DIY Activities in Minutes!

The weather has been so unpredictable these days. One minute, it pours. The next, it’s bright and cheery. So while you wait for the weather to clear, here are seven DIY activities you can dish out to your kids in minutes!

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Continue reading DIY Activities in Minutes!

Celebrating National Day – Singapore Legends, Stars, Moon and Fireworks

Flag of Singapore

This Saturday is Singapore’s 49th National Day!  This is Hannah’s second year celebrating our National Day. (You could refer here for last year’s activities.) We were excited to have some fun with other homeschool friends from our Mandarin co-op while learning about National Day.

Learning about Singapore Flag in Mandarin

We learned elements of the Singapore flag in Mandarin. For instance:

Singapore = 新加坡 (Xīnjiāpō)

Crescent = 新月 (xīn yuè)

Stars = 星星 (xīngxīng)

National Day = 国庆日 (guóqìng rì)

Get those bodies moving: crescent and star jumps

We did a little stretching with our bodies to make a crescent and doing star jumps.  Hopefully, these hands-on activities help our little ones remember their shapes in Mandarin better. 🙂

Toilet Paper Roll Craft: Fireworks

I was looking for a craft where the kids could create an art that’s not too messy, requires little preparation and suitable for the younger crowd.  I came across this activity via The CentSible Family.

  1. Cut one edge of the toilet paper roll into slits.
  2. Open the slits like a flower or octopus.
  3. Dip the roll into paint and you’ve got your fireworks!

It’s so simple!  I bought red glitter glue from Daiso to create a glittery effect.  I mixed a little water to the glue to make it more runny.  We also tried using finger paint or any normal paint.  Works as well, but without the glitter.

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Singapore’s Legends and Folktales

Now at three, Hannah’s becoming an inquisitive little being.  Lately, she has been asking the reason behind some of the street names.  Like, “Why is Redhill called Redhill?” This sparked an idea to share with her some of Singapore’s folktales as an extension of our National Day activities.

Why is Redhill called Redhill?

Singapore, then a fishing village, was plagued by many swordfish.  The villagers were often attacked by these swordfish and that caused the Sultan to be deeply troubled, for they know not what to do.  Then one day, a little boy approached the Sultan with a plan: barricade the affected areas with a row thick banana tree trunks.  So whenever the a swordfish tries to attack, its long, sharp bill would get stuck on the banana tree trucks.

The boy’s plan worked, and the villagers rejoiced at the his wisdom and ingenious plan. The Sultan jealous over the boy’s popularity and fearing that he would be dethroned, he got his army to kill the boy who lived on top of a hill.  Sadly, the boy was killed and his blood covered the hill.

There are some children’s books on Singapore’s legends which can be borrowed from the libraries:

  1. Asian Favourite Stories, Singapore by Leon Comber
  2. The Lion City retold by Mohamad Salmi
  3. Singapore’s Swordfish Attach retold by Mohamad Salmi
  4. Sisters’ Island retold by Mohamad Salmi

Alternatively, you could read about them via the Remember Singapore blog.  It’s my go-to website if I’m looking for things relating to Singapore’s history!

National Day Parade (NDP) Sing-a-long

I think it’s a wonderful idea that the organising committee has the NDP Songs put up on their website.  Hannah loves singing and dancing to “Chan Mali Chan”.  Now, we can sing along to the songs the entire week!

Happy 49th Birthday, Singapore!

The Wise Man and Foolish Man + Letter P Activities

Activities for Foolish Man and the Wise Man

The Bible story for the week was taken from Matthew 7:24-27 about the wise man and the foolish man, and the letter of the week was “P”.

After reading the Bible passage, we had fun singing and acting along to the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock”.  Kids at this age love action songs and it helps them remember the Bible stories better.  I remember this song way back in Sunday School (that’s more than 20 years ago?!)

We read a book, “Look at that Building: A First Book of Structures” to understand the importance of building a solid foundation when constructing a house.  Then, we proceeded to construct a structure out of dough and toothpicks.

As we were building, I explained that we needed to make sure each toothpick was stable and secure before we could proceed with the next.  Hannah tried to rush hers through and the entire structure collapsed before we could add more toothpicks. (point proven.)

During the week, we played a pirate themed beginning consonant peg game (sorry! I can’t remember where I printed this from.),  did some other “P” printable from our curriculum, and read stories relating to the letter “P”.

Here’s our book list:

Books relating to letter of the week - P theme

Hannah’s favourite reads were:

  1. It’s P! – She likes this series as it contains silly stories and sentences about each letter.
  2. Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! – It’s a lovely read.  I enjoyed this very much too!  It’s not just a book about Picasso’s work but also a look into his life and his unwavering spirit to continually improve and create beautiful pieces.  It also makes a wonderful discussion about handling rejections by others.
  3. Molly the Pony – A great introduction to chapter books for young readers.  We love how Molly kept her positive and gentle spirit even after losing with a leg and surviving Hurricane Katrina.
  4. Ernest and Celestine’s Picnic – We love the pictures!  We love how Ernest and Celestine doesn’t let the weather dampened their cheerful spirit and picnic!
  5. The Poky Little Puppy – Hannah enjoys counting the puppies as the others search for one little puppy who’s always roaming around.

Were any of these books a favourite among your little ones?

Bible Heroes – Gideon, Joshua and David

Bible Heroes Activities - Stories of Gideon and Joshua.

The Bible is full of action-packed stories where God used yielding, ordinary people to do the unthinkable, extraordinary works.  We see three Bible heroes back-to-back in the Old Testament – Joshua (Joshua 5:13–6:20), Gideon (Judges 6–8) and David (1 Samuel 17:1-50).

As the Bible stories were told consecutively over three weeks, we recycled some of the “props” used.  Here’s an outline of what we did:

Joshua and the battle of Jericho

We built the tower of Jericho using plastic blocks, and rolled paper into horns.  After reading the story, we sang the song, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” and marched around our tower while blowing our horns and shouting, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” (I asked Hannah what the Israelites might have shouted, and she replied those praises.)

Gideon

It was amazing to read how Gideon and his men won the battle without lifting a sword.  Gideon had his men blow trumpets, light torches in empty jars that they smashed to confuse their enemies. Our torches was made with toilet paper rolls and orange construction paper for the “flames”.  We decorated our torches using Dot-A-Dot art markers.

As we read our story, we re-enact the scene by blowing our trumpets (borrowed from the story of David), and re-using the plastic blocks as jars this time.  Hannah enjoyed making the sounds of broken jars, “Smash!”, “Pish!”, and waving her torches from left to right.

Bible Heroes Activities - Stories of David.

David and Goliath

This was, by far, Hannah’s favorite story.  We made a sling shot out of aluminum foil (as it was easy to mold into shape, though it was rather flimsy) and a rubber band, and five smooth stones out of play dough.

To help Hannah have rough picture of Goliath’s height, I measured a long strip of Ikea’s Mala paper and laid it on the floor.  Have Hannah lie on the paper and drew her outline, then compared it to Goliath’s height.  Boy, he was really really tall!

Our songs of the week were “Only a boy named David” and “Little David play on your harp“. These two songs were new to both of us. They were introduced on Hubbard’s Cupboard.  I didn’t sing these songs in Sunday School while growing up, so I had no inkling how the songs went.  Thankfully, for the Internet, I managed to hear the songs and memorized the lyrics before I taught Hannah.

Additionally, throughout the three weeks, we always sang, “I’m in the Lord’s army“.  Hannah knows this song so well that she’ll sometimes randomly burst out singing while having bath, or when she’s playing on her own.  Haha!

Celebrating National Day – Singapore Flag, National Anthem and Pledge

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An outline of Singapore’s map and the pledge – taken from Today’s Newspaper.

The week leading to National Day was exciting as we learned about our country, Singapore. I wasn’t sure where to begin since there were so many things we could learn. Eventually, I narrowed down my scope to the following:

Calendar and Math

First, we marked on our calendar, August 9, 2013. I shared with Hannah that it would be Singapore’s birthday that day, and related how the entire nation would be celebrating with songs, performances and fireworks.

While studying the Singapore flag, we identified its colours and symbols. We counted the number of stars on the flag, and noticed how they form a beautiful pentagon (since stars are pentagrams).

I printed a template of the Singapore flag and had Hannah colour it. It wasn’t easy for her to keep to just one colour (that’s why you see streaks of blue and green on her flag). Then we made it into a flag.

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During our morning walks, we would go around the estate and count the number of Singapore flags. Hannah enjoyed spotting the flags at every corner!

Geography and Language

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Map of Singapore – taken from Today’s Newspaper

I came across another map of Singapore in the newspaper. This one showed the various estates in Singapore and was useful, as I showed Hannah where we lived, and where her cousins and grandparents lived.

We also learned the word, “Singapore” in Malay and Mandarin:

Singapura – in Malay

新加坡 (Xīn jiā pō) – in Mandarin

Art and Craft

During our play dough session, we re-created the symbols on the Singapore flag. We didn’t have white Play-Doh so we used whatever colours we had on hand.

National_Day_Playdough_HomeschoolCrafts

Music

We learned the National Pledge by listening and singing along to, “We are Singapore”, a classic National Day Parade theme song. Additionally, we watched a 2011 National Day Parade segment where participants were taking the Pledge and singing to the National Anthem, “Majulah Singapura”.

 

 

Reading

I managed to find a children’s book from the library that illustrates some of Singapore’s attractions and our national icon, the Merlion. While the book, “Sasha visits Singapore” is a fairly old publication (printed in 2006), it served a useful resource to us. We discussed what the Merlion was (mythical creature, head of a lion and body of a fish) as Hannah tried to spot the Merlion in the book. Interestingly, she also spotted the icon on the newly minted one dollar coin.

 

Highlight of the Week

The highlight of the week must definitely be the live fireworks display we managed to catch at our friend’s place. Hannah stood in awe as she viewed the spectacular fireworks. It was awesome! All in all, I gathered that Hannah enjoyed this entire week. I caught her reciting parts of the Pledge and saying “Majulah!” every now and then.

Oh before you go, enjoy this lovely fireworks display which I found on YouTube. Have a fantastic week!

Classical music and opera appreciation

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Our default radio station at home is Symphony 92.4FM. So inevitably, Hannah’s exposed to classical music right from the start. There are many school of thoughts that support the benefits of children listening to classical music, and equating to a brighter child. This is definitely not our reason for introducing Hannah to classical music. It’s simply to appreciate good music like how my husband and I have come to love. Also, I’d rather see Hannah dance to a classical piece than some one hit wonder.

Recently, Hannah was interested in the pictures of people playing instruments and the opera. She came across them while browsing Daddy’s magazine.

So one of our activity was to cut up the pictures that interest her, and I introduced the instruments to her. We borrowed books and DVDs from the library. Two of Hannah’s favourite are “The Animal Orchestra” (a Little Golden Book Classic) and “Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin” by Lloyd Moss. She learnt most of the instruments from these two books. Plus, Hannah picked up terms like “nonet”and “solo”. I was learning along with her too!

If you have older kids, you should check out Happily Occupied Homebodies post on music appreciation. It’s wonderful!

Music Appreciation for Kids.

Let’s make music!

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Hannah loves music and hums along to some of her Sunday school songs. On days when I’m unable to prepare lesson materials, we’ll just make music.

She has a xylophone and tambourine. We DIY the maracas (using toilet roll and beans), and the drums are plain metal plates or plastic basins taken from the kitchen. We’ll form a duo and sing along to whatever song she wants.

This easy-to-prepare activity is perfect for in-between major activities; before her bath or meals.

At 22 months, Hannah requests for her hat before her drumming session.
Hannah’s must-have before drumming: her hat!

Left, right, left and right

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The footwork diagrams for ballroom dancing gave me an idea to help Hannah learn left and right.

Using an empty cereal box, I traced Hannah’s left and right shoes.  After which, I labelled the left and right in three languages (English, Mandarin and Malay).  The footprints led to a platform with the word, “Bounce!”.  Hannah was learning to bounce at around 19-20 months so that gave her some incentive to walk on the footprints.

To further enrich learning, I taught her the nursery rhyme, “Goosey, Goosey Gander” where a sentence in the lyrics mentions a left leg.  So whenever I said “left leg”, Hannah would lift her left leg.

While my husband found the nursery rhyme inappropriate for a child, I thought we shouldn’t read too much into the lyrics.  Moreover, I was taught this rhyme in kindergarten, and I grew up fine 🙂

Here are the lyrics:

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.

Making music!

We made a ukulele with an empty tissue box, rubber bands and a toilet paper roll. Hannah enjoyed it and even took out her xylophone as an accompanying instrument!

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