Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Holiday DIY Projects - Art&Crafts

There're so many creative things you can do with children, and the list is never exhaustive. We did a lot of projects together this school holidays, mostly with resources from our backyard. There's not much grass left on our garden, more like a weed jungle! We even started a project to identify the names of the weeds. The weeds also have their roles in the eco-system, so perhaps we should accept them as part of our garden plants? 

A few weeks before Christmas, the pine cones from our neighbour's tree started to fall in dozens every day. It has a very unique durian-like structure and we still didn't know the specie name yet! We've so much fun collecting them, in hundreds and hundreds....

...until we must think of something to do with them....

We put a hook on each of these cones and the boys made their imaginary creatures with them.

...like owls...

caterpillars, porcupine, bees, UFOs, monsters, etc etc

... we hung some of the cones on the Christmas tree...

Baby Jesus is born....

A friend was so kind to give the boys a few dozens of Sharpies pens. So, we took out the blank mugs and the boys drew Panda faces on them. The mugs were baked at very high temperature in the oven so that the colours would stay.

...we have lotsa origami papers, so it's time to use them!!

Dinosaurs, insects, birds, etc....

So we packed all of these things into our Christmas gift sets for our friends - we made 20 sets in total. Credits to the boys cos they worked really, really hard... especially the day before the deadline.

Life Cycle of the Army Green Moth

Another favourite project from our backyard is catching insects. We're very fortunate to stumble upon tis caterpillars again. They love the fragrant Jasmine leaves, and they will eat and eat until they can eat no more. They literally eat till they drop. We caught one of them this round and saw the 'metamorphosis'. 

Not far from our Jasmine shrubs, there's another one of their favourite hangout - the frangipani tree!

We've expected a butterfly or common moth, but when it came out, we saw a hawk-moth - shape of a sphinx and in army green colour!

We let it go...and it 'transforms' into a Super Hero to save the world thereafter!

Goodbye 2013 - Brandon's overview of what we did this year.

A DIY project does not need to be so sophisticated. Sometimes, I couldn't help but criticise their efforts, which made them frustrated. It's easy to send them to art & craft classes, but the process is so different. At home, we made use of things we already have, and one thing will lead to another - it's always very spontaneous and rewarding.

Holiday DIY Nature Activities

Unschooling Get-together @ CLiC

We managed to meet up with Wai Leng and some other unschooling families during the holidays. Tree-climbing was a favourite past time in CLiC.

We've a glimpse of a typical day of these unschoolers, also their hangout place at the Community Learning Initiative Centre (CLiC). Unschooling with a community is a unique experience. There's little structure and no standard curriculum, unlike some homeschooling approaches. The kids learnt how to journal after collecting some stuff at the park and learning took place naturally.

Stream trotting at Bukit Tinggi, Pahang

A nature walk in a scenic and secluded place. Most of the time we could have this place to ourselves. We come here often, but never grow tired of it. 


The water is clear and cold, there're small and big fishes, beautiful dragonflies in different colours, the sound of water gushing from the waterfall, fresh air... tis is what we miss in the city.

Jumping from rocks to rocks...

Supposedly got some big fishes here..... 

A Yoga pose?

Ssssh.... the water is tooooo cold.

Colours of twilight and sunset

Holiday DIY Projects - Cooking

 The holidays are a time of fun and activities, but with all the festivities, it can also create stress. Everyone seems to be running in different directions this holiday season. Cooking with the kids is a simple way to spend some time together and step away from the hectic season. Even with boys, they can benefit from learning some skills that will help them in life.  

Trying out the tangyuan at the Chinese Winter Solstice festival. 

It's a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour. The boys have to roll them into balls before cooking.

Jin has a first time experience cooking dinner for the family on 30/12/2013. He has a tough time deciding on the menu. When he finally has the menu, the next challenge was to meet a budget of RM50. He has to do without the grilled chicken. A good hands on experience for him to create his own grocery shopping list and plan for a dinner for 6 people.

Preparation gotta start way before the actual cooking. From grocery shopping, cleaning, freezing and thawing and later marinating the chicken - there's no last minute prep boy!! He learnt to think a few steps ahead - just like chess....

He chose some expensive and not-in-season fruits like avocado and mango. Choosing the fruits and cutting them did not come easy. Despite claims from the vendor, the mango was toooooo sour!

 Preparing for salad and dressing was the easiest part!

Last minute check to the recipe instructions - was this not a bit too late? There's no 'Undo' key!!

An act of brotherly love - Brandon helping to set the table!

And now, dinner is served - roast chicken along with grilled vege and salad with avocado, mango and raisins.

We love the dessert most - 'vanilla ice-cream sandwich'! He saved some money cos the ice-cream was homemade by a kind auntie.

Now you see it, now it's gone! 
Jin went thru an intense period for this experience, and I'm sure he would remember the whole process. Unlike helping in food prep, he felt the responsibility to complete the whole dinner from scratch. Thank you Jin!!

The other boys also have their share of experience in food prep. Brandon was helping Auntie Mei Peng to sift the flour for the blueberry shortbread in Bukit Tinggi...

Helping kakak to wrap the wantan dumplings...

BBQ @ Bukit Tinggi on Christmas Eve

Now the fire is kindled.... the challenge is to maintain the zeal and passion!!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

14th Kids For Chess Camp - 12-13 Dec 2013

Posting by Xian Wei


A few of us, including my brothers went to the chess camp held at the International Youth Centre in Cheras recently. Jin was in the higher intermediate level, whereas Brandon and I were in the lower intermediate. When the competition started, I was doing well, then I made a few mistakes and ended up in the 2nd place. I learnt a lesson not to take people's praises seriously and get overconfident. But I still enjoyed the games. 

I was playing against the winner. I almost won him but he checkmated me a few minutes before his time ran out.

Winners of the tournament (lower intermediate).

Brandon got 4th place.

Jin standing next to the Spanish coach, Captain Alberto. Like me, he got 2nd place.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Kiwanis Youth Camp - Dec 7-11 2013


Posting by Xian Jin

The Kiwanis Youth Camp is an annual camp organized by Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur. This year it was a 5 day 4 night trip to the Earth Camp, Gopeng.

The day before it started, I had mixed feelings because I was afraid to do some activities I have never done before but I was curious as this was my first time.



We took a bus from a meeting point to the Earth Camp. In the bus, everyone was silent as we did not know each other. When I reached Earth Camp, I was amazed by the cleanliness of the dorms, the size of the place and the hospitality given by the staff there.



After a brief intro, we were divided into groups and had ice breaking sessions. We played many games like the tug-of-war and it was dinner time. The food was way beyond my expectation. I finished dinner with a very happy stomach and went on to wash up. After that we had a meeting and we slept.



The next day I woke up feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep. We first did water rescue which means you need to swim with the current and to swim against the current. Luckily I had swimming classes just before this camp! It was really fun and I participated in everything. After that we did flat-water rafting. I learned the correct technique to paddle. I also learned that we must work as a team in order to paddle forward.



The next day we did caving in Gua Tempurung which is a wet and natural limestone with an underground river passing through it.  I was excited as I have been here before. On this particular day I stepped up as a leader to lead my group. Each team were given a quest called Magic Fire. It was a race to see which team completes the quest first. On the way, there were many challenges and activities. We all enjoyed ourselves. When we were inside the cave, we helped each other to move on in the dark. Our team never gave up and soon we finished the race. Luckily we brought waterproof torches. But the best was yet to come.



The next day, I had a really fun time. First, my team did white water rafting, which was the first time I did it. At first I was scared I would fall out of the boat and drown, but we had a professional swimmer who guided us. We had a really good time together.



After lunch and went to Mountain School. Mountain School is a place where you have activities such as the flying fox and the leap of faith. I was reluctant to do all these but I thought: ”I would have to overcome my fear of heights someday, so why not give it a try?” I managed to participate in all the activities and I realised it was not that scary.

At night, we had a huge campfire. We did performances and dances. Everyone was sad as this was their last night. We only just realised how much we needed one another. The last activity of the night was the circle of appreciation. Everyone in a group has to tell his/her teammates of how they appreciated one another. When it was over, many were in tears.



I achieved many milestones in this camp and the happy moments will always remain in my heart. No doubt I would want to come back again.

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