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A day in the life of a family day care educator

I think people often wonder what I do all day now that I’m at home for most of the week running my family day care. So I thought I’d share a bit of insight on my typical daily working routine…6.45-7.15am Wake up, wash and get dressed for the day.7.00-7.30am My own kids start waking up. Get them dressed and fed.7.30-8.30am Day care kids start arriving. Free play (outdoor/indoor)8.30-9.00am Mat time and story time. First round of nappy changes.9.00-9.30am Morning tea.9.30-10.00am Put babies down for morning nap. Older kids have some TV time.10.00-10.30am Structured activity or learning experience for older kids.10.30-11.30am Babies wake up from morning nap. Free play (outdoor/indoor).11.30-12.15pm Second round of nappy changes. Lunch time.12.15-12.30pm Pack up toys together.12.30-1.00pm Story time. Get ready for afternoon nap/rest time.1.00-1.30pm Wash dishes and clean up table, kitchen and play area. Prepare afternoon tea for kids.1.30-2.00pm Eat my lunch.2.00-3.00pm Work on documentat…
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Activity Trays and Interest Tables

One of the key things I like to include in my weekly or daily environment set ups are ‘activity trays’… also sometimes referred to as ‘interest tables’, ‘discovery trays’ or ‘sensory bins’.It’s essentially a hodge podge of various bits and pieces, thoughtfully curated and arranged in a way to generate interest in children to explore and discover. Our Easter themed activity tray this week is filled with eggs and little baby chicks, watched over by a noisy mother henA post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Mar 27, 2018 at 5:45am PDT I like them because they often add a pop of colour or an interesting corner to the general play area. Plus if they hit the right spots, they can captivate and engage a child for ages on end. Gearing up for Easter with an egg-filled theme this week... 1. EGG SHOP PLAY 2. HUMPTY DUMPTY STORY TRAY 3. FIVE LITTLE CHICKADEES FELT STORY BOARD 4. MELTED CRAYON EGG DECORATING ACTIVITY 5. EASTER EGG COLLAGE ACTIVITYA post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on …

Still reading, still learning

Since my last reading update, I’ve been working steadily through my wish list of books to read with the kids. We’ve finished several other Roald Dahl classics, the first two books in C.S. Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series, and the first book in Laura Ingalls’ ‘Little House’ series.The latest book we’ve just finished and absolutely loved was E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’. Nathan got especially got caught up in all the emotional ‘feels’ in the story. But kids are surprisingly very accepting on the subject of mortality. Though I doubt they’ll ever look at spiders in the same way ever again.On my own reading list, I just finished Noah Gordon’s ‘The Physician’ which is a historical fiction set in 11th century England and Persia. The story centres around an orphan boy grows up to become a surgeon and makes a dangerous journey to Persia to study medicine. Perspectives on the three major religions of that era (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) are explored in the melting pot of the ancient…

Backyard Makeover

One of the big projects I planned last year was to give our backyard a major overhaul.Here’s an overview of how it looks like now after the overhaul!When we first laid out the garden, we had envisaged a sort of zen-inspired landscape…Over the years, our family grew and evolved. Things got added into the backyard to keep up with the changes. Various plants and a few fruit trees. Outdoor toys and play equipment. A sandpit. Even more so since I started my family day care. We tried to make the most of the existing landscape and work with it to accommodate the various add-ons.But it was hard to stay on top of the mowing and the weeds. The original landscape just got lost in the midst of all the changes.So I rolled up my sleeves and got down to business. I did up a plan and list of materials. I applied for a small grant from the local council and got a modest sum of money to supplement the cost of materials.I found a great guy to do the heavy lifting with digging up the whole backyard so we…

Recipe: Baked Nian Gao

Nian gao or sticky rice cake is a classic Chinese New Year treat. The cake was featured in one of our favourite reads last month ‘The Nian Monster’ by Andrea Wang, where the notorious monster was defeated by the super sticky cake made from glutinous rice flour.The kids were curious to know what this cake tasted like. I’m not really a big fan of the traditional steamed version of nian gao. Then I remembered a baked version that one of my aunts used to make every year for my family’s Chinese New Year reunion dinner.So I tracked down the recipe and found the recipe surprisingly uncomplicated. It was so simply that I decided to whip up a monster load of the cakes to give away to friends.If you’ve never tasted this version of nian gao before, I highly recommend it. This cake tastes best freshly made, so you will unlikely find it being sold in the shops. Here’s the recipe if you are interested to give it a try…Ingredients400g glutinous rice flour 1 tspn baking powder 2 ½ cups milk/coconut mil…

Celebrating Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year is generally not officially celebrated here in Australia (no public holiday or big fanfare at the shops). But it is becoming a bigger deal over the past few year, particularly with the increasing emphasis on multiculturalism and embracing diversity.I went all out this year with all sorts of Lunar New Year themed activities:A Chinese New Year sensory/discovery tray;
A Chinese banquet (complete with little felt dumplings);
Cherry blossom branches with pink crepe paper blossoms; and
A scissor cutting practice tray with old ang-pow packets.The big favourites were the felt dumplings (which were used in various pretend/imaginary play set ups); and this discovery/sensory tray – the base material used were red adzuki beans (not recommended for babies or very young toddlers) which the children enjoyed scooping and pouring to their hearts content. ~~~~~ For our own family festivities, I cooked a big family dinner on the first day of the Lunar Year. Then over the weekend, we track…

Raring to go…

And so it begins…
My last baby is off to school!The experience this time definitely feels very different from the first time round.Almost every day several weeks before the term started, Grace would ask:“Am I going to school today?”.“Not yet baby, still another three weeks to go”.The anticipation was reaching almost breaking point. We had already bought all her school supplies, got her school bag, lunch box, school uniform, school hat, school shoes, got everything labelled and packed up neatly for her first day.One night during our regular bedtime chats, Grace said to me…“Mummy, do you want to know something?”“Sure, what is it?”“When I go to school, I know how I can find a friend!”“Oh? How?”“I will go and say to them: ‘Hallo, what’s your name? Do you want to be my friend?’ – do you think that is a good idea?”“That is SUCH a good idea, Grace… it’s a perfect way to find a friend”.“Yes, I know”.And I’m happy to report that her first day went beautifully. She loved wearing her school dress…

Hello Mister Seven!

Before we get further into 2018, I must take a few moments to marvel over how big my Christmas baby has grown.Seven years to be exact.Just look at that!I’m already getting teary just looking at that picture.But let’s not get into all that now.First let me show you the awesome birthday cake I made for my birthday boy when we celebrated his birthday last month.He had asked for a Lego Nexo Knights cake. After trolling Pinterest for a bit, I came up with this version of a chocolate knight’s castle cake. The embellishments were created with the aid of the printer, laminator and my trusty washi tape kit. Next to the goodie bags, the birthday cake was probably the biggest job I had to do. Because this year, Nathan specifically requested the most chilled out birthday party ever.Nathan: “Just three of my bestest friends…”Grace: “But what about MEEE????”Nathan: “Of course you’ll be there… you are always there!”Grace: “Okay! Good.”The party itinerary consisted of a play at our local swimming ce…

Sabah holiday highlights

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, we flew up to my hometown, Kota Kinabalu, to hang out with family (and satisfy our Tuaran mee cravings).For the first time in my life, I am now a real bona fide aunt to a gorgeous little niece, whom we were looking forward to meeting. Nathan and Grace just loved the fact that they had a true blue cousin to add to their generational count.Nathan and Grace had unlimited hang-out time with their grandparents. Enjoying nightly sleepovers with them in their bedroom and staying up for late night pillow talks together. Chilling...A post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Dec 26, 2017 at 11:31pm PST On Christmas Eve we let the kids stay up late to attend a candlelight service at the church I grew up in. They were super stoked that they could hold an actual flickering fire-lit candle on their own.We took the ultimate family photo together at a famous photographer’s studio. Nathan picked up some slick photo posing tips during the session.I couldn’t …

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Catch up with me on Instagram @livingserenely