Friday, March 29, 2013

Foodie Friday - Han Yu Pin Yin Sandwich?

Alright. I have to admit that I am having F.U.N creating all these open face sandwich for Dumpling's morning bento. To me the slices are not unlike a blank canvas where I can create where my inspiration takes me each morning.

There are days that I use jam to include some colours but I do love using seaweed, cheese and ham to create "scenes"! To make it fun for both Dumpling and I, I have recently gone into adding Han Yu Pin Yin to her open face sandwich! I have purposely left out the "accent" mark/stroke on the "vowels" as this is a game Dumpling and I are doing to increase her sensitivity to the different intonation and she has to tell me what tonation it is for each word. :) How's that for edible learning? :p

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordful Wednesday - Literacy Readiness 2

I am sorry that it took so long! Following one of my earlier post which shares the first 3 tips to ‘reading’ which I touched on the first 3 points of the below:

1) Letter sounds 
2) Letter names
3) Beginning sounds
4) CVC Blends
5) Whole words / high frequency words

Here’s part 2 of the post where I would like to share a tad more on blending and some tips to whole word approach.

4) CVC
After your child has mastered the beginning sounds, the next thing to do before the blend would be to work on the ending sound. I know of parents who work with the child on the ‘middle’ sound first which is fine, but my preference is to work on the ending sound next. This is because some children may not be sensitive enough to break the word into the respective parts and may not pick up the middle sound easily.

CVC stands for Consonant Vowel Consonant - so this is where you will be blending only 3 letter words: m / a/ t. I am a firm believer of 'manipulatives' for the younger kiddos so do use magnetic letters / letter tiles and push them around with your child as you sound out the individual letters. Say the letter sounds faster and faster as you push the tiles closer and closer till it forms the word. 

Depending on the age and readiness of your child, blending requires a lot of practice before they pick up the technique. I have also shared another phonics system which Dumpling and I are using at home. In this post (last clip at the end of the post) you are able to view how Dumpling attempted to spell out a new word with me sounding it out slowly.

5) Whole words / Sight words / High Frequency words
For sight words / whole words recognition, exposure is key where you need to read, read, read a lot with your child as you point out the high frequency words again and again. There is an element of "rote" learning for such words.

However, to be able to recognise is one thing, being able to recall is another. So, to start off, work on perhaps 2 / 3 new words per week. Identify what those words are and you can try the following in guiding your child in this.

:: Look / Recite / Cover / Copy / Check 
This is a bit "old" school where we let the child look at the word, recite (spell it out via letter name) and then cover and get the child to attempt writing it out, check and repeat if necessary. If the child is older, you can practise penmanship too. Now, to make it more engaging and especially for younger learners, you can also use other "materials" for the child to write on - foam, salt, sandpaper, sand, etc.

:: Games 
Games are sure ways to commit these words to memory!

1) Bowling contest 
Paste words on toilet roll core and placing this into a formation like the bowling pins. Take turns to shout out a word and use the tennis ball to roll / hit the chosen word. (Squeals and laughter guaranteed!)

2) Words Bingo (with a twist)!
Place the various sight word cards on the floor (on anti slip mat) and take turns shouting. You can either jump / use a fly swatter to hit the words. (Mayhem guaranteed!)

3) Fill in the colour
For the arty child who likes colouring, you can prepare an outline of the words and get the child to stamp / colour via the number / colour code. With such a practice, the child is also being taught the read colours too.

4) Word Search Puzzles
Head over to sites like this where you can generate word search puzzles. Transfer the puzzle over to a word doc, change the font size and print! Great for car journeys and quiet time too! 

:: Songs
Songs are a great way for the young ones to pick up the spelling of sight words. You can search for loads of them via YouTube or you can even make up your own with popular kid songs. It is ok for the song to sound silly as long as it is catchy! 

Example: (Sing to the tune of "Mary had a little lamb")
T - H - E - Y spells out 'They'
Spells 'They', Spells out 'They'  
T - H - E - Y spells out 'They'
We can spell 'They' now! 

Once your child is comfortable with these (or if your child is reading) and you are looking for ways to encourage Creative Writing, head on over to Upside Down Homeschooling where I guest blogged and shared 5 tips! 

Have a great week ahead! 
Alicia - Mama Sue :) 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Homelearning Workshop - Alice in Variousland!

March has been a mad mad month for me. Besides being tied up with work, I was busy rolling out and planning for a couple of activities for the homelearning community that I moderate. As you readers are aware, Chinese is one area of worry for me in terms of Dumpling's academic journey (for the lack of a better term) so I do look for ways and means to get her exposed to and have fun learning Chinese at home.

I first came to know about Apple Pie in a play we watched last year and I chanced upon their website this year and contacted the person-in-charge to run a Chinese Speech and Drama workshop for the group. After weeks of coordination and handling the many logistics hiccups along the way, it finally materialised during the March holidays. The workshop was entitled Alice in Variousland which is a tweak of the classic Alice in Wonderland :)

The teachers for the workshop were extremely organised where health checks were done every morning and recorded down on a sheet. The children were also handed a name tag on the first morning. 

As this was our first Chinese speech and drama, we (as in Dumpling and I) do not know what to expect. So it was a pleasant surprise to know that the 3-hour daily sessions were not just on 'lines and places' but games, songs and craft were woven in daily. Importantly, chinese stories were read and shared daily too.

Above pic: Children and teachers in a 'catching' game (老鹰捉小鸡)

Above and below pics: Children engrossed in craft work which were used as props

Snack time was incorporated daily, needed for the kids to fuel up before more games and songs and of course, lines were practised!

Above pic: Lines and places for the Queen and the card soldiers

One of the things which I particularly like is the clever use of songs. Children generally respond well to songs and Apple Pie made it easy for the kids to 'remember' their lines with such an approach! 

On the morning of the day of performance, the teachers were making final preparations and then... the glass panel was blocked off! 

But that certainly didn't deter parents from trying to peep into the room as the anticipation mounted... *Guffaws*

The fittings continued and the anticipation mounted further...

And finally, the children came out of the room and here's Dumpling!

The costumes were so cute! Here's K as bunny and N as one of the card soldiers

MS as the Hare (with the craft work that they did earlier)

And Dumpling getting into her role as Alice

(Photo courtesy of PrincessDanaDiaries

Above: El was great as the Red Queen

Above: The finale song. Check out how cute the card soldiers' headdresses are!
(Photo courtesy of PrincessDanaDiaries

And finally, Mama Sue, Dumpling and MS as the 3rd wheel here! LOL

The whole performance was about 12+ mins long so here's are the short clips for your viewing pleasure :)

And of course, all the parents melted at this part. It was indeed a sweet surprise :)

It was just a short 5-morning session. None of the parents had any expectations that this was to be a movie perfect production. The most important thing is for the children to have fun during this Chinese immersion programme.

Dumpling has repeatedly told me how much she enjoyed the workshop and had mixed feelings on Friday as that was the last day. Fellow mummy friends have also shared how much their kids enjoyed the sessions with some citing that their kids do not want to head back to school! *Oops*! So, we shall wait in anticipation for the next holiday workshop. For the mummies with kids who participated in this workshop, thank you for being part of it, it was certainly nice to be able to chat (though briefly) and catch up with you all. :)

Update: Dumpling has gone on to participate in more of Apple Pie's productions and here's a post on 'Little Red Riding Hood'.

Disclaimer: This was a workshop which was organised for the Homelearning for Preschoolers group. Dumpling and the other children were paid participants. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Science - Bob the Blob and Salt

Following the earlier post on making water disappear and having made Bob the Blob (yes, we named it!), I researched a bit more and found out that salt actually breaks up the molecular structure. So, hence, we decided to have a go at it and added some salt to Bob.

It certainly was a great way for the little ones to hone observation skills and patience!

This was about 2 - 3 mins after we added and we swirled the salt in. Bob's structure was broken down slowly.

And finally, this is how it looks like 5 mins later - liquid.

It was a simple and definitely easy experiment. Dumpling got to:
- Predict
- Observe 
- Compare and Contrast (I got her to draw both versions of Bob out in her journal)
- Practise her writing skills 
- Understand the various states of "matter"

Dumpling took it a step further when she got a tad sad and asked me if she can reverse the process. So that in itself, led to various few discussions and other experiments where we discussed reversible and irreversible changes. :) Stay tuned! 

This is part of a Saturday Science Series which I capture down the science moments that I do with Dumpling. Moving on, I will try to post these on every 2nd and last Saturday of the month! :D

Friday, March 22, 2013

Foodie Fridays - Homecooked Prawn Noodles!

Now, if you have read last week's recipe on Sambal Prawns, you may have wondered what did we do with the 2kg prawn shells and prawn 'heads'. Lol

It is a lot of shells and yes, we kept it for another meal. Specifically, we kept it to make the broth for Prawn Noodles! The secret of Prawn Noodles (soup) is all in the broth. A good bowl of prawn noodles need to have broth which is "sweetened" naturally with the prawns and ribs. Boil this over low heat long enough and the smell waffling through the air will be enough to make your mouth water. The meat should also slide off the ribs easily, leaving the bones clean.

:: Ingredients
1) Prawns x 12 pieces (we found some XXL glass prawns from Giant that morning that was on promotion and were going for $2.29/100gm)

2) Prime Ribs (we bought 2 packets of frozen ones which had 6 in each packet)

3) Spare Ribs (about 1/2 kg)

4) Kang Kong

5) Yellow noodles

:: Method
1) We used up all the shells and heads and put it to boil in a medium pot of water as stock (1.5 - 2l)

2) We scalded the prime ribs and spare ribs with hot water and then added them to the stock. We boiled this on low heat for about 2 hours on gas stove / till the meat slides off the bones easily

3) Add oyster sauce, dark sauce and salt to taste (I usually add about 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce and then add the salt accordingly)

4) Add in the prawns and take it out once it is pink and no longer translucent. Avoid over cooking the prawns as they will in turn, become very hard

4) Blanch the noodles and veg, set aside and add the cooked prawns, ribs and soup and serve hot.

5) Garnish with shallots / sliced chili

$10 meals

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless / Wordful Wednesday - Heirloom Wedding Gown ?

I must admit that I have a pretty peculiar taste when it comes to clothing, accessories, etc.

I do not subscribe to / follow any particular trend, instead I buy and wear things which reflect my personality and mood. When it came to my wedding gown, I had pretty much the same thoughts.

I knew that an off-the-rack gown would not work for me. It's just too 'predictable' and too 'flat'. I wanted something FUN, dramatic yet classy. At the back of my mind, I was hoping to create something which is also uniquely timeless as I hope to keep it for my daughter. :p

It was quite a tall order when I went gown / designer hunting years back. I met up with a few designers but none was able to reflect and capture what I wanted. Thankfully I found Patrick of The Wedding Present. I showed him a few of my doodles, pictures of some gowns which I like and with God's grace, he got it!

Rather than going backless for my gown, I decided on a short bodice but with an "overlay" made of organza which forms a train. More than that, I wanted embellishments for the train using feathers, vintage lace and shredded tulle (yes, it was indeed shredded to create the torn effect :p). The designer was brilliant with the materials chosen and he also created it to be a A-symmetrical line. It was in short, perfect. :)

Did you keep your wedding gown for your kiddo too?

Hip Wedding Gown, Feathers on gown

St Mary's of the Angels, Hip Wedding Gown, Feathers on gown

Hip wedding gown, Feathers on gown, heirloom wedding gown

Image and video hosting by TinyPic



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Life as a Mad, Working, Homeschooling Mum

I have been called a lot of names and certainly, with my perverse sense of humour, "mad" seems to nail it for me. Why? Because in a certain way, I am a sucker for 'punishment'. Besides working, blogging, I am also a homeschooler in the evenings.

"What?!?" and usually punctuated with a look of disbelief. "Why do you even work if you are a homeschooler?" is another common question and some, promptly give me the look. So it is a double whammy for me.

Well, I work for many reasons. Primarily, I work because I want to be able to provide a better quality of "life" for my child. Now, before I get flogged by all the comments that say Money is not Everything, I want to say that I certainly agree with that statement. But based on Dumpling's schedule, it does not make sense for me to stay at home the whole day.

Dumpling attends Chinese classes daily. After her classes, she gets transported back home / to my parents', takes her lunch and have a nap. When she wakes up, there's routine care of snack time, playground time and shower time. This has been very much the same routine since years back.

I did stay at home intermittently for months after delivery and also taking a break in between jobs. After assessing for a bit, I have to say that I am not "missing out" much because I am only able to engage Dumpling around 5odd pm after she is done with all the routine care.

Comparing this to if I were working, I'd get home at 6+ and I am only missing out an hour a day technically. Hence, I decided to stick with it.

I enjoy the financial independence. I like having the ability to pay for Dumpling's 'things' be it her activities or bringing her to plays. I like that I am able to give my parents a token sum every month. This seems to be a very 'Chinese' thing in me; my parents are old and I do not want them to have to worry about me or having to worry about money.

I also like having my own money where I am able to head out and splurge on theatrical productions, books, lavish meals once in a while. More than that, I am thankful that I am able to help out in the family than having the man do everything. It is certainly not cheap sending Dumpling for the various classes she attends and I am glad that I am able to contribute to it.

So are there challenges to be a working mum? Of course there are.

I miss her every minute of the day but I do not feel guilty about having to work primarily because as a homeschooler, my evenings are devoted entirely to her where we readexperiment and have fun learning Math. We have 3+ hours together every night including meal time. I also love my weekend soccer mum weekends where I arrange for play dates frequently for her with her friends where we catch plays, watch concerts, etc., together.

Things do get challenging when she's unwell too and I have to watch over / sponge her / administer medication throughout the night and then, heading back to work the next day. The first two nights are usually ok but after the third night, I usually feel like I am walking on air. :p

I did get questions if the bond with Dumpling is ok. My take on this is simple: whether we are working or non-working mums, all parents I believe, want the best for our child. The bond between a parent and a child is not measured entirely and solely on the number of hours the parent is at home but, what they make out of the time when they are together and if it is spent meaningfully.

I dare say that Dumpling and I are very close and though she is growing up fast, I am proud to have raised a child who gives thanks for the blessings that we have. One who still asks for kisses and is not too prideful to admit her mistakes and apologises for them. So yes, I do think I am doing pretty ok as a working mum. But most importantly, I am doing OK as Dumpling's mum and the mum that Dumpling has fun moments with, loves and enjoys - working or not.

(Photo courtesy of my talented girlfriend Eleen Lim)'s FTWM Motherhood Madness!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Foodie Fridays! Sambal Prawns!

It's been quite a while since I prepared sambal prawns. A couple of reasons but mainly because I am quite particular about the types of prawns / freshness (gotta crawl to the wet market) and that it is quite tedious to prepare the sambal from scratch.

A quick google will show you many various sambal recipes so there isn't a standardized version. It depends on the level of spiciness and your personal preference.

For me, I like chili which builds up the heat slowly. For that reason, I use dry chili which seems to do that.

:: Ingredients:
1. Dry Chili - Quantity is about what you see below
2. Fresh Chili - I used 2 packets of it (bought from supermarkets so should be about 20 pieces)
3. Bird's Eye Chili (10)
4. Garlic (as per below)
5. Shallots (as per below)
6. And of course, prawns (I bought 2kg of Tiger Prawns. Personal preference here but I don't really fancy grey prawns because they seem to lack the crunchiness of Tiger Prawns)

Based on the below, I'd say that it would last me for another 2 - 3 rounds of cooking.

Hot hot hot!

:: Steps:
1. Blend the above
2. Heat up work (for that amount of mixture, you would need at least 4 - 5 table spoons of cooking oil)
3. Stir fry the mixture until it is dry and dark red in colour (you've gotta fry it constantly and this will take about 45mins)
4. Add belachan (I used about 3 - 4 teaspoons worth) and continue to dry / mix it in
5. Peel prawns in advance, if you like, you can add a bit of sugar and cornflour to it (Keep the shells and prawn 'heads' in freezer as that would be fabulous for stock)
6. Stir fry prawns until 1/2 cooked
7. Add tamarind water (this is purchased in packet form and I think I used about 10 seeds or so in total mixed with about 1/2 cup of water)
8. Add sugar (About 1- 2 teaspoons)
9. Continue to fry till prawns are cooked
10. Served warm over rice!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Heart Studio Review - Our Little Dali Journey Part 3: Curriculum

Sponsored Review
Dumpling has been with her Art classes for almost a full term now. So far, I am quite pleased with the approach and the teaching style. I like that the discipline challenges her focus and patience too.

Another area which I do like a lot is the curriculum; I like the exposure as the children are introduced to various media and themes. Importantly, I like the well thought out plan where the skills that they acquire lead up to the next class(es).

:: Development of fine motor skills
As Little Dali is for children between 3 - 4 years old, one of the key learning objectives for this class is the development of fine motor skills. Dumpling had a go at foam painting during one session where it is basically shaving cream mixed with glue and colour.

At a quick glance, it looked simple. As the session went on, I realised how much effort and fine motor skills it requires of the little ones as they mixed and then learn this dabbing technique!

Preschoolers Art

In yet another class, she learnt the marbling technique where she had to apply controlled movements through the mixing of paints. It certainly was not easy transferring the print to the paper, 'smoothening' it out and then scrapping off the foam with those small hands :)

Preschoolers Art

:: Understanding of shapes and then the creation of an outline
A fundamental skill in visual art I guess is the ability to understand shapes, then knowing how to 'break the object up' into the various shapes and using that to as an outline

Since the very first lesson, Teacher Syafiq has been introducing the concept of shapes to the children. In Dumpling's first session, she learnt to break down the shape of a Goldfish into ovals, the scales as C shapes, etc. 

This same approach was then reinforced every week and in the foam art session (mentioned above), Dumpling once again applied the same concept - e.g. the sweet is made of a rectangle and 2 triangles. 

Preschoolers Art

In another session, Dumpling was taught to use the same concept to draw the outline of a tree.  

:: Building up of general knowledge and vocabulary
One thing which was interesting for me from a parental viewpoint is that for all the various themes, Teacher Syafiq does not just dive immediately into the heart of the matter (all pun intended :p). Instead he always starts a new project / theme with a short introduction on the topic before proceeding to explain the necessary terms and anatomy.

I personally like such a 'well-rounded' format as I feel that it adds to the children's general knowledge which in turn, would make it more interesting and definitely easier for the kids to translate into detailing and painting it out.

Additionally, besides painting and collages, Heart Studio also introduces children to other art forms such as 2D art, print making, pottery, etc as part of their curriculum too. :)

Edit: Dumpling has finished a term of her session at Little Dali. Here's Part 1 and Part 2  our review. 

Heart Studio is running a Holiday Programme with 2 interesting projects this march! 

1) Enchanted Clay

Children will be engaged in an exciting 1 and a half hour of fun and excitement as they explore with colourful foam clay in the world of fairytales. Known for its therapeutic effect, clay enables a child to express their thoughts and feelings through the gentle moulding in addition to building up both large and fine motor skills. The children will learn to sculpt and build their favourite fairy tale characters in 2D relief form! 
Date and time:
21 March 2013
10am to 11.30am

2) Print making

BatikPainting_On_Fabric.jpgPrint making is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper and on fabric. In this fun and 'messy' workshop, children will have the opportunity to tap into their creativity, explore and experiment in making printing plates and the basics of printmaking techniques. They will also learn to compose elements into their designs and bring home a stack of their very own 'handmade' prints! 

Date and time:
21 & 22 March (this is a one-day workshop available on either of these days)
10am to 11.30am

For more information, please contact Heart Studio at 6554 7563
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