Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A wormy love story (a fun book play for kids)

One of Nathan’s favourite activities is playing a book we are currently reading.

This is one of our current favourites which I had picked up from our local library a couple of weeks ago…

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Jonathan and Marthaby Petre Horáček

It’s quite a cute story --about two worms named Jonathan and Martha who inadvertently met one day through their love of eating, learnt to share their stuff (i.e. food), and eventually fell in love.

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A love story between two worms

We loved the story so much that one day I decided to vary our story time session that day by preparing a few simple props to play the story together.

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Preparing a few simple props to play the story

I used a couple of craft pipe-cleaners to play Jonathan and Martha and a few pieces of fruit (a mixed of real ones and some pretend ones).

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We used craft pipe-cleaners to play the worms

Nathan had so much fun puppeteering the two pipe-cleaner worms as I narrated the story, making them munch through the different types of fruit and food.

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Nathan had so much fun puppeteering the two worms

Playing a story is a terrific way to stir little imaginations to help them the discover magic of books and show them how a story can come alive. There are no limits to the different types of books to use and ways to do this activity together with your little ones.

 

What are some of your current or all-time favourite reads in your household?

Linking up to Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My blogger toolbox

Every Sunday afternoon is my blogging time. It’s my time of the week where I read, write, comment and catch up on what my fellow bloggers have been up to.

After putting the kids (and the hubby) down for their afternoon nap, I revel for a moment in the peace and quiet, and perch myself in front of my laptop with a cup of tea, and open up all my favourite go-to applications and tools on my desktop.

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Here are my favourite applications and tools I use during my blogging time…

First stop, Feedly: my RSS feed reader of choice. I do browse through a few posts throughout the week, but on Sunday afternoons I enjoy taking my time to read through the various posts of bloggers I follow and click through their links to give some comment love.

Second stop, Blogger: where I make a stop at my blog to read through and respond to comments, and click through to fellow bloggers’ links to catch up on what they’ve been up to.

Next stop, Windows Live Writer: Although blogger is my chosen blogging platform, I do my actual blog writing on Windows Live Writer. I find it so much easier and intuitive to write and format my post through this Word-doc like platform. I link my blogger account across so my blog theme is integrated into the post as I write and it’s quick and easy to publish or schedule each post directly once I’m done.

I also switch across to Windows Photo Gallery to manage and edit my photos. I love having beautiful images for my posts, unfortunately I don’t have much time to play around with Photoshop to edit them (although I know Photoshop is a wonderful tool for that). I like the quick and easy buttons and filters in Windows Photo Gallery to give my photos a quick fix up before I post them.

And another favourite reference I use is Thesaurus.com. Every writer needs a good Thesaurus. And for bloggers, the online version is the ideal alternative. If I get stuck on a word or need to find a different way to express something, this is my go-to site to help me.

And finally, I jump onto to Hootsuite, my new favourite app in my blogger toolbox. As every blogger knows, the last important thing they need to do is to share and promote. I only recently jumped back onto the Twitter bandwagon. I was reluctant to do so for a long time because I was worried of adding yet another social media arm to my profile. But this tool has been a terrific help in enabling me to cross-post my updates and sharing across a couple of platforms in one step.

 

What about you? What are your favourite tools and tricks you use in writing? I’d loved to know!

 

Linking up to the IBOT party

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Talking about grandparents

A weekly highlight for the kids is our regular Skype session with their grandparents. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the distance can now be bridged and is not considered the massive chasm it once was.

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“Hallo po-po and gung-gung!” (grandma and grandpa)

Of course nothing beats, face-to-face hugs, cuddles, kisses and play time. But I really grateful for these little things that help to strengthen the special bond between my kids and their grandparents.

Talking about grandparents, please stop by Teresa’s blog at NanaHood to check out my guest post on why grandparents have such an innate desire to spoil their grandkids.

 

Linking up to:
Sakura Haruka | Little Drummer Boys | Twinkle in the Eye

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Travelling alone with a toddler and baby

Over the Christmas holiday season, we had decided to spend some family time back in Malaysia.

Due to hubby’s work commitments and other engagements, we decided that I would fly ahead first with the children and hubby would join us a week later.

I am not entirely sure what I was thinking at that time that made me decide to do this. Travelling alone with two children under three is most people’s idea of the perfect nightmare.

A few other factors that made the trip considerably more challenging:

  1. We were flying a red-eye flight departing at midnight
  2. The flight duration was five-and-a-half hours long
  3. I was not able to secure a bassinet or bulkhead seat

But on that fateful night, I got on that flight with both children in tow and somehow emerged on the other side safely in one piece (more or less).

The question everyone is asking me is: How did I do it?

So here are a few jottings on how I managed to survive my adventure of…

Flying Alone with a Toddler and a Baby

  • I called the airline ahead to book a bassinet seat, in my case unfortunately they happened to be all already booked out. But at the check-in counter, I mentioned my plight and put on my most pathetic and helpless pose with the kids. So the officer kindly blocked out an extra seat for us so we had three seats all to ourselves.
  • I borrowed a child leash from a friend. As a general rule, I am not a fan of child leashes. But I did not want to take any chances being alone with the kids at a busy and frantic airport. I was just going to have to ignore the evil eye of my fellow travellers looking disapprovingly at my child being tethered on a leash.
  • I wore baby in my sling to keep my hands free. The airline staff had offered me the use of their complimentary strollers, but after a while I found it so cumbersome to push around whilst keeping hold of Nathan and very time consuming to collapse and reopen each time we went through the different checkpoints.
  • I prepared a little surprise for Nathan, a small matchbox car packaged in wrapping paper. It was the perfect antidote to pass the time while waiting to board the plane.

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  • I let the inflight entertainment programme do its job. This was no time to enforce my usual restrictions on screen time. We were on holiday mode after all.
  • I nursed baby whenever she needed. I nursed her during take-off to minimise the effects of the cabin pressurisation, and later on I nursed her to sleep.

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  • I leveraged the help of the flight attendants for toilet breaks. A very real but not often mentioned challenge about flying alone with kids is managing going to the toilet. I was able to hold it in until after the kids were fast asleep. Then I buzzed one of the flight attendants over to stand watch over the sleeping beauties, so I could finally relieve myself. It took some delicate action to extricate myself from the tangle of legs and arms of both children sprawled across my lap. But they were tired enough to keep dozing on.
  • I relied on the kindness of strangers. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and people are generally more than happy to lend a quick hand with the many little things along the way… lifting my bags, picking up an item I dropped, letting me go ahead first. It was just little things, but it really made a difference.

Could I do this again? Yes, I survived one time, I’m sure I could again. Would I do this again? Weeeeell… it would not be my first choice.

Anyway, the next time you are travelling and you see a poor mother (or father) limping along with a couple of kids all alone. Walk over, give them a smile and lend them a hand with whatever they are struggling with. I can tell you from experience that it would be appreciated tremendously.

Have you ever travelled with the kids alone? Would you do it? Could you do it?

 

Linking up to Jess @ IBOT

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our Miniature Dinosaur Series (plus a terrific early childhood education teaching tip)

One of the early childhood education teaching strategies I’ve been learning and applying is a concept called “scaffolding”.

Basically it’s about guiding a child’s learning by building upon something they already know or are interested in to gradually explore new experiences and skills.

One cool series I’ve been scaffolding and building and expanding on is our little series on dinosaurs.

It all started spontaneously with a mini dinosaur play invitation I had set up. I had put together a very simple mini dinosaur playground with various items --a few wooden blocks and toys, some rocks and synthetic grass for texture, and miniature dinosaur figurines.

Miniature dinosaur playground

The next day, Nathan asked me to set up the mini dinosaur playground again --which I did. And this time I also brought out some dinosaur books from our collection. I asked him to match the dinosaur figurines to the pictures as I read out the names of the different dinosaurs.

Matching dinosaur figurines to pictures
 
Later in the week, I decided to mix up our play dough session by throwing in some dinosaur figurines together with a few other props. Nathan had so much fun with this imaginative play, creating three different swampy jungles for three dinosaur friends.
 
Creating a play dough swampy jungle for the dinosaurs
 
The pinnacle of this series for me was when Nathan suddenly came up to me one afternoon and showed me this dinosaur he made from our Lego/Duplo blocks completely on his own. No prompting from me whatsoever.
 

Building his own dinosaur all by himself

What do you think of this ‘scaffolding’ teaching technique? Is it something you would consider trying out at home with your own little ones?

 

Images taken from my instagram @livingserenely

Linking up to  Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

Also connecting with Toni for her #52weeksofmemories series
with this week’s theme on #Learning

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A great tip for encouraging kids to read by themselves

So as I was organising the different little ‘corners’ for my family day care, I came across one fantastic tip

“Collect all the books”

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I used to have our children’s books stacked neatly on a shelf which I took out as needed to read with Nathan. However it was never really purposely set up as a dedicated reading corner.

Although Nathan loved reading books, it was always only together with me. He never really flipped through a whole book by himself without me sitting next to him.

As part of the family day care redecorating project, I had set up a dedicated reading corner with all the books collected together, comfy rugs, cushions and chairs for little ones.

And I was absolutely amazed at the unexpected results it brought about…

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One afternoon, I caught sight of Nathan comfortably nestled amidst the books in our new reading corner, quietly poring over a book all by himself.

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Since then, every so often he’ll head to this little nook by himself to spend some quiet time alone with a book.

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I just love this new reading revolution our reading corner has brought about… long may it continue!

 

Do you have a reading corner in your home?
How do you instil a love of books in your little ones?

[UPDATE on our reading corner ten months down the track]

 

Linking up to Jess for IBOT

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Activity idea for kids: Bread Painting

This is an idea I had pinned some time ago, and recently pulled it out for a morning tea activity.

All you need is:

  • Bread
  • Brush
  • Milk
  • Food colouring

Simply add a few drops of food colouring to some milk, and you have your paint!

Then hand the brush to the little artist and let them have fun creating their little work of art to eat afterwards.

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The coloured milk shows up surprisingly well against the bread. I was worried at first that the bread would simply absorb the milk and the colours would just end up smudgy and pale. But as you can see from the photo below, even the yellow showed up really brightly.

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I also took the opportunity to illustrate some colour mixing – blue and yellow make green, red and blue make purple, and so on. Nathan wondered what would happen if we mixed all the colours up together, so I let him experiment for himself to see what would happen.

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After that, we popped the coloured bread into the toaster and enjoyed it for our afternoon tea. It tasted especially delicious to Nathan since he made it himself.

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More kids activity and play ideas shared here or on my pinterest page.

 

Linking up to Sakura Haruka,
Little Drummer Boys and
Twinkle in the Eye

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

My cup runneth over

These days my days are packed full to the brim.

From the moment I wake up to the sound of Grace calling through the baby monitor and Nathan’s cheeky face peering at me over the edge of the bed… to the evening when I finally tuck them into bed and say goodnight.

Days filled with cooking, cleaning, feeding, washing, playing, nursing, cuddling, reading, teaching, cajoling, instructing, refereeing, observing, listening, tickling, laughing, hugging, loving. Then rinse and repeat.

Three years ago I was lamenting over the end of the era of just us two.

And I discovered that two plus one is simply so much more amazing.

Then last year I found myself wondering how I could love another little person as completely as I love this sweetest little guy in the world.

And now I know how it’s done.

Your heart simply grows. Bigger, stronger, wider, deeper.

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One morning, while I was outside hanging up the washing with the kids, Nathan asked me to make a tent for him. So I draped a sheet over our play slide and he scurried inside happily. Then he asked if Grace could join him inside the ‘tent’. So I picked Grace up and sat her in the Bumbo chair next to him.

I heard some muffled sounds and giggles emitting from under the sheet. And then came the most delightful thing I ever heard --the sound of baby laughter, mingled with her big brother’s big hearty laugh.

The feeling I had when I heard their two laughs together was indescribable.

I had never heard Grace laugh that way before. Lots of giggles and chuckles, yes. But never like this throw-your-head-back, eyes closed, completely wide open kind of laughter. And it was her big brother who made it.

Seeing these two together always makes my heart so full that I’m almost bursting at the seams.

I love them both together. And I also love each one individually and completely.

My cup runneth over.

 

It’s Saturday morning.

I wake up to the sound of Grace calling through the baby monitor,
And Nathan’s cheeky face peering at me over the edge of the bed,

Afterwards I find myself squish amidst a tangle of little arms and legs,
With another big arm wrapped protectively around us all,

And my cup runneth over.

 

I remember when I could read an entire
chapter, some days even an entire book
at one sitting without interruptions.

I remember when I could work for hours
at a time in my study;
the hours were dependent on me
not on nap.

I remember when I knew no one with children
and had no idea what 2T meant.

And I remember when no one called me mommy
and when no little arms wrapped themselves
around my neck, no little kisses or hugs were mine.

And I prefer today.

(Susan Holton)

 

 

Linking up to Essentially Jess