Category: Playtime Learning
|November 24, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Parenthood, Playtime Learning|
My kids have been surrounded by plants from a young age. I keep plants such as aloe vera, peace lilies and what-nots indoors and the kids have been taught to appreciate and care for these plants. With Eva, we moved a step earlier when she hit 3 years old. It was the summer holidays and we were at my mother-in-law’s place. She has a huge garden with tomatoes, trees and bushes so we got Eva to harvest some vegetables, flowers and yes, water the plants.
When we arrived in Penang, I decided to try my hand at planting vegetables. I thought it would be a fun way to let Eva see where food comes from and to appreciate how much work it takes to grow the vegetables that we eat every day. So apart from the usual home staples like aloe vera and peace lilies, we bought some planter boxes and pots to get started on our balcony garden.
We started with angled petolas (which didn’t do so well due to constant bug infestation so I removed them) and choy sum. As you can see above, the choy sam fared pretty well although growth was a little on the slow side since I went the organic route and only used hummus fertiliser, goat manure and some Epsom salt. We got our first harvest two months after sowing and germination. The bunch you see is from three plants – I lobbed off the top and kept the bottom most two leaves and roots in to see if I could get another round of veg from it. The planter is still pretty full and I’m starting to see some flowers being put out so another harvest might be in order soon.
Since the harvest, we have purchased another two (albeit smaller) planter boxes and this time, I have sowed some bok choy and Hong Kong choy sam seeds. Our ginger plant is doing quite well and we also decided to plant another small bulb as it was sprouting. I also have some mint going in a large pot! Eva is pretty excited about the garden and I’ll be getting her to help me fertilise and water these boxes every few days. Hehehehe.
|April 14, 2013||Posted by Mabel under Just Noah, Playtime Learning|
A while back, I’ve been giving Noah a free-hand with the pencils and paper lying around on Eva’s little table. He has been showing interest in his sister’s doodling and colouring activites much to her chagrin. (He is always pulling at her pants, trying to steal the paper from under her and even tossing aside the pencils and pens.)
While he is still a novice at drawing – he makes dots and very light doodles – it is clear that he is definitely exploring the creative aspect of things. At the moment, he seems to be gravitating towards making noise with the pencil or just exploring the shape & feel rather than doodle with it. But on some days, he is just like his sister – all doodles and scribbles.
For me, it doesn’t really matter if he likes doodling or not. As long as he’s happy and learning something. After all, creativity manifests itself in many aspects – music, painting, drawing, design work, baking, cooking…I should know. LOL.
|December 2, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Playtime Learning|
While dropping Eva off at school, I noticed that the 4 year olds are planting hyacinth bulbs as one of their classroom activities. It seemed like an interesting idea to explore and something that could still remain interesting after a few days or weeks.
I had thought of getting a science-based project for her to start off on the science aspect of our homeschooling curriculum and a fighting fish came to mind. After doing some research and scouting around, I decided against it as it was just too costly (the tank, fish, decorations, heater) and too much work (water change every week, etc). Then I saw some bulbs of Hyacinth (above) and Amaryllis (below) on sale – it is common to buy bulbs to give to folks around this time of the year as gifts. They were much cheaper, easier to care for – since I have an Amaryllis at home already – and the learning objects would still be the same.
I allowed Eva to choose the colours she wanted and she settled on pink & purple. The two plants now sit on top of the fireplace in the playroom. Earlier today, I spent a few minutes explaining how plants grow and getting her to water them. I don’t really have a hard and fast rule for teaching this to her. It’s more of exposing her to plant care, growth and biology in a fun way. I’ll also be capturing the progress of the plant’s growth in pictures so that we can sit down and look back at how the plants have grown over a few days. I reckon it would make for an interesting discussion.
|November 21, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Just Eva, Parenthood, Playtime Learning|
A couple of weeks back, I decided to go back to seriously considering homeschooling Eva outside of her school’s formal hours. While the kindy is great and all, there is one serious flaw with it – everything is in French. It’s great for her French but does absolutely nothing for her English skills or learning. Plus I would also like to focus on her actually learning concrete skills than just random playing or roleplaying.
The current plan is to take about 30 minutes in the afternoon – after the kid’s nap and snacktime – to focus on learning. While I go through the curriculum with Eva, Noah will have his little exploration thing going on in the form of treasure chests, sensory bins, etc.
So far, the curriculum is (based on Get Ready Pre-K, Kumon and Jolly Phonics):
- Tracing & Mazes
- Basic concepts
- Alphabets, numbers and counting
- Shapes & colours
I plan to cycle through these at least once a week with the exception of phonics, colouring and tracing & mazes which I think I’ll do on a daily basis to help her with her language and writing skills as well as to incorporate some aspect of fun. I’d like to include things like history and music as well as culture into the picture but I think she’s a little young for that plus I need time to source for materials and find alternatives. To break the monotony, we’ll have one day where we’ll head out in the evening like to the park or to run errands.
So far, we’ve been working on tracing, colouring, colours and basic concepts. She gets distracted easily with Noah around so it helps to keep him busy with his toy so that she can focus on her work. I reckon for now, 30 minutes is enough as any longer and she’d want to join Noah in playing and so forth.
One thing I must admit tho – it’s not easy having to “teach” a preschooler things with a toddler around. Gosh, I can’t believe that Noah is a toddler now!
|October 25, 2012||Posted by Mabel under General, Playtime Learning|
For the past few months, we have been aimlessly filling the hours with just random and aimless playtime. It wasn’t until recently that I was reminded that Noah was no longer a baby and needs extra stimulation like his sister. However, unlike Eva who is now going to school during the day (and the school is almost Montessori styled!), he is stuck at home with me. So during his morning nap, I decided to trawl the Internet for ideas on playtime learning for babies. This is a new field for me since the books and links I have cater to preschoolers and toddlers more than babies.
Despite his birth age, Noah is still very much a baby in terms of milestone achievement. You could say that he’s behind his full term peers by a good four to six months. Most of his milestones is hovering around that of a 9 month old and while I’m not worried about that, I would still like him to get as much out of his playtime as possible.
Counting Coconuts has a lovely collection of treasure basket ideas for her little one. The aim of a treasure basket is very simple – just dump about 5-10 objects of anything (similar shape, colour, purpose, etc) into a basket or box and let your child play with it. It helps babies explore with their sense of touch, sight and if you dare, smell and taste. It is also a cheap way to get some playtime in for your kids as you can use just about any household item or toy.
Noah’s first treasure box is a white one and is made up of items that are white in colour. I recycled one of the boxes that my parcels came in and threw in balloons of two different sizes, a white mini rugby ball, some puffs in different sizes, white packing beans and foam cutouts. He found the balloons to be strange and hard to grip due to the rubbery yet slippery surface and opted for the rugby ball instead. The puffs ended up in his mouth a few times for a taste test before ending up outside the box – “dump” mode. The balloons too ended up outside the box. At one point, he started playing with the box too!
All in all, an interesting (and cheap) way to enhance his playtime!
|March 26, 2012||Posted by Mabel under Good Days w/ Eva, Just Eva, Parenthood, Playtime Learning|
Inspired by the book “I Can Do it: Play-and-learn Activities to Help Your Child Discover the World the Montessori Way” (link here), I decided to do work with Eva on some basic life skills. The book recommends that we go through Chapters One and Two first before attempt the rest. Since Eva already knows some life skills like brushing her teeth, combing her hair, putting on her shoes and jacket (I started working on the jacket a few days ago and now I just need to open it for her and she’ll slip her arms in herself. Managing the zip catch still requires work but she’s an expert at zipping up and down!), I decided to see if she can handle skills like pouring and transferring. These skills will help with self-feeding as well as get her exercising those muscles she’ll need for learning to write next time.
Here is a series of pictures I took while we were busy working on this activity. It took about 15 minutes and I used kidney beans before moving onto rice to make things a little bit more challenging. She transferred the beans without any problems or spillage but the rice – ohno! One thing good about this activity is that it ties in with her love for cooking and she was so into it so much so that when asked if she wanted to watch a cartoon, she said NO! Hehehe.
I also got a glimpse of some skills which she picked up from me while she observed me as I cooked and baked – namely patting down the rice. I do that (patting and smoothing) when making fruit bars and the base for my cheesecake as well as cookies, etc. Nice to see that she’s applying what she sees and changing it to experiencing it herself.
Transferring from small to big jug – very easy, no spillage, pour all at one go.
Pouring from a big jug to a very small container – not so easy, requires some skill and manoeuvring. Some spillage!
Cleaning up some spillage; this time, we did some transferring using a teaspoon and two small containers.
Patting down the rice!
Adapting the method; instead of leaving both containers on the tray, she picks one up and makes herself more comfortable (I would think).