Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Primary One: And we survived 2 Terms!

Term one and two ended in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, it was already the June holidays. The first month of school was spent settling down in her new school and new class. I thought that she settled down beautifully while I, on the other hand, was feeling my way around. :p 
A "whatsapp" group was set up and I also blogged about the 6 things I learnt about life in Primary School.

Dumpling was made Class Monitor in Term 1 and I feel that helped her assimilate into formal school faster as she had to quickly step up and learn to lead, to guide, to assist and she certainly seems to know her way around school faster, better.

Dumpling’s school uses the Stellar system for English and adopts a holistic approach where there are ‘assessments’ but not all are graded. She does not have any SA till Primary 2.  What I did not realise is that while technically there are no “exams”, there were mini tests across each term usually starting from Week 5. Some weeks Dumpling could have up to 3 tests – including a Listening Comprehension assessment.

All these results are then input into the system and marks are computed via the system. For Dumpling’s school, the weightage for Term 2’s results accounts for 20% of the whole year, Term 3 would be 30% and Term 4, 50%. The stream of mini tests really requires a lot of stamina and during some weeks, ting xie and spelling are ongoing too. So is it hard? Not really. But is it tedious? Yes it can be. But we have done good so far and here’s sharing 5 tips to survive Term 2!

1) Consistency is the key

As a working mum blogger, my plate is full. Instead of doing last minute revisions, I read with the kiddo almost daily and I go through her school work to look through the mistakes she made.
I am not a big fan of assessment books but I do have some for the kiddo to work on randomly as check points. This has worked well for us so far without having the need to do the last minute dash for any school assessments.

2) Homework

The kiddo does have homework from school. What I do is to encourage her to work on it after lunch (we use a chart too which you can see at the end of the post) and so far, this format has worked well for us. When she is done, she takes a short nap and then she gets to read / play / draw thereafter. 

3) Extending the Fun and Learning from Home

Being a FTWM and a former homeschooling mum, I still very much like to read and learn with the kiddo. My focus is to continue to fuel her love for reading and learning as I feel that sometimes school work and all those worksheets can be a tad dry. 

So after work, I would lead her through a range of literature-based activities where we also balance it out with her violin practice and some craft work. We would walk our dogs and head to the playground where she has a few rounds at the slides too. 

For "literature work", we have done classics like King Arthur, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, etc.where we would read and discuss the words / phrases mentioned, extend and read up more on some of relevant topics / things mentioned in the book. We also craft, read Chinese stories, work on writing of simple Chinese sentences as well as extend our learning with some of the subscription boxes that I have ordered from the States. (Reviews on these coming soon, I promise!)

The boxes have been great for her to attempt on her own and at the same time, acquire some General Knowledge. Some of the things learnt have shone through in her essays as well as class discussions. 

4) Spelling and Ting Xie

We are quite blessed because Dumpling is quite comfortable linguistically so we do not have to do a lot of work for spelling and ting xie. When we are really stretched for time, I will split up the list into 2 days. Short bursts of such “revision” / rote learning works better for most children than having to plow through. We received the list for Term 3 before the June holidays and there will be passages for dictation, so my suggestion is to split up the list if you have to. 

5) Keeping it organized

To set expectations, I put up a chart where it outlines the things which she is supposed to finish on a daily basis. This has kept us focused and helped us manage our time too!

We do not do all the things listed in the chart but about 3 daily. The idea is not to cramp the evenings but to have a 'goal' in mind so that it leaves time for dog walks, playground / craft. :)

If you have a K2 child going to P1, I would suggest to leave your child to finish 1/2 page of activities and slowly build up to 1 then to 2 - 3 pages on his / her own. If he/she is able to attempt them with minimal supervision, then he/she can finish his/her homework when you are not at home (e.g. working / have to run errands) and this would save you some precious time too. :) Good luck!

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Giveaway! Sum of Fun bundle deal! Includes an entry to Underwater World Singapore + Buffet at Island Cuisine

Dumpling inherited the love of all creatures underwater from the dad. The two would spend time visiting various aquariums and the dad would indulge her buying fairly unusual ‘creatures’ such as apple snails, shrimps, etc. :)

We were recently invited to Underwater World for an all-inclusive-morning. Why all-inclusive? It is because they are currently running a 3-in-1 bundle promotion for just $19.90. What does it include and how was our morning? 

Here’s our day:

From 30 May to 28 June 2015, Underwater World Singapore will be hosting a special Sum of Fun bundle deal.

Enjoy up to 65% off the bundle deal which includes an entry to Underwater World Singapore + Sumptuous buffet at Island Cuisine + Other Fabulous Perks for only $19.90* per pax! 

(Meet the Dolphins and Fur Seals sessions: 11am, 2pm (excluding Wednesdays), 4pm & 5.45pm daily)

Looking forward to a fun-filled morning? I have not 1 but 5 pairs of tickets to give away!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win the tickets!

Remember to leave a comment on who you would like to bring to Underwater World Singapore and why?

To find out more about the promotion, please click here

Terms and Conditions:

1.     Promotion is only applicable to local residents of Singapore. (i.e. Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, Holders of Employment Passes, work Permit or Dependent's Pass)
2.     Promotion is valid for both adult and child.
3.     To qualify, visitors are required to produce relevant identification, subjected to one admission ticket per local ID.
4.     This promotion is not applicable with any ongoing promotions.
5.     This promotion is not applicable for group tours.
6.     This promotion is only valid for watching the dolphin show. Charges are applicable should invited visitors wish to participate in the dive or have contact with the dolphins.
7.     Point-of-exchange for promotion: Underwater World Singapore ticketing counter.
8.     Promotion is only valid for communicated date of visit
9.     Guest must retain and present this invite for entry
10.  Guest must retain and present this invite to redeem buffet meal at Island Cuisine.
11.  Guests are only allowed to use this invite once.
12.  UWS reserves the right to refuse redemption, entry and/or participation if the above conditions are not fulfilled.
13.  UWS shall not be liable for cancellation of any programmes due to wet weather or unforeseen circumstances.
14.  Island Cuisine will offer local delicacies in a buffet format daily from 11.30am - 3pm (Last seating: 2.30pm) and 5.30pm - 9pm (Last seating: 8.30pm).
15.  Island Cuisine is not a Halal certified restaurant. Dishes do not contain pork/lard.
16.  UWS reserves the right to substitute the buffet meal with another item of equivalent value.
17. Winners will be contacted via email and should the selected winners do not respond with relevant details in 48 hours, I will reserve the right to select another winner. UWS will issue the tickets to winners.
18. Each winning ticket only permits a complimentary entry into UWS and a one-time buffet at Island Cuisine.

 Disclaimer: We were invited to visit Underwater World Singapore and Island Cuisine to give our opinions of it. We were not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review + Giveaway: Aureus Academy!

Dumpling has been learning the Violin for more than 2 years. Learning this instrument has brought out both the good and the bad in us. :p I personally find the violin a hard instrument. Unlike a piano / organ that rarely goes out of tune and the notes are as what you play on the keyboard, for a string instrument, it is so much more technical and even by moving slightly, a different note is played.

Learning an instrument to me, may not be the same thing as appreciating music. I ,sometimes, find the daily practice a tad too routine and as it leads up to exam days, it can get very dry. So I have always been quite conscious of introducing Dumpling to a range of musical exposure – from attending the Children’s Carnival by SSO to watching musicals and to listening to various genres of music in our car.

What I also wanted to do very much was to also expose Dumpling to camps and acquire a wider exposure to music. So we were really happy and excited when she got to attend a 2-day Camp at Aureus Academy: Aureus Spring Camp.

Aureus Academy specializes in 1-to-1 classes and is started up by 2 brothers. I had the opportunity to understand more about its approach in a recent interview

:: Synopsis
The 2-day camp is the first public camp by Aureus Academy; the previous camps were only offered to its existing students.

The Spring Camp is designed to introduce and exposure children to a musical knowledge, not limited to their existing instruments (if applicable). 

For the 2-day camp Dumpling attended, on a daily basis, the rough structure of the programme is as below:

- Ice breaker games
- Instrument Exploration / An Instrument a Day / Musical Masterworks
- Studio time
- Theory 
- Performance / Concert

The ice breaker games were really fun for the children and all the games played were related to music. It was a great way for the children to warm up. Based on my understanding, the children were pre-grouped to age and if they have any prior musical experience for a better fit of class dynamics.

(Above: "passing the parcel" game where the children learn something about music eg: fun fact about the 
 orchestra or experience something that is written on the card that they draw - eg: blowing the trumpet)

The Instrument Exploration was something which I feel was fun for kids as they got a chance to try out various instruments. Dumpling had the chance to have a go on the trumpet as well as the piano.

This was something which she really enjoyed as she got the chance to go beyond her comfort zone, and it is rare that she is able to try out the trumpet. They were taught the various parts and terms of the instruments and how to play them. For eg for trumpet, she learnt how to position her mouth and what force to use to blow a higher note and for the piano, the position to take on while seated, what the octaves are, etc. 

Other instruments available during the Spring Camp included the guitar, flute, piano and the violin.

The children were also introduced to different works by famous masters and the pieces. Dumpling was introduced to was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 while on another day, the children explored Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev. 

In the latter, the teachers introduced the various instruments and its sounds to them and explained how different instruments take on a different 'persona' where they represent a different animal.

Children also had the opportunity to be split into various groups for private studio time.

This means that for children who are learning an instrument, they will then move on to a studio to have 1:1 time with the teacher that is teaching that instrument.

(Pic above: teacher leading children through their pieces during Piano Studio time. Each child gets a 1-1 time with the respective teacher.)

Additionally, for those who are learning an instrument, they had the chance to practise some pieces for a recital at the end of the day. 

Now, for others without the experience, the children will be grouped and would for eg be exposed to rhythm and beats using percussions (photo below).

:: What I like about the camp

From a parental standpoint, as an introduction for children to music, I like that there's many layers of musical elements being introduced. The children did not just had the chance to work on their own instruments for the end-of-day recital but also had the chance to learn about note values and even singing. 

From warm up games to trying out the various instruments, it gave the children a chance to understand the different facets of music and that it is so much more than perhaps learning to perfect a song on their instruments. 

I like that the games also teach team work - different children has different parts where all elements come together to form a tune / a musical show. (Clip is taken during the 'rehearsal'. As I was trying not to draw too much attention so as not to disturb the class, the clip is a tad 'dark' due to where I was standing)

During dumpling's studio time, there was no rush and I like that the teacher did not just zoom into the prep work for the performance piece but she checked and corrected the basics such her posture which is an important aspect in playing the violin.

For Dumpling, she enjoyed learning about the various popular works as well as the chance to try her hand at the trumpet. Being the performance bug that she is, she also enjoyed the end-of-day recital. I like this element too as the recital gave children a chance to build up their confidence as well as to have a platform to perform.  

What I would like more of is for Aureus Academy to have a Masterclass which caters to the various instruments where it further adds more understanding and depth of the instruments and the pieces the children are learning. The technical bit are delved further into, pieces are explained and explored further which leads to a longer studio time. 

All in all, Dumpling enjoyed herself tremendously. Surprisingly she enjoyed the singing classes and exploring the famous masterworksz We will definitely be keen to try out the next camp with the addition of Masterclass!

Interested to know more about Aureus Academy and its unique approach? 

I am pleased to share that I have 10 FREE TRIAL passes worth more than $500 to give away!

Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter below: 

Do remember to leave a comment on the comment section on "Which instrument would you like your child to trial and why?"

You can share this post with your friends on your FB page for extra credits!
(For Singapore residents only) 

The more credits you earn, the higher your chances of winning! :) 

:: Terms and Conditions:
- Entries that do not fulfil the requirements stated will be disqualified without notice.
- Winners will be notified by email, through the email address provided. 
- This giveaway is for Singapore residents and for new students only. 

That's not all! Aureus Academy is running its Summer Camp in 2 weeks too! 

Aureus Summer Camp

QUOTE BEANIE N US AND RECEIVE A ONE-TIME 20% DISCOUNT OFF THE CAMP! Call Aureus Academy (Rochester Mall) at 6235 6488 to register!
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