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Singapore National Day Craft: Fly our flag

I don’t know about you but my favourite segments of the National Day Parade are without a doubt, the fly past and military defence showcase. And with this year’s theme – Salute to 45 Years of National Service in Singapore, I am anticipating an even more impressive show.

Last Saturday evening, I happened to be attending a wedding dinner at the Fullerton Hotel. When I heard the deafening roar of the jet engines as I entered the lift on the first floor, it was all I could do to hurry on to the fifth floor roof garden…only to find that the Fullerton’s roof garden is enclosed. Bummer! So much for hoping to be able to catch a free glimpse.

I found 20 craft sticks in our art bureau, and decided we would do a little “Fly our Flag” craft.

You will need the following materials: 10 plain craft sticks (for each child), craft glue, red and white acrylic paints, brushes and palette, twine or string, toy helicopter.

1. Take 8 craft sticks and line them up in in a single column. Apply craft glue down the left and right hand side of the column, and paste one craft stick on each side perpendicular to the rows. Leave to dry.

2. When dry, paint the top 4 rows with red acrylic paint, and the bottom 4 rows with white. Leave to dry.

3. Paint on a crescent moon and five stars. (We tried this both with a skinny paintbrush and a Q-tip, both seem to work fairly well, very good for testing fine motor dexterity). Again, leave to dry.

4. When dry, using twine or string, tie the flag to the helicopter and you’ll have your own little fly past model ready for when the aerial segment comes on.

Singapore National Day Craft: Loving Singapore Our Home

It’s been a long time since we did anything art and craft…so we whipped up something quick with the red and whites this evening, in preparation for National Day Parade 2012.  😀

If you’d like to do the same, you will need the following materials:
Red construction paper, white artblock sheet, scissors, glue.

1. With the scissors, cut heart shapes from the red sheet of paper. No need for uniformity, just freestyle it.

2. Mentally divvy up your artblock sheet into top and bottom half, in landscape orientation.

3. Paste the hearts in the top half of the artblock sheet.

4. Cut out a crescent moon and five stars from a white sheet of paper or artblock and paste on.

You’re now ready to use this for a flag, or poster or anything you want it to be for NDP 2012 decorations or props. 🙂

Graphic precis

She draws a flower and colours it in on the sheet of paper.

“Look, Mummy.”

“Very nice, dear.  Um, how about doing some writing?  You’ve been drawing a lot and we’ve not touched writing for some days.”

A messy sheaf of recycled paper full of her brother’s and her drawings is stacked loosely on the blue table in the room, teasing me cheekily with its precarious tipping over the table’s edge.

“No…I don’t want to write”.

“Just a little?  Shall I pick a short verse or phrase?”

Silently, thoughtfully, she fingers the markers in the box.

“Mummy, how do you spell ‘Jesus’”?

“J E S U S”.

“J E S U S. Okay.”  I can hear the light scratching of the marker against paper as she prints each letter out.

“And this is the bread, and this is the blood, and a heart, ‘cos God loves us and Jesus died on the cross.”

“Very nice. Pretty much the gospel in a nutshell! Are you drawing anything else?”

Nevermind the writing practice, I tell myself it can wait another day.

“I’ll draw…a little girl standing here, and a little boy…”

The marker continues etching out a busy little trail.

“…when we sin…Jesus is sad…but when we are good…He is happy…right?”

I nod.

“So this is wrong…”  she marks an X beside the sad face, “and this is right!”, she finishes off with a tick beside the happy face. 

She goes on to finish a few more details on the sheet, before handing it to me as a present, and running off to join her brother in play.

Leaving me here holding on to this precious piece of paper.  I’m not adding this one to the stack. 🙂 

I don’t know that we’d done writing practice as I would have envisioned it to be…

but I’m pretty sure we’ve just had a very good session of Word practice!


All your children will be taught by the Lord,

    and great will be their peace. – Isaiah 54:13

Bookmark Monday: The Tiger Who Came To Tea

So we’ve just ended up with this 1968 “classic” by Judith Kerr in our book bag home from the library.

I read this one twice over and haven’t quite made up my mind about it.

I mean, if my daughter and I were having tea, and a tiger arrived at the door and asked so very politely if he might come to tea, would I say yes?
Probably not.
But then he might take offence and eat us up.
So it might be better to just be polite and let him come in.

And eat all the sandwiches, buns, biscuits and cake. And drink all of the milk and all of the tea in the teapot, and then all of Daddy’s supper and the supplies in the cupboard.

Children’s laureate, Michael Rosen, in his description of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, says, “Judith has created a totally feasible unfeasible experience, the juxtaposition of two realities in a way that would be impossible in our world. The result is both very funny and slightly unsettling.”

Yes, that’s the word for it.
But that’s to my adult mind – thinking groceries, bills, horrors – no supper on the table and no water to wash up (!). We haven’t yet read it to our kids; who knows they might enjoy it yet.

And it’s been a long time since we took time out, sat down and did craft to accompany a book reading.  Reminded me of an old favourite. 🙂

Bookmark Monday: Downside up and back round again

If you like optical illusions and tessellations, you might find D.B. Johnson’s Palazzo Inverso fascinating.

A story about an apprentice named Mauk, his job is to help the Master design and build a grand Palazzo. Every day is the same, and on an ordinary day like any other, Mauk wakes up, and goes through the motions like he always does.  But something strange is afoot – the bricklayers are spilling bricks on the ceiling and workers are falling down stairs, the water in the fountain is falling up instead of down and everything appears all mixed up.

The Master blames Mauk for all the mayhem. But Mauk only sharpens the pencils, he isn’t allowed to draw.

Except…at times when the Master was looking out the window, Mauk might have turned the drawing round just a tiny bit and the Master never having noticed this, never realized what a strange Palazzo he was drawing.

This is a continuously looping story, which means you read it from the front to back, and then turn the book upside-down (and see what happens with the picture!) and read from the back all the way to the front again. Great fun!

Notes to the parent: 

  1. For more supplemental activities on optical illusions and tessellations, readers based in Singapore should check out the “Mathematics Everywhere and Everyday” and “The Mind’s Eye” sections at the Singapore Science Centre.
  2. You can also click here for an online version of the story.  But seriously – the print version is a lot more engaging, and allows you to take your time to pore over the intricacies of the pictures.  Which I still haven’t got enough of. 🙂

Excerpt from D.B. Johnsons’s website:

The apprentice Mauk is an entirely fictional character who takes his nickname and his inspiration from the work of Dutch artist M. C. Escher (1898-1972). Escher’s skill at playing with perspective and tricking people into seeing his version of three–dimensional space made him world famous.                   

In a work called Ascending and Descending, Escher drew stairs that lead down and around a building’s inner courtyard, yet appear to go back and end where they began. These endless loops going nowhere became his trademark. He was fascinated by stairs and realized that with a few carefully drawn steps he could take a person out of the real world and into his world of the impossible.    

Bookmark Monday: Press Here

In this era where interactive is associated with reliance (sometimes too much) on the iPhone or iPad and apps and all sorts of technological gadgetry, it is incredibly refreshing to find a book (a book!) that successfully achieves a true interactive, experiential engagement with the reader on print, the oldest media on earth.

This week’s Bookmark Monday review, Press Here by Hervè Tullet, was inspired by a friend of ours, who showed DH and DD this book when we visited their home on the weekend.

Absolutely captivating on several levels for the following reasons:-

  • Use as a teaching tool to reinforce basic language and mathematical building blocks – colours, numbers, counting, left, right, relative sizes and pattern recognition.
  • Perfect as a read-aloud with parent and child, or self-read.
  • Thoroughly engaging, and really, your imagination is the limit.

The cover is simply designed with a single yellow dot, inviting the reader to “Press Here”.

And when you do, off you go then, on this magical interactive journey, following the narration from first through to last page, every page a captivating change from the previous, reacting to whatever action you’d done in the prior page. 

Watch the dots multiply and move around the page as you tap, rub and blow on them, or tilt and shake the book. And watch them grow and shrink in reaction to single and multiple claps.

And watch your child’s face – it will be a priceless experience! 😉

Related activity:

Check out this link on Amazon to get a preview via a free printable to make your own Press Here mini-activity book, and some supplementary activity sheets as well.

Bookmark Monday: Nature study

Nature study is an enriching and engaging means for children to learn about the world around them. It provides an early foundation to understanding science, learning to be observant and appreciating the wonder and complexity of God’s divine miracle of creation.

Here are some really great books we’ve found and invested in for our own collection.

Written by authors dedicated to developing fun but also factual non-fiction works, based on their own study of nature, and partnered by illustrators who also perform first-hand research to create exquisite and meticulously-detailed art for the books; they (particularly the first two) have become regularly requested “anytime reading” selections by our kids.

Over in the Ocean In a Coral Reef – by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon

A counting book themed around sea life in a coral reef with colourful art relief constructed from polymer clay and photographed  with careful attention to lighting, this book provides an interesting and factual view on coral reef creatures.  We checked out some underwater photography images and videos on the internet and from National Geographic, which validated the visual accuracy of Canyon’s artwork, to the family’s delight.

The back of the book also provides a tune to which the words can be sung, quick facts about each of the sea creatures in the book, and tips for follow-on enrichment activities from the author and artist.

A Field Full of Horses – by Peter Hansard, illustrated by Kenneth Lilly

Peter Hansard took children with him when he went to do research for this book to see what interested the children most and then created an “ideal” paddock for the book filled with all shapes and sizes of horses. Kenneth Lilly is considered to be one of the world’s leading naturalist artists, and has lived around horses his entire life.

The horse illustrations in this book will provide much inspiration and many a pleasant hour of reading for horse enthusiasts of all age.  28 different horse breeds are listed in the front and back pages, and both DS and DD have had much fun comparing their toy horses against the pictures and names.

Tracks of a Panda – by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Yu Rong

We actually bought this book more for the Chinese art as we thought it’d be good to show the children different types of painting styles. That, and it was retailing at below S$6. 🙂

This book follows the story of a mother panda and her newborn cub, the challenges they face to find food and shelter through autumn, winter and spring, and their quest for survival against the elements of nature and the threat of poachers and loggers.

While it does not go into very deep detail, it does provide an introductory look into the world of this endangered species and open up potential discussions about wildlife conservation.


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.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livstock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
~ Genesis 1: 21, 25.



Wordcraft: Copywork short and sweet

Still riding on the coloured marker bandwagon…
Every letter of copywork goes easier for the child incentivised by freedom to use coloured markers. 🙂

I found a short article that provided me a number of useful tips around designing copywork for preschoolers and the benefits to be gained from this activity.

The full article can be found here, but below were my personal takeaways and thoughts (as a mom of a preschooler) after reading it:-

  1. Keep it interesting. Decide the theme and focus based on what’s the latest topic or in our case, art media, of interest for that week. This helps add fun and depth to the activity.
  2. Keep it short. Setting small and achievable goals at the start and measurable timeframes help maintain focus on the task.
  3. Provide information to copy from a variety of sources. For ourselves, Sunday School take-home activity sheets with the Bible memory verse for the week are a great source and help with the memorisation as well.
  4. Assigning copywork should be at the parent’s discretion. Only a parent knows their child’s likes and dislikes; what works for someone else may not necessarily work for us and I shouldn’t beat myself up over it (as with most things related to parenting, but hey, I need to be constantly reminded!).


Do you assign copywork to your kids at home?  What are your common sources of copywork material?

What do you find are your biggest challenges in encouraging meaningful and effective work output?  What are some of the successes that you’ve celebrated or the benefits that you’ve personally experienced together with your child? 

Wordcraft – S for Shell

This week’s approach to Wordcraft is slightly different from the usual.

Over time, the kids have grown to want more autonomy in deciding the outcome of their art work. At the end of the day, if that results in their being able to drive their own learning, that’d be more than I originally set out to achieve. 🙂

That and, I don’t think we’d collected enough seashells to form the word s h e l l, ha!

So, instructions which go in two separate directions – one what we’d traditionally do, and the other, what we actually did.

Materials: Seashells, white glue, cardstock, pencil (optional).

1. Go to the beach, hang out a little and remember to collect some seashells.

2a. On the cardstock, pencil out the letters, s h e l l. Apply the white glue and arrange the seashells following the outline.

2b. On the cardstock, apply the white glue and arrange your seashells as you like.

* Clockwise from top: “Smorrrrrgasbord!” by DS, “Flower” by me, thematic “Fans” and “Cones” by DD.

Reading: Sharing a Shell – written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks.

Synopsis (from The Book Depository): The tiny hermit crab loves his new shell. He doesn’t want to share it – not with a blobby purple anemone and a tickly bristleworm. But life in the rock pool proves tougher than Crab thinks, and soon he finds he needs his new housemates in this rollicking story of sea, shells and friendship.

Wordcraft – W for Wild

We found this really fun book recently, and bought a copy for our own home collection.

It’s a story about relative perceptions – Jack’s mother has always advised him never to go into the forest for fear of the ferocious wild beasts in it. Unfortunately, Jack disobeyed and is now lost and frightened.

He meets a bear who tries to help him find his way out of the forest, and in that process they meet an elephant, a lion, crocodile, wolf and python – all of whom neither Jack nor the animals themselves see as being ferocious….but are each made very worried about the ferocious beasts that Jack describes – an irony in itself. 

By the time the sun is setting, they’re all creeping about the forest, looking around nervously, watching each other’s back and completely spooked about the ferocious beasts that will be coming out to hunt…and…well, I shan’t spoil the ending for you. 😉

If you haven’t read the book, I’m pretty sure it can be found at your local library or bookstore. 🙂

Ignoring the factual inaccuracies, e.g. lions don’t live in forests, the book in itself is a very entertaining and delightful read.  We must have read this a million times by now – it is the kids’ latest favourite and they ask for it to be read every morning and every night!


To make your own Wordcraft “ferocious wild beast” hiding in the jungle, you will need the following materials: Artblock sheet, marker, blue paint, green and yellow coloured paper, scissors, glue.

1. On the artblock sheet, write out the letters w i l d.

2. Have your child paint the artblock sheet blue. (We used a sponge roller for this, but you can use anything. Alternatively, skip painting and use blue coloured paper for the background).

3. While your child is painting, cut out strips of green paper for grass.

4. When the paint is dry, paste on the strips of green paper.

5. Cut out two yellow cat’s eyes and paste just above the w.

Recommended reading accompaniment:-

Ferocious Wild Beasts – written by Chris Wormell