Monday, 29 September 2014

Toy Centered Learning: Knight versus Dragon

Knight = Tiger
Dragon = a toy, not the girl, ya? 
Most of the time it is the boy vs the girl.
But not today.

 This is our simple setup.
I only had two Usborne books about knights. 
I found the poor New Year Dragon in the Chinese New Year Deco Box.
Luckily I found him, otherwise we will have to use my daughter :p

My knight in rm17.90 armor :)
The helmet and shield are made from EVA foam.
They smelled when I took them out but quickly dissipated after I aired them overnight.

It came  in a set with this book from Bookxcess.
 (ISBN: 9781592238088)
You can read more about it here
We needed a sword, so I just cut one from a board and wrap the end with packing tape.
Took me about five minutes.
The kid was amazed...*flips hair*

We also had this IKEA play tent to complement our reading.
Not mine. On loan from my sister.
She buys new stuff and we get to play with them first..haha!

We talked about fighting and killing.
This child is preoccupied with the idea of dying.
If I urge him to do something risky, he will ask,
"Will die or not?"
"If I die, I cannot see you or Grandma. So I don't want to die."
Mind you, risk of dying includes jumping off tables @.@

He was irritated with the helmet after 5 minutes and
proceeded to plan an attack in his 'castle'.
His plan was to attack the enemies with magnetic alphabets,
arranged correctly and very neatly.

Perhaps he should just be a knight for Halloween.
Save me some money from buying a costume :)

Pretend play has a ton of benefits. 
I do it to balance some of the Tiger Mom activities we do, like addition and memory games.
Don't want a crazy, stressed-up kid at the end of the day :)
You can read about the benefits here

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Science: Making Waves

Most of our science lessons are prompted by my 4 year old.
I think the process where children are encouraged to ask questions and think is critical in laying a strong foundation in S.T.E.M.
The process of finding the answer via scientific method (hypothesize, designing experiments, recording results) shouldn't be too rigid or complicated at this point.

We were singing Whales' Sneezes from YAMAHA when he asked, "Mama, if whales sneeze...then only can get waves?"
I explained that it is the wind created by the sneezes that forms waves and the stronger the wind, the bigger the waves.

So, his question was, does a sneeze make waves?
It would be difficult to make him sneeze on demand. 
I thought of using pepper but that would just make me look bad as a mom.
So I explained that the whale's sneeze represents a very strong wind.
High velocity wind, which we shall recreated using a piece of straw.

I hypothesize that "We can make waves with the straw.
He agreed and we experimented.

We concluded that wind can create waves.
To learn more, we watched a Youtube video on wave formation and surfing 

To be less Tiger Mom-like, he was allowed to have fun cutting wavy lines

To cap it off, we read some facts on whales and he played with his talking pen.

Easy peasy but so much learning.
I love spontaneous lessons!
Next, we will learn how vibrations can create waves too with our tuning forks :)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Baby School: 2 years 2 months old

Dragon girl is finally settling into our homeschool style. Hooray!
Every night, around eight pm, she will ask to go upstairs, just like her brother :)
Mind you, Tiger and I are STILL bending backwards to accommodate her but 
it's been worth our while and many efforts.

When she is around, most of Tiger's requests will be met with a standard answer, 
"Wait. After Mei-mei sleep, then we can do (insert request)"

First on her to do list is always artistic expressions.
Sounds so pro, right?
But honestly it can be very stressful when she decides to redecorate.
After we've gotten this IKEA easel, she has been pretty kind to the walls in general.
Here, she was demonstrating finger printing to Tiger.
He just watched. Too dirty.


She literally brings art to new heights :)

Just to encourage her creativity, one side of the study room is reserved 
for her art materials, playdough and loose parts.
Everything is freely accessible to her except glitter.
I hate playdough but they love it, so I just do deep breathing in a corner 
and chant to myself,
"You can clean later"

I've also moved the trays outside to make more space for movement and dancing.

Sometimes, they'll bring materials into the room and play peacefully together.

At times, she plays alone.

They still fight a lot.
With kicking, punching and scratching actions but what to do?
Like how Winnie and I used to 'play'...haha...but we are best of friends now.
Just fight la.
See her ugly Kim K crying face?

The Froebel gifts are accessible to her at all times at the reading area.

Her favorite is Gift 1.
We left her to play with Tiger's planetarium model for awhile and when
we came back, she'd already taken out the balls from the box.
Or she related the planets to the yarn balls?
I prefer to think that she connected the two :)

A tossing game they created.

They did this to my pretty fairy lights

 A shopping game.
When Tiger was holding 4 yarn balls and Dragon only had 2, I asked him:
"How to make it equal?"
"I need to give Dragon one ball."
And he proceeded to assist her.
Impromptu math :)

Tiger and I revisited the water cycle and Dragon was very interested in this model.
She probably thought it was food or we were making ice cream...hihi...

I love her focused look when Tiger was explaining the process to her.

Feeling the heat (light) vs cold (ice)

I saved the most fantabulous update for last. 
She is in a letter sensitive phase.
In the young ones, pre-reading is just:
1. Holding the book upright.
2. Looking at the pictures intently
3. Telling the story in their own words.
4. Pointing to words from left to right.
5. Pretends to read.
Caught her 'reading' so many times in the past 2 weeks.
Here, she was demanding for her Brillkids session.
The system gels really well with her and she is learning so quickly.

Seeing how much she enjoys herself is pure happiness to me.
I made Tiger her 'teacher' and he was in charged of the computer and repeating the words to her.
Since Dragon loves copying her brother, it was a win-win-win situation for all 3 of us.

Sometimes, I really hit the jackpot and I see this:
 A quiet morning with the kids reading by themselves. 
The Reading Area is my all-time fav spot.

Or like this morning, reading on the swing :)

Have a wonderful weekend, folks!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Read & Play: Three Little Pigs

This was initially a toy centered learning topic but I thought it would be fun to
built different types of houses to go along with the story of
"Three Little Pigs"

Here's the setup:
The toy is actually a picture from my kindergarten graduation concert :)
I've had the picture frame for as long as I can remember.
It's one of the few things that had survived my regular spring cleaning.
The books are a variety of pig-related stories found in our own little library.
But our main book was this one from Usborne
We really enjoyed the simple words and cute illustration.
Tiger especially enjoyed the verse, 
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin"
which he still uses to this day :)
Ours came in a set bought during MPH sales
I must admit that when I think of pig, the first thing that comes to mind is
bah kut teh and bacon. Terrible, I know.
But I didn't tell Tiger that part about pigs, yet.

Did you know that pigs are very intelligent creatures?
I found out about that in Singapore Zoo when I was 11 or 12 years old.

So, the houses were obviously the focus of my creative, engineering mind *ahem*
I wanted to use the straw from our broom at first...haha, not very hygienic is it?
Then I thought of straws!
I have lots and lots of them from IKEA.
We tried several methods and this was the easiest, a triangular prism 

This is our messing planning process, trying out different materials.
Tiger will imitate my thinking face as he thinks:
 one hand on hip, eyes upwards,  one finger on lips...
"Hmmm, what else can we use?"
My little Mini-Me

Setting up the props.
I didn't purchase mini a mini wolf/pigs.
We already had them in our farm and wild animal set. Lucky me :)

The straw house is the trickiest to setup and easiest to blow down,
He always played the wolf and I, the pigs.

 The wooden house made from unifix cubes base, some sticks and spatulas.
It had to be purple.

The pig in the house No. 2

 He huffed and he puffed very, very hard...haha!

Our lego 'brick house'
Genius ain't it? I thought of it and I hinted the idea to Tiger.
When he thinks it's his idea, he takes pride in his work :)

We read all the books repeatedly, except Peppa Pig which Dragon girl had refused to share.
My bad for stating it was her present :p
To complement this activiy, we used printables from 3dinosaurs, here.

One of our most successful project to date.
And no, bacon was not discussed at any point.

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