Thursday, December 29, 2011

四季树 - 4 seasons tree

This is definitely a first for me; a new post daily (here's last evening's post).  The joy of being on leave and having the time to share more. :)

After this post, I will try and share more on Science and Math. Math is definitely an interesting journey for Dumpling and I as she is bored with any form of rote learning which makes it challenging at times.

The beauty of homeschooling is that you are able to change course, speed and even the "subjects" if your child is not ready or when you wake up suddenly one morning and have what you think is a great idea! :)

That's sort of what happened to me last week when I woke up having suddenly remember a post I read on My Playschool and, decided to introduce "seasons" to Dumpling but in Chinese using "craft". Though she understands the concept and can read the words in English, it was another story altogether trying to expose her to and have her recognise " 春、夏、秋、冬". Even as I am typing this, we are still working on the words "季节".

What I used for this activity are:
1) Craft using 四季树: 4 seasons tree
2) 梅花与小鹿
3) A sticker activity book: 玛蒂娜的四季

Basically the 四季树: 4 seasons tree has 4 panels where each panel shows a different season using a tree. You can then embelish the tree and work through how each panel is different from the next with the change in season.

I first saw this tree in a post from My Playschool where Pauline shared her experience working on it with both English and Chinese resources. Like her, I worked on this with Dumpling using a literature based approach. In Pauline's post, she also shared her lesson plan with a mindmap / diagram of the various disciplines - Geography, Social Studies, etc included in her sessions. I found the post informational and most definitely useful.

In the same post, Pauline has also listed a link to download the template for the tree. I did not attempt to do the trunk hence my tree looks a bit different as compared to hers. (Maybe that also explains why my tree is not standing properly now. :p). Pauline also uses a different storybook from me and it is definitely worth your while to borrow that book too. I am definitely going to reserve my copy from the library.

To start off, I used an old cardboard box to prep for the tree and cut out some leaves with construction paper and added some flower punch outs with punchers from Daiso. I then read the chinese book with Dumpling (item 2 above where the 4 various seasons were very briefly mentioned) and discussed how the pictures / 梅花树 (tree) look different  from  one  season to another. I also paid attention to the adjectives used to expose and build up Dumpling's vocabulary.

Dumpling then helped to draw some veins on the leaves and stick on to the correct "colour" for the tree cut-out for Spring (we used Blue for winter, Green for Spring, Yellow for Summer and Brown for Autumn).

Thereafter, I worked with her on word recognition as well as adding on more words to the tree by asking her simple questions such as: "冬季是冷还是热?", "在冬季时,那 些白色的东西是什么? 是雪花", etc.  

I complemented the lessons with a sticker book (item 3 above). I find this series fairly useful as Dumpling is at an age where she still likes stickers and the series seems to have a book for everything - home, school, park, beach, etc. In addition, the stories in the book are kept very short and it also introduces us to new words and reinforces some vocabulary.

What I also found useful was to explain the formation of words. For e.g. for the word 秋, we printed the leaves using our thumbs with red and orange poster colours to show the changing colour of leaves. I specifically used these colours as they are the colour of 火 (fire). As Dumpling recognises the word 木, it was easy for me to draw the connection between the 木 and 火 and how in Autumn, the colour of the leaves are liken to fire hence the word 秋. I further elaborated that the top stroke above the 木 in 秋 resembles falling leaves. This is what I did for the rest of the "seasons" words too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Montessori Chinese (Preschoolers) 新蒙氏阅读 Part 2

Dumpling and I have slowly moved on to Section 2 of the Montessori Chinese set.

I started off with the thought that it would be simple but boy, was I wrong! It was not as quick and simple as identifying body parts but it links the words to our "senses" and forming phrases and short sentences.

In this second section, I placed more emphasis on Word Recognition 认字 hence I tried the word matching exercise without any picture aid. :p

Here's the link to download the simple activity.

How we used this was, I first taught her how to recogise the words by comparing the similarity of the cartoons / pictures with the shape of the words (page 1). These are what worked for Dumpling so do improvise / change accordingly to whatever works best for your child.

Thereafter, I read the rhyme with her placing more emphasis on the words we just learnt (Page 3, left side). The next exercise is to then do a word matching exercise (Page 2, left side).

 Finally, you can use page 2 (right side) for memory game, word hunt or 排字. We also extended to 手 and 摸. This is where I bought my set from.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chinese Characters and Radicals

I was searching for a guide online because while explaining to Dumpling at times, I realise that I have forgotten some of the radical terms!

Here's a part of table share. Due to formating, I was not able to paste the table down so I saved the below as a picture file as a "preview".

For the full list, you can get it from this site: 
Alternatively, I have also saved it into a document and coverted it into a PDF file. Click here to download (6 pages in total).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Storybox - a great tool in our Chinese Home Learning

I have been out of action for a while because Dumpling had high fever but I am happy to say that I am better rested this week. :)

One of the earlier "craft items /projects" I did with C is to make a story box for retelling and the "acting out" of Chinese stories. This was when Dumpling was about 2.5 where she started babbling more in the language and I knew that I had to participate more in the Chinese front to encourage her interest.

The challenge I had was, how to make it fun and engaging? I did not want to take on the role of serious learning such as word recognition, etc., then because I wanted to leave that to her school. My focus was more on getting her exposed to the sound / tonation of the language, just reading loads with her and perhaps do more craft related things.

I came upon a blog entry on someone using an old box as a theatre and that triggered a thought that I can get Dumpling to do this up as a storybox based on "丑小鸭" - Ugly Duckling.
This is also a great way to recycle an old box. We spoke about what materials to use and how we were going to use each of them.

I had help from her in cutting. 

Thereafter, Dumpling pasted this to resemble the tall grass at the riverbank.

Thereafter, we discussed which panel to use to create a 'pond'. 

I precut the ducklings and had her fill in the missing parts - great way to understand spatial relationship.

Our little scene from Ugly Duckling - 丑小鸭! :) After the storybox was completed, I would then read out the story where she acted out using the various duckling cut outs (we also had "eggs" too) for the various scenes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Home made mee hoon kueh 麵粉粿

I only made this once loooong time again and I had the urge to cook it over the weekend since these days, I try to cook at least a meal for her on either Saturday and Sunday.

Here's the recipe to share:
The dough
  1. 500 gm of plain flour + 2 tbsp of corn flour
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 200 ml water
  4. Pinches of salt
  5. 2 tbsp cooking oil

 Mix 2) to 5) in a bowl and stir well. Then pour slowly into the flour and knead it. It took me perhaps about 10 mins to knead by hand. The end result should be a bit of a sticky paste and has a bit of "springiness" to it when you press it in. Cover with either a damp cloth or cling wrap. Leave aside (not in fridge) for an hour.

The soup
  1. 200 - 300gm of ikan bilis
  2. A can of whole mushrooms
  3. A can of button mushrooms which I down to slices
  4. A packet of baby chye sim (or you can substitute with spinach, etc.)
  5. Oyster sauce and fish sauce to taste
  6. Minced garlic (1 - 2 tbsp depending how much you like it)
  7. 300 gm minced chicken with a dash of pepper (I am not a big fan of pork so I used chicken instead)
Heat up a bit of oil and stir item 6) till golden brown then add in 2), 3). When fragrant, I added it to a pot of water (I used a medium size pot) and made the stock with item 1) adding 5) to taste.  I added 4) and then 6) by rolling them into small chicken balls only after everything is simmering over the stove for at least half an hour.

Roll and flatten the dough with a rolling pin (the best option) use your palms to flatten it till paper thin then tear the dough into small pieces and add it to the boiling soup. It is important to get it as thin as you can because the dough bounces back a bit once it is in the soup. If it is not flatten well, it will be a tad hard and too chewy.
When the dough is cooked, add in vegetables. I cannot live without my fried shallots which adds a wonderful flavour to the soup. Then top off with fried anchovies and other condiments which you like (spring onion, coriander leaves, etc.). Serve warm. I add chili padi and a bit of soy sauce to mine. :) Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A tiger mum in all of us?

Intrigued by the response towards the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mum", I decided to pick this up from the library last week. 

I admit that when I started off reading the book, I was somewhat  biased. Afterall, which parent would not find Amy Chua's methods a bit extreme? This is a famous excerpt from her book.

"Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

- attend a sleepover
- have a playdate
- be in a school play
- complain about not being in a school play
- watch TV or play computer games
- choose their own extracurricular activities
- get any grade less than an A
- not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
- play any instrument other than the piano or violin
- not play the piano or violin."

I remembered thinking to myself "wow, this woman is a bit extreme" when I first read some online reports and reviews of her book.

So, it was somewhat of a surprise that as I read on, I was entertained. Throughout the book, she openly compared the different parenting styles between a Western mum and a Chinese mum. Some of the statements are downright outrageous and provoking. Here's one:

"If a Chinese child gets a B — which would never happen — there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion.The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A." (from Chapter 10, Teeth marks and bubbles)

Though I find her methods extreme, I do know for a fact that many parents do pack in many many hours of assessment papers, etc., for their children. Hence I have to concede that this Tiger Mum really has the and determination to drive and direct, guide and many a time, force (lol) her children to excel.

Here's an excerpt which I like: (From Chapter 22 (“Blowout in Budapest”):

Here’s a question I often get: “But Amy, let me ask you this. Who are you doing all this pushing for – your daughters, or” – and here always, the cocked head, the knowing tone – “or yourself?” I find this a very Western question to ask (because in Chinese thinking, the child is the extension of the self). But that doesn’t mean it’s not an important one.

My answer, I’m pretty sure, is that everything I do is unequivocally 100% for my daughters. My main evidence is that so much of what I do with Sophia and Lulu is miserable, exhausting, and not remotely fun for me. It’s not easy to make your kids work when they don’t want to, to put in grueling hours when your own youth is slipping away, to convince your kids they can do something when they (and maybe even you) are fearful that they can’t. “Do you know how many years you’ve taken off my life?” I’m constantly asking my girls. “You’re both lucky that I have enormous longevity as indicated by my thick good-luck earlobes.”

Though I do not think that this is my parenting style, there are some parts of what she shared in the book which sounded familiar.

Amy Chua shared that even during vacations, her daughters were expected to practise their instruments. Being a homeschooler, I take every opportunity to share, guide and teach Dumpling. Even when we are out for playdates / dinners, I will always have some books in my bag to read with her. During our holiday in Perth, I brought along books and lapbooking resources so I can homeschool her every evening instead of watching TV.

While it is easy for many mums to snub or say that they do not subscibe to Amy Chua's methods, as I read on, I realised what she is doing is not far off from some parents I personally know as they ferry their children from enrichment classes to classes every weekend and packing in many hours of tuition on weekdays. So are many of us that far off from her (minus her extreme "rules" mentioned above)?

While it is not a method that I will adopt, I do respect her efforts (and in case you do not know, one of her daughters did rebel against her) and that unrelenting focus. Both her girls are unbelieveably talented and I do believe if she did not push them the way she did, they would not have achieved as much. When her youngest daughter decided to lay off the violin for a while, I felt sad for Amy Chua and to my surprise, thinking about what a shame it was for the younger daughter to "throw" the gift away. 

I also felt sad for her, from the perspective of a mother, that the very same drive (ok, narrow-mindedness and forcefulness :p) which pushed her girls to excel, backfired. I also recalled finishing the book with the thought that I hope her daughter would, one day, pick up the violin as her love for it is renewed. The only difference is that she pursues it on her own accord and based on her own motivation.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Montessori Chinese (Preschoolers) 新蒙氏阅读

Being the HS junkie, I stumbled upon this set quite by accident while surfing on some FB shops.
What attracted me to the set was that it is thematic and this makes it easier for me to use with Dumpling. The activities in this series seems to be short which is great for kids at this age.

There are 8 sets in this series with each consisting of some picture/word cards and 2 books. One book is story based (a few short stories) and the other is mainly poems / rhymes with some simple activities designed for the parent / teacher to have some quick Q&A with the child and to encourage the child to discuss the story.

The word cards complement the poems as they are the key words which are presented in the poems (though not all are listed).

I saw firsthand, how simple rhymes and songs help Dumpling with her grasp of the Chinese language and that primarily was half of what contributed to my purchase.

In her class, the children are exposed to songs being play softly in the background (sublimal programming perhaps?) and each week, the children learns a new rhyme / song (at the minimum).

From such activities, Dumpling's grasp of vocabulary has improved. I personally felt that this also contributed to her speaking in short sentences more and very naturally.

How we use this at home was that I would scan and print an enlarged version of the poem / rhyme so its easier for Dumpling and I to share. After going through it, we would then play some games. This is usually either a picture / word match or a word hunt game.

On the left is how the word cards look like.

The downside of this set is that I wish the word cards were printed on thicker art card though it did have perforation which makes "tearing" easier (I shudder to think how much cutting is involved if they are not perforated!). Additionally, to play the picture match game, you will need to make a copy of either side because the cards are printed back-to-back with pictures on one side and the words on the other. So you will need the extra set to match the words with the pictures. Hence for Dumpling and I, we needed to prep a bit before using the set. I bought this set of materials from this facebook seller:!/unikidsbabies

Here, Dumpling attempts to read the short rhyme (read to her on 2 occasions prior and she was able to grasp it quite quickly so I do think the rhythm and early exposure are seem to be useful).

It consists of word / picture match. The next page can be a memory word game where you print 2 copies with the next page on stringing the words together which forms some of the sentences in the rhyme. I have also included some writing exercise. Please leave a comment if you have the set and find this useful or have other suggestions to share. :)  
Lastly, I also prepared some very simple learning aids to help with word recognition (so that I know she's not just reciting / memorising) and for her to build short sentences together. I have uploaded the learnings file here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Free talks!

Wow, seems to be the season of free talks.

1) Workshop: How To Teach Your Baby To Read, A Glenn Doman Approach

Come join us in our monthly workshops. Here we discuss techniques, trash out different myths about teaching children, go crazy with our revolutionary methods and at the end, hopefully, every parent goes home eager to teach their children to read. If you have a baby who is not reading single words aged between 3 months - 3 years, you should consider attending this workshop.

Speaker: Daryl Ang (who is certified from Institutes for the Achievement of the Human Potential IAHP in Philadelphia)

Date: 26th November 2011

Time: 11 am to 12 pm

Venue: GD BABY PROGRAMS (S) PTE LTD 28 Sin Ming Lane #03-131 Midview City Singapore 573972

(Registration is closed for 26 Nov 2011 session)

Limited to the first 10 parents. Every set of parents that participates will receive a free trial class at our school, GymnAdemics worth $88. Parents who had already attended trial class before are not entitled for another trial. Trial is only available for 1 attendance.

To register please send in your name, mobile number and number of attendees to:

Tel: 6456 3526

2) "How to prepare your child for primary school mathematics"

The seminar session will last about 1 - 1.5 hour.

Date: 3rd and 17th of December, Saturday at 1pm.

The agenda for the seminar is as below:

• Introduction to Singapore Maths-MOE curriculum
• Concepts on Primary Mathematics Syllabus
• Processes and Skills to solve Mathematics Problems
• Activities to Solving Maths Problems

Venue:  28 Holland Grove Road, #01-28/3, Singapore 278805
Organiser: S.A.M (Seriously Addictive Maths)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Art Class

Weekends are somewhat a tad tight for Dumpling and I, especially on Saturdays. This is because Dumpling has Arts in the morning and then swimming in the afternoon after her nap. I started her on Arts because I do not want to do anything “academic” during the weekends. Additionally, from PTM and our HS sessions, this seems to be one area she likes very much. I also wanted her to have exposure to different mediums and techniques (not just drawing or painting) and more importantly, to expose her to a drop off class and build her confidence.

The first few sessions were tough because she cried and did not participate much. I also went through a short phase of having to sit on the “yellow chair” (fellow mummy friends would know what I am referring to!). After having gone through 2 terms, I am happy to share that she enjoys her class once she reaches there (can’t say much about her “complaints” before she leaves the house for class) and has better focus and does her pieces happily. 

How the school based their art work is using a story theme which spans over 4 weeks. For this term, it was on Gingerbread man and the children painted a glove and also on some “dough” which they helped to knead and cut using a cookie cutter. What I like most for this theme was the oven. During her first lesson, the children were taught to make some textured paper which they used in the last lesson for the “oven”. Here, Dumpling also had the chance to use a metallic paint for her oven as well as decorate it with some embellishments. I love the mix of colours + materials and the various techniques used.

The piece is not finished yet. The teachers are to add on a box behind the door to create the depth of an oven and there's where Dumpling can place the pink gingerbread man

The below is based on the story "Stomp Chomp Dinosaur"

Like the other pieces, this is also story based. I think it was something to do with 3 little owls and the teachers also taught them the various owl breeds, etc.

Though she does enjoy her Arts session I have decided to take a break for a term or 2 and perhaps let her try something else. For myself, having seen the artworks for the past 2 terms spanning over 4 different stories, it gave me loads of new ideas on some extension activities during our homeschool sessions. Here’s to share on what we did at home for an ocean theme recently.

Dumpling used a mix of colours for her jelly fish and strings for the tentacles. She also decided to add on eyebrows. lol

And for the record, I just want to list down some of the items I want to share in this blog over the next few weeks as a personal reminder. Haha…

- Storybox

- Feedback on a new Chinese resource set which Dumpling likes for me to work with her on some evenings

- Our Science journey

- Math games

- Arts

Hope I make it through the list! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reading for Sure Seminar

Received this in my email yesterday. For parents who want to learn more about "reading", you can give them a call to find out more. Its FOC for teachers too! :)


We are proud to invite Dr. Julia Solomon (Australian Clinical Psychologist; Teacher Educator; Founder & Director of ‘Reading For Sure’) to Singapore to conduct seminars for Teachers and Parents on how to make English Literacy achievable using ‘Reading For Sure’ programme.

Ø For Pre-School Teachers
Date: 14th December 2011 (Wednesday)
Time: 10am to 12pm (Registration starts at 9.30am)
Fee: Free

Ø For Parents
Date: 15th December 2011 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30pm to 9pm (Registration starts at 7am)
Fee: $10 per pax (redeemable on purchase of “Reading for Sure’ products)
* Participants will receive a FREE COPY of the ‘Reading for Sure’ sample book. *

Ø For Primary School Teachers
Date: 16th December 2011 (Friday)

Time: 10am to 12pm (Registration starts at 9.30am)

Fee: Free

Please refer to the attached or log in to the website for more information:

For interested Teachers / Parents, you may RSVP via email. Kindly state the following for RSVP.
1. Preferred attending date
2. Total number of participants (with names)
3. Name of school (only applicable for Teachers)
4. Contact number(s).

As seats are limited, do register with us early.

Do help us to disseminate to your friends/colleagues.

We hope to see you here.

Thank You.

Best Regards,

Catherine Tan
Education Resource Consultant
Mobile : +65 9777 2458
Email :
For the above seminars, venue will be at Big Tree Edu Aids Consultancy Pte Ltd (Office cum showroom).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letterland ABC Trilogy eBooks on iPad and iPhone now!

Wow, just when I just shared Dumpling's experience using Letterland Living ABC Software and the company came up with this! :)

Click here to for a preview!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


While working on Part 2 of Literacy Readiness, I wanted to do a quick post on how Songs and Music helped Dumpling with her grasp of Chinese.

While I am certainly not a big fan of rote learning, I do understand that for Chinese language, a fair bit of rote is expected as the language is as such. Because I technically “outsource” the Chinese part of Dumpling’s “education”, I do not really know what and how much the school is doing for that language until she comes home and starts chatting to me in bursts of mandarin and is suddenly singing / reciting a poem or rhyme.

It was then that I appreciate the flow of the rhyme and the musical approach. From 健康歌, she now is able to tell me which is her left hand and which is her right (左右手). That is certainly much better than me when I was her age! :p

From such an exposure, children are also exposed to better pronunciation. Here Dumpling did a Mandarin version of Itsy Bitsy Spider (which I have never heard it in my life prior).

Here, Dumpling acts out a rhyme. From cute rhymes as such, Dumpling also gets introduced to some vocabulary, etc. For English speaking environment, this is certainly something which you can easily incorporate into your home. There are quite a few children DVDs and audio CDs from Popular bookstores.    

At home, I also put up simple small rhymes like these and read with Dumpling. Over time, through repeition, she is able to recall the words (much like readers) and we also act out for some added physical activity.

Tongue Twisters are also great fun too. Here's something I picked up from Popular some time back.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Literacy Readiness

Following the Chinese homelearning sharing below, I thought to share a bit on literacy readiness. Incidentally, I was having a chat with one of Dumpling’s classmates’ mum who is an Australian and she has very rightfully pointed out that in other countries, children are not expected to be able to read when they are in Primary school but that does not seem to be the same for Singapore.

And she is right of course. Just look at all the “reading” and “enrichment” centres sprouting across the island. I had a personal experience where I left my details because I wanted to visit a fairly reputable preschool as I was contemplating in the earlier days if I will homeschool Dumpling all the way through preschool. Interestingly, this school has a reading program where they were giving away complimentary reading assessments where you can then assess your kid (starts as young as 3) and see which “level” your child is at.

I only have 2 issues.

1) At 3 YO, where / which level would you expect most kids to be at? So why this unnecessary pressure?

2) The promoter could not answer / advise me when I asked how the school teaches and what methods it uses with its program. Is it pure phonics (and if so, what “system”) or whole words (how then do they attempt to teach this – flashcards?) or if the school has its proprietory program.

Needless to say, I did not turn up for the “assessment” and did not take up any of their repeated offers despite many follow up calls. Experiences as such, thus, prompted me to homeschool.

When I first started homeschooling, I did not sit down and analyse how big a task it is. I just jumped right in and the enormity of my decision only hit me much later when I suddenly realised that I alone, am responsible for her preschool years! Everything from reading to numbers to motorskills. I must confess that I freaked out a bit then. Ha ha ha…

Similarly, many mummy friends shared with me their worries, fears and how daunting it is to “teach” their child. It is just “safer” to send to the experts. It is absolutely alright with sending your child to enrichment centres but I wanted to also dedicate this post to how you can be part of the learning journey with your child, regardless if you are doing just 20 mins a day or 30 mins in 2 days.

Since “reading” seems to be such a hot topic and concern, I thought it would be apt to share what Dumpling and I do and how we do it at home. Each child’s learning style and interest is different so please adapt accordingly to best suit your child.

I have simplified the steps as below:

1) Letter sounds

2) Letter names

3) Beginning sounds

4) CVC Blends

5) Whole words

There are of course more “stages” after this – decoding of digraphs and word families, etc but I feel that once you have done the above, the rest should be much easier to catch on.

Just for today’s, I will share on points 1 to 3 otherwise; this post will be a tad too long.

1) Letter sounds

I did not teach Dumpling the letter names at all and still do not teach her now (more on that below). I started with just letter sounds for her to build the association where each letter makes a special sound. I also made a conscious effort not to teach similar looking shapes – e.g. b with d. A good reference to for the letter groups is using what Jolly phonics as a guide.

Letter sounds, to me, are more important than letter names because words are built according to sounds. For e.g. “cat” is sounded out as “ker / a / ttt” instead the child memorizing it as the letters C / A / T.

Though whole words are important (especially recognizing those on Dolch word walls), the main advantage of phonics for me is it aids Dumpling in being able to sound out words she does not know and it will definitely be useful for spelling.

For letter sounds, I only used one resource which is Letterland as I have initially shared. The CDROM is mainly song based which I personally feel is great for children.

It teaches a child the letter sounds through songs and not forgetting upper/lower case match through games and activities.

The writing of the letters is also taught using songs.

Some parents are concerned that the child will not be able to identify the letters as a standalone when it is paired with a character like that. For Letterland, I did not have such experience with Dumpling but what I did from day 1 was to also have letter tiles with us and I will get her to place it over the Letterland letter so that she can identify the standalone letter too.

I bought my Letterland items from an online seller which is not selling them now I believe. However, you can view some of Letterland's items from this seller. Two key things I like about Letterland is that you can buy other activity books and materials to support what you have learnt from the CD ROM. Additionally, it also uses the Queen's English which is what we are taught here in Singapore.

2) Letter names

I actually did not teach this at all but after learning all the letter sounds, Dumpling then learnt it via Leap Frog videos. A good place to get these DVDs at a reasonable rate locally is here.

3) Beginning sounds

Once Dumpling was able say the sound when I hold up the letters, I started building awareness of the starting word / beginning word sound. This helped her in being more aware that all letters make a sound and they then form a word. Additionally, this also set the basis of CVC blend for us.

If you like, you may wish to use the ladybird key words series C (starting from book 4). A seller at Singapore Motherhood Forum sells them here. However, what I personally did was to read a lot with her and using popular readers like “Oxford Reading Tree” and as we read, I would prompt her by placing my finger under a certain word and then emphasize the sound. For e.g. “I am kkkk /ipper” (I am Kipper).

I also read series such as the songbird phonics written by bestselling author of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson, amongst many orders.

As you can see, we read a lot in this household as I strongly believe that the key to reading is reading. More than that, it’s a wonderful way to bond with Dumpling as we act out parts, improvise on the story and discuss alternative endings. Nothing is as magical as going on a imaginative journey with your child and viewing her world through her language and interpretation.

This is post #1 of a 2 part series. Here's post #2 where I discussed other areas such as CVC blends and sight words too. 

Next post: should be on something math / science related? Or leave me a comment if you have a special request?

Note: I would like to add that I am not getting any commission or payment of any kind from the links provided above. I have purchased things from these sellers at one point or another and my experience has been quite positive hence the sharing.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One of my greatest love is cooking. I love cooking as much as I love eating :p so I love to try out new recipes and find myself glued to Masterchef on cable whenever it is on TV.

Before Dumpling came along, I used to cook very frequently but between juggling a full time job and homeschool and weekends being so precious, I admit I have not exactly cooked much for her.

I was thinking about pies recently and incidentally, I saw a recipe in Young Parents for pies. I recalled how much I used to enjoy making cottage pies since it does not require any pastry. So with some potatoes, onions, root vegetables, mushrooms, cheese and minced beef, I was ready.

Here's the recipe to share:

What you need:

1. 2 medium to big potatoes, diced

2. 1 to 2 diced black mushrooms (I used the canned types 'cos Chinese mushrooms takes very long to soak well)

3. Minced beef (Pre-marinated with a dash of pepper, corn flour and light soya sauce / oyster sauce / A1 sauce. I used about 150gm of it but it really depends on how much you love your meat!) * you can substitute with minced pork or chicken and marinate accordingly

4. 1 stick of carrot, finely diced

5. Half a rice bowl of chopped pumpkins
(I used root vegetables because these bake well)
6. 1 big onion (I used yellow)

7. 1 slice of cheddar cheese / a handful of shaved mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven at 210 degrees for about 8-10 mins

2. In the meantime, steam potatoes and carrots and pumpkin till soft

3. While the items are being steamed, heat up about 1 table spoon of oil and add in the chopped onions. Fry till fragrant and lightly caramelized then add in mushrooms and minced beef. Stir fry till cooked

4. Mash the potatoes with a bit of butter (if you prefer richer taste, you can add 1-2 table spoons of cream)

5. Mix the carrots and pumpkin with the minced beef, mushrooms and onions

6. Lay the base of a casserole dish with the mixture above

7. Then lay strips of cheddar cheese / shaved mozzarella cheese (as above picture)

8. Spread the layer of mash potatoes

9. Finally lay some more cheese as the top layer

10. Place in oven for 3 – 5 mins at 210 degrees. As all the ingredients are basically cooked prior, this last step is to melt the cheese so do check to constantly to ensure that the top layer is baked to a light golden brown

11. Serve warm!

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