Category Archives: library

Advent-uring together

Where has the time gone?

As a full time working mom again, I find that I have more focus as my daytime schedule, work and family priorities are very straightforward (sick days and school closure days aside). I also relish the me-time, especially when I’m travelling and am grateful that all the transition and support planning has worked out. When I was away for 10 days on an overseas trip, I was completely reassured that B is in good hands even though we both missed each other. What can’t ever be replaced though is TIME together. Our weekday mornings and evenings now just feel so rushed!

Speaking of time (or the lack of), I’m keen to carve out some quality mom-and-B time as we count down to the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Last year we learnt about the gift of Christmas, that the season is not just about gifting but also the act of giving, and God’s ultimate gift of life.  As B had just turned 2, he learnt Christmas carols, art and craft, how to pray for others and joined us in his first community service visit. Now that he’s 3, we’re trying to be more intentional to cultivate his faith. We started by including him in our weekly cell group fellowship this past Friday night. B was so excited before and after – though I’m not sure if it was due to extended time playing, hanging out with mommy and friends, or the extra special late bedtime 🙂

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Meanwhile, I’ve also been compiling ideas to try this Advent season, though as usual, my wish list is far longer than in reality:

1) Devotional: Reading the bible is now a regular bedtime routine. B actually takes his beginners bible out and asks (insists!) on a story or two every night.  As we’ve read through the Old Testament and most of the New Testament stories, this December, we’ll move to the One Year Devotions for Preschoolers book that we got from a friend.

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B’s beginners bible and a sample page from the preschooler’s devotional

2) Truth In The Tinsel: Designed for 3+ years, we’re trying it now as B has been introduced to the kids bible (see above) and can stay engaged on a home project over several days (see what we did for Teachers’ Day).  Also, the Christmas tree is quite bare as I did a bit of spring cleaning and I’m sure B will happily oblige to add more stuff to it. The idea is to read a passage of Scripture, make a Christmas ornament and talk through the related narrative every day. The story or activity can be adapted as needed – to match B’s level, attention span, and our time together. We did a “trial” to replace the star for our tree, loosely based on a sample page from the e-book:

Our new Christmas star using foam and paper stickers
Making a star using foam and paper stickers
Sample page - Star
Sample page – Star

3) Advent Calendar:  Last year, I recycled B’s artwork to make a wall calendar with clear plastic pockets to mark the 24 days till Christmas. Each day, we prayed for specific family, friends, those in need, our country and world, ending with the fruits of the spirit in our own lives. Although this calendar has since been used as a fun Letterland upper and lowercase matching game, we could always just repurpose this once more if I run out of time…

2013 advent prayer calendar
2013 advent prayer calendar

HOWEVER, I’d love to make a new advent calendar which could double as a festive decoration too.  Here are two DIY ideas that I like and find age-appropriate for toddlers: Toilet Paper Roll House and Scrapbook Gift Wrap Paper calendars. These could contain simple clues (for Truth In The Tinsel), scripture verses (from daily devotion), or just a list of fun yet meaningful activities or items each day.

4) Christmas books:  This year, I hope to check out the titles in this reading list as we’ve found quite a few (still) available at the public libraries in Singapore.  B also received a beginners Christmas piano song book from his aunt in California – and we look forward to incorporate that into our regular home music sessions 🙂

Unwrapping the gifts from  California :)
Unwrapping the gifts from California 🙂

Even if you don’t celebrate Advent but are keen to get some crafty time with the kid during the holidays, feel free to try these out, visit my pinterest board for more ideas, and of course share what you’re doing with us too. Happy Advent-uring!

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Fun For Free SG: Jurong Early Literacy Library

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.

Jurong Early Literacy Library - the first of its kind in Singapore
Jurong Early Literacy Library – the first of its kind in Singapore

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:

B “driving” the chairs around at the Bishan library kids section
B running off to hug Singa (our courtesy lion mascot) at the Ang Mo Kio library

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!

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Space to dress up, role play and tell stories
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Baby section thoughtfully organised by sensory books
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We don’t just have books, we’ve got puzzles too!
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B clambered up to this cozy nook and sat there flipping through books, working on puzzles and “reading” to toy Spot
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There are a few kiosks with e-readers for preschoolers and older kids who can sit, listen and read to word-ier books
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The Chinese selection is excellent, organised by age and author/series (not just the hanyupinyin of titles). You need to go to the far right Chinese section to find it as only a handful of books are selected for display in the main kids play area
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Typical library book drop off, with a thoughtful step box for the little ones

Important Info:

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)

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Main Jurong East MRT and bus interchange is just a short walk away

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!

Books, books and more – books galore! Our recent haul from the library visit

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.

Monthly issue of Go Kids!
Monthly issue of Go Kids!

BTW, I chose this topic before the furor around the withdrawal of certain children’s books. So just to share my views as a Christian book-loving parent: I felt the National Library Board over-reacted and departed from its role i.e. to serve the community as a place to gain awareness, knowledge and info/entertainment. While I see the different points of view in this debate, I support having revised review policies with those books in question now available on (adult) shelves – with necessary disclaimers.

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!

waiwaiVisit all 31 Fun for Free train stops here:
1 Aug: Tiong Bahru Park by Gingerbreadmum
2 Aug: Queenstown Heritage Trail by Princess Dana Diaries
3 Aug: Jurong Regional Library by Finally Mama
4 Aug: Singapore Maritime Gallery by Peipei Haohao
5 Aug: Singapore Philatelic Museum by Kids R Simple
6 Aug: Sculptures of Singapore by Gingerbreadmum
7 Aug: Fire Station by The Js Arena
8 Aug: Esplanade + Merlion by Prayerfull Mum
9 Aug: Bukit Batok Nature Park by Meeningfully
10 Aug: Lower Pierce Reservoir Park by The Kam Family
11 Aug: I12 Katong – water playground by Universal Scribbles
12 Aug: IMM by Mad Psych Mum
13 Aug: Tampines 1 Water Playground by Amazingly Still
14 Aug: Sengkang Riverside Park by Itchy Finger Snap
15 Aug: East Coast Park by Toddly Mummy
16 Aug: Sembawang Shopping Centre Playground by Joey Craftworkz
17 Aug: Animal resort by Raising Faith
18 Aug: Botanic Gardens by Mum’s The Word
19 Aug: Police Heritage Centre by Mummy Ed
20 Aug: Venus Loop, MacRitchie by Scrap Mum Loft
21 Aug: Road Safety Park by Miracule
22 Aug: Marina Barrage by J Babies
23 Aug: Gardens By The Bay, Children’s Garden by Finally Mama
24 Aug: Changi Airport T3 by Mother Kao
25 Aug: Pockets of Nature by Mum in the Making
26 Aug: Changi Airport T1 by Growing with the Tans
27 Aug: Pasir Ris Park by Ingspirations
28 Aug: Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove by My Lil Bookworm
29 Aug: Vivocity Play Area by Amazingly Still
30 Aug: Punggol Promenade by Chubby Anecdotes
31 Aug: Westgate Wonderland by Xavvylicious

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Wordless Wednesday: If you take away the walls

One thing I love about Singapore is the abundance of greenery amidst its modern, urban cityscape. Here are some more parks near us that we just discovered:
Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West: Right opposite the AMK public library, it boasts a large sand playground, 120-step staircase to a viewing plaza, landscaped pond, jogging track and footpaths through the nearby forest.  We usually scoot around Bishan-AMK park but this was less crowded and more convenient if you’re planning a library, shopping and meal outing
One-North Park: Hilly, breezy with a touch of playful “science” due to its proximity to Biopolis. Beware the red ants though!

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook

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To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul

Lately, B spontaneously calls out letters he recognises and sometimes sings the A-B-C Song while he pretends to “read” the print. Looks like he’s taking the next step to read WORDS on his own initiative, and not just recite from memory, vocalise or narrate what he sees. What a nice milestone for our brand new 2 year old 🙂 B’s also developed a list of places to ask for when we’re getting ready to go out. To my secret bookworm delight, we hear “go library and read book” almost every other day! Other regulars include “Bus stop and MRT?”, “play outside, playground, park”, “Botanic Gardens” (where he likes feeding the fish), “ama 公公”, “爷爷 奶奶” and his buddies’ “house”, “buy food at Fairprice” (we grocery shop together a lot), “ride toy car/train at shopping mall”, “music” and “Chinese class” (i.e. Kindermusik, Jiggle Wigs, Chengzhu). It’s encouraging to see all the time and effort in immersing him in a print and word-rich environment paying off – from getting his first library card at 7 weeks (!), daily newspaper browsing and storytimes, thematic flashcards if he wants to, and just when we relax, chat and read quietly together.

We couldn’t have done it without the network of public libraries in Singapore, notably the Bishan, Toa Payoh and Central NLB branches. The breadth and depth of parenting, baby and preschool books to toddler/family friendly activities is amazing AND free (or reasonable enough if you’re a foreigner). B’s been exposed to a wider range of authors, formats, topics – in both English and Chinese – than I ever was at his age. The books expand his vocabulary and imagination, plus save us money and reduce clutter with more informed buying (i.e. the read-everyday or hard-to-find ones) mainly online via The Book Depository and Fishpond, Read With Me Mommy and Flip For Joy (for Chinese/bilingual) or at the local Popular bookstores.

Last, a shout out to Fun With Tots, an ongoing series of six library workshops on print motivation, print awareness, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, narrative skills and vocabulary.  I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up with B, but was pleasantly surprised by the dedication of each of the librarians who prepared a handout of notes/resources and facilitated their topics with songs, books, parent/caregiver tips to keep everyone from adults to the little tots engaged. Even though it was close to bedtime (8p), B enjoyed each session and would say “go library at night”!  The only disappointment was that so few folks attended. It‘s ironic that parents prefer to spend money (sometimes up to ~$50-$100 per session) on enrichment classes based on early childhood experts, but can’t make time to visit the library or attend a hands-on workshop together (which BTW, costs $2 per 30 min session). Even if our kids attend daycare or preschool, or we work full time, we should still actively participate in fostering a love of reading, a thirst for knowledge and the capacity to imagine in our kids. Seeing is doing and believing. My dad was dubious when I wanted to borrow books on space for B … who liked it so much that he could name or describe all the planets in the solar system!

SO…. Head on over to your neighbourhood library and browse/borrow some books for the holidays.  You can also find out what’s going on at Bounce, the NLB channel dedicated to kids 0 to 12.  BTW, if like B, your kid is just learning his letters and enjoys music, take a look at all these alphabet songs and see what works best!

 
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. 
The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 
– Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

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Month 7 Week 4: Reading, signing, talking … and teething!

We started reading and signing to B around 4 months with basic words (milk, eat, drink, sleep, bathe, book, car, plane, etc.), black/white picture and touch books with simple words, rhymes and numbers.   Lately, he likes colourful peek-a-boo books with foldable, pull out tabs/toys and books with real baby photos and different textures. He still loves nursery rhymes and songs that we make up or improvise every day.  Evidently children use familiar words and rhymes in their speaking vocabulary at a more rapid pace as well as contexts and concepts such as counting, time, measurement, position, and weather. B reaches out to pick/grab books when he sees them, and seems to engage and focus quite well when we read to him. Since he can’t clearly talk, sing or sign back yet, I take this to mean that he understands more by now….! He does babble a lot at times and experiments with his tongue for pitches and inflections to indicate that he’s curious, wants yes/no, sleepy/tired, bored, happy, satisfied, etc.

 

Meanwhile, B now has 6 teeth!  That’s a record among his peers who have on average 2 teeth.  He got the 2 lower central incisors at 6 months and then the 4 upper incisors (central and lateral) over the past few weeks.  Ouch! While the teething resulted in plenty of sleepless nights, seeing his pearly whites makes all those groggy pats/cuddles/rocking worth it. I hope there’ll be a brief respite so that he can eventually settle back to sleep “through the night” again (i.e. sleep by 8p, may wake briefly 1-2x but settles back on his own, real waking at 6/7a to start the day). Also, he seems to put everything in his mouth these days — that is, everything BUT his actual teethers.  What irony.

Physically, he’s pushing up to stand wherever he can — cot, sofa, toystool, etc. though he tends to tiptoe still.  He continues to creep, roll, turn, scoot backwards, rock and bounce as he tries to move more than 2 steps forward. We’ve installed our window grills and bought a play “fence”  – waiting for him to crawl for real!  Guess B’s been too busy growing teeth to focus on his crawling this past few weeks 🙂

Read more:
http://www.parenting.com/article/best-books-for-every-baby-stage
http://www.rwitap.com
http://www.babycenter.com/0_developmental-milestone-talking_6573.bc?
http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-childs-teething-and-tooth-loss-timeline_10356447.bc?
http://www.teethingtips.com/teething-symptoms-and-why-it-hurts/

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