Baby Le Xin

Thursday 28 June 2012

Jelly Making

Jelly Making is always a fun learning experience to most children. I have tried this activity with many preschoolers but this was the very first time I tried making jelly together with a toddler :) Le Xin displayed her ability to listen to instructions and she was really observant during the whole process.

Le Xin showing the jelly crystals that she was going to use to make her jelly. She tried to wink her eyes how cute!

After opening the box, Mummy passed the packet of jelly crystals for Le Xin to observe and she really took a very close look at it.

Le Xin poured the jelly crystals into the bowl.

I really love this photo very much, she knew I was taking a photo of her and she tilted her head as if she was trying to tell me What's next hahaha!

At the start of this activity, I prepared 240ml of hot water in her milk bottle and capped it tightly. I warned her not to touch it and explained to her that it was very hot. After Le Xin finished pouring the jelly crystals into the bowl, I helped to put the hot water in because it was really too hot for her to try and I am worried about the safety aspect. When Le Xin saw the yellow crystal disappeared and the mixture turned yellow, she said Wow!

Le Xin began to stir the mixture, as she stirred she also realised that the crystals were all gone and everything turns into liquid, thus learning the concept of "dissolving".

Then Le Xin poured the 250ml of cold water into the mixture. She was very confident as she poured the water in. No spillage at all! Well done my darling girl!

Then I helped to transfer the mixture from the metal bowl to the measuring cup. Le Xin poured the yellow jelly mixture into the measuring cup and learnt the concept of "packing". She packed the mixtures into 4 plastic containers all by herself.

Look at how focused she was! I guess she was really serious about her role of helping to pack the jelly. When I passed the cover to her, she helped to press it till she heard a "clicking" sound.

I took a five minutes video of her keeping all the 4 containers into the fridge but the file size was too big and I can't upload it here. Nonetheless, I did two print screens from the video and this was how she took the container one by one to keep it.

The next day in the morning, the jelly was ready for consumption. I told her Le Xin I think the jelly is ready, do you want to eat them? She nodded her head but when I showed it to her and she noticed that the jelly had turned from liquid to solid, she was reluctant to try it. In fact, she even ran away from it. I guess she might be afraid of wobbly stuff haha. 

At night, I took the jelly out for her to observe again. Firstly, I asked her to tilt the container upside down and she noticed that the jelly stayed at the same position. I told her that the jelly has harden thus sharing the big idea about "solidifaction" which I don't think she understand but she was really excited to touch the jelly with her fingers when I opened the cover. I didn't want her to eat the jelly initially because she was still coughing but of course one or two scoops of jelly wouldn't worsen her condition I guess so I asked her if she wants to try eating it and she agreed. She sat down and ate a few scoops of the jelly she made. She appeared to like it very much but sadly I had to stop her and explained to her she can't have too much of it as she was coughing and she gave the container back to me. How comforting to know she could accept my explanation.

Have you tried making jelly with your children/students? It's easy and exciting, lots of concepts to learn from it too. Best of all it always turn out to be a great dessert after a long hot day!

Sunday 24 June 2012

Unconditional Love ---> 无私的爱

Here's a photo of my mother in law (MIL) taking care of Le Xin when she was sick in April. Yes, my MIL came over just to take care of Le Xin, sponging her with wet towel till her temperature came down. As I was all panicky and hubby wasn't around, I was really glad that my mother in law was there to "rescue" me.  At the clinic, Le Xin even vomitted on her and all her clothes and bag were soaked with Le Xin's vomit but the first thing she cared about was how Le Xin felt at that moment so this was indeed UNCONDITIONAL LOVE 无私的爱  and it really calls for my respect and admiration towards my MIL.

Yes this post is dedicated to my MIL! She will never read this because she doesn't know how to go online but I just wish to express my gratitude towards her! Please bear with my lengthy post :p

I am very thankful that my MIL was able to help me to take care of Le Xin ever since I returned to work when Le Xin was 3 months old. Back then, I wasn't sure if this was the best option. I had many worries and doubts. What happens if my MIL wants to go out but she can't wouldn't that be considered as losing her freedom? What happens if she finds that Le Xin is too difficult to take care? What happens if the amount we give her isn't sufficient? What happens if Le Xin cries and she can't get proper sleep at night? What happens if we have different mindset/opinions about how we want to raise Le Xin? All these "WHAT HAPPENS" questions kept surfacing in my mind and I really can't push my thoughts aside.

 As much as my family members and friends advised me to ask my mother in law to take care of Le Xin because they find this is the best option since Le Xin is a young infant and she will surely be very safe and healthy under the care of my MIL and they kept knocking the FACT into my brain that nobody is better than her own Ah Ma (which I completely agree), I felt super GUILTY but finally agreed to it! Seriously, at the back of mind, she has already raised her two children and two grandchildren (her daughter's children) why bother her again to take care of another one.

Now that I look back, I totally have no regret about this decision. My friends and family often tells me when Le Xin was still a little baby that my MIL was doing such a great job because Le Xin is so Chubby!

True right? Just look at her fatty thighs yeah I know all babies have baby fats but it's true Le Xin remained like this for a long long time! 

With all the help that my MIL has rendered me so far, I was really able to focus on my career. Now that I chose to be a stay home mum (for the moment) and my MIL has stopped taking care of Le Xin, she has decided to go back to work in fact wef 25th of June and I suddenly feel kind of LOST!

How strange but I guess it is just natural for me to feel this way anyway I am afterall mere human. Am I selfish? I  really don't know maybe I am but I know that I am happy for her that she has found a job but I am sad that I can't ask her to help me to take care of Le Xin anymore should I need to run errands..... Did I grow to be too dependent on her? Nonetheless, I remember my friend Mamta, once told me "Nothing is better than grandparents' love, sometimes they will love your child more than yourself" I wasn't able to fully understand that statement when she first told me that but now it's two hands up and I got to agree with her completely!

 I wish to share one experience that I had with my MIL. I remember last year, I conducted a training workshop for the staff in the previous child care centre that I worked in. I needed to get up very early that day and the workshop was held in the church which was near my mother in law's place, so I proposed to my MIL if I could stay over at her place so that I could just walk over. 

At 3am, Le Xin woke up crying for milk, obviously I was woken up by her crying too and so I went out to attend to her, but my MIL kept asking me to go back to sleep and she continued to take care of her, feeding her milk and etc... I could tell she was super sleepy but after feeding her, she gently patted her for quite long till she burped!  Frankly speaking, I don't even think I have such patience when I fed my own daughter. Then I recalled what Mamta told me which I thought was really true!

 She is the best MIL, constantly thinking about us (Le Xin, Daddy Scott and me), always buying food/things for us and if you ask her for help, she will always try her best to help you. At least so far, she only rejected me when she really can't help me :)

All that I can say to myself now is that, Mother thank you so much for all that you have done for us! Yes for our family and the love you provided Le Xin. Even though, you are not taking care of Le Xin anymore, we will always remember what you did for us! Thank you! and Le Xin is going to miss you for sure :( I used to reflect about this in the bus, when I travel to Etonhouse for work, the reason why I could work in peace was because I know that I have someone super reliable to take care of my darling girl, what else can I ask for)

For those of you that are reading my post, did you ever face this as well? Finding the right person to take care of your child? If your mother or MIL is taking care of your child/children now, do always learn to be appreciative and grateful for what she is doing, it's a noble act even if you think it is nothing big because you are paying her to do it! As we all know by now that MONEY REALLY CANT BUY TRUE LOVE! Such things don't come by easily, I have some friends in their forties or fifties and they often tell me I will not be taking care of my grandchildren in future! Wah... take care of my children not enough is it? Still expect me to take care of their children? I want to travel and enjoy myself when I retire! See that's their mindset , they haven't even experience the joy of being a grandma and they were very sure that they would be reluctant to take care of their grandchildren. So now you know, how lucky you are if you have your parents or parents in law to count on........

Cherish those who love you for they are the ones who taught you how to love!

Exploring Play Dough for the very First Time!

While shopping with Daddy Scott at ToysRus, we decided to buy Le Xin a play dough set. I've always wanted to make no cook playdough with her which will happen soon but first up let's try out the commericial playdough manufactured by Playdoh, it's good as ever except for the smell. By the way, there's another cheaper alternative ---> the ones sold at Daiso, which I bought as well, odourless but a little too oily!

When Daddy Scott took the playdough bag out and placed it on the ground, Le Xin was really excited to find out what's in the bag.

So which colour should we use first? asked Daddy Scott and Le Xin chose green to begin with :)

Le Xin was observing how the dough takes the shape of the container. We asked her to feel the texture and smell it too!

Daddy Scott demonstrated how he could the change the shape of the dough by flattening it. Look at Le Xin's face.......she was amazed!

Le Xin played with the green dough for a while and lost interest in it. She looked up at Daddy and said open as she held a bottle of purple dough in her hand.

Hey wait, what about forming a shape with a cutter asked Daddy Scott?  I think he was trying to redirect Le Xin because he felt that she hasn't really explore the first piece of dough yet. Le Xin appeared to feel a little disappointed but still observe how Daddy cut the dough with the cutter.

Daddy Scott's excitement has paid off... Le Xin began to show interest in the green dough once again. While Daddy was cutting the dough, she said I want see!

Le Xin placed a small piece of dough into a blue squeezy like equipment and tried to press it, however she appeared to face difficulty in pressing it so she seeked help from Daddy Scott.

Here's Daddy Scott explaining to Le Xin how to use the equipment. I love this photo very much, being a part of Le Xin's play meant so much to her.....I truly believe in it!

When she saw that her dough was being "squashed out" from the equipment, she laughed loudly and I guess she thought it was really hilarious!

Le Xin decided to take her first step in trying the equipment on her own, she really tried to use all the strength that she has got and in the end.......

She succeeded of course hooray! Just look at how happy she was, that smile of hers which I will never forget :)

Then she went on to explore the scissor in her playdough kit. I could tell that she was quite familiar with the use of scissor by then, since she was often involved in cutting lots of different materials in her mini atelier at home. She cut the dough into smaller pieces and dropped them into the bottle.

Daddy Scott rolled the dough a little longer  and Le Xin obviously had fun cutting it off as Daddy held on to it.

Then she went on to try cutting off the dough from the equipment! Wow it looked as if she was all ready to make some yummy noodles together with her Daddy!!!

Time for pack up, Le Xin helped to put all the dough back into the bottle, kept the playdough cutters, roller and equipment into her playdough bag. Then Mummy tried and asked her Le Xin could you kindly keep your playdough bag into the second shelf?  She nodded her head, held on to her bag and proceed to keep the bag. Nothing else a satisfied Mummy can ask for...... just two big thumbs up for having such a lovable child as my daughter hahahaha!!!!

Lots of praise can do wonders to a child seriously! Good keeping said Mummy :)

Notice how I just observe as Daddy Scott played with Le's tempting to step in....but I chose to take a passive role that day :) Thanks Dearbie....lots of love muackz!

I believe the joy for learning always start off with doing little things that makes a child happy at home....Try playdough today!  Children love it and it really helps to refine their motor skills too :)

Friday 22 June 2012

Water Painting!

This learning experience was inspired by my ex-colleague in Lutheran Child Care Centre, Tampines.

I went to fetch Le Xin from my mother-in-law's place and my MIL told me that she had cooked Le Xin's dinner so she asked me to stay a little longer.

I think it would be a good idea to keep her occupied as she waits for her dinner so I decided to bring her to the shop nearby to purchase some brushes for water painting.

Le Xin picked the brushes that she likes - two small brushes and one big one, next she paid $2 to the cashier. I could tell that the shop keeper really loves her, he kept patting her head and said Mei Mei heng jiu mei you kan dao ni le! (I've not seen you for a long time!) Then we head back and started our painting!

Le Xin picked up her little red brush and started making different marks on the ground. She was really excited to see the images appearing but the water dried up quickly on the ground so she had to dip her brush into the container filled with water several times.

Wow that's a lot of water said Mummy and before I knew it, she tried to dip the brush into the water and spray it at me. Then she started laughing as she did that! How cute!

Le Xin tried to take a closer look at what she was painting..... It was really fascinating to know that she could use this form of painting to communciate her ideas!

I wanted to give a go too! So I painted Le Xin! I know it's look kinda weird cause Le Xin has short hair! Hey that's you Le Xin and I hope that your hair will grow as long as this said Mummy excitedly and Le Xin looked at the picture that I drew and started laughing. She appeared to be very motivated by my drawing (ahem ahem) and started painting but she picked up so much water from her brush and this was what happened

My mother-in-law came out and said to her Wow Le Xin you playing with water, is your clothes wet?
Haha! What really suprised me was that when I touched her clothes.....every part of her clothes and even her undies were dry! I wonder how  she could amazingly keep her clothes dry when she kept splashing the water at me (Hmph!)

How easy it is to just paint with water. A very good way to express ideas, refine  fine motor skills and even relieve stress at the same time! Water dries up as fast as you paint them which equates to ZERO MESSINESS :p

Monday 18 June 2012

The Mini Atelier In Our Home!

I am a strong believer of viewing the role of  the environment as a third teacher. This is the reason why I am very passionate about setting up a mini atelier in our home. The essence of this project is to provide a space where Le Xin could engaged in what she calls "work" at her own time and pace!

I am greatly inspired by what I read from the book "Making Learning Visible" written by the team of Project Zero-Reggio Children which states that Time will be a child's greatest ally. Giving oneself time to pause, to stop for a moment and reflect, often means giving quality to the learning that takes place and the relationships that are formed.

As inspirational as it might sound, it is probably one of the hardest thing to do. As a teacher and a mum, I find that it is so difficult to achieve this big idea of giving "time" to the children in Singapore. As we all know, in a fast moving pace country like SG, everyone seems to be using words like "quick", "hurry up", "stop wasting time" and "no time" almost on a daily basis.

Nonetheless, I wish that I can provide Le Xin this sort of "time" in her early years. She grows up too fast......before I know it, she is turning two soon. I know how stressed she will be once she enters a local Primary school. For now, I just wish to be there.... as a part of her learning and to document each special process. I hope my hubby will also be one of the member of her learning to help foster competencies and discoveries. Lastly, as a family, I hope we can develop a unique and loving family culture that only belongs to us!

Alright back to her Mini Atelier.

This is the first setup, it was supposed to be a present for Le Xin to welcome her home. (finally, she could spend her time with us daily) Le Xin appears to enjoy her time working on her projects. She likes to explore the little provocations that I have set up for her. So far, I have added more materials, I try to promote sustainability by adding recycled materials. (This also helps to save a little in terms of expenses)

Let's take a closer look at what's on her table; pencils, glue stick, training scissor, eraser, sharpener, coloured markers, ice-cream sticks, white board markers, crayons and two drawing boards for her to work on :) I store some of these materials in glasses because I believe Le Xin is competent enough to handle them. Plastic cups are too light and they do not look nice to me--> aesthetically. It is extremely difficult to wash them too when there are stains. The cons about glass is the obvious fact that it is fragile but I told Le Xin each time she used the glass that she needs to be careful. Sometimes she placed the glass inside a masking tape to ensure it does not topple.

And yes! Her favourite book - Look Out Leon as well as some pictures of chameleon as provocations for the story that she was interested in. She loves using them to knock on the table :p I bought most of the stuff from IKEA!

Once again presenting my $6 bookshelf from Shop and Save! Bought a set of brushes that comes in different colours and sizes, paint of different colours and a palette, A5 construction paper and plain A4 paper!

I placed chalk of different colours for the easel and sorted them according to colours.  (yellow and orange together, light and dark green together, pink and purple together, light and dark blue together as well as white chalk) I suggest that you only purchase the brand PENGUIN because it's the best! I put a small cloth beside the chalks, as I gathered that it's easier for her little fingers to wipe the chalk board with a cloth rather than a duster.

So let's find out what Le Xin has been doing at her Mini Atelier so far.....

Here's Le Xin engaging in her first painting experience using her easel. She chose the colour of the paint that she wanted to use and carefully dipped the paint brush in. Then she moved her arm slowly towards the easel and started painting.

Le Xin was observing the different strokes she could form with the use of different types of brushes. I certainly prefer her to use thin fine brushes because she tends to scoop lots of paint with fat/thick brushes but it's alright at the end of the day it's all about exploration :)

Here's Le Xin  using the chalks on her easel! This mark making experience provided her an opportunity for symbolic representation. Mummy took a step back and quietly observed her moves. It all started off with lines and dots but now she is beginning to develop an interest in forming circular interesting it is to see such a progression.

This is a simple learning experience that Le Xin appeared to enjoy very much as well. She used the glue stick to spread across her A4 paper that she took from her shelf. Next, she picked up lots of glitters and sprinkled all over her paper. She observed how the glitters were stucked on the paper and she was pretty amazed by it. This was her first experience with glue at home. Not too sure if she is using glue in school too?

This photo shows Le Xin looking at the chameleon provocations that I set up for her. She took her time to look at each picture and when I asked her So Le Xin would you like to share with Mummy which one is your favourite chameleon? She looked at me and picked up the second picture. Next, she used her index finger and pointed at it.

I explained to Le Xin that a chameleon can change its colour just like how Leon in Look Out Leon did!
Then I gave Le Xin a glass of coloured ice-cream sticks for her to represent her ideas on changing of colours. Firstly, she placed an ice-cream stick on the drawing board, next she placed another ice-cream stick beside the first stick that she placed on. I facilitated by asking her the colours that she was holding on to and asked her the reasons why the colours were changing thus explaining to her the big concept about camouflaging again. For example, if she placed a green ice-cream stick, I would ask her to think of a place where the chameleon is on. I know she might not be able to answer me but the whole idea was to keep her thinking. Perhaps she might be thinking about grass who knows? Then I suggest Wow your chameleon turns green, maybe it is on something green, let Mummy guess, is it grass? I am not sure if Le Xin understand but she nodded her head and appeared to agree whahahaha!

I bought this lovely whiteboard from Daiso for just $2, it is freaking cheap and good. Le Xin spotted this new material that was placed in her atelier. She was fascinated with it so she took her blue marker and started scribbling!

Here's Le Xin trying to form a circle, round and round she moved her marker!

Then Le Xin did a bit of show and tell with Mummy after her scribbles. I facilitated with lots of questions but I can't really remember what I asked. I could recall she babbled lots of her own found words haha which obviously I could not understand most of them. However, I truly find that by getting Le Xin to share with me what she has done was indeed a great way for  her to pause and think, reflect and a big boost for her confidence! Well done Le Xin!

Le Xin using her training scissor confidently to cut a piece of A5 green construction paper for her project.

Le Xin using her glue stick to stick the construction paper that she has cut and her ice-cream sticks on the paper.

Then she decorated the rest of her project with her coloured markers. She was the one who suggested to me the materials that she wanted to use.

 I see my role as a facilitator; being there just to scaffold her learning. It takes a lot of PATIENCE and TRUST not to 1) Tell her what to use! 2) Tell her what to do! 3) Question/Stop her ideas from flowing 4) Hurry her 5) Hold her hand! Please believe me! It seems very easy but it is extremely difficult, afterall I live in Singapore for the past 28 years of my life. People dictate what I am supposed to do all the time, I am really not used to using such approach to teach Le Xin but obviously she has helped me in improving this area of "work" all the time. At least, I am still not using "worksheets" on her yeah?

Did you notice that this post has no photos of the end products of the learning experiences that Le Xin was engaging in? That is the point I am trying to focus on "THE LEARNING PROCESS". Scroll up and take a look at the first picture, did you see a big black corrugated board which I mounted on the wall? This is where I displayed all her drawings, paintings and creations.

 I was planning to post a picture of the board with some of her work but wait! The intention of me trying to do that is all wrong but why? Was I trying to show others what Le Xin has done? What was I trying to prove? What she could achieve? How smart she was? No no no no! I kept shaking my head and telling myself that her work which I have consolidated will all go into her special portfolio file. 

 Her work which I have displayed on the board were meant for her to revisit the experiences and for me to fine tune on how I can improve/enhance her learning experience.....It should not be meant as a "show off" so wait till I get my intention right, I shouldn't be posting it! hahaha:p

 I know some parents are particularly obsessed with how their children's work will turn out to be. Is it neat? It is up to expectation? How many ticks? How many crosses?  Did the teacher put a star? Did the teacher write "SEE ME"at the end of the child's work? What was the teacher's comments? Why didn't my child draw a margin on his/her K1 spelling book? Why was the word "Spelling Test" not in the middle of the page? I could still see the word that he/she has erased, why is that so? Why is my child playing all day long in her CCC instead of engaging in worksheet where he/she can practise writing? Comparing PCF with MFS and then with LV and then with EH and then with CH........the list goes on and on...... but do these things really matter to you?

I know how these little things mean so much to many parents, yes one day these will mean a lot to me too perhaps:) Afterall all mummies and daddies want their child/children to excel and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that right? 

However, I  have a serious thought about these issues and soon realised that my only focus should not only be based on Le Xin's performance and achievement, providing a powerful context for learning is  just as important and that is what matters to me most at this point of time.