Archive for August, 2006

When Ethan schools, Zoe…

Here are the pictures of some of the things that Zoe does while I homeschool Ethan… Depending on the child’s temperament, these activities are able to keep Zoe occupied for at least 20 minutes.

Scooping and Pouring with Rice

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I know many will think this is a ridiculous no-no… but, both my children simply love it whenever I cook rice… Its so easy to set up… 

Spread the floor with shower curtain (which is our picnic mat actually, from ikea, machine washable), add a few kitchen utensils, spoon, bowl, funnels, sift, etc, done… to clean up, just pour whatever spilled over rice back. 

Water play

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I doubt any 2yo will resist this.  I didn’t add bubbles cos it will be too soapy and slippery in the hall way.  Its in the hall way instead of any other places in the house cause I want her to me near our homeschool area, ie, near me.


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Another sure hit activity.  Spread newspaper around for easy cleaning.  This is actually a form of informal schooling for Zoe.  I usually give at most 2 colors, cause I want her to experiment the effect of mixing colors.

Playdoh and cutting

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For little children who still eat playdough, homemade playdough will do the trick.

Zoe is now into cutting playdough, paper, etc….  I bought this kid’s scissor from Popular.  Very good and cheap and safe. She been using it since she was just over 1yo (or younger?).

Paperclips and magnets

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So so response on this.  But good enough to keep her busy for max 20 mins.

Crafts with big bro

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Coloring, cutting, doodling, etc… Zoe will be happy to join in the craft that Ethan does.

more updates on this as we go along…


August 31, 2006 at 12:23 am Leave a comment

Lesson : Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

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FIAR Book 1:Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

General theme : Water

Literature : Story Writing – Personification

Phonics : The Reading Lesson’s Lesson 1 – Covered the alphabets C, O, S, A and T

High Frequency Words : some, one, play

Vocabulary : furnace, cellar

Science : 3 States of Water

Math FIAR : Square and cube

Art : Draw shovel

Chinese : Number –  “八”, Family – “水”

Bible : Tower of Babel (From Danielle’s Place)

Outing : Beach

What I listed in this blog is beyond those covered in FIAR.  For copyright issue, I will be safe, and will not list out topics covered in the curriculum manuals.

Another note: we only have 3 schooling weeks per week, and I take 2 weeks to complete my lessons.

I love this book.  The moment I started reading, I was hooked.  Ethan, being very boy, loves it too.  The love for the book made schooling even more fun.

On schooling, I’m very please with how this 2 weeks went.  Thanks to my new daily routine, on most days, everyone is happy.  Zoe is happy that mummy gives her undivided attention every morning, Ethan is happy that school started and mummy does stuffs with him, I’m happy that I have a lot of time to do many things.

But of course, not everyday was perfect.  On one of the days, I was impatient when we were doing the High Frequency words.  I blame it on my PMS 😛 



Vocabulary (Day 1)



Story Writing – Personification (Day 3)

I’m pretty please with Ethan’s first attempt to ‘write’ a story (he narrated, while I wrote).  I bought a 3-lined exercise book, Ethan chose the paper for wrapping it, decorated, and I wrote his story inside it. 

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I’m also very please with Ethan’s enthusiasm to write the story.  I was initially concern that such activity may be ‘boring’, well, he showed me otherwise.

On the story, the focus was to personify a ‘thing’, just like how the author of “Mike” personify the steam shovel.

Here’s his first story (with some guide):

Ethan Sol And His Little Brown Bear

Ethan Sol has a little brown bear.  The bear is light brown and his name is Joseph.

Joseph can hug and kiss Ethan.  Ethan loves to sleep with Joseph.

Ethan loves Joseph very much, and Joseph loves him too.

States of Water

At 4yo, I didn’t want to focus so much on steam power.  I thought before Ethan can appreciate that, he should first appreciate the various states of water.

I’m also not keen to introduce big words like condensation, evaporation, etc.

So what I focused on was, ice, water, steam, solid, liquid and gas.

Steam – A little experiment (Day 1)

Preparation : Kettle, aluminium foil

Purpose : What is steam?

Placed a small piece of aluminium foil over the kettle spout, switched it on, and waited for the water to boil.  Once boiled, it wasn’t difficult to notice the steam.  I also showed Ethan the  water on the aluminium foil, and that the water was the steam that we saw.

Sensory – Ice to water (Day 1)

Preparation : Ice

Purpose : What is ice?

Gave Ethan ice for him to feel, touch and see.  While doing so, I encouraged him to talk about the ice, whether it is cold/warm/hot, slippery, its shapes, etc.  Had him notice what happen to the ice as he played with it.  Focus on the word “melt” –  The ice melted and become water.

Discovery – Water to steam (Day 1)

Preparation : Pot with cover, stove

Purpose : What happen to water when it is boiled?

We poured the water into a pot and heat it up over the stove.  Highlighted the steam, and that steam was from the water.  Covered the pot to ‘catch’ the vapourised steam, showed Ethan that the steam turned back into water.

When all the water were vaporised, I showed Ethan the empty pot and asked him what happened to the water.  Was glad that his reply was : “It becomes steam!”

Water is liquid, and liquid follows the shape of the container (Day 3)

Preparation : Water containers of different shapes and sizes, tray (for water spills), pitcher of water

Purpose : Water is liquid and it follow’s its container’s shape

Asked Ethan what is the shape of the water in the pitcher.  Poured water into a container, asked him what is the shape now.  Poured into another container, asked again.

Through this, he realised that water follows the shape of its container.

He was left alone to play and experiment with all other containers.

Ice is solid and has shape (Day 3)

Preparation : Ice made from various ice trays

Purpose : Ice is solid and it has a shape

On day 1, Ethan made ice using a few types of ice tray with different shapes.  Brought them out today to show him all the different shapes.  Asked him what are the shapes of the ice.  Asked him the different between ice and water.  (Ice has shape, while water follows the shape of the container)

How long does it takes for water to melt (Day 4)

Preparation : 3 Ice, Pot, Containers to hold the ice, fridge, stove

Purpose : How long does it take for the ice to melt?

Have Ethan placed ice on different environments: over stove, on the dining table and fridge.

We heated up the ice over the stove and timed how long did it take for the ice to melt over the stove, dining table and fridge, and charted the result.  Through this, it helped him to appreciate that ice in different environment melt at different rate.

States of Water Collage (Day 4)

Preparation : Pictures of ice, freezer, water, water in container, steam, heating element

Purpose : Reinforce what we learnt through the various hands-on activities that had been done.

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Have a paper with 3 columns.  Name the columns, Ice-Solid, Water-Liquid, Steam-Gas

Ethan cut out the various pictures and stick it to the respective columns

Math – Square and Cube

Square – Drawing and cutting (Day 2)

Preparation : Paper with square grid, ruler, scissors, glue, construction papers.

Purpose : Drawing square, cutting, ruler skill (fine motor skill)

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Though Ethan knows what is a square by sight, I’m not sure if he knows its properties.  He has also never tried drawing a squares before.  On top of the suggested activities in the FIAR manuals, I happened to have some 1mm grid paper which I let Ethan draw squares of different sizes. 

After the squares are drawn, he was excited to cut them and paste it on the construction paper.

This activity of drawing squares using grid paper helps him to ensure all the sides have the same number of 1mm squares.  But, he doesn’t know that it is 1 millimeter.  The point is for him to appreciate how squares should be measured and drawn.

Cube (Day 2)

We covered this briefly by showing him some cube boxes.

Art – Draw Shovel (Day 4)

I was really not quite sure what will Ethan draw.  Afterall, prior to drawing this house the only thing that he used to draw was faces and faces and faces.

But I was in for another surprise, I showed him a photograph of an old steam shovel and he was able to come out with quite a neat drawing of a steam shovel! Complete with coloring and a name for it.

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He calls it – ‘Donkey’, search me why he called it that!

Chinese – Water : 水(Day 1)

Pictorial is my usual style to help Ethan recognise Chinese characters.  This time, I draw water fall with droplets around.

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I also came up with my own rhyme which we recited with actions on nearly every homeschool days.  On daily basis, whenever Ethan needed to use water to do anything (drink, wash hands, shower, etc), I will say “我 用 水 ____。”, which I believe helped him better in conversing in Mandarin.

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Attempted a game, but it didn’t turn out well.  So I think no point blogging it!

On 八, I wished I planned more things.  When he was doing 1 of the worksheets, I realised he wasn’t quite sure about it.  Will work on this.

Outing – Beach (Day 5)  

What great place to try digging a cellar!  We also attempted digging a canal that can link the ‘cellar’ to the sea!  How ambitious!

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And not forgetting the yummy food at East Coast Beach’s food center!

Coming Up Next…

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August 23, 2006 at 12:29 am 1 comment

Our new daily schedule… I’M LOVING IT!

Old Daily Schedule

Prior to my Break, I used to homeschool Ethan only when Zoe naps.  And while Ethan rests/naps, I will spend 1-1 time with Zoe.  This gives me a VERY PACKED day.  I started my day at about 8am, and I would me on my toes with the 2 children till 8pm.  Once they sleep, I would be at my PC, planning for lessons.  On most days, only heading bed near 2am, and not forgetting the night nursing.  Was I exhausted?  You bet!

New Daily Schedule

During the break, I started to have the siblings nap at the same time.  Wow… the nearly 2 hours break from them in the middle of the day was SUPERB… I had a nice cuppa in peace, had time to do some reading, as well as be at my PC.  I LOVE IT! And wanna keep it…

So now, with my new term started, days at home now look like this:


– my devotion while children free play

– outdoor physical time

– children’s devotion time

– wash up

– 30 mins solo time with Zoe, while Ethan snack

– homeschool time with Ethan, while Zoe snack and free play

– lunch prep and lunch


– Children nap for nearly 2 hours, while I prepare homeschool materials for following day.

– Children awake, spend about 60mins with them.

– Children 30-45 mins of TV time

– Dinner followed by night routine and bed time by 8pm!

The 2 hours of their nap time was so good.  That buy me extra 2 hours of sleep at night!

My only concern is Zoe being a little cranky while I homeschool Ethan.  B gave me a list of things to do for the younger child while the older is being homeschooled.  So far, the list been pretty useful.  Hopefully that will sustain.  And hopefully, Zoe will also get used to the routine.

So here it is, my daily routine.  Certainly better FOR ME! Else, it was insanity!


Uh… I’m just soooooo happy that I completed my planning for another FIAR book.  That mean, lesson for next 3-4 weeks are safe! I’m loving it!  This is only possible due to our new routine… yay!!!

August 18, 2006 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

Great Time for Kids, Great Time for Mums

Today was my turn to host the ABCD playdate when the kids had a hand in baking cookies.

From ingredients preparation, to shaping, to eating… yum yum, the kids love it!

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Kiddos busy shaping the cookies


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Cookies with all kinds of sizes

While the cookies were in the oven, we had a treat from B with a story-telling time for the children. Did the children enjoyed?  Picture speaks a thousand words.

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All the children drawn to the story

To my dismay, AB had to rush home, but I was delighted to have C stayed on till dinner.  Got to know her better and I’m really thankful for the wonderful time with her and her 2 children. 

I love this picture… While the children were watching Dora, Zoe sat on Cheryl’s lap throughout the whole 45 mins!  Zoe has a thing about big sisters.  She loves them.  She loves Ree Yan, and after today, I’m sure she loves Cheryl too!

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Zoe with C’s Cheryl

We have 2 VIPs too!  2 of the daddies dropped by!  B’s for lunch, and C’s for dinner.  It has always been a ladies and kiddos meeting, but it will be really great if ABCD grows into a family friend thingy, where the daddies can also get together and become great pals.  Family tour some day?!  Hmm…

A – thanks for the cookie recipe, its simply easy and yummy. (pls share it in your kitchen blog.)


B – thanks for the story-telling time.  You are definitely a great story teller.


C – thanks for staying by.  I’m glad that I got to know you better today.


ABCD… all the way….




August 16, 2006 at 12:37 am Leave a comment


Last 1 month has been a time of unschooling.  I took things easier, we still ‘school’ but not via formal lesson plans, but more through daily lifeskills, nature, playdates, board games, and…. nothing to do day!

One of my homeschool gang does her homeschooling this way with her daughter.  I have always been amazed at how she can teach this way.  But I now have a glimpse of what its like, but perhaps, its only the tip of the iceberg.

I’m amazed at the kind of progress that Ethan has made via this way of schooling:

(1) Ethan started to show empathy.

(2) He is more adventurous and patient.

(3) Instead of only drawing face, he drew this when we were at the fireworksI know this is such a simple drawing, but for someone like Ethan, who doesn’t really draws, its a big improvement.

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Ethan’s breakthrough drawing of a house, complete with sun, sunset sky, grass and soil.

I have started to see the benefits of unschooling, child-led learning.  Having said that, I’m still uncomfortable with 100% unschooling.  So we will try to do a mix of both.  Proper homeschool when I have the lessons prepared, unschool when I been lazy and have nothing to teach.

And there are many more things that I need to explore in the area of homeschooling, like unschooling, Waldorf, etc.  Which will be my next task during our next round of lazy days.

August 15, 2006 at 12:41 am Leave a comment

“Home school”, now and than

Home school, cum my study ‘room’ used to be such (see background), occupying our living area:

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Background : ‘School’ area at background

while our living area was being squeezed into our study.  Such arrangement is fine, till I have guests.  Living area was simply too cramp.  So, time to revamp!

Now, home school is back to the study.

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Home ‘school’ cum my working space with all the walls being fully utilised

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The ‘World Wall’ just beside the home school area

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Bulletin board for each core subject is also better defined


While, I’m sure our guest will feel more comfy and spacious with the living area being back to where it should be.

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Living area : Home sweet home!

August 12, 2006 at 12:42 am Leave a comment

休 息 是 为 了 要 走 更 长 的 路

This last weeks had not been just a time of casual homeschool, it was also a time for me to re-look my working style.  I know that if I continue to work the way I had been, I will be burn out. 


I was looking at other reading program.  I’m getting tired of RAZ’s phonics.  Its so lengthy, and a little boring.  Though Ethan enjoys the books, I can see that he is getting bored with the lessons. 

Dug out my The Reading Lesson, which a friend sold to me.  Found that in 20 lessons, it covers most of the things covered in RAZ phonics’ 68 lessons! Amazing!  It also comes with an interactive CD, a big plus since Ethan loves anything on PC.

Wonder why I didn’t use it earlier.

Conclusion: For the rest of this year, I will give The Reading Lesson a try.  At the same time, I will used RAZ’s books as a supplement.  I think RAZ will still be useful after we have completed The Reading Lesson cause by than, we will use their ‘Guided Reading’ lessons.



Thanks to E, who shared this wonderful website: 

It has the complete lesson plans, and all FREE!

So, in addition to Math covered in FIAR’s, I will do the lessons in this web fortnightly.  So I don’t need to plan so much for Math.


Lessons Plans

Though FIAR manuals did mention that we don’t need to cover all the suggested activities, I was too ambitious, and tried to cover too many things.  Used to plan A LOT, but only teach 60%, so wasted lots of effort doing research. 

Decided to focus on a key theme, thus, I streamlined the LP, and saved lots of time.  Now daily lessons look something like this:

Daily Plan

Each FIAR book complete over 2 weeks. Each week, there are 3 teaching days, and 2 being outing/playdates days.

(1) FIAR Lang OR Phonics (50-50)

(2) Chinese OR Bible Study (Bible once in 2 weeks)

(3) Science OR Math

(4) Arts OR Crafts OR Cookery

This has made planning so much simpler.  Tried out 1 theme, planning look manageable, will see how it works out on actual lesson days.


Lesson Days

Now that Zoe is older, I’m going to try having our school while Zoe is awake, so that I can have some time to do my planning when both siblings nap at the same time.  Else, the nightly planning is making me looks like a panda.  This will definitely save me LOTS of time at night.  Instead of sleeping at nearly 1am, I hope I can sleep by midnight.

Evelyn will definitely need to help a little to keep Zoe occupied while I’m teaching, but their nap time will enable her to do the house chores with peace.


Is this Final?

The only certainty is: changes are expected.

The children are growing, I’m a first time homeschooling mum.  There are still so many resources out there for me to explore.  So, let’s see how far this can take us.


August 9, 2006 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

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