Review: Yukon Sled Dog and Elizabeth’s Constellation Quilt

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Though we’ve been home for over 2 months, a piece of our heart is in New Zealand. And so, this week’s book review are of the things that remind us of the beautiful country. Continue reading Review: Yukon Sled Dog and Elizabeth’s Constellation Quilt

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Read Aloud Books by Karen Kingsbury: Father-Daughter / Mother-Son Bond

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Does your little girl look to her Daddy as if he’s her superhero? Does your little boy make footprints in your heart?

Written by Karen Kingsbury, this set of books make a lovely read for your little boy and girl. I love the fact that there’s one for little boys and their mother, and another for little girls and their father. It is especially useful for us! Continue reading Read Aloud Books by Karen Kingsbury: Father-Daughter / Mother-Son Bond

Power of Belief: Books That Make A Difference

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Hello 2016!  Happy New Year to you!

A new year brings fresh beginnings.  At home, I’m revisiting my goals and vision for the family.  One of which is to raise my children as history makers. And I often look to books as a source of inspiration.

Let’s kickstart 2016 with six fantastic books that teaches children to believe in themselves and their actions make a difference.

894110The Firekeeper’s Son
by Linda Sue Park

Set in Korea in the early 1800s, Sang-hee, the son of a village firekeeper has to make a tough decision: should he lit the fire as instructed or satisfy his desire to see soldiers in action?

Hannah relates to this story because very often, she too, is caught between wanting to do what is right and what she wants.  This story highlights why doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost everything else.

15818591Red Kite, Blue Kite
by Ji-li Jiang

A historical fiction set in the time of the Cultural Revolution in China. Tai Shan’s father was sent away. Their only mean of communication was by flying their kites.

I love the bond between father and son, and how Tai Shan waits in anticipation for his father to return.

This tale of hope will resonate with young readers who have to deal with separation from a loved one.

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Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery
by Jeanette Winter

This inspirational picture book shares the story of two brave children who weren’t afraid to speak out against unfair practices in their society.

It’s definitely a conversation starter with our young ones, and their courage and tenacity serves an inspiration for all us to learn from!

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Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!
by Jonah Winter

Great artists don’t usually paint things that people agree with.  In fact, everyone hated Picasso’s paintings at that time!

Do your kids feel rejected when others label their work as “ugly”?  Have them read this book!

Read our past review here.

13538696The Forgiveness Garden
by Lauren Thompson

Inspired by the original Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, this story shares with readers how hate “eats” a person inside out and violence isn’t the way to resolve a conflict.

I’m certain this story has left a deep impression on Hannah because she still mentions the story from time to time.

15938465Fish for Jimmy
by Katie Yamasaki

Another historical fiction, this story takes place during the wake of the 1941 Pearl Harbour bombing.

Taro, Jimmy and his mother were sent to a Japanese internment camp. Jimmy soon becomes homesick and refuses to eat.

Having promised his father to take care of his younger brother, Taro slips out of camp, risking getting caught. His concern over the family becomes far greater than himself.

P/s: All books can be borrowed from public libraries in Singapore.

There are many books of characters who learn to believe in themselves and what they do have ripple effects that touches those surrounding them.

Did we miss your favourite?  Let me know which book you think should be added.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

Cover of Hot, Hot, Roti for Dada-ji

When my husband chanced across the book, “Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji“, he knew Hannah would enjoy reading this.  She was an absolute fan of Roti Prata!  

Roti Prata is a fried flour-based pancake that’s cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with curry.

More than the “roti” our family enjoys having on a weekend, we found the relationship between Aneel and his grandfather endearing.

Just as Aneel enjoys hearing his grandfather talk about his childhood days in India, Hannah takes delight in hearing her grandparents share their childhood memories.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji” became Hannah’s nightly reading over the weeks.  She even tried to do a headstand like Dada-ji!

There’s a teacher’s guide for the story and a Roti recipe to follow.  But we only did what we knew best….

eat ROTI!

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji: Our Roti

Pixar’s “Lava” Inspired Unit Study: Volcanoes and Structure of the Earth

Source: Pixar Wiki

Lava” is Pixar’s latest short film; accompanying the release of “Inside Out”.  My Facebook page was flooded with positive comments about both films when “Inside Out” was released in Singapore on 27 August. It was certainly very different from the other mainstream animation. No villains, no good vs. evil fight scenes, no charming prince rescuing damsel in distress.

Hmmm…it piqued my curiosity and so I decided to check this movie out together with Hannah. Our inaugural movie date!

All in all, we definitely enjoyed both films.  The movie left us teary-eyed as we left the cinema. My 4-year old related more so to the two singing volcanoes than Riley and her adorable emotion characters.

More than just an emotional roller-coaster, we found a great topic to study on – Volcanoes!

Layers of the Earth

To start off, we needed to understand what lies beneath the Earth. These free printable were a great resource for us, particularly the one by Free Montessori.

Layers of the Earth – Montessori Mom
Layers of the Earth Nomenclature Cards – Helpful Garden
Layers of the Earth Cards – Free Montessori 

You could also explain the layers of the earth by slicing a cherry or peach in half.

  • Skin as Earth’s crust – outer-most layer that surround the Earth like a shell.  It is the thinest among the three main layers.
  • Meat as Earth’s mantle – second layer; Earth’s thickest layer.
  • Pit as Earth’s core – innermost layer; a ball of hot solid metal.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52298892@N00/2321321969 via PhotoPin

Marcia’s Science Teaching Ideas has great ideas on teaching plate tectonics.  We made a foldable with “Earth’s Layers Foldable”.

Volcanoes

Source: Pixar Wiki

The following websites came in handy for our unit study:
3 Main Types of Volcano – ZME Science 
The Real Geology Behind Pixar’s Short Film Lava
Kīlauea – Wikipedia
Volcano Facts – DK Find Out

 

We read Scholastic’s Discover More Readers: Volcanoes which provides succinct information and vivid pictures of volcanoes.

Scholastic Discover More: Volcanoes

A fellow homeschool mom shared with us a wonderful Science curriculum, “Mystery Science”.  I used their videos and activities (e.g. mark out the Ring of Fire on the map) to discuss questions such as, “Could a volcano pop up in your background?” and “Why do some volcanoes explode?”.

They are offering a FREE year subscription for a limited time. Subscribe and try out their lessons!

Pixar's Lava Inspired Unit Study: Volcanoes

We tried our hands creating a volcano based on Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood’s Easy to Make a Volcano Erupt Experiment.

I LOVE the fact that we can create a volcano within minutes.  No need to wait for the papier-mâché to dry. Phew!

I was kind of upset with myself for forgetting to buy red food colouring but our Little Miss Sunshine, surprised me by showing me the purple food colouring we had in our kitchen.

“Don’t worry, Mama. We will use this!” she said cheerfully.  I’m glad she’s good at improvising. 🙂

It was great fun conducting the experiment repeatedly and seeing how the “magma” oozes out.

Finally, more printable to round up our lesson on volcanoes:

Volcano Activities – Enchanted Learning
Volcano Unit Study and Lap Book – Homeschool Share
Parts of Volcano – Teacher Vision
Volcano Mini Book – Crayola

We “lava” this unit study!

Have you done any film-inspired activities or unit study recently?

Pebble and Stone Painting

Love You When...

The haze is back… 😦  As we stay home, we’ve found an enjoyable activity to occupy our afternoon.

Our recent read, “Love You When…” by Linda Kranz has inspired us to start pebble painting! Every page we flipped, we admired the beautifully painted rocks and its heartwarming message.

It’s hardly possible to collect pebbles in urban Singapore (those at hotel/mall fountains aren’t for picking!) so I’ve decided to buy a pack of pebbles from Far East Flora Garden Centre.

Then, Hannah painted the stones with Crayola Washable Kid’s Paint. Since it washes out easily, I can safely let her paint while doing housework.  If you want a glossy finish for your pebbles, try acrylic paint.

Pebble Stone Painting

Looking for more inspiration? Try browsing these pages:

Martha Stewart: Rock Crafts

Hodge Podge: 20 Reasons to Paint Rocks

British Museum: Painted Pebbles

HubPages: Painting on Stones is a Craft that Rocks!

Katy and the Big Snow: Learn Cardinal Directions and Compass Rose

Katy and the Big Snow

Have you had an encounter where you were led by the Spirit to do or say something?

I had this recent encounter with this book, Katy and the Big Snow!

Most days, I follow the curriculum, plan ahead and execute. But lately, I struggle to keep up with blogging, teaching and well, almost everything.  It feels like I’m no longer on top of things.  With Elijah’s frequent night waking,  I hardly could afford the energy to stay up late to plan my lessons or blog.

I had intended to teach cardinal directions and map reading, since Hannah enjoys searching out landmarks on a map. And wanted to get a good book that we could read along.

As I scanned the book list recommended by Five in Row (FIAR), my heart just told me to pick Katy and the Big Snow. I wasn’t sure why and with little time, I simply went ahead and borrowed the book from the library.

Judging from the book title, it certainly has something to do with snow. That was something we had learned the previous week, so I do a review of our previous lesson with the book.

But guess what? God had something better in store.  Amazingly, when I opened Katy and the Big Snow, there it was…map of Geopolis, compass rose, cardinal directions…EVERYTHING was as planned!  I could review our past lesson AND teach something new this week.  Isn’t God amazing?

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John  14:26

This verse immediately came to my mind when I reflected on things.  The Holy Spirit teaches us ALL things (even in homeschooling!) and He is our Counsellor, Helper, Comforter.  We had recently summed up our study on God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This certainly is when a bible lesson comes alive!

Of course, to those who came to this post wanting activities for Katy and the Big Snow, here they are:

Activities

Most activities were taken from Homeschool Share.  E.g. we did copy work, created a fictional character, measured things around the house in inches then convert them to centimetre, build a city and labelled a compass.

Then we put our map skills to the test using the Lakeside Campground Map found on Super Teacher Worksheets.

As part of independent reading, Hannah read “City Signs” by Zoran Milich. It’s simply photographs of signs that children could identify.

City Signs

And while we were out, we identified signs in our neighbourhood, and on buses and trains.

You could also refer to The Pennsylvania Center for the Book for lesson plans on Katy and the Big Snow.

Last Words

I’m not advocating that you close your eyes and do an “eeny meeny mint mo” with your lessons or anything!

I sincerely hope that by sharing my testimony, parents especially homeschooling moms are encouraged and reminded that we are not alone on this journey.

Our ever faithful God is with us rain or shine! Our struggles are real. It will not go away. However with each struggle, we WILL see his love and we WILL grow STRONGER.

Celebrate SG50: Singapore Book Collection for Preschoolers

National Day is fast approaching! We’re excited to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday.

To get things warmed up, we’ve been reading books by local authors.  Here are some of our favourites:

Wayang Girl

Samsui Girl and Wayang Girl by Ho Lee-Ling

While these books are typically meant for 6-9 year olds (i.e. less pictures, more text), Hannah enjoys hearing me read the stories as we follow a little girl named Amber as she learns about Singapore’s yesteryear. I think spunky little girls can relate very well to Amber’s character. 🙂

Playtime with Ye Ye
Playtime with Ye Ye by Pauline Loh

Ye Ye retells Singapore’s past to his grandson through pretend play. While reading the story, Hannah was already asking if we could build buildings and forts like what Ye Ye did.  This picture book will come in handy when sharing with little ones about Singapore’s early days.  There’s even a blog for this book!

Johnny Can Dream Book Cover
Johnny can Dream by Benita Fong

Being Peranakan (Straits Chinese), I’d love to share its rich tradition and culture with my children.  This book does just that without overwhelming the young reader.  Hannah picked up Peranakan words easily through this magical story. I could tell that Hannah enjoyed “Johnny Can Dream” very much as she recalled this story when we visited a Peranakan restaurant recently.

My First Book of Teochew Words Book Review
My First Book of Teochew Words by Koh Kuan Eng

We had previously reviewed “My First Book of Teochew Words” here.  I’d love to see more of such books!


A Boy Named Harry by Patrick Yee

This picture book about the childhood of our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, is an excellent platform for children (and adults too!) to learn about Mr Lee’s life and contributions.  This is the first book of a three-part series.


Sasha Visits Singapore by Shamini Flint

We’ve enjoyed all the “Sasha” books both in English and Mandarin!  We get to travel around Asia reading “Sasha in Asia” series and being local tourists with “Sasha in Singapore” series.  A great resource for preschool geography!

 
You Been to Ubin? and Monkey Business by students of the Raffles Ecological Literacy Programme

Thinking of venturing to Pulau Ubin or the Lower Peirce Trail? Then these books are a must-read.  The books talk about the flora and fauna in both places, and highlighted the human impact on the environment, and the importance of preserving the natural habitat for the animals. The teams distill the best of their experiences in the books.  You’d be sure to find a tip or two before your expeditions.

 

Update (31/10/15): All affiliate links on this page have been removed.

Preschool Geography: Japan

Preschool Geography: Japan

Konnichiwa! In this week’s geography lesson, we talked about Japan.

Firstly, we located Japan on the map, then its flag.  We read up books on the Japanese culture and from the book, “A Carp for Kimiko“, we found out why they hang carp-like windsocks.

Hannah enjoyed reading this book very much, especially the section where the author teaches young readers how to address family members in Japanese.
Eg. Mother is “Okaa san” and Father is “Otou san“.  Alternatively, you could refer to this site.

Following the instructions in Country Topics for Craft Projects: Japan” by Richard Tames, we made a Kokeshi doll out of cardboard and wrapping papers.

It is said that Kokeshi dolls originated in the early 19th century, from the Tohoku region of Northern Japan, an area well-known for its onsen (hot springs).  These dolls were sold to onsen visitors as souvenirs.

Doesn’t the Kokeshi doll look cute? Hannah tried to colour her doll’s cheeks red. It’s not ketchup stains LOL!

Have fun globetrotting with your kids!

Preschool Geography: Japan (Kokeshi Doll)

More sites:
National Geographic Kids
Japanese Crafts and Activities
Facts and Crafts: A to Z Kids Stuff

P/s: An update on the current situation at home. It’s difficult to keep up with blogging.  I’ve been sick over the weekend and the kids have just recovered from a long-drawn flu. Elijah’s waking up several times a night due to teething.  So, I’m really zonked out every day!

Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me

Picture taken from goodreads.com

When I became a mom, I really found it so difficult to find time to read.  I hardly borrow books for myself.  It’s always about the children. About two weeks ago, I decided I SHOULD find read books for ME.  This is my first book and I’m glad to have picked this up.

As the author, Kim Bearden shares her highs and lows throughout her teaching years, she inspires her readers to find joy and meaning in our lives.  This book isn’t just for teachers or educators.  Parents will come to enjoy this book as we are reminded to look to our children with renewed spirit.

I enjoy reading Kim’s “class notes” and “homework” at the end of every chapter.  “Class notes” summarises what each chapter discussed, while, “homework” allows the reader to put what was learned into action. So if you’re really short of time, you’ll still benefit from the book just by reading “class notes” and “homework”.

Here are my favourite quotes:

Tenacity

It is easy for all of us to become discouraged when we feel that we have nurtured a child who doesn’t respond to our efforts. But we must cling to the hope that our efforts have made a difference and that one day, that child will draw on the things that we have instilled within them.

Do you often grow weary after having episodes with your child?  It can get frustrating when your child apologises and then commits the same mistake again and again.  I have many of such days with Hannah.

Often the power struggle would leave me feeling exhausted and exasperated.  This led me to frequently wonder if I was really making a difference, and I felt unappreciated despite all that I do.

As I read Kim’s story about her daughter, I hope to believe that one day, the seeds I sowed in my little girl’s heart will take root and grow.

Crash Course - Kim Bearden

Love

As long as the greatest investment in your home is the love that you create and spread, you, my friend, have succeeded in my eyes.

Do you often get little voices in your head telling you that you’re not doing enough? Have you encountered moms (or dads) who  made you feel inadequate? I often feel guilty about not doing enough.  For instance, not attending the different co-op that we would like to attend…unable to spend as much one-to-one time with each child…(you get the picture). We need to release the guilt and stop trying to measure up with others.

When we focus on building a home with love, everything else is secondary.

Homework

  • Make a list of things you would love to hear your children say about you. Prioritise your time around the things that will yield the greatest return with your family.
  • Assess your involvement with your child’s life.  Are you there to support and guide them or are you doing everything for them?

Talent

We all have unique talents and gifts that we are meant to share with the world – we just have to be open to discovering them. You can have an impact on others that you might not have realised simply because you are choosing to focus on things that you think you can’t do instead of the things that you can do.  You have something to offer this world. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

As a parent, I hope to hear teachers compliment how well behaved my children are.  On the flip side, teachers would tell me how active Hannah is and that she doesn’t stay put for long. Sometimes I feel at loss upon hearing such remarks.  But I know she is made special.  I know she tries her best not to move in class but it takes every fibre of her being to sit still and not fidget.  It’s hard work on her part.

Rather than wishing she would be a model student sitting still, I try to focus on her gifts and talents; like her compassionate spirit.  She tells me that she hopes to have a magic wand so that she could help people recover from their illness.  Hannah is always looks out for babies and younger children in her Sunday School and co-op.  She gets stickers from her teacher for being helpful.  She likes to encourage the young children whenever they feel nervous attending Sunday School on their own.

Make a list of your child’s gifts to remind yourself of his strengths and celebrate them.  Make a list of your talents too, and reflect how we could use our gifts and talents daily.

Crash-Course-Sibling-Love-Homeschool-Crafts