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Thursday, December 04, 2014

How To Attempt The ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory On Composition

Music Notes
Music Notes
My kids are struggling with composition for their ABRSM Grade 5 music theory. I found these two wonderful videos to help them with it.

The first video below on composition for Grade 5 is by Music Matters Grade 5 Theory on Composing a Melody. It is presented by ABRSM Examiner Gareth Green. He has presented the topic on Composing in a clear and easy to understand manner.

The second video below is on How To Pass Grade 5 Theory on Composition. It is presented by Alison M. Sparrow who has a channel on YouTube called The Online Piano And Violin Tutor. She has included a free printable composition checklist in pdf format. Do watch out for the link in the video. It is very useful as a basic checklist for students attempting composition  or writing a melody questions for the first time.

Finally, from my favorite site for learning Music theory, MyMusicTheory.com, do read up this lesson on Composing a Melody General Tips and Composing a Melody for Instruments.

You should get a very good idea on how to attempt the composition question for ABRSM's Grade 5 Theory On Composition with these references. Good luck to you and to us too.

How To Apply For MyKad Or IC For 12 Year Old In Malaysia

In the blink of an eye my child is 12 years old. Time really flies. My girl turned 12 in May but we didn't have time to apply for her IC then so we left it till now. Anyway, here is the procedure. It is very simple especially if you are the parent accompanying the child.

Go to the nearest JPN (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara) with your child. You will need to bring along original copies of your own IC and the birth certificate of your child. You do not need to photocopy these documents. The original copy is all that is required.

Collect the application form at the counter and fill it up and take a number. Once your number is called, proceed to the counter with your original documents. Digital thumbprints will be taken for both you and your child. The photograph for the IC or MyKad is taken right there and then on the spot at the counter itself.

That's it. You're done. You can collect your IC in 3 working days. The picture below shows the flowchart of the process which I took from the JPN at Jalan Duta.

As for the fee, you will not have to pay any fee if you apply for the IC within 30 days from the date your child turns 12. Otherwise, you will need to pay a processing fee of RM10 and a compound of RM1 for the first year and higher for subsequent years but not much. You have up to age 16 to apply for the IC.

This post is only for parents applying for IC. If you are a guardian, one who is related like a grandparent or sibling, or an unrelated guardian, or if you are living overseas, you may need extra documentation.

Here is the JPN website for Permohonan MyKad Bagi Kanak-Kanak 12 Tahun or the procedure on how to apply for MyKad For 12 Year olds. You can read up the details or any changes from this link.

Flowchart for MyKad Application
Flowchart for MyKad Application

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory - Instruments Of The Orchestra

Musical Instruments

I'm learning Grade 5 music theory together with my kids because next year they will be sitting for the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory. We're studying this chapter on Instruments of the Orchestra from this wonderful site for learning music theory. Every chapter comes with practice questions and answers. It is very useful for self learning.

Here are some other sites which we found useful for learning about Instruments of the Orchestra.

  1. SFSKids Fun With Music On Instruments Of The Orchestra - A marvelous site for teaching kids about the orchestra and instruments of the orchestra. It has many delightful features in its "Music Lab" for learning all about tempo, rhythm, pitch, harmony and more. Kids can view the instruments up close and turn it this way or that, listen to the sound it makes and read up about it. Very nice and fun for kids to learn about instruments of the orchestra.
  2. Philharmonia Orchestra on Instruments -  This is not just useful for kids. Adults may find it useful too. All the instruments of the orchestra are laid out in an easy to view page. Clicking on each one takes you to a video of the instrument at play with more details about it.
  3. Classics For Kids Interactive Chart Of The Instruments Of The Orchestra - It gives a very good basic overview of the instruments. You can click on any part, the strings, woodwind, brass or percussion section and read up about it in general. There are some music games for kids in the "Games" tab.
  4. Arts Alive The Instrument Lab - Here you can virtually listen and handle the instruments of the orchestra here by clicking and turning the instruments around. It runs on QuickTime Player.
  5. Education Portal on Instrument Families Of The Orchestra - Watch the video explaining the instruments of the orchestra here. This helps explains the instrument families with clarity. However, you only get to watch half of the video for free. 
That's it. If you've followed any of this links to play, read and watch, you will definitely understand the topic on Instruments of the Orchestra for Grade 5 Music Theory. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Free Printable January 2015 Calendar For Kids

For those whose school term begins in January 2015, you can print out this free calendar for kids with a back to school theme. It is a good way to get kids back to the groove. It will take some time for the children to get back into the momentum of school days and activity days and this calendar will help them adjust to their school routine again for the new school year.

For Malaysian students studying in National schools and Vernacular schools or private schools following the National syllabus, school starts on 4th January 2015 for schools in Kedah, Kelantan, Johor and Terengganu. Other states start their school year on 5th January 2015.

Download link for January 2015 Calendar For Kids
January 2015 Calendar For Kids
January 2015 Calendar For Kids
Other Useful Links/Printables:

1. Malaysian School Holidays 2015
2. Printable 2015 Calendar For Kids (Full Year)
3. 2015 Calendar With Malaysia School Holidays
4. Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children
5. December 2014 Calendar For Kids
6. Free Printable Reward Chart For Kids

Indoor Physical Activity Ideas For Kids - Eight Fun Ideas To Get Kids Moving Indoors

“It's raining. I don't know what physical exercises we can do indoors. My house is too small."

Indoor Physical Activity Ideas For Kids - Eight Fun Ideas To Get Kids Moving Indoors

It's cold and raining outside? You don't think your house has the space for physical activities. Don't worry. These indoor physical activity ideas for kids don't take up space. They only use up creativity.

  1. Make a few bean bags. Then have a bean bag juggling contest or try to run across the room with bean bags on your heads. 
  2. Blow up a few balloons, then play catch the balloons, throw the balloons into hula hoops. The more balloons the better. Try to keep the balloons in the air. Hit the balloons to one another. In no time at all the kids will have worked up a sweat. You don't have to use balloons in parties only. Use them just for fun in an exercise routine. 
  3. Obstacle Course Racing. Create your own obstacle course. Use that old pop-up house or tunnel you have, put chairs and hula hoops in the way. Climb over chairs, go under tables, hop into a hoop, crawl in the tunnel. Then use a timer to see who completes the indoor obstacle course the fastest. 
  4. Aerobics for kids. You don't have to send your kids to expensive and specialised gym or yoga classes for kids. Just do your own kids aerobics at home. Put on some aerobics dance music. Then ask the kids to take turns becoming gym instructor. Then everyone should follow the actions of the gym instructor. My kids love this. They love becoming gym instructor. 
  5. Play catching or hide and seek. This classic old games never fail to get the kids moving and squealing with laughter too. 
  6. Dance. Put on some music and dance! My kids and I often put on an instrumental dvd. Then we try to interpret the music with our own dance. Some of the music requires us to march around the room. Some require us to race around the room or twist or hop. We march in an imaginary band, wiggle like a snake, do the choo choo train. Its really fun. 
  7. Make and fly paper aeroplanes. Flying and picking. Flying and picking. You can really get moving that way too! We would fly planes to each other and try to catch them, then try to see which design flies the best. 
  8. Get a trampoline. This is really fun but you must make sure your house is high enough and the trampoline is safe. You can also use the trampoline outdoors so your jumps are not limited by the ceiling. 
“We don't have time to exercise. My child's routine is too full!"

You Have To Make A Time Commitment To Include Exercise In Your Kids' Lives

Involve them in the planning. Ask them which days they would like to have their "gym sessions" or "exercise classes" then stick to the schedule. My kids look forward to "gym days" which is what we call the time we have set aside for physical activities at home

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Outdoor Physical Activity Ideas For Kids - Twelve Easy and Cheap Ideas to Get Kids Moving

How To Get Kids To Exercise More

Are your kids outside having fun? Or are the older children slumped in front of the computer chatting with their Facebook friends while the younger kids are playing with the latest interactive games or apps on the tablet computer? How to you get kids to move? How do you make sure your kids get the physical activity they need?

Exercise makes us healthy. Adults have been told to exercise at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes each time. It is the same for kids. It is healthy and good for their well being to get up and moving, to work out a sweat, to include physical activities in their routine.

So make it a point to put away all those little tech gadgets you have, the portable dvds, the little smart phones, the handheld gadgets and games and make sure your child have some good and solid physical fun.

The physical activity ideas in this post are suitable for young kids from age 5-10.

Kids Should Be Out Having Fun In The Sun, Not Hunched Over A Tablet Computer 

Outdoor Physical Activity Ideas For Kids - Twelve Easy and Cheap Ideas to Get Kids Moving!

Here are some outdoor physical activity ideas for kids. Most of these ideas to get kids up and moving about is easy and cost next to nothing.

  1. Visit the neighborhood playground. This is the easiest. Seesaws, slides, swings. Kids love them. They will also get fresh air and so will you. 
  2. Get a hula hoop or two and do the hula hoop together with your child. Watch them explode in giggles as you do the hula hula together. Put on some music as you twist together. Kids love it when you exercise with them. 
  3. Play Hopscotch. Get some chalk and draw up your own hopscotch. Be creative and create your own hopscotch. Our hopscotch sometimes include rivers and mountains which we have to hop over! 
  4. Take your child swimming. You can have a fun picnic in the sun. Swim, Walk on the beach, then swim some more. If you don't live near the beach, just go to a pool. Swimming is a good all round physical activity for everyone, the kids and you. 
  5. Organize a family jog-a-thon. Go jogging together as a family. You can race with the kids if you are up to you. Kids love a race. 
  6. Get a ball then use the ball to play football, netball, basketball, throw the ball to each other, away from each other. Kick the ball, run after it, try to get the ball away from your child, then let them win. This often results in laughter and sweat! 
  7. Ride a bike. Teach your child to ride a bike. Let them ride in a dedicated riding area where it is safe. Make sure you get safety gear. Riding a bicycle is so freeing. Everyone should ride more! 
  8. Get a kite. Kite flying requires lots of running to get the kite up, up and away! Kids will find it very exciting to succeed in getting their kite up in the air. 
  9. Get a skipping rope. Then teach your child to skip or do high jump over the rope or move the rope up and down like a snake and try to jump over it without being 'caught' by the snake. Even a simple thing like a skipping rope can be fun if you put a little creativity into it. 
  10. Introduce a racquet game to your children. Tennis, badminton, ping pong are all fun and include physical action. 
  11. Get water guns then have a water gun fight with your kids. 
  12. If it is raining lightly, dress up in wellingtons and boots and armed with a kid's sized umbrella for your kid and a bigger one for you, then go and kick some puddles and feel the rain. 

Myth: Kids Hate To Exercise

"My child hates to exercise!" Many parents say their kids hate physical exercises. This is not true. Have you seen a child running in a field kicking a ball or swinging high on a swing? They look happy and alive. Kids Love Exercise! We, the parents, just have to make it happen!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New School Year Resolutions

In another 3 days, school will be over for 2014. Time flies. Next year will be full of changes for us with one going to secondary school in the afternoon session and another promoted to a higher class in Std 5 which translates to more work and pressure from teachers.

Just as we make resolutions for the new year, I think it is a good idea to make new resolutions for the new school year. So for next year 2015, my new school year resolutions are...

For the girl:

  1. To encourage her to continue to do well in her studies. It makes her feel proud of herself which increases her confidence
  2. To help her foster meaningful friendships. She has been unfortunate to be the subject of bullying and being shun by peers for most of her primary school years from Std 3 to Std 6. This has damaging effects on her self esteem and self worth. She feels sad most of the time, says sorry and hopes everyone will forgive her and be friends with her again even though she did not do anything wrong. Being shun by a few who encourage others to avoid her made her into a loner which then makes her an even easier target for bullying. It pains me to see her affected like that. I will try my best to get her out of this. I don't know why they started to pick on her in the first place but it has an escalating effect with everyone joining in the "fun" of socially excluding her from everything. Despite several attempts by the teacher to stop this, it only stops for a while and then they are back at it again.
  3. Help her improve her English now that she is out of Chinese school and less focused on Chinese subject. 
  4. Teach her to be more well mannered at home.
  5. Encourage her to smile more.
  6. Allow her to develop in other areas eg, her piano etc
For the boy:
  1. Help him improve his Chinese so he can catch up with all his subjects
  2. Remind him not to be sloppy in everything that he does
  3. Teach him to be more mindful and less forgetful
  4. Remind him to eat well and choose nutritious food over junk food
  5. Make sure he stays happy always like he is
I hope our New School Resolutions come true. Will come back in a year to see if there has been improvement in these areas.

These are my New School Resolutions for my children. What are yours? If you haven't made any before, now is a good time to take stock and think about what you would like for them in the coming school year. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

How Do You Make Sure Your School Going Kids Eat Healthy Foods During Recess

It is easy for us to serve our kids wholesome meals at home. We just have to prepare them. However, once they start school, how do we make sure they eat the right kinds of food during recess or meal breaks at school. How do we make sure they even eat at all! I've seen kids eat nothing accept junk food during meal breaks. By junk food, I mean crispy crackers that are full of msg and are of no nutritional value at all. Some of the kids skip the recess altogether to play with their friends. Mine would skip a meal or two because they had to stay in class to do extra work!

Some of these kids that skip meals or eat unhealthily have parents that pack nutritious meals for them. In addition, they may be given pocket money to buy something they like. In my opinion, if you are packing food for your child, there is no need to give them extra money just in case. This encourages bad habit of not finishing the packed food from home. 

Some parents prepare beautiful bento meals. However, not all of us have the time to prepare those sorts of meals. So how do you make sure your school going kids eat healthy foods during recess? Going to school and sitting next to him to make sure he eats is not the answer. Education is. Teach them and repeat yourself often.

Tips On Teaching Your Child About The Importance Of Eating And Choosing Healthy Foods
  1. Talk to your kids about the importance of food and eating
  2. Explain to your children about the different kinds of food and how it helps their growth
  3. Teach them to pick the right kinds of food when buying food or when you eat out together
  4. Practice healthy eating at home
  5. Eat healthily yourself
  6. Allow some snacks from time to time (Don't limit altogether because forbidden food is always sweeter. Your child may be attracted to the snack foods his friends are eating. You can allow it once a week or a small amount but explain that he must not indulge because it is not good for his health)
  7. Ask your child what he/she is eating often and whether he ate at all. If you do not ask, you will not know.
  8. Teach them to enjoy fruits. It is the best snack and and an easy to pack recess food
Here is an excellent video for you to start. Watch this together with your child. It will help you to do steps 1 and 2 above ie explaining to your child why and what we should eat to be healthy. Video Link: Planning For Good Eating.

Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids - Santa, Christmas Tree, Gingerbread men, Ornaments and More

A while ago, I did some free printable December 2014 calendar for kids in Snowmen Design. I promised that I would be doing some more printable December 2014 calendars in other designs so here they are.

You can download and print these pdf file calendars for children to help them look forward to the holidays. December 25, 2014 has been marked on all the calendars with a special sticker.

Initially I did all these calendars for 2015! Don't know what I was thinking. So I had to redo them all for 2014. Never mind, this means you can come back in 2015 to print another design.

December 2014 Calendar (Christmas Tree)
December 2014 Calendar (Christmas Tree)

Download Link For Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids (Christmas Tree Design)

December 2014 Calendar (Santa)
December 2014 Calendar (Santa)
Download Link For Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids (Santa Claus Design)

December 2014 Calendar (Christmas Ornaments)
December 2014 Calendar (Christmas Ornaments)

Download Link For Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids (Christmas Ornaments Design)

December 2014 Calendar (Christmas Stockings)

Download Link For Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids (Christmas Stockings Design)

Go here for the Snowmen Design Calendar For Kids For December 2014

Next: Free Printable January 2015 Calendar For Kids

Pin if you downloaded any of these December 2014 calendars or pin to share to a friend on pinterest. Thank you.

Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids
Free Printable December 2014 Calendar For Kids

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teaching Preteens And Teens About Facebook And Internet Safety

Teaching Preteens And Teens About Facebook And  Internet Safety
Teaching Preteens And Teens About Facebook And  Internet Safety
I am currently facing this challenge right now so I will be blogging about some of these related topics in my coming posts. This one is about teaching preteens and teens about Facebook and Internet Safety.

Firstly, I find this article on Top 10 Tips For Parents - Getting Started On Facebook Monitoring useful so I'm going to bookmark it here. Facebook monitoring is something new to many parents and this article introduces some new ideas to think about.

Next, I also find this site very informative and useful. It is for teaching kids all about netiquette and internet safety. You can watch videos together with your child and print out a related lesson plan. These are for Grade 4, 5 and 6 and include topics like online privacy and cyber bullying. I think it is a good idea to educated your preteen and teens BEFORE you introduce or allow them to use social sharing sites or social media like Facebook.

Finally, here is another video on Safe Web Surfing: Top Tips For Kids And Teens Online that any child just starting to use Facebook should watch. If you're done watching the video, you might want to browse around their other videos. There are some in there that are useful for teens including videos on cyber bullying, puberty, maintaining friendships, how to study for a test, etc. Not all of the videos in there are for teens though. Some are for adults but they are all motivational self help videos.

I think that it is inevitable that our children will use social networking sites eventually. You cannot prevent or forbid it forever so as parents, we MUST learn strategies for us to help teach our kids and teens about Facebook and internet safety. Google Safety Tips For Families is a good place to start your research and reading. It is our duty as parents to teach our kids how to use the internet safely and responsibly. In order to teach your kids, you must first educate yourself.

There is much debate on what age a child should be before they are allowed on social media. I think a general cutoff date should be around 13, the age restriction for Facebook and  YouTube. A young child should be allowed to play and learn in the real world first before they are introduced to the cyber world.

Whatever age you prefer to let your child start to use Facebook, there will eventually come a day when your child will enter the cyber world and you as a parent are responsible for teaching them how to use social sharing sites like Facebook smartly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Free Printable Motivational Quotes Bookmark For Kids

I took a long time to do my free printable cute girl's bookmark. However, this free printable motivational quotes bookmark for kids only took me a little while because everything has been set up and ready.

These kids bookmarks are double sided. You can choose to print either just one side or both. The pages are aligned so you can print them on both sides. You will achieve best results if you laminate them. As before I included a "This Book Belongs To" on the bookmark.

You can also get your child to write in with pencil the date he or she first started on a particular book so they can see how long they take to finish a book. Use pencil so you can erase and use it again for another book. You won't need to fill in this part if your child finishes their books in one reading in a day or two like mine.

The quotes on the bookmarks are about making friends, trying your best, being happy and being kind. Quotes are in front with a continuation of the saying at the back of the bookmark.

Here is the download link for my free printable motivational quotes and sayings bookmarks for kids.
Free Printable Motivational Quotes Bookmark For Kids
Free Printable Motivational Quotes Bookmark For Kids

Free Printable Motivational Quotes Bookmark For Kids (Back)
Free Printable Motivational Quotes Bookmark For Kids (Back)

Public Schools Vs Private Schools In Malaysia

Public Vs Private Schools In Malaysia
Public Vs Private Schools In Malaysia
We have been school shopping again. This time it is to choose a secondary school for our children. As usual, we are rather late. My daughter has completed her UPSR and is waiting for her results. By now most parents have already made the decision on which school to send their kids. Some of them have even started schooling in the September intake for International Schools. Yet, here we are still pondering. Why? The reason why we cannot make up our minds is because it is hard. It is so hard to decide.

I have visited public schools and spoken to teachers and heads of schools and attended private education fairs. My thoughts are everywhere so I guess I won't try to group them. I will just put them all in point form below as they come. This post is not meant to be an informational post. It is just my own random thoughts.

  • Public schools are in a sad state but not all, there are still some which are good and like those I used to attend and brought back good memories. However some have window panes that are almost entirely gone and not replaced. Some had brand new facilities that have been vandalised. Sigh.
  • It makes my heart feel heavy to see the nice facilities in the private schools compared to the school with the broken window pane (that's what I shall call it) knowing I will be sending my child to the latter
  • I do not see our children divided in vernacular and national schools but I now clearly see them being divided by what they can afford and what they can't (broken window pane vs school with swimming pool and spanking new chairs and tables) Vernacular schools do not divide children but they have been made use of by both sides to further their own arguments. What do children know about racism? They only know how to play happily with each other.
  • In Chinese Independent schools kids have to sit for two exams simultaneously. Rather heavy.. (Updated. This is a comment I received from a reader which I think is good to know.  "By the way since UEC is one year after SPM, i would think SPM as a pre-exam for UEC thus student are given chance to do a revision before UEC so that they only need to focus more on the last year's modules. Besides, UEC is equivalent to A-Level & STPM and therefore it shorten half year study as compared to STPM."
  • Another reader reminded me that few CIS in Penang are currently offering IGCSE + UEC curriculum instead of IGCSE + SPM curriculum. Perhaps the CIS in Klang Valley will do so too soon.
  • A public school teacher told me, we try our best but whether you get a good teacher or not depends on your luck. Our teachers are still young. They are learning. You have to take outside tuition. Sometimes I wonder why school is not enough? 
  • Private schools have now been broken up to Private National Schools offering local syllabus or Private International Schools offering international syllabus. At the moment although the private national school prepares kids for SPM by conducting Math and Science in English. They only have two more years in which they can do so. I'm told by that they see more and more parents opting for the one with the International Syllabus because it is in English. The fee is double for private International schools.
  • I'm also told to expect a certain loss of culture as kids attend the International syllabus one. While it is a good thing to be exposed to other cultures of the world, we must not lose our identity. I have so loved the fact that the kids could enjoy and learn about their own culture and country in their SJKC.
  • One private school operator told me that their intake comprise 50% Malays and 50% other races as everyone wants their children to study in English as he puts it.
  • I have also been advised by other parents who have sent their children to private schools that there are two kinds of private schools, those attended by rich businessmen kids and those attended by hardworking professionals who make their kids work as hard. More differentiation here.
  • Some of my daughter's classmates take this route. 5 years in Chinese primary school, then switch in Sept and jump straight to Year 7 (equivalent to Form 1) bypassing UPSR or 6 years in Chinese Primary school, then in Sept go straight to Year 8 (equivalent to Form 2). This is done if the child's birthday is before September. My only thought is this people really plan far ahead unlike indecisive us.
  • There is another category of school ie the SMJK which is run by a board like a Chinese primary school but takes the SPM. I see lots of people clamouring to join these.
  • Lots of people clamouring to join the cluster schools and other schools with certain titles and benefits too. 
  • Generally you have to have good results meaning 5As for SK or 7As for SJKC if you are planning to join those types of public schools that everyone else is clamouring to enter.
  • Oh and there is homeschooling too, to add to the list of choices available for secondary school education. Are we spoilt for choice? It seems to me that whatever decision we make it is because we have no choice rather than because we are spoilt for choice.
  • We are a little late in the day in choosing schools. As there are entrance exams to sit for some of these schools eg Chinese Independent School or some of the more popular private schools that are good and not too expensive with hundreds sitting for the exam and many rejected, I think it will be prudent for parents to plan ahead around std 3 or std 4 by visiting education fairs etc.
  • Some parents are worried about entrance exams. My thoughts are worry if entrance exam is required for schools with a long waiting list. Find out those requirements early so you have enough time to prepare your child. As for the entrance exams for private schools, it depends. If the private school is new with a capacity for over 1000 students and their present enrollment is currently over 100, I would imagine that the entrance exam is a mere formality. I was told that entrance exam for some of the private school includes English and Math papers for Private International School while entrance exam includes English, Math and BM for Private schools offering National syllabus.
Gosh. Since when has choosing schools started being so hard. In our time, we just went to SKs or SJKC and then everyone moved on to SMKs.

Note: Please do not take this post too seriously in terms of accuracy. I am just a parent writing my thoughts in a personal blog. No political overtures meant as well.

Acronyms used in this post.

SJKC = Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina
SK = Sekolah Kebangsaan
SMK = Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan
CIS = Chinese Independent School
SPM = Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia
IGCSE = International General Certificate of Secondary Education
IB = International Baccalaureate
UEC = Unified Examination Certificate

Related Posts:
Secondary School Choices Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
The Road Less Traveled From SJKC To SMK

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Travelling To Batu Caves With Kids

We went to Batu Caves during the September school holidays. It is almost the December school holidays now and I haven't put this post up! This post is for parents who wish to travel to Batu Caves with kids. Batu Caves is a popular Hindu temple and tourist destination in Malaysia. The temple is built around limestone caves which you can climb up to on its 272 steps.

We had not been to Batu Caves in years before this and this is the first time the kids aged 10 and 12 are visiting Batu Caves. We wanted to take them there because they read and study about it in their school books. So it is an educational visit for them too.

There is no entrance fee for the main cave. However, a fee is charged for a visit to another cave located at the foot of the mountain.

Tips for parents travelling with kids: If you are planning to visit Batu Caves during the school holidays, make sure that you are fit for climbing.  This is especially if you have younger kids who may be tired from the long climb up or if you have grandpa or grandma coming along too. Make sure you are fit if you have younger kids whom you may need to carry up. Make sure that the elderly are fit too. My kids aged 10 and 12 are just the right age. I think they enjoyed the trip and it was educational for them. They also had no trouble climbing up the stairs going way ahead of me while I was panting with my heart racing and palpitating! I really need more exercise. I saw more elderly persons going up the stairs with less trouble than me!

This is the main entrance to the caves with 272 steps leading to the main cave

Batu Caves is an old limestone cave around 400 million years old!

You will have lots of pigeons and monkeys for company when you climb the steps

The kids managed to feed some fish. This fish pond is located in the paid area at the bottom of the main cave.

We were also treated to some lively Indian dance and music

The top of the lower cave is lighted up with lights of various colors.

The 3 wise monkeys - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

More lights from the lower cave (the part which charges a fee)

More Information About Batu Caves

  • Read more about the history of Batu Caves and the celebrations at Batu Caves here.
  • Read Reviews on Batu Caves from TripAdvisor here.
  • Have a virtual tour of Batu Caves by watching this video on Batu Caves
  • Finally, you can find a Batu Caves map below to help you to find you way there. The car park is nice and big to cater to the times when they have a huge crowd during Thaipusam.

How Many Steps Does Batu Caves Have? Answer: 272 Steps.

Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children

I was going to do this post in January when we need it the most. However, I will be busy in January because my girl will be going to secondary school for the first time. It will be afternoon session for her whereas her brother is in the morning session so next year there will be more coordination involved in terms of our schedule.

Anyway, I am from Malaysia and this post is for the members of my Parenting Group on Facebook for Primary and Secondary Parents in Malaysia. In Malaysia, our semester begins in January. One of the very first things the school teacher will give out is the school timetable so to members of the group, you will be needing this free printable blank timetable for school children on the first week of January.

I've created one for boys and one for girls based on the template my children created for their school timetables. Since it is based on their actual school timetable, there are enough columns in there to fill in for the number of periods or lessons in our SJKC (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina) or SK (Sekolah Kebangsaan). All you have to do is fill in the times which I have left blank since each school is different and right a big "RECESS" OR "REHAT" right in the middle in each of the squares.

If your child does not have Saturday classes then you can ask your child to use that part to write some notes. For example, there will be library periods days or there may be two periods for gym but they are required to bring the gym clothes on one day and the gym book (or rather Health and Fitness book) on another day.

On certain days, the teacher may tell them to bring a different book for the same subject. They will have lots of exercise books for each subject. For example for BM (Bahasa Malaysia) they may have Bina Ayat (Making Sentences), Ejaan (Spelling), BM1, BM2 (usually for Pemahaman or Comprehension, there are two books so they are interchangeable and the child will have one while the other is with teacher for marking). The older kids may have these and in addition to that Karangan (Essays) and Nilai Murni (Moral Values). 6 exercise books for just one subject and the child is supposed to remember which book to bring on which day! Similarly, they may have to bring  several exercise books for Math, English and so on. So a proper timetable is crucial!

My children learned to use Microsoft Publisher in school and taught me how to use it. I suggested they created their school timetable with it and I'm really glad I did because they never lost a timetable again. Not when it is A4 sized, put over thick paper and wrapped with a book wrapper. It is easy for them to find too as they slip it at the back of their school bags.

This is how you do it. Print out the free timetable below. Then find an old brochure or even the back of an art block and cut it out to fit the paper. Next put the timetable on the hard paper. You don't have to paste the timetable on the thick paper because that makes it crumpled if not done nicely. Just put it over, then wrap the whole thing with a book wrapper. If you like, you can print two and make one for your child's wall or table at home or one for yourself as a backup.

Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children - Boys
Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children - Boys
 Download link for the Free School Timetable For Kids - Blue

Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children - Girls
Free Printable Blank Timetable For School Children - Girls

Download link for the Free School Timetable For Kids - Pink

Monday, November 10, 2014

2015 Calendar With Malaysia School Holidays

There are only 2 weeks left for the school term in 2014 so it is time for us parents to plan for the next year. One of the things we should do is to get our children to pack up their own study tables or work and play areas to get ready for the next year. To help ourselves get organized, we should also print a 2015 Calendar with Malaysia School Holidays and paste it where everyone can see and refer to.

You can use this calendar to mark important school dates like Sports Day, Funfare Day, Children's Day, Concert or other weekly activities, tuition, extra-curricular activities that your children attend. If you forget a certain activity, you won't be the first parent to do so. This free printable 2015 calendar with Malaysia School Holidays will help you, I hope.

Next year there is something new called Hari Ganti from 16 November to 20 November 2015. This is replacement school days for festivals.

I have created two free printable calendars for kids for the year 2015 which includes Malaysia School Holidays. I have not included the public holidays because some of those are subject to changes. You can get your children to color in or to mark down those dates once they are confirmed. I hope you enjoy these 2015 calendars. I have done two, a blue one for boys and a pink one for girls. If you have both a boy and a girl, you can print both so they each can have one of their own.

Please note that the 2015 Malaysia School Holiday Calendar Sets below are for Group B only ie for Negeri Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Wilayah
Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya.

2015 Calendar For Kids With Malaysia School Holidays - Blue For Boys
2015 Calendar For Kids With Malaysia School Holidays - Blue For Boys

 Download link for the 2015 Calendar For Boys

2015 Calendar For Kids With Malaysia School Holidays - Pink For Girls
2015 Calendar For Kids With Malaysia School Holidays - Pink For Girls

Download link for the 2015 Calendar For Girls

Friday, November 07, 2014

Free Printable Cute Girls Bookmark

After creating a few free printable calendars for kids, I thought I was a pro and would try to create a few free printable bookmarks using my Microsoft Publisher. Well, I thought wrong! These printable bookmarks are much harder to do! I guess it is because I wanted to make them double sided so I had to make them align exactly when printed. I also drew all the girl cartoons for the bookmarks using my fingers on my iPad. It gives me a chance to practice my digital drawing.

As you can see, I still need a lot of practice. I admire those who can do such cute uniform looking cartoons that look similar but not alike as if in a set. My cute girls bookmark look different. All of them. I've got a stick girl type, a doll type a dancing moving type. I need more practice! Anyway, I do hope you like them as it took me a lot of time to make them. Even if they are not uniform looking, at least they are 100% original.

Anyway, they say the first time is always the hardest. Since this is the first time I am doing free printable bookmarks, it took me considerable more time than I expected. After this, I have learned a few tricks and have set all the right measurements for future. So you can look forward to more free printable bookmarks from this site.

Here they are, my Free Printable Cute Girls Bookmark for kids, girls in particular in pdf format. I have drawn a Japanese girl, a Chinese girl, a Mexican girl and a Hawaiian Girl.

For boys, we have a free printable quotes and sayings bookmark.

Free Printable Cute Girls Bookmark
Free Printable Cute Girls Bookmark (Back)
Free Printable Cute Girls Bookmark (Back)

Pin To Share This Bookmark
Pin To Share This Bookmark!

Friday, October 31, 2014

DLTK's Custom Printable Holiday Calendars

Printables are fun especially printables that you can customize. Today, I'd like to share with you a wonderful site called DLTK with focus on their free calendars that you can customize. DLTK stands for the initials of the owner and her family. She has a whole list of kids sites, all of them wonderful for parents looking for printables and activities or crafts to do with their children.

I especially love DLTK's free printables because they can be customized. For example, you can customize the printable calendar up to year 2022! The calendar is also available in several languages. Here is the link to DLTK's Free Printable Custom Calendars.

Besides the year and language, you can customize your calendar with a clip art or cartoon of your choice. The graphics to go with your calendar is divided into several categories and themes including...

  • Animals
  • Holidays and Seasons
  • Cartoon Characters
  • Fantasy, Music, Princesses and so much more!
The holiday and seasons ones include Valentine's, Christmas, Halloween, Easter etc. Below are a few examples of the Holiday Calendars which I just customized from DLTK. Customization is very easy. Even your child can do it themselves. 

To customize, you first have to select a monthly or yearly calendar. Then you choose the year and images you want for your calendar and pick black and white or color image. Choose the black and white if you want your child to color it themselves. You get to preview the image you have chosen. Then you click on "Create Calendar" and you can print it out immediately. Lovely!

Below are the sample holiday printable kids calendars for 2014 and 2015 which I created from the site. I made a Santa Printable Calendar For 2014. You can choose other graphics including Mrs Claus, Christmas tree, gingerbread man or elves. I also did a monthly Valentine's Day Calendar for 2015. I selected roses from a list of animals and flowers with hearts. Finally, I created a 2015 Calendar for kids using the Nursery Rhyme theme which was really unique.

I like the holiday and seasons themes for calendars because they help children learn to appreciate, countdown and feel the excitement for each holiday. I also like the nursery rhyme theme calendars there.

Please note that you may not print the calendars from this site. They are for illustration only. Please go to DLTK Free Printable Custom Calendars to customize and print your own calendar. You must also abide  by their terms of service when you use their calendars. Do stop by there to read the terms too. While you are there, you can browse around for other printables like cards, bookmarks and more. I love that they can be customized before printing. I hope you enjoy the site as much as I do.

DLTK's Santa Holiday Calendar For December 2014
DLTK's Santa Holiday Printable Calendar For December 2014

DLTK's Valentine Roses Calendar For February 2015
DLTK's Valentine Roses Printable Calendar For February 2015

DLTK's Kids Printable Calendar 2015
DLTK's Kids Printable Calendar 2015

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

Sistem Bahasa Edisi Terkini

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: RM13.90 (updated October 2015)

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)
Updated October 2015

Recently I noticed that a new edition for this book is out. You can buy it online here: https://s.shopee.com.my/4AdlO5hG2l

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.

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