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

Uncategorized

Couple Time at Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition

My first Star Wars movie experience was rather epic. I was in my early teenage years when I tagged along my elder sister and her friends on the opening night of the Star Wars Trilogy Special Editions: A New Hope at Shaw Theatres Lido. Most of her friends were avid Star Wars fans and were donned in their favourite Star Wars character costumes. Most of the patrons were in similar ensemble. They started cheering and waving their lightsabers as the lights dimmed in the theatre and the iconic music and text crawl began.

I won’t consider myself as an avid Star Wars fan but I do enjoy the Star Wars franchise. I had to visit the Star Wars Identities exhibition at the Art Science Museum before the run ends. All thanks to MIL, who babysat the girls, hubby and I could go on a “date” for the exhibition.

My thoughts about the exhibition:

The section where the spaceships on displayed was my favourite. I literally went “wow” upon seeing them lined up in front of me. I was disappointed that the X-wing was not displayed. I mean how can they miss out the x-wing?

The sketches and drawings were delightful. Seeing how some characters evolve and the fine details were intriguing.

Droids, costumes and props… was really cool seeing them up close while trying to recall the scene they appeared/used.  

We were each given a wrist tag which you can scan at the respective stations throughout the exhibition to build the identity of your chosen character. The novelty is probably for kids to get them engage throughout the exhibition and I can foresee my girls going crazy if they were there. Hubby have been joking that I’m Jabba the Hutt since I have been putting on weight while I declared him as Jar Jar Binks, just to annoy him. He took it rather seriously and picked a Gungan as his identity character.   

Now, time to rewatch the trilogies on Disney+!

Art & Craft

Sketching Outdoors at the Zoo

Got the girls a new sketch book each to initiate a habit of sketching outdoors. Their first entry was done this morning at the zoo. Sketching helps them to focus and pay attention to details, at least for older Gem! Their “reward” for good behaviour was a postcard of choice from the gift shop as a cover for their sketch book.

These were their responses when I asked about their favourite part at the zoo. Older Gem – “Sketching the white rhino.” Younger Gem – “Choosing and buying the postcards!” I think it was a good day!

Learning Through Play, Travel

“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” – Maria Montessori –

This pic was taken 5 years ago when older GEM was 4 years old as we en route to Mount Ruapehu in NZ. She squealed with delight as she set foot on snow for the first time. “Is this real snow? Is this the snow penguins waddle on?” were her first comments.
May you always bask in nature and love your animal friends!

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!

Art & Craft, Learning Through Play

Learn to Spell Your Name!

In my bid to generate ideas for younger GEM to learn how to spell her name previously, I headed to Pinterest for some inspirations. I came across the following website and followed the idea of using pegs. Having each letter of her name on a peg and matched it to a card with her name. I used popsicle sticks instead as it appears more aesthetically pleasing.

This was such an engaging activity for her; to match the letters and use her fine motor skills to attach the pegs on the right space. I was amazed that younger GEM could learn to spell her name rather quickly.

Seeing younger GEM enjoying the activity, I proceeded to using numbers and alphabets. Upper case on the popsicle stick and lower case on the pegs. She would often take these out to play during quiet time. 

These are also excellent personalised gifts, hence I gifted these DIY sets to kids for their birthdays and Christmas instead of getting store bought items!    

Art & Craft, Books

Henri Matisse Inspired Activities for Kids

Our Matisse inspired space

My first encounter with Henri Matisse’s art was a visit to the Rosary Chapel located in the South of France. I was 14 then on a school trip to Europe for an art history tour. The facade of the chapel was white and plain looking; a stark contrast to the majestic churches filled with Gothic and Renaissance frescos, which I was used to seeing earlier during the trip. It was a welcome change for me I recalled. 

I remembered sitting inside the chapel and in front of me just behind the altar was a mural of a man drawn in black outlined. I thought to myself “Hey! I think I can do that too!” It was Matisse’s masterpiece of Saint Dominic. What caught my attention was the bold coloured stained glass which stood out against the white interiors. The chapel was designed by Henri Matisse in his final years.

Using resources from the Singapore library, I borrowed two books “Henri’s Scissors” by Jeanette Winter and “How the Snail Found Its Colours: The Art of Matisse ” by Jeong-Yi Kee. These books opened the world of Matisse’s cutouts to younger GEM.

Book I: Henri’s Scissors

The story briefly details the life of Matisse from how a young boy who enjoyed the arts became a lawyer but eventually followed his passion to become an artist.

Matisse’s art in his later years were putting together coloured paper cut outs as he was no longer able to hold a paintbrush due to his ailments. Despite his inability to paint, he didn’t give up but channeled his passion of art to another artform. He formed collages using his colourful cut outs on walls. I am a fan of his collages!   

I planned for younger GEM to create her own coloured paper and make cutouts to decorate the wall and a recycled milk bottle to be used as a vase. 

Materials & Tools:

  • Drawing paper
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Scissors
  • Recycled milk bottle
  • Double sided tape

Our Process:

  1. Just like how Henri’s assistants painted the paper for him to cut, younger GEM painted the drawing papers with the colours she chose.
  2. I traced the some of the designs found in the book for us to cut. Both the “birds” were cut by younger GEM while the rest were too challenging for her.
  3. Decorate the milk bottle with the cut outs using double sided tape. A little fine motor skill practise from peeling the tape!
  4. Create a little Matisse inspired space! See image at the beginning of the post!
Painting papers for the cutouts

Practising her cutting skills.

Decorating her vase with cutouts.

Book II: How the Snail Found Its Colours

This is a story of a colourless snail embarking on a journey to find its own colours and along the way met a number of artworks by Matisse. Finally, the snail found its own colours from Matisse; from a colourless sad snail to a colourful fabulous one!    

From this story, younger GEM saw some of Matisse’s art such as “Dance (II)” and “Music”. The highlight was “The Snail”, which we will attempt to replicate. 

Materials & Tools:

  • Picture of “The Snail” by Matisse  
  • Square drawing paper
  • Crepe paper: black, orange, dark blue, dark and light green, yellow, red and pink
  • Scissors
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Tray

Our Process:

  1. I cut out the shapes similar to the original piece using crepe paper.
  2. Display the cut outs and place square drawing paper on tray.
  3. Younger GEM to place them on a blank piece of drawing paper according to the original artwork.
  4. Spray water over the entire piece of artwork and let the crepe paper colours “bleed”.
  5. Wait for a while and remove the crepe papers gently.
  6. Let dry.

The end product looked similar to a water colour painting and it was perfect as a birthday card for grandma!