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Monday, February 27, 2012

Chinese Idioms Dictionary

Now that my daughter is in Std 4 in Chinese School, she is learning a lot of Chinese Idioms in school. I need a good Chinese Idioms Dictionary. Unfortunately most of the Chinese Idioms Dictionaries are in Chinese! So how can I help her? I am Chinese but sometimes I forget how to write my kids' names in Chinese. That's how little Chinese I know. I am getting better now, having gone through Std 1 to Std 4 Chinese with my girl and now repeating Std 1 and Std 2 Chinese with my boy.

What I need is a good Chinese Idioms Dictionary for an English learner. I need the Chinese Idioms to be explained in English. That's exactly what I need to help my girl understand her Chinese Idioms. I need a good Chinese to English translation for the Chinese Idioms so that I can explain the Chinese Idioms to her. So, do I throw up my hands in the air and say I give up let's leave it to the tuition teachers? Errr... I can't, there's no tuition teacher. I'm the tuition teacher.

Never fear, the internet is here. So for other English speaking parents like me who wish to help their child learn Chinese idioms, here are some useful resources for you. I like these Chinese Idiom Dictionaries because I can search in Pinyin and I get the English translation or explanation for the Chinese Idioms.

1. An English Dictionary of Chinese Idioms from Chinese-Tools.com - Oh I like the sound of that! This dictionary has more than 30,000 Chengyu (Chinese proverbial idioms) with calligraphy, pinyin, English translation, Chinese explanation, synonyms, antonyms and context examples. Fantastic. I checked it out. It is everything it said it is. Love it. The English interpretation is kept simple, described in just one line with a more detailed Chinese explanation. Here's what my search "kai men jian shan" yielded. It has an alphabetical Chinese Idioms Index which is lovely. Just take a look at the Chinese Idioms list for "shan" (Mountain). I didn't know there were so many idioms from the use of this word "shan" alone.

2. If you can't still find your Chinese Idioms from the above, try this simple one. Its quite comprehensive and I love the simple layout. Check out the Chinese Dictionary from Yabla Chinese. You can key in the pinyin for your Chinese idioms using this Chinese Dictionary. It's not just a Chinese Idiom Dictionary, its a comprehensive Chinese Dictionary which includes idioms. Have a look at how my search for "chui tou sang qi" looks like. It's quick, simple and to the point but if you want details check out the Chinese-Tools Chinese Idiom dictionary I mentioned above or the following Nciku English Chinese Dictionary. Compare all the results and see which you prefer or use them all, like me.

3. This one is from my favorite online Chinese Dictionary, until I got my Electronic Dictionary that is, I used  this one frequently because I like the fact that I could handwrite the Chinese Characters in using my mouse. Here is the online English Chinese Dictionary from Nciku. One thing to note when using this dictionary to find Chinese idioms is you have to key in the pinyin close together with no spaces in between. For example, key in "yugongyishan" instead of "yu gong yi shan" if you are looking for this idiom. If you key them in separately, you will get separate Chinese characters as results instead of the Chinese Idiom. Next thing to note is you have to select "All results" before you hit the search button. Do not select "idioms". That won't get you the result you want. Take a look at the results for the above search yugongyishan. You get to listen to the pronounciation. You get detailed English and Chinese explanations. You get a word decomposition meaning each character is taken out and explained. Sometimes you get example sentences as well. Fantastic! Very comprehensive. You can get the Nciku dictionary on your iPhone and Androids too for $7.99 but I have not tried it so I can't say how good it is compared to the website.

4. Here's another online Chinese Idioms Dictionary, this one is from ChineseSavvy. Like the Nciku dictionary, it supports handwriting input which means that you can hand write in your search using your mouse. Have a look at my search results for "shan ming shui xiu". Besides the Chinese and English explanations for the Chinese Idioms, I am rewarded with a pictorial interpretation of the idiom! Nice but not always available for the Chinese Idioms descriptions.

5. I also like the English to Chinese Online Dictionary from MDBG. Have a look at my search results for the Chinese Idiom "yishandaohai" I like it that each of the Chinese Character that make up the idiom are explained  in detail. Once you get the search results, click on the idiom to get the meaning of each character that make up the idiom. Try it, click on my search results and see what you get. This is useful as most Chinese Idioms mean literally what they say. By looking at each of the Chinese Characters that make up the idiom, you would sometimes have an instant understanding of what they mean. Note: Like the Nciku dictionary, type in your pinyin close together not separated when searching.

Lastly, just for fun, your child may enjoy some Chinese Idiom Stories like the Frog in the Well etc. You can get a lot of Chinese Idiom Videos and Animations from YouTube. Just go to YouTube and type in "Chinese Idiom Stories". Some of them are in Cantonese if that's what you prefer. However, I particularly like the Chinese Idiom Stories and Poems by Hongen Education Chanel.

Remember to favorite and bookmark this blog post if your child is studying Chinese Idioms in school. You will need to refer to it often!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Mad Bedtime Dash

Quite often we make a mad homework dash because we want the kids to have enough hours of sleep each day. When they don't have enough sleep, they get fretful and irritable and tend to fall sick easily. So in our quest to make sure the kids have enough sleep, we rush them to complete their homework, preferably before dinner time which is at 7pm.

After dinner, it's getting ready for bedtime, and that means washing up, brushing teeth, changing into pyjamas, then light reading for about 15 minutes before lights off at 8.30pm. That is our ideal situation or the situation in which we hope to have. In order to achieve that, we make our mad homework dash.

Sometimes the mad homework dash continues after dinner and homework gets completed at 9pm, that's when the bedtime dash gets crazier and lights get turned off immediately after teeth brushing and changing into night clothes. No winding down.

The kids are usually asleep by 9pm, the very latest is 10pm but usually 9pm or even before that at times. They get up at 5.45am or 6pm the latest. 9pm to 6pm is 9 hours of sleep each night. They no longer have afternoon naps.

How many hours of sleep do children need? Well according to this article on Child Sleep - Recommended hours for every age , my children who are in the age bracket between 7 to 12 years old, should be getting about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each day. They are only having 9 hours each day and we are unable to make it possible for them to have more hours than that each day. I know if we can find the time for them, they will easily be able to sleep another 1 hour or two but we can't, we just can't with their workload.....

We try to catch up during the weekend by allowing them to get up later. They usually get up at 8 or 9pm during the weekends but they would have to go to bed at the same time in order to get more sleep. However there is this tendency to allow them to stay up later as well so in the end, the still only get about 9 hours of sleep during the weekends.

Changing the bedtimes from 10-11pm till 8-9am during the weekends is a bad practice but we still do it. I wonder how do other parents manage in the area of sleep. Care to share?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mad Homework Dash

It would seem that all my kids do during the weekdays is eat, sleep and do homework. No, it's probably more like do homework, eat while doing homework and get whatever sleep they can get after the homework is done.

As soon as they get home from school, they make a mad dash to eat lunch. Sadly, conversation is not encouraged during lunch as it takes away the precious time required to complete the day's homework. Then they make a mad dash to have a bath. Sadly, singing in the bathroom and having fun playing with soap bubbles is not encouraged either as it takes away the precious time required to complete the day's homework. Blah blah blah.

Then the homework starts. If you are in the 'smart' class which isn't very smart at all since it means more homework, the kids will be burdened with extra pages of homework from additional workbooks. The std 4 girl has to copy essays to improve on and master her Chinese Character writing. Once, I gave her 25 minutes to copy an essay as I saw she still had a lot of other work to complete. She took 2 hours! I was so exasperated, I said this won't do. You are taking too long, you will need to work faster!

So, I took the essay and copied it myself. I took an hour! The girl took 2 because she wanted to understand what she was copying and not copy blindly. That's a good practice but I say, sorry, you don't have time for that. Just copy!

Then she has to copy out maths questions from her workbook. She is not allowed to write on the workbook since it is the free workbook from school which will be passed on to another child next year. So she meticulously copies each question and tries to do the hard sums in hard pressed moments with mum shouting to her to hurry up! Each sum must be copied and written in the perfect manner too. If told to leave a line between sums and have a line drawn in between and this is not done, she fears she has to erase and redo everything. So she rubs and writes, rubs and writes to make everything perfect. Doubling the time required.

Next, she has to copy out some Chinese questions and tackles those. Mum, I don't know how to do this one, can you help? she asks. I look at the question. It says, look at the given lines of phrases, A, B, C, and D. For each one, there are 3 phrases given. Find out which line does not contain a wrong 2 worded phrase. That's easy. B is the answer. No, its not so simple mum, the other lines have mistakes in them. We have to find out what are the mistakes and write down the correct phrase for those. Oh....... That's very detailed and time consuming....

Its tea time now, sorry kids, you'll have to eat as you do your work. There isn't time! And so the mad dash continues.... Another 4 pages of English homework.... Write 2 pages of Chinese Characters... 2 pages of Bahasa Malaysia... What?! You still have to do 5 pages of Chinese&BM&Science&English work from that Magazine? Hurry up then!

2 more homework... Mum, I have to study for Ejaan and Ting Seah tomorrow and I haven't finished my art. Faster! It's dinner time! and you haven't packed your bags. It's dinner time. Stop! Stop this moment. Go and wash your hands and eat. Leave everything as it is, we'll have to continue after dinner. Eat as fast as you can. No talking.

After dinner. Hurry up its so late now, its almost bedtime. You need sleep. Come on. Pack your bag quickly. Forget about that homework. It's not important! Just answer that. But mum! I can't copy..... Just answer it! You'll have to do what you can. You need sleep! The dash heats up now. Work that has not been completed gets done in a hurry, all learning efforts are thrown out the window and mum and children dashes to complete the homework. Homework is now done for the sake of completing them or else.....the kids face the wrath of the teachers the next day and get twice the homework! If you carry anything forward, it will just accumulate and snowball.

We make a final dash, then dash to the bathroom to brush teeth, wash up and change and its lights off! No time for a book or chat. It's straight from the study table to bed. No time for a warm drink, no time to relax and wind down. It's so sad. It's mad. I'm mad!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nilai Murni for Bahasa Malaysia paper UPSR format

My girl is in Std 4 studying in SJKC. She will be sitting for her UPSR in Std 6. In school, they start to prepare them for the UPSR format of answering questions starting from Std 3. Perhaps that is why some parents say after the honeymoon years of Std 1 and Std 2, there is a big jump in difficulty in the lessons.

Anyway, this post focuses on the Bahasa Malaysia Paper or more specifically Part C of the Bahasa Malaysia Penulisan, Writing Paper or Paper 2 for BM which is the Nilai Murni or Pendidikan Moral part. The Penulisan Paper is divided into 3 Parts, Parts A, B and C. Briefly, Part A has 10 marks. The student must build 5 sentences (Bina Ayat) from one picture or a series of pictures. Estimated time to answer this part is 15 minutes.

Part B is the Essay Writing or Karangan part which is given 30 marks in total. The student must write an essay of not less than 60 words and is given 3 Essay choices to choose from. Estimated time 40 minutes.

Finally, Part C which is the focus of this post is 20 marks. Students must write out in not more than 40 words, usually 4 (or more) Nilai Murni or Moral Values based on a given excerpt or Petikan. Estimated time 20 minutes.

Here is a good book for Practise on Nilai Murni writing. The publisher is Hup Lick Publishing (M) Sdn Bhd. This one that I have is for Standard 3. The title is Latihan Penulisan Pengenalan Bahagian C Kertas 2 Tahun 3. For Tahun 4,5 and 6, the word Pengenalan is removed. It is a good step-by-step guide towards understanding how to answer this part of the UPSR Paper 2 Part C.

Nilai Murni References:

1. Senarai Nilai Murni - This one lists the Nilai Murni bilingually in Malay and Chinese. A pity one can't download or print it unless you subscribe, pay, or upload something in return. You can view it online however. 
2. UPSR BM (Bahagian C) Nilai-Nilai Murni - This is a printable list. To print, just press the download button, save it onto your PC, then print it out. It is however fully in Malay only
3. There are references in Malay or Malay/Chinese but I have trouble finding a Malay/English reference. Since there are no lists bilingually in Malay and English, I created my own Nilai Murni List in Malay/English. Here it is. 

Nilai-Nilai Murni (Moral Values) for Bahagian C Penulisan Paper
  1. Menghargai Masa - Treasure or Value Time
  2. Rajin - Hardworking
  3. Menjaga Kesihatan - Take care of health/Health Conscious
  4. Menghormati ibu bapa - Respect parents
  5. Menjaga keselamatan - Take care of safety/Safety Conscious
  6. Menolong - Helpful
  7. Cepat Bertindak - Quick Thinking
  8. Bekerjasama - Co-operative
  9. Bersyukur - Gratitude
  10. Menghargai pertolongan - Thankful for Help
  11. Menepati Masa - Punctual
  12. Menjaga Kebersihan - Hygiene and Cleanliness
  13. Semangat cintakan negara/patriotisme - Patriotic
  14. Memberi tumpuan - Focussed
  15. Berhati-hati - Careful
  16. Memberikan penghargaan - To honour and respect
  17. Melakukan aktiviti and berfaedah - spend time doing useful activities
  18. Mematuhi peraturan/arahan - Obey rules and regulations
  19. Menjaga Kesihatan Diri - Personal Hygiene
  20. Menjaga Kebersihan Persekitaran - Care about the environment
  21. Menepati Janji - Keep one's promise
  22. Bersabar - Patience
  23. Berdikari - Independant
  24. Berhemah Tinggi - Good Manners
  25. Rajin Belajar - Hardworking in studies
  26. Mengenang Jasa - To remember what others have done for us
  27. Bertanggungjawab - Responsible
  28. Berusaha - Endevour to work hard
  29. Membalas Jasa - To repay what others have done for us
  30. Tekun - Diligent
  31. Rajin Membantu Ibu - Helpful towards mother
  32. Berkongsi - Sharing
  33. Menghargai pemberian - Value Gifts
  34. Baik Hati - Kind
  35. Berani - Brave or Courageous
  36. Ikhlas - Sincere
  37. Saksama - Reasonable
  38. Bergotong-royong - Co-operative and work together
  39. Bercita-cita tinggi - Ambitious
  40. Berdisiplin - Disciplined
  41. Bersemangat Tinggi - Keen and Eager, Enthusiastic
  42. Bijak Menggunakan Masa - Spend time wisely
  43. Semangat Bermasyarakat - Community Spirit
  44. Rasional - Rational
  45. Hormat - Respect
  46. Kasih Sayang - Affection
  47. Kejujuran - Honesty
  48. Keadilan - Justice
  49. Keserdehanaan - Moderation
  50. Kebersihan fizikal dan mental - Physical and Mental Health
  51. Bersopan-santun - Polite
  52. Berjimat - Prudent or thrifty
  53. Murah Hati - Generous
  54. Prihatin/Ambil Berat - Concern
  55. Peramah - Friendly

Hope this was useful for other English Speaking Families. My girl came up with part of the list. I'm off to print it out now for her. Feel free to print or share but remember to link back to me to this page. Thanks. Please note that I am just a parent, not an educator so do not rely on this for accuracy. It is just for simple reference to make explaining the Nilai Murni to english speaking children a little easier, that is all. I have tried to use the most basic English and as little words as possible in the English translation for the Nilai Murni to keep things simple. 

Another thing to note is my list also tends to be more simplified for those just learning the Nilai Murni rather than as a reference for those taking the actual UPSR Nilai Murni which may be harder.

Related Posts:
  1. Imbuhan Awalan meN For Primary School
  2. Imbuhan Awalan beR For Primary School
  3. Imbuhan Awalan teR For Primary School

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Paper Doll Creations

Making paper dolls is a fun activity for kids. You can make paper dolls from pieces of recycled paper. With a little creativity, kids can come up with wonderful paper doll creations. Of course it would be great if you  had glitters, colored pens and stickers to add to the fun. I remember buying a box set for making paper dolls  for my kids. They have been playing with it for a few years now.

The set comes with paper doll templates and cutouts, scissors, colored paper, stencils, stickers, markers, glue stick plus instructions everything included. It's a lovely paper doll art set. My kids love this paper doll activity kit. When they are free, we would sit down and make some paper dolls and use them as book marks. These paper dolls are fun to make.

Recently we had some children who came along with their parents to our home for a gathering. So we took out our paper doll creations set and asked them to create something. The children were happy and so were their parents. Let me show you some pictures of the paper doll creation set and the paper dolls created by the children. These are fun to make for a rainy day indoors and they make excellent book marks.

Paper Doll Activity Box
This is our Paper Doll Creation box set

Paper Doll Activity Set
The Paper Dolls box set comes with paper doll cutouts, stickers, stencils and colored paper

Paper Dolls
These are the paper dolls the kids created. They are so adorable.

Here are some other adorable paper doll creation kits for children 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Creating Our Very Own Family Traditions

Dragon Shape Helium Balloon

We do not have many old folks or family traditions carried forward from both sides of my as well as my husband's family. So what do we do? We make our own family traditions. It is easy and fun to create your own family traditions.

We like to create a family culture that the kids can remember when they grow up. "We used to do this when we were young.....". It is very nice to have memories like these so we try our best to give them good memories.

Good memories come from simple things.

For example, one of the things we do during every Chinese New Year is to buy cute shaped helium balloon for the kids on the first day of Chinese New Year. We've been doing this every since they were toddlers. Then we'll let go of the balloon and watch it fly in the sky.  I suppose you could say its our way of saying goodbye to the old year and hello to the New Year.

The kids love this and look forward to this simple routine each year. They'll go "... and after we do this.... we'll go and get our balloons. This year, I want a .... balloon." then they'll have a fine time selecting their balloons. This year being the year of the Dragon, we got a Dragon balloon.

Do you have any unique and special family tradition you can call your own? If not, why not create one?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Where to find Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for kids

Image Credit: Domagron Novelty
Valentine's Day is fast approaching and for crafters this is the perfect time for creating crafts with kids. If you are naturally creative, you can come up with just about any craft you can at any time using everyday household items. However, if you are not that creative like me, you need some ideas. Don't worry there are plenty!

Here is one place where you can go to find Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for kids. It's none other than the Squidoo Monsterboards.

So, what is Squidoo? 
Squidoo is a community website that allows users to create pages (called lenses) for subjects of interest. To me, it is like a cross between a blog and a website. You get all the goodies and beauty of a website with the unique and constantly updated content of a blog.

What is the Squidoo Monsterboards?
It is a leaderboard featuring the best of Squidoo. Some are updated live hourly using an algorithmic. Others are based on ranking or editorially curated, handpicked and static showing the best of the best lenses on Squidoo on a particular subject. It is rather like a summary of the best lenses you can get for a specific topic.

For Valentine's Day I would recommend 4 Squidoo Monsterboards that you must visit.

1. Best of Squidoo - Valentine's Day Love Stories
2. 45 Unique Valentine's Day Gift Ideas
3. 40 Fabulous Valentine's Day Crafts
4. Best of Squidoo - Valentine's Day Treats 2012

40 Fabulous Valentine's Day Crafts is the site to visit for Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for Kids and other Crafters alike. You will get plenty of ideas there for sure, from handmade Valentine's Day gifts to face painting ideas, ornament crafts, decorations, coloring pages, printables, knitting and crochet patterns for Valentine's Day and much more.

Though the monsterboard heading is 40 Fabulous Valentine's Day Crafts, it actually should read 40 Fabulous Valentine's Day Craft lenses for within each of the 40 featured Squidoo lenses, there are many more ideas, totalling much more than 40 craft ideas. The lenses are organized visually. You can view the headings by scrolling over the attractive pictures then head over to whatever Valentine's Day craft lens that interest you.

I am happy to say that two of my lenses are featured in the Valentine's Day Crafts Monsterboard while one lens is listed on the Valentine's Day Gift Ideas monsterboard. :)

If you are planning to make Valentine's Day crafts with kids, do head over to my Valentine's Day Craft Supplies for Kids Lens for some ideas on what you need for your crafts.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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