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!

KidZania, Kuala Lumpur Review

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February’s really about travelling for our family.  This year, we spent a week in Malaysia.  Having heard so much about KidZania from friends and relatives, we made it a “must-go” in our travel list.

If your child enjoys role-playing, this is one place he/she will come to love.  Children get to perform jobs and earn KidZos (type of currency used in KidZania).

With enough KidZos, they get to spend on products at the KidZania Departmental Store or experience jobs that require them to pay (e.g. artist at painting school or chef at cooking school).

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Step inside and you’ll find yourself transported to a kid-size city: streets with lamp posts, various establishment, and the occasional fire truck blaring its siren on the road.

Now, before you travel to your nearest KidZania for some fun, here are some tips you might want to note:

  • Don’t waste time visiting if your child is below 4 years old.

Most tasks are suitable for kids aged four and above.  So it’s best to wait for your kids to be older.

  • Your child has to perform assignments on their own.

Parents aren’t allowed inside the establishment so the children have to interact with other children or KidZania employees on their own. However, you could watch them through glass panels.  So you might want to prep your children beforehand.

To start the ball rolling, your child could try working at CIMB Security Bank Vault, The News Straits Times Press, or PosLaju Courier Service.

The tasks are simple (deliver or collect items from designated establishment) and parents can follow along.  I found this a good way to ease Hannah into the new environment.

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  • KidZania KL is closed on Mondays.

Avoid weekend, public and school holidays too.  Too much time wasted queuing.

To find out when are the public and school holidays, check KidZania KL’s Calendar under “Opening Hours”.

  • Parents, bring your entertainment and refreshments along.

Each assignment takes at least 15 minutes.  It gets really boring waiting by the glass panels.  Make sure you bring your favourite read or something to occupy your time.

There’s a lounge area for parents to relax on the upper level.  You could also purchase food and drinks in KidZania.

  • Be prepared to spend the entire day at KidZania.

Forget shopping or high-tea at The Curve Shopping Mall. Having spend over four hours at KidZania, we still couldn’t try all the jobs.  It’s best to plan with your child the jobs he/she wants to try using KidZania’s facility map online.  Jobs like fire fighter, flight attendant and pilot are popular with kids so there may be a queue.

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  • Your child can perform the same job more than once.

While they track your activity by scanning your wrist tag, your child could perform the same job more than once.  Hannah enjoyed being a dentist so much that she ran back and asked if she could work again.  (Psst…it’s the most highly paid job too!)

  • Earn at least 120 KidZos if your chid wants to redeem a gift at KidZania’s Departmental Store. 

From what we saw at the departmental store, the cheapest item cost 120 KidZos.  So your child has to work a fair bit, given that he/she starts with 50 KidZos and the highest amount that can be earned is 12 KidZos.

  • + means you earn, – means you pay.

Before your child steps into an establishment, make sure they check “Economy” on the job post (see above picture).  A plus sign (+) means they’ll receive KidZos for completing a task while a negative means they have to pay before performing a task.

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So did Hannah enjoy herself?  Well, it took her some getting used to.  She didn’t like entering an establishment alone.  This was surprising to me because Hannah has quite an independent character so I thought it wouldn’t be an issue.

Eventually, She warmed up, and was running along, saying “Kai”(means “Hi” in KidZania) to people down the street.

I hope these eight tips will come in handy when you make your way to KidZania, Kuala Lumpur!

 

 

Why We Homeschool

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Every Chinese New Year, we are asked this question: Is Hannah attending school?  And when I tell people that she’s not attending a kindergarten or a childcare centre, they’ll naturally ask why homeschool?

My reasons to people are never quite complete.  I’ve learned to give different reasons to different people; mainly to avoid further questioning or run into a debate about homeschooling (or what’s best for my children).

Anyway, I’m penning down my reasons for homeschooling so as to remind myself why I grit my teeth and soldier on through those hair-pulling days (with a capital ‘S’).

It all started when Hannah around 16 months old.  After being a stay-home mom for nearly 3 months, I was kind of bored at home with a toddler (I truly had no idea how blissful life was then…)  Then I met up with a friend who homeschool her children.  The word, “homeschool” was really something new yet exciting to me.

After much research (…prayers, self-doubt and worry), we embarked our homeschooling journey when most of Hannah’s peers start to attend childcare or play groups.

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::  Learn together  ::

Homeschooling has showed me God’s world with fresh perspective.  It’s clearly evident that I don’t know a lot of things.  I thoroughly enjoy researching and discovering the new with Hannah.

I find it such privilege to be by my children when they start reading for the first time, or see their faces go “A-HA!” when they finally understood a concept.

Learning together with my children has taught me how to rely on God for wisdom and direction.  It has taught me to dig deeper into His word and to realise the marvellous creation He has made.

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

::  Learn at our own pace  ::

It’s generally acknowledged that school stress hits both children and parents in Singapore.   The number of hours put into enrichment classes and assessment worksheets just throws me off.

I hope to hold back the pressure for as long as I can.  We want our children to look at the world around with wonder and intrigue.  They are allowed to develop at their pace, not by peers or stated benchmarks.  We are created uniquely so why are we expected to perform uniformly?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14

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::  Grow as a family  ::

A relationship with a sibling is probably the longest relationship you’ll ever have.  Homeschooling has allowed the siblings to bond through tears and laughter.  They are still learning how to share and get along with each other.  Lots of squabbles and “..I was playing with this first…” But you know what?  It’s really something when you see them walking hand in hand.

A friend loveth at all times; And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

::  Faith begins at home  ::

Life lessons cannot be found in textbooks but demonstrated by deeds and actions.  Christ should not be only found in Sunday School but in our daily lives.  People have jokingly said, “Are you thinking of raising a pastor?”

I’d say, “Why not?”  I don’t want my children to think of Bible stories as fairy tales that took place in Neverland.  What’s recorded in the Bible is true.  It happened for real.

Homeschooling allows us to recognise the truth of God.  If we don’t start now, then when?

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy  6:7-9

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Having said all this, I don’t have everything mapped out.  I don’t know if I’m homeschooling through the primary school years.  It’s unnerving to have the weight of your children’s education upon your shoulders.

We are taking each year as it comes.  Our family schedule is ever changing.  But one thing’s for sure: No regrets taking this plunge!