Homelearning:: Easter fun

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I am always excited when there is a festival coming up. Not only because we get to party and bond as a family, but it is also a great thematic learning opportunity. 

The long weekend of Easter Sunday just came and went. We aren't Christians but I think it is nice for my children to be exposed to the story behind Easter lest they think that Easter is a celebration of bunnies and eggs!

Was pretty glad to get this book from My Greatest Child at Citysquare Mall. It was going at 1/2 price!



To complement the theme, below are the activities we engaged in. I think I might have outdone myself this year!


This was an inspiration from @tiny3rds I basically printed these adorable chicks and pasted onto a piece of used cardboard. Then I painstakingly cut with a blunt blade. -_- The process of making was far longer than playing. Small K took less than 1min to place them into the relevant holes. 

Sensory treasure hunt for matching eggs. The eggs had shapes and the kids had to find the matching shapes and colour.







Counting activity. It was quite a challenge to get Small K to have the patience to count through. This boy is completely different from his sister in terms of learning styles. I foresee it is going to be an uphill task. 


This activity is a recycled one. Inspired by @playlexue. The faces of each Sesame Street character was painstakingly cut out! My eyeballs almost popped! This year, i changed the action slips and hey presto we've got a new activity! The kids enjoyed it tremendously especially when it involved physical actions.





Gifted by @happytotshelf who played an instrumental role in this event. Very glad to have met her and didn't expect to share so many things in common. 


Art and craft. Big K's favourite. I was glad I had these stash in the pile of materials I had! It was a life saviour coz I wasn't prepared to do anything that day but the kids were patiently for mommy to present them with activities. A blessing which I couldn't say no to.


It's about time Small K (35mo) try his hands at lacing. however, it was treated with lukewarm welcome. He used it as a kite and ran around the house instead. -_- I guess that's the difference again, between a boy and a girl? Big K started to show very good fine motor skills at a young age whilst Small K is more adept in his gross motor skills. That said, this boy held the pencil the correct way far earlier than Big K! He must be some kind of genius! teehee



It was all about Science. We discovered that vinegar will disintegrate the egg shell and turn it into a naked egg after 48 hours. It could even bounce! Amazing that the membrane is such a great protection for the chick (if there were a chick). The other Science activity we played with was the overused baking soda with vinegar. Though an old activity, the kids seemed to have great fun and refused to stop. Probably because this time I added colouring and they were busy mixing colours. 

Letter hunt. I really didn't expect Small K to know his letters well, but he surprised me! This printable was from totschooling


Colour Sorting. An activity inspired by JsAreana. Once again, lovingly cut out, but activity completed within a few minutes. 



It smelt heavenly!



This activity has got to be the highlight of Easter! We were invited to attend an egg pop cake baking session conducted by the queen of chiffon, Susanne Ng. It is my 2-year goal to bake a decent cake and this was certainly a great push. In fact, it pushed not only me, but the husband who decided that he is a whizz at baking. This man is sometimes so full of himself. So much so he has accepted the challenge to bake a birthday cake for Small K's impending birthday next month. It wasn't as difficult as I thought, but the technique needs to be improved. The unmoulding process wasn't that easy. Probably because we couldn't wait for it to cool. Taste wise, it got the thumbs up from the kids! In fact, the kids enjoyed the baking jam so much they kept telling everyone that they baked.

The next highlight of Easter was a meetup with some homelearning IG mommas. These mummies are extremely passionate in teaching their children and are so creative and inspiring. Just look at the activities they prepared for the event and you will know what I mean! It was a great opportunity to show my children how easy and nice to make new friends. Somehow, it doesn't come naturally for my kids to make new friends, hence as their mom, I probably should show them and set a good example. I am glad that I can finally put a face to the many IG accounts I follow. 




Small K's favourite activity: Waterbeads!


Egg hunt! Big K was delirious that she found all the eggs and there was a surprise inside!


DIY lava lamp. An activity created by playlexue. She is one creative mommy who puts together interesting stuff for her kid, QR.


Playdoh can never go wrong at a party. These aren't ordinary playdoh. It is homemade by MessyfingersThe tools are so interesting that even I wanted a piece of the action. 

Hope you guys had a good rest over the long weekend! I know I need a good  (and long) rest after all these activities!

Homelearning:: Birthday theme

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

wonder if it is me only but i feel this this year is flying by extremely fast! It was the New Year and before you know it, March hols is over! That's life when you have kids i suppose? Or perhaps a mid-life crisis syndrome? 

We hardly did anything last week since it was he March Holidays. The papa was in town hence i took the opportunity to bring the kids outdoors as much as possible. Not that I am unable to handle both kids outdoors but my blood pressure would be more contained with an extra pair of hands and eyes. 

So this month has been a month of celebrations. Following my birthday at the end of February, came the fil's 66th birthday and in two months' time, Small K will be turning 3! Cue:: screams! 3? Seriously? Well, didn't I tell you that time is flying by too quickly? Sometimes I wish we didn't have to sleep so that we can spend more time interacting and doing activities. Am always in a mad rush but thankful for the mornings I can spend with the kids. Can't imagine when Big K goes Primary school next year. How am I going to spend time with her especially since schools are all single session these days. By the time I get home, she would have been asleep if the hubs is around to attend to them. For now, we are spending a mere few hours in case you wonder coz we wake up pretty late. Now before you go green with envy, I sleep late and often get interrupted sleep as Small K will always sneak up our bed in the middle of the night and Big K will wake me up if she needs to pee and Small K again will cry for milk at 7am. 7am seems like a fair time to wake up, afterall we should gear towards primary school but sorry, the mother can't get up so off he goes, back to bed haha. So yeah, with such episodes of interrupted sleep, I am pretty amazed that I am still holding up well.

So back to the topic. This month, our theme is Birthdays. Here's sharing what we did::

Our birthday shelf

To promote fine motor skills and introduce letters to Small K

Playdough. Now, which kid doesn't like that?

Small K is well versed with number 1 to 10, so I thought it is time to introduce bigger numbers. He can count but didn't have the patience to paste stickers onto the colourful cake. A big difference from Big K. 



Promoting fine motor skills. Inspiration from @playlexue




Finally taking our my Frobel stuff for the kids! It has been cold storage for far too long.




These cupcakes look so real we all wanted to eat! But nope, they are all toys! I suppose the "cream" is a kind of clay as it was rather tough for a kid to squeeze out. This was a gift from a friend but I believe you'd be able to find them at Toys R us.

I'm getting all excited about Small K's impending birthday. Honestly, I have yet to give it any serious thoughts.  Afterall, our parties are generally for family only. And most of the members don't give a hoot about birthdays. It's solely my fantasy. The only thing done is that I've ordered goodie bags for his little friends at school. Considering that we have 2 more months to go, I think I'm way advance. :P













Pearl Bean, Corn and Carrot soup recipe

Saturday, March 11, 2017

It's quite rare to find pearl beans at the supermarket. In fact, I have never seen any before. Often, i will spot it at the wet market. Marketing is extremely therapeutic for me coz it's a kind of me-time. However, most of the time, I have to wait till the hubs is in town before I can do that. Just last week, I had such an opportunity! And yipee! I found me some pearl beans!





This is how the beans look like. I wanted to boil them with lotus roots however, with recent reports on lotus roots being bleached, I stayed away from them whenever I deem them too white.




It's great motor skills training for the kids. They enjoyed taking the beans out of the pods.

Pearl Beans have a nutty and creamy taste to it. It is packed with nutrients as well. Each cup of beans provides 241 calories, 0.8 grams of fat, 16.5 grams of protein and 43.3 grams of carbohydrates. These pearl beans, otherwise known as Cranberry beans, do not contain any cholesterol and only have trace amounts of sodium, making them a heart-healthy protein choice. Perfect for the whole family! It also contains loads of fiber. Fiber adds bulk to your diet and since it isn't digested, it makes it beneficial for those who are trying to lose weight. It also decreases your risk of getting constipation and haemorrhoids.

Here's how I incorporate it into my soup -- Corn, Carrot & Pearl Bean Soup:




INGREDIENTS

  • 200g of pork ribs
  • 2000ml water
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cob of corn
  • A handful of pearl beans
  • Salt to taste


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water for about a minute. Scoop it out and wash away the scum.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot or slow pot. Add the blanched pork ribs, corn and carrot. Let it boil for an hour or so over small flame or in the case of a slow pot, i boil it for 3hours. It could be less probably, but i typically boil it the night before so i can get my 老火汤
  3. Add in pearl beans and continue to boil for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add salt to taste and serve. Most of the time it is sweet enough such that no salt is actually needed. However, a pinch is good to bring out the flavour. 

It's a great hearty soup for the whole family and not difficult to prepare. So why don't you try it today!




Daikon and green radish soup recipe

Friday, March 10, 2017

The weather has been pretty crazy lately. One minute it is raining incessantly, the next minute, Mr Sun is blazing mercilessly on the ground. As such, the kids have been down with cough and runny nose. They have been coughing for 2 weeks now so I thought i had better start being more hardworking in terms of home remedy.

First up, it is my Daikon & green carrot soup. This is a hot favourite in our household. This soup is great for dispelling heat. Daikon itself has several benefits including removing body toxins, aids digestion and kidney functions, it is also a good decongestant and if you find yourself having a breakout, this soup is for you!

We call it the 臭臭汤(smelly soup) as it emits a rather 'unique' smell when boiling. Small K has been rather heaty of late. His mucus is green and his breath is so bad! It doesn't help that it takes a lot of reminder before he starts drinking his water. So hopefully this soup helps. These two vegetables are known to be cooling so pregnant women should avoid it. If you are afraid that it is too cooling for the family in general, you could add a few slices of ginger.



These are the main casts of my soup, in case you are wondering what's a Daikon and a green radish. I was told by a TCM that we should not add the typical orange carrots as it cancels out the effects of Daikon. 

Here's my recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1 medium sized Daikon
  • 1 green radish
  • 3 dried scallops
  • 1 honey date
  • 300g of pork ribs
  • 1 tsp of Chinese South almonds (南杏)
  • 1 tsp of Chinese North almonds (北杏)
  • approximately 2.5litres of water (this is just an estimation. I basically adjust according to the size of my ingredients)
  • 2 slices of ginger (optional if you are afraid that the soup is too "cooling)


Instructions
  1. Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water and set aside. 
  2. In a slow pot or a separate pot, boil water for soup.
  3. Peel and cut the green radish and daikon. 
  4. Rince all ingredients 
  5. Add the pork in once water has boiled. After approximately 10minutes, add the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours if you are doing it over the stove. I often use my slow pot and will turn it on for approximately 4hours. I usually prepare it the night before when the kids are sleeping so that I will have nice soup for lunch the next day. I don't sleep much anyway.
  7. When ready, sprinkle a pinch of salt to taste and serve.


A good soup is really a great addition to the meal! So why not try this today? 

Review: Activities at Heguru Part 2

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Previously on my review on Heguru here, I shared with you some of the activities we do during class. As there are a gazillion activities conducted at such fast pace, it is impossible to squeeze all into one post, hence, as promised, here's part two.

Photo credit: Busy Teacher



Many people are mistaken that right-brain training is just all about flashcards. Many are skeptical as to how flashcards can help a child. I'll be honest with you. I was skeptical too. For example, initially I did not know why they are flashing flashcards of over 20 colours. I mean a red is a red, what's with telling me merlot, mahogany, crimson, garnet, scarlet, sangria...ok, you get me. However, I soon learnt that when children see and hear the names of different colours and shades, their sensitivity for colours will start to develop and also improves their vocabulary for colours. This will help stimulate the child's subconscious and increase the variation of colours. The flashcard method is also validated as a method for developing photographic memory. Many do not know that what they are trying to do is to input as much as they can during this sensitive period so that the child will output with ease in time to come. We aren't expecting them to be Einsteins overnight. Sensitive periods are special. It is in these phases that the child tries to tell us that they are deeply fascinated about something. Every child is unique and their sensitive periods may differ. However, it is usually below the age of 6 where the thirst for knowledge is immense. 

Writing & Motor Skills





As you can see, Heguru is not all about right-brain training. They recognise that both sides of the brain needs to work hand in hand to provide a more holistic training. I am very glad that writing and motor skills training is incoporated. Particularly the tracing of letters. Being my second-born, Small K has been greatly shortchanged. By this age, Big K would already be able to tell me which letter is what and what begins with the various letters of the alphabets. So, I am immensely grateful that Heguru has this segment which trains children in letter recognition. This reminds me of the sandpaper letters which Montessorians like to use. It really does help in letter recognition. At age 2-3years old, we can also guide our child to write words. If they are unable to write words yet, you can do the following:

1) Show the the flashcard of the word
2) Have them pick up the cards
3) Have the to say out the words on the cards

It is important that we gradually build on their output abilities by guiding them to write. 


Craft Work


All work and no play makes Small K a dull boy. Often, during the lesson, there will be something for them to make. It could be a little skirt as above, or a paper plate crown, or Origami. Do not underestimate such craft work. The benefits of say Origami is immense. The brain stimulation that origami supplies is plenty enough to get your cells moving even at older ages. It also enhances three-dimensional thinking, non-verbal reasoning and patience. When doing so, you activate every skill each hemisphere controls as well. 

Phonics


It was rather interesting to see the above activity introduced. In my mind, I was thinking "Aren't they a little young for this?" But hey, they are in their sensitive period, so just input!

Music Appreciation


I have been nudging myself to introduce music proper to the kids. Being previously trained in piano, I feel I am the best person to guide them through the beginning stage. Unfortunately, I have made painfully feeble attempts. At Heguru, the children are introduced to music and their different composers; solfege (listening to the tone of a note and knowing the various semibreves, minim etc) and recognizing the sounds of different instruments. 

Encyclopaedic Knowledge

                                     
                                 
  

This segment on attaining encyclopaedic memory is really interesting. Children are exposed to several concepts way beyond their age. The aim here is not for them to know their periodic table overnight, but to assist them at outputing in the future. Children absorb knowledge like sponges. The focus is not mainly on the mastery of encyclopedia knowledge alone. For information is expanding geometrically and hence it is just impossible for you to teach your child to master all of it. Through such exposure, we are nurturing the child to develop a desire for continuous learning and the skill to master new information. 


三字经


The teacher in our preschool has lately commented that Small K doesn't seem to know how to speak in Chinese. Well, not that he doesn't know, but more of he doesn't want to! This is probably due to the lack of exposure to the language. As such, I am glad that heguru does blend in other languages when teaching. On top of poems, they learn through songs as well as flashcards. This benefitted Small K a lot as at a tender young age, he was able to recite the 唐诗。

The Alphabet Song



Right after exercise time, when we will go out of the classroom to pass or kick a ball..or hop on one leg, the kids will be back in class to sing the alphabet song either in English or in Japanese. Small K is particularly intrigued when the Hiragana song is played. 

Story Time


This segment is often the kids' favourite! Everyone simply crowded round the facilitator to listen to the story. Teachers as well as parents are meant to inspire our children in their lifelong learning journey. And I can see the passion and sincerity shown by the teachers at Heguru. As a facilitator, no matter how playful the child is, they do not criticise or shout at the child. After all, shouting doesn't make things better. Apart from raising one's blood pressure, it causes one to lose a sense of what's really happening. Instead, they speak from their hearts. This is something which even I am trying to learn. I have witnessed myself losing my temper so very often this year. Particularly at Big K. Probably because she is entering Primary school next year and knowing the rigours of the education system makes me worried. Not that she isn't a bright child, but I know that we have lost precious time last year from shifting house not once, but thrice! So when she fails at meeting my expectations, I sometimes raise my voice and question her why. Parenting and teaching don't come with a manual. No one said it was gonna be easy. Heguru not only teaches my child, it trains me to be a better parent. We as parents should mind our words as we are role models for our children. We should take every night to reflect. 

I am learning. Are you doing that too?

Follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website or more details! They have regular parents info sessions, so do give them a buzz to catch a lesson preview!

Disclosure: We were invited by Heguru CitySquare mall to review their courses and attended complimentary lessons in return. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services.  



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