Friday 31 August 2012


Fun with Matching Upper & Lowercase Letters

This game is about selling matching letters popsicles
Age: From 3 years old

1. To teach letter recognition in a fun way.
2. To train fine motor skills.
1. Uppercase Alpha Pops in a bowl
2. Lowercase Alpha Pops in a bowl
3. 1 cash register
4. 1 Tray
1. Call out a letter by saying, “Mommy would like to buy the letter ‘a’ ice-cream."

2. Your child will find the letter in uppercase, and then the letter in lowercase, and snap them together.

3. Ask, “Could you tell me, Joshua, which is big ‘A’ and which is small ‘a’?” and wait for him to answer.

4. Joshua would then scan the ice-cream with his scanner.

5. I will then ask him, “How much is it?”

6. I pay him the money, he press the register and give me the change as well as the ice-cream.

7. Repeat for another letter until you complete all the 26 letters.
Additional Information:
Our toy arrived from Amazon yesterday, and we picked it up at the post office after fetching Joshua back from kindergarten. We played this today after dinner and Joshua (3Y5M25D) could now name almost all the letters, except letter ‘r’. He also tended to mix up ‘k’ and ‘x’. He could match both uppercase and lowercase for almost all the letters. This toy is recommended for 2 years old, but it suits Joshua at 3.5 years old, since English is his third language. This toy was fun and challenging enough for him, without frustrating him. The only complaint I have is that there are two letters on each popsicle, one in front and one behind. It would be neater if it has only one letter for each popsicle. Nevertheless, Joshua is having so much fun and is learning the letters, so I could live with this short-coming. In fact, we only did this activity for School Time this evening and nothing else, as he was really enjoying it. We played 3.5 rounds of the full set of letters for 1 hour 15 minutes. I had to stop him so that he could go to bed. He can’t wait to play it again tomorrow. It was Joshua's idea to include the cash register, and I think that pretend play part made it more fun.

I was a little hesitant to buy this toy since it is toy ice-cream - unhealthy food, but was attracted by its concept of matching uppercase and lowercase letter. I was afraid that Joshua would start asking me for ice-cream. However, he did not. In fact, on the way home from kindergarten today, we passed by an ice-cream store, and he said to me, "Mommy, those we cannot eat." I was surprised and asked, "who told you that? Why is it so?" He said that it was me who told him that, and that I told him that ice-cream is unhealthy and no good for the body. I didn't think that he could really take such notice of what I had said sometime ago, but he did. Then he commented that I had allowed him to eat ice-cream some weeks ago, and that I should not have done that. Oops! So I told him that he is right, it is only once in a while that we can eat ice-cream, and that we should not eat ice-cream anymore. Although Joshua sure likes ice-cream, I am glad that he seems to have enough self-control... which took me by surprise for a 3.5 year old. But I will cherish it while it lasts...

P.S. Joshua sure made poor business out of selling popsicles! He gave me the popsicles and also the money. That means that I got popsicles for free and even money for it!!

You can find it from Amazon. If not, borrowing from this toy concept, you can also make your own toy ice-cream with popsicle stick and cardboard:


Tuesday 28 August 2012


J's Lunch Box - A Little Surprise Note

This is a great idea for working moms. I read about this idea of leaving a surprise note in your child's lunch box, and decided to try it out:

Here is a list of benefits:

1. It's a way to create memories with your child, even when you are at work.

2. It's a way to inculcate values to your child, get his attention, without being naggy or preachy

3. It wets your child appetite for reading - he would want to master reading so that he can read the message you write to him.

4. It encourages writing skills - your child would be inspired to one day write small encouraging note himself. This is a way to balance the modern life "fast food sms".

Here are some tips:

1. Write short up-lifting messages.

2. Keep it short and simple - You don't want to overwhelm your child's kindergarten teacher!

Here are some ideas for the messages:

1. Love you.

2. Miss you.

3. You are precious to mommy and daddy.

4. Thinking of you at work. Be good and listen to your teachers.

5. Looking forward to seeing you this evening.

6. Share a verse from Proverbs.

J Summary (3Y5M23D) - To Nap or Not to Nap...

J stopped taking his nap at the kindergarten for a week. He was too distracted and could not settle down to sleep, as he wanted to go out and play with the other kids.

If he doesn't take his nap during the day, he would be too tired to have School Time with Mommy in the evening. I took the risk to present to him two choices:

1. If he naps during the day, he gets to do School Time.

2. If he does not nap during the day, we would forego School Time.

Yesterday, he chose to forego School Time and not nap during the day. He came home so tired that he could bearly made it through dinner. He looked at his work accomplishment from the School Time the day before, and regretted his choice:

Sad though I was, I stuck to our agreement. It would be meaningless to continue School Time as he was so tired. I told him that he has opted for the choice of not napping and he has to stick to the consequences. He can still make a different choice the following day. He went straight to bed after his shower, sobbing quietly that he missed his School Time, but obeyed Mommy and slept before 7pm.

I felt sad as I came downstairs... the day had been very meaningless for me too. After working at the office for the whole day, I could not see my son, as we only had time to have dinner and J had to go to bed. Taking the risk of giving J the choice of School Time or Nap Time is very risky too, as he could choose to forego nap time over School Time. I prayed hard.

The next morning J woke up. I asked him if he would try to nap or rest in the day, so that he would be fresh by evening time, and has the surplus to do School Time with Mommy. He said he will. This evening he came back from kindergarten and said that he had taken his nap, thus he is entitled to do School Time. J celebrated his achievement - that he slept. We had a very cozy School Time. Thank you God for answering my prayers.

This is what he did for School Time, because J made his own choice that he would try to nap or rest in the day at the kindergarten today:

School Time/Skoletid/上课时间

Duration: 7 - 8pm (1 hour)

Montessori Time:

We revisted some Practical Life activities that he used to do when he was 2 years old - Funnelling water... at 3.5 years, Joshua has moved on to the challenge of pouring from adult size bottles, as the kid-size bottles no longer challenge him. Here he is pretending to pour orange juice. At this age, he is showing increasingly seriousness, concentration and sense of fulfillment in his work, compared to his attention span when he was 2 years old.

 Here is a video:

Blanket Time:

We read 2 books today. This is a Chinese book on Babapapa visiting other planets.

We read an English book on kangaroos.

Desk Time:

We did 3 pages of worksheets today. Continuing on the planet theme (this was unplanned and a good coincidence), Joshua did a counting and pasting stickers exercise on planets from his Chinese workbook. Here Joshua showing his victory sign for completing his homework:

More on counting and matching exercise:

Quiet Time:

Joshua chose this page, because it showed planets, continuing on the theme of planets. We tried to memorize a verse Genesis 1:1, but he wasn't too interested, prefering to recite Tang Dynasty poems. This I reckon is because English is his third language. I just have to be patient.

Saturday 25 August 2012


Homemade Marble Run

Inspired by Apartment Therapy
We just built an IKEA table and have cardboard packaging lying around. Before throwing them away, what can we do with those cardboards and the tubes from paper kitchen roll?
I found this creative idea from Apartment Therapy. Joshua (3Y5M20D) had a lot of fun seeing all the marbles rolling down... getting a taste of the force of gravity in a fun way.
Warning: For younger children, supervise closely to make sure that they don't swallow any marbles.
Here is a video we have taken:

Thursday 23 August 2012


Montessori Activity: Learning Number Recognition with Popsicle Sticks

Age: From 3.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

1. 1 bag of 20 popsicle sticks labelled at the top with number 1 - 20 with a pen
2. 1 piggybank
3. 1 tray

1. Call out a number and ask your child to find the stick with that number.

2. Ask your child to put it into the piggybank.


If you have two sets, you can play a game of who can complete it first.

Additional Information:
Joshua (3Y5M19D) tried this today, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. It is not too easy and not too challenging, one of the few times, when I got it just right. Joshua got most of the numbers 1-10 correct.
For the teen numbers, I have to give him clues such as 17 is 1 and 7 together. I will call out no. 17 and tell him to look for the number with 1 and 7. He could find them and place them into the piggybank.

Popsicle sticks are available from Amazon:

Sunday 19 August 2012


My First Calendar

Age: From 3 years old

1. To provide a fun and kinestic way to teach day, date, month, weather and season.

1. My First Calendar (either make or buy)

1. Introduce this using Montessori 3 period lesson: Read the day to your child first. Show him how you can change the day to today's day and date, e.g. Monday by taking the magnet piece for Monday and placing it on the space provided for "Day".

2. Ask your child, "Can you stick Monday onto its place on the calendar?"

3. After he has placed Monday on the calendar, point to the label and ask, "Can you tell me what day this is?"

4. Invite him to look out of the window and label the weather into the calendar by choosing the most appropriate weather magnet.

Additional Information:
Joshua has started being aware of day, weather and time and is beginning to show interest in this area. At his kindergarten, they have such a calendar, and the children take turns everyday to change the date, weather, etc. Going along with the theme, I bought this version in English. I made my own Chinese labels.

Joshua (3Y5M14D) tried it for the first time today. He looked out of the window and saw that the trees were swaying and it was windy. He looked for the windy picture magnet, but there isn't any. Thus, I have also made a windy picture magnet.

You can also make your own pictures, laminate it and use blue tack to stick it onto a board. However, since I am a working mom, and not so blessed artistically, I decided to save time and the agony of making it by buying one from Amazon.

I bought the magnetic strips in Singapore, but I couldn't find it in Amazon.

The First Calendar is available at Amazon:

Friday 17 August 2012


Montessori Activity: Playdough Number Line

Idea from Tot School
Age: From 4 years old

Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

1. 1 container of 20 popsicle sticks labelled at the top with number 1 - 20 with a pen
2. 1 container of playdough
3. 1 tray

1. Tell your child that you are building a number line and invite him to roll the playdough into a long line.

2. Find the no. 1 stick and stick it onto the start of the playdough line.

3. Ask your child to find the no. 2 stick and stick it next to no. 1.

4. Do the same to the rest of the sticks arranging them in numerical order.

Additional Information:
I got this fanastic activity for teaching the tens and teens numbers from Tot School. Joshua (3Y5M6D) tried it with Amy on 11.8.2012. Amy enjoyed it a lot and went on to complete it, but Joshua got frustrated mid-way. Next time I will only display 1-10 for Joshua.


Popsicle sticks are available from Amazon:


Montessori Activity: The "Homemade" Montessori Moveable Alphabet

or fridge magnets

Lesson plan adapted from Montessori Mom

Age: From 4 years old (MontessoriMom recommends to use when the short letter sounds are mastered)

1. To prepare the child for reading, writing and spelling in a fun way.

1. 1 plastic clear storage container with lid with 26 compartments for each letter, the blue letters are vowels and the red letters are consonants.
2. 1 set of letter fridge magnets
3. 1 paper
4. 1 pen
5. Leap-Frog letter magnets (optional)
6. 1 mat

1. Open the box and show the letters to the child.

2. Ask your child various letters such as: "Can you show me "m"?

3. Write a 3-letter word such as "map" on a paper and tell your child, "We are going to make _______."

4. Ask your child, "What letters do you hear when I say "map"? The child will find the letter "m" and place it on the mat.

5. Ask: "What other sounds do you hear?" Usually, it will be "p". the child will find the letter "p" and place it on the mat.

6. Say: "There is a sound between the "m" and "p".

7. Ask the child to listen very carefully and pronounce the word "m-a-p" slowly and clearly for him.

8. Continue to make other words with your child until the exercise is mastered.

9. Be patient. Start by working on the letters that your child already knows. Work on the phonetic sounds of the letters. One day your child will be able to work on his own.

Additional Information:
Montessori materials as shown below can be very expensive:

Since we have the Leap frog fridge magnetic word builder, we decided to use it to make our own set of the Montessori-inspired Moveable Alphabet Box. As an addition, I labelled the compartment of each letter with a sticker. This helps Joshua to sort the letters as part of the clean up activity. One of the advantage of using the Leap Frog word builder for us is that it also helps me to revise my phonics :-)

You can make your own Montessori Moveable Alphabet by purchasing printables from

I found an excellent lesson plan from MontessoriMom! She has a fantastic list of 2 and 3 letter phonetic words a-e-i-o-u. Check out MontessoriMom for more free Montessori resources.

Another way of making your own Montessori moveable alphabet box is to use the Leap Frog Magnetic Word Builder:

Here are the main materials used in this post:


Thursday 16 August 2012


J's Lunch Box

Consists of banana, strawberries, almonds, raisins and sushi - requested by Joshua. It came back empty.

J Summary (3Y5M12D) - Recognize Number 8

At breakfast this morning, two raisins stuck together, and J pointed out to me, "Mommy, you see, the number 8."

This evening, we happened to work on a Chinese workbook exercise on number 8 - what perfect timing, and J was thrilled to find all the number 8s hidden in the picture.

The number 8 is also the most-loved number by the Chinese. It signify prosperity, because of the sound it makes in Chinese. Funny how J chose the number 8!!! Must be in the genes!

Besides number 8, J could also recognize 1, 2, 3, 6 and 9. He has difficulty with number 5.
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