Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Primary School: Chinese Picture Talk!

If you have not already heard, it was announced a while ago that the PSLE Chinese Oral exam will be updated where children will now watch a video recording and then record their answers using a voice recorder from 2017. This will effectively replace the good old “Picture Talk” – 看图说话。

Having said that, many schools are still starting the children with看图说话 especially in lower Primary which I think is good as it allows the younger children to cement their foundation in terms of appropriate vocabulary, stringing a sound sentence and then work on improving their description.
Like many of my friends, we do not speak enough Mandarin at home though I try hard to inject bits and pieces of it while we are driving / running errands where we describe our surroundings, etc., in Mandarin. But when it comes to assessment time I get all iffy and worried about the kiddo. So, I did the Singaporean thing and bought a few guide books to help myself help her. LOL.

Here’s sharing the first one which I find useful. I chanced upon this book when I was at Popular bookstore waiting for pick the kid up from her workshop. I am sharing on this book first as I feel that it serves as a good introduction to the various themes and the appropriate words to be used for each of those themes:

The topics are introduced thematically. I like that the topics are something the children are able to relate to and can understand; and that many are in line with the topics in their textbooks (which I did a comparison between the old and new Chinese syllabus here)

:: Contents page 

(P1 textbook)

The words introduced in the guide book are "everyday" words and scenes which are also relevant in Primary 2. 

:: Format

For parents who are not eloquent in Mandarin, the book is a bilingual title where the English words are written next to the Chinese words and the book also includes the HYPY of those Chinese words. 

In short, it is almost like a thematic "dictionary" but with colourful illustrations which is a plus point in attracting the children.

Each topic spans over 2 pages and includes a "read-aloud" section as well as a "conversation" (会话)section.

Some of the items / words below are also in the Primary 2 syllabus where food items were taught in one chapter.

For parents who struggle with knowing what to ask or what to discuss with your child, the questions in 会话 section would be useful for you.

The read aloud sections (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your preference) have HYPY at the bottom. Personally I prefer for the paragraphs not to have HYPY as they do not have it in the actual tests but I think for children who are just starting off, this may be less intimidating. 

The book was priced at SGD12.75 when I bought it last year and comes with an audio CD which basically reads out all the words in the chapters including the read aloud 读一读 and 说一说 sections. 

This will definitely be useful for non Mandarin speaking parents, for parents who are busy or for parents who wish to improve their children's pronunciation (though I must add that the narrator's way of pronouncing 我 sounded a tad weird to me :p). 

I have previously written a post on nurturing a love for the Chinese language before and you can read more about it here:

Part 1: Read Read Read (books of a different kind)

Part 2: Speak it, Use it!
Part 3: Watch it!

Part 4: Play It! 

Looking for more sharing on the Chinese syllabus, I recently interviewed a friend who is an MOE Primary School Chinese teacher on Chinese Composition which you can read about here too. 

This is an ongoing series on documenting my learning and Dumpling's Primary School journey

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Giveaway: The Rainbow Fish by I Theatre

Based on Marcus Pfister’s award winning storybook, The Rainbow Fish is very likely a “household title” for all parents to teach their children the moral of sharing and humility.

I first caught the play with Dumpling about five years ago when it was first staged by I Theatre. I recalled that Dumpling was dazzled by the colourful costumes and could relate to the story. Now, five years later, the play is back as part of the theatre company’s 15th Anniversary season special and with new characters too!

For this incarnation, I Theatre will also be including a perfect marriage of the various techniques learnt over the years, including magical black light theatre, and a blend of live action and mind blowing original puppet design; a definite treat for both the young and the old!

“A long way out in the deep blue sea swims a shoal of the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. Their scales are every shade of blue, green or purple, and ONE has a sparking silver scale…
Meet proud and pretty Rainbow Fish, and her friends, Starfish, Small Blue, Big Violet and Little Green.
Rainbow Fish learns some very valuable lessons about her attitude to others, some hard lessons about pride and selfishness, and some valuable truths about the power of generosity and humility. Meanwhile, her friends discover how teamwork helps everyone; and how gossip and rumour can cause damage to friendships!”

I am pleased to share that I have a family package of 4 tickets to this classic tale, worth more than $120 to give away!

Venue: Drama Centre Theatre, Singapore
Date (for winners): 30 April, Saturday, 230pm
Duration: 55 mins
Suitable for: Anyone from 3 to 103 years old!

:: Terms and Conditions
1.                   These tickets will be to the 2:30pm show on Saturday 30 April. 
2.                   Winner is to collect the tickets directly from I Theatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road from by 27 April (no onsite collection is allowed) during office hours.
3.                   Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other dates.
4.                   Please remember to leave a comment below on "How do you encourage your child(ren) to share?"
5.                   As the play takes place in Singapore, this giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. GOOD LUCK! 
Can't wait for the giveaway results? You can purchase tickets here!

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Shows in RED are For School groups only.

Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by I Theatre. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

And it’s back to school: life in Primary 2

The pace of Primary 2 took me by surprise when school term started and when the hubs and I were invited to a PTM where the kiddo’s form teacher shared on what we can expect in Primary 2 and what Semester Assessment (SA) is about. Dumpling has homework from time to time in Primary One but as we listened on during the presentation / sharing, it was clear that there is a strong emphasis on home support starting from this year.

And it was definitely a fair "warning" because from Term 2 on, it seems like during class hours, the focus for the teachers is more on teaching and while a bit of time is being put aside for seat work but the rest, are often brought home to complete. 

So what's different in Primary 2? Here's a summary: 

:: Weightage of Tests and SA
For Dumpling’s school, in Primary 2, there are still holistic assessments but the results from Term 1 do not contribute to the year’s grade. Instead, Term 2 has a weightage of 20% (of the final year’s grade) with Term 3 at 30% and the SA in Term 4, contributing to 50%.

One important thing that I learnt was for SA, all children of that level will take the test at that said time, on the same day. This essentially means that should our kid(s) *knock on wood* be unwell that day, a medical certificate needs to be produced. There will be NO re-test rather the computer system will calculate her grade based on the input of the various activities my child has done over the year. 

:: New Elements and Tips Learnt
During the briefing, the format of SAs for the various subjects was shared and we also learnt more of new elements (e.g. stimulus based conversation) and expectations. 

In summary, for Math, the child needs to be able to not just understand the concepts but also work through the questions quickly (and of course accurately) so that more time can be allocated for the problem sums (which at this stage usually would usually be 2-step problem sums). So essentially, from the home-front, we will need to set aside consistent practices for the kid. 

From the early tests and assessments being done, careful reading is key. Questions are not as direct and it is not uncommon to see questions as below where more than 2 steps are sometimes needed before the children can derive at an answer. 

Stimulus-based conversations:
One new element this year for English Oral is the add-on of stimulus-based conversation. At this stage, the students (at least from Dumpling’s school) will be given an advertisement or a flyer and will have a conversation with the examiner on it.

Direct questions such as “what do you think this advertisement / flyer is about” to broader spectrum questions such as “if you were the shopper, would you buy this? What is your favorite brand / item? Why”?

In short, at this stage, the examiner is looking for the mastery of language where the child is able to articulate his thoughts and opinions clearly. So if your child is shy or hesitant to contribute his / her ideas, then it will be a good practice to start engaging him / her early on and encouraging him/her to verbalize his/her thoughts using advertisements, etc.

The kiddo did a graded composition in Term 4 last year so this is nothing new to me. Her class teacher has also been getting the children to journal weekly. The composition pieces will be graded based on content and on grammar.

If you have a P2 child too and are helping your child to prepare for this, depending on his/her readiness, you may like to help your child in providing a structure in writing and on time management. This of course, is in addition to expanding your child’s vocabulary and “power phrases”. This is quite apparent as her school teacher has sent back a "power phrases" pack for the children and dictation this year has included some of these descriptive sentences too. 

Dumpling still has Show and Tell as well as Read Aloud. At the moment, the school is still providing them with a show and tell "template"  which aids in prompting them as well as planning for the story. But based on my understanding from the briefing, they will not be providing a template at a later stage. 

For Dumpling's school (and many others actually), Composition is not done till Primary 3. But her class has started the children on 看图写话 which to me, is basically a prelude to composition. A picture is printed on one side with some helping words. On the flip side, there are for e.g. 5 sentences to be filled up but 4 out of 5 would have the first half of the sentence pre-printed and the child then fills in the remaining sentences. The last sentence is left entirely blank for the child to attempt.  

The kiddo has just started her Term 2 so I will update you again on how we survived that. :p 

This is an ongoing series on documenting my learning and Dumpling's Primary School journey

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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