Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coloring with Young Children

I started giving Y&K crayons and pencils to color when they turned 14 months old. I let them scribble on blank paper for a start, then I started printing coloring pages from First School based on the theme or letter we are doing for the week for them to color. They progressed from banging the crayons/pencils to drawing circles but I didn't think they quite get what they are supposed to color and it didn't matter to me. I then bought a coloring book from the Popular Bookstore for S$3.60.

The pages had colored background and thick outline of the item with a sample colored item on top so older kids could follow the colors. I use this for my Chinese sessions. I will run through the name of the item in Chinese and the colors used in the picture but they are free to use any colors they desire. I actually regretted getting this coloring book as I later decided it's more economical to print my own. Also, I need to buy 2 books so both of them get the same coloring sheet to prevent any unnecessary fights. But when I see K recognizing the area he should be coloring, I thought the money was well spent! He was coloring with a purpose to fill the White area and I didn't expect that from him. So, a trick to let young toddlers understand the concept of coloring, use colored background so they could fill up the White space and do some real coloring.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Product Review: Do A Dot Art

I've been seeing many homeschoolers using these Do A Dot markers online. But what really made me want to buy these is when I saw the young toddler at No Time for Flash Cards using the dot markers making this pirate hat craft. The others were much older kids. So I went looking for this at many craft shops but was unable to find it. I finally found some information about the sale of this at local parenting forums and made a trip down to Thomson Plaza to buy this. It's costly, cost me S$37.50 for 6 tubes. But this is a great beginner craft paint for toddlers as the boys intuitively turned the bottle over and start banging hard on the paper to create the dots without any demostration of how to use it.

The paint, though indicated as washable are hard to wash off from the little hands and the sponge can't stand abuse, just a short 15 minutes of "banging" from my boys, I see some tear but it's still alright to use with no spills. They were thrilled to see the dots and Y started dragging the tube across the paper and created lines. I think it's a great craft tool, just that it's overpriced.

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

Monday, July 26, 2010

Letter G Activities - Alphabet Crafts

Last week was a really bad school week as the boys were having very bad teething days. They were extremely irritable and fight over every single thing in sight. We have pencils and brushes flying all over the house. I got a brush right at my face from Y. So, most of the activities had to be stopped midway.

Letter of the Week: G
Vocabulary: Garden, Guitar, Go, Green. Grass
Nursery Rhyme: Mary Mary, Quite Contrary

Lowercase G Craft (see above picture)
I had shredded Green paper to resemble Grass to paste on the alphabet cut out. The didn't want any "grass" on their letter and threw a tantrum when I showed them how to paste the paper.

Uppercase G Craft
We had all things Green for the alphabet cut out, Green Colored Pencils, Paint, Do A Dot, Markers, etc. We stopped when the Green brush came right in my face.

Alphabet Coloring
 Check out K's grumpy face

As I was busy breaking fights the whole day, we didn't manage to go into the Garden theme that I had planned but we still read a lot.

I'm so glad the week has passed and this week seems to have started on a good note. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Letter F Craft - Rice Covered Fish

This is an impromptu craft on a rainy afternoon. It's so easy to put together the materials.

What You Need:
  • Contruction Paper
  • Marker to draw the fish shape or you can also print out a fish shape
  • Rice (White or Colored)
  • Googly eyes
  • A small box to do the pour the rice 
  • Spoon or scoop
  • Glue
  • Brush to spread the glue (optional)
  • Draw or print a fish shape on a piece of construction paper
  • Apply glue on fish body and spread the glue with brush
  • Put paper in box and pour the rice over the area with glue
  • Shake off excess gently
  • Glue the googly eyes on
  • Let dry and you have a fish with rice scales.

Y, playing with the rice

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Montessori at Home - Encouraging Independence

    I set up an area at our foyer for them since they were 15 months so they could get their own shoes and caps to get ready to go out. They have learnt to get their shoes from the rack and get their caps when we ask them to get ready. K will even get my shoes for me sometimes. We are still working on having them put their shoes back on the rack when we come home. At other times, when we are not going out, this is the scenario.

    Y, helping K to put on his cap

    Y: "I should put on mine too"
    K: "Don't forget your shoes"
    Y&K: "All set but where's Mum?"

    And sometimes, they will go "Oh... we are not going out? Waaahhhhhhhhhh" when reality strikes.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Homemade ABC Book

    There are many versions of homemade or DIY ABC books out there on the web. Here's a few:

    Alphabet Mini Books from First School
    Printables from Enchanted Learning
    Photo version by Carina Gardner - I love this!

    Here's my version.

    I will print some words and pictures of words starting with the letter of the week. I try for 5 words per weeks but that's actually quite a lot and sometimes we take 2 weeks to cover the 5 words. I find 3 words per week to be more comfortable for their age (currently 18 months). I will paste the cards on their learning poster after introducing the words to them and we will review the words as and when they look at the board. 

    At the end of the week, during the weekend, we will review the words again and I will cut them into smaller pieces for them to glue on to the page. I also have alphabet cut outs in Upper and Lowercase for them to paste on though they are really more interested in taking them off the page most of the time.
    After we are done with the pasting, we will review the letters that were done previously. They are enjoying their ABC book so far, the tearing part more. So, if you have young children like mine, you have to print on card stock and print extras.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Sensory Sand Tub

    I had been looking for play sand for the longest time and I was elated when I saw ELC selling them. So, I happily lugged the pack of 10kg sand home and couldn't wait to let them play with it. I think sand play is so fun but the boys don't get to play with sand very much. That is because there aren't any sand pits near our home and the beach is too far and dangerous for me to be bringing two toddlers alone.

    I filled two tubs with the play sand and gave them their sand tools to play with. K was uncomfortable with the feel of sand on his hands (he is getting a little finicky about things on his hands). The funny thing is, he was alright when we were at the beach few weeks back but was uncomfortable with sand at home. The sand was moist enough and it's so easy to mould them into shapes.

    My mum came over and the boys kept asking her for help with scooping the sand into the containers. 

    This is Y
    This is K

    All was well and fun until Y accidentally got some sand got into his eyes and he started rubbing his eyes with his hands full of sand. He got very upset and started screaming when we held his hands to stop him from getting more sand into his eyes. We had a huge struggle trying to get him into the bathroom to wash the sand off his face and hands. K was a little shocked by what happened to his brother and got upset too when we got him to wash up.

    And with that, their grandmother issued an ultimatum that no sand play is allowed at home.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Art and Crafts - Car Painting

    After seeing this craft from Make and Takes, I thought this is a great idea! Playing with cars in another way and using cars to create art! So, I took out their favorite Chucks and Friends and let them roll the cars with paint on its wheels. But they ended up doing more hand painting though.

    Y, working on his painting very seriously

    I didn't manage to take a picture of the final artwork. They turned out nice and I used them as a card for our friend's Baby Full Month Party the next day.  Anyway, it's never about the final product, it's the process and experience that's important, isn't it? :)

    This would make a great activity for a Cars theme!

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Art and Crafts - Introduction to Chalk

    For Art, we used Chalk. This is the first time we use chalks. I put this off for some time as they were still very into tasting things. Though they were still tempted to do so, I managed to stop them. I think it's a good sensory material too. Y&K were quite intrigued with the powder that comes off the chalk, though K didn't really like the feel of the powder on his hands. I introduced Curved and Straight line to them with this activity. Here's their scribbles, the thick curved and straight line by me.

    Playschool @ Home - Letter F Activities

    Letter of the Week: F 
    Vocabulary: Fish, Frog, Flag, Flower, Feather, Farmer, Firemen, Fruit 

    Poetry: Far Far Away
    Nursery Rhyme: Once I Caught A Fish Alive
    Field Trip: Fish Farm

    We concentrated on letter recognition last week.

    We did letter tracing (or rather scribbles) with crayon with the letter F template from First School.

    Uppercase Letter F Craft - Pasted flower cut outs on Letter F cut out.

    Lowercase Letter F Craft - Pasted feathers on Letter F.

    At the end of these exercise, both Y&K can pronounce F.

    Over the weekend, I did a mini test using magnet letters on a white board. K was able to identify the letter F, in upper and lowercase.

    Today, I had a Rice sensory bin for them again with magnet letters and they picked up the letter F and said "F".

    Other F related activities we did last week:

    We colored a flower. Check out the one on the right by K. He was really coloring! I saw that he was trying his best to fill that area with Brown.

    I gave them a blank fish shape and I drew the eyes, scales, etc together with them.

    Our National Day is around the corner, I got them each a small Singapore flag and they had fun waving them.

    We went to Qian Hu Fish Farm over the weekend for their field trip and they enjoyed it. But I didn't manage to take any photos as I brought my camera out without the memory card! When we came back from the field trip, they were able to say the word "fish"! 

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Say No to Flash Cards?

    From what I've been reading, it seems like Play and Learn does not go hand in hand with Flash Cards. Or rather advocates of Play and Learn do not approve of Flash Cards.

    I embrace the Play and Learn philosophy but I've also been doing Glenn Doman inspired flash card programme since they were 5 months old. I wasn't very consistent though, I tried to do thrice daily but was only able to do at most twice daily, usually taking a break during the weekends. And I improvised the way the cards were flashed from the original programme. I used lesser cards. And I never test. My intention of showing the flash cards is to expose them to words, just like the way we expose them to images.

    I used the flash cards in 2 ways:

    Rapid flashing of word cards. 
    I start with 10 cards, adding 1 new card each day up to a maximum of 25 cards and I will retire the cards that have been flashed 15 times or when I think they are starting to get bored with the cards. I was having problem keeping track of the cards with the original GD programme, so I simplify it to what I feel I can keep up with. I'm not sure if the programme is still effective this way but it's alright for me since my intention is to expose to words, not so much of memory training.

    Flash cards with pictures
    I also show them flash cards with pictures. I will usually show the side with the words first, then the side with the picture. If it's an action word, we'll do the action and I will sing a song/rhyme if there's any relating to the word.

    Now that they are older, I'm thinking of doing away with the rapid flashing and focus on utilizing the flash cards in other ways. Some of which are what I'm already doing:

    • Word cards to be used together for words/object introduction
    • Words cards to be pinned on wall for words introduced for the week
    • Matching Games - Match the correct word card to the picture card.
    • Labelling Games - Get your children involved in the labelling after introducing the word.
    • Make your own cards (not the type and print kind) - Older children who can draw can make their own cards. For younger children, making the cards together with them would be good. (unless your children are like my boys who wouldn't stop snatching the marker from you.)

    I think Flash Cards is a good learning tool and can be incorporated into Play and Learn. I'm still looking for more interesting ways to use Flash Cards.
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