Monday, November 30, 2009

Bottle Tree Park

It was a gathering of old classmates I haven't had in years, and the venue picked by Amy had been ideal for many of us. Not only was it the first visit for those staying at the other end of the island, for those like me who brought kids along, we had something to keep the kids busy with - at least for a while.

Picture of a Bottle Tree taken by my friend, Jenni.

With urbanization, Singapore is left with close to zero natural places for children to play in (or any at all!). Tucked at a corner of Yishun, the kids get to enjoy lokang fishing. 'Lokang' means drain in Malay. Village children used to catch fishes in the drains. I was a village kid, but I never did lokang fishing. Perhaps my male cousins did.

We went there a couple of times for family dinner, and were not prepared for the kids to get wet. SW and CH couldn't believe I brought them there prepared with extra clothes and towels this time. It was awesome watching them and the other kids having fun!

I was amazed to learn that this park was started by 3 friends who spent more than S$100,000 buying 6 rare trees and other exotic plants from Australia in 2004.

It was also the first time we brought any live fish home. I did not believe the fish would survive a few days in such a tiny box, and I really wasn't prepare to keep them as pets. The kids were disappointed, but they witnessed the smallest one dying. That same evening, we set them free at a nearby Park.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

East Coast

With the rainy season in full stride, we were lucky to have a sunny afternoon at East Coast last weekend. We have not been bringing the kids to the beach for a while, and they missed playing in sand. With school exams over, the beach was pretty crowded, but the air was jovial.

CH is more manageable now. Despite the sand on her face and hair, she wasn't coming back to where we were comfortably seated every other minute. My lighter load without the stroller, milk bottles and diapers also made packing so much easier.

I like that Octopus in the sky. It was right above my head. Reminds me of my 3-dollar kite which I always forget to bring along.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Math Find

CH picked this up on her own and I discovered later that it is another good book for Peg Memory, although it is much more challenging as the numbers are not printed. You'd need to count and remember the answer.

The basic use of the book as suggested by the author is learning to find each sum without counting one by one. It is a fun way to reinforce Math concepts. Every page presents a challenge, introducing children to creative problem solving. I certainly appreciate the answers given on the back pages, whilst the rhyming riddles make reading enjoyable too!

One of the pages goes like this:

Mama mia, pizza pie,
How many mushrooms do you spy?
Please don't count them, it's too slow,
This hot pie was made to go!
Let me give you some advice,
Just do half and count it twice.

The 'problem sum' comes up at the end of each riddle and young children can learn about 'half', 'twice', 'repeat', 'match', 'groups of...' etc.

SW and I were having a ball of a time, hysterically trying to recall from the first answer after every new one we add up when I caught sight of CH watching us, her jaw dropping. I suspect she did not quite know what we were doing.

Title: The Grapes of Math (Mind-stretching Math Riddles)
By Greg Tang, Illustrated by Harry Briggs
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2001
Skills practiced: Peg Memory, Creative Thinking, Math (counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication), English.

16 fish, 50 grapes, 22 snails, 19 ants, 15 camels (25 humps), 30 cherries, 23 empty mounds, 24 mushrooms on pizza, 40 dots on dice, 28 window panes with light, 15 dots on the fan, 33 scallops, 33 melon seeds, 30 beetles, 36 eggs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Media Influence

SW is drawing robots, star wars, Ben 10 and Pokemon these days, thanks to the influence of media. Sometimes, I wonder where some of those characters come from, like the one above. Most of what he draws goes uncoloured. At 5, I am thankful that he is still sketching a lot. Occasionally, he surprises me with some touches of colours like the one below. It's funny how he likes to add in the arrows and signs, and how he insists that the picture is 'complete' despite some portions being left uncoloured (like the dangling fella on the left). Perhaps it's meant to be transparent? I didn't ask more as my appreciation was shifted to his use of colours.

CH Draws Me

This is CH's recent portrait of me using a highlighter. I thought my 3 year-old was drawing herself, but the bun on the head proves otherwise. Somehow, she prefers to see my hair swept back. I love that grin on the face. Still think it looks more like her...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peg Memory Practice

When it comes to memory games, there are some books which serve the same purpose as Linking Memory and Peg Memory as practiced at The Shichida Method. I have come across some of these books by chance at the library. My children find them fun and challenging to recall the nouns in sequence like in linking memory, or randomly like in peg memory. Here is a good one I found recently:

Title: Ocean Counting, Odd Numbers,
By: Jerry Pallotta, Illustrated by Shennen Bersani
Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2005
Skill Practice: Peg Memory, Math (counting and learning about odd numbers), English

1 Striped Bass, 3 Sunfish, 5 Blood Stars, 7 Basking Sharks, 9 Little Green Crabs, 11 Northern Stars, 13 Surf Clams, 15 Limpets, 17 Mackerals, 19 Lumpfish, 21 Moon Snails, 23 Horsehoe Crabs, 25 Cunners, 27 Hake, 19 Mussels, 31 Hermit Crabs, 33 Sand Dollars, 35 Angel Wings, 37 Black Sea Bass, 39 Skate Eggs, 41 Razor Clams, 43 Pollack, 45 Whelks, 47 Pipefish, 49 Smelts, 50 Blue Sharks (Even number), 0 fish (Odd number).

The illustration is realistically beautiful and interesting, while the short write-ups on each of the animals provide quick grasp of facts without testing the short attention span of young children. 50 items is the standard practice at one go, and is just right for 4-6 year olds.