Thursday, March 31, 2011


Here's Sonshine boy trying his hand on multiplication. He's grouping four horse stamps i.e. multiplication of 4.

I took the chance to ask him what was multiplication equation. He determined that it was 3 X 4 and that equals to 12.

I just couldn't resist taking his little cute toes sticking out! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Multiplication exercise

Doodle board is now my new best friend! I can whip it out anytime and conduct a mini lesson! No preparation, no cutting, no pasting, no laminating! What a time saver (& life saver)! That said, i wish i had more energy & time for sonshine boy. I've not been having proper lessons with him and i can tell his attention span is dwindling. :( Sigh.

Anyway, as an ongoing lesson on multiplication, i showed N another perspective of the topic. I drew 3 circles for example, and stamped 2 horses in each set. I have him determine how many horses are there in EACH set. I then asked him how many times must we add 2. Pointing at each circle, I'd say 2+2+2! Following which, I'd point at each circle again and count 1,2,3! 3 times! So 2X3=? (OKAY, now i know it's suppose to be 3X2). How many altogether? Sonshine boy would count them in twos and give me the answer.

I did this with him over a variety of equations on the 2 & 3 times table.

I caught him a few times drawing and stamping on the board all by himself. And he would determine the equation. Too bad, i wasn't quick enough to snap a shot.

But i managed to snap this! He drew 2 circles with nothing in it...and he showed me and said 'zero!'. Yes, he has determined that 0X2 equals 0. :) How cute!

I am not sure if he has gotten the concept 100%. Sometimes he seems to get it sometimes he needs a little help. Oh well, maths is about practise and practise and more practise right?

Mandarin lessons

After realising sonshine boy's mandarin came to a standstill last year, i went on a mad spree searching and purchasing Chinese books. I bought, not 5, not 20 but 80 over books in a breath!

At first i really didn't know how and where to start teaching him. But i realised N picked up a sizable number of English vocabulary just by listening me read aloud to him every night. I have to sidetrack here and share that since N was younger i started a rigorous reading regime with him. I read a set (maybe 10 over books) of English and Chinese books to him at least 3 times a day- in a seating. Sonshine enjoyed it and could sit on my lap for as long as i was willing to read. But alas, my stamina wasn't compatible to his appetite for books! Sad to say, its down to just one time a day (or rather night) now. Every night, we would read at least 7-10 English books in a sitting. Again, the boy would like to read more but i cannot allow it otherwise it would over-run into his bedtime. :(

Anyway, i began my mandarin 'lesson' by reading 5-7 Chinese books every night (on top of the English books). As i had expected it worked like magic! Sonshine's mandarin has improved and he has picked up a number of Chinese words, even learnt to converse in Mandarin (simple ones of course, mummy's mandarin ain't that fantastic either)! Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Multiplication by 10

I am slowly introducing multiplication to sonshine. I find this is one tough topic to teach. I have been using a variety of methods to teach him but haven't quite find the right one yet.

I remember i was taught multiplication purely by memorising and had no clue what it was all about until much later. I don't want that for my kid.

The first thing i want Sonshine to understand about multiplication is that it is actually repeated addition.

I have been verbally telling him that 2X3 means adding 2 three times.
I have to pause here and ask...what does 2X3 mean? Does it mean 2 sets of 3 or 3 sets of 2? Does it matter?

Moving on...

Sonshine boy didn't seem to get the concept. So i decided to use my good old Montessori ten beads again. I realised teaching multiplication by ten is much easier for the kid to understand.

I wrote the ten timestable on blue cards and presented to N one card at a time. Starting from 10X1 (i wrote 1 in red) and took out 1 set of the ten beads, 10X2, i took 2 sets of ten beads etc. As expected, Sonshine boy was hooked and understood the concept instantly. He was able to tell me the answers mentally.

Next i showed him that say 10X4, means adding 10 Four times. I took each and counted '10+10+10+10 equals 40!' I also wrote the addition on pink cards.

Then i took out the other pink cards i.e. 10+10 and 10+10+10 and have him matched to the blue (multiplication) cards. I knew he understood the theory when he was able to match the cards correctly.

Telling the Time- half hour

Sonshine knows how to tell the time by the hour and i've moved on to teach him to tell the time by half hour.

I used this clock which i bought from Popular bookshop to teach him. The difficult part about teaching time by half hour is that the hour hand points somewhere between the two numbers. For instance, if its 9:30, the hour hand doesn't point directly at '9' but between '9' & '10'. Hence, N took awhile to tell the time.

I told him- (DO NOT FOLLOW ME, THIS METHOD IS SO WRONG) to take the smaller number. So between '9' & '10', '9' is smaller, so its 9:30. :P This is not accurate as it cannot be applied to '12:30'.

I bought the above cards-again from Popular bookstore, and used it to practise with N. He was still hesitant but seem to be getting the hang of it. We'll practise more! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pot of Gold

Sonshine is more or less proficient in counting the dollars, so we're moving on to counting coins.

First, i laid down a set of similar denominations on the table i.e. 5 cents. Sonshine counted them in 5s for 5 cents, 10s for 10 cents, 20s for 20 cents. This is easy when the child already knows to skip count.

After which, i randomly took out a set of coins and have him count. This require the child to know some basic addition. For the above & similar combinations, he has no problems calculating the coins.

However, he seems to get confused when i add in more coins of varying denominations. I found that he could count easily if we counted the larger amount first. I.e. count all the 20 cents, than 10 cents than 5 cents. He seems to get confuse if i mix it up, or if he is required to add randomly i.e. 5 cents add, 20 cents, etc. I think he knows to add in small digits only ie. 20 + 5 not, 5 +20, although he knows the two equations are the same, somehow he still gets confuse when counting the coins.

As you can see, i have opted out the 50 cents coin to keep things simple at the moment. When he becomes more confident, i'll add it in subsequently.

Maths activity

As a substitute for my lack of homeschooling, i bought a set of activity books for Sonshine.  Okay, i admit, its more like Maths assessment books for kindergarten 2. Now there- that made me sound like a 'kiasu' mom! :(

We randomly worked on some pages, mainly on addition & subtraction. Here's some of the exercises we did.


Unfortunately, i had to write down the answers for him because he still refused to do it. :I

Problem solving.

Sonshine read, counted, calculated all on his own. I am pleased that he completely understood the questions and was able to answer them. Just that...I HAD TO WRITE IT DOWN FOR HIM!!

Matching the addition sums.

He did this is all on his own INCLUDING drawing the lines.

Another problem sum, this time it is on subtraction. We did similar problems on addition (no picture). Again with little or no guidance, he understood the questions, was able to identify if the problem was addition or subtraction and provided the correct answers.

Skip Counting

As you can tell from the inactivity on my blog, we've not been doing much lately. Its the combination of school holidays, new school, change of routine and more so, lack of inspiration & strength from this mama.

However, not wanting Sonshine to loose his interest in learning, i try to give spontaneous lessons here and there without using any materials.

One such lesson that we've been doing is skip counting. I didn't realise this would be such a difficult topic to teach. Previously, N could easily remember & count in 2s, 5s & 10s because we read books on these topics. However, i was concern that he was merely memorising and not aware of the concept. I wanted him to know that to skip count in say 2s, meant that we add in 2s. Hence, when he was learning to count in 3s, 4s, i tried to take another approach. That's when i realised it was such a difficult task!

This time, i had him add in 3s, 4s mentally without any visual aid. I've to stop here and say that he seem to regress and have been using his fingers to add at times. But i am not too bothered, i am satisfied that he knows how to add.

Anyway, it took him a LONG while to remember the 3 & 4 times table. Actually, when i ask him to recite, he is still adding in his head but at a quicker pace. That said, this is what i want, i prefer him to be adding than to recite by memory and not knowing the concept. So, now, i can surely say he now knows to skip count (and understand the theory behind it) in 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 100s, 50s.  However, my problem now is how to get him learn the 6 times table and beyond? Looks like i have to get him to memorize from here on?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just for laughs

We were visiting a mall on a crowded weeekend and looking for a lot in the already full carpark.

Me: Sonshine, let's ask Jesus for a lot, okay?

Sonshine: OK!

Me: Thank you Jesus for a lot and putting us at the right place right time! In Jesus name?

Sonshine: Amen!

(True enough, within minutes we got ourselves a good lot!)

Me: See sonshine, Jesus gave us a lot! Who must you thank?

Sonshine: Thank you Jesus!


Sonshine: JESUS, WHERE ARE YOU ??!!

Me: ....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

To greener patures

This week will be our last in sonshine boy's Montessori School. We are leaving it for greener pastures- quite literally (you'll see what i mean).

The primary reason for the move is due to the 'second coming'- our number 2. It makes no practical sense for me to send sonshine to this school, hang around at the plaza for 2 hours for him before sending him home, especially now that i will have an infant to lug along. Moreover, i think i am overpaying the school. I always feel that my home teaching is always a couple of steps ahead of the school and i'm paying an exorbitant fee just for him to learn what he already knows. I figured i might as well 'downgrade', pay alittle less to do the same.

Anyway, we're moving on to a non-academic driven school. I struggled with that fact initially and wanted to continue to send him to a Montessori school-where i thought he'd be taught according to his level. After visiting a few centers, i realised this is not so. He'd still be clustered with his age group and be given the same old materials that he has already done both at home and in his current Montessori school. Again, it didnt make any sense to pay a high fee for a place where he'll not learn anything new. Hence, i decided to forget about the academic aspect and look for a school that suits the boy best AND ME.

The new school is relatively unknown, tucked in a corner in a private estate- only those living around would know about it. This school is ridiculously HUGE. I've not seen any school as big as this. It has not one, but THREE grassy LARGE compounds for the kids to run about. Each compound has all the typical playground rides you can find. One has all the Little Tikes play things like a house, balance beam, slides. The other has the regular swings, see-saw etc. And the last compound- has a wooden play hut (think tree house except that it is firmly rooted on the ground). So yes, lots of opportunity and space for the kids to run free.

And this is my favourite- its foyer has a HORDE of bicycles for every age group, every stage- pedals, no pedals, with training wheels, no training wheels, little tikes wagons etc.

My husband's favourite part of the school is the classrooms. Because they are non-air conditioned, the windows and doors are wide open. Hence, the kids get alot of natural light but more importantly, whenever they look out of the room, they see greenery, they see nature. Yes, this school is surrounded with greens and more greens. My husband took one tour of the school and said 'SIGN UP!'.

Their canteen and school hall are also hysterically huge for a preschool. Oh, talk about the hall. Here's my other favourite part. For just an additional $50 a term, the kids get to attend Gym classes which they outsource. Whoo hoo!

Sounds like a dream school? I sure hope so. The staff has blatantly told me that they are not very academic driven but will still make sure the kids are prepared for primary school at the very least. Oh well, as i said, i have decided to drop the academic part. I am alittle worried that he'll be bored in school since he'll probably not learn anything new. But im hoping he'll be like my niece (who is brillant by the way, i've never seen any other kid as intelligent as her) who was also 'downgraded' from Montessori to a typical school. Although she admitted she didn't learn anything new but she still enjoyed school. Moroever, i think it'll be a refreshing change (something new) for sonshine since the whole settting is different from his current school.

I really detest school hunting because i have to make a decision on behalf of my son. I have to make lots of assumptions, there's alot of unknowns and sometimes i just have to go with my gut feel. I wish he could make his own decision, so that i wouldn't be the one making the wrong move (selfish thinking!). I really hope my gut feel about this new school is spot on!

Mixing Colors

We've been reading a Malay book on colors and sonshine learnt about colors mixing.

I didn't want him to just memorize the fact but to see for himself. Hence we did some color mixing today!

I showed N what are the primary colors. I wrote the words 'blue, red yellow' on the paper and N painted the respective colors over them.

Then we started mixing! Although he knew what to expect, he was still intrigued to witness the colors magically change into its secondary colors.

You can also play color mixing using playdough. It's a bit tricky though, you need to mix an equal amount of dough otherwise, the color wouldn't be obvious.

Have fun! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Problem solving

At my sister's suggestion, i decided to let N try simple problem sums. I thought it was a good way to check if N could read and understand the problem. I first wrote the above problem, before i could even write 'how many altogether?', the boy gave the answer '4!'.

Also to check if he would know if the problem requires him to add or subtract, i wrote a subtraction sum for him. No sweat- he could tell me '50-3'. I guess it was the phrase 'take away' that helped (he knows take away means to subtract).

Just for fun, i wrote a slightly complicated sum- see above. At first, he added all of the red & blue cars. But i made him read again and told him to add only the red cars. We practice a couple of times and he understood it thereafter.

Maths Puzzle

When my sister handed me this Maths puzzle last Christmas, i thought it'd be a long while (like 1 year later) before N can do this. I didn't expect that 2 months later, N will be capable of doing this maths puzzle.

There are 3 sets of puzzles in this box. Each set comes with an answer sheet. On each answer sheet and behind each puzzle piece are equations or numbers. For instance, on this particular piece of puzzle is the sum '2+0='. The child is to look for the answer on the answer sheet and place the piece on it. Or there would be an equation on the answer sheet '3+4=' and the child is to look for the puzzle piece that has the answer.

Sonshine boy enjoyed this puzzle very much and asked to do all 3 in a seating. Unfortunately, (my dear sister if you are reading this) one set has 2 missing puzzles!! Anyway, i think this is such a creative way to practise maths!

I'm anticipating that i'll be asked where this was purchased. Erm, i am not sure. But, i do know that Popular book stores carry this brand's (Creatives) puzzles-however i'm not sure if they have this particular puzzle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

God made the Sea

The following activity was inspired by Mum in the making (I'm sorry but i lost the exact post).  Before i go on, i just want to shout out to Jus- You're one talented mama! Thank you for sharing your wonderfully creative ideas!

I saved this piece of art which the boy painted yesterday. I told him that the blue represents the sea where the sea animals live. He was given a set of animals stickers (given to us for free while we were dining at Waraku) and he stuck them all over the painting. Later on, i pointed to each of them & told him that God made the fish, tortoise, starfish. He pointed to the seahorse and said 'God made this!'. You got it baby!

I cut out some letters from an old magazine and pasted the words 'God made the sea'' on the painting as a finishing touch.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Subtraction by 2, 3 & 4

Yes, i have finally decided to move on to Subtraction. It seems to be the natural progression since sonshine boy has grasp the addition concept. He can add in 2s,3s,4s,5s mentally. When i say that i mean that he can add these single digits to any number i.e.4+3, 87+3, 289+5 etc.

Our first subtraction lesson was...over a meal. Yes, i tend to do this kind of impromptu thing. Anyway, i used my fingers once again. Sonshine boy can subtract by 1, so i began my lesson with subtraction by 2.

I started with the equation '10-2' and held up 2 fingers. I told him to count down and we got the answer '8'. I went on with the subsequent equations '8-2, 6-2...2-2'. By then he seems to have gotten the hang of it, so i whacked one new equation for him. I asked him what was '20-2'? This time without fingers, he calculated in his head and gave me the correct answer. After correctly answering a few more equations, i was convinced that he understood it. And the lesson was over in 10 minutes.

Later, i realised he was also able to mentally subtract by 3 and 4 from any numbers (i.e. 57-3, 109-4) - even though i didn't show him how. I reckon this means that he has fully understood the concept of subtraction and how to calculate mentally.

I think this is possible because the boy is particularly interested in maths. Also, i think the right methodology was used such that he could understand. I am really glad that i took time to figure out the right formula for him. It made it really easy for him (to understand) and for me (i don't have to go through every single equation with him). Best of all, he learnt to solve subtractions by 2,3 & 4 (i suspect even 5-haven't tested it yet) even though the 'lesson' was conducted just over 10minutes! WOOT!

Dunk it!

I know, this is a homeschool blog but i am so happy with my purchase that i just had to come here and rave about it!

We bought a basketball stand for sonshine boy! I like it because its very sturdy not like a typical toy that's made of flimsy material. Its realistic, the height is just right for toddlers like sonshine boy. Its also adjustable, so it can 'grow' along with the boy! 

The reason for our purchase is because the boy recently develop a liking for shooting basketballs. But the basketballs loops at the courts are too high for the boy and daddy has to carry him up-not that it helps. So this is just right for the boy! More importantly, we felt that it is a good way to hone his motor skills.

Now, we can have some outdoor play, indoors!

We play paint!

Today being our non-school day, i decided to take out our paint. Previously, sonshine boy was never interested in this art play but surprisingly he had loads of fun today & kept asking for more. YAY!

This turned out so well that i am going to use it for our bible study activity!

The boy is a late bloomer. He recently is into pretend & imaginary play even with paint! I painted a tree, cars, traffic lights and he was happy pretending the cars were moving this way and that. He made me paint his grands' house (the odd looking thing on the bottom left) and pretended that blob (right side of the picture) was a tunnel. We had fun! :)

More about the moon

I've been playing some moon activities with sonshine following our read on this book. Nothing really serious some impromptu play.

We were playing playdough the other day and i made the moon in its different phases. We just recited a portion of the book together 'and the moon got smaller and smaller and smaller!' as i pointed each phase.

Another version of our disappearing moon!

I saw this all over the Internet while searching for moon activities. These are Oreo biscuits with the inside scraped to look like the different shapes of the moon. Instead of naming them in its scientific terminology, we just quoted the book again. But Sonshine boy was able to point out which one was the full moon.
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