Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back this year, i am awed at how much you have grown & progress. Just begining this year, you were unable to speak, not even say 'mummy', but today, you can speak in sentences and ask questions. Ever since then, you constantly amazed us with the things you say & ask- and even sing!

Im truly thankful to God for you. You're indeed my little angel. I dare say, i've yet seen you throw a tantrum, in fact, i've not seen you angry. Even when you get upset, it'd take you mere minutes to self soothe & move on. You'd always wake up happy, you're constantly calm, cool and secure. I just love the way you are- you're my answered prayer!

In the coming year, may you continue to be in good health & grow in the Lord's way. May the Lord give papa & mama wisdom to raise you according to His will. I am expecting another abundant, blessed year ahead with you! Love you, my little boy.

Learning through iphone

I bought a new iphone application for N. I thought over it long & hard for weeks before making the purchase. I can't quite say i am please with it neither do i regret buying it. It's quite average.

Its a Maths application for toddlers. I was looking for a maths app on addition  and subtraction with visual aids. Alot of apps i downloaded merely ask the question and expect the child to answer without providing any visual aids (those apps are probably for older kids). So this app fits the bill. It has other mathematical activities like patterns, sorting pictures & counting.

I feel this app may be too simple for N. That said, he has been playing with this new game everyday & probably making my money's worth!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Xmas & New year greetings!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

We had a good time with family and friends during the xmas weekend- and now we're gearing up for another jam packed new year weekend! I hope your weekends were and will be equally superb too!

2010 has been a great year (one of the best i say!) for me & my family. I am just thankful that we remain in good health physically and financially & more importantly, we had ample time together as a family.  There have been alot of supernatural rest, peace and joy this year. I believe the Lord will continue to keep watch over us in 2011 and it will be our best year yet!

Here's wishing to one and all, a fantastic year ahead filled with joy & peace!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Loving Malay

I bought this set of Malay books for N when he was younger. It was meant for daddy and son to bond over books. My husband is not a book reader hence it is hard to get him to read to our boy. But ah! He is the only one who knows Malay, he has no choice but to read!

The books didn't hit well with both father & son until recently. N drew the books from our shelf and asked daddy to read to him. They have been reading for several nights now and having a whale of a time. The kid loves daddy's animated reading and is constantly grining from ear to ear as daddy reads. I just love watching the small man sitting on the big man, and listening intently as daddy reads.

As a bonus, N also picked up malay just by reading these books. We can sometimes hear him recite the book on his own. He would also sometimes run to me and yell 'IBU!' (mother for malay). Hopefully, N can pick up this as his third language from daddy!

Reading Mandarin books...

I am so happy that i found this mandarin book in our store!
Do you find difficulty in finding good mandarin reads for toddlers? I do!

I typically like books that have short sentences, big prints and illustrations that fits the description. But most of the toddler mandarin books i see are very wordy, have small prints and the pictures are just too complicated.

I like books with big prints because as i read, N can look at the words. This way, he learns new words. I also prefer N to understand what we are reading. Hence the wordings must be very simple and the illustrations must show exactly the descriptions. This book is just perfect! Too bad, they only have a few books in this series.

At 3.5 years old...

Warning: The following is abit mundane but erm, it's my personal journal to track N's development. I want to be able to look back next year at this time and be able to see how much he has progressed. I did something similar last year here and i am glad i did. I can see how much my baby has grown this year and the things he has forgotten! PAH!

- has a sizeable bank of vocabulary
- can read a book on his own but still wants mama to read aloud for him
- can read the instructions on a worksheet on his own, understands and excutes it.
- can spell words like bus, egg, flower, plane, bee, coffee (learnt on his own by playing iphone!), frog, no, mama, papa, Singapore, Malaysia, Christmas, his name...and others that i am not keeping track of
- can finally write alphabets 'i', 'j','u','o'
- can decipher the begining and ending sounds of a word
- has learnt collective nouns on animals i.e. a herd of elephant, a mob of kangaroos..
- knows when to use plural words correctly i.e. one bird, two birdS

- can read simple mandarin sentences and hence simple books independently
- learnt from school the chinese writing strokes, is able to write out the strokes independently
- cannot converse in mandarin!!!

- can count up to erm 1000 i think.
- understands the quantitative values of numbers
- recognizes the numbers in words i.e. seventeen, thirty, eighty etc
- understands the concept of greater and lesser, more and less
- can skip count in 2s, 5s, and 10s, and i think 100s & 1000s but may not necessary understand the concept for instance, he may not know that the multiples of 2 are 2 digits apart i.e. 2, 4,6
- can add sums i.e.
  • x+10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90 where x= numbers from 1 to 9,
  • y+100, where y =1 to 99
  • z+1 where z=1 t0 1000 (and maybe more)
  • p+10 where p = 10 to 90
- can substract i.e. w-1, where w=1 to 1000
- knows volumeric shapes
- knows the names and number of sides of polygons

- still recognises world flags and can match them to the countries
- knows the capital cities of China, USA, Italy, Germany, Malaysia and Indonesia
- knows where these landmarks can be found : Dome of the Rock, The Kabah, Statue of Liberty, Great wall of China, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef
- knows which continents some countries belong to i.e Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Mexico...
- can sort animals by continents

- can tell the time by the hour i.e. 9, 10, 12 o'clock
- knows the days of the week (and has been asking us 'where are we going on monday, tuesday....friday?)
- begining to count money (dollar notes)...still working on it and recognise the value of each coin
- knows the terms for animal youngs i.e. kitten is baby of a cat, calf to an elephant...
-understands the concept of before & after, oppossite words
- can recite and remember 4 bible verses 

Speech & Social
Apart from the academics, N has also improved alot in his speech and social skills. It seemed he woke up from his deep slumber after he turned 3 in July. First half the year, he was horribly quiet but now he is noisy and nosey (keeps asking as where we are going, what we are doing and eating). He couldn't pronounce alot of basic words in Jan this year like 'monkey, zebra' and even 'mummy'! But now he can and speaking in sentences. Only weeks ago, he started to properly pronounce the 'n' sound. Previously he would drop the 'n' sound in words like 'no, banna, china' etc. Now he can say these words very clearly.

Socially, he has also grown out of his shell. He is begining to reply to strangers although selectively and softly. He is also begining to enjoy playing with other children when there are no toys to distract him that is.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

$10 dollars and $2 dollars...

My counting money lessons were done quite haphazardly because it was done over dinner. I think its important i take this one step at a time in order not to confuse the boy.

First, i printed a few copies of each denomination.

Yes, these are fake money. I hope i won't get arrested. But i promise i won't take this out of the house and will shred it once my lesson is over. :P

I start with just the $10s and $2s

I took out a stack of $2s and asked N to give me $2, $4, $6, $8. This was a breeze for him.

Then i took out the $10 notes and asked him to give me $10, $20, $30...etc. Again, he did this easily.

I stepped it up and took out a $10 note and a couple of $2 notes. This time, i asked for $12, $14, $16, $18. This requires him to do a little mental sums. At first he was unsure, but after figuring out $12, he was able to do the rest.

Next, he had to figure out how much was $22, $24...$32, $34 etc.

Then i stopped. I had to before he gets too overwhelm by all the mental sums.

I'll probably keep doing this over and over until he is able to count these combinations with ease.

I find this activity perfect for N to revise his skip counting and mental calculations. I have been cracking my head how to show him when we skip count and this is just perfect!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Handwriting Tips...

Before i return this book to the library, i best explain why i said 'no tracing on paper' on my earlier post. This book i'm referring to is called 'Montessori Read & Write' by Lynne Lawrence.

I am extracting from a chapter in the book which focused on how to teach a child to write letters. It provided a few tips and activities we can do at home to help the child learn write letters. And comes this section where it advise the readers to best avoid getting our child trace letters on worksheets etc. The reasons given:

1) Those kind of tracing emphasizes on repetition. Although repetition IS effective but tracing on paper repeatedly can be very boring for the child. Your aim is to pique the child's interest rather than bore him with learning.

2) Most often the child does not trace the letters correctly and have to conform to the size of the letters on the given worksheets which often can be quite small. The book points out that every child's handwriting is unique and we should not force them to conform to writing like print letters (which is usually the case on those tracing worksheets and books). Instead we should embrace & appreciate his own style of writing as we do with their drawings and paintings.

The aim is to approach it in fun and stimulating ways.

I have to say, if your child enjoys tracing letters on worksheets (i do know a few children who do) and learning effectively, by all means go for it. You're the mother, you know what works for your child.

As for me, i found the above rational very true for my boy. First, he shows absolute boredom whenever i ask him to trace letters on worksheets. He might do it but probably to humor his mother.

Secondly, even before i read the book, i did feel that those tracing worksheets were limiting him. It seems he wants to draw the letters bigger but i kept hounding him to follow the lines which in the end killed all his joy for writing. And no prize for guessing why he refused to trace any letters thereafter. :I

As i have posted here and there, i have recently changed my tactic. I have been using the Doodle buddy application on my iphone and even our doodle board to teach N write letters (i also got a blackboard which we'll be using later). Usually i'd do it very spontaneously. I made it feel like it was part of play and not literally sitting down following dotted lines. And i am very happy to declare it is working! N is obviously having fun tracing on my iphone; he gets awfully tickled seeing our letters disappear when we hit the 'erase' button which in turn motivated him to trace more letters. Just today, he has learnt how to write 'U' and 'j', in 5 minutes, adding on to his growing list! Yippeee, we're moving forward!! WOOOT!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Curriculum 2011

I am not one who would draw up a yearly curriculum for my homeschool. Instead, i usually let N lead- i follow what he is interested in and cash in on that. That said, i do have a general blueprint in my head so that i know where we're heading. Here's what we'll be doing in 2011.

N is profficient in his reading. He can read a book independently. So i am just going to continue to read and read and read to increase his vocabulary.

N can now commit to spelling. I will be doing more of this next year using my Melissa and Dough wooden alphabets.

From my last post on this till now, N has been showing improvements. He can now write 'i', 't', 'T' and 'o' on paper! Im encouraged! I'll be doing lots of alphabet tracing on chalkboards, doodle board and iphone of course -no tracing on paper (i'll explain why later)!

I have been overly reliant on his mandarin teacher. After some review, i realised the teacher has been teaching him words that he already knows. So there's not much progress in this area. I will be using my mandarin flashcards that i bought some time ago and we'll do some activities with it. We'll also up our reading and conversing in mandarin (urrrg).

N is at a level that i never intended him to be. This year alone he has learnt how to count up to 1000, polygons and add & subtract simple equations from just knowing numbers up to 20 and basic shapes in the begining this year. Honestly, i think he is going too fast for my liking. I may want to slow down and just do more revision rather than moving on to the next topic. Then again, if N shows strong interest to move onward, i will still follow his lead. Frankly, i do not know what's next in this area. We'll see. But in general , im using Singapore's curriculum for primary school as a guide.

N still shows very strong interest in this area. His favourite book is still the Atlas book. We will be using this book to study the capital cities of major countries and famous landmarks around the world. We'll also continue with our sorting countries by continent activity. I have bought 2 sets of (world & Europe) map puzzles, we'll be using that to identify the locations of major countries on the map.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Counting dollar notes

photo from google
N learnt to tell how much a dollar note is by looking at the numeric value on it. As he was really interested in the dollar notes, i decided to take a step further to teach him how to count money.

Lesson 1: I started with about four $10 notes and four $2. I first counted the $10 notes to him. I said, 10, 20, 30, 40! $40 dollars! At first, he took the $2 notes and counted in tens. I showed him that we count in tens for the $10 notes and in twos for the $2 notes.

Lesson 2: The next time, we had three $10 notes and one $5 note. He was able to give me $30 when i asked him to, which showed me that he understood lesson no.1. I reminded him that 10 + 5 = 15, hence a $10 note and a $5 note makes $15 dollars. Subsequently, he was also able to give me $15, $25, $35 or $30.

I will continue with my dollar notes lesson WHEN i have enough dollar notes at home. HA!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This week...

I've finally picked up my inspiration and energy enough to prepare these activities!

Still on the topic of frogs, i printed pictures of frog species we've been learning. N will be matching the frogs to the pictures.

I was inspired when i saw this on Karmeleon Kronicles and created a smiliar activity. You can hop over to her site to learn how to play this activity. :)

N is becoming a pro in transferring the cotton balls using his chopsticks. I decided to up the challenge by having him transfer these cute erasers. He'll also be sorting them as he goes along. 

This is my other attempt to brush up N's handwriting.

I took out the letter 'c' from my DIY sandpaper letters so that N can practise his fingering on it first. I figured 'c' is the easiest of the lot! I wanted N to finger the letter on a tray of sand/flour as per the Montessori activity but realised...i could go high tech on this one! I could use the iphone instead- on the Doodle Buddy application. After N watch me finger the letter 'c', i got him to practise on the application. He got his strokes correct although he used his thumb instead of finger. I decided to let it pass as my objective now is to get him to learn the proper way of writing the alphabets.

tis a season!

Here are some Christmas activities we'll be doing!

I printed these from google. We'll play patterning and sorting using these xmas icons.

These pretty stickers came from a Guardian Pharmacy catalogue. I used them to teach N the concept of big, bigger and biggest.

And we'll be learning how to spell 'Christmas'.

N actually broke down the word into 2 parts 'christ' and 'mas'. He read aloud 'mas' correctly but read 'christ' as 'KRIS' (as in KRIS-MAS). I had to correct him and told him its Christ as in 'Jesus Christ'. The poor boy must have been confused! And that's why i don't like phonics!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review on N's Speech...

Some time mid this year, i, being worried about his speech and social development, brought N for an assessment. The PD decided to send him for screening with both the Occupational & Speech therapist which we did. Today, we went back to see the PD again who collates the two therapist reports and make the next assessment.

As we were chatting, the PD made an initial conclusion that N may just be delayed in his communication skills. I agreed because N has difficulty in finding words to express his needs and thoughts. Many a times, i have to construct the words for him in a given scenario. The good thing, as the PD says, he picks it up & is able to remember what to say and knows to use it appropiately.

She then conducted a routine screening which involves asking him questions and observing how he responds. He was given a few pictures (like colors and objects such as ladder, boat etc) and was asked to name them. He scored perfectly as i had expected.

But here is where he surprised me.

He was also given 6 sets of pictures and was asked to describe them. I was expecting him to give a one or two word answer but he describe them in almost full sentences. 

One picture had a boy climbing up the stairs and a girl coming down. The PD asked him what was the boy doing? I thought he'd say 'go up or going up' but he replied 'going up the stairs'. The PD then asked him what was the girl doing, he said 'coming down the stairs'. The PD was impressed. I was also surprised that i didn't need to interpret whatever he said since the PD (who is seeing N for the first time- the first PD is on maternity leaver) clearly understood all that he said.

She showed him a picture of one cat in a box and another standing on its own. She asked 'where is the cat (pointing to the cat in the box)?'. Honestly, i thought that was a very vague question but N said 'inside the box'. And she asked the same about the other cat and he said 'outside the box'.

Another picture showed 3 mice. The PD asked him what they were. He said 'mouse' at first. She prompted him further, 'mouse or...?'. Then i stepped in and asked 'one mouse, three....?'. After a short pause, he said 'mice'. Again, the PD was impressed, she said he was the only one (whom she saw today) who answered that correctly.

Here is the shocker.

He was asked to do some drawings. He was given 4 strokes to copy, a vertical line, horizontal line, circle and a cross. When i saw that, my heart sank because as i said in my previous posting-he is not into holding a pencil much less draw a circle! I had the urge to tell the PD that there was no way he was going to do that, but something stopped me. And right before my eyes, that boy drew all four strokes with ease, yes he even drew a circle - to my horror ('horror' because it shows that i have under-estimated my own son).

The PD then tabulated his scores. All the scores were acceptable but she highlighted one particular area- his language development. Apparently, he not only passed this but exceeded it- he is rank at 4 years of age in terms of his language ability.

Still, the PD feels there is no harm for him to see the the speech therapist again to see if he needs follow up for his communication skills or if he just needs more time.  At the same time, she feels that it'd be good for me to get a few tips from the therapist on how i can help him at home. As for his gross and fine motor skills, he is a couple months delayed but he still has time to develop.

Although i was expecting the PD to discharge N today but i am still pleased with the review. N definately did better than when we first brought him in. I do feel alittle ashame because it seems i have been under-estimating my son. He seems to be able to do more than i give him credit for. I am his mother, yet i never knew he could say and do the things he did today- it was like i was seeing another person's child. Perhaps, it was me who hindered him? Perhaps i should have more confidence in him? Yet at the same time, i am very proud of him. Yes baby, mama is very very proud of you. Well done!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Practical Life: Chopsticks

Ok, now i am concern.

At 3 years old, N is still no where near using a pencil, not even mindless scribbling. If ever he uses a pen/pencil, he would use minimal strength and very faint lines appear on the paper. He can't draw a circle on his own either. Neither can he or (more accurately, will he) use a scissors. I won't be surprise if a 18month old kid can do better. Sigh.

That said, i think he's problem is lack of interest in using a pencil and scissors since he has no issue with his pincer grasp and other fine motor skills. Neither the teacher or i could get him interested in using these tools. He gets absolutely bored!

So this is my attempt to make him interested and also to strengthen his muscles for holding a pencil and scissors.

Transferring cotton balls with chopsticks!

This is no ordinary chopstick, its a TRAINING chopstick. Very easy to use even for a toddler, surprisingly. Of course, i HAD to get him a Thomas design because i NEED to get his interest- which i succeeded by the way!

But i was worried about presenting this activitiy to him because i knew if i didn't get him at the first touch -that was it. This will go the drain just like the pencil and scissors. My worries were unfounded! He loves it and did awesome Phew! We'll practise more and hopefully its a start to more pencil holding!

Random Stuff

As you can tell, we've not been doing any fancy homeschooling for some time. It has not been easy for me coping with a 3 year old and being pregnant with no.2 (i did mention about this somewhere right?) at the same time.

But ah we try!

We DID do a few activities here and there; some 5 minutes here, some 10minutes there. Here's what we've been up to:

We completed our lesson on polygons! Hooray! N now knows the names of each polygon.

We continued our series on sorting world flags on the continent map.

And this was done impromptu. I took our volumeric solids, put them in a bag and played 'Mystery bag'! I asked N to pick out a certain solid from the bag without peeking into it. That way, he depends solely on his touch to decipher if it was the correct shape that i wanted. He did a good job!

All about frogs

We've been learning about frogs!

 N learnt how to spell the word, 'frog'.

We studied about the different names of the various type of frogs.

I would've borrowed books on frog to complete this activity but couldn't find an appropiate non-fiction book! Arrrg!

100 board again

I was rammaging through our Montessori shelf when the boy asked to do his 100 board. I was alittle apprehensive since 1) it was not homeschool hour and 2) i wasn't sure if he was going to complete it.

However, N managed to stick to it (well at least until 80 some and after a gentle nudge from me to finish it). I was pleasantly surprised how interested he still was with this. He didn't do this in order but randomly picked a number and figured out which was the correct spot to place it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Number Rods

I neglected my number rods because i thought its purpose was only to teach the child numbers from one to ten. Until, i read Leptir's blog! I never knew the extra lessons such as additions, that came with this material! I was inspired!

First, we determine the number on each rods. I then began my additions activity.

10 + 4 =?

I started by asking N to pass me 14 rods. Of course, he looked confused. I instructed him to hand me rod number 10 and 4. I joined the two rods together and we counted the total number which was 14. I told N 10 and 4 makes 14! He was amused! He quickly returned the rods and waited anxiously for my next instructions.
I asked for 19, 11, 12 etc, he was quick to catch the concept and handed me the correct number of rods. :)

Next, i showed him other additions. I took number rod 2 and 3 and joined them together to make 5. I placed the number rod 5 above the 2 joint rods and showed him that they were the same (length). From here, he has learnt and remember that 2+3=5! We also dabbled with 5+4=9.

 As an impromptu, i showed N a 'trick'. First, i laid the rods according the height/numerals.

I took 10 and 1 to make one rod (which makes 11), 9 and 2 to make another rod (to make another 11), 8 and on. With this, we made a block! We did over and over and each time i would recite, 10 + 1 = 11, 9+2 also equals 11...etc.

I had much fun with this. THank you Leptir once again! Do hop over to her site, she has given a comprehensive tutorial on this activity!

I have to add this, you really don't need a montessori material to do this. Don't spend that unnecessary money ( i only realised this AFTER i bought my set). You can do this activity EASILY with Lego sets too- just make sure you build them in alternate colors (blue, red, blue, red etc). Otherwise, there are many free downloads you can print. Granted they might not be 3 dimensional, but i feel if its able to bring the message across accurately, that's fine!

Some serious thoughts...

I shared my blog with a few friends and uploaded a video on Facebook showing N reading a book. While i received compliments, i also realised a couple of my mother friends felt guilty and lousy after reading and watching my internet spaces. They began to feel like they are not doing enough for their kids. :(

And that is exactly why i kept my blog anonymous and i didn't tell all my friends about my blog (nor what i do with N at home). Well if you are one of those moms, this is address to you.

I admit, N cognitive skills are more advance then some of peers- but that's really just about it. There you are fretting how far behind your 3 year old (academically) is from mine, but here i am worrying about how far my 3 year old is lagging behind in terms of his speech and social developments. You feel lousy when you read my blog about how fast N is learning, i feel lousy when i read your updates on facebook about how your child say something that throws you off your chair or when i see your child conversing so well with adults (something i rarely experience). So there, we are on par.

I don't know which is better. To have a child with average developments or one who is cognitively strong but poor in the remaining areas. Sometimes i think its the former, because you know your child is right on target on his milestones & really, you have nothing to worry about.

What i am saying is, i set up this blog to journal down only N's learning. So what you read here is really only one side of the story, there are areas where N needs alot of improvements. It just so happens that N learns well academically.

If his interest was in Arts, this blog would be about the crafts we do at home. If its about music, you bet there will be lots of musical notes on this blog. Your child has a different talent from mine, nurture her strengths instead of keeping your eyes on the strengths of other children (that's what i tell myself too!).

So please, don't let me or N or this blog make you feel any lesser as a mother because i know that feeling and its not nice. Like i told a friend, focus on your child's improvements and not on how far he is from his peers. That's how i keep myself positive with N's speech and social developments.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Year End Report card

I recently had a parent-teacher meeting with N's school teachers. Although i met his directress and mandarin teacher separately, they both have very similar feedback.

Both said, N is academically capable. The mandarin teacher said N's memory is excellent, being able to learn new words almost instantly. She actually gave 100% marks to N for reading and even said no one in the school has this score except him. His directress said N is beyond his age requirement. During the mid year report, she said she doesn't think there's anyone in the school who could out beat N. She also said she didn't need to present new reading activities to him. Instead, he'd read the descriptions on his own and could correctly match them to the pictures.

However, there comes a down side. Because he learns so fast, he gets bored easily. The mandarin teacher has a fix curriculum each week. By early week, N would have learnt all the new words. Hence by mid week, there's nothing for him to do except to revise and revise. This made him bored and loose focus & interest. His directress also said that when asked to revise his work, he'd present sloppy work- even though he knows his stuff very well.

The mandarin teacher said N is very hungry to learn and constantly asks for new words/activities to keep him interested. She is concern if we keep on teaching him like this, he may not have anything new to learn in Primary school (exactly what my Mother in law has said!).

I have also expressed to them that I'll be withdrawing N from Montessori school next year. Both are concern if N would be able to fit into the main stream. They notice N needs alot of hand holding/personal attention and if left alone he may be neglected. He is not one who would express his needs to the teachers and could easily be overlooked in the sea of children.

Overall, i am satisfied with the feedback. N is learning well and is not causing trouble in school. Although, i am now concern if he is able to keep focus & interested once i enroll him to the main stream. That said, i am more determine to send him to a non-Montessori school. I am curious to know if N can cope and also i think i had better send him to main stream early to give him more time to adjust for Primary school. Well, i will never know unless i try.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thousands, tens and ones

Following his counting spree, I decided it was time to show N what 100 & 1000 really means.

First, i took out the unit beads and arranged them like so

I prepared number cards, 1000, 100, the 10s (10-90) and unit cards (1-9)

I showed N what the numerical of 1000 and 100. When he could identify the two, i laid the cards over each other such that it makes a number in thousands. Here, we made 1140.

N had to bring the correct number of beads according to the numeral we made. Here, its 1144. He had to take out the 1000 beads (the big block on the extreme left), 100 beads (the square shaped in the middle), 40 beads (the 4 ten string beads) and 4 beads (the grey beads at the extreme right).

We played around a few numbers and N had much fun with this! I think he got it too! Whoop!

All about reptiles again...

Continuing from our lesson on reptiles, i wrote on cards what each of the reptile eats. To help N identify who eats what, i also wrote the answers behind each card. I asked him to read aloud each label and to determine who 'said' that.

Seriously, i have no idea where this particular type of activity is heading. Sometimes i wonder how these general knowledge would be of any help to N in the future. Its not like we need this information in our everyday lives. Or if he'd even remember!

That said, i still think such activities help to sharpen certain skills in N. Somehow it has helped him learn how to listen, retain and re-process the data that has been given to him. I believe his ability to process things taught to him quickly was somewhat hone by these activities. Hence, i am just going to do what i do and hope someday he'll find these information useful. Even then, we'll just enjoy the journey of learning!

Learning about Poly...gons

Although i have previously taught N polygons using the flashcard method before, but i don't think he was able to differentiate the shapes. It is quite hard to tell the polygons apart without counting the number of sides they have.

Hence, we are re-visiting our polygon materials with a twist.

This time i got N to count the number of sides each polygon have. I prepared word cards of the names of each polygon and the number of sides they have.

N had to match the word labels after determining how many sides each polygon have and what their names were.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Speech progress

Today, N's speech is a far cry from 9 months ago.

If you recall, i was very worried about how slow his speech development was.

Although, today he isn't talking as much and well as any other 3 year olds, but he has progress and that's enough for me. At least, i know now he just needs more time than others.

It seems there has been what they call speech explosion these 2 months (the first i ever experience in N's 3 years). To my delight, he has been expressing his needs more clearly and accurately. He has been communicating with us more with words, or rather sentences than just baby talk.

Recently, my husband reported to me that N told him 'God is good! God made the world!'. We were both happily stunned. Also, the church nursery is doing an awesome job! For the first time, he has come home singing songs that he learnt outside other than from me. He now can sing, although tuneless, 'Jesus loves me' and 'God is so good'. Praise Jesus!

I am just happy and thankful that my worries were unfounded! All glory to God!

100 and beyond

Recently N is into counting aloud. He would count from 1 all the way to 100- without skipping a number.

He went on with this counting spree for days but would stop at 100 (because he didn't know that there were numbers beyond). That's when i decided he was ready to learn numbers after 100. During his next counting spree,  when he reached 100, i continued on by chanting 101, 102, 103 etc. As i had expected, he was hooked and continued chanting all the way to 199 and stopped again. That's when i introduced the number 200. There were some mornings where he'd wake up and count from 1 all the way to 200 over continously (while my hub and i were still struggling to get out from bed. And if you didn't know better, you'd think he was counting how long it would take us to wake up and get on with our mornings. Hee hee).

And that was also when i decided to teach him to count by hundreds. So we counted aloud, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800,  900 to 1000. (And as i am typing this, he is getting the visuals on these numbers, reading them aloud as they appear on screen. You see, i have no energy to give him proper lessons, so im just going to take any chance i have!). Just to make sure, he understood that there were numbers between these numbers, i would ask him what number is after 303 or 452 etc, he could give me the correct answers. And that's how I taught him higher numbers verbally without using any visual aids.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teaching Subtraction

I never intended to teach N subtraction this early, not until he somewhat masters the additions. But i accidentally found out that he was actually learning it from our daily ongoings.

It happened one day, in my desperate attempt to make N eat faster, i promised to 'free' him from the table after he finish 10 more spoonful of his food. As i fed him the 10th spoon, i heard him asking me '9 more?', and on the 9th spoon, he asked '8 more?' and so on until the last spoonful, he would declare 'no more!'. This went on for many weeks until it struck me that there in my face was the perfect opportunity to introduce to him subtraction!

And so, i began to teach him subtraction...during our next meal. Yes, i decided to go without any visual aids and go verbal and be informal. So as he ate his 10th spoon, i would simply ask him 'how many more?' and he would reply '9 more'. And i would say so '10 minus 1 equals 9!' and so on. It didn't take long after he got the hang of Subtraction. Subsequently, i wrote the equations on the some cards so he can have a visual on what subtraction equations look like.

Since then, he is able to do any subtraction equation (i.e. X minus 1) even for higher numbers like '100 minus 1' or '300 minus 1'. I think what made it easy to teach was that he could count backwards prior to this and he understood that minus 1 means going down a number by one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sorting World flags

N always held interest in world flags and continent maps, they never fail to get his attention. 

Now that he can identify a number of world flags and continents, i took a step further by creating this activity. 

I cut out a couple of world flags stickers (unfortunately it is limited to countries in South America & Asia only) and took out the continent map. 

We talked about which countries belong to which continent. From playing this activity, N can now sort these few flags accordingly. 

All about Collective Nouns

One Sheep, Two Sheep

We've been reading a couple of books on collective nouns here and there. Through these books such as the one above, N learnt that words like 'sheep', 'fish' have no plural erm, words? He also learnt that the plural for words like 'mouse' is 'mice', 'child' is 'children'. 

As a follow up to what we have read, i prepared some word cards, one set on collective nouns and another set on animals. I place one set on one side and the second set randomly on the other side.

N matches them accordingly.

Learning about reptiles

My good old sister handed me a set of Glenn Doman's encyclopedia knowledge cards, so i decided to might as well make full use of them. I pulled out the cards on 'Reptiles' for N.

N has learnt to identify reptiles that i never knew existed (nor much care actually). They are Saltwater crocodile, Jackson's chameleon, Marine Iguana, Red-eared turtle...etc. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not a fan

FInally, an article that echoes my thoughts on phonics!

I always have my doubts about using phonics to teach kids to read but could never quite point out exactly why (yes i can be confusing this way). Recently, i read an article that downplayed the use of phonics while every other enrichment centers (& kiasu parents) are all hyped up about it. Regrettably, I can't remember which magazine it was though!

Anyway, i have to be clear and say that i do know my phonics. In fact, i usually use  phonics to break down a new word. However, many a times i find myself misprouncing a word. I realised that one cannot always use phonics to read the word. Here's why. Some English words are birth from greek, italian (for instance) words. You cannot use your phonics to break down these words. English phonics just don't apply to say, Greek phonics (if there's such a thing!).

Moreover, English is complicated and inconsistent. A rule may apply for this word, this scenario but not for another & there is no logical explaination for it. I give you an example. We learnt that we use the word 'is' after a singular word like 'She is, he is' and 'are' for plural like 'we are, they are'. But this rule don't apply to the word 'you' although it is referring to one person too. Instead, it should be 'you are'. Why? Nobody knows. I find phonics is as inconsistent as this. Sometimes it is 'AH' or 'Eh' or just 'Er' for the letter 'A' for example. So if we teach our child to use phonics to read, how on earth are we going to explain to them why some words are exceptional, and when they are exceptional? You have to have a doctorate in the English language to explain this one. As you can see, it can be extremely confusing for the child.

I also find phonics very disruptive to reading. You want the child to enjoy and understand what he is reading instead of focusing on breaking down words. It just takes away the joy of reading. And if they are too caught up in breaking down each word, they may miss out on what they are reading.

Well these are just my thoughts. Alot of us never learnt phonics proper but still are excellent readers. I still think that the key for raising a reader is to do read and read and read- the tradditional way. As for me and my family, we are not going to join in the rat race in this area.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Additions and numbers!

After doing this activity, N can now do simple additions mentally. I have to stop here and say, Montessori methods of teaching Maths is awesome! So clear to understand!

Anyway, i digress. I continue with more additions with N. I prepared some addition cards. This time i taught him that 10 plus 10 equals 20, 20 plus 10 equals 30 etc.

Prerequisite: Child must know how to count in tens.

I wrote the sums on blue cards. Somehow N got ahead of me, took the cards out and tried working on them (without the visual aids). He first took out the '10 +10' card, and read aloud the sum. But looked at me for answer, to which i reluctantly replied '20'. He continued on with the '20 + 10' card and to my surprised, he declared '30 as the answer! I watched on as he continued with '30 +10', '40+10', etc and gave all the correct answers effortlessly. There goes my lesson plan.

Still, i got him to work on the cards again with the ten beads this time. I wanted to make sure he understood the concept and wasn't merely memorizing the answers.

Next i worked on his number recognition in Mandarin. I wrote numbers from 10 to 90 on yellow cards, and the same numbers but in mandarin in pink cards.

N had to match the two cards.

To fill up the void...

 As you can tell, i am slowing down with my blog entries. There has been a major 're-opt' in my family and we are all taking time to adjust. I wasn't able to plan much for N during the past month but fortunately, things are picking up- i hope.

When i found myself unable to do activities with N, i bought this Mathematics workbook for him to entertain him. He loves doing worksheets for some odd reason.

I am proud to say that N could read the instructions on his own, mostly understood what was required of him and provided the correct answers.

Except for the first time, i have never prompted him to work on this book. Instead, it is N who always ask to do the activities.
 We've pretty much completed the entire book!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Montessori no good?

I need to rant. Please let me.

My in laws are here for a visit and boy its been sweet bitter. But this is not about the sweet part of course.

My MIL has big issue about me sending N to Montessori school. She went to visit him once and quickly made the assumption that he is 'miserable'. Which is rather puzzling because, he has NEVER cried when we bring him to school, he has never displayed any anxiety. If anything, he always looks forward to school, smiling at his teachers and staff there. Anyway, she assumed that ALL because there are only 2 students in the class. Her theory of a 'happy' school is where the class is full of kids. She also puts down Montessori because she does not believe in one on one attention. She prefers the old tradditional way of a class setting (she was a teacher, you see).

And here is a shocker, she has issues that N is 'too smart'. While other grandparents would be so proud of this, she finds it a problem. She INSIST that smart children are troublemakers. She wants me to slow N down. She was NEVER impressed when N learnt to read, count and now add & subtract. Instead, she sees them all as PROBLEMS.

Because of her, i asked N if he prefers school or church. He chose school over church even though the latter has more playmates. I can understand why. N has such a quiet personality and its easy to pass him by in a sea of children. In school, he gets his teachers full attention & because of that they have learnt to understand him (his speech is 60% unclear) which build up his confidence. Today, the teachers say he is talking to them more than before. But his church teacher could not comment much about him because...just because he didn't stand out. So no brainer why he prefers school!

Anyway, i am frustrated that she complains over and over about my choice for N, claiming she knows better because of years of being a teacher. Hey, she has retired for over 20 years now and she knows nuts about Singapore education system (she's lives in Malaysia). The hardest thing is to convince her about why my choice is the best for N. She of course, has her old thinking buried deep in her head and she just cannot accept new ways. I hope she understands that i am his mother and i, of all people, should know what is best for N, when he is miserable, when he is happy. I am very clear, the teachers too, that N is happy in school.

It's going to be another 2 more weeks of this. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What number is after...

I taught N number sequence using flashcards when he was little, but i only taught him up to 50. I recently realised while he knows what comes next after 50, but he doesn't know what comes after 59, 69,79, 89 and 99.

Hence i created this activity using the 'BEFORE & AFTER' activity we did last week. I first presented to him by showing him that 60 comes after 59 etc. We're going to repeat this activity till im certain he got it.

Animals by continent.

Here's another sensory tub activity we played today.

I filled the tub with these animals. And as N took them out, we sorted them according to the continents they live in.

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

It's Malaysia's Independence day (31 Aug)!

Since we have relatives & friends up north whom we often visit, i decided to show N all about Malaysia.

First, we learnt how to spell!

I placed all these stuff in a box and we took them out one by one. I told N we can find these monuments & landscape in Malaysia. He even learnt that Malaysia's national flower is the Hibiscus.

And we also looked at the map of Malaysia.
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