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Singapore National Day Craft: Aerial Flypast

Each year, the number of planes and models used for the aerial flypast varies. This year, nine fighter jets will execute the enhanced aerial flypast.

We chose to make five airplanes in our craft to represent the five stars on the Singapore flag, which stand for the nation’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

That was the plan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😛

Okay, fine…

The plain truth is that was all we could wrangle from the kids, the rest they wanted to fly all over the room. Sigh.

But I digress. What I really wanted to say is that this craft allows you the flexibility to make as many planes as you like and arrange them in any formation you choose. 🙂

So –

You will need the following materials: Artblock sheets, blue watercolour paint, paintbrush and palette, water, cotton wool/pads, old magazines, craft glue.

1. In the palette, mix the blue watercolour paint until you achieve a very watery consistency.  This is to create a watery watercolour wash to cover the artblock in light sky blue.

2. Apply the watercolour wash to the entire artblock sheet.  Leave to dry.

3. In the meantime, tear the old magazine sheets into little rectangles, and fold tiny paper airplanes.

4. Paste the paper airplanes in whatever formation you desire, we did this in a fan out formation. (Tip: When you paste the airplanes down, hold it down for a short moment, pinning the centre flap of the paper plane between two fingers, so that the wings don’t spread when drying)

5. Tear up the cotton wool/pads and paste  a cloud trail pattern of your choosing.

And you’re done!

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.

Anyway.
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.

Bookmark Monday: A Harold

There is a branch of comedy theatre called improvisation comedy, improv for short. And in the improv world, there is a category called a Harold.

Actors get up onstage, without any idea whatsoever of what character they will play or what plot they will act out. They take a few random suggestions from the audience, and then without consultation with each other, put together a play from scratch.

Amazing? Yes.

Entirely random?  Not quite.

What may appear random and spontaneous is actually an art form governed by a series of rules, and all the actors must abide by those rules. One of the key rules that makes a successful improv play is agreement – characters must accept everything that happens to them, and responses must always be in the positive.

And so we find similar elements too, in Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.

I’m not sure if the two are related, or one was an inspiration for the other.

Johnson’s Harold is delightfully imaginative and always positive.

Armed with just his trusty purple crayon, Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight, so he draws a crescent moon. He draws a path to walk on…but after a while, the path seems to lead nowhere, so he draws a shortcut.

Through a forest…but he doesn’t want it to be a big forest, so he draws just a single tree. An apple tree. That will produce red juicy apples in season. These apples should be guarded, so he draws a dragon. It’s a fierce one, so fierce it frightens even Harold himself!

Stepping back and unaware that his trembling hands are drawing an ocean behind him, Harold suddenly finds himself way into the deep. But some quick thinking saves the day (the night?) as Harold draws himself a boat. With a sail.

Saved…by quick thinking. And the moon follows along. After a while, Harold grows tired of sailing and anchors the boat to look for land.  The beach makes him think of a picnic.  So he draws a picnic, with all his favourite flavours of pie. There’s more…get yourself a copy and read on to find out the adventures of Harold.

First published in 1955, this timeless classic is simple yet exciting without being boisterous. In his own quiet manner, Harold shows adults and children alike, the marvelous stories and experiences one can create with a little imagination and a lot of clever creative thinking.

Have a couple of purple crayons handy – after reading, you might well be inspired to take off on a little walk by moonlight of your own with your child(ren). 🙂

Bookmark Monday: Who’s Theo LeSieg, it’s quite a clever nick!

So sue me for being behind time, but I just found out that Dr. Seuss has a series of books he wrote to be illustrated by others, and for those books, he used the name Theo LeSieg – his real name was Theodor Geisel, LeSieg is his surname, Geisel, spelled backwards.

We’re generally quite selective over the Dr Seuss books we pick. Some just have so many nonsense words, and our kids make up enough nonsense words in a day to rival the good doctor – there’s a limit to how many I can take!

But with our latest find from the library: “Ten Apples Up on Top!”,

I’m thinking that it might be worth checking out the rest of the LeSieg series.

Ten Apples is written with the usual synopsis of zany characters doing silly stuff in high action speed sequences, but it retains the signature rhyming style Seuss(?), Geisel(?), LeSieg(?) is known for.  I like the fact that the text uses simple – and real – words that’s approachable for beginner readers and also can be extended for teaching beginner arithmetic as well.

Click below if you’d like to watch a dramatized reading of the book.

Bookmark Monday: You’re Mean, Lily Jean

A new neighbour moves in next door and sisters Carly and Sandy find themselves a new playmate in Lily Jean. Or do they?

Lily Jean only wants to play with Sandy and repeatedly attempts to exclude Carly, her younger sister. And when that doesn’t work, she relegates Carly to subjugate roles – the baby, the dog or the cow – leaving Sandy in a conflicted position.

Tired of the bratty and obnoxious Lily Jean, Carly figures out a way to turn the tables and the sisters present Lily Jean her options – either play nice or don’t play with them at all.

Kady MacDonald Denton’s watercolours are calm, sweet and elegant, but yet succeed in conveying effectively the obviously uncalm and unsweet actions and emotions in play.

Frieda Wishinsky has created a great book that discusses the issue of playground politics, presents solutions without coming across as preachy or heavy, and equips parents and children to identify the difference between having fun vs. being bullied vs. being a bully.

Lily Jean is suitably depicted as the typical smug, overconfident and bossy bully. Children will easily recognize in her the Lily Jeans of their own playground or playdate interactions and perhaps take away some clever, non-violent tips in dealing with a bully or overbearing character as a first level attempt to resolution without requiring adult mediation.

I think it also is a good resource to impart to siblings the value and importance of looking out and caring for each other, and that they are strong as individuals but unstoppable as a team.  Phyllis from All Things Beautiful summarizes the sibling creed values succinctly; click here for the original source article.

As a footnote, I also like the fact that Sandy and Carly are shown as not just playing girly girl games in their make-believe play. They play house, but they also play at dragons and knights, explorers and pirates and mountain climbers and astronauts. Very subtle and very cool! 😀

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: Are you smarter than a third grader?

xyz + yz + z = yyz

What is x, y and z? Solve.

We were asked this question on Saturday night by one of the cousins; it was from a primary school math textbook.

Parents of Singapore primary-school age children from West to East, North to South, have been overheard cracking their heads over the logic of the  Heuristics methodology in the syllabus scope for Primary 3, at the office water-cooler, on public transport and in the midst of cracking their favourite chilli crab pincer. 

“Heuris-whats? Can it be eaten?”

Yes it’s waaaayyyy before my time as a mother of but two preschoolers.  But I’d eventually have to face it so I was curious enough to go look it up.

Heuristics – as defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary
: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods ; also : of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance
— heu•ris•ti•cal•ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Hm. And this relates to Bookmark Monday how?

Well, we found this cute and clever book on an ordering booklist. Knowing nothing about it save for what we’d read on the short introductory synopsis, we ordered a copy and excitedly perused through it last night when it arrived.

The left brain of me couldn’t help succumbing to the temptation of subjecting myself to mental athletics at the sprightly hour of midnight, whilst the right half violently protested and loudly orated the surely-more-logical-and-reasonable option of succumbing to the comforts of a feather pillow.

Left brain won. (I know, I know, geeky geek…)

Frankly it will be some time before we pull this book out to share with our kids.  But Singapore math syllabus, Model method and homework woes aside, if you are looking for a more enjoyable resource with a no-tears formula for exploring heuristics and developing problem-solving techniques, I have to admit “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” comes pretty close.

That…and seriously? Can you resist checking out a book series with titles such as “The Grapes of Math” and “Math-terpieces”?

Now that we’ve got ourselves this copy, my attention is piqued enough to be on the lookout for the rest of the titles by Greg Tang, especially the ones for the younger preschool set – Math Fables and Math for All Seasons.

By the way, have you figured out the values of x, y, and z?

Yes? Give yourself a thump on your back – you are smarter… 😉
Not yet? Keep calm and crack on.