Friday, January 28, 2011

Little nuggets of the Sonshine boy

1. He loves to run up to me, stick his nose on my shirt, take a whiff and ask 'nice?'. To which i'd ask him back and he would reply 'NICE!'. But would readily declare 'NOT NICE' after sniffing Papa's shirt.

2. He likes to run his hands up my arms, sometimes i find his fingers under my sleeves..and even shorts (YIKES!). Before falling asleep, he sometimes would place one hand my mine.

I think the above 2 points, stems from the fact that he was a breastfed baby. He's so used to my smell and the skin to skin contact.

3. He loves to listen to a particular song repeatedly. In my car, the same song is being repeated over and over for many days. It would be impossible to change track or CD without his detection. My husband gets quite a 'culture' shock when he drives my car during the weekend and would attempt several times over (without success) to change the song.

4. He would sometimes break into a huge 'HELLO!!!" with a broken wrist wave to passengers in the or waiting for the lift. He also likes to pop his head into neighbours houses and yell 'HELLLOO!!!!'.

5. He likes us to list down, in numbering bullet form, his activities for the day. He would ask 'NUMBER 1?' and we would say 'number 1, we brush our teeth'. He would ask 'NUMBER 2?, NUMBER 3?'...all the way down to the last acitivity for the day. And as we finish each activity, he would announce (that we're doing) 'NUMBER 4 now!!'.

Sorting pictures & words

This is a sorting game that we played recently. I took out 4 different types of pictures, animals, flowers, transportation & insects. Sonshine boy sorts them out on a paper divided in four quadrants.

To make it more challenging, i replaced the pictures with 4 types of species in words from 4 categories, mixed them up and have sonshine boy to sort them. I wanted to see if he knew that say a 'parakeet' is a type of bird, or a 'flounder' is a fish. He did this with no help and could tell me what category each quadrant represents.

{post note: yes i know that my 'hibiscus' word label is spelt wrongly}

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On having children in Singapore

Yesterday, my hubs and i were watching Blogtv and the topic was about having large families- the benefits and drawbacks. Two families were interviewed, one had 7 children and the other only 1.

I find it ironic that today, people would gasp at large families of 7 or more. Think about it, throw a stone and chances are you'll hit on one who's grandparents had at least 6 children. What i'm saying is that, in our grans' days, it is very normal to have large families. I like to add that mothers in those days are expected to stay home- its a norm. The irony of it all is that they were very much poorer (of course things were less expensive & sophisticated as well) than an average family today. Yet, they went on to have multiple children, survived with the little they had and saw their children through education. Amazing isn't it? My own grans had 6 (actually 9 if the triplets had survived) children and i have to say, most of them turned out to be very successful, eloquent people.

Today, people are complaining and whining how expensive, stressful, tiring it is to raise a child in Singapore..blah blah blah. But it makes me wonder, is that really true? If the previous generation could survive with the little they had, what more about us? Is it because our values have changed? Is it because we've become too sophisticated to a point where we cannot live in simplicity? Or that we have become too materialistic that we cannot give up our coveted wants for the sake of our children? I like what Building the Ark said, it's because people today just cannot bring themselves to sacrifice their money, figure, time for another being- another wonderful creation. We don't see the value or joy that children can bring. Or like what my hubs plainly puts it, we have become too self centered.

I do think it is possible to have children in our country, even having multiple brood. I feel its only a matter of living more simply, not pursuing for the high life of condos, luxury cars, premium education etc.

Mandarin lessons begin!

Last year, i did little Mandarin activities with N because i thought his school teacher was doing a good job. Turns out, she's been teaching him words that he already knows. Yes, we wasted an entire year. Oh well.

 Anyway, i've embarked on our learning Mandarin journey starting with this book. I am treating it like a textbook. We've been reading this book regularly for a few nights now, and as we read, i would emphasize on words that N doesn't know. After a while, he was able to read the 'new' words to me. But i wanted to make sure he was not memorizing, so i whipped out my chinese flashcards.

These were the new words we learnt from the book. I showed to N one at a time and asked him to read to me.

Sometimes, he just cannot remember the word. Knowing that he learns better in English, i turned the card to let him read the Hanyu pinyin. Using his phonics knowledge, he could instantly read out the word to me (although wrong sound). But it was so effective that he immediately remembered how to read the word the next time!

Make Van Gogh's Bed

I first saw painting activities over at Adventures of Bear but never thought of actually doing it with the boy...until i stumbled upon this book at the library.

It's really a cool book. The illustrations are all famous paintings but the author manage to piece them up and make a story- even with rhyming words which made it enjoyable to read! Best of all, there are flaps, ribbons etc for the child to touch, hence the book is called 'Touch the Art'.

It also tells the reader what is the painting called and who the artist is. Sonshine boy was surprisingly, very interested in this book.

Not wanting to slip this chance by, i created an activity relating to the book we read. I printed some of the paintings we saw on the book.

The kiddo matches the painting to its name and artist. It was interesting to note that he was able to recall the names of each painting; i didn't have to guide him.

I love this book! What an easy way to expose the child to art paintings!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

IQ Genius

I was checking out another right brain game that my sister gave me when the busybody just had to check out what i was doing. I was trying to see if the game was appropiate for him. I concluded that it was abit tough for him and intended to put it away until his older.

He insisted on doing it with me and so i obliged. But i was also concern that he might loose interest in it once he discover that it was too difficult for him.

The aim of the game is to fit the various shaped bocks into a given picture. It's abit like tangrams but more challenging.

Call me a tard but i found it difficult even for me! It was quite mind boggling. Surprisingly, sonshine boy was very interested in it. Despite not being able to solve the puzzles immediately, he wasn't frustrated. Instead he wanted to keep trying- i was the one who suggested we change (ha!). He eventually solved the above puzzle all by himself and in a few seconds! He did it while i was still fumbling with the blocks (what a blonde moment). We were both beaming with pride!

And here's the game if you are interested. I think its quite affordable.

My little bookworm

Other than toy shops, the other place sonshine boy loves to go to is a bookstore. It can be anywhere as long as there are books. He has made us stop our tracks for Popular bookshops, libraries and even the book sections in Giant supermarkets- just about wherever there are books. It would take us quite a bit of negotiating to get him out of that department.

I always thought he was just flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures- not exactly reading. Maybe reading a few words or page here and there but not seriously checking out the content. But recently, i discovered it was not quite.

The other night, sonshine boy sat between the hubs and i, and silently read one book after another. He was whispering in such a soft voice that it was almost hard to hear him. He was actually reading the entire book! Word by word, page by page, cover to cover. He read 2 Dr Suess books and a few others all by himself! While i am aware that he is capable of reading a book on his own, i've never seen or heard him do it- at least voluntarily (I always had to nudge him to read to me or im always the one reading to him). I have seen him sitting in a corner flipping books many times, but it never occured to me that he was actually READING. 

Okay, well, to some it might be just 'chey, no big deal!', but it is to me. If there is only one thing i did right in this parenting business, it would be that i develop (by God's grace) a love for books in the kiddo. My husband just had to add that Mr Lee KY would be very proud of me! :P

Writing sums

N's teacher handed me this piece of paper and reported that he did these sums independently. I was more proud that he actually wrote the answers down by himself! Of course, the teacher had to add that his pencil grip is still weak hence the faint lines. Oh well, we'll just have to work more on that!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chinese New Year craft

Here's a Chinese New Year (CNY) craft we did!

First, i pasted doubled sided tape on a red paper to make the word, which means 'fortune' in English. At the same time, i taught N how to read it.

To avoid mess, i place the paper in a tray.

Remove the white tape and let your child sprinkle some gold glitter!

The result! Ready to be hanged at our door!

Chinese New Year!

I love Chinese New Year, i've very fond memories of it! I hope N would too!

In celebration of the festive period, i prepared some CNY activities.

I prepared an envelope and pasted the word 'Chinese New Year' on it.

Inside the envelope are pictures of what we can see during CNY from lion dance, chinese latterns to pineapple tarts.

There are also typical chinese new year greetings. Im taking this chance to teach N more Mandarin words.

What's CNY without red packets? I put in some money and asked N to count how much there were in each packet! I'm preparing him for the real task!

More spelling

We're learning to spell more words. I had intended for N to learn one word a week, but it took him a few seconds to remember how to spell 'one'. So, i added two more new words this week, 'two' and 'three'.

A block of ice

This was an activity waiting to happen. It's all over other blogs and knew i had to do it with N.

First, fill a container with water and add some knick-knacks ie marbles, rubber bands. Here, i put in N's sea animal toys. Freeze the container overnight.

Take the ice out of the container and let the kid hack it away!

What can you find inside the ice?

We're going on a bear Hunt

I read this book when N was little. He loved it then but the more i read it the more i wanted to put it away- because it was too long & repetitive to read aloud!

My good old sister recently passed me a brand new copy of this book & so i read to N again. He still loves it!

Since he enjoyed it so much, i let him watch the Michael Rosen's narration of the book on Youtube. It was such a delight watching him so engrossed and enjoying every minute of the clip. It's nice to see him getting absorb by a reader rather than a cartoon! Here's the link: Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Childhood

There's been misgiving about early academic learning, that it robs a child of his childhood. I don't agree with that. On the contrary, i think early academic learning enriches one's childhood.

First, let me give you my own defination of a 'happy childhood'. I think it's one where the child grows up feeling AND knowing that he is loved, valued & needed. He grows up in a secure, loving and stable environment. As simple as that, nothing to do with providing or not providing early academic learning. These are seperate matters, you cannot equate the two. Likewise, it's not just about allowing alot of free play i.e. you can give the child alot of free play but little love, the child can still grow up feeling like he never had a good childhood.

That said, i do understand why the misconception & i blame it on the average Singaporean parents- who, in my opinion, are doing it all wrong. Typically, these parents carefully dicatate their child's learning path based on what they, the parents, want or think is needful for their child. They often overlook what their child wants. When these parents choose something that are against the child's interest, is it a wonder why the child end up unhappy i.e. feeling that his childhood has been forfieted?

The right way is to make learning fun and more importantly, to always allow the child to lead you- let the child decide what he wants to learn! Otherwise learning will inadvertently becomes a drag for them & it'll probably scar them for life. My husband, is one living example. His mother forced him to take up piano- thinking it was for his own good. He went all the way up to grade 8 and stopped. Today, he hates the piano, refuses to lay his finger on even one key, insist that he DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY and flees at the very sight of a piano.

As for N, I really, i say it again, REALLY, wish he'd pick up a sport or two. My dream is for him to be a sporty lad, because his mama was never good in sports. Bleh. Likewise for music. Double bleh. Unfortunately, he shows NO interest in these areas- at the moment. BUT he loves reading & academic learning. Say i take up the notion that 'oh early academic learning will rob him of his happy childhood' and i insist that he takes up sports and music & deny him of his love for books. Would he grow up happy? I doubt. He'll probably look back and say 'i wished my mama had read me more books, i hated those sports & music classes!'.

Equally importantly, we must allow the child to learn at his own unqiue way and pace. Every child has a different learning style and rate. Some learn best by seeing, others playing or hearing. Some learn faster and some needs more time. Most parents today are pushing their child to fit into the standard mould, they mistakenly think that if so and so can achieve this result at age 3, so can their child. They blindly send thier child to popular enrichment classes because that's what others are doing without stopping to think if it is suits the child. As a result, the young child gets stress beyond what he can bear and therefore burnt out. That's when people wrongly think early academic learning is not good for a child.

There's is nothing wrong with early academic learning. Children are born to be learners, they love to learn & oh how fast they learn! Listen to what your child is saying- he's learning even when you're NOT deliberately teaching him. Watch what he's doing. He's learning every minute from you, from his surroundings. It's really comes to no surprise that a 1 year old can read a book, a 3 year can swim or a 2 year old can speak in dual languages. They are natural learners!

Early academic learning can, and should, be made fun even for a 1 year old. It doesn't have to be all flashcards, in a strict classroom setting or clocking 2-3 hours of learning. The secret to success is to marry play and learning together. You can teach with his existing toys, teach when you're cooking, teach when you're in the park or at the beach..there are so many ways! It's all about HOW you do it and knowing your child's limits.

What i am trying to say, don't be too quick to assume that a child who is given early academic learning will be robbed of a happy childhood. If done correctly & wisely, early academic learning can bring on fond memories for the child too.

I have always let N decide what he wants to learn and how he wants to. Our 'lessons' are always enjoyable for N with him skipping, jumping all over the room and with him asking to 'do some more?'. I dare say he is a happy kid, in fact, more happy & secure than most kids. He's default mood is always happy and positive -it's actually rare to catch him moody and whiny.

All children are born with different strengths & interest. As parents, we are obliged to identify what their interest is and steer them into that direction, be it academic, sports or music etc. I am sure most of us parents want our children to have pleasant memories of their childhood.

I believe it's really all about loving them, letting them know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we love them unconditionally. And like all things in life, it's striking a balance, giving our children a well rounded childhood and not denying them of one area or another.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Adding by ten

The other day, we were counting money when i realised N didn't know how to add 10 and 15. He knows how to add 10 to tens i.e.20,40,60, but not with other 2 digits i.e.25,46,78.

Hence, i came up with this activity quite spontaneously. I used my wonderful Montessori counting beads of course!

First, i took out a 10 beads bar and a 5 beads bar. N counted, there are 15 in all.

Then i added another 10 beads bar and asked N '15 + 10 more' equals?

He counted and said 25. I wrote on the doodle board the full equation just so that he can visually see the equation.

I continued with this, by adding another 10 beads bar and asked N how much does 25 plus 10 equals to. We went through this over and over by adding 10 beads to the lot until we hit 105.

I wanted him to see the pattern so i took out another pair this time, in total, 17.

Like the above, we added 10 bar to the beads and calculated all the way up to 107.

Just to make sure he fully understood the pattern, i randomly wrote an equation '64+10=?'. Without the beads this time, i asked N to give me the answer to which he said '74'. I wrote a couple more equations and was satisfied that he has grasp the concept.

We'll keep practising!

Logico again...

We've been doing Logico every now and then.
It's getting quite interesting & N is getting the hang of it. As i said before, its not so straight forward to answer the questions. Here's what we're suppose to do:

1. Identify the question we want to answer i.e choose the color code.
2. Here, in each question, there are 3 buckets of varying numbers of pencils. The child is to pick the bucket that has the most number of pencils.
3. Once he has identified that, he needs to determine the shape representing that bucket.
4. He now has to pick the corresponding colored knob from the horizontal axis and move it up to the vertical axis.
5. He shifts the colored knob to the correct shape identified in step 3.

The Logico comes in several booklets for different subjects & levels. We've dabbled in shapes/colors, counting (N's favourite of course) and now logical thinking.

The gist of the questions are generally easy however, it adds in a couple more steps before the child can get to the answer. I like that it challenges the child to think.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Counting beads with a twist

N still loves to do this. Just today, he asked to do it again.

But i got bored watching him doing it and decided to make it interesting for us.

I took out our doodle board and wrote:

I instructed N to read and give me the beads according to what i've written.

No sweat!

Addition cards

N loves counting and that's why it has been easy teaching him how to add and substract. So far, he's been showing nothing less than keen interest in this subject. I've been using my fingers to teach him some sums & he has successfully learnt that 5+2=7 and 5+2=8. Now he can spout out the answers for these equations without the need for visual aids.

Instead of using my fingers, i thought i should make it more interesting for him.
So i made these cards from scratch.

I use them to 'play' with N additions

For instance, i would take the number 8 & 2 cards and asked N how much does 8+2 amounts to? He counts the total number of cows on the cards and select the correct answer card. This week, i am aiming to show him the equations that sums up to 10.

Unfortunately, N seems to prefer my fingers. :I All that effort in making the cards!

That aside, i am happy to share these cards with you- i call it my First free printables! But you'd have to cut, paste & laminate them yourself. I only ask that you don't sell my creation and if you intend to blog about it, do link it back to my site. Just email me at for the printables. :)


I'm introducing to N the concept of measurement. Here's how i do it.

I used my Montessori Number rods and Red rods.

First, we arrange the number rods in order.

I then randomly select a red rod and ask out loud 'how long is this?'. I took a number rod, measure it against the selected red rod and ask N if they were of the same length. When we determine that it was so, N measured the length of the red rod by counting the number rod. We did this for all 10 rods. It was nice to see N having fun with this!

Spelling Numbers

Our spelling theme for this period is numbers.

We're first learning how to spell 'one'.

RIght Brain training...

This is one of the many educational toys my sister passed me. It's another right brain training exercise. It comes withs several boards of similar looking pictures, in this case, clowns. On closer look, there are one or two difference between each picture.

The aim  of the game is to match the loose pieces to the correct clown. I think its quite challenging for a young child, especially since the details are really subtle. Yet, its really a good way to sharpen the child's ability to visually discriminate the difference in color, shapes etc.

More chopsticks activity

Here's more practise on using his pincer grasp. This time N had to transfer the marbles using the chopsticks. It wasn't easy because the marbles are slippery and because its round, it tends to roll all over the place, making it hard to grip. However, N did awesome!

He can write!

I've recently started to get N to write on our doodle board. Previously, he was merely tracing on my iphone.

I was eager for him to write letters but he asked to write ONE HUNDRED AND THREE- in numbers of course. I instantly doubted that he could do it since i have not taught him to trace/write numbers but still i obliged with a sigh.

And lo & behold...

Where did he learn that from? I guess its mainly because he just loves numbers- even writing them. Later on, i discovered he could also write '106' and '107' all on his own.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Of late, i am increasingly feeling lonely in my homeschooling journey. It seems really hard to find like minded moms in my circle of friends.

When i briefly share with them what i do with N, i get negative vibes. In their eyes, i am pushing N too hard academically speaking and they often tell me to 'just let him be'. They are so called 'experienced' moms who have older children or more than one or they're mostly 5 years older than me. They cannot accept that a 1 year old child can read & recognise words; they think its absurd to teach maths to a 3 year old child. It's hard to share with them what we do at home without getting discouraging feedback. To them, i should focus just on bringing him up to be independent and character building.

Sometimes talking to them makes me feel perhaps, just maybe, i've truly chosen the wrong path? Honestly, i don't know how all these will turn out when N hit Primary school. Would it REALLY help him- as many researchers says? Or would it backfire? I wish i can fast forward time!

But what i know now that it is quite evident that children can learn just about anything that we teach  them & quite effortlessly. Anything they learn within this window period would most likely stick onto their brains permanently- for life perhaps. And i know N is not finding all these learning a chore; instead he is so hungry for them & always eager.

What my friends do not know is that i don't homeschool everyday, every hour. In fact, my teaching time is usually done impromptu. For instance, in the midst of our playing, i'd stick out my fingers and ask N '5 plus 3 equals?'. He counts & gives me the answer. That's it! Few minutes later, i'd just casually ask him, without the fingers this time, & he promptly gives me the answer. There, that completes my homeschooling for the day!

They don't realise that i don't pursue homeschooling blindly; i don't force N to do it. I always, always follow his lead. Whatever interest him, i'll steer our direction there. I have been teaching him to read, add and geography only because he shows deep interest in them and has a flair for them. It's because he is interested, he learnt so quickly- almost instantly in most cases and that spurred me to keep feeding him with more knowledge in his interested areas. It's like my friends who's kids love to play legos and has talent in creative building. So what do they do? Buy more legos to fuel on their interest, to encourage them in this area. It's the same for me, just that my son happens to like academic learning.

I am not the typical 'kiasu' Singaporean parent who insist on sending my kid to top schools or to varying enrichment classes. I see no need to join the rat race. My aim is to have N learn at his own pace and in a happy environment.

While i am always eager to share with my friends my passion, i think i'll just keep it really brief and go along with the flow until i can find like minded friends. For now, i'll just share it online on my blog!


I am really blessed with a great sister! Just hours before the new year, she handed me two huge boxes worth of educational resources! With the arrival of no.2 this year, i know i would not have time to plan and make activities for N. I decided to fall back on purchased educational activities- that'll save me lots of time. I have been stocking up and it really helped that my sister passed me her loot. THanks Jie, you're the best!!

Here's one of the many things she handed me, a set of LOGICO, which by the way, does not come cheap.

The first time i studied it, i was perturbed. I couldn't accept that a 3 year (as recommended by the maker) would be able to solve the problems. Perhaps i have under estimated their abilities. N showed me that he fully understood what he was suppose to do.

I have flipped through some of its exercises, and i have to say some are quite tough questions for a 3 year old. And to answer a question is not so straight forward. You need to think a step or two in order to answer it. I am looking from a 3 year old's perspective of course.  

I think it's aim is to train the child to use both his left and right brain. It's quite a new change from what i've been doing with N at home. I like it! But i think N is not as excited as me, although he will oblige doing a few problems in a sitting.

Wow, i think i just did a product review?  

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Here's more handwriting activities we did. I had N to trace the letters with his finger on a card which my sister gave me (picture on the left). Once he is confident, N trace the same letter on my iphone application, doodle buddy. :) N seems to be losing interest in this, and i have to be really careful not to bore him. Sigh

The Lord is my Shephard

Our latest memory verse! I'm also glad that N still remembers all the other verses we taught him. God gives grace, even the very young, to remember His word.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog award

I have been receiving blog awards here and there but never really write about it. Not that i am not appreciative of it, just that i never knew what i was suppose to do!
But i am always appreciative that other bloggers remember me this way! Thank you Leptir for this!

This award has only one rule: you must specify three destinations to which you want to travel and say why

So here goes!
1. Israel: I visited there once and love it. I am a christian and going to land of God makes the bible alive. You'll see living proof of the things you read in the bible from places to tombstones! Its real!

2. USA: FOR SHOPPING!!!!! I want to go to their outlets and go crazy there! And erm, ya check out their scenic views too..but that's secondary! HA!

3. Korea: Watching all that Korean variety shows just make me want to go there and taste their food. IT LOOKS SO GOOD!

Actually, i've been too all 3 places! Hahaha, i guess my visits there were too good not to go back again!

I'm passing this award to

1. Leptir
2. Mi Escuelita Montessori
3. Counting coconuts
4. Adventures of Bear



When N was 6 months old, i took on a rigorous reading routine. I would read a set of english and chinese books to him three times a day. Sad to say, its down to just once a day now. :(

However, today, i can see that my effort has paid off. Not only N is an independent reader, he has a love for books. He loves going to the library and would bury himself in the books.

That said, N still very much prefers that i read to him. In fact, i rarely get him to read. But recently, curiosity got the better of me, i decided to have him read to me instead.

Now i know N can read this entire book on his own.

It's a fairly simple book with simple words. But i love this book because its easy for a toddler to understand the content.

This book has become a must read for N! We've been reading this every night much to my boredom.

I am please to know that N can even read the chunky passages on this book.

Here's another book N is capable of reading on his own.

Each reading page has a verse and N showed that he could read all on his own. It was really sweet hearing him read to me about valentine. :)
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