## Thursday, December 24, 2009

### Colored Chips

I bought this toy some time back because i wanted N to practise his fine motor skills. It comes with 5 different types of color and varying shapes as well as a stand (bottom of the photo). The point of the game is slot the chips into the stand according to the instruction cards that came with the toy. But i used it for other purposes. As i discovered that there are many ways to use them as a teaching material. Makes my SGD \$5 go a long way! I use these chips to play color AND shape sorting games. N also uses them for his stringing activity.

### Geometric Solids

This is yet another brilliant Montessori invention! Its geometric solids that comes with 2-d shapes pieces that match with the flat planes of each solids. By playing with this solids and matching each solids to its respective 2D shapes, N has learnt that say a cone, has a circle shape at the bottom same as the cylinder; and the rectangular prism has a rectangle shape on one side and a square shape on the other etc. All these he learnt just by exploring these 'toys', no sit- down classroom & listening to boring lectures, wonderful isn't it?

### Scooping

This is one of the practical life activity from montessori module. Its to let the child practise his fine motor skills. Here's N scooping rice grains from one bowl to another. He was enthusiatic when i first introduce this to him. Now he just wants to get over and done with.

### Sense of hearing

Here's another exercise i did with N to sharpen his sense of hearing. I used his clothbook, "Things that Go", which makes sounds of different transportation like boat, motorcycle, helicopter, train & tractor. I took out the respective pictures and hid the book. I played a sound and asked N which vehicle makes that sound. N had fun with this game & he was good at it too! The next time i plan to use word cards instead of picture cards.

### Colors in Mandarin

Here's N revising (well, he doesn't know he's revising...hee hee) colors in Mandarin. I asked him what color the word (at the top left of the page) represent and got him to choose the respective color crayon.

N coloring black

And a page with madarin words, orange, yellow, red and green.

## Tuesday, December 22, 2009

### What's next?

I downloaded this template from one of my montessori resources. Its a sequence game; the child is to choose which one comes next. N can do this surprisingly well. I'm not sure if it's conincidence but he seem to get this game every time- even with different pictures. What really helped was i say out the sequence aloud giving emphasis to the answer for eg, i'd say 'apple, orange, BASKET (louder)' and i repeat it another time before asking him what's next.

### The Experimental Programme

In order to know if my homeschool program is in line with the local nursery schools, i purchased a set of their 'textbooks' and 'assesment' books (including mandarin). These books are apparantly used by the school teachers. I wanted to use these books as a guidance to my homeschool program. But, when i flipped through the pages, i realised N already knows most of it- including the Mandarin books. Not to let my money go to waste, i decided to use them as revision instead!

### Colorful Fish Tank & numbers!

This is a great exercise to help the kids revise colors and number sequence. It comes with a fish tank and cut out fish, with the numbers 1 to 5 on each of them. I had N to stick the fish into the tank in order from 1 to 5. Later, i got him to color the fish accordingly i.e. blue for blue fish.

Here's the end product. :)

### Teaching Colors

Art and craft part 3! Here's N coloring a banana. I first asked him to tell me the color of a banana, to which he replied 'yellow'. I got him to take the yellow crayon (without telling which one) and had him color. I did the same with the apple. This is my way of revising colors with him. Well, N isn't a great fan of coloring. He would just leave a faint trace of the color and ask to move on to the next page. I guess, it's a boy's thing?

### Shapes & Xmas Tree

This is yet another attempt to introduce crafts in my daily program. Again, this template was printed from a website. Its a picture of a xmas tree with different shapes on it. I cut out the shapes and have N match it onto the tree using glue. Later, N colored the tree with his choice of color which was black. What a morbid xmas tree!

### Oh Christmas tree!

If you notice, i hardly had any art & craft activity with N. Well, i'm ultra lazy on this one. Art and crafts require lots of preparation and materials and i'm up to neck with the others that i neglected this topic. Oh well, better late than never. Since it's Christmas, i thought i let N decorate a christmas tree which i cut out from a gree construction paper. I had him decorate using 'mickey mouse' stickers. I think N loves this. He was extremely quiet and focus with this one. Carefully peeling off each sticker and randomly pasting them on the tree. Too bad my old stickers didn't stick well. It all dropped off when i lifted it up. *POUT*

### Tracing Alphabets

I was at a friend's house who has an older son, due for Primary school in 1 year. I flipped through her pile of assesment books for the 5 year old boy and noticed that alot of the exercises require the child to handle a pen really well. Call me 'kiasu' but i panicked on the spot. It dawned on me i haven't been letting N doodle with a pen! So how would he know how to write?
So, off i went to print out this tracing alphabet activity from a website, whipped out a marker and had N trace! Well, as expected of any 2 year old, he started scribbling instead. But with some guidance and stern instructions, he proved to me that he was able to follow the lines. PHEW! This will be a continous activity for sure!

### Sandpaper Letters

Here's another montessori material i made. Its called the sandpaper letters. The purpose is to introduce phonics and writing. The alphabets are made of sandpaper (hence the name of the activity) pasted over a hard paper (blue for vowels and red for consonants). The child sounds out the alphabet while using his fingers to trace the letter. It cost me below \$3 (i think) to make this. The paper i used wasn't cheap.

## Friday, December 18, 2009

### Daily Routine

It may seem that i spend alot of hours teaching N each day. Truth is, i only take about 20mins or so for my home school program everyday. Each activity we play takes up only about 1 min or even a few seconds! I try not to plan too many activities in a day because i don't want N to get bored. Also, the attention span of children this age is relatively short. Hence, each activity has to be short & quick but yet the message gets across clearly. Moreover, N masters each activity and gets bored with them very quickly. On the contrary, i spend hours and hours preparing the materials (only to have N master them in mere minutes). Some activities need massive planning and preparation. Also, some require tedious handiwork that's very time consuming and time is not what i always have. Yet, i enjoy every moment of it because nothing beats witnessing your child gaining knowledge and skill through the things you plan. Any, i have diviated from my main point. I was going to say how little time is needed to teach our children. All we need is a few minutes of our time to do it. Any mother can do it, not just stay home mothers whom many think have the luxury of time. Alot of the materials can be purchased, so preparing the materials should not be an issue. It's really amazing how just 20 minutes a day can go a long way for the child.

### Constructive Triangle

I absolutely love this activity and so does N. Its a triangle box that comes with 4 set of triangles with different sizes and angles (eg. one set is made of 2 right angle triangles, another set is made up of 4 equaliteral triangles etc). What makes it so intriguing is that each set of triangles can be arranged to make a bigger triangle. Each set forms a triangle of the same size that fits exactly into the box. I think this is a very clever way of teaching children geometry. It also gives a good visual to the child on how a shape can be broken down into or made up by smiliar smaller shapes. I suspect N loves this because he is fasinated by how we could make a triangle by using 2 right angle triangles or 4 equaliteral triangles.

### Classifying Transportation & animals

One of the most common Montessori activity is sorting beads, buttons etc. Here's another variation of game using cards. I had N sort 2 type of picture cards i gave him, one on transportation and the other animals.

### Volume

I've previously taught N the different type of volumeric shapes using flashcards. But since my montessori kit came with the 3-D version of it, i thought i might as well use it to reinforce what he learnt. Here's N matching the blocks to the corresponding word cards.

### Occupations

I've taught N the different type of occupations and the corresponding words using flashcard method many months back. Its been a long time since we last saw these cards. So i decided to take them out (there are about 15 of them) today and help N revise. To my surprise, he didn't need any. He remembered all of them without any help from me (except one).
How did i know? I layed down all the word cards on the floor and handed him one picture card at a time. He effortlessly and swiftly placed the picture cards right where the respective words are. Well done my boy!

### More & Less

Here's how i teach N the concept of 'more' and 'less'. I wrote the 2 words on 2 seperate cards and prepared my numeral number cards and red dots number cards. I started by teaching him to read the words. Then i took 2 red dot cards (i.e 8 and 2) and showed him that the card with 8 red dots is more and place the card above the word card that says 'more'. I took the 2 red dots card and told him that this was less and place it above the card 'less'. I did this with several other items like a bowl of 1 marble compared to a bowl of many marbles etc so to make sure he understands the meaning of both words.

Once he understood the concept, i added another step to the game which is to have him match the numeral card to the respective red dots card. Once he has placed all the cards in place, i'd point out to him that 8 is more than 2 and make him repeat after me.

## Thursday, December 17, 2009

### Matching & Sorting

Again, i downloaded the above template from a Montessori website and cut out each picture. The objective is to have N match the various picture to the main template. Each picture graduates from biggest to the smallest. Its pretty much similiar to the Pink Tower activity, just another variation of it. Thought it would be a good excercise since N is pretty bored with the Pink tower activity.

### Sharpening sense of smell

This activity aims to wake N's sense of smell. I prepared 6 empty bottles and filled 3 with dry food like coffee, ikan bilis and chinese tea while the other 3 bottles are empty. I wrote the words 'smell' and 'no smell' on 2 seperate cards. Taking one bottle, i took a whiff and offered N to do the same. If the bottle has smell, i'd exclaim 'smell!' and place the bottle on the word card that says 'smell' etc. Later on, N would do the activity independently.

### Moveable Alphabet

Any Montessori mother will know that purchasing the montessori materials can be very costly. I especially like the Movable Alphabet activity (so does N) but i cannot convince myself to buy a set. I used to just display the alphabets on the floor, but i soon found out that its very messy & disorganise this way. I was contemplating if i should get one. Until recently, i found the above trays from Daiso which comes with little compartments that can fit the alphabets nicely. Now, this activity is less confusing and more organised (and i need not spend on the expensive Montessori tray)!
POST NOTE I got to add that this activity is really great for teaching children the meaning of alphabets. I've never taught N alphabets- and deliberately so. The reason: alphabets are actually very hard to teach. How do you teach a toddler the meaning of say 'a'? Hence, i made sure that his first contact with the English language are the full words so that he understands that each word has a meaning & words are used to communicate our thoughts. Now that he knows this, and with this actvitiy, N has learnt and seen for himself (without me having to explain) that every word is made up of individual alphabets and hence understands the purpose of the alphabets.

### Asia Continent

Since N has mastered the world continents, i decided to take another step and teach him the countries in Asia. I printed out the map free from a Montessori website (cannot remember which one, oops) and have it enlarged. I painstakingly colored the various countries to help N differentiate.

I've also cut out each country (but not perfectly, its very hard to cut along curved lines..especially tough to cut countries with small islands!) so that N can match them onto the map. Also, i did some word labels so that he can match the country name to the correct location. So far, he has learnt where China, India, Indonesia, Japan & Thailand are. My concern is if he'd be able to spot these countries from a real map & if he knows that this is Asia (though he is able to point to the correct continents on the map).

### Phonics part II

I played the game 'I spy' with N, using the same phonic materials i made earlier. I took out 3 pictures with different sounds and asked him to give me the picture that starts with the sound 'a', 'b' or 'c'. This is a sequel to my first phonic lesson with him. I said earlier he didn't seem to get the phonic lesson, but he was able to play this game perfectly. He could give me the correct picture. Hmm, perhaps i was wrong? So far, i've only took out 3 sounds from 'a' to 'c'. My next step is to introduce to him, 'd', 'e' & 'f'.

### Sharpening Listening Skills

N's has this tractor toy that makes animal sounds when the right buttons are pushed. It comes with respective animal (cow, sheep, horse, chicken, pig) mini toys too. I once take out the animals and hide the tractor behind me. I would then press the buttons and have N to give me the animal that makes that particular sound.
Since the game was pretty easy for him, i decided to raise the level by a notch. I took out mandarin flashcards, representing each of the animal. Again, i hid the tractor but this time, i got him to give me the word instead of the animal. We had fun! (And i was surprised too that he scored perfectly in this game!)
(ok im getting way irritated with blogspot. How come i can't get a proper spacing for my paragraphs!!??)

## Wednesday, December 16, 2009

### Teaching Phonics

Here's how i teach N phonics and alphabets. N is to match each picture to the correct alphabet/sound that the picture/word represents.

At the same time, i get him to match the words to the correct picture. This is to reinforced what he was learnt.
Right now, he doesn't seem to understand the aim of the game. He knows the sound of each letters but he does not seem to know the relation of each picture to the alphabet. Nonetheless, i believe with more practise he'd be able to get it one day.

## Thursday, December 10, 2009

### BY 2.5 YRS OLD...

N will be 2.5 years old come Jan. Im constantly amazed and very proud of what he has acheived this far. Here's what he has learnt from mummy's homeschool:

1) can recognise a sizeable number of english & mandarin words (fruits, vege, animals, parts of body, countries, action words, people etc)
2) knows phonics (not to mention alphabets)
3) can count from 0 to 50.
4) knows the world continents & their specific locations on the map
5) knows the solar system & the order of each planet
6) recognises body organs (bladder, pancreas, testis, ovary brain etc)
7) understands the concept of thick & thin, long & short, big & small (thanks to the montessori games of course)
8) knows the volumeric shapes like cylinder, sphere, cube, cone (not to mention basic shapes like circle, square etc)
9) can recognise world flags and country names

## Tuesday, December 1, 2009

### MY BABY CAN COUNT!

I said previously that i wasn't sure if N could do the Montessori counters game on his own. Today, he has proved that he can!

I took out the activity & displayed the number cards from 1 to 6. He could put the correct number of counters independently. Although he still needs help with 7. But im already swelling with pride, well done sonshine!

## Sunday, November 29, 2009

### DIY MONTESSORI KIT

Since the kit that i bought does not include the entire range, i had to DIY some. One of the activity that i dont own is called the color box (3). It includes 9 sets of colors, with each set having 7 different shades of a color. I checked the website to see how much it'd cost me if i bought the kit- USD \$60! So, i DIY using cross stich threads. I bought 7 different shades of red threads and roll it over cardboards like so.

The red color range alone cost me a mere SGD \$5! If i did it for 9 sets, the total would be SGD\$ 45...versus USD \$60! You do the math!

The other activity is called Touch fabric. It includes different cloth textures; the aim is to awaken the child's sense of touch. I went to buy wooden plates from DAISO, the wooden plates are suppose to be built into a box. But instead, i cut out old clothes and past them over the plates- see above. This cost me about \$5 as well.
Honestly, after doing extensive research, i found that most Montessori materials can be made at home. It takes a bit of creativity and cost alot lesser than the proffessionally made ones. I also noticed that N masters the activity (those that i bought) rather quickly and i have to put them away soon after i introduced it to him. So economically, its much more worth to make your own than to buy. But of course, purchasing the materials save one alot of time!

### MONTESSORI KIT HAS ARRIVED!

As i plan to homeschool N using the Montessori method, i decided (and convinced the hub) to buy a set. Here's a peak at what's in the kit.
This makes up of a board and 100 small wood boards with the numbers 1- 100 printed on them. The aim is to have the child place the numbered pieces in sequence. This is to teach them counting and number sequence.

Brown stairs. The blocks graduate in thickness. The child is to lay them according to the size. This gives them a visual discimination in thickness.

This activity teaches the child to count. He is to put the correct number of counters according to the number card.

This is called the Knob cylinder. The cylinders varies in diameter and height. The child learns how to visually discriminate the different sizes. This eventually give them basic Mathemactic foundation.

## Saturday, November 28, 2009

### Teaching Chinese in Singapore

There has been alot of discussion about Singapore's way of teaching Mandarin. Some claim that Mandarin lessons depressed, demoralized and traumatised them. Studies also show that Singaporean children don't score too well in Mandarin and many show no interest in the language.
While i have to admit, Mandarin wasn't my favorite subject in school but neither do i have any traumatising experience. I think the recent debate focuses too much on the methodology and many have neglected the fact that Mandarin, to start with, is a difficult language to master. I remember vividly that a Mandarin teacher conducted a survey by asking how many of us thought Mandarin was challenging. Most, if not all, even the top student in my Mandarin class, raised our hands. The teacher also acknowledged the same.
If you think carefully, its really no surprise. Mandarin words are made of symbols. One little dot can change the word to a whole new meaning. Not like English or even Malay, you can use phonics to sound out the word but for Mandarin, its immediate death. If you don't recognise the word, you don't recognise the word- that simple. There's NO such thing as phonics. And one character can mean one thing, put it with another character, it can mean something totally different. Pronouncing Mandarin words can prove to be diffcult as well. Its almost like singing.
From my observation, it seems that those who grew up in Mandarin speaking homes have better time mastering English than those from English speaking homes mastering Mandarin. Why? Simple, English is much easier to learn than Mandarin. Granted, most of my Mandarin speaking friends don't speak perfect English, but i would say their grammer, tenses are in place & they can be perfectly understood when conversing in English. But, i can't say for the same for people like me who are comfortable in English, we find it really hard to converse even in simple Mandarin. Alot of times, my Mandarin speaking friends have to switch to English for me and very seldom i have to switch to Mandarin- because they find it a torture hearing me speak in that language.
I personally think the solution to all this is, to start exposing Mandarin at home. Simply because it is easier for a child to master any language if they start from young. Look, the chinese children in China pick up the language with ease! If parents wait till the kids hit school, they may find it tougher to cope, having hit a age where they are not as absorbent as a 2, 3 year old.
But of course, the parent themselves must be fluent in Mandarin to start with. Unfortunately, its very common for Singaporean parents to be handicap in this language.
Fortunately for my son, i can read & recognise simple Mandarin words. I know enough basics to know how to pick new words up- all thanks to the Singapore education. So, while i cannot converse Mandarin with my son, i try to read alot of Mandarin words, play Mandarin DVDs for him, send him to Mandarin classes, teach him simple Mandarin words. I dont think these are enough to make him speak perfect Mandarin but i sure hope it gives him enough foundation for him to build on when he is in school.

## Thursday, November 19, 2009

### Solar System

After successfully teaching N the world continents using Montessori method, i decided to use the same methodology to teach him the solar system. I searched and printed out the different planets, cut and paste them on a black background, like so. I also made my own labels by writing each planet name on a small cut out cardboard (nice size for the toddler's hands).
Using labels, i taught him the planets and their respective positions in the system. N picked up the concept quickly and was able to identify the planets & match the labels with its respective planet after just 2 lessons!

### Teaching Number Sequence

This is how i teach N number sequence. Again, i use flashcards method to drill in him the sequence. To reinforce his learning, I lay the number cards randomly on the floor and have him give me the cards in order starting from 0. At this moment, he knows the number sequence from 0 to 30 & im flashing the numbers from 31 to 40 at the moment.

## Tuesday, November 10, 2009

### Classify Fruits and Animals

I used flashcard method to teach N classification. To see if he really knows it, i took out the 2 word card 'fruits' and 'animals' and lay it on the floor. I gave him one picture card at a time and ask him to place it under its respective category.

### DIY Animal Puzzles

I saw this activtiy in Youtube. I photocopied some of the animal flashcards that i have and cut them into half. N is to match the body parts to the head of each animal. I thought this was a good activity to reinforce the image of the animals in the child's mind.

### WORD Play

Ive taught N to read using flashcards since he was 5 months old. By about 10months he was able to show that he could read.
Now, i stopped the flashcards but designed some activities (oh well copied from Montessori) to reinforce the words he learnt. I took out some old flashcards (on animals) and displayed them on the coffee table. I gave him his animal toys and got him to match the animals to the respective word cards. He loves this game!

Other than animal word cards, i sometimes would whip out world flags picture cards and have him match the world flag its respective word cards. Oh and not forgetting Mandarin words as well! In the below picture, i got him to match the colored lego to the Mandarin word cards.

### Teaching World Continents- Montessori Way

The sonshine was interested in world flags and looking at the world map. So i grabbed the chance to teach him world continents. I got this continent template from online and had it enlarged at a local printer. The word labels (see above picture) are movable. I used it to show the sonshine which label match which continent.

Ive also cut out each continent shape (see picture above) and have him match the continents on the map. Its easy because each continent is color coded!
This activity is easy to teach (and cheap, cost me only \$6) and for the toddler to learn. The sonshine was able to identify each continent and its specific location on the map in no time.

## Sunday, March 15, 2009

### Introduction

I am a stay home mother to a 2 year old boy, N. Since we have not put him to any school, i decided to appointment myself to be his official teacher. I am only a few weeks into homeschooling N, but i thoroughly enjoy this journey. I find satisfaction when i see N learning and gaining knowledge through the activities i penned out for him. More importantly, i get to control the curriculum.
My teaching resources mainly come from books like Montesorri and Glenn Doman. Oh, yes, im a firm believer of using flashcards to teach my son. I started since he was about 5 months old and im grateful for it. N has learnt many things through our flashcard sessions. That's where he learnt to recognise English and Mandarin words, Maths, National flags, Shapes, colors, musical notes etc. I used Montessori methods to revise and reinforce what he learnt from the flashcards.
Im starting this blog to share my resources and my journey with other like minded mothers out there. Hopefully, i get some tips back in return! So hop on and enjoy the ride with me & N.