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.

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.

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!

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/

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

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!

Learning Through Play

DIY Foaming Hand Soap with Younger Gem

I started making my own hand soap a couple years ago so to know what ingredients goes inside the products my girls use. 

I acquainted myself to the world of essential oils from Plant Therapy. Their blog contains a wealth of EO knowledge and I have been a happy customer with their range of products and customer service!

I learnt that all water-based products require a preservative to prevent the growth of mould, bacteria and fungus. If you prefer to go without the use of preservative, you will have to use the product within a week.

The process of making foaming hand soap is fun, quick and simple hence younger Gem will be helping me out today! Check out our video below!

Recipe adapted from Plant Therapy blog.
Experiencing God, Learning Through Play

God’s Canvas – Morning Twilight, Sunrise

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Family had an early start this morning as we made our way to the Merlion Park to experience sunrise. We did our research the day before to determine our time of arrival for the event!

Source: http://www.timeanddate.com

It was also a good time to educate the girls on the differences between dawn, twilight and sunrise.

We took a stroll from the Red Dot Design Museum to the Merlion Park during nautical twilight while watching the sky turned brighter. Finally found a spot to “park” ourselves after an argument with the mister. The girls were busy with their breakfast of overnight oats before painting with an awesome view in sight.

While today’s sunrise may not be the most spectacular I have experienced, it reminded me of a time some 7 years ago where I was nursing older Gem in NZ in the morning and the first light shone through the window blinds. How wonderful God has watched the family of three then, to a family of four now!

The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again.

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman