October 29, 2008

Humour is...

When it is easy get a laugh or giggle from K, or when I do the goofiest things or dramatise voices of the characters in the stories that I read to him. And he never fails to flash me his toothy grin, whenever I smile at him. It's nice to bask in this thought that the other most important person in my world (other than dh) actually thinks that I am humorous.

October 25, 2008

Just give him water and puffy paints

Water play is one of K's favorite activity. Just 1 measuring cup and 2 plastic cups is enough to keep him occupied for at least half an hour. Great for the development of his fine motor skills and self- control.

I noticed that K has been quite obsessed lately with squeezing his body moisturiser out of its tube, so I made him some puffy paints. I got 4 squeezy bottles from Daiso, filled it up with 1/2 cup of flour, about slightly less than half a cup of water and a few blobs of washable crayola paint.

Made pastel colours of yellow, green, blue and pink...

And K was so thrilled by his new art experience, that he made these expressions when asked to pose for the camera...

Puff Paints expressions

He was quite amused when the squeezy bottles started creating some rude noises, seems like he is quite into slapstick humour like his dad...

K's puffy paint art

October 21, 2008

"Dump Truck"

Car rides nowadays are filled with loud exclaimations from K. He hollers excitedly when he sees trucks of any sort and bellows when a double-decker bus passes by. I will exuberantly point out how big, high or long the trucks are and enthusiastically describe the things that I see in the truck's cargo. This is probably one of the best way that I know of that can keep my toddler happily occupied during long car rides.

So naturally, one of the new words that we have heard recently is "Dump truck". I find it quite amusing how the word sounds when he says it.

PG 2 : Balloons, Bubbles and Balls

We had our 2nd PG this morning and the theme was balloons, bubbles and balls. We started off with 2 action songs about the body; 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes' and 'If you are happy'. Then read this book, 'Buzzy's Balloon' by Harriet Ziefert & Emily Bolam.

The kids got to play with their own balloons that the mummies blew...

Popped bubbles...

Attempted some bubble art on butterfly cutouts...

However, the kids ended up using paint brushes instead as we could not 'conjure' enough bubbles with the straws to be able to make imprints.

K's butterfly...

We ended the session with the kids 'bowling'. I think today's session was pretty good. It was not as messy vs the first session as there was hardly any snatching of toys and the kids were able to share toys with one another. I did not hear K saying "No, no, no.." to his friends when they were playing with the toys. Maybe, he now understands the word 'share' and appreciates being in the company of friends :)

October 13, 2008

Stuck on trucks

Recently discovered a gem of a collection of preschooler's books at Bukit Panjang Community Library when I was there last week to borrow a book for the upcoming playgroup for Tuesday.

My only gripe about the children's section of the library is the organisation. It is almost impossible to locate any book from the shelves, even with the details of the book from the NLB website. I shortlisted 3 books from the library's website but could not even locate one. I then spent half an hour trying to locate the books from the shelves, then finally settled for a quick scan for interesting titles.

K is into trucks recently. His interest started from a page from this book; Richard Scarry's Biggest Word book.

Last week, I brought K near a garbage truck for a total sensory experience. I was trying to hold my breath in while trying to explain to K at the same time. However the smell did not seem to bother him very much, as he was more interested to see what was going on with the garbage truck.

He has been asking me to read this book which I borrowed from the library; Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf, for a few nights in a row. It is about a truck that gets stuck under a bridge and causes a terrible traffic jam that soon turns into a block party. When attempts to remove the truck fail, two kids, some balloons, and a dog save the day. Love the little text, rhyme and clever illustrations in the book.

Got this other book for him on tools. After when he saw Keith hammering his chalkboard into the wall, he seemed rather interested in Keith's toolbox.

I am so glad that he is finally able stay attentive to a book being read to him from start to finish. For a while, I was concerned about his short attention span. Guess it does make a difference when the activities that are 'K-centred' rather than 'mummy-directed'.

Been trying to teach him the concepts of numbers lately. Rather than letting him learn rote counting, we have started counting the different types of trucks while we spot them while in the car. Also introduced categorisation from the different types of trucks that we see. From dump trucks, pick up trucks, mixer trucks to trailer trucks and we get extremely excited when we see an automobile truck.

Got him these trucks to enhance his play activities:

Read that a child will not be able to re-enact play unless he has been exposed to real life experiences. Heard from EC lecturers that many children in Singapore will re-enact play according to the TV programmes, mostly through super-hero and cartoon characters. As most have very limited exposure to real life activities.

This is just my adaptation of a child centred home-based curriculum, so as to get K more involved and active in his own learning. My objective will be to expose him to as many experiences to real life activities as possible, so as to aid in his play experiences and learn how the world works.

Next, to find a construction site that we watch from a safe distance. So that K can watch the cranes and excavators at work.

October 12, 2008

Captions Sunday

K doing his bit for the SPCA

Kiddy ride

On the other side of the window with dad

K's demanding 'I want to see my picture on the camera' look.
I can never take a picture of K without him demanding to see his own picture.

And more kiddy rides.
Only daddy will allow K to take 6 kiddy rides in one afternoon

After taking a short nap in the car on the way home, he refused to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. Cannot imagine how it will be when we go to HK at the end of the year with K. These are the times that convince me that I am not ready for No.2 ever.
"I would rather prefer cleaning my room than taking my afternoon nap."

Another "I want to see my picture on the camera" look.

October 10, 2008

K's DIY Chalkboard

Was recently inspired by the Artful Parent to create a DIY chalkboard for K. So I embarked on a frantic online search to find the all eluding chalkpaint paint. Just when I was beginning to lose all hope, I found this website http://www.estore.com.sg/

I opted for the low risk option of creating the chalkboard, instead of permanently committing to chalkboard on K's furniture. So I used this, RustOleum Specialty Magnetic latex primer as a base, applied about 3 coats of it before spraying on the chalkboard paint. This is suppose to be able to turn any surface into a magnetic board and both paints are non-toxic.


Then added 3 coats of the chalkboard spray. And I DIY-ed this Magnetic Chalkboard in about 3 hours...


Which Keith (who is also the artist behind the drawings), has helped put it up on the wall in K's room .

I don't see blackboards being used in schools nowadays. So without this, I think K will probably never get to experience writing on a chalkboard. Besides, this chalkboard can provide another surface besides the fridge for these magnetic letters and numbers.
It is quite amazing how much being a SAHM responsible for your child's development, can change a person. Ask me to create a DIY chalkboard 4 months ago and I would have probably scoff at that thought.

October 8, 2008

It is really the process, not just the product?

Opened ended play materials are the best. The process of the play experience is more important than the end product. As quoted from Mary Ann Kohl, '...the exploring, creating and the attempting of new ideas is more important than the result of creativity...'

Kyle used chalk for the first time yesterday morning and he was fascinated by the texture, the markings made by the chalk and sure was elated that he was allowed to scribble on the balcony's tiles.

He experienced sand for the second time, however this time round it was in more familiar territory; in his sand and water table. Now I just have to find recycled containers of varying shapes and sizes that can be used to teach him some basic math concepts.

We had our first playgroup session this morning and did craft instead of art. I was rather conservative and decided against a open ended art exploration experience for the little ones. Afterall, craft experiences are useful to teach concepts.

This turtle craft project had to meet the subtle objectives of teaching the letter T and colours red and green ; with the triangular collages and turtle. Incorporated a little bit of printing and collage on the 'shell' of the turtle. However like most craft projects for toddlers, the mummies ended up doing the bulk of the work.

The key challenge of developing lesson plans for toddlers is that learning objectives are difficult to achieve, unless the concepts are repeatedly and consistently taught with many different experiences throughout one week. Unlike preschoolers, who can usually grasp the concept with one or two lessons. It is afterall much easier when the child is developmentally ready.

So it is usually wishful thinking to hope that the toddler internalises the concepts after 1 or 2 lessons after his/her playgroup classes at Julia Gabriel or Busy Buddies. Perhaps the only objective that can be achieved is socialisation. Toddlers will be too distracted by other toddlers in the class to pay any attention to the concepts taught.

But that's how it is when I am like some parents, who hope that my kid can read some letters and numbers even before he enters preschool.

It is getting rather challenging to get Kyle to spend more than 10-15 mins concentrating on any task lately (besides his indoor tennis and golf). Guess that will mean I will have to find another 101 other ways to set the stage for his play experiences.

October 7, 2008

Play is child's work

If there is one early childhood book that I will read from cover to cover, it will be this book 'Play at the Centre of the Curriculum.' It has changed my pre-conceived notions about the importance of play in children's lives and it hints to why this country is so lacking in creative individuals.

Play needs to be the centre of an ideal preschool curriculum, as key learning objectives can be embedded in spontaneous and guided play activities. All you need are teachers who have the knowledge on what is developmentally appropriate for the children, and have that genuine interest in the children's holistic development. And it helps if you have a government to have finally come to a realisation that primary school education needs to be developmentally appropriate for children.

I have that glimmer of hope that the transition between kindergarten and primary school will soon be painless for parents and their children. And that nurturance of the children's love for learning will continue to flourish when the child enters primary school.

October 4, 2008

Tickled by the Wii

Just what is so funny about WII sports tennis? It's hard for an adult like me to understand what got Kyle laughing so spontaneously when he saw WII tennis.

Could it be the big headed characters? Or maybe Kyle is used to watching real life matches on ESPN and he gets extremely tickled watching cartoon-like characters running around in tennis rackets to hit the ball.

Tickled by Wii Tennis from Rachel T on Vimeo.

I guess that's just Kyle's sense of toddler humour.

October 3, 2008

Random Furniture Fetish

I have this thing for furniture. Love furniture with interesting lines and textures. Lately my interest in furniture has been steering towards 'for the little people'. Some of these children's furniture designs that I have came across online are so creative, functional and environmentally friendly.

This is so practical, a foldable bassinet that converts into a toy box from http://www.dasmoebel.at/

This castle bed fits a twin mattress, while the space below can accommodate a twin or full bed, or may be left open as a play area. Sure to inspire fairy tales and medieval games. The wood that has been used to build this bed is sustainably harvested and plantation grown, so there is no impact on the ecosystems.

This playhouse if 100% biodegradable, made out of 100% recycled cardboard. Also foldable for easy storage. From www.modernmini.com

You can even decorate to look like this...

Too bad, I can't purchase any of these things locally. Due to the lack of choice, I will just have to settle for the most practical and affordable children's furniture from IKEA...sigh.

Preschool review No 2 : Bukit Panjang Methodist Church Kindergarten

BPMC kindergarten, the second kindy that I reviewed for K. My first impression of the place was that the premises were big, rather dark and dreary for a church (most churches that I have been to are usually bright and airy, regardless of the size). I can really fault the environment, considering the church building was built in the 70s.

The classes are located in different areas within the building, all contained in air-conditioned rooms. I observed that there were fairly big classes for K1 and K2, an average of 1:20-26 in terms of teacher:student ratio. The ratio of the pre-nursery and nursery classes were much smaller, average about 2:8-12, dependent on the enrolment for each session. According to the principal, 15 teachers in the kindy are all diploma-trained.

The pre-nursery programme is largely play centred. Mrs Yang, the principal commented that children at this age learn through play experiences. The introduction of language sounds are shared through rhymes, music and group activities and learning of alphabets are taught through art and crafts. Words and phoenomic activities promote movement, recall and good listening skills. The math concepts taught like counting, categorisation, comparisons and colours are also taught through a hands-on approach.

The school offers music as part of the curriculum where the children are taught simple music concepts. As children progress to K1 and 2, they are given a keyboard to learn music notation and play simple tunes.

BPMC kindy also has the John Langrehr Thinking Programme as an optional after-school enrichment for the K1 and K2 children. This is an interesting programme that claims to help children develop creative and critical thinking skills. According to the JLTP website http://www.jltp.net/, the philosphy is as such;

"JLTP teaches young children HOW to think as well as WHAT to think about. Most early childhood programs teach content or new knowledge. JLTP teaches children to look beyond this knowledge and generate their own thoughts and ideas.

Thinking skills can be taught to every young children who are good learners by nature. Formal schooling may squash creative and critical thinking. However, if the attitude and skills are firmly embedded at early childhood, these vital forms of thinking would persist throughout their lives."

This preschool has got its strengths, however not the kind of preschool I will choose for K. I believe in learning through play and this school does not seem to advocate that for all levels. There are too few child-initiated activities seen through their lack of toys, manipulatives, dramatic and independent learning corners. The school focus on teacher initiated activities through their instructional white boards and plenty of work sheets for the children to complete.

Overall, it is still a very sound preschool programme with key fundamentals in place to cognitively develop a preschooler and good value-added programmes offered. If any parent is looking for a 'writing' school that ease their child's transition into Primary 1, I think this school is a good option.

My overall review of the preschool programme : 5.5/10

October 1, 2008

Chalk it out

My latest craze; chalkboards.
Chalkboard tables, chairs, wall decals. If I could i will spray every single one of K's furniture with chalkboard paint.

I think these wall decals will look so cute in K's room...