Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yummy Food

N is a really picky eater. If possible, he would do away with his 3 meals and just live on water. No kidding. In all his 4 years, he has NEVER told us he's hungry. The only stuff he would ask for are all the unhealthy snacks like sweets- before you jump into any conclusion, we don't give in to his request for sweets easily either.

Anyway, in our very feeble attempt to make him eat more, my husband & i went in search for books on eating & eating the right food. We borrowed a couple and read them to him last 2 weeks. He has basically learnt the food pyramid, what are the food he should eat more, what less, how different food benefit  him in varying ways etc

So to drill into him what we have read, i did up the chart above. It's basically categorizing the food, which food gives us fibre, which calcium, protein etc and how each help our body.

While, it has certainly helped him to understand why we need to eat, it hasn't helped in his picky eating ways. BLEH!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ipad- how I control the boy's usage.

I am very proud to say that sonshine boy watches 0 hours of tv a day. Even if he does, it will be well under 30mins on the YouTube. He is one of the rare kids who has short attention span when it comes to the television. Of course, he has his favorite shows like Thomas the Train, Chugginton and can sit through an episode but even then he would rather play his educational pc game or iPad then to watch shows. But having said that, he can clock up to 2 hours (break in between) on the iPad- and I'm certainly not proud of that!

I knew very well this would happen the minute mr iPad steps into our house. So I made a pact with the boy & this is how I control his usage.

I liken iPad to fire, it's a good servant but poor master. Hence I consciously make the iPad serve us rather lord over us. Here's how. I created 2 types of folders and named them 'weekend' and 'education'. Under the 'weekend' folder are those arcade or what I call, mindless games which the boys (including the papa) oh so love to play. No points for guessing which folder angry birds come under. And of course, under the education folders are all the educational games these includes maths (mostly), spelling, Chinese etc. N knows he can play the mindless games only on weekends but he's allowed to play educational games during the weekday (this applies to daddy-o as well! Or rather he can't play in front of N on weekdays). That's why I am more tolerant when he plays up to 2 hours on iPad a day. He thinks he is playing but he's actually practicing his maths and reading skills. I've discovered that he has also been Learning as he plays! Good for me! :p

I think in today's world, resisting technology is impossible. It's like resisting television, but the more you resist the more excluded you are from this world. But like television, it brings us good knowledge but all kinds of evilness as well. It's how you use it, how you control it. Just like, well, fire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finishing off division

Alright, i am quite convince the boy knows his division. But since I've already made the cards, i had him do the activity anyway! We've completed division by 5 and 6. At the same time, my hub and i have been giving N random divisions by 7,8,9 and 11 (sometimes 12). And all i can say, The boy sure knows his division!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Board game and simple lessons learnt

The boy came back from school one day and said something about 'Snakes, ladders'. Apparently, he has been playing this game at school (for some strange reason). Remembering that i had loads of board games at my mom's, i had her bring over a set of Snakes & ladders.

As expected, it was huge hit with the boy! He insist to play EVERYDAY.

After playing and watching him play, i discover the greatness of a simple board game like this.

1) It brings the family together. We've been playing as a family and it has been nothing short of fun!

2) It teaches the child to take turn. Sonshine boy was eager to have his turn but he eventually learnt that he has to wait and let others have their turn. This also taught him about the sequence of players, who plays first, second and third then back to first, second etc.

3) And this is the most important (for me), he learns to lose graciously and to play fairly. Initially, he got extremely upset that he was lagging behind and losing. He would cry but insist on playing. He would ask grandma (who gives in to him) and us to give in to him. But we insist that we all play fairly. I am glad that since then, he accepts  when he doesn't win but will insist on trying, and trying and trying again until he wins. That's the spirit!

4) He learns that although he is trailing behind, he can still win as long as the game is not over yet. If you are familiar with the game, even if you're on top, you may just fall back down in the next turn. The last can eventually become the winner.

 I hope he will later on learn that, in life, although we may seemingly be weaker or losing, it doesn't mean it will be the end of it all. He can still conquer the odds and emerge as victorious.

5) I didn't do this with the boy cause i wanted him to just play. But if you're teaching your kid addition right now, this may be a good time to play Snakes & ladders. For instance, if your token is at space number 4, player throws a 4. You can turn it into a maths lesson. Ask your kid, what is 4 + 4? The answer is where the token should be. And by counting each step to space 8, you give a great visual to the kid, why 4 + 4 is 8. :) Good learning fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Division by 3 and 4 and....

Since he could crack the division by 2 table so fast, i went on to the next table- division by 3.

Again, i used the maths cubes but once more, he showed me he didn't need the visual aids. I took away the cubes and made him complete the set which he did with no help. It's really cute seeing him paused with each equation, i could see he was calculating in his head.

Still, not convinced that he could divide on his own, i whipped out the division by 4 cards- no problem there either. I needed more convincing so i randomly asked him what 18 divide by 9 or 14 by 7 was- he answered them correctly.

Ok, i thought i needed 10 weeks to teach him the entire division table but looks like not?
And i still don't know how he does it!

Division by 2

As soon as i learnt that division is repeated subtraction, i came up with an activity just to show N this fact.

I prepared the division cards.

We first explored the set on division by 2 with the help of our Mathematical cubes. Here the equation is 6 divide by 2. I asked N how many cubes to take out in total, we determined that it was 6. He also figured out that we have to count by 2 i.e. subtract by 2 or group into 2.

So, i had him break out the cubes in sets of 2. We counted that there were 3 sets and the answer hence.

We also have explored the entire division (by 2) table. I noticed N didn't need to use the cubes to solve the rest of the equations.

He was able to complete the entire division by 2 table without any help nor visual aids. :)

I have yet figure out how he calculates the equation in his head. He could have remembered that i told him division is the opposite of multiplication and he calculated the reverse in his head. *shrug* I have no clue!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Division by 10

To kick start this topic afresh, i used-what else, my Montessori ten beads. I chose to start with the easiest equation, which is division by 10.

I wrote the equations on cards and indicated each number in different color. First, i asked N to look at the card. I told him that this means there are 60 beads in total (blue). I asked N to take out 60 beads for me.

I pointed back to card and explained that we are to divide the beads into 10 i.e there are 10 beads in 1 set. We then counted how many sets there are- 6.
Straight away, the boy saw the connection and could divide in tens. But i still insist we continue with the demo just to make sure he really understood it.
When i was sure, i randomly asked him what 120 divide by 10 was, this time with no visual aid. He could easily tell me it was 12.


One of the maths topic i dread to teach was division. I had no clue, I didnt know how. I first started by reading books to N and using the Montessori division board. While it helped N to understand the meaning of division, he couldn't solve a division equation like how he did for addition, multiplication etc. One of the flaw i found with the Montessori board was that while it helped the kid to derive the answer, but it doesn't teach the kids how to divide mentally (which was the ultimate task i set upon myself).

All I knew that division is about grouping. But I got confused, when we divide something, are we finding out how many sets are there or how many are there in each set? Although both gives the same answer. However, this hindered how I taught N. If I was confused, how was I to teach him?

I did a little more research and found the key to unlock all my questions. Bear with me, this is going to be a technical post.

Division IS about grouping but it didn't occur to me that it's also repeated subtraction, just as multiplication is repeated addition. Technically, when dividing, we are trying to find how many sets are there. (Although, we can also divide to find out how many units are there in each set just like multiplication i.e. we can multiply 3X4 or 4X3 to get the same answer). This was an important find because it will help the child to divide easily.

As with multiplication, I was very clear to N that when we multiply say 3 by 4, it means we are multiplying 3 sets with 4 units in each set. Because he was clear on that, he could multiply mentally. It helped him to understand that this equation for instance meant that he skip count by 4, three times. Likewise for division, when we divide 12 by 4, it means we skip count backward by 4 or subtract 4 repeatedly from 12 till we hit 0. Hence, the answer gives us the number of sets (3 for this example) when we group the units by 4 (i.e 4 units in each set).

Am I confusing you? That's alright, I wrote this for myself- so I could refer back when I've to teach baby doll.

I'll be sharing how im teaching N this topic in awhile- stay tuned!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Our visits to the library have been a little challenging these days. Nope, it's not like i have to drag him there- he looks forwards to every trip there. But now that the boy is older, he wants to choose his own books.

With both mother and son putting our desired books in the bag, we usually end up with an overwhelming pile of books to borrow. Not an issue, you say? It is, if we can only borrow a limited number of books- we're already utilising my card as well. So i would inspect every book he puts in the bag- to see if it's worth borrowing. It is funny because, my mom, who accompanies us to the library, knows the drill. Whatever books N put in the bag, she would take them out and let me see. With a nod, she'd put the books back and with a frown, she'd secretly return them without N's knowing. :P

Anyway, i digress. During our last visit to the library, he picked out a book on his own and i thought it was just apt for our Language week. This book taught us what Homophones are. N now knows that Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled & used differently

The two homophones we read up are 'where' and 'wear'. I would read the book without N looking at the pages, and ask him is it 'Where' or 'Wear'. It was pretty fun and actually interesting to see if he knows which was the appropriate word.

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