Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve and it's also Y&K's 2nd birthday. Exactly 2 years ago, I was at the hospital struggling with tandem breast feeding. 2 years later, I'm attending to 2 sick toddlers. They must have caught some virus at their birthday celebration, almost all the toddlers who attended the party are now sick too. We are praying hard that all the children will be well to welcome the new year.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Popular Posts Round Up

This is a very new blog that I started mid this year to share our Playschool activities. I'm very happy that many has stumbled upon my blog and made some very nice comments about the activities that we do. It gives me a lot of motivation to continue thinking about more fun learning activities with them. It helps that my boys love their activity time.

Here are the top 3 posts that got the most views for Year 2010:

Thanks for reading and I hope to share with you more learning activities in Year 2011. Happy New Year!!

Blocks Play is Creative Play

I never like to play with blocks since I was a child and I still don't understand what's so interesting about Blocks Play even when I became a mother. But since almost all parenting books would recommend Blocks as a must have toys for any child, they have a set of wooden blocks and another 2 sets of plastic blocks. 

They weren't that interested with them when they were younger but since they turned 18 months old, the books were right, it is a must have. Block Play is limitless and creative. Today, instead of building and stacking, they lined up their blocks and called them a "train". I love the way they made the sound of the trains as they lined their blocks and pushed the train along.  This is what I call Creative Play.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sensory Play: Shapes Rice Bin

I was slacking a little with their activities. I have been feeling lethargic and they did mostly worksheets and coloring. But yesterday, Y came running to me and asked for "activity time"! I was pleasantly surprised and of course it gives me great motivation. So, I took out the Green and Red rice we colored the previous week. I had wanted to do a Christmas sensory bin but haven't got to gathering the materials. With this request, I had to whip up something fast, so I poured the rice in the bin and threw in some shapes. I like the colors! They were supposed to scoop the shapes I asked for in their respective bowls. It was a lot of fun and they moved on to explore the bin on their own for a long time.

Y, concentrating on his scooping.
He calls this "Rain"
K, mixing the rice.
It look me a while to gather the bin and the boys waited patiently for me, following me in and out of the room, looking curiously at what I'm doing, shouting "activity time" from time to time. I can never associate the word Patience with a toddler so I can see that they really wanted their "activity time". They even let me take a picture of the bin before they dashed for it. There are many times when I feel like stopping the learning activities I'm doing with them and just switch on the box. But they never fail to stop me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Singapore Art Museum Trans-Cool Tokyo

We brought the boys to Singapore Art Museum last Sunday with their cousins and we had a blast. My husband loves Pop Culture so we can't possibly give this a miss.
Worksheets for primary and secondary school students can be downloaded from the website and we printed for our nephews.
I love this!

There's an activity station with stamps and markers provided. The boys love this and spent a long time there.
The older boys joined in too.
I like the balloon artist they hired for the event. He is very creative and the guns he did just look different.
There was Cosplay and the older boys were excited to see the Dark Troopers.
And we were excited to see Mario.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Coloring Rice

Rice is a regular for our Sensory Play. Hoping to make it more interesting, we colored the rice today. There are lots of tips and recipes on coloring rice online. Here are a few by:

Suite 101

Most of them combine rubbing alcohol or vinegar with food coloring. Again, I'm lazy, I just poured food coloring into a Ziploc bag of rice and get the boys to shake. It's not too bad. But as you can see from the pictures below, the rice is not evenly colored. I used about 1 or 2 tablespoon of food coloring to dye this small bag of rice and I think that's a lot. So, maybe you shouldn't be lazy like me if you are intending to color rice.

Green Colored Rice

Red Colored Rice
Can anyone guess the theme of upcoming Sensory Bin with this Green/Red color combination?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sensory Play - Goop

I have been looking for Goop recipes that does not requires Borax (I have no idea where to get Borax in Singapore, please let me know if you do) and I was happy to find it over at Be A Fun Mum.

What You Need:
300 gms of cornflour
1 cup water
Food coloring (option)
Tray or containers

All you need is to mix the water and the flour. The preparation only takes a few minutes. I'm not sure if it's due to our humidity here. I think we need less water but I've got to try it out again.

Goop is an amazing substance that even I was intridged by it. It feels like solid when you touch it and when you try to lift it up in your hands, it just melts into liquid. Y&K enjoyed exploring with it very much. And they spent 45 mins at it and was very unwilling to leave. K even burst into tears asking for more Goop when I brought him to the bathroom. I think they can play for hours.

I like how sensory activities catches their attention and keep them occupied for long periods of time. 45 mins is a long time for a toddler to be concentrating playing with something. I like to talk to them during the experience. "What are you doing?", "What is that?", "How does that feel?" and I like it even more now because they can talk to me. K nodded, in smiles when I asked him if this is fun and he repeated "fun". Y told me the goop is like rain when it trickle from his fingers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handmade Gifts using Childrens Work

I like handmade gifts and I love the idea of using my childrens' work for the gift. Christmas is just around the corner and in Singapore, gifts exchange is the norm whether or not you are a Christian. My friends and I had a very early Christmas gathering this year due to some travel plans and I made this together with Y&K.

We did some marble painting last week and the artwork turned out so beautiful. So, this is what I did.

- I painted a small wooden frame with a matching or bright color
- I paste their names on the plastic/glass of the frame
- Put their artwork in

Tata! My friends loved it. Y&K were very proud of their gifts. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maths - Counting Beans

Y&K enjoys counting but they still can't count. They don't know when they should stop counting. :)
I was thinking of reusing the Red beans from the scooping activity we did for another activity and came up with this.

I'm doing this activity with 5 bowls each time. Their attention span is still extremely short. I'm already lucky to have them sit through the counting of 5 bowls.

What You Need:
Labels (to label the container with numbers)
Beans or any other counters

I showed them the number on the container and gave them the correct number of beans. For example, I give them 5 beans for bowl "5". And they put the beans into the container and we count together. They still don't know when to stop counting at the end of this activity but I think they are slowly getting it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sensory Play - Paint Table

The boys are not into messy play. They don't like to get their hands dirty! But I WANT them to! They refused to do hand painting. So, here's my trick. I lured them to the paint table with cars. Ha!

What You Need:
Small Table
Plastic Sheet (to wrap the table top)
Car (optional... you only need them as a bait)

They were shaking their heads when asked to go to the paint table but they dashed to the table once the cars were out.
K rolling the car.
Hah! Y finally used his fingers! And he told me he was drawing a train.
And then his hands! K followed suit when he saw Y having fun.
Y: "oh oh... dirty hands"
Misson success! This is a great activity. Cars are a nice addition. It was nice to see the wheels texture on plastic. it's nicer than on paper. And they explored the smooth texture of plastic with paint. They were at the table for 40 mins. K was reluctant to leave the table and I had a hard time coaxing him into giving the fire engine a car wash.

I think a great way to preserve the "painting" is to press a big piece of paper over the plastic. I didn't do that this time but will definitely try it the next time round.

Homemade Toys - Car Ramp

I hope I'm not boring you guys with all the cars related activities. I don't have much choice because my boys simply love cars and all things related to transportation.

My husband said we should look out for car ramp toys for the boys to play with. I checked out some and I thought they are pretty expensive. We could probably get one for them since their birthday is just around the corner but I thought why don't we built one ourselves?! So, on rainy afternoon with 2 boys that are dying of boredom, we built a simple ramp out of kitchen towel rolls and masking tape. It was flimsy and it didn't last for more than an hour. The next day, we improvised and built this.

I'm not creative nor artsy but I hope to share with my boys that we can create our playthings. Just like during my parents' time when toys are considered a luxury and they created their playthings with leaves and twigs. It's something that city kids don't get a chance to, including myself when I was a kid. To "de-urbanized" is really hard for us in a small city like Singapore. 

What You Need:
Masking Tape
Toy Trees

(1) I filled the empty box with some newspaper for some weight. You might not need to do this but I had to because the boys like to sit on the box.

(2) I folded the cardboard for the "wall".

(3) Tape the cardboard ramp to the box.

(4) Make some road drawings on the box, put some deco like toy trees, etc.

(5) Get your cars out for some fun!

Pardon my drawing on the box. I can't draw. The boys always have very challenging drawing requests and I just have to tell them Mummy doesn't really know how to draw that but I can try. They make me very happy when they tell me what I am drawing when I can't even recognize it myself. And these days, when I'm stumped with another challenging drawing request, they boys say "Mummy try" while I'm struggling to draw something that I don't even have an idea of how to start.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

P is for Panda


This is the Panda craft we did for Letter P week. I printed this Panda craft template online but I couldn't locate the link now!

Updated on 19 Oct 2013: The template can be printed here. Thank you to the reader who provided the link. 

I had to guide them with the pasting as they were not interested in pasting at all. They just wanted to apply glue with their glue stick. Y was very displeased when I helped him paste the Panda face.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Letter Matching

I think some of the best activities I do with the boys are the impromptu ones. Sometimes, an idea will strike me. Or the boys are so grumpy that I'm forced under circumstances to come up with something new and interesting to keep them entertained and occupied. Or most of my planned activities just fail to generate their interest and participation. These activities are usually easy to put together with little preparation. I'm a lazy busy Mum. Here's another easy one.

What You Need:
White Board
Paper with Letters on it
Magnet Letters
Masking Tape

I printed some letters on a paper and tape it to a A4 white board. I picked out some magnet letters in a tray. They are supposed to pick out the letters on the tray and match it with the letters on the board. If you are short for time, handwritten words work too. I printed a few sheets with different letters and I can just change it once they get bored with the current sheet. I just wished I have a bigger board so I have more letters on 1 board.

They made me quite happy at the end of this activity as they got all the letters right. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Question: Do you let them touch the flashcards/books?

I'm referring to babies or very young children below the age of 3 years old.

I have seen and heard of parents reading to their children but not allowing them to touch the books/flashcards for fear they might damage them. Yes, babies and toddlers are not exactly kind with their touch and yes the books and flashcards are very expensive. But I have given them a lot of freedom to touch all our books (including the "non board books") and flash cards in our home, since they were a baby. We have a box with books that they know it as the "book bin" where books and flashcards are available to them at any time, with or without supervision. Sometimes we have torn pages/cards and other times, we have wet pages/cards after some tasting session (but thank god the tasting sessions have stopped). I try to let them know the consequence of handling the books and cards too rough every time such accidents occur and I will tape the torn pages back together with them. Many times, they were as upset as me when the pages or cards tear.

They like to play with their flash cards and I don't quite understand why. They can just march and walk around with their flash cards when they were much younger. These days, they will run to us with a card and read the word to us. K likes to go through his action cards and do the actions to the words. I love to see that.

When they were 1 year old, the book bin contains mostly board books and only a few books that are more delicate. And now, at 21 months I can leave any books/cards there, regardless of the thickness of the paper. They are able to handle them well and I'm very pleased. The improved motor skills at 21 months contributed to this of course.

I'm glad I gave them this freedom to explore their books/cards. There were times when I'm so upset when they accidentally damage the books/cards. Come to think of it, they seldom damage the book/card when they were reading by themselves. The damaged book/card is usually the result of a fight. But children learn from experience. And seeing them taking a book from the book bin and flipping the pages or going through their cards by themselves just make me very happy. I hope they will grow up to love books and love to read.

Whats's your experience with giving your baby and young children the freedom to access the cards and books in your home freely?

K, reading his book by himself at 14 months

Homemade Car Mat

I have been hoping to do non-transportation related themes and activity with them but my boys are just sooooo into their cars and buses that I can only get their attention by incorporating transportation into the activities we do. So, we did a car mat and we drew roads, buildings, houses, etc for them to roll their cars on.

What You Need:
Big mounting board or paper
Drawing materials such as color pencils, markers, crayons, etc.

This smile from K just melts my heart

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

K Spells Bus

K took me by surprise when he spelled out "bus". I didn't expect that at all. I'm always talking and answering myself. I was actually quite shock to hear him spell and to reconfirm that, I asked again and he spelled it out loud and clear.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Painting = Car Painting

My boys are just so crazy over transportation such as cars, and eversince I introduced car painting to them, I can't shake this off. We always ended up with cars for 9 out of 10 painting sessions.

Sensory Art - Painting with Feathers

The boys like to go to our craft box to check out our craft materials and specifically asked for paint. So, I did a painting activity with them using feathers.

What You Need:
Paper/Drawing Block

First, I started choosing the paint colors that goes with the feather colors I have and I did a matching activity with them. They weren't keen as they were anxious to start painting.

They were free to do what they want with the feathers and paint.

K smiled at the camera! :)

K got a little frustrated as the feather is too soft to hold like a brush/pen.
I like to give them the freedom to do what they want with the materials provided. The basic rule is, they should not end up on the floor. I think they react differently when they were told right the begining of what to do and when I left it open. For crafts, I give instructions and will demostrate on what to do but with Art, I like to leave it open. It's interesting to see them exploring with the feathers and thinking what they should do with the feathers and paint. And actually, no explaination is required, they just paint. They tried to hold the feathers like a pen, they tried to brush the feathers over the paper, etc. I just love to see them explore.
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