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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Downloadable free Chinese Games for Kids

My girl gave me the url of this website to download interactive chinese games to play. She said her computer teacher gave them the website.

I am sure those with knowledge of Chinese would know of these games with no problem. However, for parents who do not understand Chinese Mandarin, like me, finding online Chinese resources for kids is a bit more challenging. Some websites has English translation so it is not too bad. It is those that are filled with Chinese words that baffles me. I don't even know where to begin.

I am constantly on the lookout for good Chinese and Malay websites for the kids since there are plenty of English ones.

Anyway, here is the site. It is from the WawaYaya series and here is the page where you can download interactive chinese games. They are sample games but the so called sample games are very good indeed. The colours are vibrant and the games are relevant for young primary school kids. They are more than just samples to me as they work just fine. Sometimes websites that offer sample games gives out poor samples but I think these are fine. However, some links no longer work so you have to try to see which one does and which one does not.

Apart from the interactive Chinese Games for kids, there are English Games, Mathematics Games and Science Games too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CBBC's Tag Team Game

My kids love this online game. It is Tag Team from CBBC. There are 5 games in all. Playing each game will unlock the other games and enable the team leader from the game to be tagged for the other games. I personally find only 2 of the games out of the 5 enjoyable. (Psst.... mummy usually gets to try out the games first to decide on its suitability and fun ratio. ;) )

They are the bowling game called Rollin' Bowlin' Shirley which releases Shaun the Sheep for tagging once you win all the levels. The other one is the clean up game called Tracy Beaker Cleans Up. Once you win all the levels, you can get Shirley to help out in the other games.

At the moment this is their 2nd or 3rd favourite online game coming after Toy Story Games and Ben 10 Games.

Coming soon: Downloadable free Online Chinese Games for Kids

Monday, September 27, 2010

According to You

"According to you......" "According to you......" the girl was singing all day. When I asked her she said....

"Mummy, my friend taught me how to sing. He told me that if I go to YouTube and type "Ori Aunty" than I can find the song. He says he likes Justin Baby"

lol. I think she meant "Orianthi" and Justin Bieber's "Baby"

I remember her favourite song used to be "I'm a Little Teapot"

Now she is learning "According to you" ......

and "Baby"....

Help! I am not ready for this..... Maybe I'll just let her watch the Chipmunks and Chipettes version first. :P

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Her English Teachers

Many of our kids have to learn 3 languages in primary school. They say kids soak up information like a sponge and are good at picking up languages and all that. However, when you are trying to learn 3 different languages seriously, all at the same time, something has to give. You can't be equally good at all 3. Well, perhaps, you can but it will require effort and time.... which we don't have.

Since my girl studies at a Chinese School, it is natural that the school spends a lot of hours and effort in teaching the kids to be good at this language so that is not a problem. The school also has to make sure that their Malay language is not too far behind the National school's, so the standard is not too bad either since the National School's standard is so high these days, much higher than the time when I was a kid in school learning it.

That leaves English. Poor poor English. All forgotten and neglected. The standard is pitiful. Even my son who is attending kindergarten can read and do some of his sister's Primary 2 school work. The teacher asks them to spell "white colour" etc. Quite often there is grammatical and sometimes spelling mistakes as well in the spelling and dictation given by the teacher. We have to tell my girl to "just follow what teacher wrote but you know the correct usage." to which she would reply "but what if I forget and write the wrong one next time." Sigh. It is too tiring to bring it up to the teacher because it happens frequently and the teacher would probably feel defensive and offended so we leave it alone.

To make up for this, some parents send their children for extra tuition. I know a parent who sent his child for tuition at the British Council during the weekends but who at the start of Primary 2 announced that he is pulling his child out of Chinese School because he is not blending in there. I wonder if he considered that he may have contributed to the problem just a little by pushing his child to be good at everything all at the same time? It must be a such a pressure for an 8 year old.

I admit that I am worried too. I want my children to be good in English. Initially I had thought that I would guide them in this area myself but I find there is not enough time. I do not believe in sending them for extra tuition in this area because I think it will be an extra burden for them. I had not believed in tuition for young kids but now I think that if they need extra help for school work then perhaps it is justified. However sending them for extra subjects for something the school is not concentrating on is not extra help to assist in school work. It is an extra burden to an already heavy workload.

However, now I can relax a little on this issue. My girl loves to read. So all I need is to buy her lots and lots and lots of storybooks. She devours them up in no time. I had forgotten that was how I learned English. We were not taught grammar in school but I read so many story books and that was how I used to do well in English during primary school. So now, I will just let her read as much and as often as she wants. Then I can sit back and watch her vocabulary and grammar improve automatically. She says she likes to read books that has no pictures in them, only words. "Then I can imagine it myself, mummy."

So that is how I finally found the right English Teachers for my girl. They are English Storybooks. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Social Networking for Kids

Recently my girl asked me about Facebook so I showed it to her. However I did not create an account for her nor did I encourage her to do so. We did however find that about a dozen of her classmates are on it.

Ok ok. I know its the new age the internet age. Afterall I am a blogger myself with several blogs. So what is the harm of letting her have a facebook account? However, I prefer to tackle that a little later on. She is afterall only 8, just discovering how to make friends and socialise in the real world. She does not need the complications of learning how to socialise in the cyber world and deal with all its fascinations, complications etc plus other issues that it will inadvertently bring.

I was amazed that some of her friends has over 250 friends on facebook and lists Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber as favourites. I mean they are only 8? Isn't that growing up a little too soon, too fast? They just graduated from Nursery Rhymes!

My girl asked me about Lady Gaga. She said her friend's favourite song is by Lady Gaga. Her friend told her that all she needs to do is press number 2 on the radio/tv and you can get to listen to Lady Gaga. :) That remark is charming in its innocence and tells me that number 2 on the radio in her home was set not by her. I tried to find some suitable videos on YouTube on Lady Gaga to show her but I could not find any. I find her dressing and manners inappropriate for a child of 8. Imagine wearing a piece of meat to an event. Oh well, it takes all kinds.

Back to Facebook, at the moment I am not prepared to teach my girl about social networking and educate her about safety, cyber bullying etc etc. I am also not prepared to deal with her spending too much time on it, playing games, updating her status etc. So I shall leave it for now. There is no escaping it or course and in time, she will have an account but not now.

Now, she can spend her time reading, instead of updating her profile. And she can worry about which friend to "friend with and not friend with again" the next day at school instead of counting the number of friends she has on Facebook and the number of comments she gets. There is a certain fascination and addiction in it and I prefer that she and I not have to deal with it at this moment, when she is just 8. We also don't have the time for  it and I do not see it as one of the must haves for an 8 year old kid to learn about life and socialising.

Perhaps I am outdated and old fashioned and my girl will suffer from peer pressure of not having a Social Networking account but I think it is the right thing to do for now, for us. In time, she will have an account and I will teach her how to be safe online and deal with all the things that comes from having cyber friends ie friends that she has never met in real life but for now, I shall concentrate on teaching  her how to be a friend in real life. Ok. So now shoot me because I know there are a lot of bloggers with kids who have an online presence who probably think I am making a mountain out of a molehill but then that is just me and that is why I continue to remain anonymous after so many years online. :P

Friday, September 17, 2010

Raising Readers

It is not hard to raise readers at all. Everything that they say in parenting articles about how to encourage children to read and raise readers is true. Sometimes I disagree with some suggestions made by parenting gurus etc on various other aspects on parenting. However, there is just one way to raise readers and that is READ, READ, READ to them. The rest will take care of itself.

I have read to my children from the time they were very young. That is the time we enjoy the most. Bedtime where everyone gets to cuddle and listen to a story, rhyme or song. Now they make their own stories, songs and rhymes and they can't put a book down. I have to constantly ask them to put down the book they are reading and move on to another activity. When they were young, they used to tear pages from books and draw on them. Not anymore. They love books and they love reading.

We take them to bookshops frequently and we do a lot of reading at home. All of us. I am however sad that my girl does not really like me to read to her anymore. She has outgrown it. Now she likes to read herself. She would take a book and read aloud (always aloud) with full of expression. I still read to my boy because he still prefers it at the moment. However, at times when I get lazy, I declare it "everyone read yourself night" so I get to read my own stuff too in peace. :P

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Her very first music theory test

The girl sat for her first music theory test on the first day of the school holidays. The test was held at a Secondary School at a place we were not familiar with. We had to drive there a few times to get it right so that we won't get lost on the day. Fortunately we did not get lost and we made it there on time.

I am not too happy that preparation for the test was rather rushed. I had to push her quite a bit too which I did not like. We skipped grade 1 tests but she did about 2 years of past year papers for it. 1 year of past papers consist of 4 papers, so that was about 8 in all.

The music teacher also bought her 5 years of Grade 2 past year papers to do. 5 years equals 20 papers in all! Plus she had to cover the syllabus very quickly. Nope, I did not like the pace at all. To me, music education should be fun, not more mugging, Chinese School style. Now, that I am aware of what it takes etc, I will be able to plan better next time and suggest to the music teacher on the direction and pace we prefer.

I also studied on my own using the internet as a resource. It helps me in my piano playing because I have never studied theory in detail before. It also helps me to help my girl.

The test was 1 and 1/2 hours long. Students were allowed to leave the room after 40 minutes. I thought that must have been distracting for the others who were still working on the paper. We saw students streaming out of the rooms one by one.

My girl, came out last. She said she was the very last person left behind with the examiner because she was too afraid to tell the examiner that she had finished and would like to leave. She said that she checked 2-3 times.

Perhaps next year she will sit for the practical exam. We plan to do practical/theory in alternate years so it won't be so taxing.

Both she and her brother loves to play the piano but like most kids, they don't like to practise very much. However, once you get them on the piano seat, they sometimes can't stop. I would really like to manage their music lessons well so that they won't grow tired, bored and even worse pressured by it so I never pressure them to practise.

Although the teacher suggest that they practise at least an hour each day (and reduced it to 15 minutes when she found that we could not make the 1 hour), I let them practise in their own pace. Sometimes when there is a lot of school work, they don't practise at all. Sometimes, they practise for an hour. Sometimes just 5 minutes or 10 minutes in several intervals spread out over the day, especially for the younger boy who has a shorter attention span.

The teacher sometimes gives them up to 6-7 new songs during the week. Sometimes if they find that overwhelming, I suggest that they practise only 1 song at one session and do another song the next time. I think that just like school lessons, parental support and guidance is very important for music lessons as well. If I leave them alone to practise on their own without any suggestions, usually they either get bored or fed-up or overwhelmed. By breaking it down into several sessions and smaller goals, they seem more motivated.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The right motivation

My boy who cried because he could not spell "cousin" and "daughter" during his school spelling competition told me "mummy, don't worry, I can find my own game" when he wanted to play online ben 10 games.

Then he proceeded to sit in front of the pc and typed in "Ben 10 Alien Force Games" on google which led him to this and then this. Then he started to play some alien smashing and kicking game. Hmm... rather violent if you ask me.

He tells me there are two Ben 10. One with white shirt and the other with green shirt. He prefers the green shirt one. :)

Anyway, with the right motivation, kids learn really fast. I think "Alien Force" is just as hard to spell as "cousin" or "daughter" but he learned it with no problem without even realising that he was learning.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

School Competitions

As the school wraps up the first half of the second term, the kids have lots of competitions in school. Writing, Singing, Maths, Spelling, Chinese Sentence Construction etc.

The other day, the boy had a spelling competition in school. I sent him late for school on the day they were practising the words, so he said he missed it. :P Later on, I did not prepare him for it at all because there was no time. He didn't even have time to finish his homework. He has been rather slow with his homework because he has not been feeling well recently. Not even enough time for homework.. forget about competitions!

I am very relaxed with him now since he is still in kindergarten so I told him it is ok if he can't finish, do it tomorrow etc but I remind him that things will change next year.

Anyway, he missed out on the discussion and preparation and did very badly, according to him. "Teacher says it is so bad that she is going to show you." :P Haha. Poor little fella. But it is only a spelling test. He will recover from his disappointment. He had wanted to win two trophies like his sister. His sister had one for math and one for some team work at the same kindy. He has one, for popping balloons. lol. So he wants to try to have another one. That is sibling rivalry in its full glory.

The sister on the hand is optimistic about her school competitions. "Mummy, do you think I will win a prize? Guess." I told her I can't guess because I don't know how good the other children are. The competions are usually standard wide for the whole standard. "I think I will win consolation prize." she announces. I have yet to see any winnings yet but I am happy she is optimistic. She is usually pessismistic and has poor self image.

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