We’ve spent more weekends indoors than we’d like lately, but the good thing is, B has had more time to play his cars, trucks and trains, draw and write, practice violin, of course, craft with mom.
The DIY ping pong ball runs with toilet paper rolls has been a regular activity at home. But this year, inspired by a fellow mom blogger, I decided to use this to reinforce addition. Here’s how we did it:
Start storing your rolls! Even with a 5 person household (+ grandparents!), we could only do enough for numbers 1-5 to start.
Find a board that’s big and sturdy enough, preferably as tall as the kid and sufficiently wide so that you can do a lot of creative (and long) runs. We used our TV box – as we’d just upgraded our ancient flat screen TV in time for our SG50 NDP party.
Cut some into half lengthwise, and a few others into half heightwise. The longer halves will be used for the ramps while the shorter rolls as your numbered “holders” or entry points.
Get the kiddo to help you paint the box and rolls. We didn’t have much time, and B was eager to get rolling, so we just painted 10 short rolls and numbered them from 1 to 10. He could do all of this by himself now – another plus!
Start sticking them onto the box, testing the roll as you go along. By now, B could also figure out where to put things and we had fun cutting out the tape and placing them together.
On a separate paper / nearby easel, put together the sums for them to do. We started from the basics, i.e. 1+1= ? to 1+5 =?, which B already knew from finger counting, so he could draw the connection from adding the balls.
Start rolling based on the sums that you see, e.g. for 1+3, put 1 ball in the #1 holder, and 3 balls in the #3 holder, check how many balls land in the box to see if you got the sums right!
Get the kiddo to write the answer down. Good practice here 🙂
After almost a month away on an extended work trip, I left a land of clear blue skies to return to a hot and hazy Singapore, in time to vote in the 2015 General Election. What a difference a few weeks makes.
As a mom, I became more intentional about play since B was around four months old – and I still am, even though he’s almost four now. We would host messy, artsy playdates at home and look forward to discovering kindred spirits or new places that offered similar activities. Messy-sensory play is a great way for kids to engage their senses and learn through exploration, discovery and meaningful play.
MyMessyBox provides our children, who are natural explorers, with the opportunity for observation and manipulation through a hands-on learning experience with play tools and materials that encourage sensory exploration. The monthly boxes make it easy to conduct purposeful, sensory play in the comfort of your own home. Read on to find out more, and if you’re interested:
Get a 5% discount off your own MyMessyBox orders by using “FM5“
Here’s what came in the “Way Up High” themed box that we received to review. Quite appropriate too, as this has been a busy travel period for the family, and for mama especially.
There are currently 13 themes for the individual boxes, involving a different theme per month, ranging from Under Construction to the Whimsical Garden. One of these will be offered in this month’s giveaway.
In the box, you’ll receive three packs supporting the theme, thoughtfully curated for active, creative and explorative play. Each pack is accompanied with suggestions on self-contained activities that are easy to follow as long (or brief) as you like. Or if you’re like us, you can leverage what they provide to combine and create your own project.
MyMessyBox runs on a subscription basis: Monthly (for S$34), 6 months (for S$192) and 12 months (for S$360). The box also contains specially sourced tools for explorative play, i.e. a basic toolkit (for 6 months subscriptions) or a premium toolkit (for 12 month subscriptions). Here’s the premium toolkit which came neatly stored in a plastic box:
As I was making arrangements for B to join the first leg of my work trip (i.e. to Tokyo), we used this opportunity to learn about Japan. Utilising the Explorative and Active Play materials, referencing a library travel book with some guidance from mama, he made a collage of what impressed him about Japan – the red Tokyo Tower, tall skyscrapers (my office is in the Mori Tower), sakura (cherry blossoms) and Mount Fuji. Can you spot them below?
We also took advantage of the two theme-based craft included in the Creative Play pack, both were easy and entertaining enough to keep our 3.5 year old busy for a good 45 minutes … freeing mama to do some packing!
There was also a wooden airplane base that involved some rather sticky stuff that B normally wouldn’t play with. At first he poked at it with the pincer (from the toolkit), and then, his index finger, and finally, got used to it enough to complete the project. While simple, this was a good reminder on why early sensory play benefits kids – as it helps them make sense of different stimuli and information.
Given the daily 100+ PSI levels, our review is proving quite timely if you’re cooped up indoors all week. Why not try something different (i.e. no screens, no loud playgrounds, no malls) that’s fun for kids and keeps them occupied?
For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram. Views expressed here are solely my own. We received a complimentary MyMessyBox for purposes of this review.
Does your kid find it hard to sit still in class?
Do you want to do more together, but have no idea where to start?
Do you wish your kid had better exposure to Chinese than you did?
We do. Before B started preschool, hubby and I would take him to Sparkanauts every weekend. We loved the energetic pace, observant teachers, stimulating environment and thoughtful curriculum designed for parent and child bonding, in and out of class. We were also inspired to try many theme-based extension activities at home together, and I attribute B’s interest in science today to the exposure we both had in his early years.
When we found out that Sparkanauts was planning a Chinese program, we were thrilled. Finally! A place where kinesthetic learners – like B – won’t feel left out, bored or discouraged with Chinese. Having been involved in their initial pilots, we are really pleased to share that the Leyun 乐云 Chinese program officially launches this August. There are different classes for 18 months and up; each class embraces a holistic approach with a range of physical, intellectual and social activities to grow our kids’ awareness, appreciation and understanding of Chinese.
I was surprised to receive this video of B sitting down to trace and write characters. Mama didn’t write Chinese characters till primary school, and had no idea what these strokes were called then.
Curious Class (快乐班） Age Group: 18 months to 30 months old Parent/Caregiver Accompanied Duration: 75 Minutes Frequency: Once a week. Tues 3PM, 430PM. Wed 130PM. Thurs 245PM. Fri 230PM.
Objective: The child will be exposed to the Mandarin language in a natural, fun environment. They will enjoy speaking, singing and reading in Mandarin as they are introduced to the language.
What to Expect:
– Thematic learning
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Rhythmic Sing along
– Gross Motor Play
– Dramatic Show and Tell
– Story Time
– Snack Time
Witty Class (飞跃班) Age Group: 3 years – 5 years Drop Off (Non-Accompanied Class)
Duration: 60 Mins Frequency: Once a week. Wed 5PM, Thurs 430PM, Fri 1PM
Objective: This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. They will be introduced to key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives) on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic Mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used Mandarin words in this program.
What to Expect:
– Book based learning
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Gross Motor Play
– Introduction to Chinese Idioms
– Writing in Mandarin
Bilingual Class (双语班) Age Group: 3 years – 5 years Drop Off (Non-Accompanied Class)
Duration: 1.5 hours Frequency: Once a week. Tues 1PM, Thurs 1PM.
Objective: This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. Children will also be introduced to the story in English, and their comprehension skills are further developed during the English segment of the class. They will be introduced to Mandarin key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives) on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic Mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used Mandarin words in this program.
What to Expect:
– Book based learning (English and Mandarin)
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Gross Motor Play
– Introduction to Chinese Idioms
– Writing in Mandarin
Experience the difference for yourself!
We are offering TWO complimentary trial passes to any Sparkanauts Leyun Chinese class at Toa Payoh SAFRA, valued at $48 each. Please visit the Rafflecopter link here and follow the steps to stand a chance to win. Giveaway ends Friday, 7 August 2015.
From now until 6 August 2015, Sparkanauts is also running the following promotion:
1. Special trial class price at $10 (U.P. $48)
2. Parents who sign up for the package after the trial will enjoy the pre-launch promotional 10 sessions package price of $398 (U.P. $458) for Witty and Curious Class, and $498 (U.P. $550) for the Bilingual class. The pre-launch package price will be locked in as long as the child continues with the programme
3. Waiver of registration fees (U.P. $68)
For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram. Views expressed here are solely my own. We really do love Sparkanauts… and the water playground after class! 🙂
We did however visit two new water play areas in LEGOLAND Malaysia and Bishan Park:
1) LEGOLAND Water Park: What a difference a year makes. Last time we went there, the experience was exhausting and hot as 2+ year old B was overstimulated. This time around, both LEGOLAND and B have matured. Notably, there’s improved logistics and ventilation, with more accessible rides and activities for B who’s over 100cm tall (we got in though he’s not yet 4 🙂 Best of all, we had a splashing time at the new world’s largest LEGOLAND Water Park. Seeing B’s wet, tired and happy face was worth it. We’ll be back!
– The combo park ticket is the best deal: Buy online if you can. For toddlers (under 3 years), entry to all LEGOLAND Theme Parks are free but you’ll need to pay RM10 for the Water Park for admission and two swim diapers. For the price of chicken rice? Go for it.
– Time it right: Come when it opens at 10a, stay till lunch (or keep returning throughout the day!). Avoid the 1-3p peak time as it’s too crowded then and the ground gets uncomfortably hot. Go see an indoor movie or take an indoor rollercoaster ride instead then. Park at LEGOLAND Hotel if you can as it’s right next to the Theme Parks and Water Park entrance. Else, there’s outdoor parking (with no shade at all) with a 15 min covered pathway to both parks
– Height restrictions apply: Kids under 6, supervised by an adult (or >12 years), can enjoy the LEGO Wave Pool (fun!), Build-a-Raft River and DUPLO Splash Safari. For Joker Soaker (similar to Port of Lost Wonder), Twin Chaser, Red Rush and Splash Out, riders must be at least 1.02m. Riders must be at least 1.07m to ride Slide Racer, Wave Rider, Tidal Tube, Brick Blaster and Splash N Swirl.
– Don’t worry about your stuff: There are conveniently priced all-day lockers (half and full size) right past the entrance to the Water Park. Strollers can be kept on top of the lockers. Shoes can be easily slipped on, off, safely stored at every ride point, although most prefer to just walk around barefoot. Larger cabanas by the Wave Pool and Beach Grill are also available for rent but IMO, unnecessary if you’ll be moving around from place to place.
2)Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park Water Playground: Funnily enough, we frequent Bishan Park often but never tried the Water Playground (when it actually had water running). So on one of my childcare leave days, I arranged to visit the park early morning with some friends. Overall, it was a chill time with opportunities for kids of all ages to stay active, get wet and learn about nature and science. Our kids ranged from 10 months to 10 years, and there was something for everyone there.
– When and how to get there: Water turns on between 8-11a and 4-8p daily, except for Monday-Wednesday when it’s closed. There’s a well maintained changing and restroom nearby. The carpark (off Ang Mo Kio Ave 6) is right next to the park or you can take bus services (50,53, 55,58) from Ang Mo Kio Bus Interchange or Bishan MRT Station. The Water Playground is situated within the larger Pond Gardens. While the kids gravitated to the central water source structure in the beginning, they eventually dispersed as they began to explore. The bubbles, balls, buckets, squirt toys we brought along became a great way for the kids to share and make friends too.
– Understated, simple yet smart design: I did miss the fountains and modern jet sprays as the initial water flow and level were quite low since the park had just opened. Once enough water accumulated though, the kids started to play and experiment with water as they got each other wet. The young kids mainly splashed and poured on multiple surfaces, while the older kids manipulated the sluice gates separating the canals that led to the main drain. (I think) The ropes lying around were there to change the direction of water, which would be a nice yet subtle touch.
The AMK-Bishan Park Water Playground is as different from LEGOLAND Water Park as it gets! For me, I found it a great place to unwind in a beautiful environment that has surprising ways for kids to discover and learn about science and nature, while cooling down on a hot day.
While participating in a survey/article on “hubbies who travel and how moms cope,” I realised how precious (in both the good and rare sense!) family and couple time has been for us. This weekend routine helps ensure that we don’t become strangers in our own home: We typically end the work week with a Friday church couples and kids fellowship, reserve Saturday for core family time, and aim for Sunday evening dates while the kid is off with the grandparents and hubby is still around in Singapore.
One of our weekend morning activities is to catch early breakfast in the neighbourhood hawker centers and then “tour” the surrounding playgrounds and exercise corners before it gets too hot and crowded.
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. For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.
The Far East Organization Children’s Garden offers a delightful blend of obstacle trails, water and sand playgrounds, all integrated with nature, and designed to be interactive for kids from 1 to 12 years old (and the young-at-heart adults). Staff and signboards are placed strategically to ensure both safe and fun play. For parents of very young kids, you’ll appreciate the efforts made to separate the rowdy youngsters from the rowdy toddlers 🙂
Closest carpark is at Satay By the Bay (open air) or Main Visitors. Conversely, if you take public transport, there is a free shuttle bus on weekdays that stops over at the Marina Bay, Downtown and Raffles Place MRTs.
Closed on Mondays for maintenance (same day as Jacob Ballas)
Tuesdays* to Fridays: 10 AM – 7 PM. Last admission at 6:30 PM. *Closed on Tuesday if a public holiday falls on the preceding Monday.
Weekends & Public Holidays 9 AM – 9 PM. Last admission at 8:30 PM
Low energy? Dying of thirst? Cranky kid? No fear. These are near:
1) Large covered amphitheatre overlooking both water play areas where you can bring your own food and drinks
2) Children’s Garden Cafe which has alfresco seating by the Toddler Play Zone (playground and water), open at the same hours as the park, serves drinks, snacks or a light meal (Asian and Western)
3) Satay By The Bay, a short scoot or walk away. Also, the place to park your car if driving. Stalls are open from 8a – 11p
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 Elizabeth, a mother to three rambunctious kids. She wifes, moms and writes at motherkao.com. Her family of five can be found at Terminal 3 almost every weekend because apart from not needing to have to queue for long to get dinner there, her kids get to do fun things for free while she indulges in GST-free shopping.
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!
“Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso
When B was about 4 months, I attended my first early years parenting talk which shaped the environment that he grew up in. In his first 2 years, we did lots of art and craft together involving colourful, sensory, tactile, messy play with repurposed household items, nature and art materials. In fact, we’d often encourage other friends to join us, and hosted quite a few messy artsy-crafty playdates at our outdoor balcony area. B loved it!
After B turned 1.5 years, we trialed a few art classes that introduced different techniques, styles, materials, et al. He liked the more freestyle, mixed media sessions and not when someone had to help or told him how to “do art” (i.e. proper use of watercolours, brushes, etc). He’s just your normal stubborn independent tot, I guess.
Continuing this arts exposure was one of my requirements when selecting his preschool. Soon after he started nursery, B had a chance to showcase his work at his first art exhibit this weekend!
I hope B’s interest in art will continue to grow, and that he’ll have the dexterity and patience to learn and improve along the way. Of course, I don’t expect him to be a professional artist when he grows up but I’m glad art has given him a universal language to express himself and interpret the world around him; and also given us a fun, creative way to reinforce what he learns from a very early age.
There was no class today so mama and B spent the whole day together. It’s been a while since we had such a fun yet fruitful time, as B started nursery and we were on-and-off sick this month. While I miss our homeschooling days last year, I’d forgotten how busy it can be if you really want to fully engage your kid. Can’t wait for school to start again next week, grateful for good teachers, friends, and a preschool / child care center that doesn’t have a long holiday break like many international or MOE-calendar ones out there.
And of course, our daily “music with mama” sessions, free play indoors (i.e. cars and blocks) and outdoors (i.e. playground) when mama was busy or needed a break 🙂
Raising a family while releasing it all to God through each season of work and life