Saturday 28 January 2012


Montessori Activity: Sifting Beans/筛豆豆

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 30 minutes


1. To train fine motor skills
2. To teach counting in a fun and concrete way


1. 1 medium smart box for flour and beans
2. 1 large smart box to contain the mess
3. 1 adult sieve
4. 1 container
5. 1 ladle or spade
6. 1 cup to contain the beans
7. A handful of beans – can be red beans, mung beans, black beans, soy beans etc.
8. 500g flour


1. In the smart box containing flour and beans, show your child how to scope it into the container.

2. Show your child to put the ladle back to the flour smart box.

3. Show your child to pour the flour from the container into the sieve.

4. Show your child how to sieve the beans (J likes to put his hand below and it looks like snow falling down on his hands. He wanted me to do the same).

5. Count the beans found after sifting one-by-one as you put them into the cup.

6. Repeat again and encourage your child to try.

Additional Information:

It is winter now and there isn't much chance to play with sensory materials such as sand. There hasn't been so much snow in Denmark either. So I decided to let J play with flour. He used not to be so thrilled with sensory stuff, but things seem to have changed. He enjoyed it a lot. I found this idea from Lori of my Montessori Moments.

Initially, I thought that it would be too difficult to control and implement the sequence above. But then J (2Y10M23D) suggested it himself by putting back the ladle into the flour container, without me telling him to. I notice that he likes a systematic approach to doing things.

I know I wrote that my new year’s resolution is to do less Montessori and to focus more on Bible and academic activities for J, but here I am today, back to Montessori. It shows that I am not very academic ha ha... and J as well.


Sometimes mess provides a good opportunity to teach - Joshua helping to clean up his own mess after playing


Smoked Salmon Open Sandwich

Serves 2

- 2 slices of smoked salmon
- Sprinkle of dild
- 2 leaves of lettuce
- 2 slices of wholegrain bread (Verona bread from Lagekagehuset)
- Spread of butter or Almond butter

Spread butter on a piece of bread, add lettuce and smoked salmon and sprinkle with dild.

Additional Information
Why am I putting this in my album? I am running out of breakfast ideas. Florian reminded me of this. Just wanted to jot this down to remember. This is a easy way for breakfast, lunch or dinner, especially if I come home late from work, yet nutritious and a way for us to remember fish in our diet. It could have been even healthier if I can do away with the butter.

Chinese Herbal Bak Kut Teh (肉骨茶)

Serves 4

Preparation and Cooking Time: 30 - 45 minutes

- 1 kg pork ribs or whole chicken
- 3 whole cloves of garlic (with skin on)
- 8 dried Chinese mushrooms or fresh shitake mushrooms sliced
- 2 strips of dried bean curd skin (fu zhu 腐竹) (optional)
- 3 litres water
- 1 TBS dark soya sauce
- 4 TBS light soya sauce
- A few leaves of lettuce
- 1 – 2 stalks spring onions chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste

A handful of Chinese herbs (you can buy them ready mixed in Singapore) consisting of:
- Goji berries (杞子), gan cao, shu di, Garden Angelica (Dang gui 当归),Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae (dang shen 当参), Lovage Root (chuan gong 川芎), Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (yu zhu 玉竹)

Spice mix ground together and put in a bag (if not you can buy them ready mixed and grinded in Singapore):
- 1 TBS Cinnamon stick
- 1 TBS Cloves
- 1 TBS White Peppercorns
- 1 TBS Star Anises

Dipping sauce
- 2 TBS black soya sauce
- 1 chopped red chilli

1. Bring water to boil, add in Chinese herbs, spices and garlic and bring to boil again.

2. Add in meat, mushrooms and dried bean curd and simmer until low heat (no. 4 on my stove) for at least 20 minutes or longer (no. 2.5 on my stove) until the meat is cooked.

3. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce and salt as desired and simmer for another 5 minutes. Discard spice bag.

4. In a serving bowl, add in lettuce, scoop up soup and sprinkle with spring onions.

5. Serve immediately with rice and dipping sauce on the side.

Additional Information:
I am having craving for Bak Kut Teh recently. I didn’t make this from scratch, but bought the herbs and spices all ready packed from Singapore. The word Bak Kut The is a Hokkien term meaning meat-bone-tea. This is a popular dish in southern China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, each with their variant way of preparing. The Teochews in Singapore prepare it without the Chinese herbs. The above is a Hokkien Singapore version. According to Wikipedia, Bak Kut Teh was introduced to Malaya and Singapore by the Chinese coolies. This is usually eaten for breakfast in Singapore. In my sister’s family, they go for Bak Kut Teh on Sunday morning.
Traditionally this dish is made with pork and goes with rice and Chinese tea in the morning. (Yes, the Chinese do eat rice in the morning :-) ) However, today, people also eat it with noodles and use chicken instead of pork ribs. I ran out of pork ribs, and thus I made it with chicken instead today.


Friday 27 January 2012


Pasta with Shrimps (Cream Sauce)

Adapted from

Serves 2 -3

Preparation and Cooking Time: 30 minutes

- 250g wholegrain penne pasta
-1 red chilli
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 large or 200 g tomatoes
- 1 TBS cooking oil
- 50ml cream
- 150g frozen shrimps
- 1 handful of ricula salad leaves
- A handful of frozen green peas (optional)
- A few small slices of Port Salut cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper

1. Cook the pasta al dente in salted water about. 8 min.
2. Halve the chilli lengthwise, remove seeds and cut into thin strips. Chop the garlic and the tomatoes coarsely.
3. Heat pan with oil and fry garlic and then add chilli for a few minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and cook for another few minutes at a good heat.
5. Add cream and bring sauce to boil.
6. Add frozen shrimps and frozen peas.
7. Season with salt and pepper and mix immediately with pasta.
8. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
9. Wash and chop the ricula coarsely and sprinkle it over the pasta and serve immediately.

Additional Information:
It has been quite successful experience with home shopping delivery. Although we bought ingredients suitable for 2 people, there are quite a lot of left overs. So today, I decided to make this dish with a little twist. I added in green peas to increase the vegetable contents and added some cheese as topping. It is very fast to make and Joshua and Florian like this pasta a lot. The original recipe is here and it calls for clayfish.

Wednesday 25 January 2012


Mediterranean Barley Salad with Chicken

Adapted from

Serves 2-3

Preparation and Cooking Time: 45 minutes

- 2 chicken breasts
- ½ TBS cooking oil
- Salt and pepper

Salad of pearl barley:
- 175g pearl barley
- 400ml water
- 250g broccoli chopped into small florets
- 25 g pine nuts
- ½ clove of garlic squeezed
- ½ TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 2 TBS raisins
- 2 TBS dried apricots
- 2 TBS or 10g sundried tomatoes chopped
- a few fresh mint leaves chopped

1. Rinse barley well under cold water and boil in lightly salted water for 20 minutes until cooked and depending on how much crunch you want in them.

2. When the barleys are cooked, pour off excess water.

3. Blanch broccoli with boiling water for 2 minutes and drain them into bowl.

4. Heat pan, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and fry for 1 minute until brown on each side.

5. Reduce to medium heat (no. 4 on my stove) and fry until cooked for 3 minutes on each side.

6. Toast the pine nuts golden in a dry pan.

7. To make the barley salad, in a mixing bowl, add barley, crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped onions, raisins, apricots and sun-dried tomatoes and mix well. Add broccoli florets, pine nuts and chopped mint, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

8. Cut chicken breast into slices and serve with the barley salad.

Additional Information:
My best friend, J, was just talking about how she is feeling resentful having to cook for the family everyday. I thought I was the only one who suffers from cooking fatigue. It was not the cooking actually for both of us, we analyzed, but having to plan the menu for each dinner. We decided to both try out the home ingredient delivery, which was recommended by my friend Merete Knudsen.

Today was the first delivery, and I was very excited. It was very fun to try out the ingredients and the recipe that comes with it. Florian gave a 4-5 out of 5, but Joshua wasn't so fond of it, and he gave a 2 out of 5. I gave a 4-5 points too.

This is the first time I made barley this way, and it is a very healthy and tasty recipe to make barley. I adapted the recipe a little to suit us. I did not use the stock they provided and it turned out very tasty too, without it.

Monday 23 January 2012


Is it Okay to Let Your Baby/Toddler Play with the iPad, even with educational applications?

Recently, I saw my 1.5 year old nephew piecing together "jigsaw puzzle" on iPad. He could do the puzzles very well, and he was only 1.5 year old. He was extremely thrilled and he exhibited a great sense of achievement, that he was able to manupulate the "puzzle" with a touch of a button. I was very impressed at his skills at completing all the puzzles by manipulaying his fingers.

Joshua on the other hand, struggled with real puzzles and real wooden blocks, and he sometimes loses interest. Joshua was never so fond of jigsaw puzzles.

It all seemed really beneficial and doubts began to fill me with second thought that perhaps I should also allow Joshua to play with iPad. Still there was a lack of peace inside me, something inside me that felt rather unsettled, that was holding me back. I decided to do more research.

I stumbled upon this article:

In this digital age, is it Okay to Let Your Baby/Toddler Play with the iPad, even with educational applications?

The answer seems to be "No" and I tend to agree with the article. I decided that I will not invest in an iPad for Joshua.

Out of true concern, should I share the article with my sister-in-law? After all, parenting opinions differ, and she may not think so. I think I will just share it in my facebook.


Montessori Activity: Inserting Coins

Age: From 1.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5 minutes


1. To train hand-eye coordination for toddlers
2. To inculcate the value of savings for pre-schoolers


1. Show your child that coins belong to piggy-bank by inserting the coins into piggy bank. While doing so, tell them that piggy-bank is a tool for saving money.

2. Invite your child to try.

Additional Information:

It is a Chinese tradition to give angbaos (red packets containing money) as a gift to children. J is soon 3 years old and he is more aware of things. He was very thrilled to receive angbaos. However, he took the money out straight away and put it into his pocket, and said that he is going to go shopping to buy something with the money. I am amazed that at this age, he seems to understand the concept of spending, but I wanted him to save, not just spending money

So I decided to turn this into a "Montessori" style activity, but telling him that home of the coins he received is the piggy-bank.

This morning, J (2Y10M18D) had a great time dropping the coins into the piggybank. It is an easy task for him, considering that he is soon turning 3 years old, so I was surprised that he wanted to do it again and again. The good thing with this activity is that he stopped telling me that he wanted to spend those money, but kept dropping the money into the piggy-bank. I think it is teaching him a good habit.

Although inserting coins into piggybank is a motor-skill training more suited for 1.5 years old, they are not the cleanest objects for 1.5 year old toddlers to touch. However, since giving angbaos is a Chnese tradition, this Montessori style activity integrates very well with the angbaos tradition.

When J is older and can count, I would like to give him 5 piggy banks and teach him how to save the money for different purposes - one for spending, one for saving, one for God, one for charity and one for parents (filial piety) (see the post here).

Sunday 22 January 2012


Heritage Education: Celebrating Chinese New Year with Lion Dance

Inspired by Hapa Lab
Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

Objective: To inculcate the significance of Chinese New Year and make it come alive for the children living overseas

1. 1 Lion Dance Costume (child-friendly size)
2. 1 Chinese drum
3. 1 set of cymbals (optional)
4. 1 basket with mandarin orange, lettuce, banana, etc. for the lion to "eat"

1. Hang a basket of "treats" for the lion e.g. mandarin orange, lettuce, banana, etc. in the middle of the room (or if not possible, place it in the middle of the floor).

2. Beat the drum and the cymbals... demonstrate by entering the hungry lion.

3. The lion encircles around the basket of treats and gobble up the mandarin orange (slip it through the hole in the lion puppet's mouth)

4. The lion does some criss-cross footwork, go around in circle again and go for the lettuce.

5. Encourage the children to take turn to try.

Lion Dance costume: 28.80 SGD
Drum: 28.80 SGD

Additional Information:
Living overseas in a non-Chinese environment made me think harder about how I can impart the Chinese cultural heritage to Joshua and labouriously hand-carried this lion head and drum across sky, land and sea all the way home from Singapore (of course with Florian's help). Thankfully, I found this great idea from a very creative mother Julia of Hapa Lab, who did a fantastic job explaining the activity and the Chinese new year celebration. It is an excellent way of providing heritage education of Chinese new year to the children and making the event more memorable.

Prior to the day of Chinese new year celebration itself, we practised the lion dance with Joshua and Amy, but they were not so interested. We started the day with the Chinese reunion lunch (instead of dinner for the benefit of young children). It was then followed by the lion dance programme. However, on the actual day, towards the end of the party, they finally warmed up to it and had a great time playing with it. It was our first time doing this, and it was not very organized. We did not manage to follow the ideal directions that we set out to do, but it didn't matter as the idea of lion dance was conveyed to the children in the end. And Sarah, Joshua and Amy had a lot of fun with it in the end that Joshua did not want to go home.

When the lion head is not in use for the activity, it can be used as decoration for the Chinese new year in the home.

During this festive season, you can find this child-friendly Chinese lion dance decorative costume all over Chinese New Year festive market in Singapore's Chinatown. I bought it in Carrefour in Singapore.

As well-explained by Wikipedia, during the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching" (採青), literally means "plucking the greens", a quest by the 'lion' to pluck the auspicious green normally 'vegetables' like lettuce which in Chinese called 'cái'(菜)that sound like 'cái'(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a "Red Envelope" containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The "lion" will dance and approach the "green" and "red evelope" like a curious cat, to "eat the green" and "spit" it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like an auspicious character but keep the "red envelope". The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the "red envelope".

Lion Dance is performed accompanied by the music of beating of drums, cymbals, and gongs instruments synchronise to the lion dance movements and actions. Basic lion dance movement can be found in Chinese martial arts.

The lion dance is also usually performed at many other important grand occasions, including Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations, honour guest welcoming and wedding ceremonies by the Chinese communities.


And here is our family wishing all Chinese a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year in the Year of the Dragon

Thursday 19 January 2012


Montessori Activity: Pasting Stickers

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

Objectives: To develop hand-eye coordination

Sticker Activity Book

1. Show your child to match the sticker with its place.

2. Invite your child to try.

Additional Information:
Joshua loves fishes. This is a fantastic book given by Aunt C and Joshua enjoyed it a lot. He is very thrilled by all the pictures of the fishes. He is able paste the stickers but not at the precise location.

 31 Dec 2017 (1Y7M15D & 8Y9M26D): Pasting with stickers

Saturday 14 January 2012


Montessori Activity: Practising Writing Numbers with Dry-Erase Book/练习夹击把握

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 5 - 15 minutes

1. To train fine motor skills esp. pencil grisp
2. To provide a fun way of learning how to write numbers

1. Dry-Erase Number Book
2. Whyteboard marker

1. Demonstrate to your child how to trace the number. Then count the objects together.
2. Invite your child to try

Additional Information:
I bought this book from Popular Bookshop ( in Singapore. This book is just published in July 2011. The quality is very good and compared to the dry-erase board from Amazon, it is very cheap. It works very well. This book is in Chinese. I wanted to also get something similar in English, but I could not find it.

Joshua (2Y10M9D) practised pincer grasp and writing numbers today with this book. Initially, he got discouraged for not able to follow the line. Oh dear, Joshua is showing signs of being afraid to make mistakes. This is not the objective of this exercise!

I wondered how I can encourage him to continue. Then an idea came to my mind. I will demonstrate by making mistakes. Then I show him my mistakes. Then I said, "That is alright, mommy will try again." I repeated this several times to show that practice makes perfect. He took it up and began to get teh courage to try again and again.

Thank God for answering my prayers and helping me to solve problems as they arise and walking along this parenting path with me.


Friday 13 January 2012


Chinese Herbal Imperial Chicken/药材鸡

Serves 4

- 1 fresh whole chicken or 800-1000g of chicken pieces or chicken fillets (The Chinese prefer to cook with a whole chicken as it is tastier)
- 3 dried or fresh shitake mushrooms sliced (optional)
- 1 cup or 250ml water
- 1 large aluminium foil sheet (to wrap the chicken)

Chinese herbs - clockwise from left starting with the flat white sticks:
- 5 sticks of dried Chinese yam (Flat white sticks on picture) (淮山)
- 1 handful of Goji berries (also called wolfberries)   (杞子)
- 4 Dang Gui (当归)
- 2 Dang Sheng (当参)
- 1 Huai Shan (淮山)
- 3 Bei Qi (北芪)
- 4 Yu Zhu (玉竹)
- 5 dried longans
- 8 dried red dates (红枣)
- 1 honey date

- 1 TBS light soya sauce
- 1 TBS sesame oil
- 1 TBS Chinese rice wine
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- sprinkle of pepper
- 1 pinch salt

1. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and marinade chicken.

2. On a large aluminium foil, place 1/3 of the herbs in the chicken, 1/3 of the herbs at the bottom and place the chicken on the top.

3. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and the rest of the herbs over the chicken.

4. Half wrap the chicken with aluminum foil and put it on the steaming rack in a wok.

5. Pour in the 1 cup water and then fully wrap up the chicken with the foil.

6. Add some water in the wok, cover and steam on medium high heat for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure that the water for steaming does not dry up. Add more water if necessary.

7. Open the foil and serve with white or brown rice.

Additional Information:
As the name of this Chinese dish suggest, it is fit for Emperor. It is also a very healthy dish. I like it with a little bit of soup after it is cooked, and thus I added 1 cup water.

We had this dish during our recent home visit Singapore and decided that I will try to make it myself when we are back with Denmark. I made it today. We had Yang Li and Amy over for dinner after daycare. Amy remarked that it tasted really good (though she did not finished her portion). Joshua (2Y10M9D) did not really say if he liked it, but he ate up all his portion and asked for more. We were just laughing that Amy expressed that she liked the dish in words, and Joshua expressed it in action.

Do not fret if you could not gather the number of Chinese herbs listed above. It is a full list, but it is not necessary to have every one of them. Just do in the herbs that you have at home or could find and it will still taste good. You also do not really need to follow the quantity of each herbs to be put in. Just an estimate would be fine.

Some people wrap the chicken with an inner plastic sheet as well, but it is not necessary.


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