Friday, July 15, 2011

Starting Language activities with Trevor :)

Trevor is 2.5 yrs now. I decided that since he is not going to school yet, I better start teaching him at home. So here's us learning phonic sounds at home. I am doing an adapted, integrated Montessori phonics way & got ideas from a website call totallytots. great website where a couple of home school mummies share what they do at home. Great great ideas;).

Sensorial Impressions of the shape of the letters before learning to hold a pencil and writing.
Ok so I started Trevor with tracing on 'a' cut out from felt- Montessori way is to use sensorial impression for the 2-3 yr olds. Actual Montessori material would be the sandpaper letters buy I just adapted a little. Still using the same concept I used other materials instead. Haven't got time to get the sandpapers and cut them into letters of the alphabets yet. So here is our little creation;)

double click to see it in another window or tab.

Ants on the apple 'a','a','a'!- we did a letter craft with felt and cut a real apple and did printings with it.Result- an apple tree."

Big Brush Painting:
Started a scrap book on phonic sounds " We did big brush writing where i printed a big 'a' using wordart in words font size about size250. This is a pre-writing exercise where Trevor used different crayons and colour pencil and paint brush to trace and practice writing the formation of the letter 'a'. I must say he is pretty good at it. Didn't need much of my help at all. The sensorial impression did work;)

After painting it, I get Trevor to run outside and peg the paper on the line(practical life integrated- pegging uses 1st 3 fingers of the hand- the pincer grip which is essential for preparation for writing.

Writing on our sand pit.
Then we traced 'a' in our little sand pit. Where I bought some fine sand from a nursery and put it in a container. I showed Trevor how to write the letters on the sand with his hands and I got Trevor to 'erase' it with his favourite digger and he writes again.

Intergrate Cultural: Science & Mathematics
After that we took out and dried the apple seeds from the apple that we uses for printing and did counting with them.

We ended the activity with some apples for snack. ;)

We did the same for the other phonic sounds:
For 'b' we did a craft tracing the bowl and using different balls to print and make patterns.
"Using crayons- "balls are bouncing b b b""

Currently we are on schedule- one phonic sound a week. And another we do is mystery bag. I collected items whig begins with the sound for example, for 'b' we have ball, barrel, boat, bear, banana, bell, bag...

Mystery Bag
"Learning vocabulary of sounds beginning with b"
I place all the items into a drawstring bag and we take turns putting our hands in to feel and touh an object saying "I spy with my little eye, a ...." we try to guess it before pulling it out. ( integrating sensorial exercise- stereonogstic bag) Language is all about talking, communicating and relating to the environment and the experiences of a child. After pulling the object we talk about it , where have we seen this before, what does it do, sing songs relates to it. We then place the items from left to right-encouraging left to right concept, preparing the eyes for reading left to right and the hands to write from left to right.

Sound like a lot?I try to keep it simple and it's just a half hour daily activity and we repeat the
mystery bag exercise and tracing the letter as revision for the other days of the week. moat importantly is we have fun learning;)

Check out the photographs that I have taken and if you are a parent try it yourself. Learning should not only be in school by it should begin at home as early as possible :) Have fun!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Practical Life Activities at home.

I just wrote a blog in Picasa but the page was expired and there goes my LOOONGG blog... Never write a blog in Picasa!

Anyway here's the blog again. :)

Threading Beads
Threading is one of the Pratical Life exercises of Montessori.
In Montessori, there's a reason and purpose behind every exercises.
For example: Why use a table mat to place the material?
Ans: To protect the material, to protect the table, to mark a work area, care of environment - care and respect another child's work space, rolling and unrolling a mat exercises fine motor skills and we are instilling a sense of order in the child.

Why threading?
Aims of threading: Eye-hand coordination, development of fine motor skills,preparing the child for future art and craft, learning patience, independence and concentration.
Age: Suitable for about 3 yrs onwards. (For younger children, get bigger beads with bigger holes and the bigger string)

First we introduce the material to the child. This is a mat, a basket, some beads with holes and a string.

Place the string horizontally and show the child how to thread the beads. Movement should be clear and easy for child to follow step by step.

Remove one bead at a time and place the other hand on the rest of the beads to isolate them.

In my course we have to demonstrate the whole process then let the child have his turn. But in reality that's probably not going to happen. So we can ask the child to wait and you show a few first and let him or her continue.

Cross Stitch

Why Cross Stitch?
Aims: Further refining fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, lengthening attention span, concentration, indirectly preparing child for mathematics (patterns) and preparing for future art and craft.
Age: The lecturer mentioned that it was suitable for 4 yrs old onwards, I was like- 'are you sure? you mean my 4.5 yr old can do it? I did cross stitch when I was 10!'

 I had to make one sample for my file (my homework). I went over to Tristan and asked him if he would like to learn how to do it? Then, he was playing with his Lego, and his reply was 'no thankyou'. Fine, I went thinking it's probably too difficult for him anyway.

After a few minutes he finished with his toys and came look for me. Saw me still with that piece of cloth and the needle. He asked me what I was doing. I told him cross stitch. I asked him if he like to try, he said '...ok.' I showed him how to make X on the cloth and how to go in and out of the tiny holes in between the squares. Then he did it. He made about 7-8 'X' and ran away to continue playing with other toys. SOooooooo.. it's true, a 4 yr old can do it if he was shown how and given the chance to do it. This is what we made together. nice? :)

Matching & Threading smaller beads
This is not exactly montessori, this is an idea that came up while clearing my storeroom. I found a lot of paper bags that I collected over the years and decided it was time to clear them. Seeing the strings still in tact, I remove them and recycle the rest.

I then realised that the string came in pairs and they were mostly different coloured. I could do a matching colour activity with Trevor.

And so I did, I ask him to lay the strings out neatly row by row. I chose a Black string and put it on top, I then ask him to find the other Black string and place it together with the first one. He enjoyed laying out the strings neatly and he repeated the colours after me. The colours were not exactly all correct but it was ok for a first try. :)

I then realised that there are knots on the strings and hey... I could do some threading.
I found a box of beads from my school days. and ask Tristan to sort them out according to they size and type. Then ask him to thread them. He did a pattern of Big bead and Small bead. There you go: he's ready for mathematics! AND they are kept occupied for some time!:)

My 2 boys occupied and I had a peaceful few minutes... :)
Will try to update more soon. :)

Is TV good for your child?

Thought I would have some time to blog during the Chinese new year break but 9 days of eating, visiting and hot weather have left me and the boys with flu and sore throats. We need another week to recuperate!

Kids with flu and no where to go, we need to keep them pretty occupied if not it's a disaster! Tristan is always bored and looking for things to do. Now that he can operate all the tv, cable tv, computers & laptop around the house, he cant help but watch tv and play computer games all day! After much reminder, I've decided to confiscate and hide the tv and Astro remote control. A bit of TV a day is fine, I love some of the quality program. Cailou, Sid the science kid, Curious George are good quality programs. Most are from Which Tristan has already mastered how to go to the website's game corner and he plays most of the games there without assistance. Well I let him play about half hour a day. If he plays more than that he cant play any the next day. So far his computer discipline is quite ok, but not TV!

Me and Yyn's kids stonning in front of TV! :)

I know too much TV is no good, but why no good I'm never quite sure. I always tell Tristan it's bad for his eyes and his brain gets too tired...etc. I search online and got this.

How TV affects your child?
Here's an excerpt 
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.

As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading,doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family."

Wow, it's actually more bad than good! And they actually reccomend NO TV for kids under 2!

Here's another Article on TV from Raise Smart Kids
 The Good and Bad Effects of TV on Your Kid

Interesting read... So what shall we do with 2 very bored kids at home?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Montessori @ Home : ) 1st Attempt.

I've attended 4 lessons of the module titled: 'Practical Life' for the past 2 weeks. Practical Life is one of the 6 main components of Montessori.

The class started with our lecturer Ms Pooja asking: " What does the word 'Practical' mean?" I paused for a second and thought, hhmmm.. something useful? something that we do everyday. She then continued to ask "What about 'Life'?" What is Life? I found myself quite lost for words to describe life in words as Life means different things to everyone. Someone in class answered ' the way we go about doing things daily'. Sounds right, sounds like a reasonable answer.

"So when we put the 2 words together, what does 'Practical Life' mean?" We get "Useful way of living or Purposeful way of living." Very interesting, how many of us live our lives with purpose? And I thought to myself, it does feel good to have a purpose, a reason to live.

Practical life exercises comprise of activities that we do daily such as the use of the spoon, carrying trays, pouring from a jug, pegging clothes, etc. These activities may seem like it's not of much importance to a child, and they should be concentrating on the 'more important' academic subjects. However as I have learnt from Montessori and my own experience, I know how much practical life forms an important part of a child's life. If a child as young as 1 or 2 years old can feed himself, pour himself some juice, clean up if there's any spillage, wear his own shoes, etc. The child is confident, independent and overall a happy and satisfied child.

Well I did my own little experience at home today. Since I'll need to practice my practical life presentation on how to introduce an exercise to a child, I bought some bowls and cups, dug into my kitchen and the boys toys and set up my own little corner of Montessori practical life shelves of practical life exercises.

I started with 2 of the simplest activity which is spooning from a bowl of beans (substitute with saga seeds that we picked from our trip to the park) to another empty bowl.

The 2nd tray is spooning from a bowl of pebbles (only had enough seeds for the first activity, so found some pebbles that I bought from RM2 shop some time ago) to 2 equal bowls.

I intent to practice it on Trevor my 2 yr old, but my almost 5yr old was just as excited! I was planning to do as my lecturer told, step by step but, she was right what we learn in class we can only expect to fulfill about 50-80%.

I was suppose to invite Trevor to the shelves to ask him get the table mat, unroll it and then go get the material. But he was so excited he couldn't wait for me to finish asking him and took it himself. I tried to ask him to watch me as I show him first, he was so excited and took the spoon from my hand to do it himself. Half way through he got distracted and I told him I will continue to show him to spoon the seeds back.

I dropped 2 seeds outside the bowl, onto the tray and to my surprise my little Trevor whom I thought was not concentrating, quickly responded and said 'drop', he picked it up with his fingers and place back into the bowl. Wow, I didn't need to show him. This proved one of the discovery of Maria Montessori right, children loves order.

I stepped aside and told him that he may continue, and he sat there and happily work on that activity for almost 15 mins without distraction fully absorbed and focus on that activity. Nothing else seem to be bothering him. I watched him from a distance and manage to do my laundry without any hassle.

I am talking about a table mat, a tray, 2 bowls, a spoon and some seeds, not a fancy expensive toy that the tv advert promises to entertain and engage our children. I had a chat with a parent at a birthday party and he shared the same sentiments. Most the expensive battery operated toys are often put into cold storage after a few plays. They are not so 'wow' after all. I joked that the best toys for kids are those that are not battery operated and in no need or very little adult assistance. Come to think about it its so true!

Back on the topic of purposeful independent activities, I am very pleased with my first attempt with practical life exercises at home. I am so amazed by the experience. I saw so many of the principles and discoveries of Maria Montessori in action. Trevor loves order, he loves to work, he can concentrate, he was very happy and satisfied when he did the activity by himself. I realised that children are so happy when they are given the chance to perform purposeful work.

Tristan on the other hand has been Montessori trained for 2 yrs in Clover so when I tried to show him, he's like 'Mummy I can do it by myself.', and so I let him spoon the pebbles from a big bowl to 2 equal bowls. He spoon them back and put back the activity on the shelf without my nagging.

Wonderful! I thought, I should have done this earlier, and I can get some chores done while they are engaged in purposeful work! I am definitely going to set up a few more activities;)

Gotta sleep, will blog more about what's the aims or purpose of such activities, update on the boys progress and load some pics:)

Good night!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back to school!

January 2011 marks a new beginning for me as I undertake quite a number of new challenges! I'm back to school, taking Diploma of Montessori at MMI Singapore. And I'm teaching at Clover Learning Centre as a Part time Montessori Teacher along side Tristan (and this is on top of running the MummyHugs business & taking care of 2 kids-thank God I have a wonderful nanny & family to help out). 24 hours a day is not enough!!!

I'm trying to stay calm and collected as I take on everything. Some people says I'm crazy and I should wait till the kids are older. Well they are right about me being crazy, but I thought about it and told myself not now then when? I'm not exactly young anymore and if I wait, the kids will all be grown up and I would have missed the chance to give them the best. So here I am on this almost impossible journey! Why you may ask? below are some of the reasons that made me chose this path.

I've always loved working with children, knowing that no 2 days are the same, no 2 kids are the same and you have to always think outside the box and keep yourself on your toes and try to solve every challenging situation. Other than that it's the only work that allows lots of laughter, fun and joy.

I find Montessori very inspiring. I'm still learning about the Montessori Method and what I've come across so far is very motivating. It's not just a mere Method of education, but there's something very great and deep about it that I believe is going to make a difference in the world.

Working towards My dream. About 7 years ago, I decided that one day I will open a school that will bring up children to be independent, respectful, courteous, creative, humble, care for others, care for the environment, have curious minds and a strong love for learning. They too will be guided to excel in all areas of academics, mathematics, languages, arts & science. With a world vision in mind, they can put their knowledge & skills that they acquire to better serve humanity and make the world a more peaceful & united place to live in.

It's been 2 hectic weeks into January and I've fallen sick but gotten back on my feet. As much as I thought that I will probably be overwhelmed and stressed up, but quite the opposite. I'm actually feeling this inner peace amongst the chaotic schedule. Somehow it feels like I have finally found my purpose in life. I'm tired physically but I'm coping ok. Just need to boost up my immune system, sleep earlier and pray that I get to the end of this year safe & sound! :)


Working towards the betterment of the world


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