Wednesday 30 November 2011


Montessori Activity: Recognizing Chinese Characters through Montessori's 3-Period Lesson

Idea from Meixia

Age: From 2.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 10 minutes

1. To teach the concept of Chinese characters.
2. To teach reading

1. 1 container with old name cards
2. 1 marker
3. 1 tray

1. Ask your child what character he would like you to write.

2. Write it on the back of an old name card.

3. Teach using the Montessori 3 Period Lesson method:

  • Step 1: Point to the Chinese character and read it to your child. For example, say "This is mom."

  • Step 2: Say the Chinese character and ask your child to point it out. Example, "Show me the character 'mom'."

  • Step 3: Point to the Chinese character and ask him what it is. For example, ask "What is this character?" Your child should say 'mom'.
If your child can't remember the Chinese character, you can use baby sign language to give him the hint.

Additional Information:
My friend taught me this way of teaching Chinese to toddler. My friend's Meixia's son, Daniel is 2.5 years old (about 2.5 months younger than Joshua) and he can recognize 60 Chinese characters now. I thought that is really amazing.

Joshua (2Y8M25D) tried it today for the first time, and he enjoyed it quite a lot. He already asked me to set the tray nearby for another session tomorrow :-)

I found this method by my friend Meixia to be very simple, effective and also very inexpensive. What a better way to show Chinese characters than by writing it down yourself and show it to your child in real time. It is not necessary to buy expensive flash cards or DVD.

Don't show any picture with the character. I find showing picture to be a distraction to learning Chinese characters, as Joshua tended to look at the picture, and not the Chinese character. In this way, it really helped Joshua to only focus on the characters.

For younger children, keep it simple by limiting it to one-character word per card as shown above.

Yes, for the Europeans, this is a form of rote-learning. There is no other way of learning Chinese, except by rote learning. And it is amazing that toddlers like Daniel have such good memory. Incidentally, the characters are very intuitive, even for Joshua. For example, when I showed him the Chinese character for rain "雨", he pointed by himself to the rain drops in the character, before I could point out and explain it to him. And straight away he could remember and recognize the character for rain, when I showed him again.

Updates 3.12.2011:
Joshua (2Y8M28D) is very interested in reading, but does not seem to show any interest in recognizing Chinese characters. He is only interested in recognizing 4 characters - mom, dad and his name in Chinese. I showed him the character for mom and dad, and he asked me more than once for his name. So finally I wrote it for him. Now, he recognizes these 4 Chinese characters - 妈, 爸 and 慨恩.


Sunday 27 November 2011


Montessori Activity: Teaching Letters with Playdough

Age: From 2 years old

1. To teach letters in a fun way.
2. To train fine motor skills.

1. 1 sore-bought or homemade playdough
2. 5 Letter moulds
3. 1 child's size rolling-pin (from IKEA)
4. 1 tray

1. Show your child how to mould a letter.

2. Invite your child to try.

3. Store it in the fridge until ready to be used. Let it thaw first, it will be easier to work with.

Mold your child's name

Additional Information:
Joshua tried it today, but he was rather sceptical about tasting it. But once he took the first bite, he was hooked :-) Thereafter, he spent more time tasting than playing with the dough. So an edible dough can be distractive.

Saturday 26 November 2011


Healthy Tasty & Nutritious Edible Playdough

Makes the size of 1 tennis ball

- 1/2 cup almond or hazelnut butter
- 50ml liquid honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup rolled oats ground
- 1 TBS of wheatgerm ground
- 1 tsp of brewer's yeast
- 1 tsp oil (optional: avocado oil or any nut oil such as walnut oil)
- 1 tsp carob powder (optional, to make it chocolaty)
- Food color (optional)

1. In a large bowl, mix in almond butter and honey and mix well.

2. Add ground roll oats slowly in along with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

3. Knead until smooth. Adjust with almond butter, ground rolled oats or honey accordingly.

How to play?
Here is one way.

1. After playing with it, use it as spread on the bread for your child's lunch box, for example.
2. Bake it in the oven as cookies at 200 °C (392 ° F) for 5 - 7 minutes or
3. Simply eat it on its own by rolling it into small balls, refrigerate for 15 minutes and ready to serve as snack.

Additional Information:
I tried to research the internet for edible playdough, but only came across the tasty but rather unhealthy ones. Ok, given it is playdough and not dessert, it shouldn't matter much, but I just wanted to find something that is healthier.

Most of the recipes call for dry powdered milk as the replacement for flour in the playdough, which in my opinion is too much dairy. And for the Chinese, it will create too much heatiness in the child, eating milk powder straight!!!

The most popular edible play dough from the internet is peanut butter, but I am not a great fan of peanut butter. I like it, but not enough to want to eat it as playdough. However, I like hazelnut and almond butter.

So I have decided to experiment and make my own edible playdough that is fun, tasty and at the same time nutritious minus the dairy.

This can be an activity for a small children's birthday party, if one can ensure that the hands of the children are clean to play with edible playdough. I know I have classified this under the label "Inexpensive Birthday Ideas", even though this dough is a rather expensive dough. However, in comparison to the cost with the recent trend of Singaporean parents celebrating small children's birthday with hired chef in the form of prata man, balloon man, magician, etc. for small children birthday party, this idea is then indeed fun and a lot way less expensive! It is all relative I guess.

I woke up early this morning before Joshua woke up to make it. It is really tasty, and I hope I can wait till Joshua waits up to play with it and not eat it myself!

This is an activity you can do with your child.


Here are the steps in pictures:

Updates: 29 June 2014 (5Y3M24D)
It was a long time since we did this activity, when J was 2.5 years old. But he remembered it. J has been requesting to make edible playdough for sometime, and we made it together today. We made different color ones this time. He wanted to make his name too. I made the fruits. Then J got the idea to make lollipop with the playdough.
We are out of the normal routine today. That meant that we did not have a rigorious learning day (by that I meant writing Chinese character, piano practice, etc., but we did manage to write a page of Chinese character and a more relax piano practise), but it was only during the most unexpected time that memory is made. It has been very special and memorable one-to-one time. God is trying to speak to me and teaching me the balance of being more relaxed.

Thursday 24 November 2011


Pan-fried Plaice Fish

Serves 4

Preparation & Cooking Time: 30 minutes

- 3 TBS bread crump (rasp) or rye flour
- 2 tsp wheat germ (optional)
- 1 tsp brewer's yeast
- 1 egg
- 500g or 5-6 pieces of plaice fillets (rødspætte)
- 2 TBS cooking oil
- Sprinkle salt and pepper

1. Mix ingredients 1 – 3 together on a plate

2. Beat egg

3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on fish, then dip fish into egg mixture to coat it, and then roll fish into the dry mixture to coat it.

4. Fry on pan with a little oil for 2 minutes on each side.

5. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Value:
Plaice is an outstanding source of B12 and also contains plenty of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. The fat content of plaice varies, entailing a corresponding variation in the amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Additional Comments:

I made this for dinner today and Joshua loved it. I serve with potatoes and red pepper bell.

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Danish Fish Cakes/Friske Fiskefrikadelle

Recipe adapted from 24timer

Serves 4

Preparation & Cooking Time: 45 minutes

- 500g cod fish fillet (Torske fillet eller lange, mørk-eller lyssej, kuller, kulmule eller brosme)
- 2 stalks of spring onions chopped
- 2 TBS graham flour (or white flour)
- 2 TBS cooking oil
- 100 - 150ml skimmed milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tsp brewer's yeast (optional)
- 1 tsp wheatgerm (optional)

1. Cut the fish fillets into smaller pieces.

2. Add fish, spring onion, salt and pepper in a blend and blend well at high speed until it goes around in the blender like a ball.

3. Add egg and blend again until the fish become a ball.

4. Add milk and blend again.

5. Add flour, brewer's yeast and wheatgerm and blend a little more.

6. Form 12 - 16 into balls (using two tablespoons).

7. Heat pan with oil on high heat and fry until golden, then turn over and fry the other side until golden (you may need to turn down the fire from here on).

You can also add other vegetables such as carrots into the fish cakes mixture.

Additional Information:
This is a very Danish dish and the Danish kids love this. I made this for the first time for dinner and Joshua loved it. I have saved the remaining for his lunch tomorrow. Florian liked it too. It is nice to be able to know what ingredients go into the homemade fish cakes, compared to store-bought ones.

The original calls for white flour, but I use graham flour instead. The original calls for frying with butter, but I use cooking oil instead.

Eating the Danish fish cakes made me think of the Chinese fish balls. When I have a chance, I will make the Chinese fishballs.

- 24timer

Monday 21 November 2011


Montessori Activity: Practise Pincer Grasp with a Playdough Peacock

Age: From 2.5 years old

Objective: To provide a fun way to practise pincer grip and fine motor skills

1. Some feathers (if you don't have feathers, you can use toothpicks and make a poccupine instead :-))
2. 1 lump of store-bought or homemade playdough

1. Demonstrate to your child how to insert the feathers into the playdough to form the tail of the peacock.

2. Invite your child to try.

Additional Information:
Joshua is still not very good with his pincher grip. I have some feathers at home and I found this fun idea from My Montessori Moments. I also made my own playdough for the first time today. So I decided that I am going to let Joshua try this activity. I think it looks more like peacock than turkey, thus I am claling ours a playdough peacock.


How to Make Homemade Playdough?

Cooked Playdough

- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups water
- 2 TBS cooking oil
- 1 cup salt
- a couple drops of food colouring

1. Dissolve the salt in the water first to reduce the lumpiness due to undissolved salt in the dough later on.

2. Mix together and cook in a saucepan over low heat until mixture looks smooth with no lumps in the flour remaining and the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan (no. 4 - 5 on my stove for about 7.5 minutes ). Stir constantly!

3. Knead the dough while it is still warm and divide it into 4 doughs, dip a hole and add food colouring to it (make sure to wear gloves to prevent staining. Then knead and blend well.

Video Demonstration:

Additional Information:
It is the first time I made playdough myself. I have been wanting to try it, but didn't get around it. It was rather fast to make, but the colouring part took longer in order to get the richness of the colours I desired. It also suck up a lot of food colouring! Because it required so much colouring, it ended up with too much liquid added and my playdough became too sticky. I adjusted with more flour to reduce the stickiness. But it got too hard! I then added more cooking oil to make it softer. I should also have dissolved the salt first, before mixing it into the rest of ingredients, as the low heat on the stove did not help to dissolve the salt. This is the lesson l learned.

It is not necessary to make cream of tartar, although it would improve the consistency. The salt in the playdough is added to serve as preservative and help the playdough last longer. If you have baby less than 1 year old, who are still putting things into the mouth, you can do without the salt, but the playdough would not last long.

Here are some ideas how to play with playdough - let your child make his own own cakes, cookies, etc. Set up a tray with coloured dough and some objects for your child to shape the dough with. Cookie cutters, toothpicks, and bottle caps are all good choices. Four-year-olds love to use garlic presses. Two- and 3-year-olds may have trouble squeezing the garlic press together, but they can use plastic knives and scissors to cut the play dough. Here is how you can make playdough.

Picture showing steps on how to make your own playdough:

Below are other different recipes I gathered from the net:

Uncooked Playdough

1 cup flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients.
2. Knead until smooth.

Additional Information:
Children can mix this themselves. Put it into zip lock bags and store in the refrigerator.

Uncooked Oatmeal Playdough

- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well and knead until smooth.

Additional Information:
Store covered in refrigerator. This doesn't last as long as cooked playdough. This is ideal if your child would like to make playdough himself. Oatmeal playdough dries out easily and can be painted when it's dry.

Magic Playdough

- 3 cups self raising flour
- 1 cup water

Mix the flour and water together and knead thoroughly. The mixture should not be sticky, so add more flour until you are satisfies with the texture.

Additional Information:
This playdough is soft and pliable and fells like risen yeast when it is handled.

Tasty Peanut Butter Playdough

- 1 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup liquid honey
- 1 cup powdered milk
- 1 cup rolled oats ground

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Knead until smooth. Adjust with powdered milk accordingly.

Tasty Edible Playdough

- 1 cup almond or hazelnut butter
- 1 cup liquid honey
- 2 cups rolled oats ground

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Knead until smooth. Adjust with almond butter or ground rolled oats accordingly.

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