Monday, April 23, 2012

Drawing with Window Crayons

I'm beginning to like rainy weekends. It's on days like this when we play together as a family at home. We try to bring the boys out to parks and get their dose of Vitamin D as much as we can. On this day, we took out a box of Crayola Window Crayons. I love Crayola products though I find them pricey. $12 for 5 pens, very expensive.

Price aside, I like how smooth the crayon glide on the surface. You won't have to worry about scratches if you are drawing on your window surface. We have used them on mirrors, our glass doors, plastic sheets and on this day, we were drawing on our glass coffee table.

My boys love to draw roads, houses, and move their cars around.

The drawing smudges easily so it can your hands and arms quite dirty. But I love the washability. It cleans off easily. See how my boys had a great time cleaning after we finished?

Disclosure: This is a personal review and opinions are my own.

Math with a pack of Erasers

The boys got these as a souvenir from their field trip. How cute! Turns out, they love love love these erasers and have been spending time "biting" people with their mini sharks. I thought I may as well make it a little more useful.

So, we did

Sorting and Counting
Estimating and more counting
I put some erasers into a clear jar and ask them to estimate. They will then pour the erasers out to count. I also tried to introduce the concept of "More than" or "Less than". This activity was inspired by Deborah from Teach Preschool.

Since I'm more of a language person, I see my kids doing very well with language but mediocre when it comes to Math. It's effortless for me to engage them in conversations, to make up stories but it takes a little more effort to introduce Math concepts. It just does not come naturally to me. I wish Math can remain this way all the way to adulthood. I'm so not looking forward to Primary school maths. My consolation, my husband took all the maths subjects available in school.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Highly Sensitive Child

For the past 3 years, I feel tired and stressful. But I'm glad to finally say, it's getting better and can be better.

We have passed the crazy infant stage when I went without sleep and only survived on cat naps throughout the day for the first 3 months. I continued to have at most 4 hours of undisturbed sleep right up till they were 2 years old. And they only slept through the night at 2 1/2 years old. The sleep monster was my biggest enemy. My boys were not good sleepers and they still aren't.

We should be passing (I hope) the terrible twos stage now that they are 3. But I have also come to realize that a lot of things that were happening were not a terrible two tantrum but due to their temperament.

I questioned myself frequently, "what went wrong? what did I do wrong? why are they behaving like that". I read lots of parenting books and none provided any answers until I read this book, The Highly Sensitive Child which shed some light as to why they may be behaving the way they are.

There is an online questionnaire that you can answer to find out if your child may be a Highly Sensitive Child. I personally think they may not all be very accurate but many of the questions may help you identify your child's temperament.

If you have a child, like mine, who...
  • is relatively high need as a baby, often cries and needs you for comfort. 
  • is very particular about clothing. My boys will resist certain clothes and will keep crying if we don't change them out of it, since the age of 5 months old. 
  • doesn't like surprise. We must always prepare them on the next course of actions, what to expect and who to see especially before any social gatherings. I even have to prepare them for the breakfast they are having the next morning to avoid a morning meltdown if the bread is not what they want!
  • cannot accept strong punishment or big reaction from people. I have to control my own reaction when dealing with them, they could go into a fit if I just reacted with a "oh no!!!" when they spill some water on the floor.     
  • seem to sense your mood swings, etc. If I feel crappy, my kids are usually more crappy than me. Recently, they have been asking if I'm happy. I'm not, in fact, very moody for the past few weeks and I know it's affecting them.  
  • uses big words for his/her age. My boys are quite good with their language and could speak in complete sentences at 2 years old.
  • notices the slightest change. Be it a change of position, hair parting, socks, taste, etc, they will notice it.
  • is hard to get to sleep after an exciting day. It doesn't take anything exciting, they can't settle down to sleep with just slight changes to their routine. Will keep crying after we come home from social gatherings, outings, etc due to being over stimulated and overtire as they can't wind down.
  • ask a lot of question. All 3-4 years old ask a lot of questions but I'm quite amazed at the complexity of the questions they ask. 
  • is a perfectionist. They cannot accept mistakes, from themselves and others. They will often go into a crying fit if the bottle they got was not what they wanted.
  • notice the distress of others. When one melts down, the other usually follow suit shortly after. 
  • prefers quiet play. They are not loud and rowdy kids and usually play quietly.
  • is bothered by noisy places.
  • considers if it is safe before climbing high. They are very cautious kids. 
  • performs best when strangers aren't present. They know all the alphabets and shapes very well but I noticed that when strangers or people they do not know very well test  ask them, they sometimes get them wrong. 
  • feels things deeply. They don't forget things easily. They remember the boy who snatched their police car 1 year ago and will still talk about it today.       
As you can see, I almost answered yes to all the questions. But I left some unchecked as I find that some of the questions can be very subjective and probably all parents will answer "yes" to "has a sense of humor". Recently, a reader wrote to me and shared with me a condition called Aspergers, a type of autism. After reading a bit on it, they fit the profile for most parts of it. I'm going to read up more about this. Whether Highly Sensitive or Aspergers, these terms does not matter to me. What's most important is to understand the condition and deal with the meltdowns. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cardboard Aquarium

Our outdoor plans were shelved on a stormy Saturday afternoon. To keep 2 active boys occupied, we have to come up with something interesting. I always try to reuse any packaging for our crafts and with a new toy ramp, we have 2 self standing cardboards that's very suitable to make an aquarium. We also have some scraps of foam left from a Foam Art pack that they received from my friend. Perfect!

Materials Needed:
Cardboards (any, I used whatever I have from the new toy packaging)
Foam sheets (keep the scraps from those foam art sets if you happen to make)
Colored Paper
Paint and Brush

These are just some ideas. I took whatever I can find from my craft shelve.

We started painting the cardboard. 

While waiting for the paint to dry, I cut out some fish shapes from the foam scraps and got them to use markers to draw the eyes. I cut more small black dots for them to paste on some of them as eyes too.  

Add glue and glitter to the fishes.

Paint is still wet and we did some tearing, great for fine motor skills
Finally, the paint dried and they started pasting. It wasn't as messy as the foam sheets were self adhesive. I love that though they really love glue more.

It slipped my mind that K's group in school was doing Fish as the theme for the term. He was going to the Underwater World at Sentosa for his field trip. He was so excited and brought his aquarium craft proudly to school on the excursion day for his teacher. Y, though in the other group was allowed to go along and he also brought his aquarium to school as he wanted to give it to his teacher who left.

My husband couldn't stop complaining about the ugly fish shapes I cut. Ok, I admit it was a sloppy job. But to be honest, for someone who is bad at Art, it's actually not too bad! But I like how imperfect the craft looks. The colors and placement were all the boys' own effort. When I see a perfect children's craft, I often wonder who did it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Glue and Glitter Artwork

What do you do when you have run out of ideas and the boys are asking for an activity? Think of 2 craft supplies that your children love most. And for us, it's Glue + Glitter.

They can do several pieces at one go and thankfully, I have loads of Glue and Glitter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

They REFUSED to or they INSIST .

How many times have you heard a parent or a caregiver says, "he/she/they refused to"? Yes, there are times or rather for us, most of the times, children are not cooperative and refused to do anything we say. There are things that we can let go and there are things that we absolutely have to stand firm, especially when the actions compromise safety and house rules.

I can understand....

- he/she/they refused to wear the new branded red shirt
- he/she/they refused to eat
- he/she/they refused to make their bed
- he/she/they insist on wearing the pair of old shorts to a birthday party
- he/she/they insist on bringing a toothbrush to school

I CANNOT understand why parents or caregivers give in to ...

- he/she/they refused to take his medicine.
- he/she/they refused to hold my hands while crossing the road.
- he/she/they refused to sit on the safety car seat and wanted to sit at the backseat alone unbuckled in the car.
- he/she/they insist on going swimming when he/she/they are having a cold.
- he/she/they insist on eating junk before meal and the parent complains later that their child never eats well.

Those "cannot understand" times are times when you need to ask yourself, who is the adult? Who supposedly can make wiser decisions than a toddler? If a child insist on playing with a knife, will you let him? We don't need such extremes to react and set limits to children who were given more power than they should. I'm exasperated with grandparent who do not set limits and let children take over.

I was out for 2 hours yesterday afternoon and left the boys in my mom's care and they refused to nap, refused to let my mom in the room and they insist on playing and starting a party in the room. With no limits set and things going their way, they took over and got over tire and had a bad meltdown when I got home. My mom, not knowing what to do and often terrified of the boys' meltdown, closed the kitchen door and busied herself in the kitchen while I'm left alone to stop 2 violent boys from hurting themselves and me. I'm mad, very mad. How do we educate the older generation on setting limits? How do we remind ourselves on limits setting?
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