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Chalking up Fun!

Scribbling with chalk

Scribbling with chalk

Not sure if I’m doing this homeschooling thing right, but I realized that the great thing about it is that I can take things slow at K’s pace.  Just relax and not have to hurry her through the tasks at every moment.  To be honest, today wasn’t really planned because… well, I kinda failed to so I just tried to make up something in the 5 minutes eating breakfast.

I brought her out to the corridor to just doodle with chalk, since I had to buy a whole big box when I only needed 1.  Anyway, I drew her a hopscotch and made her jump to the square that bore the number I shouted.  She was quite thrilled!  She was even more excited when she shouted a number and I had to jump.  With Z in my arms, I hopscotched and he was quite amused at being jiggled.

During clean-up time, I got a pail of water and a brush and showed her how to scrub the corridor and the chalk off.  She was super happy running barefoot in the corridor, playing with the brush and water.  I was pretty surprised she really scrubbed seriously and thoroughly!  This was something I wanted to do more with her – giving her more practical life activities so that she’s busy with her hands and body.  She took her own sweet time to scrub and scrub and I was happy to let her.  It was nice to just be in that moment with her, observing her and encouraging her, instead of whipping out my phone and “do other stuff”.

Cinderkyra

Cinderkyra

Think I should give the little Cinderkyra more chores to do!

Do you believe in giving children age-appropriate chores around the house?  How bout rewarding them with money for chores they do?  Interesting to hear your responses!

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Preschooler Makes: Strawberry Ice-cream Cake (No-bake)

My exams are finally over!!  It has been too long since I sat for 2 papers in a day and writing till I had blisters on my fingers!  After having been so high-strung after 2 weeks of intense studying, after it’s over, you know you just get that deflated feeling.  It wasn’t ecstasy or supreme joy; it was just… deflated.  Like it’s all over.  That’s nice.  It’s now time to get back to a ssslowwerrr pace of life.  That explains why I haven’t been posting much or writing anything!  But I was working on a new project which I will unveil real soon!

Anyway, wanted to share an activity I did with K and Z 2 weeks back in the June holidays.  It was part of our homeschool thing before the exams took over my life and I’m finally blogging about it.  K loves watching “I Can Cook” on CBeeBies and she watches the same episodes again and again (because I only recorded those few).  There’s a recipe she said she wanted to try – Strawberry Meringue Ice-Cream.  Looking it up, I figured it wasn’t too hard so we gave it a go!

I did some modification to the recipe because I balked after I researched how to do a Meringue nest.  WUT!?!?  No way was I going to go through so much effort.  Who cares about the meringue, just substitute with ice-cream!  Can’t go wrong there!  I wanted to do a cakey kind of base (inspired by google search results which yielded “Strawberry Meringue Ice Cream Cake).  But baking was too hard.. So my no-bake method was to just get a pound cake!!  Mwahahahah…. so clever… *smirk*  When you have butter pound cake, ice-cream and strawberry, it pretty much can’t go wrong.  In fact, it was scrummy yummy!  Tasted a bit like…. Swensen’s ice-cream cake.  Best thing?  Only 3 ingredients!!!  No cooking/baking involved!!!

Ingredients
6 large strawberries (or 10, or 12, or 42, depending on how much you like them)
Half a Pound Cake (I used the cheaper NTUC brand but Sara Lee is good too)
Ice Cream (just pour the whole pint in)

Steps
1. Clean the strawberries beforehand.  You can get your child involved.  Show her how to scrub the strawberries.

2. Using a fork, hold the stem with your non-dominant hand and press down and mash the strawberries with dominant hand.  This activity is good for strengthening little fingers.

Mashing strawberries with a fork.  Trains strength and dexterity in fingers.

Mashing strawberries with a fork. Trains strength and dexterity in fingers.

3. With clean hands, mash up half a pound cake.
4. Mix the pound cake and strawberry puree.  Lay them in a container.
5. Pour ice-cream on top.
6. Serve and enjoy!!  Or freeze and enjoy later!

strawberry ice cream cake

Almost finished! Just add ice-cream and serve!

And what was Z doing??  Was he screaming away?  Nope, he was quietly sucking on a strawberry!!  He was a happy boy… for 5 minutes.  I mashed up some strawberry so he could explore, taste and smell it too.

Z tasting, smelling, touching, squishing strawberries.

Z tasting, smelling, touching, squishing strawberries.

And he also got a taste of ice-cream!  That wasn’t part of his sensorial education but apparently, his sister thought it would be a crime if he didn’t know what ice-cream was.

K feeding Z ice cream

K feeding Z ice cream

There we go!  Will you try this out with your kiddies?  Let us know how it went! 🙂

Raindrops through Shaving Cream

First week of homeschool – Water Theme

First week of homeschooling and I wanna peng san… Hats off to early childhood practitioners who have to deal with sooo many kids and non-stop action for 12 hours!  But I think we are off to a good start and we did have fun.  I did.. who cares about the kids?  Oh wait… homeschooling is for them.  Ah…

I decided to take things from where the school left off the last week of term and they were on the Water theme.  Figured it’ll be easier since I just have to extend and reinforce the learning, not necessarily teach new stuff.  So basically, I knew they were doing the water cycle and I was pretty shocked K actually could explain terms like “evaporation” and “precipitation” in a child-like, simple way!  My dad said, “Wah… even Gong Gong doesn’t know!”  K looked at him and said, “It’s okay…. You can come to school with me.”  LOL!!

1.  Went to the library and borrowed some books about Water.  We haven’t gone through them yet, but I will get through them the next week.

2. Raindrops through Shaving Cream
This is a pretty cool activity, which K is supposed to drop coloured water (with food dye) through the shaving cream and see rain drops floating down the water.  This supposedly helps her practice and strengthen her fingers in using the dropper.  However, everything happened too fast (i.e. the activity got out of control) and the colours just meshed together, turning a dark, inky colour before we could see any raindrops.  Also, I realized she hasn’t learnt how to use the dropper yet!  #lessonsequencingfail.  But anyway, she discovered shaving cream was cool to the touch and enjoyed meshing it with her hands and seeing the 3 primary colours mix together to form other colours.  We had fun looking at the beautiful paddlepop colours.  *yum*  All these happened with Z screaming in the background.  You can’t see him in the picture, but I’m sure you can hear him.  Even now.

Raindrops through Shaving Cream

Supposed to see real rain drops through the clean water.

3. Bath Time!  Even Z cannot say no to this.  The trick was how to manage 2 kids who were screaming to get in at the same time.  And because I only had food dye, clever me really poured a whole lot of food dye into the bath.  Aww… so pwetty!  Then I saw the inky water under the bubbles and I realized… I’m going to have alien babies if I let them in the bath!  Note to self:  Need to get liquid watercolours the next time.  Again, looking at the swirls of colour made them really high and happy.  Good for sensory play!  Only their hands were of a weird colour later but K was really pleased with her pink-hued fingernails.  “I like my nail polish.”  She was quite sad when they faded after 2 days.

Rainbow Bath

A hit with the kids

4. Montessori Time
She can’t really order the tower or the stairs yet.  But just letting her have fun building them whatever way she wants to.  I try to get her to see that the “stairs” aren’t helpful because they are so uneven – it doesn’t go down or up all the way.  I do “cheat” a bit by leading her to pick out the largest, then the next largest … and place them side by side to order them (Montessori says you’re supposed to let them “discover” it on their own.)  Okay… I’ll try to reign in my top-down, teacher approach and try to let them DISCOVER on their own time and space.

It was supposed to be a tower but she wanted to arrange it like stairs;  Fascinated with the gradation of the broad stairs

It was supposed to be a tower but she wanted to arrange it like stairs;
Fascinated with the gradation of the broad stairs

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5.  On her own, she chose a lacing activity.  I was surprised she could push the shoelace in and out because a few months back, she certainly couldn’t.  She got really frustrated because she would insert the lace, only to pull it out the same side – she didn’t know how to let go and pull the lace out from the back, even after repeatedly showing her how to do it.  I asked her if her school taught her.  She said, “No.  Mama taught me.”  *Yay to me!*  I guess the lesson here for me is really, there’s no point forcing or trying to accelerate learning if the child isn’t ready.  Time and effort is better spent doing age-appropriate and interest-led activities!

Lacing

Practising hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills

She didn’t lace it all the way.  She laced the ends of it and left a huge loop to create necklaces.  She did it thrice (so it was not a fluke) and gave 1 to me and 1 to her Daddy.  She was really proud of her turtle medal/necklace and has been wearing it the whole week!  I have to wear it too or she gets upset.  Okay….

Making animal necklaces and medals.

Making animal necklaces and medals.

6. She discovered that the tiniest cube from the Pink Tower could fit into this Smarties spiral toy that her Grandma gave her.  She just kept playing with it – putting it at the mouth, turning the knob and watching the cube spiral all the way down (where a smartie is supposed to).  By then I was so tired I was happy to let her play that again and again and again…

Letting the smallest pink tower cube slide down the smarties chute!

Letting the smallest pink tower cube slide down the smarties chute!

7. K decided she wanted to do cutting.  Her school has been letting her practise it and she can do it quite well now.  We did a simple (and ugly) craft with her cutting along the lines.  She has to stop when the lines stop.  She cut the grass.  A math counting activity was incorporated (cuz her teacher says she can’t count very well!) so I made her point and count the number of clouds.  Reinforced the water cycle again.

Practising cutting with a pair of scissors

Practising cutting with a pair of scissors

Water cycle craft

Seriously ugly but who’s keeping score?

8. Went to the Gardens by the Bay Water Play area!
K had a whale of a time with just a watering can and a bottle!  Z, on the other hand, had this perpetual displeased look as I kept making him touch the streams of water, saying, “Water!  Cold!  Water!  … Cold!”  And he frowns at me like, Woman… what’s up?  It’s my naptime… 

Gardens by the Bay Water Play

Gardens by the Bay Water Play

This homeschooling thing is tiring… and more planning is needed for this week!  It’s kinda fun, if only I wasn’t so pulled in a lot of different directions these 2 weeks.  I’m gonna get through these 2 weeks!  Pray for me!

*disclaimer:  I’m not a crazy Tigermum who forces her 3 year old to memorize terms like evaporation and precipitation!!  It just happens K is in a mix-age preschool so she learns what 5-6 year olds learn there.  I think she’s just exposed and she’s just picking things up incidentally, which is great!*

**and… this is the nth time that K has been exposed to Montessori materials.  She used to throw them around and do weird stuff with them and I keep them away and not let her do that.  So don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t “play” with the toys the way you expect them to the first few times.  They will soon enough!**

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We are going to Homeschool! (partially only la)

The Hubs used to tell me, “In Diablo, you need to look for items with the trifecta – critical hit chance, increased attack speed, critical hit damage.”  To translate to English, basically the weapon must hit fast, hit hard and have high probability of hitting even harder.  I also have my trifecta (quadfecta, in fact) when it comes to looking for a preschool – convenience, curriculum, teachers and price.  Depending on what is more important to you, if you can find a preschool that fulfils 3 out of 4 of these criteria, you should fasterly put your name on that waitlist! It’s so hard to find one that meets so many criteria.

That being said, I must say I did find one which meets the trifecta!!  Convenience – It is within 5 minutes walk from my house!  Curriculum – it’s a mixed-age Montessori school which incorporates theme-based learning.  Teachers – So awesome!  K’s teacher even told me, “Don’t let her wear diapers anymore! I want to toilet train her!”  YES!  THANK YOU!!  Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest but it really isn’t tooo bad considering it is a private set-up.  Check out First Bridge Learning.  *This is not a paid advert.*

BUT after mulling about it for a long time, I’ve decided to pull her out of school 2 days a week starting next term.  Dun dun dun dun…. Why?  Why why???  I don’t know.  I must be mad.  But each time I go back to the why question, I always come back to the same conclusion: I want to.  I want to make good memories with her in her formative years, not just have memories of me forcing her meals, bathing, napping (though those small things are important too).  I want to teach her stuff.  I want her to be my only student.  I want to have the time and space to impart godly values.  I know that If I don’t try this out now, the opportunity costs will just get higher as she gets older and I’ll be more and more chicken to do it.

 Kyra concentrating on Montessori material
I realized I want to see scenes like this everyday! 

With 2 days a week with her, we can afford to take things a little slower, sign up for dance classes, cook, bake, craft, make her do housework alongside me, go to the playground, learn more from the outdoors – endless possibilities!  But I’m also scared that she’ll miss out by not going to school everyday like the other kids, that she’ll not have stable friendships, that I’ll fritter the time away and let her watch Dora all day… But right now, the excitement outweighs the fears.  So.  Lets do it!!!

We’re going to try this arrangement for half a year.  Back to the Diablo trifecta analogy: I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do it the Singaporean kiasu way – faster, cheaper, better – learn faster, learn more/deeper, in a cheaper way.  Actually, strike that out.  Even if I can’t, it doesn’t matter.  What’s important is that we’re in this process together.  Learning shouldn’t be a competition of faster or better.

Wish me luck!  Better still, pray for me for fearlessness, a sound mind and self-control.  Ohh… lots of self-control.  If I haven’t gone insane, I’ll share about my experiences at home with the K & Z!  Stay tuned!


The wise-looking Prof K who has still has chocolate smudges at the side of her mouth!