B and his classmates have been busy preparing for their Term 3 musical showcase – based on Jessica Law’s adaptation of “Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” with a bit of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Aquarium” thrown in for the sea effects. Hubby saw B perform live for the first time, and was quite proud of our little “crab!” This renewed B’s interest in sea life which was a nice break from weeks of vehicles and space talk at home. As we had previously done a diorama together, this time we tried a simple book-based craft using Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish series.
Here’s how we did it:
Borrow the book(s) from the library and read them!
Print/draw fish templates for the lil one to colour. We used the fish colouring handouts from a play we attended. I let B choose his own colours and material. I guess he wanted to recreate the book’s actual look and feel as this is what he came up with – colourful crayons, blue/green watercolour paint, and glitter for the shiny scales:
I got him to broadly cut out the fish, then let him work on his sea animals puzzles while I trimmed the little fishies and prepared the box – drawing inspiration from a craft I found here.
Unlike our previous “fixed” diorama, I wanted this to be moveable so I cut horizontal lines (<1 cm width) to slide water bottle caps with the fishes tied and taped at the bottom to give the effect of “swimming.” Any medium size box will do. I just flipped our DIY bus/train on the side for this – recycling rocks!
Finally, B punched holes, cut pieces of scotch tape and string, and threaded them through each fish. I helped to tie and fix them to the top of the box.
You are now 33 months. Just 3 months to go before you turn 3 years old! Everyone warned me about the terrible twos, but the year turned out to be pretty terrific instead. Hopefully I don’t jinx the remaining months 😮 You had your moments of wild, irrational flail-on-the-ground tantrums, but through it all I kept the 3 Ts in mind: Tank up on love, Transition gradually, and Timing matters!
In light of your and mama’s developments this year, here are 3×3 things to celebrate about you!
3 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU
1) THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE: You love reading. You bring books to our bed in the morning, want to read at mealtimes, and negotiate the number of stories for bedtime. You are ever curious. You’ll ask “What happen, mama?” when I’m reading the news or listening to the radio. The library is like your second home where you can occupy yourself flipping through books or telling stories to friends (imaginary or anyone nearby). Your face lights up as you associate what you read with what you see in real life. When your gears start spinning, you turn to me to say “Remember the [book/event/person/item]?” and a wonderful process of discovery ensues. When you see text, you track the words with your fingers as you “read.” You like to call out numbers, upper and lower cases that you recognise from Letterland phonics, and even Chinese characters. It’s truly a delight to watch you learn!
2) A SONG IN YOUR HEART: Since you started carrying a tune, you haven’t stopped making music. Even as a baby, you’d often hum and move to the rhythm and beat. These days, we don’t need alarm clocks because you wake us up with your singing at 7a or earlier! You make us laugh with silly adaptations and lead your friends in rousing renditions of songs from Majulah Singapura to Wheels on the Bus to “一步一步走啊走”. This year we tried some structured music learning at home, and we’ll continue to look for ways to help you hone this gift now and beyond.
3) PASSION FOR VEHICLES: Be they in the air, on the road, on water, in print, real or toy, rides or stickers – you like them all! You observe routes, recall directions, names of roads and who stays where. Your pretend play is getting more creative too. You manipulate everyday things at home, LEGO and wooden blocks, toy vehicles, tracks and figures to form construction sites, accident and rescue operations, traffic jams on the highway, neighbourhood multi-story carparks – all with sound effects and commentary.
One activity you initiated is to lay out your vehicle flash cards and we take turns to find the right one as we play “I Spy” and 这是什么?”
Sometimes I need to set time limits so you don’t get too obsessed (i.e. kick a fuss when it’s time to stop or leave). But this shows me you’re capable of focusing and innovating on what interests you. If only we could figure out how to replicate this for other stuff 😉
3 AREAS YOU’VE GROWN IN
1) (SELF) HELPER: Although I still prompt you to eat faster or finish up, I’m thankful that you continue to help yourself at meal times and have a healthy appetite, drink well, (mostly) eat greens, fruits and are willing to try variety – Asian, Western, Middle Eastern, mild herbs and spices. You even ate durian!
Since we started our first sticker chart on toilet training, you also have less accidents and better control. You let us know when you want to pee and poop instead of us asking or taking you regularly. There’s still occasional overnight bed wetting and leaks (esp. when you’re too excited or shy) but you’ve made great progress that we’ve moved on to a new chart for wearing/undressing clothes and shoes.
Lastly, although you need reminding, you do help to clean up after play, unload dirty clothes into the laundry bag and bring your dishes to the kitchen after meals. Well done!
2) FINE MOTOR SKILLS: Thanks to your current preschool, you’re constantly encouraged to experiment and express yourself through art and craft. Mama is so thankful for the amazing teachers there!
Although there’s less opportunities for us at home together, I cherish the times when we play simple number and finger games and do crafty activities that build your fine motor skills. Of course, you still treat glue like paint, colour all over the page, use brushes, pencils, markers and crayons like stamps, wield the scissors and chopsticks with two hands when your fingers are tired… But you’re getting there. Just persevere and keep up the great work!
3) THE GREAT OUTDOORS: We now do more things outside and for longer before you ask for a “抱抱“! You’ve always been a cautious toddler and not a big fan of being under the hot sun. Yet as you grow, you now scoot with more confidence and speed, are eager to get wet and play in the sand (caveat: area must be “clean and cool” enough), jump in the pool at your weekly swim class, pedal the tricycles at school and ride your balance bike to deliver items and messages from place to place. I only wish you’d wear your safety helmet more often so mama doesn’t worry … too much.
So here’s to you, my little big baby, who’s becoming a big little boy. Love you to the moon and back!
As a child, I spent countless hours in libraries flipping through books which in turn, fed the writing of my own short stories. It’s no surprise that I now have raised a kid who loves books and the thrill of knowledge and discovery that they bring! So for my turn at this Fun For Free SG series, I’m delighted to share the Jurong East Early Literacy Library with you all. IMO, this is (or close to being), the perfect library for tots and preschoolers.
Most of us have heard the benefits of exposing our kids to books and by extension, the library at an early age. In fact, I signed B up for his library card at 7 weeks! It would even have been earlier if I wasn’t so sleep deprived and self-conscious about nursing him in public 🙂 Library visits were easy when he was a baby. I’d wear him or push him in his stroller while I walked (or rather crouched) down the Baby aisles selecting sensory or picture board books. This changed when he started crawling, cruising, walking and beyond! Library trips would be cut short, with me planning ahead which titles and authors to get, then rushing to find books from either the Baby or JP section, while keeping one eye on B’s moving target. Eventually I’d just go to the library on my own to flip through and vet the ones to borrow, find good English and Chinese ones (the inconsistent categorisation of Chinese books is another library post/rant)… and maybe even something for myself!
In reality, here’s what B does at his library visits as a toddler:
Thankfully, our restless tot dilemma was finally solved by the Jurong Regional Library, the largest public library in Singapore with four storeys and a basement which houses the first early literacy library for under 6 year olds. This is the only library I can comfortably bring B along and have him quietly and contentedly stay in one area browsing through books, puzzles, toys, et al while I chill and browse, observing him from a distance. At our last visit, we were there for 1.5 hours! I leisurely found enough books to satisfy even the double-your-loan-quota season AND B didn’t get any warnings from librarians for being loud, hyper-active or squabble with other kids!
Open Mon – Sun : 10a – 9p. Closed on Public Holidays, and at 5p on eves of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year
Parking: At J-CUBE right opposite the library, <2 mins walk via a covered pathway
Nearest MRT Station: Jurong East
Nearest Bus Interchange: Jurong East
Buses : SBS Transit 51, 52, 66, 78, 79, 97, 98, 105, 143, 160, 183, 197, 333, 334, 335, 506 (via Jurong East Bus Interchange)
SMRT 176, 178 (via Jurong Town Hall Road)
and SBS 198 (via Jurong Town Hall Road)
Basic membership and registration is FREE for all Singaporeans. PRs will need to pay a one-time registration fee of S$10.50. Foreigners have no registration fee but are subject to an annual fee of S$42.80. IMO, the fee is well worth the value as you can borrow up to 8 items (books/AV) for 3 weeks (renewable for another 3 weeks). Consider this: You pay <$1 per book even if you only visit every two months and borrow your quota of 8 books each time. More details here. Happy Reading!
We’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the increase in NLB family-friendly activities esp. involving parents and very young kids. We’ve enjoyed attending the interactive library workshops for tots – and encourage you to bring your lil one along to the library nearest you! Some are free, some involve a token fee. Grab the latest Go Kids monthly newsletter or visit here for more info.
This is part of a blog train on Singapore’s Fun For Free places dedicated to anyone who’s ever needed to think about “where to bring the kids today?” Next up is Waiwai who blogs at PeiPei.HaoHao where she shares her parenting journey with her two children, DIY crafts, simple cooking and fun activities. Look out for her post for more interesting places!
One thing I cherish growing up in Malaysia is how we embraced and celebrated being in a multi-racial community. Every major festival, we’d go from house to house, visiting friends and their families, sharing our culture … and of course, food! Now that we live in Singapore, B doesn’t quite have this same childhood – even if we do know others from different races and religions here. (Sadly, this pride in one nation, many races is also diminishing in Malaysia).
With Hari Raya (Eid) almost upon us, I wanted to give B a taste of the Malay culture, an important part of our Southeast Asia heritage. Besides volunteering to help with his school’s Hari Raya celebration, I also took some time out to bring him to the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar after school today. Thankfully the skies were cloudy, and after browsing around, we had a chance to share a table and “break fast” with a friendly Malay couple at the Geylang Food Court. If you and your kids are curious, do go! Note that the Bazaar is only open till Sunday and should get quite crowded over the final weekend.
Oh, final tips if you’re keen to go: Visit around 5p before the crowds. If you drive and are lucky, park at the main Geylang Serai carpark (off Sims Ave and Geylang Road). Else, there’s more lots along Haig and Joo Chiat Roads. There’s also a nice big kids’ playground at the Haig HDB estate. If you’re eating there, find a cool place to sit and order BEFORE sunset.
My boy is crazy about transportation and the people and activities around them. Which boy isn’t at this age? If given the choice, he’d always want to take the public bus or MRT. He can even say and/or show you the picture (if you say the word) all the different types of cars, buses, trucks, diggers, rescue vehicles … in CHINESE with surprising accuracy! When we had free Saturday mornings, we’d visit the fire station open houses (Central or Bishan for us), where the highlight for him was to sit in a REAL fire engine.
So this Children’s Season, I brought him to two new places – The Land Transport Gallery and the Police Heritage Centre. Both had kids activity booklets and tours, with the LTA Gallery offering more interactivity – stickers, stamps, exhibits and videos. Overall though, the places were just okay because of one major omission = no opportunity for kids to RIDE in a real or model vehicle!
Mama decided to take things into her own hands and make a wearable and portable public bus and MRT for B 🙂
Here’s how we did it: Find a suitable, sturdy box. Cut out a large square from the top and the bottom – big enough to fit your kid’s head on one side, hips and legs on the other. Secure the insides with masking tape. On separate paper (I recycled the back of B’s white drawing paper art works), draw out the images of the front and side bus/train views with markers, et al. I didn’t find any templates, so I just googled SBS bus and MRT train, and hand drew them from the screen 🙂 Once done, stick each drawing (bus/train section) on each side of the box accordingly with double-sided tape. Find a broad rope or string to hang the arms over. Use a penknife to cut slits at the top, just big enough to fit the rope/strings through. Ideally use ONE long piece and thread them through all the slits before tying them neatly. This will enable you to adjust the length depending on the size and height of the kid. Except for the drawing (outlining), your tot should be able to help with almost everything else!
We stopped by Kallang this weekend and checked out the brand new sports hub which opened in June. The hub includes the national stadium, library, recreation room, museum, water playground and retail mall. This July, there are quite a few free or special events as many stores and features are not yet open. We used to visit the indoor stadium and waterfront for weekend brunches and family evenings, but hadn’t returned since the rebuilding works began ~2+ years ago. Last time we were there, B was a wee 3 month old baby! This time, he was an active and chatty 31 month old tot 🙂
We love books. We did our first DIY personalised journal in English when B was 18 months and asking more about family, interests, activities and people. I even added a section about preschool before he started. But we never got around to doing a simpler one in Chinese because the thought of ME writing originally in Chinese? Yikes!
Until now. Having just completed Mandarin Tots at Bibinogs, we both learnt many new words that I wanted to reinforce and keep relevant for him. Also, while cleaning up the guest room (converted into playroom) and living room before the grandparents return, we found stacks of B’s art pieces, old spiral notebooks and magazines. So… Time to reduce, reuse and recycle again! And finally tackle our first Chinese scrapbook together.
Here’s how we made it: Browse through newspapers and magazines and cut out pictures for your chosen theme or alternately, based on vocabulary he’s learning at school. Print the characters out in large font if you don’t have enrichment class material such as flash cards. Invite him to read (or repeat) the words, match them to the right pictures, helping to cut where possible. If you have old artwork or cardstock, resize them for your notebook before gluing bothpictures and words on it first. Finally stick them all on the (reinforced) spiral notebooks with double sided tape. If you don’t have used notebooks, punch a hole on the sides to bind the “book.”
In our case, we did lots of cutting and glue-ing to work on B’s fine motor skills. He’s also more keen to read Chinese when the books are interactive (flaps, pull out tabs, stickers) … and now, when he’s actually had a hand in making it!
A few weeks back, we redeemed a complimentary 2 night stay at the W Sentosa to coincide with our 9th wedding anniversary. This was B’s first staycation and he still asks to “go to Sentosa” and even “stay at the W again!” Don’t worry B, we will return soon but maybe not at the W though the hotel food, pools, design and decor were amazing. IMO, there wasn’t anything special for children (even though B was fine without at his age) and it’s located a bit far out if you don’t have a car – see the latest Sentosa island map here.
Here’s some ideas on what to do with young kids under 3 years at Sentosa based on what we did then (and previously):
Skyline Luge Sentosa: Newly revamped in early May, with a few more exciting rides planned, this is a must-do for families. Get there by 10a to avoid the lines and heat. Various fares are available depending on how many people, the number and type of rides. Kids need to be at least 80cm to be accompanied on the skylift and ride tandem for luge. To go solo, kids need to be over 110cm on the luge, or at least 135 cm on the skylift. BTW, head over to Gingerbreadmum’s family pass giveaway (4 sets of 1 skyride and 1 luge tickets). Good luck and good riding!
Port of Lost Wonder: Entrance fee cost S$15 per child, and free for all accompanying adults (!). Each admitted child gets a Port Pass and 100 curios (5 curios cost S$1). We went around collecting stamps (exchange 5 for a prize), redeeming curios (e.g. Wonder Craft workshops), ate at the Port Belly cafe, and then got stuck at the Pirate Ship water playground because B refused to leave! There’s so many other activities we didn’t get to and will definitely return. Note: Coming (back) soon is the BBQ under the Stars, now on the first Saturday of each month.
Beaches galore: We were at Coastes and Siloso Beach a while back for an Easter playdate, so we checked out Tanjong Beach and Palawan Beach this time. I found Siloso more suited for nightlife, older kids and adults, Palawan toddler and family friendly, and Tanjong the most peaceful and quiet (read=romantic)
S.E.A Aquarium: Worth going if you haven’t been, good 1.5 to 2 hour visit that’s very doable with tots (or babies in strollers). B’s been there 3 times already! At our next visit however, we may just do a Resorts World Sentosa hotel staycation on a non-holiday season or weekday, and spend time at the newer attractions at the Marine Life Park, Trick Eye Museum and Universal Studios.
Dine as, when and how you like: Sure, we had our share of kids meals and bites-on-the-go. But we also took time to just chillax at the W and have relaxed meals out. We strolled along the luxury Quayside enclave, a lovely marina with al-fresco eateries and tot-friendly play areas. We splurged on a RWS celebrity chef dinner (It’s our anniversary after all!) although we’ve also eaten many times at the Malaysian Food Street too 🙂 We made a quasi-healthy pitstop at Jamie’s Italian for lunch before heading home.
Kids should have good role models and parents who can walk the talk while being transparent in handling failure and success. This morning I asked B “who do you want to be when you grow up?” and to my surprise, instead of “teacher, firefighter” (his usuals), he said “I want to be like mama” (yikes!) While that stroked my ego as I’ve been trying to be more intentional about building faith and character with B, I’m painfully aware that as a flawed individual, I always fall short! You don’t want to be like mama at all times B, really….
Mistake #1: Underestimating CHARACTER. If there’s one thing I hope to get right in my children, it’s their CORE. Character, moral fiber, an inner compass… these things lay the foundation for a happy, healthy future. They matter more than any report card or trophy ever will…. We know that what will matter at 25, 30 and 40 is [not what they achieved but] how they treat others and what they think of themselves.
If we want them to build character, confidence, strength and resilience, we need to let them face adversity and experience the pride … when they come out stronger on the other side. It’s hard to see our children fall, but sometimes we have to. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether intervening is in their best interest. There are a million ways to love a child, but in our quest to make them happy, let us stay mindful that sometimes it takes short-term pain to earn long-term gain.
It dawned on me at a recent church camp that my parenting journey is not meant to be walked alone, isolated from community. Furthermore, the best lessons are “caught not taught.” We all can and should help to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)
In this case, our “village” is our local church which partners with parents to set a solid faith foundation for their marriages, families and the next generation. I’m especially blessed by those serving in kids’ ministry who are super engaging and energetic, always ready to patiently manage restless kids and answer those tricky questions. As I occasionally help with our weekly cell group, I realise how tough it is to catch the interest and hold the attention of kids, especially between preschool and primary school ages!
With me having less time with B and hubby still away a lot for work, I’m keen to better integrate B with our “spiritual family” here. Besides family and casual friend interactions, we are trying to be more consistent with Sunday School. B joined our church’s Sunbeam program at 18 months and then graduated to unaccompanied classes at 30 months. We sat in with him for the first two N1 sessions. The first time we dropped him off, he cried but was okay after a few minutes. The second time this past weekend was better, no tears, although he still wanted a big hug and clung to mama as I left. B said afterwards that he likes Sunday School, sang many songs, and even quoted (and adapted) his memory verse to “I love and obey God!” and later at home “I love mama and daddy!” 🙂 To be honest, I was kinda stunned that he paid enough attention to recall and put it to practice. Me of little faith!
After he turns 3 and/or can tahan till 1030p, we may bring him along to our Friday cell group for a once-a-week late night out. After all, a village isn’t a village without fun, food and fellowship, right?
Today, I’m thankful that B has handled his “growing up” transitions well: Sleeping through the night, feeding himself, nursery drop-off, potty training, mid-day naps, and now, moving to a junior bed. Sure, there are challenging days, but when I speak to other moms, I feel grateful because our experience has been TOTALLY by grace and luck, and not due to any different or better parenting methods on my end.
Just before B turned 2, he climbed out of his cot, and landed on his bum! We figured if you can’t stop him, teach him how to do it right – so we showed him how to climb out and land safely in the interim. However, after a few more attempts, B lost interest in “escaping” and I delayed any major changes as we were adjusting to nursery drop-off earlier this year. Meanwhile, we’d read and talk about big boys sleeping in big beds, and also show B his friends’ new beds or mattresses. Between 18 months to 2.5 years, most of his buddies had already switched – with mixed results – to make way for a new sibling, prevent bumps and falls, replace a smaller crib, etc.
We left his current convertible cot bed as is (it fits a 70 x 140 cm mattress) … until now! Sometime last month, he kept asking to “lower bed, go out” and would start yelling for “mama, mama” if no one comes fast enough once he woke up. It dawned on me that B is taking the initiative, that he’s able to settle and sleep on his own and to play safely when he’s up. Even hubby noticed it! So this weekend, we dropped one of his cot sides, installed the portable bedrail that we got months ago and let him have fun climbing up and down.
So far, B eagerly gets into his newly converted “junior bed” after we read and pray together at night. He still sleeps well (thankfully!), generally wakes up happy, wishes us a “good morning” and now, gets his milk from the kitchen, sings and plays around the house until we’re all ready to start our day together. His independence is amazing to see and I pray these smooth transitions continue for a long while 🙂
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Raising a family while releasing it all to God through each season of work and life