Archive | May 2010

The difference between a daughter and a son

One cycles up to you and leans in close to give you a peck on the cheek…

The other runs up to you and leans in close to stab you in the leg with his drumstick.

 

Image from www.babyblues.com

A perfect moment in time

When a little hand reaches for your busy one…

and calls your name,

When you clasp that little hand and look down at its owner…

greeting you with the brightest, sweetest smile in the whole universe.

Alphabet Wall: Making…v is for vine

I originally started out trying to use pipe cleaners for this craft but after an hour’s worth of twisting, undoing, retwisting and in the process, gaining tiny but painful, scratches all over my fingers from the exposed wires, I decided there had to be a better and more preschooler-safe way of doing this.

A couple of days later, an idea to use real twigs and brown string planted itself in my mind.  🙂

You will need the following materials: plant twigs, scissors, cellophane tape, brown string, purple colour paper, glue, artblock sheet, marker.

1. Duck out to a nearby park to gather twigs, ideally forked ones. Make it a family outing! 😀   (More power to you if you manage to find v-shaped twigs. I made do with y-shaped ones).

2. Trim the twigs to the shape required. Secure a few together with some cellophane tape to make your vine more sturdy.

3. (Optional step) If you are like me and can’t stand the fact that twigs keep shedding little brown bits, mix two teaspoons of water to one teaspoon of PVA glue and paint over the twigs.

This does not change the look and feel from a sensory standpoint but it does create a sort of sealer coat that lessens shedding to a great degree! 🙂   Leave to dry.

4. Have your child twine the brown string over the twigs. Talk about how vines are creepers that twine their way around whichever structure is available. Secure by tying a knot.

4. While your child is working on the twining, cut some grapes out of the purple colour paper.

5. With a marker, draw a block letter v on an artblock sheet.

4. Paste on your vine, and the grapes.

We added some leaves as well, cut from a forest background from an old magazine.  🙂

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John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

God helps me
God helps me
In my Bible book I read that
God helps me

God keeps me
God keeps me
In my Bible book I read that
God keeps me

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Alphabet Wall: Making…u for universe

Pop quiz! Quick, can you remember the order of the eight (remember Pluto’s been demoted to a dwarf planet! 😉 ) planets in our solar system?  😛

You will need the following materials: black or midnight blue coloured paper, white and yellow paint, paintbrush, old toothbrush, old magazines, scissors, glue.  

Part 1: Universe backdrop (5 minutes)
1. Prepare the paints in colours of your choice on your palette.
2. Run the toothbrush bristles against your paintbrush and spatter paint across the sheet of black or midnight blue coloured paper.
3. Let dry.

Shower the paint off the kids and the bathroom floor.

Part 2: Solar system (10 minutes)
4. Cut out a sun and eight planets.

5. Paste these on your universe background (in random order if you want this to just be an art activity, in proper order, sizing, colour, etc if you want it to be educational).

Tip: I used the leftover painted tissue paper saved from our s for seahorse craft to cut out the planets in different sizes and colours. Love the effect!  (Click on the link if you’d like to know how we made the painted tissue!)

And…the order in direction away from the sun is:  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

DS's universe piece

DD's universe piece

I was trying to remember the names of the planets that I’d learned in Malay back in school but my memory fails me (and my textbooks are long gone…). Any Malaysians reading this blog, who remember?  😉

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Related Bible lesson: God made the universe.

Hebrews 11:3 – “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Lord of all creation
Of water, earth, and sky
The heavens are Your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on High

God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy
Lord of heaven and earth

Playing by heart

I’ve recently returned to serving in the music ministry after a three-year break.
So once a month, I pack dinner and leave from work to join a group of other musicians in church to hammer away at the keys for Sunday worship’s song line-up.

I’ve always loved playing the piano. I won’t say I loved the ABRSM exams…they seemed more like a necessary evil at the time. But I recognise that they have helped shaped my technique and skills for the kind of music I like to play nowadays.

So, after three years, has anything changed?
Yes, indeed.

I remember going for suppers with the team after rehearsals at the nearby prata and nasi lemak shop. Hanging out till really late. Really bad when the next day was after all a working day, but we were young and carefree then.

Now, I rush home immediately so that maybe I can still catch the kids’ bedtime and be there to pat them to sleep.

I remember being really idealistic about what I wanted to achieve, and wondering why didn’t everybody have the kind of energy and drive I had.

Now, I am still…fairly idealistic but motherhood has mellowed me down. Created a more relaxed personality, which hopefully doesn’t scare as many people. Hopefully.
God bless those precious people who put up with my 20-something idealism.

I remember sitting at the piano for hours and hours, experimenting with introductions, riffs, rolls, chord progressions and the like.
Now, if I could find the time just to sit and pen down the chords I need, for half an hour, that would be cause for celebration!  😀

I remember jam sessions organized at the drop of a hat. Meeting up to just play music with no particular agenda in mind.
Now, the only jam session I know is the one where I ask my daughter if she would like strawberry or apricot in her sandwich. 😉

I remember not having my own piano, and making my way down regularly to the church every few days to play the piano. Any excuse that would get me access to the sanctuary to spend time on the beloved worn brown piano was a good one.
Bible study?     Sure, why not?
Jam session at short notice?   Be there in 20 minutes flat.
Need a keyboardist to stand in?   Don’t need to look any further!

Our church worker passed me an old electronic keyboard that no one was using anymore, and that lasted me a good two-and-a-half years till the adapter went kaput.

Now, I have my own piano that I saved up to buy. It’s a second-hand but it is the most expensive piece of furniture I’ve ever owned. And it will always have a place of honour in our living room.

I remember wearing out the floor in the warehouse, circling around each second hand piano on sale, multiple times. Testing, shortlisting, testing and shortlisting some more till I narrowed it down to two units I felt were worth considering. One last song on each and then I signed on the dotted line and handed over the money for my black beauty.

And so now, at anytime I just feel like playing, say at midnight, I have total freedom to do so. Bliss.

Has anything changed?
Yes.  Lots.  Much more than what I’ve written here.

But as they say, there are some things that never change, and that, for me, I believe, is the unwavering passion I harbour for playing the piano.

Tinkering on the ivories, it’s just…cathartic in so many ways I can’t explain.  🙂

Alphabet Wall Craft: Making…t is for thumbprint

In Sunday School, the children have been learning that God made us – our eyes, ears, feet and hands.

And that each of these body parts can be used not just for ourselves but also to glorify God.

I’m thinking we could also take the opportunity to talk about how (and ask why do you think  😉  ) God made our hands to have one thumb and four fingers? How does each individual part play a role in helping us use our hands effectively? 🙂

For this craft, you will need: marker, artblock sheet, poster paint, palette, paintbrush.

1. Draw a small block letter t on the artblock sheet.

2. Mix a few colours of paint into your palette.  DS sat himself down at the table when he saw me getting the paints ready, picked up a paintbrush, and said “Mummy! I want to do art and craft!”.  So loved that moment!

3. Paint onto your child’s thumb and print within the shape of the letter t.

(Alternative: if you have inkpads in different colours, you could also use that. Less messy compared to paints. I think… 😉 )

Many Bible stories can be leveraged to show examples of how people used their hands, eyes, ears and feet to do something for God.

A good idea that TwoCultureMom used for class, was the story on the rebuilding of the city wall in Nehemiah .

Take some time to leaf through the Bible for your own story ideas!  🙂

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Two little eyes to look to God
Two little ears to hear His word
Two little feet to walk in His way
Hands to serve Him all my days.

Yesterday

Yesterday,

 …was Mother’s Day.

 The children made these flower crafts for me in their Sunday School class.

 DH and my father-in-law took the three generations of mothers in our family out to dinner!

 

It was also mum-in-law’s birthday.  🙂

 

DD and DS each made her a handprints card.

DS's card

DD's card

DD wrote the letters H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y by herself! I thought that was a nice touch as my mum-in-law has been coaching her with writing practice in the daytime when we’re away at work.

It was a great day.  🙂

Movie date #4

A colleague and I were just chatting the other day about how going out with our husbands nowadays; after we’ve had kids; is usually focused on running errands or getting groceries.

In contrast to the couple days where going out was just going out for dinner, and maybe a movie, with no other tasks to tick off on a to-do list.

But then I got this great offer for two great seats to Iron Man 2 at $4 a piece last night and it was too good to pass up.  🙂
So grandma put the children to bed and we met after each having had a crazy day at work, bought takeaway sandwiches and settled in to watch the show.

Sigh.
Aside from the fact that this is our fourth movie date since we had kids…(!!!)…hopefully we’ll have better luck on the fifth one (whenever it happens 😉  ) squeezing in a proper dinner during these precious couple time offs!  😛

Alphabet Wall: Making…s for seahorse

Continuing on the Genesis creation theme…it was a toss up between s for snake and s for seahorse.

We recently borrowed Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle from the library, and I spent a long time admiring the pictures.

Eric Carle is truly a master illustrator and storyteller. Click on this link to read more about how he creates his tissue paper collages.

So…I started thinking, now wouldn’t it be fun to let the kids paint their own tissue paper seahorse… 

That being said, I am no master illustrator and as you now know from my previous post, my little craft collaborators (yes, we’ve started including our 20-month-old, DS, for selected alphabet craft!) allow me five, ten minutes maximum attention span before wanting to move onto something else.  🙂

It is an entirely different method, but hey, my three-bullet-point sales pitch is – it calls for materials you already have in your home, takes two minutes to prepare and ten minutes to finish (minus waiting time for drying).  😉

You will need the following materials: tissue paper (regular facial tissue will do), artblock sheet, poster paints, brushes, PVA glue.

1. In a small dish, mix one part of PVA glue to one part water and stir till evenly mixed in a white watery texture.

2. Put small dobs of paint of various colours in your palette. Not too much as you want your paints to be fairly watery.
3. Pour a little PVA glue mix into each of the sections. Mix well with the paint colour.

4. Divide your artblock sheet into two halves. Set aside the second half for later.

5. Place a sheet of tissue paper on the first sheet.

6. Here’s the technique – Dip your paintbrush in the colour of your choice, touch it gently to the tissue paper, and let the colour bleed into the tissue. Keep going till you’ve covered the whole tissue paper square with a rainbow of colours.

7. Set aside to dry. Eat lunch. Play a game. Take a nap.

Ready for the second part? You will need a marker, scissors, PVA glue and the second half of your artblock sheet.

8. When your painted tissue paper has dried, notice how it’s now stuck to the artblock sheet, thanks to the PVA glue mix.  😀
9. Using a marker, draw the outline of your own Mister Seahorse.

10. Cut out your seahorse. Also cut out the little fin and spikes, a tiny dark circle for the pupil of the seahorse’s eye, and a slightly larger white circle for the white of the eye.

 

11. Paste your seahorse onto the second half of your artblock sheet.

As with our recent alphabet wall crafts, DD traces out the word “seahorse”.

Done! 🙂

 

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. ~ Genesis 1: 20- 23

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 Oh and if you are interested, click here for our other Eric Carle inspired Alphabet Wall craft piece: C for caterpillar.  🙂

Crafting with preschoolers – five easy tips!

I really appreciate it when people tell me they have found some inspiration from the craft activities we’ve done and posted on the blog, and gone off to do some crafting of their own. I also get asked sometimes how my daughter can stay focused on an art activity for an extended period of time.

The truth is…

she doesn’t!  😛

She is like any typical 3 year old with the typical attention span that comes with that age.   Most, if not all, of our art and craft activity do get executed in the space of five to ten minutes tops, even though it may not read that way sometimes on the blog!

So I thought I would list down five easy tips that I have found work for us, and hopefully will help make craft time with the kids a fun time to look forward to, when one is not busy juggling laundry, cooking and dishes, or firefighting issues in the corporate world.  😉

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1. Prepare your craft supplies beforehand.
By this I mean that, if you are intending to use only specific colours of poster paints and one artblock sheet, take out only what you need so you have it all ready and are not scrambling to start pulling out sheets when you need them, or giving your toddler or preschooler an open door to start a debate over picking colours that you did not plan on using.

2. Design your craft activity to be short and sweet.
Preschoolers and toddlers have a short attention span. And they usually want to jump straight to execution, not caring a single bit about the significance of process and starting from first principles. All that can be for later. For now, keep it simple.

If there are a number of steps that require some waiting time before moving on to the next step (like waiting for paint to dry), break up the activity into short bursts. For example, do the first part before lunch, leave it out to dry while you both eat.

After some playtime and a nap, children will usually have renewed interest if you bring out the subsequent portion to complete, and will likely treat it as if it was a whole new activity in itself all over again.

3. Build the activity around your child’s favourite craft medium.
For instance, I know that, at the moment, DD relishes any opportunity to use her markers or her scissors. Find a way to work these materials into the craft, and you will rarely need to worry about whether they will last at the effort long enough to finish the craft.

4. Enlist your child’s help at every available opportunity.
Children feel important, encouraged and appreciated when mummy or daddy ask for their help. It also keeps them busy on manageable tasks within reasonable expectations, while you focus on getting some other more complicated steps ready if the craft calls for it. It can be as simple as DD helping to bring scrap pieces of paper to the dustbin while I prepare the glue mixture or paint palette.

5. Art and craft need not be an end in itself. Make it a part of a broader plan.
What I have found is working great for us is our current series of small letter alphabet craft which are tied to people or things you can find in the Bible. The craft activity provides a basis for us to talk further about the object or subject that we just worked on, either through daily living experiences or stories from a book or the children’s Bible.

Some other ideas you could consider, if you have the time to do so, is to plan a field trip, or go to the library together and find books that can help reinforce the subject.

Obviously, this calls for some preparation on the parent’s part, but I personally find it really cool to see the whole plan unfold from one activity to the other and when my children recall the craft they did and relate it to something in real life.

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Fun and fuss-free craft time is entirely achievable.  And entirely rewarding.

Take it from someone, who is entirely unartsy-craftsy but has found a passion for it driven by the wonderful dividends reaped in memorable moments spent together drawing, doodling, colouring, pasting, cutting and painting with someone I love who loves me too. 🙂