Animals Theme (mostly for 18 mths) Free Math Flashcard Printable

It’s been a rather fun month of doing all things animal-related with the kids!  It’s a relatively easy theme to do and there are plenty of resources in the library and on the Internet so it’s no rocket science.

1. Vocabulary input
I just flashed (sounds wrong.  But it’s not.) Animal Flashcards to the little one.  Z really likes flashcards and I could do this round after round and he’ll not get bored.  These cards cover both English and Mandarin.  I bought these flashcards from Popular at about $7.90/set.

blog flashcards

Animal Flashcards from Popular Bookstore



Books on animals

Books on Animals






2. Reading (non fiction)
Managed to scrounge up this Wildlife Factsheet, which I bought at a flea market for $3? Finally came into use!  Thought I’d read both fiction and non-fiction material to him. A bit dry but you get to learn some interesting facts.

3. Reading (fiction)
The library is a trove of animal-themed books.  I had a few suggested titles but I couldn’t find them in my library.  No matter!  Every 5 children’s books is one on animals anyway.  I particularly liked:

  • Little Bee by Edward Gibbs (English GIB -[BA])  because of it’s repetitive nature.  “Little bee, little bee, why do you flee?  Because there’s a hungry frog chasing me!”  And then the animals change, but those few action words do not.  After a few readings, K could read it on her own.  I love such books which set the kids up for success in reading.  🙂
  • Tell Time with the Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (English CAR -[BA]) is a perennial favourite.  I don’t know why kids like Eric Carle’s books but I guess they do like the weird, blocky kind of illustration.  The movable hands on the clock helps the preschooler tell time too.
  • Another Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc (English TRE) is the second book after the familiar Night at the Museum. This one focuses more on ocean animals.  And I learnt what a coelacanth is!
  • Princess Poppy: Puppy Love by Janey Louise Jones (English JON).  Anything with Princess in the title appeals to K at this stage.  So we’ll be checking more Princess Poppy books out.  The story is set in a quaint farm town, which I thought is interesting for K.

4. Phonics
I’m starting Z with the letter ‘A’ –> the “ahh” or “air” sound.  I just go “air” “air” “alligator”and sometimes he will imitate me.  In fact, he might actually think that when I emphasize the beginning sound, it’s part of the word!  Now he says, “mm” “mm” “bike”  because I used to say “mm” “mm” “motorbike”.  I guess he found it convenient to drop the middle syllables. A fun art activity to reinforce the ‘a’ sound was making an alligator with the letter A.  You can print out a template here.  Added some googly eyes from Daiso.  The kids love them!

Cuz the mother's art and craft is so meh... but idea is there.

Cuz the mother’s art and craft is so meh… but idea is there.


5. Neobear
Coincidentally, I got my hands on this new toy in time for the Animal theme – the Neobear Animal game.  I’m not too big on ipad games and would prefer giving my kids physical toys to play with (even McD’s rubbish toys are preferable to shoving them with an ipad / iphone!) BUT I’m not extreme enough to deny my children ALL ipad games and I have stumbled across some gems which I have bought!  Neobear Animal Game is one of my better finds, I think.  The Neobear Animal Set comes with 96 animal cards (covering mammals, reptiles, insects, amphibians, molluscs, fish and birds).  They have printed the English and Mandarin names of these animals behind each card for parents’ easy reference.  The magic happens when you download their app from the AppStore / Play. When you place the card in front your device’s camera, the animal pops up in 3D and can make noises and move!  The realism is quite uncanny and the kids are definitely enthralled with seeing the animals in 3D form.

Neobear Animal Set

Neobear Animal Set

Of course, as with most materials, if the parent or adult can give additional input, the child will benefit much much more than from merely seeing and playing with the cards. The knowledge input can be very simple to the kids but I think talking to them about the animals – what they observe about the animals, how many legs do they have, what does the monkey’s tail help them do… etc.. the child can learn so so so much more.  And if I don’t know about the animal?  I guess reading up beforehand helps me broaden my knowledge as well.  LimpehZ says I cannot teach science cuz I’m terribad at it but WHO else will undertake such a self-sacrifical endeavour… ???  *flick my hair*

For a demo of how this works, 

You can get your set here!

6. Alphabet Matching Set (click on the link for a separate post on how to use this material)
I just remembered I had this set this morning and pulled it out for the kids to play.  After doing A-C, doing the “air” “air” “alligator”, “buh” “buh” “butterfly”, Z got distracted and started swiping the cards and wooden letters.  Of course K did most of the matching, which is good revision for her.  Plus, she gets to play crazy, pull-her-hair-out teacher to her inattentive, disruptive brother.  Now she knows what my job was – still is.

On theme!  Animal Alphabet Matching

On theme! Animal Alphabet Matching

7. Excursion
And of course, on a theme like animals, what better way to bring the learning to life than a trip to our very own local zoo!  We visited the River Safari for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at the many exhibits there – though most were swampy, ugly and terrifying fish (if I were to meet them while swimming).  I did play a trick on K though. Knowing her favourite Disney princess is Ariel, I told her I was going to show her a mermaid.  Her eyes lit up, like, for reals?!!  Ariel the Mermaid?!?! Then I brought her to see the manatees and she was like.. oh….. that’s a mermaid??  So mean right??  Haha.. but I think she forgave me because she did say the manatee was her favourite animal she saw that day (not the cuddly wuddly pandas, surprisingly!) Maybe next time, we’ll go back to the main zoo to see the polar bear and koalas!

Huge Scary Fish!

Huge Scary Fish!

blog river safari 2

I’m too cool.. No photos please.

blog river safari 3

Why is the panda baby soooooo smalll??

8. Math 
I made some number flashcards with alligators.  11-20 alligators in a set.  You can download them for FREE!

Follow us on our A-Z journey by subscribing via email at the top right of the page or like us on our Facebook page (I HOPE we can get there before Z goes to school next year… but I think… we’ll be fortunately if we can cover half :P)  we’ll see how it goes anyway!

P.S.  I have VERY limited sets of Neobear on the shop now.  Get yours here if you want it delivered in the next 2 days!
And get your Alphabet Matching Set here.

What’s After Learning Letter Sounds?

[This post contains some links to my shop.  I’m going to show you a couple of ways you can use this material, found here.]

Alphabet Matching Cards

Alphabet Matching Cards

Are you a phonics reader?  Was it taught or caught for you?  During my time (sounds so ancient), I think we weren’t explicitly taught phonics.  Whatever phonics we did utilize, if at all, was learnt incidentally.  It’s hazy in my mind now how I learnt to read.  I think it was the mere exposure many times to a particular word (sight words) or eventually, one just figures out the pattern by trial and error.  After going through the Montessori course, it’s a bit clearer now how to move beyond learning individual letter sounds and I’d like to share a bit, if language learning is your thing!

When children first enter N1 or N2, one of the first formal curriculum they will encounter for language will be phonics – letter sounds.  The school may use various phonics tools like Zoophonics or Letterland, and/or employ really singable and memorable songs like Ants on the Apple etc.   The key point is to help the child learn the sounds each letter makes.

In addition to Ants on the Apple/Zoophonics/Letterland, there are a few activities to start the child writing (yes, spelling!) and reading.  I’ll list and explain some activities and materials used in the Montessori Pink Scheme in language learning as we go along.

  1. Sandpaper Letters 
    To help the child trace and develop muscular memory of the shape of the letters, the teacher introduces the child to the sandpaper letters.  She will introduce the sound, e.g. ‘p’.  Then she’ll ask the child to trace the letter.  This is to give the child tactile experience of “writing” the shape of the letter.  K’s school, and I suppose many others, will further reinforce their letter sound knowledge through drawing and art and craft.  I admit I’m a little surprised that they take 1 whole year to learn 26 letters (and not very well still, cuz K still can’t write very well).  But yes, actually, it makes sense that these little minds do take that long because it is a lot to master.  26 different sounds and shapes and they all look pretty similar!  If your child takes longer than that, please don’t worry or rush them and remember it is hard stuff for 3-4 year olds.

    If you are interested, you can make your own set of sandpaper letters for really cheap!  It just takes a bit of work and time.  First, buy some medium grade sandpaper.  I was kiasu and bought the roughest possible.  K made quite a fuss when I asked her to trace the letters.  Haha… Cruelty to small, tender hands?  Print out the alphabet in A5-size (or whatever size you like).  Cut them out.  Flip the letters and trace them onto the sandpaper.  Cut the sandpaper letters out.  Mount them on card stock or construction paper.  For a more detailed tutorial on how to make them, see this post from our very own .

    DIY sandpaper letters

    DIY sandpaper letters

    Or, you could get one of these letter frames and ask your little trooper to trace the frame.  That could work as well!  Your child can also match the letters to the corresponding frames.

    K tracing the frame of K.

    K tracing the frame of K.


    K tracing K on the flipside of the card, which shows the standard way of writing.


    Matching wooden letters to the corresponding cards

  2. Large Movable Alphabet 
    Montessori schools also use a material known as the Large Movable Alphabet which is a set of individual wooden letters that the child can feel and touch.  They learn to match the moveable alphabet to the corresponding sandpaper letters as a follow-up activity.  Montessori’s method always follows the principle of introducing the child concrete to abstract representations of a concept.  Since print is abstract, she tries to concretize it by letting the child handle and play with wooden letters – to touch and manipulate.

    Matching Large Moveable Alphabet and Sandpaper Letters

    Matching Large Moveable Alphabet to Sandpaper Letters

    You’d be a carpentry genius if you try to DIY yourself!  I’m not, so I bought 1 set myself and had another gifted to me by dear friend Mummy J!  But if you don’t mind not having the neat wooden frame that houses all the letters so beautifully, there are many cheaper options available, example, those plastic letters with magnets at the back or this Matching Alphabet set.  Basically any set of letters that can be moved around will do!  I like the 3D effect and the weight of wooden letters.  If not, you can even print and cut those letters out yourself.

  3. Segmenting Words into Letter Sounds (Using Moveable Alphabets)
    This next part is when your child is already very familiar with the individual letter sounds.  Now, we’ve got to help him/her break words down into the sounds and then put the sounds together again.  This is the beginning of reading!  Exciting eh?

    So I show K a picture card (or toy or object) and we talk about it.  What is it?  Where do you find it?  Of course, we pick easy 2-3 letter regular phonetic words which are familiar to her.  Regular words mean if we segment the sounds, they can be sounded back together e.g. jam.  ‘Apple’, though a familiar word, is NOT a regular word because air-pe-pe-le-eh put together does not sound like “apple”.  So I ask K, “What sounds can you hear from the word ‘jam’?”  I repeat the word many many times and if it’s the first time we are sounding the word, I may even have to segment it for her.  On good days, she can pick out the sounds quite easily.  On distracted days, I’m talking to a flighty bird and hitting my head against a wall.  She manages to pick out the sounds and I realize that she’s good at hearing the beginning sound and getting better at the ending sounds, but she’s not too good at hearing the vowels yet – which is quite common, I guess.  Then, I arrange the sounds in the correct order and we read out each sound again.  I then blend the sounds for her to hear – je-air-mm, je-am, jam.  We do no more than 3 words a day.  And I try to repeat those same words till it comes more naturally for her.  We have been stuck at words with vowel ‘a’ for the longest time, since maybe last September and we are moving very slowly onto the ‘e’ words.

    Sounding out the sound and searching for the letters.

    Sounding out the word and searching for the letters.


    Found all the letters!

    The point is after they get so good at segmenting words into sounds, they can do spelling tests just by hearing the words!  Of course, this only applies to phonetic, regular words and not sight words, like ‘dinosaur’, to which, there aren’t many shortcuts unfortunately.

    There we go!  3 or more different ways to use this educational toy over a pretty long stretch of time.  The Large Moveable Alphabet is used throughout Pink, Blue and Green Schemes (all the way to 5-6 years old where they learn longer words and combination vowels).  Quite worth it right?  Only problem with this (and other letter sets) is that there is only 1 letter of each.  How then do you form longer words or words with repeated letters?  e.g. ‘bee’ or ‘add’?  Print/write your own and make multiple copies of each letter!  K’s school has jotterbooks where the child sounds out the letters, then paste each letter to form a word.  The teacher lets them draw and articulate what the word reminds them of or means to them.  Such a great idea to help the child contextualize words and not just rote learn all these words in what seems like a vacuum.

    Final word.  I’ve tried pushing, I’ve tried taking a more relaxed approach in teaching K to read.  Definitely, without a doubt, relaxed is better.  Introduce these activities gently and slowly to your child.  If he/she shows no interest, finish up and put it away, pull them out again a few weeks later.  Eventually, he/she will catch on and when they are ready to read and when they want to learn, you’ll be ready for that window!  In addition, read, read, read to your child!  It’s, without a doubt, a great time of bonding.

Homeschool: Frozen Theme

It’s been a long time since I last blogged about what we did for homeschool.  Yes, we did take THAT long to finish a theme.  Ah well… It’s okay.  I’m not ashamed or stressed.  Important thing is to be relaxed and go at a more relaxed pace yeah?  😉  so unlike 2 months back!  😛  I still think so much more can be done with this theme but I feel we’ve run out of momentum already so I’m gonna just leave it.  Maybe we’ll come back to it if the interest resurfaces again.

As with all things FROZEN, these are some related activities that we did.   Some were a hit, others not so much.

1. Ice painting

Perfect mixed-age ‘group’ activity.  ‘Group’ meaning 2 kids below the age of 3, although I’m sure it’ll work for a bigger group of children.  I love doing art in the bathroom because they can make a mess and I’ll just hose them down after they are done!  Z was really happy pushing the ice around, though i didn’t realise I stripped him of his diaper and he was sitting in ice water for a looooonnnggg time.  It was, chilly.  No wonder he didn’t look too thrilled but he was still pretty game about it.

Prep:  Night before, fill an ice-tray with water and squirt some water colours.  Freeze overnight.
I used the $2 Daiso water colours palette.  When I’m feeling richer, I will go get the Ikea water colours in the squirt bottle!  Water colours aren’t supposed to stain clothes.  Right??

Ice Art - really really cold!

Ice Art – really really cold!

Very abstract.  But can go on the wall, I think, if  you put some expensive-looking frame.

Very abstract. But can go on the wall, I think, if you put some expensive-looking frame.

2. Snow Dough with moisturiser Liquid / Gel soap 

I did a post on this before.  It’s more of a sensory activity that encourages the child to exercise their fingers.  They love it!  I kept the original batch in the fridge in a ziplock and couple of weeks later, it was good to go again.  Just add more soap and mould them together.  Beware though, they are not so sticky and malleable, like Playdoh, and they tend to be more crumbly and hence, not so mouldable.  It’s good for some messy play, but not so great for crafting shapes and objects.  K’s gotten quite a lot of Playdoh since then and it’s great for creating snakes and apples (cuz that’s all I can make with Playdoh for now 😛 ).

Prep:  2:1 ratio of corn flour to moisturiser.   I’ve found out (through sheer lack of preparation and planning beforehand) that liquid/gel soaps work too!  Don’t worry too much about the ratio.  If it’s too dry, add more gel.  If it’s too wet, add more flour.

3. Exploding Snow 

This was something I thought would be a hit with K!  I mixed baking soda and shaving cream and when mixed together, it resulted in a really fine, cool snow-like texture.  Z was really happy just messing around with this one.  The key is the vinegar cuz when you spritz vinegar on the snow, it’s supposed to effervescent, hence, the name, exploding snow.  Once I brought out the vinegar and showed K how to make the ‘snow’ explode, she declared, “I don’t like it.  It’s smelly.”  Urm.. okay… So that was the end of the activity.  *facepalm*  Sigh… I will try again on a better day!

Prep: Baking soda (not the baking kind, the industrial cleaning kind that comes in a box.  Arm and Hammer, that’s the brand)
Shaving cream.  Spray liberally.
Vinegar (unless you want to skip the whole effervescent snow thing, which might be a good thing, if your child is a fussypot like mine)

playing with shaving cream snow

It really feels a bit like snow! Powdery and cold to the touch, especially if you had put the shaving cream in the fridge the night before.


Why is it brown? Because I didnt have clear vinegar and only had expired ZheJiang Vinegar – the kind you eat with Xiao Long Baos… So they kinda ended up looking like mud. Not so nice. But you can still see the effervescence.

4. Writing & Singing 

I wrote out the lyrics for Frozen.  She already knew most of the words, so we went through the parts which she wasn’t sure.  I wrote some parts (the “Let it go, let it go” part in the chorus) in a light highlighter and she wrote (traced) it out in marker.  Good writing practice, I figured.  I let her go to the computer, work the mouse (sooooo slow and soooo paaaainful), and type in some words to search for her favourite Frozen pictures.  We got them printed out and she cut them out and pasted them on her lyrics.  She was pretty excited!

frozen lyrics.  traced over highlighter

The piece on the left was her first attempt at writing. She got a lot better at controlling the marker towards the end.
K cut out the picture she found and printed off the Internet.

5. Mathematics – Sorting and packing

For her birthday party, she decided she wanted to be Queen Elsa and so, we are STILL on the Frozen theme.  Her grandma knew what she wanted and went to source for some really cool stuff – like Frozen stickers and stationery to put in the goodie gift packs.  We went to a wholesale market to get sweets and tidbits too so K had a swell time just tasting and testing the sweets.  She was quite ‘buai paisay’ to ask for this and that and the auntie there was super nice and obliging.  When we packed the goody bags, we involved her because we wanted her to know she’s the one giving out the gifts to her friends and so she should be helping right from the start (although the grandma was complaining that it’s so much faster if she did it alone – yes, of course!  but what’s the value for K if we did that?)  K did well in counting out the sweets and putting them into the gift packs.  She showed quite good concentration though we found 1 bag which had like, 10 sweets!!  She must have been distracted and confused by all the yelling of instructions.  Still, she had an awesome birthday in school!  I think…  Most of the time we were there, she looked so serious and shell-shocked by all the attention.

packing goodie bags for birthday party

Z was likeaboss making sure his minions are working. Ta dah!! Mighty pleased with the afternoon’s work.

6. Montessori

We are continuing our Montessori staples, which aren’t very fun to blog about but really, everything else is bells and whistles, but the real learning and foundation building are the Montessori activities.  These take place over many days of short practices – phonics, word-building, sounding out letters, counting sticks, grading, arranging blocks – and they always start out as mayhem but K gets better, more able to concentrate, given time and chances for repetition.  We are on word-building exercises  now – still stuck on cat, bag, but now she knows there are 3 sounds, and not just the first sound she pronounces.  It sure takes a long time to learn!  I downloaded some free Consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) printables from the amazing lady at “Imagine Our Life” for these word-building exercises.  You can improvise a Large Movable Alphabet with any alphabet set (multiple copies of each letter, especially the vowels, are ideal).

That’s it!  We are done with FROZEN and hopefully can now finally Let It Go…

Flashcards on Flowers (Free printable)

A quick and short post since we are holidaying in Bali now!  Just wanted to share what I do with the second kiddo, Z, who is 10 months old.  I used to be pretty skeptical about flashcards and its effectiveness. But after trying them with K in her first 2 years, I think they are pretty good and it takes so little time (to flash, not to prepare, unfortunately). So since it doesn’t do any harm and might do some good, why not?  K is pretty happy when shown the flashcards and always begs for more.  When doing the transport series with K, she could tell me the difference between transport helicopter and assault helicopter.  Not bad… I was surprised.  Z shows quite a bit of interest too and is happy viewing them repeatedly… like 3 times over.

These are some flower cards I made. You can print them out on cardstock (I’ve tried with my HP laser colour printer but the ink didn’t adhere very well). I print them out on paper and then paste them on cardstock. More work, but at least the colours are vibrant and attractive.  You can also paste the words behind the flashcards so that it’s easy for you to read them out.  I’ve also put in the Chinese names and the Hanyu Pinyin for easier reading!

chinese flashcards with chinese and hanyu pinyin

I learnt how to type in hanyu pinyin!

The link is in the welcome email when you subscribe to the blog.  Thanks and hope it’s useful!  Help yourself to the other files I’ve uploaded there!

Montessori Practical Life Activities

The more I delve into practical life activities, the more in love and amazed I am at how – you guessed it – practical they are!  Essentially, they are life skills that we teach so that our children can be increasingly independent and self-reliant.  When they are independent, they learn to take personal responsibility and they generally feel more confident about themselves and what they can do. I am constantly surprised at what the kids can do for themselves, if only we bother to clearly state our expectations, guide them through how ever many times they require to see the examples, give them room to make mistakes and give correction, and step back to see their proud looks on their faces!

I’m gonna share the 4 areas of Montessori Practical Life so you can have a pretty comprehensive guide to follow.  Definitely, you are encouraged to add on any and every important life skill you think you’d want your child to master should they not be in the list – e.g. cooking, baking, using tools… whatever your child may be interested in!

Fine motor skills
1. Transferring with a spoon –
– bowl to bowl
– bowl to 2 equal bowls
– bowl to 2 unequal bowls
– bowl to 3 bowls
– bowl to 3 unequal bowls
– bowl to bowl with indicator line

2. Dry Pouring –
– jug to jug
– jug to 2 equal containers
– jug to 2 unequal containers
– jug to 3 equal containers
– jug to 3 unequal containers
– jug to container with indicator line

3. Wet pouring
– jug to jug
– jug to 2 equal containers
– jug to 2 unequal containers
– jug to 3 equal containers
– jug to 3 unequal containers
– jug to container with indicator line
– jug to container with indicator line using a funnel

4. Transferring
– water with a sponge
– water with a turkey baster
– objects with tongs / tweezers / escargot holder
– objects with chopsticks

5. Pegging
– clothes pegs
– paper clips / hair clips
– peg board

6. Folding and unfolding napkins / origami

Gross Motor
1. Rolling and unrolling a mat
2. Carrying an empty tray
3. Carrying a table or chair
4. Walking on a line
– carrying objects

Care of Environment
1. Sweeping
2. Cleaning / dusting / scrubbing
3. Opening and closing boxes
4. Screwing and unscrewing caps
5. Nuts and bolts
6. Locks and keys
7. Threading and beading
8. Cutting paper
– straight lines right through
– straight lines (which end in the middle)
– wavy lines
– snowflakes
9. Cutting fruit and vegetables
10. Polishing

Care of Self
1. Combing hair
2. Dressing frames
– zips
– press studs
– large buttons
– small buttons
– velcro
– buckles
– shoelace
– tying bows (ribbons)
3. Bathing
4. Going to the washroom
5. Brushing teeth
7. Wiping face
9. Blowing nose
10. Braiding / plaiting

Social Grace and Courtesy
1. Greetings
– shaking hands
– saying thank you, please
– inviting someone in

2. Interrupting
– saying ‘excuse me’
– may I

3. Silence game (being still and silent and listen to the sounds in the environment for a time)

For every activity, it’s ideal if you can place all the required materials on a tray so they are organized and the materials complete.  When the child is older and familiar with the activity, he can go pick out what he needs for himself – that takes pre-planning and organization of the child’s thoughts, which are higher level skills.  Demonstrate the activity once, making sure to detail the steps and hold his or her attention as best as you can. Then allow the child to try.

For the first few times, the child will make a mess, not be able to do it well but don’t be discouraged!  It takes multiple demonstrations on different days. And only later when the child knows what to do, can you leave the child to complete the activity for himself.

Case in point – K transferring beans with a spoon
K has been doing this activity since… forever.  Since she can hold a spoon.  Since she was 16 months (ooh.. managed to dig up old photos), she has been scooping, making sure she held the spoon with a pencil grip each time.

spooning 16 months

Oh my gosh! So young!! And looks so much like Z! Trying to grip the spoon and transfer macaroni. This was probably at least 3 (or more!  I can’t remember) attempts of introducing the activity to her.  Apology to friend and daughter who got pictures put up on the blog.  😛  At least I gave them nice smileys!

spooning at 35 months

K at 35 months – not that she can’t scoop but sometimes, she just wants to make a mess! Training concentration and perseverance! Pick up ALL the beans!

35 months sprawling beans all over the floor

Just 2 weeks later, also 35 months, giving me a heart attack when I saw this scene after cooking lunch when I left her to her own devices.  It was a “RAWR!!!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?” moment.  Had to supervise her picking up the beans one by one – by hand. I think it was good training for me too – trains patience…

My point is, I haven’t got a perfect Montessor-ized kid (sounds so wrong) and the online videos tend to show perfect examples of children following your instructions to the T, giving the impression that it was their first time doing the activity and they just got it!  And when you don’t see it happening to your child, you wonder what’s wrong with him/her, or you.  I honestly doubt it’s like that in real life.  It often takes many repetitions for the child to get it and many more practices for them to get it right.  Just let them pick the activity and they will keep repeating it until they have mastered it.  Don’t need to force them to do with they are not interested.  Leave it and introduce the activity some months later and they may be ready for it then.

If you’re interested in downloading an excel file with all the activities with suggested age, please subscribe to the blog and the download link will be in the confirmation email.

For current subscribers, scroll all the way to the end of your email and there’s a download link too!

Have fun with your little ones!  I guess… don’t be stressed about their learning or progress and just enjoy the process of discovering new and exciting things with them – even something as small and common as beans!


Messy Messy Snow Dough (Playdough) Fun!

I finally brought out the quintessential item that every child loves and plays with – Playdoh!!  Not the branded dough that comes in a tub because they are so expensive and no matter what beautiful colours I had, they all ended up a mucky brown.  That would totally make me cry.

Contaminated Play Doh

Even this, I cannot take.  The contamination!! The colours are never pure again!

So we made our own and it was really really messy.  Be still, my heart.  We got the recipe from Growing a Jewelled Rose and urm… though it says “Snow Dough Recipe”, I kinda forgot to leave the ingredients overnight in the fridge, so they weren’t, urm.. cold.  So not really snow.  But still, the dough part is valid.  Only 2 ingredients and no cooking!  Just corn flour (I mixed corn flour and tapioca flour cuz’ they are so old and mouldy, they’ve probably expired) and I mixed some (also expiring) face moisturizer.  Take note that you do need quite a lot of moisturizer and since I’ve started the activity and then ran out of moisturizer, I was forced to use other things and ta dah!!! I’ve found that shower gel and hair conditioner works too!!!  I was really happy I found a use for the many many soaps and gels that I’ve collected over the years – Christmas gift exchanges and what not.  You know… those really pretty gels that come in beautiful tubes and bottles that you don’t ever get to open them at home because you’ve just gotten a jumbo refill of Shokobutsu and you feel a bit wasteful using them but they are just taking up space in your house anyway.

A pailful of coloured dough

A pailful of coloured dough

*Shameless plug*  My friends, please give me these shower gel and hand lotion thingeys this Christmas!!  I’ve finally found a good use for them!

I don’t really have the proportion, all I can say is, mix the flour and the gel together until you get the consistency you want.  Then portion out the dough and knead in desired water colours.  Because I wanted K to be part of the process (which is a mistake I’m still repenting from), naturally she was overexcited at how good the corn flour feels and yes, it really got all over the place.  The picture below might induce certain uncomfortable heart palpitations for the clean-freak Mother, so be warned.

messy room

Messy messy making of the snow dough.  Hmm.. actually doesn’t look so bad here but the corn flour was really all over the floor.

Anyway, playing with dough is great for little fingers because they need to really press in and mould the dough.  It builds strength and dexterity of the fingers.  Plus, it’s really great fun for the child!  K was sufficiently entertained for a really really long time – like an hour, and she has asked repeatedly if we could do this again.  Certainly, my child.  More dough, you shall have…

K chanced upon this youtube clip of a girl showing how she makes new playdoh dresses for her Disney Princesses.  So since we do not have the plastic Disney Princesses, she said, “Oh!! Nevermind!  I shall make a new dress for James!!”

This is James.

James gets new playdoh dress

Poor James

She didn’t actually make a dress but just stuck bits of dough on him.  But that was okay.  She was play acting what she saw in the youtube video and also making up stories of how James got to be in that beautiful dress.  Stories that make you go, “Wut?”

Cleaning up??  Fairly easy actually!!  I just wiped the floor and swept up the flour with wet wipes (or a cloth, if you are the environmentally conscious kind).  They dry out pretty easily so by then, they were mere crumbly bits, easily swept away.  But the floor felt a bit funny, like soapy… but I figure it’s not a big problem that a good mop won’t solve.

The dough is honestly not very malleable (probably cuz it’s not oily) and so, dries out really quickly.  As mentioned, it’s crumbly so you do need to keep adding more gel/lotion and “wet” it.  After K was done with it, did it all turn a mucky, murky brown?  No!  Because it was crumbly, the coloured pieces do not actually blend together.  It ended up more like a coloured mosaic of sorts.  I’ve kept them in the fridge because they are supposed to be good to play for a few more times.  Next time, I’ll prepare another batch of dough beforehand and ONLY give her 1 colour at a time to work or play with.  After that, she can have the mucky dough to mess up further!!

Crumbly murky dough

Crumbly murky dough

I’ll be trying another sensory play activity with K on Friday.  That one is supposed to be explosive and even messier.  Keep a lookout!

Homeschool: Family Theme – Adult and Young Free Printable

We sure took a long time to cover this theme but I guess that’s alright because its about the journey and not the end destination.  It is NOT about covering syllabus… Eeks… teacher-speak!

I went on this Family theme because for quite a long time now, K has been obsessed with ‘Mei(4) Mei(4)’.  Like a younger sister.  Which she does not have and will not have… at least for quite a long time.  It’s quite funny how she pretends play with this MM – feeding her, bathing her and using her as an excuse, e.g. “MM wants to eat sweets.  Can I have 1 more?”  or “MM doesn’t want to sleep.  She still wants to play.”  She really scares my mum sometimes when she says, “MM is sitting there looking at us.” *points to the empty sofa*  Shudder.  Creepy much.  So sometimes, for the heck of it, I’ll scare her too… like when she sits down somewhere, I’ll say, “Hey!  You’re squishing MM!!”  Then she’ll hop up in horror.  Okok.. I’ve been told NOT to encourage her anymore.

So here goes for the theme of FAMILY!

1. Family Tree (Theme)
It’s not very nice but it serves the purpose!  Tried to teach her the family relationships.  She still gets confused – who’s papa’s papa, who’s mama’s papa etc but she’s getting it.  She likes pasting her name in thickets and gets some practice spelling and picking out the letters in her and her brother’s names.

Who's who in the family?

Who’s who in the family?

2. Word Building (Language)

K knows her letters and sounds pretty well now so I’m trying to move her to combine sounds together.  It’s still pretty hard for her because she can only identify the beginning sounds and tends to leave out the middle and end sounds.  They say if that’s the challenge, we need to give her more practice by playing games like “I spy with my little eye… something that ends with ‘p’ “.  Then she has to pick out an object that ends with the ‘p’ sound.  Practice, practice practice!  But I did try out an activity once or twice with the Large Movable Alphabet.  She got distracted real quick after the second attempt.  She’s probably not ready for this.

Word-building with Large Movable Alphabet

Word-building with Large Movable Alphabet.  All the words here are phonetic words (words which follow the letter sounds), save the names.

I also wrote out the Chinese words of the various family members on flashcards and just repeat.

3. Adult and Young Cards (Cultural)

These cards were printed and laminated with the intention to use over and over again.  I showed her the adult and told her the specific name of the young and got her to repeat.  Simple.  It was nice as she went around asking us, “What is the name of the mama cat?”  “What is the name of papa bird?”  “What is the name of mama dog?”  “Urm… let’s just call her dog for now.”  I didn’t want to teach her the word b**** in case she goes around misfiring on people.

4. Spooning Beans from Bowl to Bowl (Practical Life)

You love your family by being independent, i.e. feed yourself.  She can feed herself okay, but she tends to make a whole big mess.  I don’t think it’s a matter of control but she just loves the sensory feel of noodles, oil, rice all over her hands and mouth.  Gross.  Anyway, I hope this helps her be more mindful of spillage while scooping.

K's spooning up a storm!  But to her credit, she managed to pick up every single bean and put them back into the bowl at the end.

K’s spooning up a storm! But to her credit, she managed to pick up every single bean and put them back into the bowl at the end.

4. Household Chores (Practical Life with Math)

Of course, we love our family by helping each other out.  She loaded up the laundry, scooped the detergent (and spilled so got her to clean up) and pressed the buttons, which was her favourite part.  She pegged the clothes.  She scrubbed the corridors and baked (sort of.  I did most of it).

Washing clothes

Washing clothes

Pouring and mixing ingredients

Pouring and mixing ingredients

Cutting out Hello Kitties from cookie cutter

Cutting out Hello Kitties from cookie cutter


Cinderkyra scrubbing the corridors

Maths was kinda incorporated into these activities, e.g. measuring out the ingredients with a weighing scale, what the buttons on the washing machine meant etc.

5. Praying and Character-building

We spoke about why we pray to God – He is our family and He loves talking to us.  Just this week, the Hubs got really sick and usually, K would kick a fuss if Papa wasn’t the one to make her milk, bathe her and put her to bed.  So I told K, “Papa is not well.  We love him by letting him rest.  Let me make milk for you, ok?”  Those 2 nights, she was really compliant and sweet and let me do everything for her (like she’s doing me a favour right??)  But it showed that she understood and though I’m her second choice, she was willing to compromise to show love to her daddy.  Really proud of her.

Plus, having the chance to put her to bed these 2 nights was nice… It’s been a long time since I did it and it was nice not to be rejected for once.  And we played and we read the bible together and discussed stuff that happened in the day… real nice.. 🙂  It felt great to be commanded, “Mama, you are well.  So YOU come over and switch on the air-con.  YOU stay here and take care of me!”  Urm… alright….

So that’s it!  I am sharing the Adult and Young print-out cards if you are interested.  It’s great if you have a colour-printer and laminator cuz I’d hate for my teaching materials to be bent or destroyed in 2 uses.  Couple of ways to use these cards over and over again:
1. Show and teach vocabulary.  This is a cow.  The baby is called a calf…
2. Matching and pairing activity.  Pair the adult with the baby.
3. Memory game.  Flip those cards over and find the matching pairs.
4. Sorting activities.  Big and small, adult and young.
5. Match your 3D, plastic farm animals with the 2D picture cards.  Helps the child move from concrete to abstract representations.
6. Use the picture cards for word-building.  Choose the phonetic words first, e.g. hen, lamb, pup(puppy), dog, cat, duck, pig…  Ask the child, “What sounds can I hear from the word ‘pig’?”  Let the child pick out the letters and you can rearrange it in the right order, then read it out loud together.

If you want the printable, simply subscribe to the mailing list.  The download link will be in the confirmation email.   You can’t find a Adult and Young free printable anywhere else because there isn’t anymore now!  I’m the laziest person around.  If there were, I’d have printed it and not created one myself.  Appreciate if you avoid sharing it amongst your friends.  Please direct them back to my site!  More freebies coming up soon! (Pictures are from morguefile).

*This is the first time I’m sharing stuff over the blog.  Let me know if there’s a problem with the download link!*