Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids

Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids
Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids
These days I find myself engrossed with creating graphics. I am so in love with my Microsoft Publisher which is installed on my PC. I also like Pic Monkey for online work and the various drawing and photo and picture apps I have installed on my iPad. Now I'm addicted to both writing and designing. I wish I could draw a little bit better but I am working on it. If only I have a little bit more time to practice.

Anyway, here is my latest creation. This one is a free printable reward chart for kids. You can use these reward chart to reward children for all sorts of things from staying dry during toilet training to good behavior or for helping with chores around the house. I've used these reward charts for a long time and my kids remember them with fondness.

Just the other day, we took out some congratulatory cards while we were spring cleaning and they both exclaimed "Mum, you used to make us those cards when we ran out of cards for those reward stars you used to give us." Yes, we had cut out paper cards and decorated them with stickers and given each to a child whenever they completed a set of stars as a credit card to guarantee that mum remembers to actually reward them with something. Usually it is a small stationery or something useful which they crave.

How the kids love the reward charts especially my boy. I think it works differently with different kids.

The best tip I can give you about using reward charts is this. Don't overdo it or it will lose its purpose. We've fallen into that trap before. That's when I will remove the reward chart and stars and get back to them again later. 

Here is my Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids. I included stars in it so you can color in the stars for each day or if you prefer, you can add a big tick over the stars when a goal is achieved for the day. You can use this reward chart for anything that you want your child to work on so they understand the meaning of having and achieving goals.  Stick it on the wall near your child's work or play area. You can print as many as you like for each month. The file is in pdf format.

You can start with small goals and work up to more. You can give them special credit cards like I did or real paper origami stars to keep. If you are interested in giving them real origami stars, you can read my old post on How to Make Origami Stars And Reward Your Kids With Real Stars. Once they receive a certain predetermined amount, then you can reward them with a small gift or token. However, you must be very clear with your rules and you must stick to it. No bargaining allowed!

Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids
Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids


What Is A Good Bahasa Malaysia Reference Book For Malay Grammar Tatabahasa Or Pemahaman

I've been meaning to write this for some time now but procrastinated till now. It is not very timely to post this now since the final year exams are just over. However, since this is about a reference book, you can use it anytime, not only for exams.

This post is for some of the parents in my FB group. I can see that the parents in this group really care about their kids' education. They spend a lot of time looking for references and discuss ways to help their children in homework and school work.

My kids are studying in SJKC or Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina in Malaysia. This means they have to learn 3 languages, English, Malay and Chinese in school. Many parents speak either English or Chinese which means BM or Bahasa Malaysia goes on the back burner and I mean way back.

My husband and I buy a lot of reference books for our kids since we don't send the children for tuition classes. Having a good reference book helps us help the children with their school work. So, if you were to ask me "What is a good Bahasa Malaysia Reference Book for tatabahasa (Malay Grammar) or pemahaman, I would straight away recommend this book. Do note that this is a reference book not a workbook. You can use it as a guide and reference material but not for practice work.

Here are the book details:

Title:  "Teman Pelajar Cemerlang - Sistem Bahasa"
Author:  Razali Haji Yahya
Publisher: Cemerlang Publications Sdn Bhd.
ISBN: 978-967-352-177-7
Price: RM11.90

Note: We bought this book at Popular Bookshop some time ago at the cost of RM11.90 a really reasonable price to me for the information I can get from the book. I don't know if the price has gone up or not because I bought this book about 2-3 years ago.

This book is a good reference book for BM for primary school kids standard 1 to standard 6. It is more relevant from Std 4 onwards but also useful for lower primary. It is very comprehensive with many examples. I also really like the picture examples given for "Kata Hampir Sama Makna". The Penjodoh Bilangang has a very useful image reference as well.

Everything that you need to know about Malay grammar or tatabahasa can be found here including topics on Kata Nama, Imbuhan, Penjodoh Bilangan, Peribahasa and more.

Here are some pictures of what you can see inside the book.

Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Book Cover)
Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Book Cover)

Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Part Of The Contents)
Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Part Of The Contents)

Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Kata Hampir Sama Makna)
Teman Pelajar Cemerlang Sistem Bahasa (Kata Hampir Sama Makna)


Monday, October 27, 2014

Painting With Strings For Kids

Painting With Strings For Kids
Painting With Strings For Kids
Recently my 10 year old son had to do a painting project for school. "We have to paint with strings, mum", he said. Teacher had given them the instructions and asked them to complete the painting project at home and he had come to me for help.

So, we did this painting with strings and as usual his blogger mum couldn't resist taking pictures and recording our work for keepsakes.

This painting using strings is so easy, children of any age can do it as long as mum or dad is there to supervise things.

These are the stuff we used for our painting with strings.

1. Paint Brushes
2. Paint Palette
3. String (We used my cross stitch or embroidery floss)
4. Poster Paints
5. White Art Paper
6. Newspaper to work on (We never forget these so its easier to clean up afterwards)



Here are the steps for our painting with strings.

1. Gather All The Materials

Materials Required For String Painting
Materials Required For String Painting


2. Cut a few strings as desired into one foot lengths

Cut out strings into one foot lengths
Cut out strings into one foot lengths

3. Paint The Strings (One color at a time and not all at once). We started with red.

Paint Strings One Color At A Time
Paint Strings One Color At A Time

4. Place the painted string on one side of the art paper with one or two ends of the strings sticking out from the edge for pulling, then fold the paper in two and press on the paper all over. Then with your hand still pressing onto the paper, pull out the string.

Place Painted String On One Side Of Paper, Fold And Press
Place Painted String On One Side Of Paper, Fold And Press

5. Unfold the paper. We started with a painted red string or thread and this is what we got when we unfolded the paper

Unfold the paper
Unfold the paper

6. Repeat steps 3-5 adding a new painted string using a different color each time. 

Add another painted string of another color and repeat process
Add another painted string of another color and repeat process. We used pink this time. Notice how the strings are placed on one side of the paper with one end sticking out.

Repeat process with another color. We used yellow this time
Repeat process with another color. We used yellow this time
 
Keep on repeating using different colors each time. We're using green this time
Keep on repeating using different colors each time. We're using green this time. 

Finally we added blue. This is our final string painting.
Finally we added blue. This is our final string painting.

Tip 1:  Make sure you press hard so that you can see the imprint of the string. 

Tip 2: Placing strings in curvy lines will give you a nice effect.

My son didn't like the way the painting looked after adding the blue. He thought it was nicer looking without the blue. Before that it looked like some exotic flower. I told him its okay, with blue, he just created abstract art with his string painting.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Is A Good Chinese To English Dictionary App For Learning Chinese?

One of the most frequently asked questions on my FB page for parents which have a number of parents whose kids are learning Chinese but they do not speak or write Chinese themselves is this "What Is A Good Chinese To English Dictionary App For Learning Chinese? This post is for them.

I have a lot of apps downloaded on my iPad for teaching my kids and for them to use when doing their homework. They are both in Chinese school. They are also required to learn Malay. We, the parents do not know Chinese. So I have a number of educational apps including dictionary apps and translation apps to help them learn.

One of my favorite apps for learning Chinese is Pleco. Pleco is a dictionary app that helps us learn Chinese as well. In this post, I will share with you how we use the Chinese to English Dictionary app Pleco as a resource and aid for learning.

When we first downloaded the app, we merely used it as a dictionary app to find words that we did not know the meaning of. However, now that we have got used to the app, we find that we can use it in an even better way, as a study aid. Pleco is so much more than a dictionary app. It is a Chinese learning app. Hopefully this post can help you understand how to maximize and use it to its full potential for your benefit. Many people download the app and use it like a dictionary  like we did at first but it can do so much more. Here's how.

This is how we use it to help the kids to learn Chinese. We don't make use of all the functions but even then this is very good for us. We are using the free version of the app.

1. Here Is How To Search Using The Pleco App Dictionary

You can search by handwriting, Chinese pinyin, English or Chinese characters or by radical.

The light green arrow points to something that looks like three parallel lines. Those lines toggle you to another page which allows you to do a lot more things including open your dictionary, history, bookmarks and more.

The dark green arrow with the world icon allows you to toggle between different keyboards to do your search in either English, pinyin or by handwriting. The picture shows the handwriting keyboard which I like best because it allows one to practice their Chinese handwriting. (Note: To use the handwriting input function, make sure you have the handwriting keyboard added to your device. For iPhone or iPad, got to "Settings", then "General" followed by "Keyboard". Then select "Add Keyboard" and choose "Chinese (Simplified) - Handwriting keyboard). You will then be able to toggle or choose your methods of input by tapping the world icon.

You can also toggle to the pinyin keyboard and search in pinyin in which case you may need the pinyin indicator signs as shown by the yellow arrows.

Finally, you can toggle between searching in English or Chinese as shown by the red arrow.

You will receive your answer in text as well as listen to the audio. Pleco also helps in Chinese pronunciation because of its audio playback.


How To Search Using Pleco
How To Search Using The Pleco App

2. Pleco Is More Than A Dictionary App. You Can Use It As A Chinese Learning App

Once you have clicked on the red parallel lines, it will open up this screen. You can help your child learn by organizing or bookmarking the words or Chinese vocabulary currently being used in their Chinese textbooks or syllabus. Clicking on the "Dictionary" tab will take you back to dictionary to search for more word. The "History" tab shows you a history of all the words you have searched for.

How To Use Pleco App To Learn Chinese
How To Use Pleco App To Learn Chinese

3. You Can Organize Your Search Into Folders Using The Organize Bookmark Function.

When you click on "Organize Bookmarks" you can set up categories and folders for the words you wish to bookmark for later learning. Once you have set up your folders, you can search for words to add into the folder. After searching a whole list of words, for example the whole vocabulary list in a certain chapter in your child's textbook, click on "Dump To Bookmarks" and choose the folder to keep them in.

You can also import or export your files or download or upload your files via "File Manager" all using wifi. You can also read your searched terms on the clipboard reader which allows you to adjust your text size, fonts and do other cool things including adding text and reading in night mode or saving in a folder. However, I don't use these features very much.


How To Organize Or Bookmark Words Into Folders In Pleco
How To Organize Or Bookmark Words Into Folders In Pleco
4. Even A Child Can Use Pleco Once You Teach Them The Basics

This is how we have organized our bookmarks according to the Chapters in my son's textbook. Clicking on Chapter 18 shows all the words he has to learn from that Chapter in the folder. I asked him to key in the words into the folder himself.  He can use and understand the Pleco app much better than me once taught the basics. He is 10 years old by the way.

How To Use Pleco As A Supplementary Learning Aid For Textbooks
How To Use Pleco As A Supplementary Learning Aid For Textbooks

5. Another Useful Feature Of Pleco

Finally, below is another feature of the Pleco app which I find useful. When you search for phrases or idioms which contain several words together, you can click on the tabs I highlighted in green, yellow, red or purple. The green shows you the meaning of the whole idiom. The yellow shows you the meaning of each individual character that makes up the idiom. The red shows you the words or phrases that can be found within the idiom while the purple shows you example sentences. I find this most useful in understanding idioms. Knowing each character and the meaning actually helps you to understand the idiom's literal meaning which helps you think about a story for that idiom and helps you remember better.



How To Use Pleco To Help You Understand Phrases, Idioms And Proverbs
How To Use Pleco To Help You Understand Phrases, Idioms And Proverbs

6. How To Use Pleco To Help You Understand Phrases And Idioms

For example, in the idiom shown above and below, the meaning is "deafening". However, if you click on "chars" or characters, you can get the separate meaning for each character. I have highlighted them in yellow. The first being "shake", second is "ear", third word means "wish" and fourth word means "deaf". If you click on "words" you will get a phrase made up of the first two characters which means "ear splitting". Put all those together and you can understand the meaning of the idiom "deafening" pretty well or your child can make up his own story for example "shake the ear so loudly till deaf" = "deafening".

Breaking Idioms Or Phrases Down Into Individual Characters Help You Understand Its Meaning Better
Breaking Idioms Or Phrases Down Into Individual Characters Help You Understand Its Meaning Better


I have an electronic dictionary at home. However after discovering Pleco, I find myself using less and less of the dictionary and more of Pleco.

Here is Where To Download Pleco for iOs including iPad and iPhone or for Android users.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Road Less Traveled - From SJKC To SMK

We're doing it again. Leaving school decision till the last minute because we couldn't make up our minds. It was the same way when we were deciding whether to send our children to SK or SJKC.

Time flies and in a blink of an eye we are now at the crossroads to Secondary School. While we ponder over Secondary School Choices In Malaysia,  other parents have decided and secured a place in a school of their choice for their children  who are going to secondary school in 2015 while here we are still thinking.... thinking....

We went to visit several schools yesterday. The SMK which was nearest to my house and which was the school we had ticked off as first choice in the school form given to us was our first stopover. That visit left me very disheartened. The school was dirty, many of the window panes were broken and not replaced, the toilets were not clean. The labs had seen better days. Can teachers and students feel motivated and inspired in such an environment?

There was no proper hall. It will definitely be a downgrade in terms of facilities from their current primary school which has a large hall plus an auditorium, a music room, computer room and more. Sigh. Can I put my children there for the next 5-6 years? We spoke to the guard and the canteen lady who had worked there for 15 years. (Sometimes it is good to speak to workers of the school. They have their own stories to tell). They both said that it was ok as long as you don't let your child mix with the wrong company ie meaning those who smoke and play truant meaning there are those sorts of students in the school.

The next SMK we visited was brand new but we couldn't go in to have a look since it was a Sunday so we'll have to wait on that one. Updated: We manage to drop by unannounced to view the school premise and speak to the teachers and the guard. Really nice new premise and facilities but the impression we got was while the school is doing well academically, there are gangsterism and vandalism issues. What a pity.

The third one was an all girl's SMK. This was much better than the first school with nice clean lawn and classrooms and labs. Everything looked very much better taken care off but then we had our boy to think of. If the girl attends this school then we'd have to look for another school for the boy later on and then there would be all sorts of logistics and transport problems plus they would have less to share with each other. They have things to talk about now being in the same school, the teachers, the events, and they share the same holidays.

The fourth school we visited was an SMJK which boasts all the facilities and is well known for academic performance but do we want to put our children in a highly competitive environment like they have been for the first 6 years in primary school? They hardly had enough time to sleep or play. Studying was all they did.

The title of this post is The Road Less Traveled and it is definitely so. None of my girl's classmates are going to a normal SK. They have either left for Private school or will leave for Private or International Schools or they will go for SMJK or CIS or controlled schools. Her friends at school have been telling her that it will be a waste for her to go to SMK. They have been telling her all sorts of horrible things about SMK and discouraging her.

Why is SJKC to SMK the road less travelled? Almost no one wants to go to an ordinary SMK. Even if SMK is the school of no choice, it must have at least one of the following titles : Control School, Cluster School, High Performance School or SBT (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi) etc. Is it because parents have become so kiasu. I don't think it is due to that. If you were to personally pay a visit to a normal SMK and a private school you will see how the schools are world's apart just by looking at the physical facilities. Although I have heard my fair share of stories of SMK teaching, I won't comment since my child is not yet in one.

Not only schools, one has to decide whether your child will sit for SPM or IGCSE or the UEC offered by CIS. Are you seeing alphabets by now?

So what do we tell our girl? We tell her that her school will not be what she is used to now. We took her to have a look at the school premise so she can see for herself. We told her what to expect and what not to expect. We told her that we will support her all the way and she will have to work hard herself in order to continue doing well. (She has been used to the teachers spoon feeding her in primary school). We told her she will now have to switch from studying hard in Chinese to studying in Malay and we will help her with her English at home. We told her we will be saving so that we can give her the best education in the later years when it matters.

Why does it have to be so tough to decide? Forget about racial divide and politics and all that, we have no time to think about any of that. It is hard enough to decide. As parents we are only concerned about getting the best education for our children in the best environment possible. After all they will be spending a lot of time at school, almost equal amount of time if not more than the time they spend at home.

Acronym List From This Post

SK= Sekolah Kebangsaan (National Primary School)
SMK= Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (National Secondary School)
SJKC= Sekolah Kebangsaan Jenis Cina (Chinese Primary School)
SMJK=Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (National Chinese conforming Secondary School)
CIS= Chinese Independant Schools
UEC= Unified Examination Certificate
IGCSE= International General Certificate Of Secondary Education
SPM= Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia

Useful Links: 

Remember to bookmark this page for reference when it comes to your turn to decide on a secondary school. You will find these links very useful indeed.

  1. List of Schools In Malaysia
  2. List of SMJK in Malaysia
  3. About Chinese Independent High School In Malaysia (including list of Chinese Independent Schools In Malaysia)
  4. List Of All Secondary School Schools In Each State In Malaysia
  5. Education In Malaysia (Including What Is SMJK?)
  6. Price Of International School Education In Malaysia
  7. Homeschool And IGCSE
  8. List of Private Schools In Malaysia (non exhaustive)
  9. Choice of Schools In Malaysia (an overview including high performance schools, cluster schools, smart schools, premier schools, vision schools, controlled schools, central schools and sports schools).
  10. Secondary Education Option In Malaysia (An article from School Advisor, a web portal to help parents choose private or international schools). You can search for private and international schools in your area from this portal.

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