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.
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