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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 in my family day care 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
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Quiet

So we are now into the third week of the school term. This is the first Friday when the quietness and solitude in the house has finally descended fully upon me.

The first couple of Fridays still felt rather busy, running around to settle various jobs and errands and I had some tradies in to do some work around the house like carpet cleaning and house painting.
But today, after dropping the kids off at school, I headed back and for the first time in over eight years, have come back to an empty and silent house. I realise that every single day, I’ve always had at least one child or baby in the house, from Nathan, to Grace, and all my day care kids.
Even on my Fridays off when Nathan was at school, Grace has always been my faithful little companion. But she too has flown the nest and is at full time school now.
The stillness and silence feels almost heady.
I am almost not sure what to do with myself actually.
But I welcome the quiet like a breath of fresh air.

New year jottings

Phew! It’s been such a busy January! Back around Christmas time, the summer holidays seemed to stretch endlessly for weeks ahead. And now, we only have a couple more days before the new school term begins for the year.
Here are a few jottings of what we got up to this past month…
Summer Play
As usual the days flew by with lots of fun play and activities. We cooled off with plenty of water play in the backyard. We hung out at the library to take advantage of the free air-conditioning and their line-up of school holiday programs, which included stroking a giant cockroach and wrapping a live snake around our shoulders.
Meal Plan Kits A new thing we tried out this month was a meal plan kits (i.e. those companies that provide conveniently packaged recipes and ingredient kits). I stumbled across a 40% off promotion and I decided to give it a go. It was also a nice and easy way to transition back to the cooking routine after our holiday. Both the kids were happily involved in following the re…

Everything is Awesome!

One more dawn… One more day… One day more!Here we are at the brink of 2019.We closed out 2018 with a family soiree in Legoland—our big birthday surprise for Nathan and Christmas present for both the kids.Will they remember every single detail of this epic holiday for always?Probably not.In a few years, the crystal clear mental images and vivid memories would have faded away to fleeting glimpses of pictures associated with pleasant feelings.What’s left behind, hopefully, and deeply embedded in their psyche, is the love and connection we shared as a family through this experience. View this post on Instagram Everything is AWESOME... When You're Living Out A Dream {holidaythrowback@legolandmalaysia}A post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Dec 28, 2018 at 8:25pm PST “Everything is awesome,
Everything is cool when your part of a team,
Everything is awesome,
When you're living out a dream.”
Ready… Set… and let’s GO for another awesome year in 2019!

The wisdom of seven

And now we come to December.At our household, December is not only about Christmas and year end festivities, but it’s also all about this little man…a.k.a. Mister Christmas BabyThis space of seven has been an interesting time with subtle shifts and ebbing away of childhood plays, giving way to newer ‘sophisticated’ interests, yet not being quite ready to let go of many of those childhood playgrounds just yet.The sparkly appeal of Ninjago and Transformers characters and toys have started fading away ever so slightly around the edges.New obsessions entering the scene include Dan Pilkey books (like the ‘Captain Underpants’ and ‘Dogman’ series); Harry Potter characters, movies and books; and Taekwondo.Whatever new obsessions are taking over for the moment, our boy has still been the same steady chap. On the dot at 4.30pm every weekday, the tinkling sounds of piano practice will come floating out of the media room. Every morning after breakfast, the dishes in the dishwasher will be emptied…

What makes a year

The minute after Halloween is over, right on cue all the shops will be immediately be ablaze with Christmas lights, tinsel and decorations, Christmas carols playing over the sound system, gingerbread houses, Rudolph and Santa themed stock lining the shelves.And that’s when I know for sure…There goes another year.Nathan remarked at dinner recently one night, “I can’t believe it’s almost been a whole year! What did we do anyway?”Yes, what on earth did we do?So I flicked open my Instagram and began scrolling back through the photos with the kids peering over the screen. Soon both kids were exclaiming and echoing “Oh yeah! I remember that!” and “That’s right, we did that!”January: I remember now! we were in KK… and we stayed at that resort with those big lizards! …And fireworks! Australia Day, of course!February: Chinese New Year! We went to the city to see the lion dance!March: Oh yeah! We went camping! We climbed that big tower and dropped the balloons! And we went to that river and pa…

DIY Toys

Contrary to popular belief, my decision to become a family day care educator is not a goldmine career choice that rakes in a ton of money.In fact, now that I have become my own small business owner, I’ve had to become more mindful to set my clear budgets for my own resources and programs. Which is really hard when there are so many beautiful images of gorgeous play set ups and environments constantly floating around Instagram.Many times I’ve found myself hovering over the purchase button of beautiful (and expensive) Grapat wooden toys and Grimm’s rainbows. But then reality kicks in and I have to remind myself of the public liability insurance due, and the upcoming first aid training renewal, and the levy for the new web based attendance record system being rolled out, and our microwave oven that recently died… the list goes on and on.So instead, I roll up my sleeves, turn to browsing my Pinterest board to see what other clever and resourceful parents and educators have done in similar…

No more thumbs

One big parenting question I often hear is:
“How can I wean my child off the pacifier or thumb?”.It’s definitely a tricky one.I myself have had to grapple with the question with my own kids.Grace’s dummy addiction was pretty straightforward to tackle. Painful, of course. Seriously painful. But simple. Cold turkey. Like pulling off  bandaid. I secretly snipped a bit off the tip off her dummy and told Grace that ‘momo’ was broken. She yelled the place down like a banshee. The first naptime without it was too horrible for words. But it was over in a day. I was smarter this time too. Because I had attached a lovey to her pacifier which she could latch onto as an alternative after the dummy was gone. So that was that.Nathan’s thumbs was a whole different ball game.To be honest, I have mixed feelings towards his thumbs. I sometimes think his cheerful, easygoing and calm demeanor might be largely attributed to his thumbs. In our entire household (including the adults), he is the often the mos…

Felt story time kits

One the staple items in every educator’s toolkit are felt board pictures for rhymes and story time.There’s just something very captivating by the felt pictures. Perhaps it’s a sensory thing with the soft feel of the felt and the bright colours. The kids all get very excited whenever I pull out one of my felt picture kits for story time.So I thought I would share a few of my favourite felt story time kits which are fairly simple to make.Where is the Green SheepThis kit is by far the most favourite among all my felt picture kits. The children all find the cute and colourful little sheep absolutely irresistable. The kit I put together also includes four fabric squares corresponding to each coloured sheep for colour matching games. The little felt sheep were so easy to cut out, I eventually added on traditional black and white sheep to sing other sheep nursery rhymes like ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, ‘Little Bo Peep’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’.Go Away Big Green MonsterThis was another very ea…

Get back up again

Lately there have been a number of things happening that kind of knocked the wind out of me. Health wise I've not been in the best place. I mentioned a couple of issues I'd been going through. After that I came down with a few more bugs and ailments. I've also had to face up to long-standing dental-related issue I had been putting off for a while. Nothing life threatening but enough to put a little grey cloud over my head. Maybe it's aging or tiredness or just a touch of the winter blues. Whatever it is, it hasn't been a fun place to be in. Furthermore, hubs and I have been having a series of money-related discussions. Partly due to him recently reading 'The Barefoot Investor'. It's not really a book I'm recommending or anything like that. There are a number of questionable points in the book. But it's definitely raised lots of areas to think and talk about together.Money is often a touchy subject--especially for me. We've delved into many l…

Happy Birthday Grace

After my last mega update post, I’m a bit short on news this month. But the big highlight I must talk about this month is of course our dear Grace’s birthday!We decided to splurge a little to give Grace her first bona fide big birthday bash at the Pickled Fairy in Fremantle. She chose a ‘Mermaid and Sea Fairies’ theme for her party, complete with a Mermaid cake and a Sea Fairy to host her party.The kids had a blast and it was a nice change to just kick back and just sit back to enjoy the party (and swipe my credit card afterwards).For weeks and weeks I had been quietly sussing out what her top birthday present wish list items were. Nathan had been subtly trying to sneak in some Lego references into her thought process. But I was determined to nail down her true wish list… top two wish list items ticked off for this happy birthday girl (Persian jade bracelet and compact mermaid brush and mirror set)A post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Jul 8, 2018 at 6:13am PDT (I don’t know if…

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