Review: BlueTree Education Primary One Prep Workshop

Review

A few more days before Xander enters Primary One, the biggest milestone in all Singaporean child’s life. Did you do anything unusual to prepare your child for primary school life? Many of my friends started prepping their kids since dunno how many moons ago. Some taught their kids how to buy food, count their change, learn to read time, others send their kids to enrichment centres to learn to read cheem-er books, do cheem-er math exercises, basically be 1 or 2 steps ahead of their peers so that the kids will have an easier time understanding what goes on in class. I like how this friend prep her daughter and I agree, sometimes it’s not all about the books.

Frankly, I don’t know how to prep Xander for primary school and reading my friends’ Facebook statuses about their experiences made me quite nervous and even sweat a little bit. The Husband described our parenting style quite “Light Touch” and that I shouldn’t worry too much since everything will naturally fall into place as the days go. I couldn’t help but ask myself “Are all these prep work really necessary?” Apparently, yes. What does a child usually need to know before entering primary school then? Earlier this month, we were invited to attend the 3 days Primary One Prep Workshop by BlueTree Education Learning Centre. I thought the timing was perfect and why not give it a try.

I can hear you ask me, “3 days?? 1 day not enough meh? 3 days learn simi?”

“Plenty!” would be my reply to you.

“AROUND THE WORLD’S FAMOUS PLACES” Primary One Prep Workshop

Class sizes are typically kept at 8 and less.

Using the world’s famous landmarks, the 3 days, 2.5 hour workshop covered learning the fundamentals of the English language such as the parts of a sentence through stories and poems, as well as a host of foundational math concepts like shapes, symmetry and the number system. The little travellers were taken to China to climb The Great Wall, Italy to see Leaning Tower of Pisa and Egypt to learn more about the Pyramids of Giza.

All the travellers received a personalized passport, tourist badge, luggage tag and a boarding pass. How cute are they?

During the 3 days course, each young traveller was assessed on some basic skills and the teachers would feedback to the parents if extra attention should be given to whatever the child needs help with. Some of the basic skills are:

  1. Listening to instructions from the teacher
  2. Copying instructions from the board
  3. Basic independent reading
  4. Basic arithmetic skills

The average K2 child would have already learnt all these (and more) during their kindergarten years so it is just a matter of practising some more at home. Only if you wish to of course.

The little travellers learnt to make these little pyramids during class.

My conclusion

The 3 days workshop was an eye opener for me. Prior to this, I never knew “copying” is such an important skill and have always assumed all kids can do it with no problems. As the class sizes are capped at 8 and less, I felt the kids had the opportunity for their questions to be heard and the teacher was able to concentrate on them efficiently. At the end of each class, Xander couldn’t wait to tell me about what they saw during their “trips” and the friends he made. It was fun and educational. I like!

BlueTree Education Learning Centre offers regular enrichment classes as well as holiday workshops for children from pre-primary level to primary 6. These classes are also taught by ex-MOE teachers and curriculum specialists. To find out more about the centre and their courses, you can visit their website (http://bluetreeeducation.com/) or find them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlueTreeEducation)

BlueTree Education Learning Centre Pte Ltd

271 Bukit Timah Road, Balmoral Plaza #02-15 Singapore 259708
Nearest MRT: Newton
Bus Services (Balmoral Plaza Bus Stop): 48, 66, 67, 170R, 171, 700, 700A, 960
Telephone: +65 9106 4702

Disclaimer:
Mother of Xander was invited to attend the workshop by BlueTree Education Learning Centre. No monetary compensation was involved and all opinions are my own. 

Another milestone! Well done, Yvie!

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At 5ish months, my funny little girl can sit up unassisted and she is feeling mighty proud of herself! Silly girl has also started to lick and gnaw on anything in sight. Fuzzy blankets, the clothes I am wearing, soft toys, plastic toys, metal chairs, dirty tables, whatever she can reach, she will lick ’em. I’m amazed she hasn’t gotten any rashes around her mouth or experienced diarrhoea yet. *TOUCH WOOD*

Xander also had a taste for strange things when he was a lot younger. He used to chew the headboard on our bed. I didn’t know it until I saw the little teeth marks on the edges many years later. I’m such an observant mum, eh? What was the strangest thing your child has ever tasted?

Here’s a short Instagram video of Yvie doing her usual cute stuff at home. Sorry if I’ve been posting too many pictures of her. Can’t help it lah 🙂

In case you would like to see more, you can follow me at http://instagram.com/motherofxander.

1st day of school: Xander is in K2!

Check out my pimped out kicks!

It was the first day of school for most kids in Singapore and Xander was no exception. He starts K2 this year and will be the big brother to most of the little ones in his school. He was feeling so proud and kept talking about it when I picked him up at the end of the day. This was also the last year of kindergarten and “freedom” before the crunch of Primary One formal education starts in 2015. We also decided to let him enjoy this freedom as much as possible before his little sister is born. In about 2 months, our full attention on him will have to be split between 2 kids. Gee… TWO! I never even expected to have one child and soon we will have two monkeys running around! Oh boy!

Going back to our Hokkien roots!

You know how big we are on exposing the kid to all things weird and wonderful right? I’ve been itching to buy this book for a really long time but somehow never got round nor have the excuse for it until recently. I decided Xan will learn more proper Hokkien words this year! What better way than with a picture book? You can purchase this book and other sibeh funny products online from Sibey Nostalgic. I was trying to go through some of the words with him on the way to school yesterday and I finally realized how lousy my knowledge of the dialect is. I nair seen more than half of the words before ah! So suaku! We have a good laugh trying to pronounce the words as best as we can and in our own ang moh accent. You can watch Xan try reading some of the words in the video below.

When I sent the video to our family members, they also had a good laugh at his ang moh qiang (Caucasian accent). I thought it was a brilliant effort from the kid! Funny sia!

That was our experience of Xan’s first day of school yesterday. A little different from everybody else’s but we had fun. Primary 1 is next year, I will sweat over it next year. This year we will just concentrate on playing hard (and maybe on the side, study a little harder of course 😛 ) and having some fun.

P.S. This is not a book review. I paid for the book with my own money and I thought I should share with you something my family enjoyed tremendously. Go get it lah. Steady? Steady!

Wordless Wednesday: Last mischief of 2013

My 1st post of the new year and it’s about mischief! Hahaha!

As you can see he is off by about 10 cm. Typically I would scream at him for marking the walls. With permanent marker no less. The naughty boy also drew a smiley face next to his master piece and that little smiley face reminded me the walls can always be repainted but moments like this can never be recreated. So I laughed and shooed him back to bed. “We will talk about this later.”

When the 2 of them (yes, Daddy needed a nap too) woke up at the same time, I broke the news to Daddy.

I stood in front of the masterpiece and said “I show you something but you cannot get angry with him ah?” Then I moved away. Daddy laughed and I said “he is off by 10cm”. Daddy used the same blue marker Xan had used earlier and re marked the correct measurement. After that, we went out for our last dinner of 2013, followed by the last car ride of 2013 then the last sleep of 2013. My goodness, so many “lasts” I should stop here hor? No end one…

What would you do if it happened to you?

 

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Let’s play with… Chalk!

I used to love playing with chalk when I was a kid. There was always some kind of chalk lying around the house back then. My mum used to sew all sorts of stuff. Clothes for my sisters when they were kids, mend her clothes, mend my clothes, make flags, etc. In her sewing kit you will always find triangular chalk meant for marking fabrics. I also made sure I had a nice supply of the white chalk my primary school teachers love to throw at us. I bought the chalks lah, not collected them from being thrown at lah. I was a good girl you know? Naturally, these all became my childhood toys much to their dismay. I drew everywhere and that was how I learnt tailor chalk on mosaic tiles is not easy to wipe off, must scrub. Hard. When my mum needs to burn incense papers during religious occasions, my job was to draw a huge circle around the incense burner or ground to indicate the area we were about to use. I loved my job. Very important to a 6 year old ok?

While catching up on my list of favourite local blogs, I came across one of The Gingerbread Mum’s post about one of her kids’ favourite activity. I never knew Singaporeans can be so yim jim (particular) and boh liao (too free and got nothing better to do). So free until someone used their lousy camera, zoomed in dunnohowmany times to take picture of a suspicious looking family who were having insanely dangerous fun with *gasp* a whole bag of CHALK! Gilah fella said they nair respect the residents and should respect Singapore laws? You angry they nair ask you to join them ah? You is the what I call “eat full nothing to do”. I was totally inspired by it and decided I was going to get us some chalk to commit some criminal acts that weekend too! *rubs hands in with evil glee* Mwahahaha!

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I sumpah (swear) that I wasn’t planning to use our friend’s baby’s full month party as the crime scene. It just happened and seemed like a good idea at the time. Initially the three of us weren’t very sure what to do. The 2 adults haven’t touched chalk in years and the little one had never even played with one before. He was wondering why mummy so giam siap (stingy) bought so few colors. “Why no red, no black Mummy?” he asked. I said “Neh! Got pink! Chalk got no red lah. Black is charcoal already, I’ll get that for you another day. Chalk only comes in these few colors lah.” The lies just keeps growing. Note to self: steer him away from art supplies shops where they have rainbow colored artist chalk for sale. No need to be forever, 10 years can already.

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I’ll be honest with you. We were very worried to kenah Stomped like that poor criminal family so I packed 2 big bottles of water along so we can wash off the evidence when we were done. Xan was only interested to get the attention of the other children to come play with him. At first it was just us 3, then 4, then 6, then a parent joined us. Boy was I glad it didn’t backfire in my face that day. It got messy real quick too. Hands, arms, pants, skirts, shoes, none of the kids stayed clean for long. A few were shocked to see their hands so dirty and got a bit worried. We had to remind them we had water and the powder can be washed off very easily. See? These kids are also concerned with cleanliness hor? After a while when they saw everyone else were just as messy, they giggled and continued with their masterpieces. While they disappeared midway to finish their lunch, rain came and washed off most of the artwork. That didn’t stop the children, they asked me if they could continue inside the multipurpose hall. The kids had a lot of fun and like Xan, some of them have never even touched chalk before that day. Amazing!

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Who would’ve thought chalk could bring so much joy to a group of kids who hardly knew each other? Why would anyone have so much problem with it is beyond my understanding. It is temporary, washable, doesn’t harm anybody’s health. Why so serious lah? I know some of the parents were concerned that their kids were sitting on the floor and getting real dirty by the second but by some strange force, none came to yank the kids away.

We had a lot of fun that day with the kids and plan to do it again soon. Would you like to do the same with your kids too? Or you think it’s too messy and random to amount to anything useful?

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My 1st Parent Volunteering Experience

Poster
One of the many posters around the school created by the PSG members. Chewren Day funfair also got to advertise and promote hor?

So, The Husband had been working as a parent volunteer for a primary school near our home for the last few months. One of the biggest event on the school calendar would be the Children’s Day funfair which is typically headed by the Parent Support Group (PSG) and backed up by parent volunteers like The Husband.

Since he had just started his new job the week before, he was not going to be able to help out with the funfair on site as planned. Then how right? Lucky this fella is quite clever and is very nifty with graphics so he volunteered to design all the game stall signage and approach a sponsor for the prizes. We both agreed that I would go and take shots of the event since both our names were registered as parent volunteers and I was able to take time off work that day. I have to confess I am no Annie Leibovitz but I’ll do my best to take as many decent, in focus, photos as I can lah.

camera
My turn at PV today.

I had the opportunity to see both the upper and lower primary students in action that day even though I wasn’t expected to stick around so long because the kids are split into 2 sessions: morning and afternoon. This means I had to stick around from 10 am to 4 pm just to see everybody. The PSG members were really really sweet to make sure I was properly hydrated and not overly exerting myself. “Later Winston will kill me if anything happens to you ah!” they joked.

Games
Some of the games at the funfair. Looks simple but still require precision hor?

The concept was really simple. The students were given some coupons to start and if they need more, they can purchase them at the ticket counter. The students will earn stamps from every station they complete and when they accumulate enough stamps, they will be able to redeem prizes from the Redemption Counter.

Around 12pm, the buses transporting the afternoon session to school arrived. As soon as they opened their doors, herds of excited kids came running with their humongous bags on their backs to buy tickets and to check out the game stalls. You would think it their excitement, there will be chaos but there was none! They knew where to line up, how much to pay. I heard some of the students lamenting “I didn’t bring money to buy more tickets today leh” and also saw clusters of kids planning and pooling their coupons together to play certain games during their break time.

Excited kids
Can their bags get any bigger??

My favourite part of the whole experience that day was to watch the kids play the pew pew games. The poses they do ah, you know they learnt from tv. Most chose the safest “2 hands on the gun” whereas there are the hero/gangster style 1 hand stretched out to the max pose. Funny sia!

Game stall
The pew pew Nerf stall. One of the most popular stalls at the funfair.

By the end of 5 hours, I was completely exhausted and slightly sunburnt but very glad I had the opportunity to see for myself that there ARE normal, happy kids in this particular primary school despite the horror stories I had been reading online about the local education and the pressure it has on the kids. I’m sure there are the classic monkeys and class clowns lah just that I didn’t see them that day nia. Nong nong ago I was one of the naughty ones too and mostly kept under close supervision at the principal’s office lor. Which school don’t have right? I kept sending The Husband excited text messages throughout the day talking about running kids, chubby kids, bowing kids (yes, one little Eurasian looking boy BOWED to me before running back to his classroom), etc. Even though this was my 1st parent volunteer experience and I only spent 5 hours in the school, I’m really excited to have Xan possibly study in this school because I think he will be in very good hands.

Exhausted
Such an attractive face eh?

 

The down low about my phone… literally.

On Tuesday, after saying goodbye to Xan and his teacher at the main door, I was about the take the elevator down to the first floor. My usual habit is to whip out my phone to check the time so I could log-in at the school’s time in/time out book. Then I will take 1 last look after that for whatever reason. Habit already. So. Just as the door was closing…

My phone slipped from my hand, slided into the gap and down the elevator shaft. FOUR stories down.

Here’s how it went.

*The orz image (kneeling girl) was taken from here. But look like me hor? Hahah! But what is orz? Check it out from this website.

So drama. My heart was pounding so hard and I kept muttering S***S***S***S***S***S***! I went to the security office (which was really just a hole in a wall) and asked for help. Long story short, after waiting for about 50 minutes sitting outside the school looking like a deranged homeless woman who was clutching her bag very nervously, the company that services the elevator sent a technician to come to my rescue: for a fee of $49 (no GST). Everybody were very doubtful my phone would still be in one piece because they all very politely smiled and shook their heads to pity me. So when the technician climbed down the shaft, the security guard, the cleaner lady and I poked our heads in to look for the carnage. He asked me what colour it was and at the moment, I spotted something very familiar! I literally started bouncing up and down and said very loudly “NEH! NEH NEH! MY PHONE!!!! MY PHONE IS THERE THERE THERE!!” while pointing to my phone which had slid to the corner of the floor. He picked it up, flipped the phone over and  passed it to my very gingerly. The entire screen was shattered but luckily my $2 Daiso screen protector held the glass pieces together and my Tokidoki phone cover cushioned the back of the phone. I needed to know if it was really gone so I tested my luck and pressed the home button and what do you know? VOILA! It was still alive!!!! Incredible!! I was so happy and so excited, they all laughed at me. Well, I get that reaction from older folks all the time.

Uncle: But aiyoh, it’s broken leh. Can fix meh?

Me: Neh mind neh mind! Can still use! It’s still in 1 piece. At least I can bring home and back up all my information. Wah! Thank you thank you! My heart was beating damn fast you know? Thank you thank you!

So here is the phone.

 

While waiting for my contract to be up in July, my sister lent me her old iPhone 4S to use in the meantime. Heng ah! I tell  you ah, playing Candy Crush with a cracked screen and playing it in the dark is no fun. I am having migraines because of it 😛

So the moral of the story is, chain your phone to your neck if you really must check your phone every 5 seconds. If not, don’t take it out of your bag when you take the lift, escalator or cross a busy road. One day you will also kenah suay suay like me when you least expect it.

Everyone please back up your phones. You might be the suay one today.

 

Project Birthday Cake was a Success!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my attempt to make Xan a crazy birthday cake but wasn’t successful. Between the layered steam cake and this final cake, I had tried making a banana bread (looks damn nice but taste wise failed miserably) and a jelly cheesecake. The cheesecake was a success but of course we realize later Xan hates cheesecake. Wah lau…

Neh mind! I go research some more ideas lor. After a few nights of research, finally settled for a Kit Kat Cake.

Ah this one, so simple and so fail proof. If I can make it, SO CAN YOU!

Talk about risky, I made it the night before his class party. I told myself if this doesn’t work, I will just go buy a cake from one of the cake shops around the school. Always have a backup plan folks!

Ingredients included 1 cake mix, 1 tub of frosting, 1 big bag of M&Ms and maybe $15 worth of Kit Kats.

Total time taken: 3 hours. As long as your kid is awake, you can forget about speed.

No need to tell you the steps and ingredients right? Do it freestyle lah 🙂

You see? So simple even a kid can do it!

I tell you hor. I don’t often bake cakes because ALL my cakes always turn out not how I expect them to be. In this case my cake had a dome top and a giant X crack ( I said X crack not aXX crack. Sigh.) I told Xan I did it on purpose with a giant X for his name. He was thrilled. Hahah! *nose growing longer*

After the cake was taken out of the oven, Xan wanted to decorate the cake immediately. It’s also his brilliant way of saying he didn’t want to go to bed and will say anything to convince us he didn’t need to go to sleep. Even though I explained the cake needed to cool down first, he refused to buy my story. Eventually after debating back and forth for maybe 10mins, he caved and The Husband went into the room to tuck him in.

The Husband managed to worm his way out of the room after the little one fell asleep. Naturally, I put him to work and made him help me slice off the top. Don’t worry if you end up hacking what look like pot holes on the top of the cake. Nobody will know because it will get covered up with the frosting, M&Ms and Kit Kats. See? I told you this was belly belly easy one?

Just before he went to bed, Xan said he wanted a ‘star’ on his cake. Tried as I could, my star looked like a starfish so The Husband came to my rescue again. After doing the outline of the star, we realized not enough yellow bits so we chin chye added the orange to the middle and randomly dumped the rest around the star. Nice hor? By the time the cake was done, I was really tired and forgot to put the ribbon around the cake. Ah, it didn’t matter anyway. The cake already looked blindingly colourful, no need any more colour liao.

I thought I was very prepared for the class party: got cake, got goodie bags, got party hats some more! That was until I stepped in and saw 25 little faces looking at me instead of the 12 I was expecting to see from his class. Crap! My cake so tiny how to slice 25 pieces leh? Wah lau… PANIC! As it was around the Christmas period, a lot of kids were away for the holidays. K2 kids have already graduated and very few of them chose to stay on for the month of December. I guess since there were only so few kids left, the teachers decided to gather them together to celebrate Xan’s birthday lor. Miraculously, the teachers managed to chisel 25 morsels of cake for the kids and I had spare hats to give to the additional kids. The Happy Birthday song dragged for what seemed like an eternity because they sang 4 versions of it simultaneously. Xan was ecstatic!

So yah. My attempt to bake my son a birthday cake and his party were successful. Most of the kids finished their cake, no M&Ms and Kit Kats were wasted, nobody broke into hives, nobody cried and Xan was happy. I even spotted his friend dipping her finger into the cake for a quick taste test after staring at it for a very long time. I think she tahan (resisted) very long ler. I have photo evidence! Hahah!

So glad I didn’t chicken out at the last minute. Will definitely do it again later this year.

 

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Baby talk

Me: Baby, Say Mama.
Xan: MAAA MA!
Me: Good boy! What about Papa? Say Papa!
Xan: PAPA!
Me: Very good! So clever! Say book.
Xan: BOOK BOOK!
Me: Kiss mummy! Kiss mummy!
Xan: *bangs his forehead into my lips*

Little moments at home that money can’t buy.