Friday, May 13, 2016

Giveaway + Review: Young Scientists magazines!

The kid and I love Science, no doubt about it. That's one of the things that we really benefited from homeschooling. With Science, the beauty of it is that it is evident in our daily lives where we can often find a topic to discuss and talk about even during walks.

Some of our more interest experiments include dissecting owl pellets, making water disappear as well as learning more about Mr Seahorse. With each topic that we go into (and it is often child-led), the kiddo would ask more about the topic and it would often lead to our many trips to the library to hunt for suitable resources.

Even now that we are in formal schooling, I still try to make time for her to explore Science at the home front. It was some time last year when we chanced upon some Science magazines - Young Scientists, at Popular bookstore which the kiddo stood for a long while flipping through the sample copies.

:: What is it?
The Young Scientists is a magazine for children presented in a comic format. The magazines come in 4 levels - 1 through to 4 where 1 is for Primary 1 & 2 (introduction to Science) and level 4 covers lower Secondary Science topics.

Past issues (e.g. for the year 2015) are sold as a box set of 10 issues.


:: Contents Page
Importantly, The Young Scientists magazine is based on the latest Singapore MOE syllabus. Hence the content and concepts covered map back to the Lower / Upper blocks in the local primary school's syllabus.

Organization of information
The information presented each month are in a consistent manner where it is placed in sections such as "Main Course", "YS Detective", "Do You Know", "My Body", etc.


:: What I really like
Based on my understanding, the topics in the Lower Block are Diversity & Systems, and Cycles, Energy & Interactions. A quick look shows that in each issue, these lower block topics are covered.

The information and concept are introduced via a comics format and with this style, the expressions of the characters are often exaggerated. I have often seen the kiddo, after reading the content, flipped back to the earlier pages to look at the illustration again.

Here some things which we really like:

A) The various sections
1) "Everyday Science"

The topics are very much current issues which I feel are really useful for children to be aware of. From the building up of the awareness of guide dogs


To educating the readers on dengue being a major concern in Singapore, this section (very much like the others) is presented in a very engaging manner.

The pages also come with "interesting information" and "vocabulary" blurbs at the bottom.



2) Do You Know?

Being naturally curious, this is one of the sections which I often flip to for all the issues. There are often interesting and cool facts shared about animals (e.g. marine animals, pets, etc).

Just check out the cool Thaumoctopus Mimicus below!

It can impersonate up to 15 animals including a sea snake and a lion fish! That's a major talent! *gasp*

 
3) YS Detective Agency

Science is good for making inferences and the YS Detective Agency section does just that. In each issue, YS Detective Agency is presented with a case to solve. From food poisoning to murder to "mysterious" accident, Froggie and his team solved them all.

What I like about the stories / cases are the questions Froggie and his team asks where they can then draw hypothesis and conclusions. I feel that through the stories shared, it helps to hone the reader's critical thinking and problem solving skills.




I feel that the series is really informative and engaging and is a perfect way to introduce your children to Science concepts.

B) Practice Papers
To test understanding of concepts, 10 sets of practice papers are included in each box set. These are useful checkpoints on the child's understanding if parents wish to extend the activities / discussions as it also maps back to the same Science topics:  Diversity & Systems, and Cycles, Energy & Interactions.



For older children, I feel that they can also be left to do the papers on their own and then check against the answer key. My kid tried it out on her own interest too. 

All in all, the kiddo and I highly recommended this series as it is truly engaging and informative!  

Excited much? I am pleased to share that I have 3 box sets of 2015's The Young Scientists magazines to give away! 


1 x 2015 Level 1 Collection Set (For Pri 1&2)
1 x 2015 Level 2 Collection Set (For Pri 3&4)
1 x 2015 Level 3 Collection Set (For Pri 5&6)!


Just participate in the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

:: Terms and conditions:
1) As the sponsor is based in SG, this contest is open to Singaporeans with a local address only. 
2) The prizes are not transferable and they cannot be exchanged for cash.
3) Only entries via Rafflecopter are valid. 
4) Answers to the question via rafflecopter MUST be listed in the comment box below to qualify. Please remember to leave your name and your email address. 
Please also indicate which level (1, 2 or 3) you wish to win! 
5) Closing Date of Giveaway: 22 May 2016, 2359 hrs.
6) Winners must respond to my email within 48 hours otherwise, they will be given to another winner. 
7) The giveaway is not endorsed, associated with administrated by Facebook. 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored giveaway. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Primary School: Chinese Oracy Preparation

With the last post on the a new series where I share on Primary school resources, here's the second post on a guide that I found useful.


The book comes in a set of 4 from the same good people that brings us the Chinese magazines 新朋友。


:: Contents Page / Format
The book essentially is divided into 3 main sections - "read aloud", "picture talk" as well as some "show and tell" sample topics / presentation.


:: Read aloud
What I like about the "read aloud" is that it does not come with HYPY so for children who are already starting to recognise words, this would be a good guide for them to use. The read aloud passages are kept quite short (the kiddo told me that school is about the same) and the stories are on simple plots that the children can identify with. 



:: Picture Talk
The book is of quite good quality where the pages are thick and the illustration bright and colourful. The picture is also of A4 size which I personally prefer. (Some titles I have flipped through are in black and white and A5 in size which I feel totally unappealing).




Importantly, in the following page, a helping word list is provided. What I really like is that with each of the "item/term", there is HYPY, English term as well as a picture of the item and this will be really useful for parents as a reference.


But the part that is useful for most parents would be the suggested answer for the picture description which is "broken down" into 4 sections: introduction, an "overview", the flow proper and the conclusion. By providing a sample flow, I feel that this would aid the parent and child in planning out the stories. 


:: Show and Tell
For Dumpling, part of her oral assessment includes Show and Tell and I have previously shared on some show and tell tips for P1 hereAmong all the guide books which I purchased, this is the only one that comes with a sample on "Show and Tell". I find this section a good reference in the provision of ideas / flow.


Importantly for me, as the publisher also publishes Chinese magazines 新朋友 which Dumpling's school uses to supplement her Chinese lessons, I do find the topics covered in this book in line with what school is testing them on, at this point in time. These books are also compatible with a reading pen which the publisher sells. This will be useful for children who requires additional assistance where they can use the pen to read out the passages, anytime and anywhere.  

I have previously written a post on nurturing a love for the Chinese language before and you can read more about it here:
Part 4: Play It! 
This is an ongoing series on documenting my learning and Dumpling's Primary School journey

Edit: Here's a sharing by Susan from A Juggling Mom on resources for Chinese Oral too! 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: I Theatre's The Rainbow Fish

I had forgotten how magical a Black Light Theatre is until we caught I Theatre's The Rainbow Fish over this long weekend. I brought my niece and my 2 nephews along to watch the play too (yes, I was feeling brave that afternoon!) and when the play started, my niece went "wow"!


And wow it was. :) For those who are unaware of what black light theatre is, it is where the stage is augmented to be totally "blacked out" (hence a black "box" theatre) and the actors wear black costumes which allow them to blend in with the background. With special UV light and paint, the props and the "characters" would be the ones that stand out against, thus creating black light illusion. (Note: because of the light needed for the photography, the actors are visible here. In the actual production, the actors are barely visible)


:: The story
This story written by Marcus Pfister must be one of the most widely used stories in teaching children the importance of humility and sharing. But more than that, the story also emphasizes how every individual is unique in its own way. 

The story starts with a shoal of fish ending up in Seawedy Deep and for many (especially Little Blue), one of their greatest wish is to be able to see the infamous Rainbow Fish, known for her beautiful and unique scales.


Initially dazzled by Rainbow Fish's beauty, Small Blue and Tiny Stripes (who reminded me of Dory in Finding Nemo with its bubbly personality) "hero-worshipped" Rainbow Fish and did not realise how proud and rude she truly was. As the story progresses, they were disappointed and upset to learn that the proud beauty is not what she seems on the outside, while Rainbow Fish learns what humility and friendship is about. 

The friends also learnt about teamwork when they had to work together in battling a Hammerhead shark (which parents will be relieved to know to know that it was actually more of a comic relief ~ not frightening for the younger kids). 


:: What we like it
Aesthetically, it was a visual treat. There is nothing like the effects of a Black Light theatre and how it made everything "pop up", swim and float. And kudos to the prop designers as the props were really lifelike too ~ the "brain" coral etc were really beautifully painted.

The kid asked me what my favorite part of the story was and visually, it was when the Octopus appeared. The set up of the scene was really impressive: it was simple yet grand. Simple because it was just the Octopus that took the centrestage but grand because of its sheer size. The Octopus (who is almost somewhat like an oracle) was wise (true to its nature!) and hit "home" with its points about sharing when Rainbow Fish ("sharing is stupid") sought out its counsel.



:: Precious lessons
For me, the story about Rainbow Fish is not just about sharing. The sharing was a gesture that she thought of; almost like an "aftermath" and as peace offering. Instead, it is about how vain and rude Rainbow Fish was, and how she prides herself to be better than others and looked down at the other fish. It was because of that mentality that she is "precious and unique" that slowly, she lost her friends as they began to realise that outer beauty is not everything. For Rainbow Fish, she learnt the importance humility and friendship.

Morals aside, the play also introduces adjectives to the children - "unique" and "malevolent" and shared interesting facts e.g. crabs eat starfish. (While I am at it, here's some fun facts about Starfish. Their arms are called rays and they have the ability to regenerate the rays!)


:: Extra extras!
The activity booklet is beautifully printed showcasing the silver scales on Rainbow fish on the cover! Additionally, there are activities in the booklet by Little Day Out which extends the children's learning. If I can make one suggestion, that would be for I Theatre to have a fun facts page for the older children too! :)

Now, if you are a paraphernalia person, you will be pleased to know that My Imagination Kingdom has a booth selling the Rainbow Fish series of books (many in hardbacks which I personally love for the younger kids as they are more lasting). Additionally, there's also a booth selling Rainbow Fish tee-shirt (exclusively for this play ~ you won't be able to get it anywhere else!) for only $10 (kids size). A CD cum tote (partially made with denim) set is also going only for $15! That's really good value! (Note: please bring CASH!)


Having caught the play 5 years ago and again, 5 years later, I have to say that the play did not disappoint but entertained well. I was worried that the play would be more suitable for the preschoolers but was really happy to find out that the my troop which ranges from Primary 1 - 3 enjoyed it too.

A really meaningful and entertaining production, here's some information about the show time. You can purchase the tickets here.

Performances
Date/Time
APRIL
10:00 am
10:30 am
2:30 pm
Tuesday
26
Show 1

Show 2
Wednesday
27
Show 3

Show 4
Thursday
28
Show 5


Friday
29
Show 6


Saturday
30

Show 7
Show 8
Sunday
MAY 1

Show 9
Show 10
Monday
2
DARK
Tuesday
3
Show 11

Show 12
Wednesday
4
Show 13

Show 14
Thursday
5
Show 15


Friday
6
Show 16


Saturday
7

Show 17
Show 18
Sunday
8
DARK
Monday
9
Show 19

Show 20
Tuesday
10
Show 21

Show 22
Wednesday
11
Show 23

Show 24
Thursday
12
Show 25


Friday
13
Show 26


Saturday
14

Show 27
Show 28
Sunday
15

Show 29
Show 30

Shows in RED are For School groups only.

Disclaimer: We were invited to watch the play by I Theatre so that we can give our opinions about it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Primary School: Chinese Picture Talk!

If you have not already heard, it was announced a while ago that the PSLE Chinese Oral exam will be updated where children will now watch a video recording and then record their answers using a voice recorder from 2017. This will effectively replace the good old “Picture Talk” – 看图说话。

Having said that, many schools are still starting the children with看图说话 especially in lower Primary which I think is good as it allows the younger children to cement their foundation in terms of appropriate vocabulary, stringing a sound sentence and then work on improving their description.
Like many of my friends, we do not speak enough Mandarin at home though I try hard to inject bits and pieces of it while we are driving / running errands where we describe our surroundings, etc., in Mandarin. But when it comes to assessment time I get all iffy and worried about the kiddo. So, I did the Singaporean thing and bought a few guide books to help myself help her. LOL.

Here’s sharing the first one which I find useful. I chanced upon this book when I was at Popular bookstore waiting for pick the kid up from her workshop. I am sharing on this book first as I feel that it serves as a good introduction to the various themes and the appropriate words to be used for each of those themes:


The topics are introduced thematically. I like that the topics are something the children are able to relate to and can understand; and that many are in line with the topics in their textbooks (which I did a comparison between the old and new Chinese syllabus here)

:: Contents page 


(P1 textbook)


The words introduced in the guide book are "everyday" words and scenes which are also relevant in Primary 2. 

:: Format

For parents who are not eloquent in Mandarin, the book is a bilingual title where the English words are written next to the Chinese words and the book also includes the HYPY of those Chinese words. 



In short, it is almost like a thematic "dictionary" but with colourful illustrations which is a plus point in attracting the children.

Each topic spans over 2 pages and includes a "read-aloud" section as well as a "conversation" (会话)section.


Some of the items / words below are also in the Primary 2 syllabus where food items were taught in one chapter.


For parents who struggle with knowing what to ask or what to discuss with your child, the questions in 会话 section would be useful for you.


The read aloud sections (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your preference) have HYPY at the bottom. Personally I prefer for the paragraphs not to have HYPY as they do not have it in the actual tests but I think for children who are just starting off, this may be less intimidating. 


The book was priced at SGD12.75 when I bought it last year and comes with an audio CD which basically reads out all the words in the chapters including the read aloud 读一读 and 说一说 sections. 

This will definitely be useful for non Mandarin speaking parents, for parents who are busy or for parents who wish to improve their children's pronunciation (though I must add that the narrator's way of pronouncing 我 sounded a tad weird to me :p). 

I have previously written a post on nurturing a love for the Chinese language before and you can read more about it here:

Part 1: Read Read Read (books of a different kind)

Part 2: Speak it, Use it!
Part 3: Watch it!

Part 4: Play It! 

Looking for more sharing on the Chinese syllabus, I recently interviewed a friend who is an MOE Primary School Chinese teacher on Chinese Composition which you can read about here too. 

This is an ongoing series on documenting my learning and Dumpling's Primary School journey

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Giveaway: The Rainbow Fish by I Theatre

Based on Marcus Pfister’s award winning storybook, The Rainbow Fish is very likely a “household title” for all parents to teach their children the moral of sharing and humility.

I first caught the play with Dumpling about five years ago when it was first staged by I Theatre. I recalled that Dumpling was dazzled by the colourful costumes and could relate to the story. Now, five years later, the play is back as part of the theatre company’s 15th Anniversary season special and with new characters too!

For this incarnation, I Theatre will also be including a perfect marriage of the various techniques learnt over the years, including magical black light theatre, and a blend of live action and mind blowing original puppet design; a definite treat for both the young and the old!



“A long way out in the deep blue sea swims a shoal of the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. Their scales are every shade of blue, green or purple, and ONE has a sparking silver scale…
Meet proud and pretty Rainbow Fish, and her friends, Starfish, Small Blue, Big Violet and Little Green.
Rainbow Fish learns some very valuable lessons about her attitude to others, some hard lessons about pride and selfishness, and some valuable truths about the power of generosity and humility. Meanwhile, her friends discover how teamwork helps everyone; and how gossip and rumour can cause damage to friendships!”

I am pleased to share that I have a family package of 4 tickets to this classic tale, worth more than $120 to give away!


Venue: Drama Centre Theatre, Singapore
Date (for winners): 30 April, Saturday, 230pm
Duration: 55 mins
Suitable for: Anyone from 3 to 103 years old!

:: Terms and Conditions
1.                   These tickets will be to the 2:30pm show on Saturday 30 April. 
2.                   Winner is to collect the tickets directly from I Theatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road from by 27 April (no onsite collection is allowed) during office hours.
3.                   Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other dates.
4.                   Please remember to leave a comment below on "How do you encourage your child(ren) to share?"
5.                   As the play takes place in Singapore, this giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. GOOD LUCK! 
Can't wait for the giveaway results? You can purchase tickets here!

Performances
Date/Time
APRIL
10:00 am
10:30 am
2:30 pm
Tuesday
26
Show 1

Show 2
Wednesday
27
Show 3

Show 4
Thursday
28
Show 5


Friday
29
Show 6


Saturday
30

Show 7
Show 8
Sunday
MAY 1

Show 9
Show 10
Monday
2
DARK
Tuesday
3
Show 11

Show 12
Wednesday
4
Show 13

Show 14
Thursday
5
Show 15


Friday
6
Show 16


Saturday
7

Show 17
Show 18
Sunday
8
DARK
Monday
9
Show 19

Show 20
Tuesday
10
Show 21

Show 22
Wednesday
11
Show 23

Show 24
Thursday
12
Show 25


Friday
13
Show 26


Saturday
14

Show 27
Show 28
Sunday
15

Show 29
Show 30

Shows in RED are For School groups only.

Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by I Theatre. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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