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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Challenges And Solutions For Packing To School

Many parents realize the Importance Of Packing To School but they often face many challenges when packing food for their children. Here are some real problems moms face when packing to school and what to do about it.


There is a misconception that healthy and nutritious food is usually boring. Wrong! - That's what the kids may think, but as a parent, you can easily change that mindset. Start by cultivating a healthier mindset. Healthy and nutritious foods, especially natural foods like fruits and vegetables, can be made more exciting when you get creative!

Take a look at this picture of a recent Milo® UHT Pack in the Energy for Champions Bento Workshop. During the workshop participants used all of these healthy and nutritious foods to pack school lunches for kids that were easy to make, and far from boring.


Involve your kids in your planning. Take them to the supermarket to select healthy foods and fruits they would like to include in their lunch boxes. Get creative. Create interesting, and fun-looking foods that kids will have trouble resisting. If you are worried that your kids will prefer his friend's greasy unhealthy snacks to your healthy packed lunch, make an effort to create exciting lunch boxes that will make your child the envy of his friends. Make sure you include a variety of food in different colours. Not only will this make your lunch box look more attractive, you are also actually packing more nutrients with them. Try out this creative Tortilla Roll for your next lunch box.


Picky eaters make preparing school lunch boxes a real challenge. He will not eat broccoli or tomato, and will only eat rice when it is fried. No apples, bread, or bananas. How then do you prepare a healthy lunch box for a kid who is likely to leave everything untouched?


Watch what your child eats at home. Make a list of items that they like. Include at least two items from that list, and one from another, which you think they will not touch. You may be pleasantly surprised. Children can develop an acquired taste for a lot of food. When you involve your child in the selection and preparation of their lunch boxes, as in solution one above, they are more likely to eat them and the more that they eat them, the less likely they are to reject future food items. So, introduce new healthy foods to them slowly... one at a time.

Another method is to prepare familiar foods that you normally would at home. There is no need to prepare anything fancy. If your child likes fried rice, why not include fried rice in their lunch box - together with a variety of other healthy food?


The big question that most moms have, however, is how do I make sure the food I prepare now is safe to eat hours later? How do I make sure that the mayonnaise I use is still safe to consume at lunch? These are common questions asked by moms who often pack school lunches for their kids.


Make sure you wash your hands, knives, and cutting board before you use them. Make sure all surfaces are clean and dry, including your lunch box!

Food should always be kept in the correct temperature. Invest in a good lunch box that can keep things cool or warm, depending on the type of food you are planning to pack. When packing sandwiches, use cling wrap. This will also ensure that they do not become soggy, or have liquids leaking onto other food items.


Time is always a concern, whether you are a full-time working mum or a stay-at-home mother. Parents are at their wits end to beat the morning rush and get everyone ready and off to school on time. How then will you find the time to pack school lunches as part of your morning routine?


Plan ahead. Iron and prepare school uniforms the night before. Place school bags near the entrance. No fuss school lunches can be prepared the night before. Leave only fresh perishable items for preparation in the morning. Have a plan, shop for ingredients during the weekend, then prepare what you can the night before and keep it in the refrigerator. Wash fruits, and place them in little containers that you can slot into a larger one ahead of time. Include fuss-free school lunch items like quick bread rolls which you can bake over the weekend, cheese sticks, or a pack of Milo UHT, which provides efficient release of energy from food to help kids take on a full day’s challenge in school.

Keeping these all in mind, packing to school should be a breeze! Try out some of the recipe ideas on this page to prepare healthy, creative, and nutritious lunch boxes for your kids. Happy Packing!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Learning Chinese Radicals For Parents Helping Kids With Chinese Homework

Chinese Radicals
In a Chinese Dictionary, words may also be indexed according to Chinese Radicals
This post is for the members of our Facebook Group - The Malaysia Primary School Parents especially for non-Chinese speaking families who are helping their kids with Chinese homework.

Learning Chinese is very different from learning English or Bahasa Malaysia. In BM or English, you first learn alphabets, then you form words from those alphabets. Learning those alphabets is the building blocks for forming many words and from there you progress on to sentences.

On the other hand, you have to memorize Chinese Mandarin characters in order to master the language. How many Chinese characters are there? Over 50000 according to this article from BBC. However, you only need to know about 2000-3000 in order to read the Chinese newspaper.

Where alphabets are the building blocks for words, perhaps you could say that Chinese Radicals are the building blocks for Chinese characters. So, it would help for you to teach your child this well. Here are some useful resources from the internet that will help you learn Chinese Radicals.

  1. Chinese Mandarin Radicals from Wikibooks - Learn the Chinese name of the radicals from this page
  2. Chinese Character Radicals From Arch Chinese - Click on the pinyin to hear the pronunciation for each radical. Click on the radical and fetch details from the radical page to see the meaning as well as examples of words using the radical and their meanings.
  3. List Of Chinese Radicals from Yellow Bridge - Here's a quick glance at 214 radicals together with pinyin and English names.
  4. Chinese Characters and Radicals Index - This page has an explanation of how to learn Chinese characters and what are the advantages of learning Chinese Radicals
  5. Simplified Chinese Radical List Free Printable from Mandarin Poster - You can print out a list of Chinese Radicals all on one page for easy reference
Learning Chinese Radicals is a lot of fun. Once you learn the radicals, you will understand how and why certain Chinese characters are formed and be able to recognize a lot of other words/Chinese Character or guess the word simply by knowing the radicals. Here is a very good visual example of how the "ice" radical is used to form Chinese characters while here is another one which shows how the "mouth" radical is used in Chinese Characters . (Visit this link to have a good understanding of how radical works). Happy Learning!

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Learning English As A Second Language In Malaysia Public Schools

Malaysian kids have to be multi-lingual in school. They learn 2 or 3 languages in school. In Public National schools or Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK), the main medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia with English as a second language. In National type school or Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (SJK) Tamil, or Chinese the main medium of instruction is Tamil or Chinese with English as a second language while Bahasa Malaysia is compulsory.

According to the KSSR Review for 2017, the number of hours allocated for languages are shown below.
KSSR stands for Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah. It is the new curriculum for primary schools in Malaysia which was introduced in the year 2011. A review was done for 2017.

Number of hours allocated for English as compared to other languages 
(minimum per year)

For SK
Std 1-3
192 hours for BM
160 hours for English

Std 4-6
160 hours for BM
160 hours for English

Std 1-3
192 hours for Tamil/Chinese
160 hours for BM
80 hours for English

Std 4-6
160 hours for Tamil/Chinese
128 hours for BM
96 hours for English

Source of above information is Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia website, (Malaysia Ministry of Education website). Look for the pdf file download with the following title:
"Surat Pekeliling Iktisas KPM Bil. 8 Tahun 2016 - Pelaksanaan Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (Semakan 2017) Secara Berperingkat-Peringkat Mulai Tahun 2017"
Students from SJKC/T are required to learn 3 languages. Therefore the number of hours allocated for English is less. Inevitably, the level of English is also slightly lower.  

These days many parents switch their kids to private or international schools starting from P4 onwards. Sometimes this switch is unplanned, and they are unprepared for the jump in the level of English.  Parents who have the intention to send their children to International schools for upper primary school onward including for their secondary education must ask themselves. "Will my child be able to cope with the transition to English as the main medium of instruction given the amount of time allocated for English at school currently?"

Plan Ahead For Your Child's English Language Education

Planning ahead is essential. There are many cases of parents looking for short cut or fast track language learning before switching their kids to International schools. When it comes to language learning, there are no short cuts so start them young. This will benefit them in the long run. 

English is a critical success factor whether you are going to International schools or otherwise. Even if your child continues to study in public secondary schools with BM as the main medium of instruction and English as a second language, eventually they will need to have a good command of English for college, private universities and beyond when they enter the job market. 

Lorna Whiston, Taman Tun Dr Ismail is having their Open Day on 25th February 2017. Drop by to see how they can help your children find their voice and confidence in the English language.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Interview With Alice Foo Author Of Bento Fun

Today, I am very lucky to be interviewing Alice Foo. Alice Foo uses the pseudonym Angeleyes in the Bento community. She is a stay-at-home mother of two girls and a boy. Her book “Bento Fun” is a culmination of all her years of experience preparing Bento with love for her childrens’ lunch boxes.

Hello Alice,

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

1. What inspired you to write Bento Fun?

- Ever since I started packing bento and getting better at it I hoped I will have a chance to publish my own book to share my ideas and journey.

2. Where do your ideas come from?

- I always love to look at beautiful and cute things and when I see something I really like I will have this little thoughts running in my head on how to turn them into a kyraben (character bento). I also browse some really creative Japanese mommies’ Instagram to get new inspiration every now and then.

3. Who do you think will benefit from your book?
- I strongly believe this book is a great start for parents whom want to pack healthy lunch boxes for their school going kids or those who have little fussy eaters to entice them to try new food.

4. What should readers expect from your book?
- I have designed the book in a way to help beginners to start their bento journey. There is a general introduction of what is bento, the tools of the trade as well as simple recipes and some step-by-step guides to start off. There are 3 categories in the book which readers get to learn the basics before moving on to more complicated kyaraben work.

5. When did your passion for preparing Bento boxes begin?

- It was in mid 2007 when I first saw some mommy friends started making cute bento for their kids and thought that was a cool idea. Though my son was only 2 years old and he do not have any problem with his meals I decided to pretty up his meals. He loves it! I was so obsessed with all the cute bento gears that I can’t help myself from collecting those that strike my fancy.

6. How do you find time to write?
- I was thrilled when my editor, Mr Oon Yeoh from MPH left me a message on my messenger and asked if I am keen to write MPH’s first bento book. As discussion went on, I was a little hesitant as there were so much work involved since I am not residing in Malaysia. That means I will have to do everything from planning to food styling and photography. It was certainly not an easy feat as I have to juggle house work, minding the kids as well as cooking for the family. Here in Australia, we do not have the luxury of live in helpers to help with house work hence, I have to be really discipline to complete the book. I have almost given up many times as there was just too much on my plate but my editor cheered me on and I was glad I made it to the end.

7. Are you working on another book? Can you share a little of your current work with us?

- There are certainly plans for next book but nothing is firm yet at the moment. We are looking at adult bento and some other recipe books.

8. There are many interesting recipes in the book. Which is your favourite or the one you prepared most often?
- All the recipes in the book are our favourites and I make them all the time. My kids enjoyed all of them so to keep myself less headache and the kids happy, I rotate the recipes frequently. They are easy to prepare and yummy to eat.

9. What advice can you give for someone preparing or thinking of preparing Bento for the first time?

- Do not be overly ambitious. Start with something that is achievable and after doing it a few times, you will get better and better and attempt the more complicated designs.

10. How can readers discover more about you or your work?

- Currently I do not have much updates on my blog (www.bentofun.wordpress.com) but hopefully I will when I have more time once my kids are back in school.

- Readers can join https://www.facebook.com/bentofunbookclub for updates on my book and other activities planned for the future.

Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer our questions.

Bento Fun is now on offer for the members of our parents platform. Read our review of the book here:
Bento Fun By Alice Foo

Bento Fun Book Order Form (Currently taking orders from 13 February 2017 to 19 February 2017)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kemahiran Hidup Bersepadu Tingkatan Tiga Bab 1 Reka Cipta

There are a lot of resources for secondary school kids online. They are mostly from teachers and schools who post some of their material online in blogs, slide sharing sites or power point sharing sites. Unfortunately, many kids do not have the time nor interest to look for these materials.

Take for example chapter 1 of the Kemahiran Hidup for Form 3 students, the topic is on Reka Cipta. I'm going to curate some of the materials I've found just to show you an example of the kind of good resources we can get for free online.

1. The slides below give a good explanation of the chapter as a whole. It is a 43 page slide.

KHB TING 3 - Bab 1 Reka Cipta from Zasni @ Zaxx

2. The following 40 page slides also explains the chapter as a whole. In addition it has many photographic examples that may be useful for students.

Reka cipta 1 from Hana Mazauddin

3. If you are looking for examples of the various "jenis bahan" (type of material) or "alatan" (tools) used in "reka cipta" (design), then check out the following 12 page slides.

Bab 1 reka bentuk dan penghasilan projek from diancz

4. This 47 page slides has useful pictures of the process and materials used. Useful for students to see the items they are learning about.

5. Here's a comprehensive 61 page slides on the first chapter of the Kemahiran Hidup for Form 3 on Reka Cipta. It has examples and useful photos.


6. Finally, here is a teacher's blog showcasing the "projek rekacipta 2016". These kids have done an amazing job in their projects.

Share this page with your Form 3 kid who is doing self-study for the Kemahiran Hidup Bersepadu subject. 

Friday, February 03, 2017

Latest Attractions In Penang For Families

It has only been a year since we went back for Chinese New Year but there are a lot of new attractions for families in Penang now. Penang has remade itself for tourists. Besides the wonderful food, there are so many things to see and do. So many museums popping up like mushrooms all over the town. Besides that, there are some new attractions for families to visit too.

In this post, I will write about 3 of the latest attractions in Penang for families although we only managed to visit two because of time limitations. Got to visit those relatives too you know.


We hadn't been to Penang Hill for some years so we decided to go just for fun. The rail is much faster now compared to the older one but not the queue. It was a peak period after all. I don't mind queueing but I do mind that they now have a fast track lane for those who are willing to pay 3 times the price. I thought that was a bad idea by management. It's discriminating between those who can afford and those who can't. It is allowing people to pay to jump queue. We had senior citizens in our queue and we watched as our queue got longer due to the fast track lane. It is okay for a fast track lane to be open for senior citizens or the disabled but not to others in my opinion.

Anyway, we went up and were pleasantly surprised to discover The Habitat. The Habitat is set on the fringes of a 130 million year old rainforest. Some of the eco-friendly attractions at The Habitat include a 1.6km nature trail, Giant Swings, Canopy Walks and The Tree Top Walk.

The nature walk was an easy stroll and there are many friendly park rangers along the way.

The Canopy Walks are not ready yet but we managed to experience The Tree Top Walk which was open specially for visitors during the Chinese New Year period (see the instagram posting by The Habitat embedded below). After that it will be closed for further works till they launch. You can catch amazing views and marvel at the trees that have been around since the English colonial days.

We enjoyed the giant swings. Four of us fitted into it nicely and it was nice and windy to swing in them. You can opt for guided tours by the friendly rangers or walk the nature trail free and easy. We had to miss the guided tours as we were in a hurry. My boy was disappointed because he loves nature and plants and wanted to learn all about the plants that he sees along the way.

To go up Penang Hill, we paid RM10 for adults and RM5 for students for a return train ticket. To enter The Habitat, we paid RM20 for adults and RM10 for kids plus RM10 each for The Tree Top Walk. Since we were in a rush, we also took a buggy back at RM15 for the 1 km plus way back after exiting The Habitat nature trail.

Remember to wear proper clothing and shoes. I had to tiptoe my way all around the tree tops on the grill like flooring of the tree top walk in high heels because our visit was an impromptu one before visiting relatives. The park rangers said they would consider loaning slippers or proper shoes to crazy ladies in heels in future. ;)

Below is the picture taken by us from the other side of the Tree Top Walk.

Below is the Instagram posting by The Habitat.


With the addition of The Top, Komtar is no longer the same. It has been totally revamped. There are many family friendly attractions at The Top. Some of the attractions include DanceOki, Magic Mirror Maze, 7D Discovery Motion Theater, Tongkat Ali King, Jurassic Research Center, Musical Carousel, Ocean Explorer & Dragon Regatta (for children only).  MyKad holders can enjoy these attractions at RM98 (adults) and RM50 (children).

Alternatively, you can go up to the Observatory Deck and Rainbow Skywalk at THE TOP@Komtar, Penang (Levels 65 and 68) for RM88 (adults) or RM58 (kids). You can also dine there should you choose to do so.

Tickets are pricey (it may cost you up to a night's stay at a hotel if you go as a family of four with parents and two tall kids as they charge according to height for adults/kids) maybe that's why we had an enjoyable relaxing walk without having to wait long queues or squeeze with lots of people.

We skipped the theme park and went straight for the higher levels as we had mostly adults with us. My boy took the following panorama pics at the Observatory Deck and Rainbow Skywalk below. You can experience a glass floor walking experience at both. Other mini attractions include the luckiest chair in the world made of golden horse shoes, the double rainbow & pot of gold plus the upside down orchestra of dreams.

Credit for panorama pictures below: My boy trying to take panorama pictures for the first time.

You can walk around on level 68 and try out the Rainbow Skywalk as shown below. Before you go on the skywalk, you will be asked to don a plastic covering for your shoes.

Credit for picture below is from the The Top

While you are in Komtar and within walking distance away, don't forget to stop by this "attraction": The Penang Road Famous TeoChew Chendul stall.


Finally, there is the Entopia which is the newly revamped Butterfly Farm. We didn't have time for this and my son just visited it during the December holidays so we will save this for another time.

You can read more about this rebranding of the Butterfly Farm into the Entopia of today in this article:
The Man Who Gave Us The Butterfly Farm. That's our next stop for next year.

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