Monday 31 December 2012


J Summary 2012 (2Y9M-3Y9M) - Workbooks

Looking back, these are the Chinese workbooks completed by Joshua at 3 years old. A whole stack of 8. Thus, on average he completed 2/3 of a book a month. He spent 10-15 minutes each evening on it, although not every evening.
I comtemplated whether I should make this post, as I might make many Singaporean moms jealous, and I might make many western moms think that I am crazy. But this is my blog, a place where I record all the memories I have with J. So what I will do is to post it but date back to 31 December 2012, so that few people would read it. I wish Blogger has a function to separate private posts from public posts...
To the western moms, I am a crazy mom. They probably imagined me holding a cane... forcing J to do his homework. But really he enjoyed it and asked for it himself. Each time, he could do a few pages, until I said stop.
While we had done these, there were many other things we hadn't that much opportunities, as God made all of us equal - only 24 hours a day.
For example, no, J did not play with mud... he didn't like it. I was glad, as it would stress me out with the clean up.
No, he didn't learn to cycle at 3 years old, unlike my neighbour's daughter. Her mom cautioned me to give more time to J to learn cycling. I tried, but he always just stopped after a few minutes, unlike when he is doing his homework with mommy, he could go on and go. So I gave up. I figured that when he is ready, he would request to learn to cycle. Now soon turning 4, he is requesting to cycle more. So I think in 2013, we would not be completing so many workbooks.
They are very colourful and made of good paper, a little like Kumon, but much cheaper. I bought it from Singapore's Popular Book Shop.
Looking at this stack reminded me of my childhood... but I was 11 then, while J was 3. I did a whole stack of assessment books as high as the height of a microwave, forced by my teacher in an elite girls' primary school in Singapore. This was so that we could all get into an elite girls' secondary school, and my teacher would get the glory. Well, her efforts paid off, and almost all of us proceeded onto an elite girls' secondary school. I remembered back then I really hated it, doing all the assessment books.
It is a little eerie that I am carrying on this practise with my son... is it always a case of how one will always repeat what one is used to in their childhood subconsciously into their parenting? The only difference between J and I is, J loves all the homework, while I hated it.

Sunday 16 December 2012


FIBC Nursery Christmas Play: Jesus was Born

Timothy as Caesar Augustus...
Anna as Mary and Joshua Friis as Joseph...
Joshua Tan, Matthew, Jonathan and Joshua Coote as angels...
Isabella and Daniel as shepherds...
Aden and Eric as sheeps...

Here is the video of the play:

Some pictures from the play...

Eric as sheep

Backstage pictures here:

Friday 14 December 2012


Montessori Activity: The 9 Layout – Beads & Large Numbers (Decimal System)

AGE: 4 - 4.5 years old


1.     To give an overall view of the decimal system and the fact that in base then there may be no more than nine in any one category, for both beads and cards.

2.     To make evident the parallel hierarchy of the quantities and their symbols.

3.     To combine the quantities and symbols in practice and to become familiar with their correspondence.


1.     9 of each type of golden beads: ones, tens, hundreds and thousands (demonstration tray materials).

2.     1 set of Large Number Cards: 1 – 9, 10 – 90, 100 – 900 and 1000 - 9000.

3.     2 mats

4.     1 tray


1.     Set up the entire layout and count through from one unit to nine units, one ten to nine tens, one hundred to nine hundreds and one thousand.

2.     Lay out on a second mat the Number Cards following columns from right to left for units to thousands respectively, showing that after nine of any category one must go to the next higher category, and counting through the entire layout when you are done.

3.     Invite the child visually to compare the arrangements on the two mats and discover their parallel hierarchies.

4.     Show the child how to follow the same hierarchical order in putting the materials back to their containers.

5.     Invite the child to construct the layouts independently.

6.     Repeat as many times as needed.


1.     With the two mats spread out, place a certain number beads of a category on a tray and ask the child to find the corresponding card for this amount of beads. Count the beads with the child: “one ten, two tens, three tens…” placing them as they are counted in a neat column in front of the card.

2.     Situate yourself on the mat with the Number Cards. Give each child a tray and a number card. Ask the child to bring back the amount of beads from the bead mat stated on the number card in the tray. When the beads are brought back, count them aloud. Thank the child and request that the cards and beads be put back into their respective arrangements.


Proper amount of material provided.


May do Three Period Lessons any time.
J (3Y9M9D) tried this today. He wasn't that interested. In the past, I would be rather discouraged, but recently I have noticed that he had learned all the things touched on in those activities, although he had not shown so much visual eagerness with it. It could be that he is just "acting" cool. Thus, I am better at taking it in my stride now. Another example is sometimes J doesn't seem to be looking at what I am reading, but a few days later, I noticed that he actually had learned the words.
So what I have learned from my experience with J is that we are sowing seeds. We may not see immediate results or enthusiasm, but it will come, if we don't give up. So today, I am sowing seeds.
Oh, by the way, this is the same attitude I take with piano practice as well. We haven't started that yet, but piano lessons will begin in the new year :-)


Shu-Chen Jenny Yen’s On-line Montessori Albums

Brilliant Minds Montessori


Sunday 9 December 2012


Demonstrating Melting

Age: From 3.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5 minutes

Objectives: To teach the concept of melting in a concrete and fun way

1. Snow
2. Air-dryer

1. Pretend that the air-dryer is the sun that gives out heat that melts away the snow.

2. Turn on the air-dryer and let your child point towards the snow with the air-dryer and see how the snow disapppear and turn into water.

3. Encourage him to touch the melted snow which turned to water and ask him how the water feels - is it warm or cold.

Additional Information:
J (3Y9M4D) tried this today. It is snowing in Denmark. We had a layer of snow on the cover of our pot lid that stood outside our "outdoor" fridge. We took it in. Joshua wanted to see how we melt away the snow. Daddy thought of the idea of using the air-dryer. We have also shown Joshua how the snow melts away when running warm water on them.

Friday 7 December 2012


J Summary (3Y9M2D) - Where Do People Go After They Die?

On the way back from the supermarket, we passed by a cemetry. A few weeks ago, J asked me what it is. I tried to explain that that is a place we bury people who passed away.

Today, on the way back from the supermarket, we passed by the cemetry again. J asked again the same question. This time, he asked where do people go when they die.

I struggled to explain this in as simple a way as a little child could understand... actually thinking to myself whether I do fully understand the concept. Then a thought came to my mind that I should do my best to make full use of this opportunity (thought feeling as inadequate as I could be) to explain to him Jesus and eternal life. So I told him that for those who believe in Jesus, when they die, they will go to heaven and receive eternal life.

J asked then what? I said, that they will be with God forever.

J asked where heaven is? I said, up there.

J asked will there be food to eat? Oh yes, my son... a true blue Singaporean at 3.5 years old, and have never really lived in Singapore, knows that the favourite pass time of Singaporean is food, glorious food! It must be in the blood :-)

I have to say that I don't know whether there will be delicious food in heaven.

I couldn't quite remember what he said next, but he said that he wouldn't want to go to heaven, if there is no food to eat!!!

On the way back... I thought how like me he is... I remembered that at a very young age I pondered upon the meaning of life. I pondered about death.

I think that was why I accepted Christ into my life at the age of 12 years old.

It is hard to be a parent... so many complex questions that we have to explain and make simple for a young child. But in such matter of life - and death, we have the assurance that our God will work in the heart of our young ones and bring them to the right path.

I am glad that J asked this question. There are many who at an old age does not even ponder such a question, which I think is sad.

This walk today, I held it close in my heart. May God answer J and give him a heart understanding of the real meaning of life - and death.

I leave you this verse from the Bible, so simple, yet so profound, and I pray too that you will get answer to the meaning of life:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

Wednesday 5 December 2012


Food-for-Thought: Communication & Conflict Management

I have come to realize that the most important competencies a person can possess in life are Communication and Conflict Management.

If you have these two competencies, you rule the world.... well, at least your own world :-)

These two competencies are needed in all relationships at all stages of life and in all walks of life... in:

1. Child-parent relationship
2. Marriage relationship
3. Friendship
4. Student-teacher relationship
5. Manager-subordinate relationship
6. Supplier-client relationship
7. Country-to-country relationship

But don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't always go so well, as it may not be reflective of your competencies than others' lack of competency. For it takes two hands to clap.

But how do we develop these competencies?

I think the Bible sums it best in one word:


Love speaks with gentleness and with consideration for the other party which smooths all relationships, and thus it is the best communication and conflict resolution ingredient.

Love speaks of putting our pride and ego behind and truly listen.

This brings to reminder our main goal in life: To love God and love others

The Bible says:

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." - Colossians 3:14

I have come to understand the truth in this verse and its application to modern day communication and conflict management. How wise our God is and the wisdom of His teachings.

Have I achieved it yet?

No, otherwise I would have long ruled the world.... (and looking at the current world situation... most state leaders have not mastered it either...)

No doubt it is another new day for me to learn to apply it at home and in the office... and for sure... I will continue to make mistakes... aaaaaahhhh communication and conflict management!!!


Best Educational & Fun Toys for Children (0 - 15 Years Old)

Here is a list of best educational toys in my opinion. Since I am a firm believer in using the 5 senses to learn as well as using movement, most of the toys are manipulatives or Montessori materials. Some I have already gotten but others I am saving up to buy for Joshua. Some you can find substitutes in your kitchen or household and some you could make yourself, thus it is not necessary to buy all of them. You can use this list as an inspiration. I will return to this post to update the list, whenever I find a worthy toy.

1. Toys for Babies 0 - 6 months

Here are some of the toys that Joshua played with when he was a baby.

1.1. Mobile and Gym

These toys provide interesting things for the baby to look at, thereby stimulating their brain development, when they are lying on their back. At some point, the baby will be encourage to bat the toys above him, training his/her eye-hand coordination:

1.2. Lie-On-Tummy Gym

This toy helps to encourage baby to be on his/her tummy. One of my favourites when Joshua was a baby:

1.3. Bright Toys

I love these bright and colourful Lamaze toys with faces. Joshua was very attracted to them, when he was a baby and had hours of fun. They stimulate the baby, especially when the baby is lying in the pram:

1.4. Toys for Pram

This is great to hand on the pram:

1.5 Toys to Encourage Baby to Turn

These toys are good for the crib and the pram and encourage the baby to turn to his/her side. When Joshua was young, I used it to encourage Joshua to learn to turn around:

1.6. Wrist and Foot Rattles

At this age, babies cannot hold things yet. These wrist and foot rangles are good for making sounds for the baby for him/her to notice his/her hands and feet:

1.7. Toys for Autocar Seats

One of the concerns I had is baby does not get enough stimulation when on the road, while I am driving. These toys are great for the autocar seats and solved the problem:

1.8. Rangles for Grasp

These colourful rangles are great for babies. They love to grasp them. I like especially the Chinese type with drums on the side. They are very interesting for babies to play with, and was the top favourite for Joshua:

1.9. Mirror
Let baby looks at the mirror and help him to slowly recognize himself:

1.10. Exersaucer

This exersaucer is great for baby around 3 months old and was one of Joshua's favourite, when he was a baby. It came with toys for baby to bat with, training his hand-eye coordination:

1.11. vTech Ball

This moving vtech ball is great for baby around 5 months old who are beginning to learn to crawl as it encourages baby to crawl towards it:

You can read more about some the activities here:

2. Toys for Babies 6 - 12 months

2.1. Touch-&-Feel Books

2.2. Stacking Toys

2.3. Shape-Sorters

This is a classic for babies:

2.4. Stand-Up Toys

These toys are ideal in teaching a pre-toddler who is learning to walk:

2.5. Cause-&-Effecct Toys

2.6. Activity Mats

These mats are good for blanket time:

2.7. Rangles

This rangle is excellent for older babies, and it had provided Joshua lots of fun exploring it:

2.8. Musical Instruments

2.9. Bath Toys

3. Toys for Toddlers 1 - 2 years old

3.1. Balls

3.2. Wooden Blocks

3.3. Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles

These wooden puzzles with knobs are good for babies learning to play with puzzles:

3.4. Wooden Stack & Sort Board

3.5. Piggy-bank

3.6. Doodle Sketch

3.7. Wooden Bead Maze

3.8. Wooden Lacing Beads

3.9. Pom Poms & Tweezers

3.10 LEGO Duplo

3.10. Child-Sized Porceleain Jugs and Trays

3.11. Bath Toys

3.12. Inflatable Pool

3.13. Sand Play Toys

3.14. Leap Frog Phonics Fridge Magnets

3.15. Teddy Bears

3.16. Glow-In-The-Dark Stickers

4. Toys for Toddlers 2 - 3 years old

4.1. Memory Matching Game

4.2. Jigsaw Puzzles

Here are some excellent and well-made jigsaw puzzles:

4.3. Letters Fridge Magnets & Others

These toys provide a fun way to learn the letters. Pop together these fun popsicles to match uppercase and lowercase letters. Skills reinforced: Matching upper- and lowercase letter. Ages 3 - 6 years old:

4.4. Play Kitchen & Cutting Food Toys

These cutting toys are a safe way for children to practise cutting and at the same time encourage good eating habits. The toy kitchen can be added for children who like home-living pretence play. It would be ideal to be plaed in a kitchen for the child to be cooking along with mommy.

4.5. Birthday Cake
I like this toy, because you can insert real candles and practise blowing candle with your child without consuming all the calories. Children find it really fun!

4.6 Playdough

It is said to be essential for children to play with sand and water. I would say that playdough comes next. It encourage creativity in children and a good toy for find motor skills development.

4.7. Lacing Toys

4.8. Mosaic Peg Board

4.9. Wooden Train Set

4.10. Fishing

4.11. Trucks

4.12. Balance Bike

4.13. Musical Instruments

At this age, your child would start to know how to blow. It would be interesting for him to play with musical instruments such as saxophone, trumpet, etc.

4.14. Art Supplies

4.15. Rubber Stamps

4.16. Kid-Size Table & Chair

4.17. Baby Dolls

4.18. Montessori Knobbed Cylinders

These are Montessori cylinders and they are great for developing the child's visual perception of dimension as well as experiences in seriation. They are made of wood. They are pricey though. If I could buy only 1 of them, I would buy Cylinder Block 2:

4.19. Montessori Weight Box

This Montessori weight box is great for developing the child's ability to perceive and differentiate weights. This learning toy builds concentration, matching and focusing skills. Children compare the weights of these smooth wooden cylinders to discover a match. Color-coded dots on the bottom allow for self-correction. This tactile educational toy is ideal for the home, preschool or day care center. Ages 3+:

4.20. Montessori Rough & Smooth Boards

This toy helps to create a conscious awareness of the texture of surfaces and refine the tactile senses:

4.21. Geometric Solids

These folding geometric shape set provides a concrete way to teach Maths concepts of symmetry, perimeter, area, surface area and volume:

4.22. Bear Counters

These toys are excellent for sorting, learning counting, colours and pattern recognition:

4.23. Hungry Monkey Motor Skills Game

5. Toys for Preschoolers 3 - 4 years old

5.1. Toy Cash Register

5.2.  Calendar

5.3. Real Piggy Bank

5.4. Leap Frog Word Builder

5.5. Bicycle

5.6. LEGO

5.7. Tea Set

5.8. Tent

5.9. 4-In-A-Line Game

5.10. Easel

5.11. Kite

5.12. Ring Toss

5.13. Hammer & Nails Tack Set

5.14. Montessori Colour Tablets

These toys help to refine the child's visual perception of color.

5.15. Montessori Binomial Cube

The Montessori Binomial Cube is great for for teaching on Sensory & Algebraic concept:

5.16. Montessori Constructive Triangles

Such a set is a great tool for the child to experiment the various ways which the sizes and shapes can be divided and combined to form other shapes:

5.17. Montessori Constructive Blue Triangles

These are great for the child to explore equivalency, congruency and similarity:

5.18. Wooden Pattern Blocks

This toy teaches a range of math concepts with these sets of wooden Pattern Blocks in 6 shapes and colors. Count, sort, explore symmetry, create colorful designs, practice linear and area measurement, etc.:

5.19. Lego Numbers and Mosaics Set
This is a fantastic Lego set that encourage the children to explore early math concepts, such as number recognition, sorting, sequencing, and mathematical symbols and concepts. Mosaic tiles teach about shapes, colors, and symmetry. Ages 3 up.

5.20. Bean Bags

Bean bags are good for tossing games, relays, juggling, hop scotch or even teaching Maths:

5.21. Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks

These blocks are excellent for the Beginning Reader:

5.22. LEGO Letters Set

This is a great set to help children develop letter and sound recognition, and fine motor and language skills while building words. Ages 3 up:

5.23. Inflatable Float

5.24. Tack Set

6. Toys for Preschoolers 4 - 5 years old

6.1. Stringing Beads

6.2. Addition Dominoes:

6.3. Number Balance

This T-shaped scale with 20 weights provides the child a fun and concrete way to teach Maths - addition and subtraction:

6.4. Montessori Addition Strip Board

Provides concrete exercises in addition that engages the child's sense of touch:

6.5. Montessori Addition Working Charts

To provide the child more practice with subtraction and to help memorise the subtraction tables

6.6. Montessori Subtration Strip Board

Provides concrete exercises in subtraction the child's sense of touch:

6.7. Montessori Subtration Working Charts

To provide the child more practice with subtraction and to help memorise the subtraction tables

6.8. Montessori Moveable Alphabet Box

This set helps to prepare the child for reading, writing and spelling in a fun way. You can learn how to use it here. Ages 4 up.

6.9. Skipping Rope (Ages 4 up)

7. Toys for Preschoolers 5 - 6 years old

7.1. Montessori Hundred Board

Below are various variation of the Montessori Hundred Board. They are a good tool for introducing numbers 1-100 in a logical way, teaching number patterns, sequencing and place value. Ages 5 - 10.

7.2. Montessori Pythagoras Board

The child chooses a wooden answer chip, thinks of a multiplication equation that produces this product, then places the chip in the correct position on the ruled board. Ages 4 up:

7.3. Montessori Teens and Tens Boards

The Teen Boards - To make the association of the names 11-19 with written figures. When used with the teen bead box, it helps make the association between the numbers and the quantities 11-19. Tens Boards - When used with the tens bead box, the child learns to associate quantities with the figures 11-99. To gain a thorough understanding of sequence:

7.4. Montessori Decimal System

It enhances the understanding of place value, arithmetic, decimals, fractions, percents, money, maths and more:

This is similar to the Montessori elementary materials introduction to decimal system, which much cheaper:

Here is the interlocking version:

Here are some unit cubes that can be clinked together on all 6 sides to make into bars and thousand cubes:

7.5. Money Dominos

Teaching money in a fun way:

7.6. Magnetic World Map Puzzle

This is a great toy to teach about the different countries in the world. The fact that it is magnetic means it is difficult to lose the pieces. Games to play with it - I take away four countries and ask your child what they are. Gradually make it harder for the child as he gets older. Test each other on the flags and continents. Ages 5 - 10:

8. Toys for Children 6 - 7 years old

8.1. Rainbow Fraction Pizzas, Tiles or Tower

These toys provide a great kinesthetic way to reinforce basic fraction concepts. Ages 6 up:

8.2. Fraction Card or Board Game

More fun fraction card and board game. Learners enjoy the fun of traditional domino game play and master addition facts at the same time:

8.3. Montessori Multiplication Board

Montessori multiplication board provides a concrete way to teach multiplication:

8.4. Montessori Dividion Board

Montessori division board provides a concrete way to teach division:

9. Toys for Children 7 - 8 years old

9.1. Microscope

9.2. LEGO Technic

Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal Lego. Gears have been included within Lego Technic sets as a way of transferring rotary power, and of gearing-up or down the speed. Ages 7 - 14:

10. Toys for Children 8 - 9 years old

10.1. LEGO Technic

Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal Lego. Gears have been included within Lego Technic sets as a way of transferring rotary power, and of gearing-up or down the speed. Ages 8 - 14:

10.2. Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100

This toy is an excellent introduction to electronics. It is ideal for your child on the road to understanding electricity. Everything just snaps together like building blocks, and there's no need for screwdrivers, soldering irons, electrical tape or testers. Think of this as the "LEGO" approach to wiring. Ages 8 - 12.

11. Toys for Children 9 - 10 years old

11.1. LEGO Technic

Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal Lego. Gears have been included within Lego Technic sets as a way of transferring rotary power, and of gearing-up or down the speed.

12. Toys for Pre-Teens 10 - 11 years old

12.1. LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 (8547)

Mindstorms, a Lego line of robotic products, can offer hours of fun for the inventive child. Your child will have a great start in engineering. As a bonus, your kid will be able to interact with people all over the world, while playing with it. Ages 10 - 18.

13. Toys for Pre-Teens 11 - 12 years old

13.1. Algebra Balance

The Algebra Balance is an excellent toy which allows you to demonstrate that –1<0. Weights placed on the outer pans represent negative integers, and those placed in the inner pans represent positive integers, making it possible to demonstrate that (–1)+(+1)=0. The set comes with 4 plastic pans, 4 plastic canisters, a set of plastic weights and a Teaching Guide. Ages 11 up:

13.2. Magnetic Algebra Tiles

These magnetic geometric shapes are great for modeling algebraic principles. Students get to build geometric models of polynomials exploring firsthand the concepts related to them. Students will learn concepts related to the Zero Principle, Polynomials and Trinomials. Addition, multiplication and other math skills will be sharpened using nearly 30 algebra worksheets featured in this 48-page book. Teaching Notes included. Ages 11 to 17 :

14. Toys for Pre-Teens 12 - 13 years old

11.1. LEGO Technic

Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal Lego. Gears have been included within Lego Technic sets as a way of transferring rotary power, and of gearing-up or down the speed. Ages 12 - 14:

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