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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kids Activity - Planting Broccoli From Seeds

One of the easiest Science Experiment to do with kids is to plant a vegetable or flower from seeds. That is real life science. Kids can water and watch the plant grow. A real life 'experiment' like that teaches young children about how plants grow much better than any interactive game, educational app, TV program or computer software can ever teach.

Practical and day to day Science for Kids projects like planting seeds are simple and not time consuming at all.

So, when my kids picked up some seeds at the hardware shop, I couldn't say "No" when they said "We want to plant broccoli, mum." We bought them the broccoli seeds and allowed them to plant them into their own pots and this is what we got.

Now, will the real broccoli please stand up? We had two different types of plants growing from our broccoli seeds and I don't know which is the broccoli. Does anyone know?

I searched google images and saw that most of the broccoli plants look like this

So, what is this mystery plant? Can you tell?

Other Fun Things To Do With Kids
Home Science Experiment - Germinating Bean Seeds
Home Science Experiment - Growing Plants From Stem Cuttings

Friday, June 22, 2012

Surviving Chinese School Without Tuition

My daughter is in Primary 4 in a Chinese School. Recently, she told me that her teacher had singled out the Chinese Essay she had written during her mid term exams as the best in the class. She was very excited to tell me about it.

"Mom, teacher even remembered how many marks I received when she was telling the class and she knew exactly what I wrote, mom!"

The teacher had informed everyone that she comes from a home where her parents do not understand nor speak Chinese. Teacher said 

"If she can do it, you all can too!"

I'm really happy for her. It is mostly her own effort. We do not send her for any tuition. When she was in Primary 1, we did get one of her kindergarten teacher to come in to converse to her in Mandarin. This was to ease her transition to school so that she would understand what the teacher was talking about. We instructed the teacher NOT to give any written homework. The 'tuition' was on conversational Chinese and a little bit of reading because we did not want to burden her. The teacher would sometimes give her 'assignments' like "go and make two new friends today and find out their names for me for the next lesson. Then they would talk about what happened in school ... in Mandarin. No English is to be used during the class accept a little for explanation if my girl did not understand. However, the teacher was not punctual and always cancelling classes so eventually we stopped after half a year.

We decided to let my girl go for the school tuition in Std 3. She would stay back in school for 2 hours once a week. However, we found that it only added to her homework burden with an extra workbook and additional hours spent in school. There was no value added, only time wasted so we stopped that after half a year too. 

I must say that deciding to stop was very hard. Always on my mind was, what if. What if I made a mistake. What if she needed extra help and there is no one to give it to her. What if? 

We went ahead and stopped the tuition classes and I am glad we did. She is still burdened with lots of homework but we saved 2 hours a week. 

I started learning Chinese along with my kids when they started kindergarten. I was able to guide them along by studying along with them using an electronic dictionary. However, I am able to do this up to Std 2 and a little Std 3 Level. The Std 4 Level is beyond me now. So many difficult words, phrases and idioms to learn. So my girl has to rely on herself now.

During Parents Teacher's Day last year, her teacher advised us to let her copy a lot of essays. "It's okay if she does not understand the words yet, let her copy as many as she can to learn. Get her essay books to read." The teacher has been doing this as well. My girl has to go to school early twice a week to write 2 essays. She said she used idioms and tried to incorporate everything teacher thought into her 'winning' essay. I'm really proud of her. She did it on her own without help from us. Every time she comes to me for help, I have to say "I'm sorry, this is too hard for me." It is really tough not being able to help your child because of the language barrier. I try my best to help her using my trusted electronic dictionary. Sometimes I am able to but most of the time she has to do it herself. 

I hate this idea of rote learning, of copying essays but perhaps her teacher is right and this is the way to learn Chinese? First familiarize yourself with the terms and the way of writing and then later on you will be able to write on your own. Anyone has any thoughts on this, feel free to share. By sharing, we learn from each other. 

No Flowers For This Honey

My birthday's just come and gone. I had won a room stay and a free spa and had envisioned going there to be pampered for a day. The plan in my mind was to go pick up the kids from school, then drive straight to the hotel to surprise them. We would then have a swim in the pool and then have complimentary cocktails since the room I won was an Executive Club Room. The next day, we would go cycling and relax before returning home.

However, the man was too busy, the kids had too much to do and in the end, I had to buy my own cake and wrap my own 'present' which happened to be a souvenir we had bought from our visit to an aquarium during the school holidays. Nothing for this honey, not even flowers from a quebec florist. I wanted a tablet computer to go with those flowers but the man said, "Not this year." I wonder why he even bothered to ask "What would you like to have for your birthday?" when he didn't plan to get anything! Last year, I wanted the same thing and the reply was the same. The year before that I wanted a WII Fit but I'm still waiting. However, he did get me a piano one year and another year, the kids persuaded him to get flowers.

Oh, well, a girl can still dream can't she? Maybe, next birthday....I'll get my flowers and my massage and my tablet computer delivered into my Executive Club Room. However, my free hotel voucher would have expired by then. I wonder if I will ever get to use it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kids Educational Sites, Books, Crafts and More

I have written so much on this subject, today I decided to put the links to most of them on one page, to make it easier to navigate. So here it is... the links to my posts on blogger and squidoo on kids educational sites, kids books, kids crafts, parenting kids, what to do with kids, kids exercise and much more.

I will start with the Children's lenses I wrote on Squidoo as these are a fantastic resource for kids. You can now easily click on any of these links to go straight into the Kids Educational Sites, Books, Crafts and More.

You can also visit the Kids Crafts Category on this blog for more Kids Craft Ideas.

Share this with your friends if you find it useful.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Know You're Spending Too Much Time Online When..

It was a hot day yesterday. I felt very much like having a root beer float. So I told the kids that when we get the chance, we should get a bottle of root beer, then buy our own ice-cream and make a root beer float to drink at home.

Then the little one asked whether we could make a float with an orange fizzy drink? I told him "Sure, why not?" to which he replied....

"Then we'll get a few flavors and colors. We'll try a milk one too. Then we put them on the table and take pictures and then we show it to everyone and get money.

lolol. My dear son, I wish it WAS that easy to get money. I think all bloggers, Squidoo, Wizzley, Hubpages, Webnuggetz and other online writers or perhaps just someone who likes to facebook a lot, will be able to identify with this. ;)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

No. 1 Dad Trophy

No. 1 Dad Trophy
No. 1 Dad Trophy

Father's Day is a week away. Father's Day falls on the 3rd Sunday of June. This means that this year 2012, Father's Day will fall on 17th June, 2012. That is usually around my birthday so I sometimes get to celebrate in a big way with all the members of my family who are Fathers. This year for Father's Day, the kids and I designed a No 1 Dad Trophy, Happy Father's Day Card or design for our CafePress Shop.

It is really nice to have the kids home for the holidays and to be able to do creative things together with the kids. Apart from this #1 Dad trophy design, we also printed out printable Father's Day Greeting Cards and Father's Day Bookmarks to make for dad. I encouraged the kids to write poems in their card for dad. I wonder what they wrote.

Designing Cards help them to be creative while writing poems on the cards help them learn the English language in an interesting and fun manner. In school, all they learn is Chinese. Their English is so neglected. Well, that is the down side of sending the kids to a Chinese School. As a parent, I have to make sure that I balance it up by teaching them English myself. It is not easy with what little time we have after school. School holidays is the best time to learn by doing fun projects like this No 1 Dad Trophy design for cards, mugs, T-shirts, buttons and more.

Kids can design too. The kids were so thrilled to see their design on mugs, hats, calendars, notebooks, T-shirts and more.
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Mug
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Mug

Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Trophy Button
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Trophy Button
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Trophy Button
(Great for Father's Day parties, one for each dad attending)
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Trophy Trucker Hat
Happy Father's Day No 1 Dad Trophy Trucker Hat


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Teaching Kids To Draw Using Microsoft Paint

We don't have any fantastic drawing programs at home so we have to rely on good old Microsoft Paint. I can't draw on paper, so what more on PC using MS Paint? So how do I teach the kids to draw using microsoft paint? Nevermind, the internet is always full of resources. Today, I want to share with you a wonderful resource I found.

Here it is. How To Draw Cartoons in Microsoft Paint. I love it! This is a series of videos teaching you how to draw cartoons in microsoft paint. It is extremely easy to follow. You will be taken through the steps to draw and color a picture using MS Paint. The steps are shown in the form of video instructions on how to draw in Ms Paint. At the end, the presenter even shows you how to animate your pictures. All this using good old Microsoft Paint.

So you see, you don't need any fancy tools to teach kids how to draw using Microsoft Paint. Just show them the instruction videos, then let them experiment themselves. This is what my boy came up with, after watching the video.

Cartoon boy drawn using Microsoft Paint. According to his sister who is always ready to point out his mistakes, he forgot to draw in the body. 

Cartoon Car with special weapons. My boy drew and colored this picture himself after experimenting with the first by following the instruction videos on how to draw cartoons in microsoft paint. He took just 10 minutes to complete this masterpiece.

The video using this picture tool to animate the picture by saving, drawing and  uploading the files frame by frame. Really nice picture tool, so I'm going to add the link here for our reference. - iaza - free online image conversion tool.

The kids don't get to play around and experiment with the pc during school days, so we do some of these things during the school holidays. :)

How To Make Learning Fun

My boy is studying for his ABRSM Music Theory Grade 2 exams. He hates it. In fact, he hates studying and memorizing and doing any "hard" work. However, he loves cowboys and robots and drawing funny figures with all sorts and manners of special and powerful weapons that can be loaded up in an instant to win over the enemy, the result of playing too many computer games.

So, I thought about it all night. How do I turn studying scales and the relationship between major and minor scales fun?

How Do I Make This Fun? How Do I Make Studying Fun?

So, I told him a story. I told him that C major was the Captain (C stands for Captain), so he didn't need to have any special key signature. A captain gives orders so he does not need any special guns or knives. Captain C has a nephew called A minor. Since they are relatives, A does not need to have any special "weapons" as well but since he is still small (a minor), he needs to keep a small knife in his 7th pocket to keep as protection.

We also talked about the other "families", F major/D minor and G major/E minor making  up all sorts of stories as we went along while relating them to the scales and the key signatures for the major or minor scales. The Father called F Major and his son named "D' has Big flat noses. So they both have the same key signature Bb while the Girl called G wants to cut up the Egg called E with a sharp knife called F, they both have the same key signature which is F sharp. My boy played a big part in coming up with the stories himself. We also came up with a silly song about the families and sang them together.

Then we talked about the sharp family and the flat family. We decided that the sharp family carried sharp knives as weapons against bad people while the flat family carries guns that shoots out flat bullets. Finally, I asked him to draw out the families. 

What fun. I had fun teaching. He had fun learning and I am sure he will remember his music scales now. Here are some of this drawings.

Captain C major

His nephew A minor

 The Sharp and Flat family

Eb major and his three guns that shoot out flat bullets. He doesn't have enough hands, so one gun is attached to his hat! lol.

 Bb major and his two guns

A major and his 'sharp' knives

How to make learning fun? It is not hard at all. You just have to know your child well. Understand his likes and dislikes and his style of learning. For a young child you can incorporate stories and songs to make learning fun. This is just an example of how to make learning fun. You can use this method for "boring" subjects that require a lot of plain reading and memorizing. At the moment both kids are memorizing their Italian terms. Soon, we will be speaking Italian at home as we incorporate those terms into our daily language to help them remember. :) 

Learning can be fun. I just wish that I have more time to teach the children in this manner. It is never possible during school days, not with their heavy homework load. :(

Monday, June 04, 2012

Where To Find Glass Bottles And Other Containers

If you are the type of person who loves to recycle and use your own bottles, jars and containers to store your own products, here is one good place to find bulk glass bottles. If you don't think you need bulk glass bottles in bulk, think again. Think of how many bottles you actually use for your craft projects for example.

You don't have to be a business to buy bulk glass bottles. You may be a hobbyist or crafter. Getting bottles in various sizes, shapes and colors with seals may be hard to find. Well, now you know where to find them. Glass bottles in various shapes and sizes are available. You can use them for your crafts or  hobbies or even use them to store your home cleaning agents as your way to recycle. You can buy cleaning agents in bulk and store them in your own bottles. You can even buy decorative glass bottles and add your own details for decoration in various parts of your home.

You can find perfume bottles and bottles accessories like bottle corks, droppers, funnels, pumps and atomizers. If you run a small business, these bottles and accessories are perfect for you because tamper evident seals are available too. So if you don't know where to go to buy bottles, now you do.

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