Guest Post: Homemade Beads in 3 Ways

This week, we learn how to make beads. Hannah loves dressing up. The girly girl in her enjoys wearing necklaces and bracelets. So when Jessica from Education.com shared this idea with me, I just had to try them with my girl! 

Education.com provides parents,homeschoolers and teachers with fun learning resources e.g. worksheets, lesson plans, digital games, an online guided learning platform, and more. Over to Jessica:

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Stringing beads is a fun way to give boredom the boot. And most preschoolers, both girls and boys, enjoy taking a crack at it.

Beyond fueling creativity, beading also has another trick up its sleeve: it helps young kids practice patterning, or sequencing, which lays the groundwork for math, reading, and science. You can buy a sack of beads at any craft store. But here are 3 inexpensive ways for kids to make their own beads, from scratch.

Continue reading Guest Post: Homemade Beads in 3 Ways

DIY Activities in Minutes!

The weather has been so unpredictable these days. One minute, it pours. The next, it’s bright and cheery. So while you wait for the weather to clear, here are seven DIY activities you can dish out to your kids in minutes!

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Continue reading DIY Activities in Minutes!

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

The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

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Twas the night before Christmas, when the children were nestled all snug in their beds;

it’s only mamma frantically wrapping the presents while papa has settled his brains for a long winter’s nap…

What to do when you run out of wrapping papers then?

We, mothers do what we do best…improvise!

Here’s how to create your DIY Christmas Gift Wrap: Continue reading The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

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

Indoor Art Activity: Crayon Etchings

Crayon etchings: indoor art activity for children

The heat is on!  On Wednesday (13 Apr 2016), Singapore recorded its highest temperature in a decade this month: 36.7 deg C.

With the scorching weather refusing to let up,  we hide ourselves indoors from the blazing afternoon sun.  Keeping the children entertained isn’t an easy feat especially when I have to prepare dinner and do laundry.

Recently, I’ve found crayon etchings to be a useful activity to keep their little hands busy and burn those energy.

You will need:

  1. Bright coloured crayons
  2. Black crayon
  3. Toothpick or end of paintbrush
  4. Small sheet of paper
  5. Newspaper

Start by colouring the bright coloured crayons all over your paper.  You have to press firmly to create a thick layer of colouring. (That’s how you expand their energy!)

Place a pad of newspaper under the sheet of paper.  Cover the layer of crayon with black crayon.  The newspaper will allows the black crayon to coat evenly.  Again, you need to press firmly to coat a thick layer.

Now, lay newspapers all over the table before you etch.  This makes clean-up easier.  Remove the pad of newspaper before etching.

Design your picture by scraping the black layer with a toothpick or end of paintbrush.

I’m sure your children will feel hungry after all that colouring!  Just in time for dinner. 😉

Chinese New Year 2016: Crafts, Spring-Cleaning, Organizing

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Another four days to the Lunar New Year ! *gasp*

How are your preparations for Spring?  This year, we kept things simple.

Have a look at our activities leading to Chinese New Year:

For art and craft, we’ve made a “大头娃娃” or “big head doll” – usually seen at a lion dance performance or Chinese New Year street celebration.

Materials:

  • Paper bag or plastic bag
  • Newspaper
  • Cellophane tape
  • Chopstick,straw or stirrer
  • Crepe paper or coloured tissue paper
  • Self-adhesive labels

Directions:

  1. Crush some newspaper into a ball. Secure with cellophane tape.
  2. Put newspaper ball into paper bag or a plastic bag. This will be the doll’s head.
  3. Insert a chopstick, straw or stirrer into the newspaper ball.
  4. Secure stick and bag with cellophane tape.
  5. Use crepe paper or coloured tissue paper to make the doll’s hair.
  6. You may also use crepe paper to decorate the doll’s hair (flowers or hair accessory).
  7. Draw the doll’s eyes, nose and mouth on the self-adhesive label.
  8. Cut out the label and stick them onto the doll’s face.

This craft can be made within minutes.  I find it almost impossible to craft while keeping an active toddler under radar at the same time! More Chinese New Year crafts can be found here and here.

Here’s what Elijah did while we made “大头娃娃” or “big head doll”.

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Happily mopping the floor for 15 minutes max.  Otherwise, he’ll probably rip the doll’s hair or chew its eyes and nose.

Our Lunar New Year decoration kept fairly simple: hanging couplets around the house, and New Year stickers stuck on our door.

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This week, “贺新年” (a festive song) has been playing over the phone.  We desperately need to learn another Chinese New Year song, other than “恭喜恭喜”!

贺新年 “He Xin Nian” Lyrics

贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
爆竹声声催人想幼年
贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
岁月悠悠光阴如箭
回首往事如烟 痛苦辛酸
寄望从今万事如愿
贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
愿大家都过个太平年

The song translates:

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
The sound of firecrackers remind people of yesteryear;

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
Time flies like an arrow;
Looking back in sorrow;
Hoping things are looking up;

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
May everyone enjoy a peaceful year.

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Organization, spring-cleaning, decluttering! I wasn’t able to do as much as I would like to. But I take comfort knowing that it’s always ongoing.

Here’s a nifty trick to organize the hub’s neck ties.  Inspired by the numerous organizing tips on Pinterest. 🙂

Finally, we made our yearly trip to Chinatown to see the Chinese New Year decorations and people-watch as they queue up as early as 5am to buy Bak Kwa (savoury sweet BBQ meat).

In my opinion, the best view of Chinatown’s decorations and surroundings can be seen at the Garden Bridge. Head to Exit C at Chinatown MRT Station.  Then take the lift to Garden Bridge.  You’ll get a good view of the decorations together with prominent buildings like The Majestic and Yue Hwa Building.

If you have older children or plan to do a tour around Chinatown, be sure to read up the historical facts about Chinatown compiled by “Singapore Lost & Filed”.  I surely found them useful!

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!

Chinese New Year Activities: Enjoy, Eat, Play

Chinese New Year in Singapore: Chinatown

Enjoy: Visit to Chinatown

This week, we visited Chinatown to enjoy the sights and sounds of this Spring festival.  During this time, you would find many set-up stalls selling Chinese New Year decorations and yummy-licious food.  As we walk along the streets, we hear the traditional Chinese New Year music, hanging red lanterns and the tantalising smell of bak kwa (savoury sweet BBQ meat). Yum!

Hannah came across a paper dragon toy and wanted to have it, but it cost more than I expect.  She went home feeling disappointed and even tried to convince her father to let her buy it.  Sadly, it was also a no-no from Daddy too.

Play: Paper Dragon Craft

To cheer Hannah up, I tried to google around for a similar craft.  Thanks to the Internet, we managed to find one! You can download a template of a dragon head and tail here.  It’s fairly easy to do.  Grab a pair of chopsticks or skewers and coloured paper to make your paper dragon craft. 🙂

Chinese New Year Activities: Paper Dragon Craft

Eat: Dried Persimmons and 年糕 “Nian Gao” (Sticky Rice Cakes)

We came across dried persimmons and “nian gao” in Chinatown, and decided to get them for New Year.  Hannah isn’t adventurous when trying new food; but was game enough to try both.  Final verdict: she’s not a fan of these festive snacks.

Chinese New Year Food: Dried Persimmons and Nian Gao

And for the remaining days of Lunar New Year (15 days), we’ll be busy visiting our relatives, counting our “hong pow” (red packets) and recycling the used packets to make firecrackers.

Happy Lunar New Year!

新年快乐!