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!

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.

Art & Craft, BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play

Before Five in a Row (II)

The Big Green Pocketbook, Caps for Sale, Angus Lost, Blueberries for Sal

I decided to journal my BFIAR journey (in parts) with younger Gem as I was clearing photos to make more space in my phone. How I miss spending more time with her and older Gem previously before they started formal school. We took a BFIAR hiatus as they started school but I think I would like to resume and possibly move on to FIAR (for younger Gem) and Beyond FIAR (for older Gem).

Each book we rowed has a key memory verse as well as lap book to “document” her activities as keepsake. More than a year on, we still have them and she would take them out for a “review”!

The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom

“The fruit of the spirit is kindness.” Galatians 5:22

“圣灵所结的果子是恩慈。”加拉太书 5:22

The key theme I was trying to bring out from this story was kindness. The kindness of the people the character met when she went to town as well as the bus driver who returned her pocketbook, which contained her entire day! Kindness is doing good and not expecting anything in return.

We also discussed about the invisible bucket from “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?”

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26

“生气却不要犯罪。” 以弗所书 4:26

Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack

“I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.” Psalms 23:4

“因为祢与我同在。” 诗篇 23:4

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

“Wherever you go I will go.” Ruth 1:16

“你往哪里去,我也往那里去。”路得记 1:16

When grandpa gives you blueberries, read “Blueberries for Sal” and make blueberry muffins!

Credits: https://www.homeschoolcreations.net/printables-from-a-to-z-from-homeschool-creations/

Art & Craft, BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play

Before Five in a Row (I)

Goodnight Moon, Prayer for a Child, Play with Me, The Little Rabbit

I decided to journal my BFIAR journey (in parts) with younger Gem as I was clearing photos to make more space in my phone. How I miss spending more time with her and older Gem previously before they started formal school. We took a BFIAR hiatus as they started school but I think I would like to resume and possibly move on to FIAR (for younger Gem) and Beyond FIAR (for older Gem).

Each book we rowed has a key memory verse as well as lap book to “document” her activities as keepsake. More than a year on, we still have them and she would take them out for a “review”!

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

“God gives rest to His loved ones.” Psalms 127:2

“惟有耶和华所亲爱的,必叫他安然睡觉。”诗篇 127:2

This was the first book younger Gem rowed when she was 29 months old.

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

“May the Lord bless you and keep you.” Numbers 6:24

“愿耶和华赐福给你,保护你。“ 民数记 6:24

As we rowed “Prayer for a Child”, it reminded me to be thankful for even the simplest things in life we often take for granted. We spent time listing down the things she is thankful for and prayed for the people around her.

Play with Me by Marie Hall Ets

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10

“你们要休息,要知道我是神。”诗篇 46:10

“Play with Me” is such a lovely story about a little girl who wants to play with all the animals around her but all of them frightened away as she approached them. Finally she decided to sit and be quiet and one by one the animals came back, sat near her and even had a little surprise from one of the animals at the end.

We made all the animals which appeared in the book (printables in this link) , which took a long time, but she had so much fun doing it. This is her favourite book because we role played; one by one the animals would appear as we read the story.

The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn

“God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“神必与你同在。” 约书亚记 1:9

A story that provided a glimpse of what having a pet rabbit is like and learning the days of the week too!

Credits: https://www.homeschoolcreations.net/printables-from-a-to-z-from-homeschool-creations/

Art & Craft, Books, Picture Books

The Little Kangaroo

Younger Gem has been on a kangaroo craze after learning a tune in mandarin at school titled “我是只小袋鼠” (I am a Little Kangaroo)! Riding on her enthusiasm we found out more on this animal from down under at the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari. Catch her sing the tune at the Wallaby Trail in Night Safari.

Got younger Gem a kangaroo keychain from the zoo to accompany her to school on her bag!

Younger Gem enjoyed the story of “The Little Kangaroo” so much I had to repeat it countless times. The story speaks of mummy kangaroo trying to encourage her little joey to come out of her pouch and explore the world to no avail until…

As usual, we headed to the library to borrow books on kangaroos and here are three facts she learnt from “The Story of the Kangaroo”.

  1. Kangaroos are marsupials; mammals in which females feed and carry their young in pouches.
  2. They live in small groups called mobs.
  3. They move by hopping on their huge back legs and feet, using their tails for balance as they leap.

How can we forget about kangaroo crafts! We went for some kangaroo silhouettes and painting with some fruit sleeve covers. Yay, you can tell she was enjoying the process as she was singing while painting. A singing child is a happy child!

Books, Learning Through Play

Celebrating Nine Years of Motherhood!

As my firstborn turns nine, it also marks my ninth year in my motherhood journey. What a milestone for me who once did not want to have kids! My motherhood journey began with depression and by the grace of God I snapped out of it. Looking back, the past nine years had been the best so far and I can’t wait for many more 9 nine years! It has made me more appreciative of God, hubby and life!

How can we not have a celebration when there is a birthday girl in the house?

Willy Wonka themed cupcakes for birthday as requested by the birthday girl. She first read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” two years ago on our trip to Australia and has been re-reading it umpteen times! She managed to catch the movie of the same title inflight, which definitely made the story “come alive”.

As usual she gets to decorate some parts of her cupcakes; chocolate lollies this time around. Taking perspective; W for Wonka or turn it around as M for Matt. Her face lit when she saw the initials in sparkling gold!

Happy Birthday my older Gem! I love you to the moon and back! xoxo

Artists' Inspired, Books

Rousseau Inspired…

Spending time on painting is quite a luxury these days. I took an interest in older Gem’s HBL art homework and decided to work on it as well! That’s to create an art piece of the jungle, drawing inspirations from Henri Rousseau’s jungle pieces. It’s amazing that Henri Rousseau painted his jungle pieces based on imagination when he had never visited one before! A Malayan tapir in my version after my recent fascination over the animal with repeat visits to the Night Safari the past month.

Diving deeper into Rousseau’s work, we looked at his painting “The Sleeping Gypsy”; a painting of a lion peering over a gypsy in deep sleep. The painting currently resides at the MoMA. We read a book of the same title and it explored a possibility of why only a lion was in the painting, which older Gem found hilarious!

The beauty of an art piece, where you can have your own interpretation and create your wild imaginative ending. Older Gem thinks that the gypsy will be the lion’s breakfast!

Books, Learning Through Play

Why Do Snails Leave a Silvery Trail? Why Do Whales Get Stranded?

: The Snail and the Whale : The Stranded Whale : The Mystery of Whale Strandings :

As I was walking younger GEM towards her school gate one wet morning, I saw a snail slithering up the side wall leaving a slimy trial behind and I immediately thought of “The Snail and the Whale”. The both of us stood there for a good ten minutes watching the snail in action and I told younger GEM we will read the book together after school that day.

After reading “The Snail and the Whale” with younger GEM that afternoon, we got down to “creating” some snails using Spielgaben and a whale with LEGO!

So why do snails leave a trial? Snails produce mucus to help them stay wet and avoid drying out. The mucus enable the snails to stick to things and to move more efficiently, leaving a trail behind. I found a short, informative and easy to understand video for the girls to help with the explanation. 

While the story of “The Snail and the Whale” needs no introduction for older GEM, I got her to research on whale strandings. “The Mystery of Whale Strandings” borrowed from the library was her main source of information. Check out the video below as she summarised her findings on why whales get stranded and how we can help!

Books

Helping Your Child Develop Focus and Self Control

One of the new activities I took up this year was to join a book club. The book club is organised by younger Gem’s school for parent volunteers and meets monthly. The inaugural book club meet took place in April and Beth Fredericks, an early childhood specialist, was invited as a speaker, highlighting the importance of exercising executive functions from a young age.   

Focusing on executive functions, “Mind in the Making” by Ellen Galinsky is the book the club will be discussing throughout this year. The book identifies seven essential life skills every child needs. I reckoned, every parent needs! There are quizzes in the book to help us identify areas we need to work on and some practical ideas for us to engage our kids to focus and practice self control.

Just a few days ago, the book club met again to discuss the first skill, focus and self control. Here are my 2 key takeaways from reading chapter one and the book club sharing.

A Well Rested Mum is a Super Mum!  

I believe the optimal way to teach our children focus and self control is us parents modelling in our daily lives. There are days I feel like a super mum, checking off to-do list in lightning speed, cook all healthy meals and making effort to look at the girls at eye level while conversing but the next day… lacklustre… It is not rocket science to identify the common characteristic for my super mum days; sufficient sleep! When I am well rested, I am calmer and able to focus and pay attention to the needs of my girls. So now I need to work on my inhibitory control, to spend more time studying the bible, less Netflix and Disney+ and sleep early (cause my girls wake up at six-ish!).

Encourage Your Child to Identify their “Lemonade Stand”

A practical way to develop focus and self control – Ellen Galinsky uses a lemonade stand as a metaphor for something that your child cares about. The idea derived from watching a bunch of kids who put in their heart and mind into making their lemonade stand succeed. Basically, when you are motivated to achieve a goal, you will be able to focus and practice self control to attain it. Therefore, encourage your child to find their “lemonade stand.” “Lemonade stand” may change or evolve as they grow older. At the moment, I believe dancing is older Gem’s “lemonade stand”, while she may not be an excellent dancer, the joy she exudes while dancing is contagious.  

Books, Learning Through Play

“I Love Chocolate”; Messy Kitchen with the Girls!

HBL = Making chocolate truffles!

Since it was full home based learning and stuck at home, I headed to the book shelves for some ideas to engage the girls. Pulled out “I Love Chocolate” written by Davide Calì and illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi; originally written in Italian and translated to English as part of Singapore based publisher, Epigram Books’, Stories from Around the World Series.

This book was part of a mystery pack I ordered for the girls for Children’s Day a few years ago and usually sits on the book shelf without much of our viewing attention. The story got me craving for some chocolates and I decided to get the girls involve in making some chocolate truffles!

Adapted an easy and simple chocolate truffles recipe from (https://www.recipetineats.com/chocolate-ganache-truffles/) and so the story of the messy kitchen begins.

Check out the vid of them in action!

I asked younger GEM which part she enjoyed the most… EATING them! I totally agree! Now I need to go clean up the kitchen!