Learning Through Play

Project: Terrarium

We spent the first day of 2022 at a nursery picking up supplies for terrarium making.

A few weeks ago at the same nursery, the girls went crazy upon seeing those cute mini pots of succulents and wanted them so badly. So I got older Gem on a research project; open and close terrariums.

She did her research (mostly watching videos on youtube), selected her jars from my stash of unused vases (yes, I do have a lot of vases!) and wrote her shopping list.

Shopping List (in order of terrarium layers from the base)

  • Gravel Rocks
  • Sphagnum Moss
  • Organic Potting Soil
  • Plants (For both open and close terrariums)
  • Coloured Rocks and Sand for decorations

The girls selected all the materials on their own at the nursery. And now the fun and mess begin… They did the close terrarium entirely on their own, while I helped with the open since the succulents are delicate plants.

Close Terrarium

Working on the Open Terrarium

For the close terrarium, the girls chose blue sand to represent a lake and a sea shell as a raft to house their LEGO figurines.

The process was messy but they had a great time and delighted with the results! It was an activity to practise patience as the narrow opening of the close terrarium and the delicate succulents can be challenging.    

BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play, Picture Books

The Story of Ferdinand

A gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4

温柔,安静的心,这在神面前是极宝贵的。彼得前书 3:4

A story of a bull (Ferdinand) with a gentle spirit, which was banned in Germany and Spain, when it was first published in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

But not like Ferdinand; he still liked to sit just quietly under the cork tree and smell the flowers.

The Story of Ferdinand

This story reminded me of another book we rowed previously, “Play With Me” by Marie Hall Ets. A girl approaching various animals to play but all retreated until she sat just quietly and all the animals came back to her. Both stories revolving around the theme of a gentle and quiet spirit which I highly instil on both of girls who are loud and feisty!

So here’s how we row The Story of Ferdinand!

  • Creating our lap book
  • Bible verse 1 Peter 3:4
  • Watch animation of the same title on Disney+
  • Brief intro of Spain and Madrid
  • Discuss issues on bull fighting
  • Learning letters B and H (Link to printouts at the end of blog post)
  • Learning about bees and making a bee craft with pegs
  • Rhyming words ending with “ell” (Link to printouts at the end of blog post)

A visual treat for younger Gem as she watched the 7 minute animation of The Story of Ferdinand on Disney+.

Madrid, Spain

Older Gem had the privilege of visiting Madrid with daddy in 2018 when she was 6 and these were some books she bought from the trip. While she is not rowing The Story of Ferdinand, she shared some of her favourite moments from the trip with younger Gem as she relished her memories through photos from the trip.

Learning about Letter B, Bees and Making a Bee Craft

B is for bee, beautiful and brilliant! “B is for bee” is a simple and brilliant go-along book. Made a bee craft using pegs, tulle and pipe cleaner.

Experiencing God

Thanksgiving Jar

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

In the first quarter of 2021, I started a “Give Thanks Jar” at home where you can write a little note of thanksgiving any time and drop it in. No one was allowed to read any of the notes till the last day of the year. A great idea to instill thankfulness, especially in a day and age where my kids can be so self entitled at times. Myself included!

I got a plain jar from the AS-IS section at Ikea and customised it little with my trusted Sharpie markers. The thanksgiving corner includes the customised jar, stacked of plain coloured paper and a pen.

We finally unveiled the jar just before the girls’ bedtime yesterday. Taking turns drawing out a note and reading them aloud. Much to be thankful for as we review the notes and recalling events.

Ending the year with an awesome gift of God‘s opened door; I passed my RES exam!

Books, Learning Through Play, Picture Books

The Story About Ping

Honour the Lord your God. Obey all his rules and commands. If you do, you will enjoy long life. Deuteronomy 6:2

敬畏耶和华你的神,谨守祂的一切律例诫命。申命记 6:2

From the same author of “Angus Lost”, Marjorie Flack, wrote of another animal who kind of got lost. Ping, a duck, who lives on a houseboat by the Yangtze River was late and decided not to go back to avoid being punished. After a series of encounters, one of which almost landed him as dinner for a family, Ping decided to face the consequence of being punished.

“Promoting” younger Gem to rowing FIAR series, this is a story of being accountable for our own actions. We went through a series of activities and had them documented in a lap book.

  • Memory verse; Deuteronomy 6:2
  • Identifying wildlife on along the Yangtze River by visiting River Wonders at Mandai Wildlife Reserve
  • Exploring Chinese cultures through making snow skin mooncakes, Chinese calligraphy, etc.
  • Differentiating male and female mallards
  • Building a LEGO wise eyed boathouse
  • Rational counting using stickers
  • Buoyancy experiment
Younger Gem drew a picture of a boy messing up his play area while his mummy was busy at the kitchen.

China and the Yangtze River

Since story was set in China, we explored China through traditional costumes, food, calligraphy, etc.

While we can’t physically visit the Yangtze River, we headed to the River Safari’s (now known as River Wonders) section of the Yangtze River where they house wildlife which depend on the river for their survival. Younger Gem’s task was to identify three animals whose survival depends on the Yangtze River. Older Gem’s was to elaborate on the three selected animals.

Mallards, Male vs Female

Mallards are similar to peafowls, where the males (peacocks) are more colourful and attractive than their female counterparts, the peahens.

Building the “Wise Eyed Boat” with LEGO

Daddy and younger Gem spent some time building a LEGO wise eyed houseboat.

Books, Travel

NY is for New York

Picture book by Paul Thurlby

September reminds me of New York. A decade ago, hubby and I made a trip to “The Big Apple” to attend a dear friend’s wedding, celebrated his birthday and caught the US Tennis Championship.

I found Paul Thurlby’s NY is for New York while browsing in the library and flipping through the illustrations brought back so much fond memories. Here are my top five from the book!

A is for American Museum of Natural History

One of the many museums we visited in NY and this place is huge! We tried to explore as much as we could. I cannot wait to bring older Gem here since science is her favourite subject!

The iconic blue whale model gets it annual clean up and we were lucky to witness it!

Click here to read more on the blue whale model.

Check out this link ; a science website for kids by AMNH, which has games, videos and other activities to keep your curious kids busy!

B is for Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan was our base for most part of the trip although we made multiple trips to Brooklyn since our friend lives there. Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of the wonderful time spent there. From dollar cab rides to the purpose of the trip; the wedding!

M is for The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of my favourite museums on planet earth. Yes, I love museums, especially art museums!

The Edgar Degas collection at the Havemeyer Gallery was quite a sight to behold; “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” sculpture surrounded by paintings such as “The Dance Class” and “Dancers Practicing at the Barre”.

“The Little Dancer” got herself a new tutu in 2018.

Q is for Queens

We took a long subway ride to Flushing Meadows Park for the US Open Tennis Championships. Caught a few matches with the most memorable between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer. Arthur Ashe for some matches of top seed like Nadal and Djokovic. Was a pity we could not catch Federer in action in the night sessions since we could not fit them into our schedule.

U is for Uptown

We spent a lovely day at Uptown Manhattan covering Central Park and The Guggenheim Museum.

Till the next time!

Artists' Inspired

Dale Chihuly Inspired Lanterns

We visited Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom exhibition at Gardens by the Bay and loved it so much (check out the blog post on the exhibition here), we decided to diy our lanterns for mid-autumn festival as inspired by some of our favourite installations from the exhibition.

Lantern Inspired by Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall

Older Gem picked Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall as her lantern inspiration. We used coffee filters of two different sizes to form the shapes and assembled them over fairy lights.

Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall at Bayfront Pavillon

Lantern Inspired by The Setting Sun

The Setting Sun was younger Gem’s choice. We used straws, cellophane paper and coffee filters and attached them onto a store bought lantern.

My Gems by the Setting Sun

Although we did not manage to catch the moon since it was a cloudy night, we enjoyed our walk around the estate slightly past their regular bedtime!

Art & Craft, Travel

Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom

Gardens by the Bay

The family spent two consecutive days at Gardens by the Bay during the September school holidays; covering the two conservatories (Flower Dome and Cloud Forest) on day one and the outdoors on day two. We embarked on a journey to spot all the installations of Dale Chihuly’s masterpieces as part of the Glass in Bloom exhibition. I was first introduced to the art of blown glass in Venice and it was fascinating to watch the craftsmen moulding the glass masterpieces under intense heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the well curated exhibition throughout Gardens by the Bay. Where art meets and nature… In the outdoors where the art pieces are exposed to the weather effects such as sun and rain, reflections in the waters, at the Cloud Forest with the misting; the same masterpiece but gives off a different vibe each time the surrounding atmosphere changes.

Check out our Mid-autumn lanterns inspired by some of Dale Chihuly’s art here.

The Setting Sun Meets The Moon at The Meadow

Entering from The Meadow, we were greeted by the majestic Setting Sun. This version of The Setting Sun was created for Singapore. Backdropped by The Moon from an angle and MBS from another.

The Moon was created for an exhibition; Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000 and was displayed on the Tower of David Museum. Here, we have The Moon on display in Singapore after its debut more than two decades ago.

This is also the first time The Setting Sun and The Moon are exhibited in the same setting.

Brilliant Boats

Tremendous Towers

Resplendent Reeds

The Reeds are scattered throughout the exhibition, either standalone or in variety of forms. The rich red Reeds in the Serene Garden is my favourite amongst the Reeds exhibits as the red contrast against the greenery makes it outstanding and not overly busy. As for Older Gem, her favourite was the shiny violet ones found in the Flower Dome; installed with Tower and surrounded by Trumpet Flowers and Reeds. The Reeds were created in Finland and older Gem’s favourite was made of rare mineral neodymium, which gives the shiny purplish effect.

Persians

Nesting Persians of different sizes in a variety of compositions. The effects of light on the Persian series made the installations even more brilliant!

Gallery at Bayfront Pavilion

The Glass on Glass Paintings were my favourite from the Gallery. Using light to transmit through layers of glass that were painted with vitreous-glass enamel. Stand at different angels to view the depths of each painting.

Fiori Verde; Free Flowing, Playful Forms

Fringe Activities

Art Zoo was on exhibition at the same time and the girls had fun working on the activity sheet to earn their stickers!

I guess we will be visiting Gardens by the Bay more often since we have gotten the annual pass!

Learning Through Play

Making Snow Skin Mooncakes

Mid-autumn festival is round the corner and the girls and I spent some time making snow skin mooncakes. A fun, fast, messy and unhealthy treat!

Ingredients

  • 75g kaofen/fried glutinous rice flour
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 25g Crisco
  • 60ml cool boiled water
  • a quarter tsp pandan essence paste
  • Fillings of choice. We used lotus paste

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly.

Step 2: Mixture A; Mix kaofen and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Add Crisco and mix well.

Step 3: Mixture B; In another bowl, add water and essence. Mix well.

Step 4: Add mixture B to A. Knead into a dough.

Step 5: Divide dough into 10 portions.

Step 6: Roll lotus paste into 10 small balls.

Step 7: Wrap the dough over the lotus paste balls.

Step 8: Sprinkle some kaofen into the mooncake mould. Press dough into mould and release!

Step 9: Enjoy the mooncakes!

Books

How You Can Promote Perspective Taking in Children

Mind in the Making: Skill 2 Perspective Taking

Some 13 years ago, hubby and I got a thousand piece puzzle of M.C. Escher’s “Waterfall” from Puzzle World in Wanaka, NZ. It had been kept in storage and I finally decided to work on it after so many years. We enjoyed his artworks on perspective illusion and visited an exhibition on his artwork in 2016 at the Art Science museum. It’s interesting as we put our mind to work in viewing the artwork from different perspectives.

Different people have different takeaways from the same piece of artwork. Our interpretation can be derived from experiences or what we see with our naked eye.

Very often, we find it difficult to comprehend why others think, react in a certain manner because our mind is clouded by our past experiences or the limited evidence presented before us. Situations like these calls for perspective taking. Such skills are increasingly essential as we face a rising generation who are becoming more vocal in their beliefs.

“Mind in the Making” Book Club Sharing

Last week, during a book club sharing we discussed skill 2, perspective taking, from the book Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky (Seven essential life skills every child needs). Ellen listed 9 suggestions on how you can promote perspective taking in children and I am going to share a few that resonates with me.

Practice what we preach

Knowing parenting theories won’t mean a thing if we don’t practice it because parents are the greatest role model. We need to practice what we preach consistently!

View teaching children to be with others as equally important to teaching them independence

While connecting with others is as important as independence, kids need to first manage themselves before they can practice perspective taking in a positive way. We need to help our kids develop independence; exposure to different situations, teach self-help skills through chores, letting them fight their own battles and imposing natural consequences. Such skills are also built on (skill 1) focus and self-control.

As kids begin to be with others, problems and issues are bound to arise and Ellen suggested a six step “Dilemma Resolving Technique”. We need to teach children perspective taking along with problem solving.

  1. Identify the dilemma, problem or issue
  2. Determine the goal
  3. Come up with alternative solutions
  4. Consider how these alternative solutions might work
  5. Select a solution to try
  6. Evaluate the outcome, and if the solution isn’t working, try something else

Understand that a Warm & Trusting Relationship is the Strongest Foundation for Learning Perspective Taking

Children who feel listened to, who feel understood become better listeners and understand others. We are not our children, they need respect and we need to understand their viewpoints.

Use Everyday Moments

Lastly, a very practical suggestion, which I believe most of us are already practicing – use everyday moments to build the skill of perspective taking by talking about other people’s perspective! It can be someone’s action at the playground, an advertisement or a pieces of news we just heard. Books are key in my household as we practice perspective taking. Picture books’ illustrations are great as I would pose questions to invoke their feelings and thoughts.

Take the story of “Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes” for example. The girl and the purple rhino built a trusting friendship over time but it was time for the rhino to leave to be back with his family. As they hugged before the rhino boards the plane; how do you think the girl and the rhino feel? When the girl got home, she sees traces left behind by the rhino, how does she feel? Why? Is there anything that can make her feel better?

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Finally, let’s also be mindful to strike a balance in perspective taking, not to over speculate and overthink about others’ viewpoint that you neglect yourself.

Check out Skill 1: Focus and Self-control here.