Archive | March 2011

Preschooler Art: Alligator

I try to be fair and feature both DS and DD’s work equally where possible. However, of the two, it is DD who is really into drawing and preserving her work carefully, whereas DS prefers writing and leaving his sheets of paper all over the place. 

So it is a rare and random moment when he will sit quietly for five minutes, draw something and present it to me as a gift, and then run off forgetting all about it afterward.  And if I don’t capture a picture of the finished work at that very moment, instead leaving it aside for later, I will mostly likely come back to find it all scrawled over with other random scribblings of numbers or letters of the alphabet over the drawing.

So this is a pic of my 2 1/2 year old’s really cool, just completed alligator (it’s the one at the top of the sheet) , right before it gets lost in the midst of numbers and letters, or coloured over beyond recognition. 😉    

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Kids Say: Ice cream…I scream?

On Sunday, at breakfast –

DD: Am I going to school today?
DH: No, today you’re not going to school because today is Sunday. Sunday…
DD: Ice cream?
DS: *jumping in eagerly to the conversation* I cry!

I collapse on the floor laughing.

*Sunday ice cream is a phrase from Eric Carle’s book, “Today is Monday”.  Click here for more information on the book.

Mommy Musings: CM

Lately, I’ve been reading up snippets of Charlotte Mason defined education. I first heard of it from some homeschooling friends.

Not that we are about to embark on homeschooling (the thought of being solely responsible for the children’s education fair frightens me), but some of the principles strike a chord with me.

So I am mustering up the courage and energy to challenge myself to go beyond what I have been doing with the kids so far, into a more focused and disciplined approach.

More information on this link here, but this summary of the principles around a CM education is extracted from the Ambleside Online website:-

*****

  1. Narration, which consists of the child telling back a story.This takes the place of composition in the early years.
  2. Copywork, or the transcribing of a well-written piece of literature as handwriting practice.
  3. Nature study with an emphasis on close, focused observation of creation as a means to knowledge of God.
  4. Outdoor life is necessary to teach nature first-hand, which means plenty of time spent out of doors each day in all weather and in different environments for students of all ages. “School” for children younger than six consisted almost entirely of time spent outdoors.
  5. Habit training as a discipline of the child’s will and behavior. Children are trained to develop the will, which is manifested in a strong resolve to act in a right manner.
  6. Living Books rather than textbooks to convey ideas. Living books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are more than just interesting books that make a topic come alive. A true Living Book has the best material, from the best minds, or at least the real story from someone who was there or has a real interest in their subject.There is a high standard in literary excellence and, while she advocated the use of many books, quality is to be preferred over quantity.
  7. First-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through books in each school subject, rather than rote memorization of dry facts. Besides books, children are exposed to great minds through art, music and poetry, which was read to the child daily.
  8. Memorization was used, not to assimilate facts, but as a means to have material to meditate on, so her students memorized scripture and poetry.
  9. History is taught with primary sources and well-written history books.
  10. Literature is taught along with history. For example, if one is studing the Civil War, one would at the same time read works of American literature written at that time.
  11. Once children are able to read fluently, they read the lessons themselves, except for books that need editing like Plutarch’s Lives.
  12. Reading instruction was primarily based on sight vocabulary, but did include use and teaching of phonics. Even beginning readers, she thought, ought to have something interesting to read, like nursery rhymes, rather than dull first readers, so she taught the sight words necessary to allow them to read real books.
  13. Schooling is teacher-directed, not child-led, though the child can pursue any number of personal interests during their free time, and her students had all afternoon free.
  14. Short lessons with an emphasis on excellent execution and focused attention and variation in the day’s scheduled activities so as not to over-stress the brain on one task.
  15. In the teaching of mathematics, the ability to reason is emphasized over “working sums”, so emphasis is placed on story problems and working with numbers that are within the child’s comprehension, therefore, a manipulative-based instruction is desirable.
  16. Charlotte Mason encouraged proficiency in at least one other language, specifically French, as well as study in Latin.
  17. Charlotte Mason set aside time each day for some form of physical fitness routine which included daily walks and a “drill” which included stretching, breathing exercises, calisthenics, dancing, singing, and games.
  18. The knowledge of God, as found in the Bible, is the primary knowledge and the most important.

*****

To that end, where time allows, we have decided in our family to do the following:-

  • In language – to encourage vocabulary development, introduce some sight recognition of basic words, and supplement with phonics exercises (rather than making phonics the major focus).    Starting from last week, you would have observed that we’ve attempted to be more focused in our Wordcraft activity by trying (as far as possible) to connect the theme for the week, with a book.  Where we are able to, we try and obtain those on prescribed reading lists or written by recommended authors.
  • In art – to aim to provide exposure to books with notable illustrations, so their minds and skills can be challenged to explore new techniques, media and improve on existing skills. More visits to the library!
  • In exercise and time outdoors – to set aside a disciplined time every day if possible, to bring the children out to the playground, or to ride their tricycles. (Rainy evenings have not been helpful in this regard, but try we must!)
  • In the area of proficiency in another language – to be more diligent in speaking and reading of the Chinese language (this is a personal admonition to myself to stop beating about the bush, and start getting serious about it!)
  • In developing knowledge of God – to start doing family devotions, and learning hymns and songs regularly together.

It’s interesting to look back in time to when I first began this blog, and how it started out from a desire to just spend time together on something fun to do with the kids – largely unscheduled and unstructured – into where we want to get to from here.

It feels like a very small start, and very definitely mere tip of the iceberg. But at the same time, it’s an incredibly ambitious plan for two full time working parents with mostly only alternate evenings to spare. *phew*

But. Every journey begins with a single step, and we are called to be faithful stewards of the young lives God has carefully placed in our hands…so…

…off we go. 🙂

In my world: My baking box

Look what finally turned up. The box with my baking tools!

My baking tools! My baking tools!! My baking tools!!!

Know where it was?

Up.
On the highest shelf.
Above eye level. No…I daresay, above scalp level.

In the utility room.
At the back of the kitchen.
With a whole lot of other boxes labelled…“Files”.
Where no one would have thought to look.
With its identifying label “Baking Tools” written on the top, not on the side, so no one would ever have guessed.

– _______ –

Life has a funny way…

But I’m glad I’ve found them.

And weirdly so, I’m also glad for the wacky dramatic week that resulted from our not finding it earlier. It certainly made for a memorable birthday celebration.

I’m actually so glad that I’m entertaining the mad idea of washing all the tools and pulling out the springform pan to make a cheesecake. But I’m also so glad they’ve been found that I’m finally going to have a good good sleep after a month’s worth of playing real life box Tetris for two hours every night.

Bake? Or Sleep? Someone save me from myself… 😛

*Our thanks to friends and blog readers who’ve asked us about how the unpacking and renovation is going. The now famous long-awaited kitchen countertop came in this week.  There’s still  lots of work and a sizeable number of boxes to sort but things are settling back into more of a normal pace.  It’s all good. 🙂

Preschooler Craft: Horseshoes

We’d actually prepared this for DD’s party as a horse shoe decorating craft activity for the kids. But in all the excitement of getting the food ready in the last 45-minute countdown, both DH and I forgot all about this, and went on to play the other games instead. 😛

So last weekend, when DH needed to get some urgent work done, I pulled these out, told the children what the foam shapes were, and let them have a field day with stickers.

(As an aside, the thought did cross my mind if all I was associated with was alphabet craft…as the first thing DS exclaimed was, “U! Mummy, the letter U! U is for Horseshoe!”)

Kids Say: In the middle of the night…

TwoCultureMom was chatting with DD on Sunday and she came by to tell me this really funny little vignette.

Apparently, they had been talking about going back to school on Monday after a week of holidays. And TCM had asked her if she liked school, to which DD replied, “Yes!”

And then DD added, “And sometimes, in the middle of the night, I go to my other school!”

Yikes! Anyone who didn’t know us better would be thinking…

Slave drivers!
Hothousers!
“Sweetie, I know it’s 2 a.m., but you’ve got to go to school!”

*****

The sometimes middle-of-the-night school is her weekly Chinese class on Thursdays at 7:15pm. 🙂

When I recounted this to DH, he commented that technically, DD was not wrong in stating it was night, as 7:15pm is much closer to being defined as night (albeit the start, as opposed to middle) than evening.

What’s your definition of the crossover timing between evening and night? 🙂  Would 7:15pm be night or evening for you?

Wordcraft: G is for Goat

Sometimes…I wonder if Wordcraft is for my little kids or the little kid in DH… 😉

After the kids were done with the craft (read: started complaining about glue on their sticky fingers), DH still wasn’t satisfied with the way it looked until he had cut and added some more grass at the goat’s feet and in its mouth.  🙂

You will need the following materials: Coloured paper in assorted shades (we chose brown, green and orange), scissors, glue, and  googly eyes (oh, the treasures we find in a forgotten stationery box when packing from the old home! 😀 ).

1. Cut out the letters G O A T from the brown coloured paper, in the pattern sketched on the magnetic doodle board.

2. Cut out some green grass as well.

3. Paste on the letters, and the grass, and finally the googly eye.

4. If the kid in you can’t resist, add on more details as you see fit. 😉

Extended Activity:

Some suggestions for fun (and funny!) books about goats that you can read together as a family.

1. Goats Don’t Dance – written by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Ethan Long. Publisher: Scholastic

Synopsis: George the goat loves to dance. For him, there is nothing more thrilling than hearing the clippity-clop of his hooves.

But when the other goats snicker and snort at him, he decides to find his own herd.

Full of hope, George sets off on his quest making two musical friends along the way. Soon George begins to wonder if he will ever find his herd, until he realises they have been with him all along…

2. The Three Billy Goats Gruff – originally a Norwegian fairy tale (De tre bukkene Bruse) first published between 1841 and 1844, collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr.

If you’ve read the classic and are looking for a fresh twist on the story, try The Troll, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts.

Synopsis: All the Troll really wants is to have a nice juicy goat for supper, but all he gets is fish, fish, fish from his river. Boring!

Meanwhile, Hank Chief and his pirate crew love fish, but none of them are able to cook a decent fish dinner. Their only hope is to find the buried treasure they’re seeking so they can have money to pay for a ship’s cook. 

Watch the fun unfold as these two different worlds collide in a hilariously comic ending.