HEADGEAR OF THE DAY: HEADSTRONG HELMET

Noe is as headSTRONG as the helmet she is wearing. People have been telling me she looks a lot like me but actually when you take out the childhood photos to compare, she looks totally like her father when he was young! Although she doesn't resemble me much, she does have the same headstrong personality as me while having the same extroverted nature of her dad. How personality traits develop in a child is really interesting, the mix-and-match of different personalities from both father and mother :)

SIGHT WORDS ON THE GO

I keep telling myself that I need to make learning fun. It's a constant reminder. In today's education where almost every single preschooler goes for some enrichment or even tuition, I need to repeat the mantra repeatedly so I don't get caught up in the rat race. And it's increasingly so as Nat moves up the level - oh my child can read a book already, oh this student is already reading, oh you've to go for this reading programme, so and so, and it goes on and on. It's not the parent's or the teacher's fault for praising the child nor is it bad to go for reading programme. It's the pressure that we put on ourselves and then place on our child. I don't want that kind of pressure in my family.

Sometimes Nat feels stressed that he cannot do certain things on the same level as his friends. Well, he is a year end child but let me stress, it's only CERTAIN things. The teacher says he excels at "Show and Tell" but when it comes to writing and reading, he is trying his very best but can get discouraged at times. I get angry and frustrated with him sometimes too when it appears that he doesn't want to put in effort to write or attempt to pronounce words properly, and he gets upset with me.

Here are 3 sight-word activities that involve a lot of movement that have made learning fun especially in learning to read. Not only it is fun, it helps to release the stress while learning and, reduce the tension between him and myself and to expend all that energy without going outdoors! We develop a closer bond through too instead of session of screaming and tearing. The photos look horrid because we are constantly on the move :)

1. SIGHT WORD JUMP

Simply hang some sight words at the doorway. I call out the word and Nat tries to jump up to touch the word. Try not to put it at a windy doorway, ours got all tangled up halfway!

2. SIGHT WORD ACTION CUBE

Paste some action sight words at each cube's face. Throw the cube, read the word and do the action! Be physically prepared for this intensive workout.

3. SIGHT WORD SLAP

Recently, I've been noticing other mommy bloggers sharing about using a fly swatter to hit the sight word. We don't have a fly swatter, so we used a clapper instead. I wrote some of the words he learned in school (which the teacher said to revise at home) on some post-its and pasted them on his book, around the room, wherever I could paste them. I call out the word, and there he goes trying to slap the word with his clapper!

sight words on the move

If you need a better description (explanation with nice pictures) of these activities, do check out these sources:

"Sight word jump and grab" from Hands on As We Grow

"Let's get moving with a DIY action cube" from Teach Preschool

"Find the letter and swat it" from Hands on As We Grow

CHINESE NEW YEAR CRAFT

Perhaps it is the coming of age, this year I'm actually looking forward to Chinese New Year. Almost every year, I secretly wish that I'm on a holiday in another country. I do consider myself a 'banana', white on the inside but Asian on the outside. I'm not at all proficient in the customs. However somehow this year, there is a desire to honour my family members with a simple visitation.

Nat is in kindergarten this year. And his Chinese teacher has done an amazing job in getting him all excited about the New Year. He comes home rattling off the Chinese New Year greetings and goes on and on about the word, 福 (fu2), meaning good fortune and blessings. 

To ride on his excitement, I decided to do a simple Chinese New Year decoration with him. He wrote the word, 福 (fu2), with black crayons on thick paper and then paint thing with watercolour paint. I also explained to him only warm colours like red, yellow, orange or yellow can be used. It was nice to see him blend the colours without even me prompting him to do so.

For the next part of the craft, we cut some old angpows from last year into fishes. I think I overestimated his ability to cut. The angpows were quick thick after folding and he didn't have enough strength to cut, so I cut the shape of the tail while he cut the tail into half. And then he didn't have enough strength to staple nor punch holes into the fish too. Thankfully, he waited patiently for me to staple, punch the holes and thread the string through the fishes. For a detailed step-by-step pictures on how to cut the fish out, do visit "I'm a Full-Time Mummy"

chinese new year craft

Some of you might be wondering what the fishes represent. In the Chinese New Year greeting, 年年有余, meaning a year of abundant blessings, the word 余 (yu2) has the same pronunciation as 鱼 (yu2), meaning fish. Hence, the fish is regarded as a symbolism of abundance and prosperity. So here's wishing everyone a year of abundant blessings! Happy Chinese New Year!

A MOTHER'S LIFESTORY: CUP OF LIFE

As part of the SG50 celebrations (SIngapore is celebrating it's 50th year of independence), I've been noticing many organisations honouring different groups of people: teachers, pioneer generation, etc. So for today's lifestory, I'll be honouring mothers, even though it's not Mother's Day yet. And it is not about my mother.

Since being a stay home parent, I've been hanging out more at the markets, coffeeshops, hawker centres. I'm an introvert so my children are the icebreakers, and of course my very extroverted husband. As I hang out at these places in the morning, I noticed that there are always groups of women gathering together for their breakfast. There a few groups that hang out at the coffeeshop situated at the groundfloor of our block. I must admit that sometimes I talk to these women more so than I talk to my immediate neighbours.

It wasn't an immediate friendship, but a slowly cultivated one over the years as they saw us, we saw them. A smile here and there, then a courtesy greeting and then one day we start sharing more about lives together. And it was an amazing discovery when I hear about their lifestories. You really see the phrase "Don't judge a book by its over" come to life!

As my daughter was just hobbling around the coffeeshop, one lady just started sharing with us that she has 6 children and her grandchildren are all grown up. They used to visit her when they were young but now that they've grown, they don't come by anymore, other than Chinese New Year. And there is this rag-and-bone lady, together with her intellectually disabled son, all dressed up on Sunday to meet her friends at the coffeeshop. I always wondered where they went after breakfast. And one day I found out they were going to church.

As they see my children growing up and always marvelling at how fast the children grow, I also see them growing old. One grandma used to take care of her granddaughter who was the same age as Nat, and so we bonded on sharing about our difficulties in taking care of the children. However, one day her only son decided to go to the states to work and brought the whole family along. Shortly after, she fractured her master arm and from then on, she was never the same confident lady again. She spoke with a quiver in her voice and seldom hanged out at the coffeeshop.

Interestingly, there is one consistent theme in our conversations together, they're always encouraging me in my journey as a mother. Maybe it's just one sentence, maybe it's just a smile, maybe it's just a simple play with the children, I know they're cheering me on because they've been through it and they know how tough it is. Motherhood has been a rather lonesome journey but their presence, even just a 5 minutes chit-chat, means so much to me.

My SG50 wish is that these coffeeshops and hawker centres remain in our landscape. As much as I love airconditioning on hot days, I still love the warmth of these community spaces that a foodcourt somehow just can't give.  Coffeeshop talk is what I've come to love in my community. We share cups, we share life. Behind each cup, is a lifestory.

Colouring page from "PS* I love You" little playbook for Colouring, Doodling and Stretching You Creativity. Available from http://arhymingtern.weebly.com/cool-books.html

Colouring page from "PS* I love You" little playbook for Colouring, Doodling and Stretching You Creativity. Available from http://arhymingtern.weebly.com/cool-books.html

TIPS FOR FUN HIGH CHAIR ACTIVITIES

At the dinner table, we all wish for our toddlers to sit at the high chair for just a little while more while we enjoy our meals leisurely or when we need to clear up and wash the dishes. I've been wiser with the second child. Experience, doing more research and seeing what other parents have done, do help a lot. I've been engaging Noe with age appropriate activities and listening to her cues more as to what she's interested in, while she's in the high chair. I need time to wash the dishes and I can't do it with a toddler hugging my legs all the time.

Here are some tips that I've gathered through seeing what other mothers blog about and my own experience:

HAVE MULTIPLES OF ONE MATERIAL

Having multiples makes it interesting and allow for experimentation

  • A bag of mini blocks
  • A bowl of pom poms
  • A bottle of alphabets
  • A box of pasta shapes
  • A sheet of stickers
  • A cup of straws of different lengths
tips for fun high chair activities

PUT THE MATERIALS IN CONTAINERS

Recycle those empty containers for child to invite the child to play

  • Materials in a big transparent bottle without the lid
  • Hiding materials in a tissue box
  • Materials in opaque/transparent bottles with a cap screwed on lightly he/she can learn to unscrew and pour out the materials
  • Materials in a opaque/transparent storage box with lid on like sandwich boxes
tips for fun high chair activities

 PAIR THE MATERIALS WITH EQUIPMENT

Simple everyday equipment to train child's fine motor skills

  • Utensils like different sized spoons, forks, ladles (sometimes I just give the real stuff I use in the kitchen)
  • Cups of varying sizes and colours
  • Bowls of varying sizes and colours

(Okay, I don't have any pictures of this because usually at this time, I'm already hands full of soap, washing the dishes :P)

Do note that the all materials and equipment should be age appropriately safe for the toddler, for example, no tiny pom poms. Also, do be mentally prepared for everything to end up on the floor. Noe is now at the age of experimenting how to drop things from the high chair. She gets very amused when she puts her hand through the bottom of the chair (where her legs hang) and drop the pom poms. I try my best to make her clean up by herself. And finally, Noe gets a kick out of reading magazines at the high chair, perhaps you can try that too. Her favourite is the Ikea Magazine :)