Dot, my little scientist, is curious about everything that captures her attention. Her inquisitive eyes sweep across quickly and spot things that we do not see – so sharp is her sight. She lays her hands to touch and feel things that stir her curiosity. She hits something with another object to hear what sound it produces. She smells some of the leaves like mint, pandan leaves and basil.

Dot is out and about every weekday morning. We travel by bus to my parents’ place. Then we walk about 15 to 30 minutes to her place – this is the time where my little keen scientist is at work.

When she is on her feet, she runs off to examine anything that captures her interest. She is allowed to roam freely within certain range with minimum intervention, unless safety is compromised.

Along the way, she will pick up some berries, flowers, dried leaves and branches that fall by the wayside. With the berries in her hands, she will say, “Feed the birds” and she will go lookout for the birds. Sometimes she will pick the branches and hit the metal structure to produce sound and happily says, “Drum.”

Top: moth cocoons, bottom left: a live beetle on the ground, bottom right: a dead dragonfly

Children see the world on a different level from us. Get down to your children’s level and take a look at what they see. A fresh and different perspective.

She loves to share her exciting discovery with me and I will take the opportunity to share with her more about what she has discovered. I will also point out familiar and unfamiliar things around. “Look at the tree, flowers, leaves!”, “Dot, can you see the cocoons?” or “Wow! Look at what we find here. A beetle.”

Recently we spotted a few insects along the way. These were our unexpected finds. (see images on the right)

As I learn to slow down my pace to adjust to Dot’s, I rediscover the sense of wonder through her eyes. Here I am, learning to learn again.

Our family of three jogging weekly. We hope that by including Dot in our weekly exercise, she will grow to love exercising and makes this part of her life as she grows up. There are many health benefits associated with physical exercise and do you know that exercise can also keep us young?

It’s still possible to exercise when we have a baby. Dot first joined us at the sports stadium near our place when she was about 5 month old. She would stay in her stroller as she could not walk yet. J and I would take turn to jog so that one of us could take care of her.

Here is a video we took when Dot was about 17 – 18 month old at the sports stadium climbing stairs and doing warming-exercise.

httpv://youtu.be/5pdr_zr2q90

When Dot started to walk, we let her explore around at the stadium. There are so much to do at the stadium for our little active toddler – she climbs stairs, follows us or others do warming-up exercises, picks grasses and throws them in the drain, picks up little stuff on the floors, plays with the sand, plays and kicks the ball, runs around, chases after birds on the field…limitless. It’s up to her imagination.

2-year old: Her latest action @ the stadium!

Dot enjoys the outdoor play and gets to have more personal time with each parent. We get to burn the extra calories and keep fit too. Win-win!

 

We are people of habits – young and old alike. Naturally, we are inclined to do something whether it is beneficial or detrimental because knowingly or unknowingly habits are weaved into our lives. Whether we intentionally train our children habits or not, they will still form habits which will determine their success in life.

Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

Since the day Dot started walking at about 12 month old, she starts to bring things around the house. A neat and orderly place turns into a mess in no time when she explores around. It is a stage where we will have ensure her safety while having more mess to clear!

We started bringing her to the library when she is about 13 month old.  She is always so excited by the large collection of books and the big space. She liked to run to and fro the book shelves and stacked the books on the table, many times without spending much time reading. It came a point where it became a bit out of control.

Dot's first visit to the library when she was about 13 month old

I told Dot and signed with my hands, “Mei, take only one book at a time. Ok?”

Dot replied, “Ok.”

Self-control and order do not come naturally to her – such habits are undeveloped and we thought it was good to start training her when she can understand basic instruction. It took us several occasions to supervise and remind her that only one book is allowed to and fro the book shelf. Now that she is two years old, she is able to exercise more self-control and most of the time takes only one book at a time.

Recently, I was surprised to see Dot picked up a chair that fell off at the read-aloud corner. In the similar occasion, she saw a torn book on the shelf and brought it to the librarian.

It was encouragement to see the fruit of our labour!

 

Recently, I read “Smooth and easy days with Charlotte Mason“, a free e-book written by Sonya Shafer and I was encouraged to do more to help my girl develops good habits in her life that may last a lifetime.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Now we have to be intentional in building good habits into our daughter’s life which will take many weeks, months and years to inculcate. We need perseverance, oh Lord!

These are the habits listed in the e-book – quite a handful! Take your pick!

Decency and Propriety Habits

  • Cleanliness
  • Courtesy
  • Kindness
  • Manners
  • Modesty and Purity
  • Neatness & Order
  • Regularity
  • (Mentioned only) – Candor
  • Courage
  • Diligence
  • Fortitude
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Meekness
  • Patience
  • Respect
  • Temperance
  • Thrift

Mental Habits

  • Attention
  • Imagining
  • Meditation
  • Memorizing
  • Mental Effort
  • Observation
  • Perfect Execution
  • Reading for Instruction
  • Remembering
  • Thinking
Moral Habits

  • Integrity (as shown in)
    • Priorities
    • Finishing
    • Use of Time
    • Borrowed Property
  • Obedience
  • Personal Initiative
  • Reverence
  • Self-Control
  • Sweet, Even Temper
  • Truthfulness
  • Usefulness

Religious Habits

  • Regularity in Devotions
  • Prayer
  • Reading the Bible
  • Praise
  • Reverent Attitude
  • Sunday-Keeping
  • Thanksgiving
  • Thought of God

Physical Habits

  • Alertness to Seize Opportunities
  • Fortitude
  • Health
  • Managing One’s Own Body
  • Music
  • Outdoor Life
  • Quick Perception of Senses
  • Self-Control in Emergencies
  • Self-Discipline in Habits
  • Self-Restraint in Indulgences
  • Training the Ear and Voice

Every time Dot watches Baby Signing Time, there is this part in the show where toddlers do hand painting – which Dot calls “Tiny Hands”. For several months, she has been bugging me to get her paint to do hand painting. Her wish has been granted recently by her aunt.

Her beloved aunt bought her a box of Crayola Washable Kids’ Paint which is non-toxic. She even cut these potatoes for her to play. Dot is so blessed!

A piece of majong paper was taped at four corners on the floor. A cover of a container was used as a palette for the paint and a paint brush was also made available for her.

Initially, Dot was a bit apprehensive when her palms were covered with the paint. After some warm-up, she started to made many hand prints or her “Tiny Hands” on the paper, drew with her hands and brush. She even used her feet to paint after a while. If we gave her more time, we might find her rolling on the paint and paper.

Love to see her have fun though messy!

More to come! Check out Dot’s Doodle Gallery.

 

We had a little home-made Science project one morning.

Our humidifier went kaput one day and it was left outside our room for a couple a days before I told J to throw it away. J decided to dismantle it and see whether his hands can breath life into the dead humidifier. Conclusion after working on it – a complicated case as some components were already burnt.

Looking at the dead humidifier, J decided to turn the repair work into a science project for Dot. Dot, still in her pyjamas, was assisting J with the screwdriver and stuff and watching how the LEDs from dead humidifier were turned into a mini torch with some wires and batteries.

That night, Dot was excited that her mini torchlight added a red and green glow in our bedroom.

Sometimes a seemingly useless item can be dismantled and re-created into something useful and fun.

Or when a toy, game or anything else is broken, check and see whether it can be repaired and turn it into a learning opportunity.

Have you tried to design, recycle or re-create something fun at home? Would love to hear your stories.

Dot loves to watch us cook – from the preparation of the ingredients to the actual cooking of the food. She gets to watch the step-by-step process of preparing a dish.

When she is at grandparents’ house, she always asks to be carried to watch how grandma cuts the vegetables, meat, fruits and how she cooks. Step-by-step, I will explain to her what grandma is doing . Many times she wants to help cut the vegetables so grandma will  sometimes gives her some leaves to feed Lewis, our late rabbit or some to play with. She is very curious – wanting to have a hand in what grandma does in the kitchen and watching how the delicious food is prepared and cooked in this part of the house.

Recently, grandma put a few fish into the hot cooking oil to fry and she exclaimed excitedly, “Fish swimming.” So hilarious!

During the Christmas festive, our family usually bakes cookies to give to our friends. Dot watched how the dough was placed on the baking tray and then put inside the oven to be baked. This year, dad made a “Hello Kitty” cookie especially for her and she was so excited and happy.

Baking together with Dot will be in my to-do list this year. 

Cooking with young children can be messy but it can very fun together.

Learning how to cook helps our children to learn :

  • about healthy eating, food and nutrition,
  • to read food labels and measurements in recipes,
  • to refine motor skills,
  • about safety and hygiene,
  • problem solving and life skills

A lovely 3-minute video  to end this post –  a group of creative friends in Saari explored making crepes together, made mistakes and yet at the end enjoyed themselves very much. Enjoy!

Would love to hear your stories on cooking with your young children here.

 

Reference: Why cooking lessons are good for children?

 

Childhood, so pure and innocent, passes by so fast – such beautiful memories ought to be captured cos’ they are so precious!

I was flipping through my old childhood photo albums and they brought back beautiful childhood memories. I told Dot that I used to be a baby and toddler just like her. Pointing at the photos, I asked Dot, “Mei, where is mommy? Ah Yee (aunt)? Ah Gu (uncle)?”.  Then we were still babies, toddlers and children. After a while, she could recognize the younger version of her mommy, her aunt, her uncle and even her grandparents.

Recently my childhood playmate got in touch with me via Facebook. We lost touch with each other for more than 15 years. It warmed my heart to be able to get in touch with her again. She told me she still remembers that bottle of paper cranes I made for her. So touched!

I remembered life back then was so carefree and fun. We always got to play “zero-point”, hide and seek, hopscotch, “five stones” with our neighbours.  We visited our neighbours’ home often as well to play.

Christmas celebration at my neighbours' house

My parents and relatives brought us to many interesting places during our younger days – zoo, bird park, parks, playground, Haw Par Villa and many more.

My siblings and I visited our grandma often who stayed in a kampong.  We enjoyed running and chasing the dog, fishing, rearing chicks, climbing trees, catching ladybird – many fun things that kids nowadays rarely have chance to do.

This was our childhood playground
My dear siblings in our younger days

As much as we could remember, we would like to share with Dot our childhood memories and our lives. Just in case, she does not know that her mommy and daddy used to be young too!

I am thankful especially to my parents, grandma, relatives and childhood playmates who left such beautiful childhood memories for me. Thank you!

 

httpv://youtu.be/Tcv99hruINo

Every time during Christmas, “We are the Reason” by Avalon always comes to my mind – a beautiful song that never fails to touch my heart.

Still love this song.

As little children we would dream of Christmas morning
Of all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason that He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by we learned more about gifts
The giving of ourselves and what that means
On a dark and cloudy day a man hung crying in the rain
All because of love
All because of love

I finally found the reason for living
It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him (every part to Him)
And all that I do every word that I say (you know I’ll be saying)
I’ll be giving my all just for Him, for Him (every thing for Him)

We are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give (all that he could give all)
To show us the reason to live

Merry Christmas to all and may the love, joy and peace of God fill many hearts.

 

httpv://youtu.be/8KYs2tWQHZE

I came to know about Gospel For Asia (GFA) when I read “Revolution in World Missions“. I was touched by how God uses GFA to be a blessing to the poorest of the poor. I love what GFA is doing and I am glad that 100% of what we give goes to the field for the children we sponsor.

After J and I read this book, we decided to sponsor two girls whose birthdays fall in the same month as Dot, to remind us that God loves these girls as much as He loves Dot and we can make a difference to these girls’ lives.

If you are able to read this post, you are very blessed because you are one of the 30% of world population who has access to Internet.

For millions of children in Asia a toothbrush is a luxury item. Clean clothes are a dream. A pillow to lay down one’s head, unknown. The prevalence of malnourishment in India is among the highest in the world and in places nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa. And worse, most have never conceived of a God that loves them.

Would you give a gift to the Dalits, the “Untouchables” this Christmas?

 

It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

 

 

 

Things in this world come in various shapes and sizes.  Few month ago, we started teaching Dot about shapes – circle, square, rectangle, triangle, star, heart, oval and diamond – from the book “My First Shape“.

Dot is still exploring and learning about her world. We help her to discover her world of circle that comes in different forms in our house. Later we guide her to find different shapes around her.

[Click to view the circle objects we showed Dot at home]

[catablog category=”circle”]

I love exploring and understanding the world through her eyes – it helps me to see things from a fresh perspective. Many times she surprises us with her replies when she sees certain objects at home or outdoor.

These were some of the words that slipped off her lips when she saw these items – the imaginative world through the eyes of a 22-month toddler.

[Mouse-over or click to see her world of shapes]

[catablog category=”nov2011-discovery”]

Enjoy!

 

“Origametria – Using Origami as a Tool to Teach Geometry” is an 8-minute film that introduces a teaching program run by the Israeli Origami Center (IOC). Each week throughout the school year, 10,000 children in 70 schools study ‘Origametria’, taught by 40 specially trained teachers. The film features interviews with School Principals and with teachers of math in schools that use the ‘Origametria’ program, and includes much footage of ‘Origametria’ in the classroom.

This short film is included as an Additional Feature on the full Between the Folds, which we watched recently. I never knew origami can be used a tool to teach Mathematics. A simple square can be transformed into an extraordinary piece of work – be it a Science or Art – it is breathtaking.

You can borrow this DVD from our library.

Dot sings when she is happy. This morning, she sang while we were on our way to West Coast Park for ‘”The Big Draw” organized by Playeum, The Play Museum.

Dot was so excited with what were before her eyes – the baskets of Eric Carle’s books, the look-like underwater world, the colourful paintings,  the playground, the spacious green field and the kites in the sky.

Dot painted her first picture which she called “Bird”. Can you spot it?

Thanks to a mother who shared with me this wonderful event. We also received a free colourful book by Eric Carle – simply love his books!

A fruitful and fun morning!

Check out Dot’s Doodle Gallery for more of her works.

 

[Click on the images to view]

[catablog category=”west coast”]

 

Her grandparents went on holiday to the cold Harbin, China and bought a few Russian dolls as cultural souvenirs. They make good sensory activities for children and Dot loves to play with them as she finds it fascinating to see a doll with many dolls within. She called them, “Baby”.

It is a fun  activity for her to discover about different sizes, train her motor skills when she try to fit the head and the bottom together, logical thinking and most importantly she loves playing with them.

I will be there guiding her on how to put the small doll inside a bigger doll. She will then learn to follow my instructions. Sometimes I will just let her discover her own mistakes and then she tries again and again. When she manages to keep all the dolls as one, her face beams with pride and joy.

Sometimes she will pretend play with the dolls.

It just puts a smile on my face when I see her child-like joy.