Friday, July 27, 2012

Birthday Blast! Surf’s Up! Beach Parties Rock!

Adora is certainly no stranger, here in my blog, as she has previously shared a great craft idea on a DIY photo frame and was also part of the 2 weeks of creative fun series. :)

This time, she is back again to share some tips and fun ideas on organizing a beach party!


Warning: If you are the kind that has is a little OCD, this post will probably not appeal to you. But if you’ve got but a tiny budget and enjoy going with the flow, a beach party is a great idea! Warning: There are no pictures of fancy party favours (because there were no fancy party favours), no 10kg cake, no jugglers, no magicians, no bouncy castles (you get the drift). Chillax is the word.

We did a beach party (and not beach themed) at East Coast Beach for our little girl’s 3rd birthday. A fair bit of planning went into it – we made something like 3 trips to the beach in question to find the perfect spot, and an additional trip to Sentosa to collect sand. 

Fun and Games
We really wanted a party where people could arrive at any time and yet enjoy the full party. So we had 2 stations – 1 for games and 1 craft station – so that people could enjoy them as and when they wanted.

The game station was basically a fishing game that didn’t require any instructions. We used chopsticks and twine for the fishing rod and little plastic fish from Daiso, glued on little magnets and that was it. The kids had a blast!

For the craft corner, we had photo frames laid out with the individual kids’ names, and invited them to try their hand at sand art (real sand!). Easy-to-follow instructions were on the back of the photo frames, and no one had any trouble doing the craft. We wanted a craft that was 1) related to the theme and 2) easy to do without any explanation, because we weren’t sure how exposed the children were to craft (some may be more familiar, and some may not).

Seashells were picked on a previous occasion, as was sand. Just in case it rained the day before. If you’re planning this for an older child, you may like to include looking for seashells as part of the activity. But this was a party for 3 year-olds and we just knew that once set loose, they’d be hard to rein back in!

We also made a hula girl out of compressed foam (it took less than 2 hours to put together!) and left it around for guests to snap pictures with.

We provided finger food, which was good because no one really has the stomach for a big meal at the beach. All of it was kid-friendly. We used a stone bench to lay out breadsticks, small pastries, fishy biscuits, fruit and drinks. They all had sea/beach related names too. Like Nervous Nemo’s cups of fruity fun, King Neptune’s thirst quenchers, Catch of the Day gold fish bites and Missy Mermaid’s gorgeous biscuits. Remember to provide drinks to keep everyone hydrated!

You can’t book a pavilion at the beach though you can book the BBQ pits. We decided to go early to ‘chope’ one of them and arrived an hour before the party - party was at 10am to 12noon. We chose that timing to avoid 1) the hot sun and 2) bypass everyone’s nap timings!

We chose one that was relatively near the food centre so that people could pop over if they wanted. There was also a toilet relatively nearby. Other than that, we brought everything ourselves.

We really enjoyed our beach party, and just know that you will have fun at yours too!

About Adora

Adora is mum to Poppy, 4 and Calla, 3.5 months. She is a freelance writer for parenting magazines and runs Buggy Bee Kids, a crafts-for-kids business. She enjoys cheap chocolate, smelling her baby’s neck, and would really like a good night’s sleep. Adora blogs at  

This marks the second post in the Birthday Blast series where blogger mums share their birthday party planning tips and ideas. Coming up next is Justina Tey who will be blogging about an "Under the Sea" party!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ch Ch Ch Chocolatey good!

Long before there was J K Rowling, I buried my nose in Roald Dahl. My aunt would bring my brother and I to the library in the next neighbourhood (we did not have such convenience of community libraries then!) and this was definitely a key weekly highlight for me.

Roald Dahl never fails to bring me on a magical journey whether it is in a Glass Elevator or into the life of Mathilda.

Thankfully, Dumpling is a great fan of Roald Dahl's titles and like most children, Dumpling loves her desserts and chocolates too. So it is no surprise that she loves the book - Charlie and the Chocolate factory. We have also watched both versions of the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" during our movie nights.

Even after so many years, as I revisited the movie and the book with Dumpling, I still long to be in his factory where I can swim through his chocolate river, taste his 3-course gum (minus the violet incident of course ;p ) and hatch a chocolate chick. His imagination is simply amazing.

As we read the title, we also extended the book to a short learning theme on Chocolate. I worked on a few areas with Dumpling for phonics and this includes an evening of /ch/ /ch/ - naming and playing word games which starts with the diagraph /ch/ - chocolate (but of course!), cheese, chicken, chalk, etc. It was fun fun fun! So the whole week was a chocolate filled week! But what totally tipped the game for Dumpling was a chocolate workshop!

After calling friends and reaching out to various channels, I was very happy to have found Stephanie, from Chocolate Space, who was able to customize and conduct a session for the kiddos. Dumpling was thrilled beyond words as we she waited impatiently for the big day to arrive!

The session started with Stephanie giving us a background of the cacao tree, introducing us to the proper terms and explaining more about the cacao fruit and seeds. I am very thankful that Stephanie was able accommodate my request to bring them in for the session for the children to view, touch and smell them.

The workshop was a very interactive session as the children were invited and encouraged to participate in hands-on activities and various forms of chocolate tasting.

Just some of the activities we did: mummies looking on as the kiddos await their turn to create their own "cacao tree".

Brownie tasting :)

Items in our learning pack which Stephanie provided where the kids had a blast at creating their own chocolate pets using the Magic Choc! It is like play dough but only with real edible Belgian chocolate!

KJ: My chocolate "ball" for the body!

The evening definitely ended on a sugar high note for us. The kids enjoyed the quick facts , the tasting and the hands on moulding (and more tasting) bit.

For us, we continued on over the following day wrapping up our chocolate week with a cup of hot chocolate made with coco spoon which was included in our learning pack. Made by melting the chocolate spoon in hot full cream milk, it was a perfect yummilicious ending to our week. :) I am definitely looking forward to working with Stephanie on another workshop.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Outdoor phonics fun - Jacob Ballas Children's Garden

I did a guest post for a friend Winnie recently  and found out that she likes the outdoors too! Hence I reached out and ask if she is able to do a post for an "Outdoor Fun" series which I have been planning to start for the longest time with the aim of promoting outdoor family fun.

Here, Winnie shares her thoughts and some tips on incorporating some phonics fun during a trip with her little one at Jacob Ballas Children's Gardens.

I understand that you are a fan of phonics! How do you use phonics during outdoor field trips?
All work and no play makes EV (my 2.5YO) a dull girl. I like to bring EV, my first born, out whenever possible, whether it is to the supermarket or the beach. Every outdoor experience is a learning experience for her. I just need to find inspiration from my little one's point of view and identify learning points that we as adults often take for granted as part of everyday life.

One of the key focus during our outdoor adventures is language. In this aspect, I try to reinforce what we are learning during our home teaching sessions and infuse the alphabet and, letter sounds. We will look for animals, insects, plants and things that allow us to practise our letters and sounds. We do that even during our walk around the neighbourhood. Besides vocalising the sounds of the names of the animals, for example, when we see a cat, I say /c/-/a/-/t/ and emphasize the 'c' sound. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that a word is made up of different sounds that are represented by their corresponding letters. I also look for other learning opportunities by pointing out the colours and shapes of the things we encounter, or we will have a short chat about the weather and how the sun is helping plants grow.

As the basis for reading and spelling, it is not enough to know the alphabet and the sounds they make. Just to share a little about phonics. An important pre-reading skill required for phonics is the development of phonemic awareness. This is an understanding of the relationship between a letter (grapheme) and a sound (phoneme). Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, access and manipulate the sounds of a language, and helps kids understand that letters are representations of sounds. It prepares kids for more advanced phonics that involve blending skills for deciphering new words.

One of the places EV and I love to go is the Botanic Gardens. It is a conveniently located green breathing space, with a kids' friendly Jacob Ballas Children's Garden that is perfect for inquisitive little toddlers like EV.

Hunting for 'I'
It was 'I for Insect' week, so we went in search of insects or anything that started with the letter 'I'. I began the trip by telling EV the purpose and vocalised the 'I' sound and the word /i/-/n/-/s/-/e/-/c/-/t/ to her. We found lots of insects – creepy crawling ones and those that fly. It was a hot day, so many came out to play in the shade. We saw many millipedes, ants, a dragonfly, butterflies and a white insect with a feathery behind that we did not know the name of. For those that we know the names of, I voiced the sounds, paying attention to the first letter sound that the word starts with. I said, “Dragonfly. /d/, /d/, dragonfly starts with the letter d'.
 When we saw the butterfly, I reminded EV of The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a story that I have been reading to her for a long time. We also chatted about The Grouchy Ladybug, one of her favourite books, and searched in vain for ladybugs.

We also saw ixora plants along the way, as well as a plant with 'heart-shaped' leaves called 'Pomea Batatas'.

Let's sound it again
Apart from the main theme, I also like to bring EV's attention to things she knows and make the sounds of the letters that make up those words. For example, on the MRT train on the way to Botanic Gardens, I pointed out a flower-print dress that a girl sitting opposite us was wearing. I sounded out all the letters of the word /f/-/l/-/o/-/w/-/e/-/r/, emphasising on the first letter f. I also highlighted that the word started with the letter f. Then I brought EV's attention to the orange flower design on the girl's mother's shoe. Another lady nearby was carrying a pink bag with white flower prints and EV was able to easily find it once I described it to her. Each time, I would repeat the sounds and letters to her.

EV remembered the ducks from her last trip to the Gardens, so we visited them again. Another perfect opportunity for me to revise the sounds for /d/-/u/-/c/-/k/. I was also able to explain to her how the duck feed with their beaks, move by waddling their feet underwater, bathed and preened themselves with their beaks, and fly with wings like an aeroplane.

What sound is that?
Another thing I like to do during our outdoor trips is to get EV to listen to the sounds around us. I would ask her 'what sound do you hear'. Then I prompt her to a particular sound and try to describe it to her, while trying to sound out the sound myself. At the Gardens, we heard the soft rustling of leaves blowing in a light breeze, the buzzing wings of a flying dragonfly and the splashing of a duck washing itself. The purpose of this is to fine tune her awareness of sounds, which will help as she grasps the sounds in language.

Words, shapes and colours around us
To help her understand that letters are representations of sounds and that a spoken word is a string of sounds while the corresponding written word is a string of letters, I like to read signs to her wherever possible, like the signs at the Gardens which describe the plants, or the labels on the MRT train.

Similarly, I point out the shapes, colours and patterns of the signs to further the learning. The Gardens is also a treasure trove of shapes, patterns and colours, like leaves of different shapes and sizes, and the flowers.

At night during story time, I ask EV questions about our outdoor trips. This gives her a chance to reflect on what she saw, allows me to reiterate where necessary and is a good way for me to gauge her understanding.

I use phonics not just during outdoor trips, but everyday too. Everything around us is a potential learning experience. The challenge is how to transform these experiences that I take for granted into fun learning points for EV. Once I do it successfully, it is always delightful to see the look of joy on EV's face once she discovers something new. It is this that keeps me going, to continually look for new things to inspire her to learn.

About Winnie Lee

Winnie Lee is a FTWM to a pair of girl and boy, aged two years and four months respectively. She home teaches and is a firm believer of play and the great outdoors.

Winnie shares her parenting and home teaching adventures at

Monday, July 16, 2012

I have a need, a need for S-P-E-E-D!

Following from the earlier guest posts by Pamela Tan of MyFirstGames, I tried my hands at a couple of games with Dumpling!

Dumpling has played simple games like Zingo and some basic board games and has enjoyed them so far. After chatting with Pamela, one of the games she suggested was Spot it!.

Spot it! is a game that is built for speed. The recommended age is actually from 7 years old but when I opened it, I found it to be pictorial based and the game, simple enough even for preschoolers.

Fast eyes coupled with fast hands - there is always one and only one matching symbol between ANY 2 CARDS in this game. So, Spot it! and the player wins.

For such a simple game, I thought that there was perhaps only 1 - 2 ways to play it. So, it was a pleasant surprise when Pamela shared a few ways of playing this (as elaborated below).

The simplest game (Game #1 - The Tower) is of course to distribute a card to each player (max. of 8 players) to start off and the remaining cards are placed in the centre. Each player has a turn to flip over a card from the centre deck and the player that is the quickest at spotting the same symbol "wins" that card and adds it to his/her collection. So, the winner would be the player that collects the most cards.

For older children, one can reverse the strategy. Instead of "collecting" to win, the players can spot the symbol in the centre deck against the other player(s) deck to "add on" to his opponents' pile of cards (Game #4 - The Poisoned Gift). In this way, the objective of the game is to have as few cards as possible.

And so, some of these card and board games became part of our family time where we got the gramps involved too. :)

Family time: Grandma showing and explaining the "rules of engagement" to Dumpling :p

Here Dumpling did a trial run of the game as she was unconvinced that there is a common symbol between any 2 cards. LOL

Errrrmmm... where is the common symbol?!? AHA! I found it!

The game was simple and the use of symbols made it easy for any kids to catch on. What would be useful when you play it is to go through the symbols together to come up with and agree on a common name. An instance of this is where the gramps would call a particular symbol "bull's eye" while I call it "target". 

On the whole, we enjoyed the game tremendously. The game was fast and it added a lot of "squealing moments of delight" to our family time in the evenings. The game also trains the little one to pay attention to details and she also developed her own way of looking for the similarities between cards. The game is also very compact as the cards are nicely tucked away in a small circular metal tin. This makes it very presentable as a gift too.

Retailing at an attractive price of $24.90, this popular game is currently out of stock (no surprise there!). However, Pamela Tan is taking pre-orders so do email her to reserve yours!

Best of all, from now till 31 July, readers who quote "SMB-BEANIENUS" will receive a 10% off your purchases (not applicable on delivery and shipping). So take the chance to stock up on some early X'mas shopping! :)
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated to MyFirstGames or have been compensated to write about this review. I also do not get any renumeration from any sale that MyFirstGames may have from this review. The games were loaned to us and all opinions are based on our experiences and 100% my own.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Birthday Blast! M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

Today marks the start of a series of guest posts from fellow mummy bloggers on their birthday planning ideas and tips! Here's the very first post from Delphine Tan from In the Wee Hours on a Mickey Mouse Party!


I usually plan Anya’s birthday party based on who she wants on the cake. Last year, it was Hello Kitty and this year, she wanted Mickey Mouse. She also made it very clear that it was Mickey Mouse she wanted and not Minnie Mouse.

So I decided to stick to a red, yellow, black and white theme and scoured the Internet for some photos of Mickey Mouse cakes.

I didn’t want the cake to be too obviously Mickey Mouse but Anya insisted that she wanted the cake in the top right hand corner of the picture. That’s a 3kg cake from Bengawan Solo and it was probably good for me because it’s the cheapest option!

The other major thing I had to do for the party was to get goody bags! None of the ones available in the party shops fitted my RYBW colour theme so I tried to buy some off Etsy but eventually ended up making them myself. That was the most labour-intensive part of the party planning but very fulfilling.


materials for goody bags

goodies for the goody bags

I went to various locations to find the Mickey Mouse items for the goody bags. The mini chocolate chip cookies are from one of the party shops along Middle Road (ICB Enterprise House). The crayons are from Chin Giap Soon at The Verge. You can find A LOT of party stuff at Chin Giap Soon. These shops used to be from the Concourse I believe. I bought the stickers from Cold Storage but I’ve seen them at many stationery shops. The stamps are from Mini Toons and the pinball game from Toys R Us.

There’s a party supplies shop at Rocher Centre with a good range of balloons and other party things. Another shop for Disney items is MCKY at nex. And of course there are the party stores at Holland Village, Raffles City, Centrepoint, Great World City, etc. that all carry Mickey Mouse items.

a Mickey bag

a Minnie bag

I made the birthday banner and the bunting and ordered some Mickey Mouse balloons from Kidz Party Store. Anya and Adam wore personalised t-shirts from Etsy. I also decorated the place with some of her Mickey and Minnie stuffed toys.

the set-up

goody bags

the banner

the cake

standing Mickey Mouse balloon

Happy Birthday!

The cake turned out to be more brown than black and we couldn’t even finish half of it. Otherwise, it was a Mickey-rrific party and I had lots of fun planning it!

Life in the Wee Hours is the story of the Wee family. It is about faith, family, friends, and very importantly, food. Delphine is a working mum who does not believe in sitting still. She enjoys dragging her two kids, Anya (3 years old) and Adam (10 months old), all around Singapore.

This is the start of a Birthday Blast series where some blogger mums share their birthday party planning tips and ideas. Coming up next is Adora from Gingerbread Mum who will share with us her planning journey for a Beach Party for Poppy, her 4YO girl. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's all about LOVE!

I sometimes forget how quickly time slips by. As one in the workforce, I get caught up in the daily tasks, meetings and deadlines. As a parent, I get caught up in my parenting duties - the routines, the meals, the doc appointments, the PV reg. date and processes (lol), etc.

So as a mum, I try to slow down and connect. Amongst some of things that I do are the "disconnect to connect" moments (where I am away from the laptop and my phone to enjoy the moments with the little one) and my "love notes".

'Cos as a mum, it is not just the academics for me. It is also about giving Dumpling words of affirmation, words of love. I slip in these notes into her bag almost on a daily basis to let her know that she is being thought of, to provide words of encouragement, etc.

What are your love words for your little one(s) today?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birthday Blast!!!!

I love love love theme birthdays and I love planning for them too! 

I always look forward to the sourcing of cakes, goodie bag items and love the whole idea of creating it from scratch. So I reached out to some creative blogger mummies who totally rock with their birthday ideas! From Mickey / Minnie to beach parties, from Under the Sea to Poolside Carnival themes, these mummies will be here to share with us their birthday planning ideas and tips! 

Stay tuned for more updates! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's ALIVE! It's Alive?!?

For my guest post this week, I reached out to Evelyn Tan-Rogers, who actually is the first person that left a comment in this blog when I started years ago! :) Evelyn was a regular reader at my brother's blog (now defunct) and I connected with her through a Facebook group and subsequently did a guest post for her on my rocky start into motherhood. :)

In this post, I got to chat a bit more with Evelyn and find out her thoughts on LIVING BOOKS! What exactly are they? Read on to find out more!

1) First, tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi everyone! I'm a stay-home mom (of two) who writes and tutors on the side. I've been a music journalist, and I've worked in advertising and custom publishing. Dealing with text is so much a part of my life, and I knew that once I became a mom, I was going to be quite particular about what my kids were reading. I was right about that!

2) Many parents are keen to read to their children. What would you consider to be a "good book?"

Well a good book, like a good movie, can teach you something new, make you laugh and cry, and give you something to think about. That's quite a feat for a kid's book, considering that these authors have to make do with fewer pages and words! Some parents look for books that will reinforce their values, but for me, I like books that show us how the world doesn't operate in black and white. So yes, I wouldn't hesitate to let my kids read a story set against a backdrop of war or racial discrimination, or one that doesn't have a happy ending. But this is a personal choice, and if you like books enough, you will definitely have your preferences.

3) I read a short piece you wrote where you talked about "living books." What are living books and how are they different from regular books?

I discovered the term "living books" while reading a local homeschooling parent's blog, and by checking out the books that she talked about, I soon began to see what she was referring to. "Living books" are essentially soulful books, written by someone who is passionate about his subject and takes care to craft his writing by choosing the best words to get his message across, instead of say, reaching for the easy cliche. Dry books (or books written without emotion) such as readers, encyclopedias, and fact books wouldn't fall under the "living books" category. Books lacking in literary quality (yes this is subjective), such as the True Singapore Ghost Stories series, wouldn't qualify either. But it's really up to you to make your own rules as you go along. I think that many homeschoolers who subscribe to the "living books" philosophy tend to favour the classics over modern literature but I'm just the opposite—I love everything modern!

To me, the coolest thing about a book that "lives" is how it can make you fall in love with something that you never expected to even feel anything for prior to reading the book. Just to give you an example: I would consider all of Eric Carle's books "living books," and in one of his books, Mister Seahorse, we read about a Mr. Tilapia, who held little baby eggs in his mouth because he was taking "good care of them" until they hatched. This was some years ago, but I remembered that shortly after we read Mister Seahorse, I spotted an article in the paper about environmental service workers finding dozens of dead tilapia in a canal, and I actually felt a bit sad! I mean, I'm not the sort of person who would normally have feelings for random fish! So there you go, books that are written with passion can change your life, and kid lit is no different.

4) Is your daughter still reading such books now?

Actually, a couple of years ago, I was buying my daughter books that were pitched several years above her age. I figured it didn't matter since I was the one reading them to her, and she could usually understand the gist of a story even if she was too young to grasp the subtext. Now that she's five going on six, she can finally read most of these books on her own, and I don't buy as many books as I used to. The next big leap for us is the transition to pictureless books. Maybe I'm the one who can't bear to leave the pictures behind; I'm going slow on this, but I've already bought my daughter one of my favourite books from when I was a kid, Beverly Cleary's Ramona and Beezus.

5) Where should parents go to for a list of living books?

I've never consulted magazines or blogs for book lists. There are just too many out there! There are actually two prestigious awards for kids' books known as the Caldecott Medal and the Caldecott Honor. I guess you could say this was the kid lit version of the Academy Awards! It's actually an award for illustration, but I've checked out a lot of the winners and the writing is superb as well. You can view a list of the winners (from 1938 to present!) here.

Of course, there will be the odd book on the list that will leave you scratching your head and wondering why it's an award winner. Don't be swayed by the medal; just use your discretion. The Caldecott list is the only list I've ever needed, but if you need more ideas, you could try Ambleside Online, which has booklists categorised by age/school year; these lists are used by homeschooling parents in the US. We've also discovered some great stories off our Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD series, which contains 100 stories in video form.

6) Do you have any recommendations for under-3s, 3-5YOs, and kids above 5?

Some of the parents I've hung around have liked the Before Five In A Row booklist for kids aged 2-4, and the Five In A Row booklist for kids aged 4-8. It's known as BFIAR/FIAR in the homeschooling circles, and the books on the lists tie in to a curriculum that covers a variety of subjects. Over in my home, we read just to read (i.e. for fun!), so I didn't purchase the learning guides developed by the people behind these lists. Many of the books on the lists are Caldecott winners, by the way! If you're intending to do read-alouds frequently, I would say skip the baby board books (or don't stock up on too many) and start building your collection with books that have an actual storyline.

7) Are there books that parents should avoid?

Yes, books that you feel are badly written, or books that promote values that aren't in line with your own. For me, bad writing is uninventive writing, like what you might find in a book of model compositions. As a writing tutor, I'm dismayed to realise that parents are still buying such books for their kids, and worse, making their kids memorise the stories!

8) Any final tips?

Buy books you love, not books that someone else says you should love. Also, not all books are suited for read-alouds; if you are buying them primarily for that purpose you might want to do a test run beforehand. (Not all of us can read poetry or rhymes out loud and do it well, for instance.) And finally, you can build an impressive library for your kids on a budget by heading to the annual library booksale, or looking out for budget bookstore sale events in shopping malls. If you've ever seen a $5 for 3 yellow sale sign, that's from Evernew Bookstore, the discount bookstore that all local bargain hunters love! I've bought many good books from such sales.

Evelyn Tan-Rogers is a freelance editor and a writing tutor. She has two kids, aged six and 10 months, and is a firm believer that life after kids is pretty exciting. Since becoming a mom, she has played rhythm guitar in a garage rock band and set up her own party photography business.

She blogs about her life and inspirations at

Friday, July 6, 2012

Living with Math. It can be fun!

I first got to know Karen as our kids are of the same age. Like Pamela Gordon, Karen used to be a school teacher who specialises in Math. With so much changes in the Primary School Syllabus, I thought that it would be great to have Karen share some tips on "Living Math"!

Math can be as easy as we make them. Just teach them in the right order. That’s all! Ready?Magic formula.

Let me explain a little.

Because Math is abstract, we need to make it concrete; meaningful to the children. And when something is meaningful to us, even adults, it doesn’t get purged. Instead, it goes to our long-term memory and weave itself into our prior knowledge, and our web of knowledge grows.

Ideally, the children should be able to spend a lot of time, as much as they need, on the Concrete stage. They get to touch, see, feel and ‘live’ in the Math concepts. Once they’re very familiar with that, then they move on to pictures on papers. And then lastly, abstract refers to words and numbers aka symbols and problem sums.

Live Math, Breathe Math, Love Math!

There is no better way for children to learn Math concretely than in their natural environment – their homes!

I am sharing some everyday Math ideas. But the list is definitely not exhaustive and being the uncreative mummy I am, I’m sure many other mummies have already come up with these ideas and much, much more. And for mummies who haven’t, I hope my suggestions will give you inspiration!

Card Game – ‘Ten’ Fish

I am a huge fan of playing cards. Yes, the same kind we gamble with. However, because the cards are so representative, anyone who cannot read the numerals will still be able to count and play! As a result, playing cards make a good Math manipulative (for that reason, Uno cards are not as good). However, I would remove the picture cards.

Here’s a game which I find useful for Math learning. I was taught this game since young. Each player gets 5 cards and then 12 cards open up on the table. The rest of the cards will be placed face down, in a deck.

Players will take turn to make 10 (same colour) by using a card she has to ‘fish’ for another card from one of the 12 cards on the table. The two cards must add up to be 10. She then placed the fished cards in front of her, turned up.

Each player will then take turns ‘fishing’. If a player doesn’t have a card that can add up to 10 with any of the cards on the table, she can then draw a card from the remaining deck. If there’s still no match, she has to keep the drawn card and her turn is passed. The game ends when everyone has used up his or her cards. Or when there are no more fishes on the table.

Each player will then add up the numbers of their RED cards. The winner will be the one with the biggest total.

Of course, the game rules can change, and you can choose to add up the black cards instead. Change the rules as you deem fit and fun!

There are many games we can play with playing cards. Make up your own games and rules. Games have way more advantanges than disadvantages, especially if we do them right. Read more about gaming here from the fabulous Pamela Tan!


Car rides need not be boring. The numbers on the other cars’ licence plates can prove to be an interesting Math resource.

Here are some Math related activities you can do:

Addition of the digits
Comparison of numbers (for bigger kids)
Rounding up of numbers (for bigger kids)

To market, to market

I think markets and supermarkets are one of the best places to learn Math. And I know I’m not the only person who think so. The resources in a supermarket are endless! It’s a Math playground!

Here are some ideas:
Shapes (of the boxes; 3D)
Capacity (reading the labels)
Mass (best if you can find those with scales, especially in markets)
Money (counting; comparison)


Like the markets and supermarkets, the kitchen is also another fantastic Math playground! A child can partake in cooking/baking and they don’t only learn those skills, they can learn Math too!

Fractions (which can lead to division)
All the 4 operations
Capacity (play with the different receptacles)
Problem solving (I have 3 cupcakes but I have 4 people. What can I do for us to have equal amount?)

1st, 2nd, 3rd

Through games like car racing, or everyday affairs like eating, children can be exposed to oral cardinal (counting) or ordinal (positional) numbers. And when given a lot of exposure, children will then be able to relate these real life experiences to what they see in worksheets later on.

Informal Measurements

The power of estimation is to Math like the power of observation is to Science. Knowing how to estimate is a life skill.

Estimation is a skill that can be honed with frequent exposure. And these can be done at home.

Length (guessing and measuring items; do you know the length of your neck is half of your waist length? Or that your height is also the length of the span of one hand to another if you spread your arms out to both sides? Or that your feet size is equal to the length of arm from the elbow to the wrist? These are interesting facts about length and our body!)

Mass (know how heavy 1kg and 1g are)

Capacity (playing with water!)

Rhythm is a … Pattern!

Pattern is a very important aspect of Math. Math is pattern and vice versa. 1 x 2 is 2. 2 x 2 is 4. So on. That itself is a pattern. Music is also a pattern. So listening to music a great way of learning Math! Point out the rhythm of the music. Clap to it. Hear the beat!

Model Math thinking

We do a lot of Math in our heads but we don’t voice them out. For eg, oh it’s 4 o’clock! Time to head out soon!

If we need to talk a lot to get our children immersed in the languages, we should do the same for Math.

We are everyday problem solvers. By thinking aloud, we can help our children to do Math.

At the supermarket scenario, “Oh okay, this packet of rice costs me $18.75 which is about $19 and the bottle of milk costs me $2.10 which is about $2 so I will have to pay $19 + 2 which is about $21!”

Just by thinking aloud, I would have solved a problem, done addition and estimation. The child may or may not have heard it all but by hearing even part of the above thought, something is still learnt!

Once again, I like to stress that the above list is not exhaustive. And they are not commandments. Do what you enjoy and find it natural.

And do share, in the comments, if you have fabulous ideas too!

Karen Ang, mother of a soon-to-be 4yo was a teacher for 10 years before she quit to become a full time tutor. She was also trained as a LSM Teacher. Read more about the Learning Support Programme here. She was also in the panel for curriculum planning in school for the now replaced SEED programme. Karen can be contacted at

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