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Monday, September 26, 2016

Pigeon Post: A Book About Animals For Kids

Title: Pigeon Post And Other Stories
Author: Gwen Smith
Illustrator: Lim Lay Koon
Publisher: Oyez!Books
Number Of Pages: 112
Age Group: 9-14

Many young kids are fascinated with animals and reading about tales of animals. Kids who love animals will enjoy Pigeon Post And Other Stories by author Gwen Smith.

Set against the backdrop of familiar kampung scenes, these poignant animal tales speaks of love for animals. 
I like that the focus of these books are on our very own local country charm. In the main story, the writer and her mother are rescued by their homing pigeon during a landslide. 

Other stories are about how a little girl and her kind neighbour looks after a baby tupai they found during a storm, runaway chickens when a lorry carrying chicken crates hits a pothole, children finding new homes for kittens in their school PTA Open Day Project and a boy being attacked by wasps during a picnic at the waterfalls. 

All these 6 delightful animal stories are featured in the book under the following titles. 
  1. Pigeon Post
  2. Storm Damage
  3. A Ride On A Monster
  4. Rainbow Kittens
  5. Chickens
  6. The Dangerous Smell Of Nangka

Each story is about 15-25 pages. Just right for a beginner reader. Accompanying illustrations by Lim Lay Koon are spot on and complement the stories perfectly.

This book is currently on offer to our members. Check out the offer here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Free Printable Final Exams Planner Calendar For September and October 2016

Final Exams are just around the corner with some starting from as early as end September and the majority of schools having theirs in mid October. With that in mind, I have done a free printable final exams calendar for revising, studying and planning.

You can use this calendar to teach your kids to organize their time well. By now, many schools would have distributed the exam dates and syllabus. Get your child to record the dates which they will sit for their Math, Science, Languages and other test papers. Then work backwards to help them plan their study time. Once you have recorded the dates, you will find that you have very few weekends left before the Final Exams!

This Final Exams Calendar is available for free download for our members. The file is in pdf format and has two pages, one for the month of September and another for the month of October 2016. You can print either one or both pages if the dates run from September to October. Both have cute graphics from Microsoft Publisher software and an exam or studying inspirational quote for kids at the top of the calendar. I have purposely selected the Calendar with the biggest box available for each day/date so you have more space to write stuff.

Enjoy! Or perhaps I should say "Don't Stress!" Click on any of the images below to sign in to our members only page to download this free Final Exams Calendar for September and October 2016.

Reward your child for studying hard. You can participate in our September book deal. The deal ends at the end of the month and books will arrive around mid October, just right after the exams.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nanobots And Other Stories - A Book Review

Title: The Nanobots And Other Stories
Author: Golda Mowe
Illustrator: Lim Lay Koon
Publisher: Oyez!Books
Number Of Pages: 110
Age Group: 9-14

This book is made out of ten sci-fi stories, for example:
  • A Red Giant 
  • The River Of Poison
  • The Little Blue Bacteria
  • The Nanobots
  • And more...
The Nanobots And Other Stories is an exciting science fiction storybook. After each story there is a page of  interesting and useful science facts. Children who want to be scientists when they grow up will not be able to put this book down once they start reading it. 

In 'The Nanobots', Malanjum, a young boy who was a slave to an alien found some silver liquid that he thought was a toy. When he found out that the liquid were many nanobots which destroys metal, he decides to use it to regain freedom.

In 'A Red Giant'5 billion years from now, the sun had grown too hot for all living things to grow. Even though all water on earth had dried up and there were no food left, Hoklai, a determined father to two children did not give up searching for food and water. One morning, a spaceship as big as a bus landed in front of them. Was this a light at the end of the tunnel or was it another big threat for them?

'The Container of Grass' is a story of air pollution which destroyed the Ozone Layer. People, plants and animals started to die. People even had to wear black protective suits when they went out. Since plants could not be grown easily anymore, ordinary people could only eat pellets. Since Shabad's children were interested in plants, he decided to plant some grass seeds in a biodome together with his family. They did not know that the grass seeds were going to change their fate tremendously.

I think these stories are useful and interesting for people aged 9-14. These stories has many moral values and remind readers to take care of the environment.

This review was written by a 12 year old reader. Just like the Master & Apprentice, this book on technology and science fiction has local character names like Rashid, Kumari, Mei Ling etc and mentions local places like the Kuala Lumpur Cultural Centre. 

The Nanobots and Other Stories is currently on offer for members on our platform. Click here to participate in this deal.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: Master & Apprentice - A Story Book For Kids Age 9-14

Title: Master & Apprentice
Author: Lim Lay Har
Illustrator: Lim Lay Koon
Publisher: Oyez!Books
For Whom: Kids from 9-14

Meet The Characters

The Master - Kow Kee, The Kuih Lapis Seller

The Apprentice - Kow Kee's son Kee Huat, the Baker

Old Wong - The Coffee Shop Owner

Aunty Sim - The Chatterbox With The Cauliflower Hair

Mr Chew Teck Lee - The Plump Tycoon

Master & Apprentice is a delightful tale about Kow Kee, the 68 year old kuih lapis seller who wishes to pass on his trade to his unwilling son, Kee Huat. Read how the Merdeka Cooking Competition brings this father and son team together by competing against one another.

I love that this book is full of local scenes and characters that readers can identify with easily. The author certainly has a way with words. Children reading this can quickly learn how to use idioms and proverbs to describe situations. It will certainly be a good change from reading boring school essays.  For example, the clever play of words when describing the scene when his friend suggested that Kow Kee participate in the Merdeka cooking competition was hilarious.

"Whoever heard of a 68-year old man taking part in a cooking competition? Why, he would shrivel under the spotlight! Even worse, he would be surrounded by chatterboxes who could talk the tail off a donkey. He shuddered at the memory of Aunty Sim and Mrs. Chan trying their hardest to pry his secret kuih lapis recipe from him. He was like a fish out of water whenever he had the misfortune of getting cornered by those two women. He'd open and close his mouth, unable to get a word in sideways while their incessant chatter flowed over him like a babbling brook."

Aunty Sim was described as a plumpish woman in her late fifties with short greying hair permed into tight curls that made her look like she had a grey cauliflower sitting on top of her head.

Black and white illustration with pencil strokes complement the stories perfectly. This 97 page story is both engaging and entertaining for the young reader. Those who like to cook may also appreciate the kuih lapis and devil's food cake recipe found at the end of the book.

This book is the 1st prize winner of the Calistro Award 2012. It is currently in our September Book Deal for members. Go here to participate in this deal.

Monday, September 12, 2016

School Holiday Ideas - Making Snowskin Mooncakes

Since its the school holidays, we had nowhere to go and the Mooncake Festival is round the corner, we decided to bake mooncakes.

Baking mooncakes is an extremely fun activity to do with kids especially snow skin mooncakes. You don't even have to bake it. Its just like playing with playdough. We had a lot of fun today playing masak-masak.

We wanted to make it even easier, so we bought readymade snowskin mooncake flour also called "Bing Pi Flour" in Chinese. We also bought readymade lotus paste for the filling.

This is the bing pi mooncake mix.

This is the readymade lotus paste. I forgot to take the picture of it in the packet. The packet lists a whole lot of other readymade pastes from yam to, green tea, red bean to durian. My son likes melon seeds in his so as you can see he stuck a lot on one of them.

I thought that the bing pi flour was all you need but then I realized that you needed shortening and emulco as well. Since I didn't have those, I substituted them with butter and olive oil and pure fruit juice. I accidentally bought coffee emulco so I used that too with some three-in-one coffee mix thrown in for good measure. No colouring was used. The boy said he wanted to make ribena mooncakes so we made that too!

Strawberry juice from 4 strawberries and Mango juice from 1 Mango.

Coffee Emulco and Three-in-One Coffee Powder (Did not use the colouring)

Then we set off to work. 

"Mom, how much of everything do we have to put?"

"Just put in flour and butter (supposed to be shortening) then add enough cold water and juice to form a soft dough. If you have too much water, add more flour. If you have too much flour, add more water."

We mixed the bing pi flour with butter, cold water and our fresh fruit juice till we got a dough.

Next we used a rolling pin to roll them into a skin to wrap the paste in.

Finally we used a plunger mould to shape the mooncakes.

And tadaa... we have our mango, strawberry, coffee and ribena mooncakes! We had read that the colour would look pale if we didn't use any colouring but they look just fine to us. They are more healthy that way.

After that, the kids had fun being creative with the leftover mooncake ingredients.

Since we have the lotus paste we decided to make baked mooncakes as well. That recipe calls for all purpose flour, alkaline water and golden syrup. Again, we didn't have those, so we used the wheat flour from our kitchen, maple syrup for the golden colour and lemon infused water as substitute for alkaline water.

Making alkaline water

Our wheat flour and maple syrup

And finally tadaa..... (Ok ok we cheated. Our mooncake lost its pattern after baking and it was hard. Hopefully it softens after the oil seeps outwards in a couple of days.) We were hungry after all that baking so we had some store bought mooncakes. The ones below are from Baker's Cottage and Foh San. If only our mooncakes look like that. Next time... we'll get the proper ingredients and a nicer more authentic looking mould. We had wanted a flower or Chinese words design but we ordered online without looking at or selecting the product and got Doraemon when the courier man arrived. 

Snowskin Mooncake Ingredients:
  • roasted glutinous rice flour (Gao Fen)
  • icing sugar
  • shortening
  • cold water
  • Food coloring
  • Mooncake filling (red bean, yam paste, lotus paste etc)
We used
  • snowskin mooncake premix flour (bing pi flour)
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • cold water
  • fresh fruit juice from slow juicer
  • ready made lotus paste
Baked Mooncake Ingredients:
  • all purpose flour
  • golden syrup
  • alkaline water
  • vegetable oil
  • egg wash (added halfway through baking)
  • Mooncake filling
We used:
  • wheat flour (not recommended)
  • maple syrup
  • water with lemon soaked for several hours without squeezing the lemons
  • olive oil
  • egg wash (added halfway through baking) - We baked for 10 minutes, added egg wash then baked for another 10 minutes
  • ready made lotus paste

We are not serious bakers. Just having a fun time with kids. The above is for our own reference, a record of it so we don't have to rely on memory the next time we try it. This was our first time baking mooncakes.

If you are serious about getting your mooncake right, please google for snowskin mooncake recipes or baked mooncake recipes. You will find plenty. Better still search on YouTube to see how it is done the proper way. Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

3 Family Friendly Movies To Watch This School Holidays

We'll be having a one week mid term school break from 10 Sept to 18 Sept 2016 which just happens to include public holidays at the beginning and end of the week making it two long weekends for working adults. UPSR 2016 has just concluded as well. If you're looking for something to do during this time, here are 3 Family Friendly Movies To Watch This School Holidays.

Watch the trailers below with your kids to decide on the show you like best.

1. Pete's Dragon

In cinemas from 31st August, 2016 Pete's Dragon is about the adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his fuzzy fluffy green dragon friend Elliot.

2. The Secret Life Of Pets

In cinemas from 8 September 2016, The Secret Life Of Pets is a colourful animated comedy about the lives and adventures of pets when their owners are away.

3. The BFG

In cinemas from 18 August 2016, the BFG is from three master story tellers. This Disney Movie is directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Roald Dahl's fantasy story, The Big Friendly Giant (The BFG) is about the adventures of Sophie and the dream catching friendly giant.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Online Application For Control School For Form One In Year 2017

The Portal For Online Application For Control Schools For Form One In Year 2017 Is Open From 2 - 30 Sept 2016

We wrote an earlier post on Application for SMK for year 2017. By now, many parents would have received the application forms for feeder schools, completed and returned the form to their respective schools. Typically these are handed out around August before the UPSR exams.

Parents in who wish to apply for control schools are required do it online. The portal for online application for control school for form one in year 2017 is open for one month starting today. Online application is required for schools in Selangor, Putrajaya and Wilayah Persekutuan. However, the portal does not mention the requirement for other states.

We found a step by step guide posted by SJKC Chong Cheng. This guide is for the year 2015 but it does give a good idea of the steps required for your online application. We also started a thread in our Facebook group - The Malaysia Primary And Secondary School Parents On Facebook group for parents to discuss any issues during application. (Note that this is a closed group so you will only be able to view the thread if you are a member).

To reiterate what we have mentioned in our previous post. Control schools refer to Sekolah/Kelas Kawalan/Kelas Rancangan Khas (KRK)/Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama (SMKA)/Sekolah Agama Bantuan Kerajaan (SABK) and Kelas Aliran Agama (KAA).

The classification for schools is often a confusing thing for many parents. We recommend that you read the following articles to have a better idea.

Good Luck in your application!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Malaysia School Holiday Calendar 2017

The Malaysia School holiday calendar for 2017 or the Takwim Sekolah 2017 is officially out. Above is our sample of the 2017 school calendar. We will do a printable one when the takwim cuti perayaan is out. At the moment the calendar shows only the school term holidays or cuti penggal sekolah. This example is for Group B schools from Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya.

Many parents have been waiting for this calendar for some time now so they can plan ahead for their vacation. You can download the Malaysia School Holiday Calendar 2017 in pdf format from the Ministry of Education of Malaysia's official site (Portal Rasmi Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia). - Images shown below are from the KPM website.

School reopens on 1st January 2017 for schools in Kedah, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu and on 3rd January 2017 for the other states.

Similar to 2016, the year end holidays will be 5 weeks. There will be 2 semesters with a 2 week break in between semesters and a shorter mid semester/term break of 1 week each for each semester/term.

Now you can go and book your holidays and plan your vacation.

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