What We Do on a Rainy Day

It’s wet, wet, WET throughout this week (and more to come). Here are some things that keep us occupied while staying dry. 😉

Create a story box

Story boxes are a great tool to allow children be their own storyteller. They encourage creativity, imaginative play and literacy development. It can be a scene from your child’s favourite story book, a show, or anything they imagine!

Things needed: any empty boxes, paint, crepe paper, paint and any craft materials you find at home.

Story-box-play-scenes

Continue reading What We Do on a Rainy Day

Pirate World: Geography for Pre-k and Kindergarten

Ahoy, Mateys! Do you have a little pirate at home?

Hannah’s into being a pirate of late.  And I had intentions of teaching geography after reading Cristina’s (from “A Homeschool Mom”) Summer School Geography course. Eventually, I decided to merge both together!  Let’s take a look…

Pirate-themed world geography for Pre-k and Kindergarten

1. Dressing Like a Pirate

How can you be a pirate without looking like one?  We made a no-sew pirate eye-patch and hat. Her costume was made by her grandmother.

Pirate eye-patch materials:
Cardboard
Washi tape
Hole punch
Rubber bands

Instructions:
1. Measure and cut out the shape of an eye-patch using cardboard.
2. Decorate the eye-patch with washi tape.  We’ve used a Hello Kitty design that we got during our Taiwan trip.
3. Punch two holes on the cardboard after it has been “washified.
4. Measure enough rubber bands (linking them together) to fit comfortably around your child’s head.
5. Insert the rubber bands through the holes and secure it.

Pirate hat materials:
1/2 sheet of newspaper
Cellophane tape (optional)

Instructions:
1. Fold newspaper in half.
2. Fold the sides to make a triangle.
3. Fold the bottom flap up.
4. Turn over to fold the other bottom flap up.
P/s: You may refer to DLTK’s website for visuals.  My newspaper was much smaller in size (TODAY newspaper) so I had done some adjustments.

2. Charting the Course

There are so many countries to cover! Where should we start?

Start with the basics: I began introducing the 7 continents (Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica) and 4 oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian).

Choosing neigbouring countries: We explored the neighbouring countries first, since Hannah was already familiar with the names of countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Choosing countries of significance to the child: We also explored countries that we’ve visited, like Taiwan. We revisited the prominent sights of the country with the photos we’ve taken.

Narrow your scope: Decide what to teach and share.  There are many things to learn from just one country: population, weather, food, people, language, animals, culture, famous sights, flags etc. For us, we covered the flag, capital, language, weather, and one element the country’s famous for (be it food, sport or culture).

3. Gathering the Resources

You could use videos, books, cooking the local delicacies, anything you could think of to enhance the learning adventure.

Navigating with a world map: We used our world map that I’ve pasted on our living room wall to mark our voyage.

Flags of the world: A friend had given us a book of the flags of the world in Mandarin.  It was an essential source of reference as we studied the flags, capital, language.

Internet for weather forecast: We studied the season (if it has 4 seasons) and the weather (if it was usually rainy or dry).

What the country is famous for: For instance, we learned that jeepneys are a popular means of transportation in Philippines.  That’s something we don’t get to see in Singapore.  We also learned that the flamenco is a famous traditional Spanish music and dance.  We watched this famous dance over on Youtube.

4. Expanding the Theme

Of course, after sailing the seven seas, you may want to expand the theme to include other activities such as Math, History and Language for your little pirate.  We watched LeapFrog’s DVD, “Numbers Ahoy!” as our family entertainment in the evenings.  You could refer to the following resources for more ideas:

LeapFrog DVD Preview : Numbers Ahoy!

PBS Kids: Hungry Pirates Game

National Geographic Kids: Pirate History, Information, Games etc.

Scholastic’s Pirate-themed Math Activities

Teachers.net’s Pirate-themed Lesson Plans

Alrighty, Mateys. I hope you’ll join us as we learn the world with our little pirate and crew. Yo Ho Ho! 🙂

 

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Harold and the Purple Crayon

Cover of "Harold and the Purple Crayon"

“Harold and the purple crayon” is one of those books that was given a “second chance”.  When Hannah was younger, I borrowed this book but she didn’t quite take a fancy to it.  Now at three, Harold is one of Hannah’s favourite story character.  She enjoys listening to how Harold drew a landscape full of wonder and excitement.  This became one of her nightly reads.  I like the story too, especially the ending when Harold finally drops off to sleep in his bed by the moonlight.

Activity: creating our fictional character

We imagined how we would look like if we were in a story, like Harold.  With some help, Hannah created her very own story character.  She wanted to wear pyjamas printed with a teddy bear, a pink tutu, and an orange beanie to complete her look.  It sure seems like a fashion disaster, but we did have lots of fun doodling! Haha!

Activity to accompany the story, "Harold and the purple crayon"

If you enjoyed this book as much as we did, remember to check out “The Carrot Seed” where Crockett Johnson is the illustrator too.  Read about our activities and lessons from the Carrot Seed here.

Picture This: National Museum of Singapore

National Museum of Singapore: Masak Masak

It’s Children’s Season again!  Every June holidays, we look forward to the various children’s programmes and exhibitions in Singapore.  Most of the programmes are free.  Although, as homeschoolers, our schedule stays pretty much the same, it’s always welcoming to have more places to enjoy.  The only worry was the crowd!  Last week, we headed down to the National Museum of Singapore for some fun.

National Museum of Singapore: Masak Masak

The exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore entitled “Masak Masak” (meaning cooking in Malay; also refers to kids’ play in local terms) features games of yesteryear. It was reminisce for me as those were the games I grew up with.

National Museum of Singapore: Children's Season

There were three levels of fun for the children; including the newly opened Play@NMS (level 3).  This is a dedicated area for young children to explore interactive exhibits and encourage creativity through crafts and play.  I like that there were activities catered for both young and older children.

At the end of the day, I asked Hannah the activities she fondly remembers.  Without hesistation, she highlighted the ball game (I had much trouble getting her to move on from there.) and the cooking area located at Play@NMS.  She had lots of fun frying her Laksa and Roti Prata (local food delights) with the other children.

National Museum of Singapore: Play at NMS

Masak Masak ends on 3 August 2014.  Opens from 10am to 6pm.  Admission is free.

National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897

 

Linking up with Mama J of “Mum in the Making”:

Math Books for Preschoolers: Counting and Comparison

Math books for preschoolers that teaches counting and comparison

I’ve always been a little afraid of Math, possibly because I struggled with the subject as a kid.  As I embark on homeschooling, I knew this is one area of weakness I have to come face-to-face with.  One of the ways to get Hannah thinking about numbers, without realising it’s a lesson – through books.

These two picture books have been great tools for teaching counting and more-few comparison:

"Apples up on top" by Dr. Seuss

1) Ten Apples up on Top by Dr. Seuss

As we read the book, I’d stop to ask Hannah questions like:

  1. the number of apples on each animal’s head;
  2. compare who had the most apples and who had the fewest.

We also had fun imagining apples on our heads!  Hannah would throw one of her “apples” to me and I’d ask her how many apples had she left.

This was my morning surprise for Hannah: she had to close her eyes and leaned against the wall, before opening her eyes with “apples” on her head.

Ten Apples Up On Top Activity: apples on our heads

More “Apples up on Top” activities:

 

2) Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson

It hasn’t been easy searching for books that count up to 20.  Most of the counting books stop at 10. Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 is one book that counts up to 20, then introduces in 30 to 100 (in tens).  This is one book we’ve been reading every single day of the week.

Our accompanying activities include:

  1. arranging the numbers from 0 to 20 in a number line;
  2. saying out loud the numbers in English and Mandarin (we also tried saying in Bahasa);
  3. sticking corresponding number of dot stickers to each number indicated on paper;
  4. identifying which is fewer/more among two numbers (I randomly chose two pieces of paper to compare, after we completed activity 3.)
  5. going over the numbers from 0 to 100; found at the back of the book.

Math Books for Preschoolers: Chicka Chicka 1,2,3

More “Chicka Chicka 1,2,3” activities:

 

If you know of any other Math books that teaches little ones to count up to 20 or more, please share the titles with me. 🙂

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?

Letter of the Week: N is for….

The “Letter of the Week” theme is very popular among preschoolers (do a google and you’ll find out how many parents are doing this!)  I don’t blog every “Letter of the Week” activities, just those that we had a lot of fun (and mess) creating.

Letter N Crafts

Letter of the week - N theme

N is for Newspaper

We searched in the newspaper for words that begin with the letter “N” and we would stick them on our letter “N” poster.

N is for Nest

Our nest looks more like peas and spaghetti! LOL!  You try making your little nest using:

  1. Yarn
  2. Pom-poms
  3. Adhesive felt
  4. Colored glue pens
  5. White glue
  6. Ikea’s Mala paper or any thick paper

Hannah slopped glue all over the paper, and pasted the yarn.  This is the “nest”.  To make the chicks, I cut pom-poms in half and pasted them onto our nest.  I used adhesive felt to make their little beaks.  Then dot some colored glue for their eyes.  Leave them to dry.

Because the little girl used a whole LOT of glue, it took some time to dry.  While waiting, she decided to use water color to paint the background.  Final product? A red mama bird and her green chicks!

N is for Nativity

Instead of the manger, we made the angel who announced to the shepherds that Christ was born.  We used shapes to create the angel – 2 ovals, 1 circle and 1 triangle (a great way to review shapes).  Using florescent colored glue pens, I showed Hannah how to create stars.  We ended up with colored glue all over the table, hands, clothes and all…

N is for Nightingale

Hannah enjoyed reading “The Emperor and the Nightingale” (Usborne First Reading edition).  The story was simple for her to follow along and she was able to mimic the various animals mentioned in the story e.g. the frog, the cow and the golden mechanical nightingale.

We also learned about Florence Nightingale through the Popcorn: History Corner series.  Written by Kay Barnham, it’s an easy reading for little children to learn about the people in history.  There’s even a page that teaches children how to make a sling.

N is for Nightingale

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!

The Runaway Bunny

Cover of "The Runaway Bunny"
Cover of The Runaway Bunny

Last week, we covered “The Runaway Bunny”, one of the book recommendations in “Before FIAR”.  I’ve read wonderful reviews about this book was excited to get started.  The story talks about a bunny that tries to run away from his mother and the great lengths his mother goes to find her baby.  A heartwarming story that depicts a mother’s love for her child.

Accompanying Activities
As we read the story, we admired the beautiful illustrations that alternate between black and white and colored.  We observed that the black and white images were of the bunny leaving his mother, while the colored showed his mother having found him.  Hannah looked at the colored pages longer and would point out the little details like the bunny’s mother doing a tight-rope, the fishing rod the mother rabbit used, and the bunny’s ears which became his sail.  Hannah particularly loved the circus scene, and imagined herself as a tight-rope walker – in her PJs and with her little umbrella.

For our other activities, we used “The Runaway Bunny” printables from Homeschool Creations (awesome site!).

Runaway_Bunny_HomeschoolCrafts

  1. Help Bunny Find his Carrot Maze
    As you can see above, it took some trial and error before Hannah was able to help the bunny find his carrot.  It would have been better if we’d used a pencil to trace.
  2. Label the Bunny
    I don’t have a laminating machine and I was too lazy to use contact paper to wrap it.  So I used small post-it pads to label the parts of the bunny.  Hannah wasn’t really into this activity.  She only did the ears and tail.
  3. Label the Pictures
    This is another labeling activity that didn’t seem to catch Hannah’s attention.  I wrote the words on the post-it pads and Hannah was suppose to stick to the correct label.  But it didn’t catch her attention.  I lost her after the second word, “tree”. 😦
  4. Peg the First Letter of the Name
    This was by far her favorite! It must be the pegs.  Haha~  I said out loud each name and Hannah was to peg against the first letter.  E.g. Peg “F” for “Fish”.  She fumbled when it came to “Stream” so I emphasized the “S” sound and had her try again. The little girl beamed with pride when she got them right.

Runaway_Bunny_Pegs_HomeschoolCrafts

Conclusion
I have mixed feelings towards this book.  Aside from the beautiful illustrations and all, I somehow sense that Hannah wasn’t really into this story.  Unlike the other stories that we’ve read, she was more focused on the graphics than on the story.

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three_Billy_Goats_Gruff_HomeschoolCrafts

G is for goat.  Our letter of the week theme continues with the letter “G”.  And one of our readings, includes Paul Galdone’s,  “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”.  This is a charming rendition of a classic fairy tale – simple for a preschooler to understand and the illustrations are beautiful.

After reading the story aloud, we tried to create the “trip trap” sounds that the Gruffs made, by hitting two plastic cups on the table. Then we “trip trap” along as we re-read the story.

Hannah enjoyed the story very much and asked to read it over and over again.  After the third or fourth consecutive reading (phew~), we built a bridge out of blocks and used our friendly Mr. Spiderman as the troll while our three plastic farm goats became the Gruffs.  I asked Hannah to be the voice  of the goats while I became the evil Troll, but our little girl volunteered to be the evil troll instead. Haha!  It was adorable watching Hannah speak in her low small voice, trying to imitate the troll.

For the activity sheets, I downloaded a free Three Billy Goats Gruff Pack from 3dinosaurs.com.  I didn’t print the entire activity pack; just the patterns and spotting the difference.

Besides that we learned:

  1. difference in size:”little”, “medium” and “large”;
  2. difference in volume: “small”, “medium”, “loud”;
  3. difference in age: “youngest”, “middle” and “eldest”; and
  4. skip-counting in 3’s.

It was a fun-filled week for the both of us!  Now, who’s that I hear trip-trapping…?