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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
Recent posts

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…

What’s been happening

When winter arrives, it really makes an entrance.No matter how many winters I’ve been through, I always feel a tad bit unprepared for the miserable wet days and long stretches of rainy deluges. In the meantime, I can just cosy up with hot drinks and fluffy slippers and day dream about summer.And with winter always comes the realisation that we’re now at the halfway point of the year. And it’s been quite a year already. With all that’s been going on, I think this space is due for a proper ‘what’s been happening’ update.On the Enrichment Class Debate
I’ve always seen myself on the camp of minimal or nil enrichment classes. I have a bit of a soft spot for the ‘free range’ school of parenting. But maybe it’s the Asian side in me surfacing or whatever. So in addition to the piano lessons Nathan’s been getting from me, he’s also officially started Taekwondo classes. And I think it’s been really good. We’re not a very sporty type family, so the classes have been a great way for him to channel…

Recent Obsessions

What’s been on the list of obsessions with your kids lately?At the moment, Nathan has been really into all the books in the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.Prior to this, for ages Nathan was absolutely obsessed with everything related to Lego Ninjago… the toys, the movie, the animated series and of course the books. Conversations with him would often revolve around him talking about all the characters and plot twists in the Lego Ninjago universe. He would draw pictures about it, write stories and essays about it, and even play Lego Ninjago games at school with his friends.I was glad that he had something that kept him so fully occupied. But I thought it was about time to ease up on the obsession a bit. Then one afternoon his bestie’s mum mentioned the Captain Underpants books. So I persuaded Nathan to give them a go (name dropping his bestie’s name for extra credit). And he was hooked.So our dinner and bedtime conversations now include discussions about “Captain Underpants and…

One of my favourite things in my Family Day Care set up

One common question that pops up in Family Day Care forums and discussions is “What is your number one best buy or favourite piece of equipment or toy?”. I’m always curious to see what other educators have up their sleeve and I’ve uncovered a number of gems through such discussions.I don’t consider my own set up highly sophisticated compared to others, but I aim to be intentional in the way I set up my environments and include lots of open ended materials that can be used in many ways or can be repurposed into different set ups and play invitations.Today I’d like to share one particular set of equipment which I consider to be one of the most versatile in my set ups and has been worth every cent invested and more.Jumbo size building blocksI bought them five years ago at Big W in a set of 78-80 pieces for under a hundred dollars or thereabouts. They were such a big hit I went back to get another set but they were all sold out.They’ve become an integral part of my set up and function bey…

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Catch up with me on Instagram @livingserenely