Wednesday 30 January 2013

School Time: Letter "D"

J (3Y10M25D). We matched the "d" mini figurines with the "d" pictures in the flash card:

We picked out the letter "d" magnet and listened to its sound on the Leap Frog Letter Factory

We picked out the letter "d" card from among others

We read the book on "My "d" Sound Box

We matched the "d" figurines from our own "Sound box" with the pictures in the "Sound Box" book:

We counted the number of letter "d" found in the book:

We practiced tracing small letter "d" from the workbook we bought from Singapore:

We practiced tracing capital letter "D" from the workbook we bought from Singapore:

Others:

We did the Addition with Number Rods.
We read an English Bible story.
We revised the Chinese characters for household objects.
We revised the piano letters and did piano finger exercise.

References:

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Montessori Activity: Static Addition with Number Rods (加法 [jiāfǎ])

AGE: From 3.5 years old (after mastery of The Number Rods and Sandpaper Numbers)

OBJECTIVE(S):

1.     To associate symbol and quantity.

MATERIALS:

1.     Set of Red Rods or Number Rods

2.     Set of Number Tablets (or Sandpaper Numeral Cards)

3.     1 mat

PRESENTATION:

1.     Arrange the Number Rods in sequential stair formation on the mat.

2.     Take out the cards and place them randomly onto the square mat.

3.     Separate Rod 10 from the others to the top of the mat.

4.     Have the child count it and the mark it with the appropriate card.

5.     Tell your child that you are going to make tens with the number rods.

6.     Move Rod 9 up beside Rod 10.

7.     Have the child say what rod it is, count it and place the correct card.

8.     Ask the child: “I wonder which rod we can put to make this nine the same length as the ten?”

9.     Have the child join Rod 1 to the end of Rod 9 and place Tablet 1 at the end of the Rod 1.

10.  As you point to the numbers, say: “9 + 1 makes 10.”

11.  The Number Tablets may be used to state equation together with the “+” symbol.

12.  Repeat in the same way for the Rod 8 and make it the same length as the Rod 10. Say: “8 + 2 makes 10.”

13.  Repeat for Rod 7 and Rod 6.

14.  When the child gets to Rod 5, show him how to flip it to the right hand side and say: “If we had another 5, we could make 10.”

15.  Ask the child if we have something in the classroom that is similar to the Rod 5.

16.  Have the child bring over the fifth rod from the Red Rods and see if it is the same length as the Number Rod 5.

17.  Place it to the left of the Number Rod 5 and say: “See it makes the same length as Rod 10.”

18.  Take away 5 by flipping the Rod 5 back. Ask the child what is left. State equation: “10 take away 5 is 5.”

19.  Repeat for the other combinations of tens and then nines, eights, etc.

20.  Put back The Red Rod back on the shelf and have the child rebuild The Number Rods in stair formation.

21.  Put back the cards in the box.

TIPS:

Repeat but this time start with the number rod 9 and have the child make 9’s. (Remove rod 10 and place it on the empty mat, out of the way.). For making 8’s, remove the Rod 10 and Rod 9. For making 7’s, remove the Rods 10, 9, and 8 rods, etc.

CONTROL OF ERROR:

The number of partitions on each rod acts as a guide.

NOTES:

The child can work on his own as shown in the presentation as an exercise.

J (3Y10M24D) tried this for the first time today. He was able to find out that intuitively adding Rod 1 to Rod 9 will make 10 and he could do it all the way to adding to the end by adding Rod 5 to Rod 5. As this was the first time we did this activity, we conducted it in Mandarin. I was hoping that we would repeat this in English the following day, he requested it again to be conducted in Mandarin as well.

So far, J has the tendency to name 5 wrongly in English and sometimes also naming 6 wrongly. However, he has no problem in Mandarin.
Research has shown that reaction time tend to be faster when one thinks in Mandarin when doing Maths because numbers in Chinese are single syllabus. Chinese numbers are also very logical when articulated in Mandarin, contributing to the faster thinking time. However, I also want him to be fluent in English so that he can follow the Montessori classes in Singapore, when we are back home on vacation.
I am not sure if I am doing the right thing by repeating the lesson in English, or whether I should just use Mandarin all the way. I will wait and see and observe more, until I decide. Maybe I might only teach and do Maths activities solely in Mandarin.

REFERENCES:

Sunday 27 January 2013

Montessori Activity: Matching Numerals To Number Rods

 J (3Y10M22D) - Verifying Rod 5 (aka The No. 5 Train) by counting it, before driving it to its "parking lot" denoted by the number tablet 5.

AGE: From 3.5 years old (after mastery of The Number Rods and Number Tablets or Sandpaper Numerals)

OBJECTIVE(S):
1. To associate symbol and quantity.
2. To prepare for addition, subtraction and multiplication.

MATERIALS:
1. Set of Number Rods
2. Set of Numeral Tablets (you can also use Sandpaper Numbers instead)
3. 1 mat

PRESENTATION 1:
1. Ask the child to set up the Number Rods in stair formation on the mat.
2. Read through the Number Tablets and place it back to the shelf.
3. Take Rod 1 and say: "this is one," count it and ask the child: "Can you find the Tablet 1?"
4. The child goes to the shelf and brings back the Tablet 1.
5. Let him verify by counting the rod.
6. If it is correct, ask the child to place Tablet 1 beneath the last segment on Rod 1.
7. Do the same for all the rods and tablets.
8. Do the Three Period Lesson.

PRESENTATION 2:
1. Place the Number Rods on the mat in mixed order and place the Number Tablets on the mat in mixed order.
2. Pretend that the rods are trains and that each section of the rods is the train’s coaches. Pretend that the tablets are “parking lots” for the trains.
3. Show your child a tablet and ask him to name the numeral: “What number is this?” and place the tablet in a line on the side.
4. Ask your child to find the corresponding train (rod): “Can you find me the correct train and count the number of coaches?”
5. Ask your child to park the corresponding train (rod) beside the tablet.
6. Do the same for all the rods and tablets until all of them have been matched.
7. Always finish the lesson by placing the rods and tablets in correct sequence.

 J (3Y10M22D) - "Driving" the "No. 5 train" to its "parking lot", and making the cho cho sound along the way
 J counting and self-verifying the no. of "coaches" on the "No. 10 train" i.e. the Number Rod 10, and driving it to its "parking lot" denoted by the number tablet 10

PRESENTATION 3 (Reversed exercise of Presentation 2):
1. Place the Number Rods on the mat in mixed order and place the Number Tablets on the mat in mixed order.
2. Pretend that the rods are trains and that each section of the rods is the train’s coaches. Pretend that the tablets are “parking lots” for the trains.
3. Show your child a rod and ask him to name it and to count it.
4. Ask the child to find the corresponding number tablet and place it beside the rod.
5. Do the same for all the rods and tablets until all of them have been matched.
6. Always finish the lesson by placing the rods and tablets in correct sequence.

TIPS:
To encourage instant recognition without counting, show a child a rod and ask the number, or vice versa, show a number tablet and ask the child to find the rod without counting. Thereafter, count the partitions out loud so that if a child makes a mistake, it is corrected without placing blame. This can be played by a group of children.

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION:

J (3Y10M22D) tried this today. J is not very fond of Number Rods, but it is part of the Montessori Maths Curriculum and an important step in it. So I persevere through it. Number Rods had been introduced to J since he was 2.5 years old, and each time he was not interested at all.

Initially I thought that it was because it was home-made - made of LEGO. So I bought the real Number Rods from one of the Montessori educational materials company. But he still wasn't keen on it. I have been very lenient, putting it aside and coming back. As a result, my Maths Montessori attempts last year 2012 was rather hap-hazard. Just going with the flow and not following any sequence.

This year 2013, I am determined to be more structured. I will not move on to the next activity, if he has not mastered the current one yet.

I realized that parental resolve seems to help tremendously. It is just like the car seat belt - there is no discussion.

So for the last one week, I have been doing nothing but various combination of Number Rods. J is not only showing more focus in his work, he is also improving a  lot more. Repetition definitely helps in learning, and this is the case with Montessori.

The Montessori school in Singapore also made me realized that this is the way to go. The children there are free to choose any Montessori Practical Life activity, but when it comes to Montessori Maths activity, it is a one-to-one time with the teacher. The children don't get to choose it. They go through the series of activities, and they don't skip any, until they master it. Also the children there are assessed after each activity to see which level they are at, whether they would proceed to the next Maths activity or continue on. In other words, they follow a structured Maths curriculum.

The only thing is, as Daddy pointed out to me, the teachers there do it with a straight face, and it looked boring. It is after all a job, in a country as stressful as Singapore. His assessment of the Montessori enrichment centre's teachers that we sent J to wasn't too positive. He thinks that I am doing an equally good job, if not better, and with passion and love (Maybe it is just his way of avoiding having to fork out money and listening to my constant request of sending J to a Montessori school, since if I do it, it is free and less painful on his pocket. Well he forgot the expensive materials I have shopped using his money, oh well, our money :-)!!!!) I didn't really see it, until I began to analyze his description. After all the teachers follow the same motion every day and with so many different children, how enthuasistic can one get? So I am not as critical as him. But I am following the same concept of the Singapore Montessori school - no skipping of any Maths activity, but as a parent, I think I am doing it with a lot more passion and love. It is not just a job.

I have found a way to make it fun for J. I pretend that each rod is a train and each section is the train's coach. And I pretend that the number tablet is the parking lot for each train. That helps a lot. J enjoyed pulling the "trains" to the right "parking lot".

REFERENCES:

http://www.moteaco.com/albums/casa/casamath.html#anchor2979127
Basic Montessori Learning Activities for Under-Fives

J Summary (3Y10M22D) - Affectionate Little Boy

Daddy related to me that today when we came home from church, J went straight upstairs and said, "Far, far, jeg vil gerne fortale dig, at jeg elsker dig." meaning "Daddy, Daddy, I would like to tell you that I love you." This wasn't the first time he said that. That's so sweet and I want to remember it.

On the other hand, we do have our challenges.

J adores us and wants to be us all the time. It is actually a challenge at times, as he sees others as competing for our time.

For example, he refuses to greet anyone, whether it is saying hello, good morning or good-bye. Although he can be shy, that is no excuse at all.

He refuses to greet his teachers, his grandparents, aunties, uncles in Singapore, people at church, or people on the street and at the stores who found him cute and wanted to strike a conversation with him. We were so embarrased.

His argument is that it is not wise to talk with strangers, based on the Little Red Riding Hood story that we told him!!! True, but...

We tore our hair out trying to teach him courtesy, role play, etc., but none worked.

But over the last 3 months, it has improved. He does say goodbye to his teachers. This morning, he greeted his piano teacher. This afternoon, he greeted and said goodbye to his Sunday School teachers.

So hopefully it is on the right direction now.

Saturday 26 January 2013

J Summary (3Y10M21D) - Initiative

J finished the workbook on tracing the small letters that we started during our vacation in Singapore. I was thinking of finding him another workbook, but haven't found the time.(Even though we were on vacation, we did not slacken in the training in discipline and self-control. Otherwise, all the efforts we put in during the year would have gone down the drain. How many a times, all the good habits are broken during vacation. I am sure many parents have experienced that. It is an up-hill task, when school re-opens. Although J is not in school yet, it is my aim that a certain level of standard is maintained even when we are on vacation. It started with our Interlaken trip in July 2011. The momentem was set and now for each vacation and the recent one in Singapore, it was just part of life with homework. Each morning, he was responsible for completing tracing a letter, before we set off for any activity, sight-seeing, swimming, etc. He done 20 letters during our trip and completed the remaining 6 letters when we were back in Denmark.)

This morning, as I was about to take my morning shower, I noticed that J was looking through the workbook shelf. He showed me that he has found the new workbook on tracing big letters, and said, "Mommy, this workbook is a good continuation to the one we finished." Oh, how he could read my mind!

Delighted, I encouraged him to trace letter A, while waiting for me to finish my shower. When I was done with my shower, he has completed tracing his capital A.

It was a sweet start to the day. (Note: It is not always like that. The next day, I had to nudge him along to trace nicely the capital letter B.)

As I looked back for the past 3 years - the crucial first 3 years of foundation for a child that will set in motion a life of habit, we are reaping the benefits of the efforts and hardwork we have sown from day 1 since he was a baby.

J watched videos in moderation and will not protest when it is time to stop (except when we are on the plane).

J does not play any computer game and is not addicted to iPAd. Although we recently bought one for the family, and he would like to use it, he does not demand for it. We don't have to take a battle on that and it allows our Montessori curriculum that uses tangible material to go on.

J is not so fond of Montessori Number Rods, but he is willing to work with it and making efforts at it.

I believe this is because I had never use TV, iPad or any like as convenience baby-sitters. Both Daddy and I also set a good example by not watching much TV.

Thursday 24 January 2013

J Summary (3Y10M19D) - Only Mommy Can Make Me Happy et al

While I was warming up dinner this evening, I overheard J saying to Daddy in Danish, "Det er kun mor, som kan gøre mig glad." meaning only mommy can make me happy.

Of course, it is not only mommy who can make J happy, but it made me very happy to hear it anyway.

Then I feel sorry for Daddy, but fortunately he is emotionally stronger than I am, and he can take it in his stride.

A few days ago, we received a letter from a private school reminding us that J is soon turning school age, and urging us to consider the school.

Although I have registered J in 3 private schools since he was still in my tummy, reality knocked when you received such a letter from a school itself, telling you that J is no longer a baby, but a child.

I looked hard at J. He doesn't look like a child. He still looks like a baby. He is still my baby. Sob sob... he is now a child... sob sob sob... time flies... that's the reality... sob sob...

In the morning rush to work and getting J ready, we can get annoyed with one another. At the dinner table this evening, J uttered some words of wisdom: "Daddy should not be angry with Mommy or me. Mommy, you should not be angry with Daddy or me. We should not be angry with one another. Mommy, you have been going to church, you should learn from Jesus."

Who taught him that!!! I haven't actively taught him to be like Jesus, or have I?

I cried out silently in my heart.... why am I sooooooo imperfect? J said everything correct. Why can't I learn! Why can't I learn to be like Jesus! I have failed again.... Oh Lord...

Sunday 13 January 2013

J Summary (3Y10M8D) - Delayed Gratification

At the age of close to 4 years old, J is starting to develop the quality of delayed gratification and self-control. This skill is important as research in an experiment I read somewhere showed that the children who were able to wait with consuming their candy were the ones who did well as adults.

On the way back from the kindergarten on Friday, we passed by the bakery to buy our favourite musli bread for breakfast for Saturday. J got a free chocolate bun from the bakery like usual. He asked for something for dessert after dinner and I said that the chocolate bun would be his dessert, which he could share with Daddy. He asked if he could eat it right away.

I said he could decide to eat it at that moment, and have nothing left for dessert, or he could save it for dessert after dinner, and possibly share it with Daddy. I left the choice to him entirely, telling myself not to be disaapointed if he chose the former rather than the latter. He paused and thought about it. Then he said: "Mommy, can I save it for dessert?" Delighted, but hiding it, I said, "Of course."

The next test came. We went to supermarket to get some grocery, before heading home. All this while, he managed to save the chocolate bun.

The moment we reached home, he asked where the chocolate bun was, and was happy when I showed it to him. I thought, well alright, he would definitely eat it straight away and not hold any longer. Then Joshua said, "Good, Mommy, we did not drop it along the way back. I am going to save it for dessert."

We prepared dinner and Daddy got home. We were about to began dinner, when J wanted to start dinner with the chocolate bun! I said no, main course first. If he ate it, it would definitely spoilt his appetite. J ate his meal and then the chocolate bun. And no, he did not share it with Daddy altough he intially said he wanted to, but I was happy that he managed to delay instant gratification.

On Sunday morning, J asked for pancakes and he loved to see how I make them. Usually he would not be able to wait and would be eating a pancake, while watching me to finish making all the pancakes. But based on the experience on Friday, I said to him that it would be considered as 偷吃 (sorry, for a moment, I could not find the word in English). He waited until all done and ate them only at the breakfast table.

While waiting for me to get all the pancakes done, I requested J to do his homework. I said that he should be focused and trace the letters and color the picture. It seemed that he was happy to do so.

When Daddy said that breakfast was ready, J asked if we could wait as he would like to first finish his homework. So we waited. He put in some seriousness there and completed his colouring before we had breakfast. He managed to delay his gratification for breakfast. All this at his own initiative, and I was touched. Keeping this in my memory bank.

Not all days are like that with so much initiative from J. We have some tough moments with homework and colouring as the one below. I don't always have the energy to insist that he re-do it and for the one below I just let it passed.

J (3Y10M8D) loves books, but mainly when he is being read to. He is flipping books on his own sometimes, but we want to encourage him to read even more frequently on his own.

Daddy is missing those bit of free time we had once upon a time when J was kept occupied with an activity while on the potty. He has since outgrown the potty.

So to keep him seated in the toilet, Daddy started giving him a book. And it works :-). J is reading happily - ok in the toilet. Taking care of a young child as all parents know is a 24/7 WORK, and thus we are glad to get back some free time whenever we can.

This may not be the best way to inculcate life long reading habit (i.e. reading in the toilet) and it may not work for everyone, but that's Daddy's idea and it works for us. If it starts J off to reading on his own for a lengthened period of time and eventually not just in the toilet, we do not mind it.

Saturday 12 January 2013

J Summary (3Y10M7D) - Started Using Mandarin at Play

It was time for a major spring cleaning. I suggested to J some of the books that I thought he has outgrown, and asked if we could put it away.

We came across this book and he said that he wanted to keep it. It was a pop-up of the different rooms of the home of a mouse called "Malle". He began to start browsing it, showing me that he hasn't outgrown it yet. To my pleasant surprise, he started imaginary play for a good duration in Mandarin, while I was working hard on spring cleaning.

While J switches comfortably between Mandarin and Danish, when he speaks to Mommy and Daddy, often translating the same topic between the two languages and although he speaks to me in Mandarin, when he plays, he would only play in Danish - meaning that he would talk to himself in Danish when he is playing on his own even without Danish children around. So this was the first time it happened in Mandarin.

Despite the dominance of the English language in Singapore, our recent trip back has helped to increase the time he uses Mandarin. But it has also helped J to get more familiarized with English. He asked, "Mommy, why does everyone in the world (he meant Singapore) speak English?"

We got J into a Montessori pre-school in Singapore for a short duration. I was glad to know that I am on par, if not ahead with the Chinese I am teaching to J. Many of the words the 4-5 years old were learning in class, J was familiar with. For this, I have my Chinese friends in Denmark to thank for, who convinced me that children at J's age are ready to start to recognize Chinese words, as I was sceptical about it.

It does seem to indicate that J is progressing towards being bilingual in Mandarin and Danish, but the challenge is how to maintain it and sustain it in the long run. Though I am weary and doubtful at times, this experience in Singapore has shown me that thus far, I am on the right track with the bilingual pursuit, if not trilingual, from afar in Denmark. It seems doable. No major strategy change is needed. I just need to keep pace. My fears turned towards confidence. It gave me the courage to continue on this trilingual journey that we have chosen to take. There are ups and downs, and I can't do it all, but it is ok, and every progress that we can make, I am truly thankful to God for them. It is not with my own strength.

However, J was challenged keeping-up with English in the preschool in Singapore. If I want to continue enrolling him in the preschool during our next vacation in Singapore in a year's time, J would have to make advancement in his English. If it doesn't jeopardize his Chinese, I will be able to put more efforts in his English this year.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Dubed the Singapore's "Garden of Eden", Gardens by the Bay is one of the newest things to experience in Singapore.

During this trip to Singapore, I planned to write a post on it, but since Figur8 has done a post better than I could, I will put a link to her blog instead:

http://figur8.net/baby/2012/12/28/sights-and-sounds-gardens-by-the-bay/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+f8baby+%28Babylicious%29