour selection. The idea is to create layers of "print" over each other

Step 3: We painted on the background piece and pasted the tissues on, making it into a collage 


Voila! Your very own Eric Carle inspired art piece :)

We then went on to extend this into making her own story book in the following pages where she got to create the characters and animals she liked :) 



Coming up next!


Adeline from http://accidental-mom-blogger.blogspot.com/ has shared her next craft post using polymer clay to decorate a photo frame which she did with her 10 year old daughter here. :)

About Adeline
Adeline is a SAHM to 2 upper primary school going children. She also runs a blog shop making lifestyle jewelries. You can find her at http://www.ade-loft.blogspot.com/ or get in touch with her via email at ade-loft@gmail.com. Adeline also blogs regularly at http://accidental-mom-blogger.blogspot.com 




Over the next 2 weeks, the mummy bloggers listed below will feature their creative pieces too! Please hop on over to get some inspiration! :)
June 23 - Sandra @ http://www.sanses.com/2012/06/crafty-fun-week-dinosaur-galore.html
June 24 - Winnie @ http://toddlymummy.blogspot.sg/2012/06/two-weeks-of-creative-fun-recycled.html
June 25 - Susan @ http://ajugglingmom.com/2012/06/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-were-building-a-farm/
June 26 - Ann @ http://beautifulrevelry.com/blog/goopy-goodness.html
June 27 - Justina @ http://www.makingmum.blogspot.sg/2012/06/thinking-thursdays-celebrating-spring.html
June 28 - Adora @ http://gingerbreadmum.blogspot.sg/2012/06/crafternoons-with-poppy-creating-family.html
June 29 - Regina @ http://www.reginamoo.blogspot.sg/2012/06/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-smoop-dogg.html
June 30 - Sarah @ http://theplayfulparents.com/2012/06/2-weeks-crafty-fun-crazy-box-cake/
July 1 - Jennifer @ http://www.augdinoegg.blogspot.sg/2012/07/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-plant-poke.html
July 2 - Pamela @ http://tanfamilychronicles.blogspot.sg/2012/07/make-your-own-car-today.html
July 3 - Ming Yuan @ http://blog.mybabyfootsteps.com/?p=3442
July 4 - Dominique @ http://dominiquegoh.com/2012/07/two-weeks-of-creative-fun-making-a-subway


July 5 - Karen @ ‎http://littlejazzelle.blogspot.sg/2012/07/creative-fun-egg-craft.html  







Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I am a Nazi mum, hear me roar!!!

Do you have moments when your routine sort of falls apart? And, how did you react? 

I am actually pretty known to my friends for being anal about routines and one of them even remarked jokingly that if I were the CEO of a certain mode of public transport in Singapore, there should not be any further bad press about the delays. :p

I must be honest that this is one area which I have yet to be more relaxed and forgiving about. As Dumpling sleeps very little I am very insistent on her naps though I am well aware quite a few of her friends who are around her age has dropped off their naps. 

Dumpling, for some strange reason, tends to wake up at 7+ in the morning (sometimes even before 7am!) regardless of what time she sleeps at night. I did the whole experimenting thing where I cut down her nap times and all BUT she still sleeps late and wakes up at about the same time again the next day and she is not cranky at all!

Because of this, I have been very strict with her getting her naps daily.

BUT (and like all things, there sometimes is a "but") once in a while, our routine gets disrupted by luncheons (which we have to go to) and birthday parties (which I usually try to sit out).

Over the last weekend, her naptime was disrupted because we went out for a family lunch and left late. She fell asleep in the car and it was an "uh oh" moment for me. And sure enough, the moment we placed her on the bed, she woke up! She had all but what, 5 - 10mins of rest? And then it was downhill from there as she was not able to settle down and go back to bed. I was frustrated and stressed out and totally unconsolable.

I was upset because she slept very little the night before (read, less than 8 hours of sleep) and it was just ridiculous to see her struggling with her heavy lidded eyes and yet she still could not settle down despite tossing for an hour! So I struggle. I struggle because over the past 3+ years, her sleeping pattern is as such. Nothing has changed. Hence I find it hard to understand if both dinner and luncheon options are available, why do we always end up being pushed into taking the luncheon options. I was upset with myself, for being pushed to agree to the said luncheon and more importantly, for not sticking to my guns and trusting my instincts.

I should not be made to feel guilty and bad that the timing just does not work for us. I totally dislike the comparison and remarks such as "oh but my kid dropped his/her nap at this age" and the "it is ok, it is just once in a while". Well, it is not OK. Each child is different. Dumpling started speaking in short sentences at 18 months so should I comment on this?

 So, for now, the man and I have agreed that there will be no more socials for us in the afternoon until she is able to drop her nap. Yes, I am anal and I am not ashame to admit it. If I am not gonna be popular because we decide to sit out a family function / social / a birthday party, then so be it.

Yes, I am a Nazi mum, hear me roar!


Source: http://awrappersview.blogspot.sg/2009/04/i-am-woman-hear-me-roar.html


Monday, June 18, 2012

Too-whit too-whooooooo...

It was another science exploration study for us and this time, we dissected Owl Pellets.

It was a totally intriguing experience and here's some photos to share.


Dumpling was totally engrossed in the activity as she poked and pried the pellets apart. We then made the comparisons between the skulls and matched against a chart to identify which animals the owls ate.


I am very glad Dumpling enjoyed the experience though I have yet to decide what to do with the skeletons!  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mister Seahorse


It has been a busy period for us as we embark on new homeschool topics, went on more field trips and gotten new pets. The hubs has always been a marine tank lover and we have been having new additions on and off to our tank.

As Dumpling gets older, she's more and more curious and has indicated her preferences for pets. Recently she has shown interest in Marine creatures and we decided to add "new members" to our marine tank which includes a few seahorses.

We have had seahorses on and off but the experience a few weeks ago have been truly amazing! I took a clip and here's a clip to share. (Please be patient and wait for it to load)


video

And of course, we took the opportunity to revisit "Mister Seahorse" this week.



We have read this book several times but each time, it has been a totally different discussion and of different focus. The book is simply beautiful with the acetate pages and there are just so many possibilities.

We also extended to an Art activity. Here's a photo to share:


With this, I am very excited to share that starting from mid next week, I will be hosting a blog hop party where 14 other blogger mummies will be sharing their ideas of "Creative Fun" - art and craft projects from the homefront with their kid(s)!

Here's the blog roll!

June 22 - Adeline @ http://accidental-mom-blogger.blogspot.sg/2012/06/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-decorating.html
June 23 - Sandra @ http://www.sanses.com/2012/06/crafty-fun-week-dinosaur-galore.html
June 24 - Winnie @ http://toddlymummy.blogspot.sg/2012/06/two-weeks-of-creative-fun-recycled.html
June 25 - Susan @  http://ajugglingmom.com/2012/06/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-were-building-a-farm/
June 26 - Ann @ http://beautifulrevelry.com/blog/goopy-goodness.html
June 27 - Justina @  http://www.makingmum.blogspot.sg/2012/06/thinking-thursdays-celebrating-spring.html
June 28 - Adora @ http://gingerbreadmum.blogspot.sg/2012/06/crafternoons-with-poppy-creating-family.html
June 29 - Regina @ http://www.reginamoo.blogspot.sg/2012/06/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-smoop-dogg.html
June 30 - Sarah @ http://theplayfulparents.com/2012/06/2-weeks-crafty-fun-crazy-box-cake/
July 1 - Jennifer @  http://www.augdinoegg.blogspot.sg/2012/07/2-weeks-of-creative-fun-plant-poke.html
July 2 - Pamela @ http://tanfamilychronicles.blogspot.sg/2012/07/make-your-own-car-today.html
July 3 - Ming Yuan @ http://blog.mybabyfootsteps.com/?p=3442
July 4 - Dominique @ http://dominiquegoh.com/2012/07/two-weeks-of-creative-fun-making-a-subway
July 5 - Karen @ ‎http://littlejazzelle.blogspot.sg/2012/07/creative-fun-egg-craft.html  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A "Wiggles and Giggles" fun morning!

Big Eyes, Big Minds is back for its second run! Dumpling and I did not go last year as she was too little so when I realised that they are back again, I was so excited! This is especially so because one of their programs included a tour at Jacob Ballas. There were 2 to choose from and while I am more keen on the "Discover Plants and Animals" tour, due to our schedules, we took up "Discover Pond Life" instead.


The morning started with downpour but thankfully the rain stopped right on the dot. The session started with a short screening of some films ranging from Croatia to USA to Germany and was shown in the Jacob Ballas classroom which was clean and comfortable. The films were well produced - the messages were straight to the point and the production was surprisingly good.

The hubs and my personal favorite was a short film from Croatia featuring some frogs in an "orchestra". It was short, witty and very funny.



The screening lasted for a tad over 30 mins which was good as it was not too long or draggy. Once the screening was over, a guide led the group out where we were introduced to "Uncle Loo" (as he told the children to address him by) who took over the tour.
The group was led to an area next to the pond where some floating plants were prepped prior. There were 3 "tanks" with different displays. Uncle Loo (lol) was very patient with the children and encouraged the children to observe and investigate. This is definitely a big plus point for me.

He showed the children some floating plants: ferns, water hyacinth and lily pads and also demonstrated how the leaves repelled water. Dumpling and her good friend had great fun asking the Uncle Loo questions as well as exploring, touching and submerging the plants.


Dumpling also had a ball of a time flipping over the lily pads to hunt for water snail eggs :)


The second part of the tour included a walk down a floating platform where the short session was spent "hunting" for small pond insects - water skater and spiders and even a damselfly!



Another gem was being able to see this newly hatched dragonfly and its nymph shell. What a great morning of life cycle, insects and water plants discussion!

The tour was an interesting experience and it was a pity that it was so short (30 mins). I wish that more items were presented and the children had more time to explore and had a chance to view some of the items with magnifying glasses or even take home an information pack with some activity sheets in it. But all in all, the session was well organised and executed and I will definitely go back again the next time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Inaugural Homelearning Field Trip - Green Circle Eco Farm!


Last weekend was one of the most exciting weekends that I had in a long time.

Most of you readers would know by now that I am a big fan of field trips and outdoor experiential + incidental learning. I had the opportunity to organise the very first field trip for my group on Facebook: Homelearning for Preschoolers. It was through one of my blogger mummy friend's recommendation that I first heard of Green Circle Eco Farm.

An organic farm located near Sunggei Buloh, Green Circle Eco Farm is a kampung gem with a belief to treat animals / insects and plants with respect and live in harmony.

Above: "Edit": Back Sunbird nest such as above is a common sight in the farm. Evelyn and her husband (the owners of the farm) basically leave these nests as they are. Here, this nest was hanging on a metal railing and if you peek inside, you can see the baby bird in the nest.



Our morning started off with an introduction session where Evelyn, gave a talk on the importance of vegetables, organic versus non organic and facts such as parts of the plants, its uses as well as the pollination process.

We then did a warm up song which the lyrics were written up beautifully on 2 chalk boards and the group was then split into 2 smaller groups. 

And away we went!

Our guide was Wan Leng for that morning. She is a knowledgeable guide who was very patient with the children, pointing out not just the various vegetables and plants along the way but also small insects in addition to engaging them by asking questions.


Below are rows of Cai Xin and Xiao Bai Cai. To the adults, these were nothing special but when Wan Leng pointed them out to the children, I could hear the "ooohhhhh" as they could see for themselves how these were grown. (The seedlings stage was shown earlier)




Above: just some of the other plants and trees which we saw at the farm - papaya, fig tree and pineapple


After the tour, it was a hands-on session where Wan Leng let the children handle the various types and parts of vegetables we eat - root, stems, leaves, etc. I particularly like this part as it helped to reinforce what the children saw from the farm earlier. Wan Leng also showed the children animals such as an earthworm, toads, etc. and spoke about both the ecological process and food chain.

I also love the self made educational posters which were put up at the main hall

The tour ended with a simple "potting" exercise for the children. Though fairly young, the preschoolers were more than ready to step in and manage the potting almost entirely on their own as the proud parents look on :)

Top picture above: Sisters Chloe and Clariss were totally engrossed in the potting activity

Judging from the comments and feedback from the group, many enjoyed the trip tremendously. As some mummies put it, "it is a much nicer way to spend the day as opposed to the shopping centre."

On my end, Dumpling enjoyed the pollination talk and was chatting with me about the photosynthesis process as we walked through the farm. There was also a pond in the facility and I wish that we could have had more discussions around the pond animals and plants. One thing Wan Leng did highlight was the water from the pond is being used to water the plants and vegetables as part of its sustainable green practice. To all parents (namely mummies though :p) it was certainly nice meeting and catching up with all of you!
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