Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers


Mark Van Doren, a poet and writer once said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.

Teachers play such an important role in our children’s lives.  Whether we homeschool our children or not, we inevitably have teachers some point in time.

For Hannah, these are the inspiring teachers in Sunday School, in swimming and dance classes.  They make classes enjoyable and learning fun.

As we celebrated Teacher’s Day on 2 September in Singapore, we kept our gift simple and doable by the child.  After all, it’s the child’s appreciation to her teacher right? Continue reading Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers


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”.


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!

Teachers’ Day 2015: “Tea-riffic Teacher” Tea Lights

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: "Tea-rriffic teacher" tea lights

Happy Teachers’ Day!

We celebrate Teachers’ Day in Singapore today.  These gifts were made for Hannah’s Sunday School teachers.

I was inspired (with the help of Pinterest of course!) to DIY tea lights with washi tape.

Not only do they look adorable, they are absolutely easy to make! Hannah was able to make these on her own.

To make washi tape tea lights, you’ll only need tea lights and colourful washi tapes!

My tea lights were GLIMMA unscented tea lights from Ikea, and the washi tapes from Daiso.

Wrap the washi tape around the tea lights and you’re done!

Teachers Day Gift: Washi Tape Tea Lights

To complete the packaging, I printed the cute gift tags from Rowdy in Room 300.  Then twirled two coloured strings together to make somewhat like a baker’s twine.  The strings could be purchased from Daiso.

I enjoyed making these washi tea lights with Hannah.  We chatted while crafting, and I got to understand my girl a little better through observing the way she gingerly wrap the tea lights, how she insists which pattern should pair up, and who should get which set of tea lights.

And to all homeschool parents in Singapore, give yourself a pat on the back! Happy Teacher’s Day!

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:


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!

Geography for Kids: Big City Explorer

Big City Explorer Book

Over the past weeks, we “travelled” the world from the comfort of our home.  The children caught the viral fever and had to stay home for nearly three weeks.  Books such as the “Big City Explorer” (by Maggie Li) were great company during those miserable days.

Similar to “Walk This World” (our review here), you’ll find the country’s flag, local attractions, native animals in “Big City Explorer”.  However, this book is written in an informative manner rather than a story.  Think Lonely Planet guide – kids’ edition.

Inside of Big City Explorer Book

I was pleasantly surprised to find Singapore in the book! Being just a dot on the map, and with no natural resources, it’s no wonder we’re usually excluded. I’m glad that “Big City Explorer” included Singapore so young readers will come to realise that this little island is not somewhere in China, or a state in Malaysia.  I’ve heard such assumptions from people I meet during my backpacking days.

What’s cool about this book is that it includes a compass to help readers navigate their way (from one country to another).  Good opportunity to learn how to use the compass!

Keen to get your preschooler to learn about the world?  Here’s what we did to make our learning a bit more fun.