## Wednesday, February 22, 2012

### Mutiple Fractions

Adventures of Bear did a fraction activity with her daughter which inspired me. So i thought of one for sonshine.

Sonshine took out an equation label. We first determine we are to count by halves 4 times (for this particular example).

Then he took out 4 halves cards.

Sonshine joined the halves to make into full circles. We counted how many wholes there are- and that would be our answer!
Sonshine worked on the rest of the equations.

After this activity, i discovered sonshine was able to give me all the answers mentally- including those equations we didn't work on.

At first, i was taken aback. Then i figured he must have remembered that i once told him that half of say 4 is 2, half of 8 is 4 etc.

But i never presented it in multiplication format until now, so i am still puzzled how he figured that both forms are actually the same. Anyway, i guess its great that he can multiply in halves and that he enjoyed this activity very much.

### Sense of control

Babydoll goes where she wants to go, she reaches for things she wants to reach- all by herself. I guess that's what Montessori meant by control of environment?

Well, either way, it isn't always pleasant for sonshine because she tends to destroy his toy creations and that makes him really upset- although he has never gotten angry at her.

Still, this is a victorious milestone for babydoll.
Oh manz, i really don't want to celebrate this because it only means you are growing up too fast! :(

Pulling herself up to stand

Reaching

Cruising

### A twist to 'Egg in a cup'

What was meant for babydoll to play, turned out to be a simple lesson for sonshine.

I prepared this Egg in a cup activity for babydoll.

Sonshine had other plans. I watched him took out each volumeric solids and tried to fit them into the cup.

He discovered that the cube and rectangular solids couldn't fit into the cup.

We discussed why this was so. I pointed to him that only the round bottoms would fit into the cup which had a circular mouth while the others wouldn't because they had  differing bottoms.

Isn't it amazing that the children can create their own lesson plans just by exploring and us just observing? It would have been a shame if i had stopped him and insist edthat he plays the way i had planned it. We would have lost a meaningful lesson!

### Play with babydoll

Play with a tub of animal figurines. We call this 'Animal Kingdom'!

Practising her pincer grasp

My own version of Montessori 'Egg in a cup' activity. I happen to have a wooden communion cup (bought from Israel) and i just used one of my Montessori volumeric solids to act as an 'egg'.

Somehow, none of these could keep her occupied for long. There are too many distractions, too many things in the house to hold, touch, smell, eat, destroy!

## Monday, February 20, 2012

### 四五快读

Oh yeah. I have jumped onto the band wagon, i have joined the ranks of many moms. I bought myself a set of 四五快读. I have heard of it long ago but i never thought of owning it. So i don't know what came over me when i decided to order it- without knowing exactly what it was! But, no regrets.

1) Some parents insist that only those who are comfortable in reading Mandarin should get this book because all of the instructions and guidelines are in Mandarin. Well, i guess if you want to follow all the author's instructions then, yes, you must be somewhat well-versed in Mandarin. But, if you are like me, you prefer your own way of teaching your kids, then it is not necessary to be that proficient. I never follow the way the author taught her daughter, i created my own to suit my son's learning style. Moreover, i feel that the author's methodology suits children who have been conversing in Mandarin or raised in Mandarin-speaking environment. Her suggested method will never work on my sonny. Yet at the same time, you must be familiar with Chinese words otherwise, erm, how are you suppose to teach your child?

2) I like how each lesson is carefully planned such that by the next lesson, the child would be able to read in short phrases and sentences and later in paragraphs. Each lesson is built on the previous. This way, it builts the child's confidence (and mine too)!

3) If you are not sure, i suggest that you purchase one book at a time rather than the whole set at one go. Sure, it is more costly this way, but it's better than buying the whole set only to find out that you don't have enough stamina to complete it! I only found out that the books are separately sold at Popular bookshops after i purchased mine. Otherwise, i would've bought one book at a time.
4) Some say that it is a MUST to read the first 30 pages of the book. So i made myself read my longest ever Mandarin related article, hoping to find treasures but i emerged none the wiser. I find what she wrote is strangely similar to that of Glenn Doman and Montessori books- i secretly think she is a follower too! So what she said about teaching the child with games and through play, that its important to stop while the child is still interested etc were nothing new to me. I also think it is not necessary to read through the pages. But if you need to read up in English, my playschool.net did an awesome job.

Right now, i have completed the first book. Actually, sonshine recognises about 70% words in the first 2 books. But i am taking my time to make sure he knows the new words. I am taking a mighty long time because i want to be sure, doubly sure, triply sure and then sure that i am triply sure that he knows the words.

I don't use games to teach him the new words as the author suggested. I find it too consuming to create games after games so i take the easy way out. I usually select two words per day or per week, depending, and show sonshine the words first by reading it to him. I explain what the words mean. Then i get him to repeat after me and tell me the meaning of the words. Later in the day or the next day, i take the cards out again and ask him to read to me. I do this repeatedly until i am sure the words are well rooted in his memory! However, at the end of the book, i did create games for the boy just to revise the words. This- i will share in separate post.

I bought my copy from Happy Cottage if anyone's interested.

## Saturday, February 18, 2012

Here are more simple Mandarin books we are reading this week:

After reading Anthony Browne's 我爸爸, it is rightful we read this book! I mean, mothers need to be honored too you know! Again, i love this book because it is very simple (for me to read-aloud) and its short so Sonshine don't feel so torturous reading it.

We read this book in English and love it! So, i thought it would be a good idea to read its Chinese version. I was delighted to learn that the words are easy enough even for the little one to understand. If you are teaching your kid about color mixing, this is a great start. It tells of a story about how a little blue and a little yellow turned into green.

Sonshine and i adore this book! Another simple read with an endearing storyline about how a man made friend with Mr moon and the activities they shared together. I reckon this is another translated book.

## Monday, February 13, 2012

### Handwriting with Love

My amateur effort in making something 'lovely', didn't quite turn out what i had in mind. :(

I LOVE February!

It's Valentine's month- and my birthday month of course!

Can you just smell the love in the air?

I made valentine's theme Handwriting kit. Sonshine wrote the words "Love, kiss, hearts, hug" first on the individual cards. Then i had him write proper on a paper- 4 times for each word. The boy also learnt to spell these words as he wrote.

Love, love that he's succeeding in writing- although i can't say he is loving (i am using alot of 'love' words aren't i? well, love, love, love!!) it as much. :I But i am very pleased that he is making an effort- albeit sometimes he makes me feel like pulling my hair out!

My husband thinks it isn't necessary to make him write on the line so precisely. But i disagree. I want him to get it right from the beginning. Otherwise, he might think what he is doing is correct but only to unlearn again later- which may be more challenging as he grows older.

So i made my own writing paper with lines. I divided each section with 3 lines, a top and bottom line- both highlighted in red and a middle, dotted line in blue. I taught N that for tall letters like 'l, h, k', we must touch the top and end it on the bottom line. Short letters cannot go beyond the blue line. I even made him leave a finger spacing between each word! And yes, this is Spalding's method. Told you- it is very precise.

So happy Valentine's with your lovelies everyone!

I'll leave you with a love message from my Father in heaven:

"... i have loved you with an everlasting love" Jeremiah 31:3

## Sunday, February 12, 2012

### Pincer grasp

Babydoll is now 9 months. Oh how i love this stage!

She's so adorable, so fun, so responsive! She's well aware of her surroundings and responsive to what we say. Now, whenever we say 'LIGHTS!' or 'FAN!" she would tilt her head up and look for the lights or our ceiling fan. She would instantly turn her head toward the door whenever i yell to the kids ' PAPA IS HOME!' (oh how we all love to hear that!).

The other day i showed & taught her 2 toys, a fish and sausage. I held them on each hand and asked her where's the fish- she immediately reached out for the said toy!

I am doing flashcards with her and still finding our rhythm. Babydoll, unlike her brother, can't really sit and look at the cards. I tried to test her but she isn't responding as well as her brother. It makes me think that sonshine is a visual learner while babydoll learns better by hearing (based on my play with her i shared above).

That aside, here is an activity i recently introduced to her

I took out our Montessori knobbed cylinder not for her to do but for her to practise her pincer grasp. Babydoll loves to pick up her Gerber snack puffs and put in her mouth too!

Babydoll discovering that using her mouth to remove is WAAAY faster! LOL!

## Friday, February 10, 2012

### It's a Tsunami...

...so says my husband when he comes home. The everyday state of my house looks like a tornado had just blown by! But he isn't annoyed, more amused. If anything, i am the  (only) one who's disturb by the mess. But ironically, i wouldn't have it any other way. I prefer to let babydoll to crawl and explore freely which of course result in the sad state of my haven!

This is the daily state of our reading corner:

Well, at least someone is reading!

I knew i was doing it right when i read up on Montessori for babies here. Okay, maybe the pure Montessori followers would cry foul because the correct way is to provide an organised exploration, but hey- at least i got the principle right! :P

I don't create baskets here and there nor a designated area for babydoll to explore like what Montessori specifically recommends but i allow her to move around the house, grab anything (not dangerous), pull herself up on any furniture etc. There is much freedom and little restriction. When we are home, she is on the floor 98% of the time, 1% on her chair and 1% being carried. Although we have a playpen and crib, we rarely put her in there. I don't buy those play fence because i find it restricts her exploring. I want her to explore as long as possible, i want her to crawl as much as possible.

Some of the points raised in the article worth highlighting:

Movement

1) "...movement is associated with the development of the brain"

2) "When a child learns to create movement in their environment they will feel that they have control which in turn can later develop into a strong self esteem"

So for now, i'll live with the mess! I'll  just make her pay back when she's old enough to be my maid  helper!

## Wednesday, February 8, 2012

### Dear Sonshine

2011 was a great year for us, a year of breakthroughs and first. Let's see

1) You started a new school. I was concerned that you'd have trouble adpating but you proved me otherwise. On the first day, you skipped to school, smiled at every staff in school and put on a cheeky grin during assembly- not a day without ever since.

It was also the first time you performed in a concert. I know how reluctant you are about doing action along with a song but you overcame it. You were resistant at first but only became comfortable when the teachers allowed you to stand right at the back. (LOL!)  I was brought to tears seeing you perform, never mind that your movements were imperfect- you made me the proudest mom!

2) You became a big brother. I was worried how you would embrace the new member of the family. But again, my worries were unfounded. You accepted her as part of the family like she's been with us from day one. You didn't show any jealousy much to my relief but neither are you mad about your sister; just sitting on the fence. :P

3) Your speech has improved although you still have difficulty putting your thoughts into words. You tend to get uncomfortable when i ask you to word out how you feel, what you think, describe your day. But still, you are able to communicate clearly and unlike before, all to hear you can understand you. Right now, speech to you is for functional purposes- to communicate your needs and not relational (except to us)- to make new friends etc. Still, i am very proud that you are where you are because it is a huge improvement.

4) Now older, your personality is coming through. You are still the little cheery boy- i didn't nickname you sonshine for nothing. As surely as the sun rises, you would bring on your smiles, brightness and cheerful nature every.single.day. Although, you've become a little whiny and emotional for my liking- crying or rather shrieking at every frustration you feel. But still, i appreciate that you have never thrown a tantrum at us. The word 'angry' and 'meltdown' don't seem to exist in your dictionary. Yes, you would feel frustration but always at the situation and never at a person. I also am very proud that after every bout of crying, you recover quickly. Just a 3 minute hug will get you back to yourself.

Sonshine, you constantly make me very proud. You are like a trophy presented to me by God; i can stand on the podium and raise my prize possesion proudly for all to see. I am regretful that last year, i had to shift my focus and attention on babydoll such that my time with you is mostly spent on barking instructions, nagging and losing patience at you. I literally lifted my hands off you. But i am grateful that you've shown no resentment toward me nor your sister. You are still that little sunny, happy boy, unfazed by the change in the family dynamics.

You are always our sonshine, our pride, our joy. Thank you for being you, for being our son. My hope is that you will always remain happy and walk in the ways of the Lord. Here's to more happy, joyful days in 2012!

### It's Valentine's!

Here are some Valentine's activities i managed to squeez in this week. Bear in mind i didn't do all the activities in one go, we do 5minutes here, 10 minutes there. With 2 kids, it's impossible to do anything for a period of time!

Bible verse that Sonshine is learning this month. I made it for Christmas but we never got to it! Since it's all about love, Febuary is equally apt to learn this verse!

I got this awesome idea from 2 teaching mommies blog on a fun way to get the kid to memorise verses. I wanted to download straight from their site but have been unsuccessful, so i made my own. The verse is broken into parts and sonshine has to put them in order.

Heart shape felt button activity! Sonshine isn't great with fine motor skills and tend to give up easily. As expected, he kept whining 'i cannot!' while doing this. But with some pushing- (yes pushing i was quite annoyed with his whining and was impatient and insistent -but don't follow me), he managed to suceed! He unbutton each hearts and button them back on. I am so proud of him!

And our recent crave- Mosiac! We make Mosiac heart magnet!

The finished work. I would prefer it to be much neater but i reframed myself from telling the boy how and what to do. I wanted to give him freedom to decide. But it was really tough biting my lips!

Incidentally, we borrowed this book without any planning it to coincide with Valentine's- i guess that God working in our homeschooling! Sonshine loves this book, and for me, it is a timely reminder about His love for me. :)

## Tuesday, February 7, 2012

### Giveaway!

Well, not on my blog! But on Wczesna Edukacja Antka i Kuby

If you, like me, adore the Montessori method; here's a chance to win a Montessori Training Program with Karen Tyler! And yup, i am trying to up my chance of wining by sharing about here! All the best to all participants- me included!

## Sunday, February 5, 2012

### The letters 'b' and 'd'

It can be pretty confusing for pre-schoolers to differentiate the letter 'b' and 'd'. Sonshine has no problem identifying the two letters by sight. But when it comes to writing them, he tend to confuse the two. I stumbled onto this ingenious idea on this blog to teach a young child to write the 2 letters and knew this was IT.

I didn't quite follow exactly, but i used the above blog as an inspiration. First, i showed him the word:

b e d

I told him that the letter 'b' is 'facing' at the letter 'e' while the letter 'd' is facing the letter 'e'. Since then he wrote the two letters with ease. Actually, come to think of it, i never did asked him to write the 2 letters before so i'm not sure if he was confused in the first place- i just assumed! LOL!

### Handwriting- Breakthrough!

I have finally discovered THE method to teach Sonshine writing! I have tried tracing, no- tracing, ipad, using paint, this and that but all didn't work until now.

Prior to this, he seemed to have difficulty regurgitating the letters in writing although he knows how it looks like in his head. Even if he could write, weeks later he is back to square one. It also didn't help that he dislikes- maybe even hates, to write, color, draw whatever requires him to use a pen! So there was no motivation for him to work on it.

Admittedly, i am not sure he's improved because of this method or if it's the school or simply he is developmentally ready. But what i am certain of is, this method helped him to recall the strokes of each letter.

Enough said! So what is this method i am ranting about? Spalding Method!

The key to helping sonshine to write is that this method uses the clock as a reference. Here's how:

To write the letter 'a', tell the child to start at 2'oclock, draw round the clock & back to 2 o'clock and without lifting the pen, draw a straight line down.

Note: i am not using Spalding's exact words. I talked through with N using my own words so that he can understand. I also made my own clock so that N could practise writing on it to get a better visual. But after a few demostrations, he was able to write without the clock- just visualising it in his head.

The spalding method is very precise. You have to read it yourself to know what i mean. I am not sure if it expects even preschoolers to write accurately i.e. points must touch the base line, start from mid point mark for small letters.

While i am happy with N's writing, i think it fails Spalding expectations. For instance the letter 'd', the bottom points MUST touch the base line, the curve MUST not exceed the mid-point mark. But as you can see, sonshine missed all the specific marks (i wrote the the first letters). Still, i am already over the moon that he can write confidently! But i still want him to work on being precise, writing more accurately on paper.

Practising writing the letters 'a', 'g' and 'o'.

I notice that it is very common that preschoolers tend to write 'c', 's', 'd', 'b' etc in the opposite direction. The spalding method helped N to overcome this. Previously, he always wrote 'c' and 's' in the opposite direction. But after telling him that 'c' starts at 2 o'clock, toward 10 o'clock and stops at 4 o'clock- he is able to write it correctly.

I'll share in another post how i taught N to remember how to write 'b' and 'd' without confusing the 2.

To wrap up what he learnt, i made this small writing booklet. The words all include the letters he learnt (we started learning to write letters that start from the 2 o'clock points). At the same time, he can learn spelling! :P

I am very proud of his writing (though it probably fails in Spalding's books!).