Thursday, 27 December 2012

Kindergarten Graduation! - 26 Dec 2012

Brandon has officially graduated from Kindergarten and we couldn't be more proud of him. I can't express just how much I love homeschooling him. It's very rewarding to watch him learn and grow, and to provide a rich and varied learning environment for him. I thank God that we're able to homeschool even for a short period - it's been a blessing for us.

We wanted to make it a special event and took him to a studio to have his graduation photo taken. Time is going by too quickly. I can't imagine he's just a tiny baby I held in my arms 6 1/2 years ago. He has grown so much this year and not just academically, but physically and emotionally too. 

We brought him to his favourite restaurant for a special lunch. 

Obviously, his favourite was dessert....

A new chapter... here he comes!

We're not trying to advocate homeschooling or conventional schooling. There's enough debate out there. We've gone through our decision making process on the type of schooling at this point in time. Brandon, like his brothers, will be going to a school next year for Standard One. Teaching or learning is not an institutional activity, it's also not a phase, so it does not mean that I will stop the 'teaching and learning' next year. 

I read somewhere that teaching or learning is a way of living and being. Sounds practical. It happens through constant change, and will be continuous, therefore a way of being. It's an organic quality and it's how we are naturally. 

The pressure to be competitive and learn to get good grades and go to college is prevalent everywhere. But somewhere along this journey of life, we'll realise that college is only four years, whereas the rest of your life, is .... forever.

Thank you for the parents whom we've had the privilege of knowing, and who have shown to us learning as a way of living and being, ever dependent on God, even if it means taking time and effort and moving out of their comfort zones, making mistakes etc - regardless of the types of schooling for their kids. 

Joy of just being a kid - 24 Dec 2012

We've gathered some friends and relatives together for some fun and fellowship on Christmas eve. Weather has been extremely kind - cooling and cloudy the whole day set the mood for Christmas. I don't normally blog about parties, but again and again we've noticed how kids enjoyed unhurried time to play and the importance of allowing lots of free and unstructured play.

Indeed BBQ preparation was the perfect time for everyone to warm up and have fun. We've not planned any activities for the kids but just let them be involved in what we're doing. They've plenty of time to mix with others, handle problems on their own, explore at their own pace, develop their own interests and indulge in a sort of pretend play that would help them to understand how to create their own happiness. Indeed it's the joy of just being a kid. 

 We've many volunteers, and some on waiting list to start the fire. We wanted to have fun with BBQ and at the same time, minimise eating burnt food. So we kept to only potatoes and sweet potatoes for BBQ and set up the electric grills to do the hamburgers.

Multicolor salad to accompany the BBQ! YUM.

The kids somehow figured out their own ways to make the football game worked for as young as 6 years old up to 14 years old. Wished we've a better picture to capture the moment, but tis was our only picture.  

A brief drizzle brought the sweat-drenched boys to a game of chess. And one of the older boys could even join in a meaningful conversation with the adults.

Choc delight, sometimes a picture says more than a thousand 'sweet' words!

Tis always worked - toasty marshmallows! It's their favourite time of the party.

We've made this special "Bueno chocolate cake" for Letitia to celebrate her birthday on Christmas day. It's not a real cake, but it definitely made her day.

Made these tarts in time before midnight. Selling like hot cakes.

We've come to almost the end of the school holidays. Like many parents, we may have planned many organised & enriching activities & events for our kids during the long holidays. We've got ourselves to believe that we've to make every moment count; we've to fill our kids like empty vessels. Parents feel compelled to give their kids every advantage they could afford. Is it any wonder that when kids have a free moment, they complain that they're bored? More likely, they simply don't know what to do with themselves. Of course some of these activities bring joy and fulfilment to our kids, but the time for unstructured play has decreased. 

It's Christmas! Grab the candy canes made from beetroot.

Children naturally, when left on their own, will take initiatives and create play in the world around them. I hope that unstructured play time will continue to be an important element of our children's lives.

Crafts & ideas for the holiday season - 20 Dec 2012

Making Christmas crafts with kids is a great way to spend some time together, especially when you're looking for things to do during the school holidays. 

Make use of what you've at home first.

 We've got so many vitamin bottles collected over the years, it's a waste to just dispose them.

Give it a new coat of spray...

Ta-da- a beautiful Christmas tree made from recycled materials!

Changing our terrarium to winter scene 

A white Christmas 

We have some fun creating and making our own props for storytelling too....

"Adam and Eve are tempted"

"God calls Abraham out of the ancient city of Ur"

"Abraham and Lot"

The year end holiday season is also a time for family and friends to get together. My hope is that you and your family can start making crafts together during this wonderful time of year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A day made of wood - 17 Dec 2012

A lesson in woodworking at a friend's house. 

Uncle Bok is a self-taught carpenter and DIY woodworking is his hobby. His house is always a work-in-progress, there's always something going on, building, new structures eg. rooms, wall panels, flooring, ceiling panels and always some new furniture around. See, he even made his own timber flooring.

First, need to decide what they want to do before choosing the materials. One said chair, another a birdhouse, a table, before they agreed on a wooden box. 

Assortment of hardwood - we settled on "nyatoh" wood, cos it's the thinnest we could find.

Getting the right tools and machine

Head scratching to visualise the design and measurement, boys still quite blurrrrrr....

An electric saw is something you must invest in if you want to DIY @ home. And not something we could leave to our children to do without training and supervision. 

Safety briefing whilst the kids were sanding the wood pieces. Didn't know that sanding paper have different codes, the smaller the code, the rougher the sanding paper. Different sanding papers were used for different stages.

While we're busy listening, Uncle Bok's little princess opened up the sand dust bag, which was neatly attached to the electric saw.

Uncle Bok getting serious......

and the younger kids were having a Blast.

A small-sized table saw was handy to slice the wood and make the grooves.

After the 'machining' session, now the boys could be more hands on to do the rest.....

Something we could all take home today, "precision, precision, precision" - there's no short cuts, everything has to be exact and it took a lot, a lot of patience from planning to actually making the parts. The best stage was the assembling cos now you could see the fruit of your labor. No wonder people love IKEA.

Learning to use a hammer with the right strength. Uncle Bok uses an electric nail gun to drive nails into wood. It's a very innovative power tool for woodworking, runs by air pressure, and in many ways replaced hammers as tools of choice.

Inside the house - kids were building their Lego-world.

Another power tool - the sanding machine for wide surface.

And another one for the edges.

Now they've just started to warm up and couldn't wait to see the finished product.

Also making sure you clam the wood pieces straight and flat while the glue dries. Next, to wax the wooden box for the final finishing touch.

A beautiful rectangular wooden box with grooves near the top for the sliding lid, made with nyatoh wood.

A perfect fit.

My boys gave me the title for this post. They were fascinated by the video clip on 'a day made of glass' so there should be a day made of wood, of metal, of plastic, of chocolate ....

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Budding scientists take flight - 15 Dec 2012

The much awaited aerospace & science program by Sam Gibbs at RMAF Museum in Sungai Besi! Even an overcast sky, occasional drizzle and a clash of events at RMAF did not dampen our spirits. 

A lively and animated Sam Gibbs in action.....

How to make a water rocket fly high? Why does a spinning wheel balance itself and fall when you stop spinning? How do you make a cloud in a bottle? A common science question from adult is, "How can I explain such a hard concept in a simple enough way for my kid to understand?"

Sam helped kids think like scientists.

Find the fastest way for water to go down to the lower bottle. The trick is to shake the water in the top bottle a while until it forms a tornado spin. This is the most efficient way to use energy, ie in a spiralling motion or the scientific term, a vortex. 

Make your own shooting cannon. 
When you fill smoke inside a cylinder container, you could have your very own Vortex smoke ring cannon! So powerful it could knock down the cup placed on your head. We didn't realise that vortex formations were so common in the world, examples tornado, galaxy, hurricane, DNA, in certain plants, vegetables and fruits too.

How does the Bernoulli's principle work in water bottle rocket? You need some water (fuel), pump (thrust from water creates force in direction of rocket), air (opposite force to the direction of rocket) and the Newton law of gravity (force down). 

Now we could make our water rocket fly high into space! 3-2-1 Blast off. 

Can you spot the rocket in the overcast sky? Not high enough for the space, I guess. Space is just 100km above us actually, and it takes only 6 mins for a rocket to get into space and another 2 mins to get to the orbit. Amazing.

Giant bubbles were spelt FUN. Where did the colours come from? Today we learnt another new term, 'refraction'.  Bubbles could be used to split lights into the colours of rainbow.

Mixing the fundamental colours. Also demonstration on the effects of colour filters. Guess the most powerful light? The ultraviolet light - and the prolonged exposure to the UV light from the sun is very damaging especially for fair-skinned people.

A chance in the flight simulator demo, mission to avoid crashing into the KLCC twin towers. "We must ask our parents to download this in our tablets."

Cover your ears, boys and girls!! See whether we can make our hot-air balloon so big like "UP".

We love you Uncle Sam for making science make sense.

Last activity of the day - making paper groove tube to fly 

Friendship takes flight as well!
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