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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How To Draw Butterflies

Butterfly on flower
I love those How To Draw books. You know the kind that shows you how to draw a picture step by step. That is because I am not really very good at drawing. However, the How To Draw type of books gives me an idea to work with. I can follow the step-by-step instructions, then add a little dash of something here and a little bit of something there and voila I have a pretty picture.

So, I am very pleased to do a review of this How To Draw Butterflies book by Amit Offir. At just $2.99 for an ebook you can learn How To Draw Butterflies in various positions. Can you spot the one I drew? I added my own flower based on some other drawing I found in the book.

The book gives you step-by-step instructions on How To Draw butterflies, some in flight, some perching on a flower. It also shows you a color sample of the picture so you have an idea how to color it. This is great for kids or even adults who like to draw like me. Parents and teachers will also find it useful for teaching kids how to draw in a fun and easy way. Kids can learn to draw in a very short time and you will learn how simple changes can make different drawings just like I did.

My girl loves the How To Draw Butterflies book too. She is studying hard for her tests right now, so I decided to surprise her with this ebook. My son will probably like the How To Draw weapons one that is available by the same author. Besides butterflies and weapons, you can also find How To Draw titles for Fashion World, Dinosaurs, Musical Instruments, Fantasy World, Space, The Farm, Wild Animals, Birds, Garden, Food and a whole lot of other interesting titles. They are also available in a package.

Why not give one a try. There is a free title available called How To Draw Cool Stuff. You can download it for free here. If you like it, you can try it before buying some other title that your child likes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Encouraging Creative Thinking In Kids

Each night before we go to sleep, we will have a little game.

We call the game "3 sentences". Each person will make 3 sentences. The first person will make 3 sentences to start the story, then the next person will make 3 sentences to continue it until it is time for bed in which mummy will make the last 3 sentences and end with "and now it is time to go to bed. The End."

Sometimes the story we make up is about us and current events that affect us. Sometimes it is about something that we read. Sometimes it is about something totally fictional and nonsensical. Whatever it is, it always ends in fits of laughter.

Bed time is always a fun time. Previously, I always stressed over how little sleep the children are getting and how they should go to sleep as soon as possible so when I turn off the lights I always just tell them to "shut up, no talking".

Now, I find that chatting or playing our 3 sentences game is the best time and it doesn't take more than just 10 minutes. So why stress over 10 minutes? The children go to bed much happier and easily after that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Hari Raya Crafts For Kids

Today is the beginning of the fasting month. Hari Raya will soon be upon us. Time to get the kids crafting to get them in the mood for Hari Raya. For non-muslims, teaching kids to make Hari Raya Crafts is the best way to teach them about other cultures.

Here are a few homemade Hari Raya Crafts kids can make at home.

1. Homemade Hari Raya Card For Kids

Homemade Ramadan Card

With some cut-outs, a little sequins and lots of imagination, kids can make this homemade Hari Raya card to give to friends, teachers and relatives. You can find the instructions for this card on Kiddyhouse.com Ramadan Crafts section, along with some other card ideas and designs or you can create your own design.

2. Toilet Paper Roll Oil Lamp

Toilet Paper Roll Oil Lamp

I love this cute little toilet paper oil lamp Hari Raya Craft for kids. Older kids can make this Ramadan Craft on their own while the little ones can get some supervision from mum. Check out the easy step-by-step picture instructions posted by blogger and crafter from Crafty Crafted.com

3. Weave Your Own Hari Raya Ketupat From Ribbons

You can also get your child to weave their own Hari Raya Ketupat from ribbons. Check out this awesome video by sshahidah. She has made the weaving process look so simple. Amazing how to video you simply must watch and try with your kids. 

In addition, you can Make Your Own Batu Seremban so that everyone can have a good game of Five Stone during the Hari Raya holidays. 

Selamat Berpuasa to all my muslim friends.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Planting Activity For Kids - Planting Flowers Part 2

I finally found out what is the name of the pink flowers we planted in our Planting Activity For Kids - Planting Flowers Part 1

We were delighted to watch this flower grow from one to a bunch earlier.

Over the next few days, we saw a new bunch. To our delight, it was a different colour, white this time.

Next, we got a darker shade of pink flowers

Then we had several shades of pink

We were so delighted, we ran out and bought more seeds. We found out the flowers are called PHLOX. We hope to see purple and red flowers in our bunch.

We bought several other seedlings to try out too.

Here is our next planting flowers from seedlings project. Our Sunflower seeds have sprouted! Can't wait to meet our English Daisies and Petunia too.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

ABRSM Practical Piano Exam Tips

I was more nervous than my kids on the way to the exam venue because I was worried we would be late and I was worried they would have last minute jitters

Yesterday, my children sat for the ABRSM Practical Piano Exam. They boy sat for his Grade 3 while his sister sat for Grade 5 exam. The boy had nervous coughs while waiting for his turn but skipped all the way down the corridor when it was over. The girl also had nervous tensions while waiting and had to go to the bathroom just before her turn. She then washed her hands which was cold with the cold water. I had to help her massage them to warm them up again.

Before the exam, I asked my facebook group: Malaysia Primary School Parents for tips.

The parents in the group were generous in sharing some of the following tips:

  • Relax, greet and smile cheerfully to the examiner
  • Observe the dress code
  • When the examiner asks whether you would like to start with scales or exam pieces 1st, start with scales so you can have a better feel of the piano. Then, adjust accordingly (play softer or harder) for the exam pieces. (I like this tip. It gives the kids a chance to warm up first so they can play their pieces better)
This is the ABRSM exam dress code which was given to us

In addition to the above valuable tips, I also did the following:
  • Let the children practise with their shoes on because they would be playing with their shoes at the exam centre
  • Let the children watch the following ABRSM mock exam video so they can visualise themselves doing the exam
  • We also did  mock exams ourselves and role played at home with me acting as the examiner (they thought I was a lousy examiner because I didn't even know when they played badly)

Finally, you can read the ABRSM exam support, guide and advice from the ABRSM website starting with this article: On The Exam Day or print out the Mini Exam Guide from the ABRSM US Site. (Note: Scroll right to the bottom of that website to find the exam guide in pdf format).

You should also note that the total marks for the ABRSM exams are 150 and not 100 like in regular examinations 100 marks to pass, 120 marks for a merit and 130 marks for a distinction.

Last but not least, I don't pressure my kids to practise. I teach them to prioritize instead. When they have school tests, we go easy on the piano and we practise harder when piano exams are round the corner. Otherwise, they may feel too much pressure and begin to feel that learning music is a burden rather than a pleasure. 

When they play, we sometimes sing along or dance along when they other plays and I tell them "How wonderful it is to be able to make music. How beautiful it is to be able to play music that people want to sing and dance to."

Practising Piano

Monday, July 01, 2013

Tips For Answering UPSR Bahasa Malaysia Paper 2 Part C Nilai Murni

This year, I saw my girl's Bahasa Malaysia teacher during the Parents Teachers Conference. The reason I went to see  him was because I was confused about the instructions for the UPSR Bahasa Malaysia Paper 2 Part C Nilai Murni questions. The questions always states "answer in NOT MORE THAN 40 words" (tidak lebih daripada 40 perkataan), it does not say "answer in ESTIMATED 40 words" (beri jawapan dalam lebih kurang 40 perkataan). However, most sample answers in reference books and even her BM teacher himself gives answers that exceeds the 40 words, sometimes the answers are up to 60 words. So I wanted to clarify this.

I did not immediately ask this question when I saw him letting him lead the discussion instead.

The first thing he said to me was "you must improve her tatabahasa (grammar) and start preparing her for UPSR next year. Don't think that you have a lot of time next year. Although UPSR is in September, you don't have 9 months next year to prepare. Actually, you only have 4-5 months because the beginning of the year is a honeymoon period for most kids. If you add curriculum hours and holidays, you end up with only 4-5 months."

His advice was to "know exactly how many questions will come out for each aspect of the tatabahasa" for example how many adjective questions, how many "kata kerja" questions, how many "penjodoh bilangan" questions etc. Then work on her weak areas. He told me that next year the kids will mostly be taught how to answer exam papers.

Finally, I got to ask my question and his answer was "just ignore the NOT MORE THAN 40 words" instructions. Even if marks were to be cancelled, it will be 1 mark at the most but this has never been done before." What is more important is your child must have the following 3 things when she answers her questions:
  1. Nilai
  2. Huraian 
  3. Penanda Wacana
I asked him what "Huraian" was and he said it means "example" ...."seperti so and so yang........" whereas penanda wacana were words like "selain itu, di samping itu, akhirnya" etc. He said that if those 3 things are absent, perhaps around 2 marks each may be taken off. He said some kids tried to keep their words within 40 words by cancelling off some words and at the end causing the 3 items to be incomplete and more marks being taken off because of it maybe  up to 5 marks even. So he said it was better to keep your answers complete and not worry about the possible minus 1 mark for exceeding 40 words which he reminded me has never happened before.

I didn't have time to chat with him anymore after this because my girl was very restless and eager to go and meet her class teacher but I think his tips are valuable, interesting and something I never taught of. I am glad I went to see him. I have never seen any of the other teachers other than their class teachers before this.

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