Review: Chinatown Trail, Singapore

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This is a backdated post of our Chinatown Trail in August – how we spent National Day 2017 before returning home to watch the evening’s National Day Parade.

Before embarking the heritage trail, you might find it useful to download the Chinatown Trail Booklet or Map from National Heritage Board. There’s a mobile application to download as well.

The Chinatown Trail Booklet includes the map and nuggets of information about each historical site. The estimated trail distance is 2.5km. Doable when bringing young children. Letting the kids scoot certainly help!

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We took a train to Outram Park. Starting from Bukit Pasoh Road, we walked through Kreta Ayer, settled lunch at Maxwell Food Centre before finishing our trail at Tanjong Pagar.

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The children got to see the different architectural style of Chinatown’s shophouses; how these styles vary because of changing economy and socio-political circumstances.  A wonderful chance to sing 童谣 (“Tong Yao”) while walking along the five-foot way!

The history of these pre-war buildings come alive as we learn how they were used during World War II. For instance, the Chin Kang Huay Kuan was used by the Overseas Chinese General Mobilisation Council to help the British in supplying labourers and volunteers for the defence of Singapore during the war.

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We discovered how early immigrants contributed to early Singapore. Like Tong Ah Eating House (above) which occupied this triangular plot for over 70 years. Started in 1939, the great-grandfather of Mr Tang Chew Fue who originated from Fuzhou, China started his coffee shop here.

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The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple was built in 1925 by Nattukkottai Chettiars, a noted money lending community from Tamil Nadu. The temple was given the name Layan Sithi as it was originally located at the old Sepoy Lines where Indian soldiers , known as Sepoys, used to be housed.

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Keen to start walking? We found these things came in handy:

  • Umbrellas/raincoats (not much shelter to hide from occasional showers)
  • Sunblock and hats
  • Water
  • Snacks (all the walking can get the kids really hungry!)
  • Heritage Trail Booklet

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Lastly, we ended the Chinatown Heritage Trail at URA Centre. It was a treat for the children as they found pianos to play! As part of the Play It Forward movement,  pianos are placed in open spaces in various parts of Singapore for anyone to tickle the ivories. Sweet!

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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

Chinese New Year Craft: Dot-A-Dot Cherry Blossoms

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Goodbye Christmas, hello Chinese New Year!

Back in November, shops have already started selling Chinese New Year decorations and goodies. It was oh so, confusing with Christmas and Chinese New Year marked so close each other.

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching (another 10 days?!), it’s time to get into the festive mood and start our preparations.

Here’s a fuss-free way to DIY your house and show off your kids’ craft to your visitors (even if your kid isn’t crafty). Continue reading Chinese New Year Craft: Dot-A-Dot Cherry Blossoms

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.

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Continue reading What We Do on a Rainy Day

A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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I usually don’t review non-homeschool or kid-related product, but New China Opticians, Singapore really made a difference.  Here’s why.

As a a SAHM with 2 young children (without help), I’m unable to do things like getting a new pair of glasses, facial or visiting the dentist very often.

However, after several chewing incidents and ripping my spectacles off my face (thanks to Elijah), my frame started to give way. Unable to park the children with their grandparents, I had no choice but to lug the children to the optician.

I dread that knowing they’ll fiddle with mirrors and will want to try on shades. A salesperson will then start to “chase” them around the shop, telling them not to break anything or touch anything.  Just too much pressure on me! Continue reading A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

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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

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

Heritage Fest 2016

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A belated May blog post on Heritage Fest 2016, Singapore.

Running its 13th year, Singapore HeritageFest brings to the public the diverse cultural heritage of this little city. From food trails to music recitals to experiencing Singapore’s last living kampong; Pulau Ubin. There’s something for everyone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s our first year participating in Heritage Fest. We managed to catch two programmes:

Aliwal Arts Centre Open House

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Through the workshops, we learned various traditional art forms, such as the Malay dance by DIAN dancers and Chinese opera by Nam Hwa Opera.

Hannah liked the pretty DIAN dancers so much that she wanted to take a picture with them.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Hannah is a big fan of Chinese opera. She was excited to watch the opera up close!

We found out how opera singers use gestures, facial expressions and their props to express the emotions of the characters portrayed.

Here’s one opera-related activity you could do with your little one. Be sure to read these two (here, here) wonderful books on Chinese opera too!

Romance, Hope and Dreams @ Velocity, Novena Square

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Like most little girls, Hannah loves weddings! Ask her about the weddings she attended, and she’ll rattle off the names of the couple, and colour of the evening gowns those brides wore.

“Romance, Hope and Dreams” was the perfect exhibition for her to learn about the meanings of traditional wedding practices and beliefs of different ethnic communities.

Every traditional wedding ceremony had been modelled with clay.  See how intricate they are? They remind me of Alexandra Bruel’s clay pop art. Amazing.

Singapore HeritageFest happens from April to May every year. Be sure to check out www.heritagefest.sg for their latest happenings.

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

Happy Mother's Day 2016

Every year, on Mother’s Day, we thank our mothers for their selflessness and love. Although, we mothers, often question our choices and how we fall short of the idealistic image of a perfect mom.

Just a couple of days ago, a friend and I lamented about the weariness of raising a family.  We wondered why we chose to leave our careers and raise children who drive us insane.  There are times when we are envious of yummy mummies who get to dress up, wear high heels and still have time to head to the gym while we, in sweat-soaked tees, chase after monkeys children in our Mary Janes.

It is an intense period of hard work: physically, mentally and emotionally.  Often sleep deprived, we continue to entertain the little people in chirpy voices, singing the same song every time they say: “Sing again, Mama! We want to hear it.” and reading the same story until we’re able to rattle off every sentence without looking at the page.

On top of that, we handle “Hulk” moments a.k.a. spontaneous meltdowns and skilful negotiations.

Throw in cleaning, washing, cooking and picking up Lego pieces.

All these at an average of 12 hours a day. Every day.

Clearly, this isn’t going to end anytime soon.  So what’s a mother to do?

God reminds me that my children are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)

Look past the “Hulk” moments, the fidgeting as if they had ants in their pants, and past the “you can’t catch me…” even though you specifically told them to stop…

Those little hands and legs….their heart….them.

They are God’s masterpieces.

Fearfully and wonderfully made
Source: Darlene Schacht (Time-warp Wife)

It is extremely difficult to keep thinking the good when faced with a terrible, no good, very bad day.  It’s almost impossible to think that your child is God’s masterpiece when he/she is screaming right in your face.

The good news is, we aren’t to do everything on our own.  God promises us to be the source of help. (Psalms 73:26)  God is faithful. He will never give us more than what we can bear. (1 Cor 10:13)

God is the strength of my heart
Source: be-the-change via model me girl

As for my friend and I, we concluded we would make the very same choices, when given a second chance.

So why bother having such a conversation when the choice remains clear?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps, it’s just one of those things we had to talk it out of our system. 🙂

To you, weary mom who ask yourself the same question and yet raise your children anyway, Happy Mother’s Day!

Not forgetting you, yummy mummy, Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day 2016

 

ABC Jesus Loves Me (ABCJLM) Curriculum Review

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I’m terribly late with this curriculum review. But time has only heightened my appreciation for Heidi Franz’s “ABC Jesus Loves Me” (ABCJLM) curricula.

We’ve used all four of ABCJLM’s curricula: 2-year to 5-year. Here’s how we began:

During our first year of homeschooling (read here), I wasn’t sure if things would work out.  Hannah was then barely two.  All I knew was, I wanted a Bible-centered curriculum. And it has to be affordable.

So clueless me googled “homeschool curriculum for preschool”, and read many blogs and homeschool forums.  Then I cried.

Some curricula were terribly expensive (shipping fee not factored in)! Others were too overwhelming. How was I to do my laundry, cook, mop the floor…. I just wasn’t sure if I could complete all the things in the checklist within a week.

I prayed and prayed. There’s a tug in my heart to embark this journey.  But how Lord?

Finally, I landed on “ABC Jesus Loves Me” website.  It’s bible-centered. Check! The lessons seem doable. Check! It’s comprehensive. Check! It’s FREE!! Hallelujah!

Some friends whom I spoke to were skeptical about the quality of a free curriculum.  So I did more research. Having read many good reviews about the curriculum, I held my breath and took the plunge.

Four years on, I’m glad I took the first step.

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“ABC Jesus Loves Me” curriculum offers more than just academic development.  It teaches about gross and fine motor skills.

I especially like that it incorporates tips on basic manners, self-care and information a child ought to know. Being a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure what to teach and when without overwhelming my child. So having weekly objectives were definitely welcomed!

Following a weekly objective helped pace our learning.  I didn’t have to follow a daily lesson plan or checklist rigidly. The activities and crafts were adequate.

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Of course, I’m very, absolutely grateful that Heidi offers ALL lesson plans to homeschool families for free.

While you could have the lesson plans and workbooks printed for you,  I had several concerns.  Firstly, I wasn’t sure if homeschooling works out for us.  Secondly, the international shipping fee was is a BIG concern for me.  The currency exchange rate is another major factor.  USD$60 = nearly SGD$90 (excluding shipping fee).

Without a doubt, having everything printed allows me to have more sleep. 🙂  I might consider this option when teaching Elijah.

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Early this year, Heidi introduced the 1-year curriculum. We’re several weeks into the curriculum for Elijah.  So far so good!  Elijah has picked up basic sign-language.  His learning pace is vastly different from Hannah’s.  This new curriculum certainly provides me with much needed tips and ideas.

I find it difficult to teach Hannah and occupy Elijah at the same time.  I’ve tried setting up independent activities for Elijah but he doesn’t play on his own for long.  He’s more interested in his sister’s work!

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Having started on the 1-year curriculum, I find that I’m able to teach both children.  Hannah enjoys helping her brother in his work.  And she gets what she enjoys: more “school” time with me.

I still struggle to carve out time to prepare activities, borrow books and print activity sheets for both children.  Nowadays, I’m so drained by evening that I end up in bed with the kids. If you have any tips or suggestion on how to better manage time, please drop me a line.  Suggestions very welcomed!

Ok, I’ve digressed…

All in all, if you’re looking for a flexible, Bible-centered, quality preschool curricula, then check out ABC Jesus Loves Me.

Happy homeschooling!