Saturday, 15 January 2011

Our Circle Time

I was very inspired Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool to create a Circle Time for the kids. The blog complete with a video was a great example. I immediately thought of a few ideas which I could put to work. So, the very next day, before we started any activities, I conducted out first Circle Time.

I introduced the idea by explaining that we were going to do something new and it involved us singing and maybe dancing. Ew, being Mr. 'I am in my Comfort Zone and Wish to Stay Here' protested that he did not want to sing and dance. Ae jumped at the chance. I insisted and grabbed their little hands.

I got them to hold hands and sang loudly "Let's Make a Circle" while nudging them to move around. It was a song that they were familiar with from Gymboree. That warmed them up. We did two more action songs.

Next, we shared something that we liked about the day. Ew said "Disneyland" (which did not happen today, but it does not matter). Ae said "bread" ( Ha ! Ha ! I had to smile. I wondered if she was thinking about the homemade bagel slathered with peanut butter and strawberry jam which I fed them as they played with Lego. They weren't even keen to eat it on their own to start with.) I was grateful for being able to go marketing and buy food and things for my family, without a care. I explained to them that it is important to be grateful for the good things that make us happy. I hope this will sow seeds of gratitude in them.

We finished with a little rhyme that I had learned when I was a Brownie.
" Twist me and turn me,
And show me the elf.
I looked in the water,
And there I saw myself"

The kids loved it! Even thought I said that was the end, Ae wanted to sing "Heigh Ho" (from Snow White) and we did it with actions.

That happened yesterday. Today, I had to take Ew to the hospital to check his ears. As we were dressing, Ae, who was staying at home with Po-Po, said that she wanted to sing and "do elf". I explained that we will do it when we came back cause I was running a bit late. Ew said no, we must do it before we go out. Enough said.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Butterflies on the Balcony

Our first hatchling
We kept the pupa under the central vacumn cleaner and forgot about it. When I found it, it was too late, the butterfly did not get to stretch its wings upon hatching and one wing remained folded. It lived on the balcony for a few days - hoping from plant to plant.
4 caterpillars hatched on our lemon tree after that

Going to sleep now, when I awake I will be a butterfly
(Did he know and believe in that ?)

Green at first

Then brown
Beautiful butterfly - we saw this one
The others - we saw the empty shells left behind

I wonder if a caterpillar knows it will become a butterfly. Does he know that he will enter a deep sleep and wake up again in a different form ? Does he face fear ? Or is he excited ? Or both ? That reminds me of death. We face death as an end to this life. I think about my final moments from time to time. I fear it. In those thought I am already missing my rahula (attachments). It is difficult for me to think of the end as the beginning of the next. Well, if in this life, all I do is crawl about eating leaves and poop all day, I really wouldn't care so much. Since I don't, I  want to remember to make aspirations for a peaceful and mindful end.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


A while back, we made playdough.

It was a cold, rainy week. Unable to go to the park, we spent our mornings, reading and playing Playdoh (yes, the commercial pack). The kids both play but in different ways.

Ae is contented to roll and shape the dough on her own. She makes worms mostly and birds, turtles, other animals that take the shape of worms.

Ew directs me to make him things. Roll it into a ball. When I make interesting objects like tadpoles, he conjures up stories about them. He wants to keep them, they become his pets. (I squash his pets when he is not looking and bury them in the canisters according to their colour.)

We take playdough one step further with our homemade version.

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Food colouring

Mix all the ingredients together except the food colouring. Cook it over the stove until the dough leaves the sides of the pot. Try rolling it. If it is too sticky, keep cooking until it feel right. Take it off the heat. When it is cool enough to handle, divide the dough into portions. Add food colouring and knead until the colour is evenly distributed. I only have red colouring so we had 3 colours -  plain, pink and dark pink playdough.

The volume of it makes it more entertaining and interesting than the commercial stuff. Imagine sinking your hands into huge lumps dough, stomping your foot into it, making giant what-evers. We made giant earthworms, giant tadpoles, a birthday cake. We rolled it out flat and made imprints of hands, feet, peanuts, fishes (plastic ones). Squishing on it with all one's might is pretty therapeutic too.

Unfortunately, the playdough became really sticky the next day - impossible to mould without making a mess. I tried keeping it in the fridge but when the fridge was accidentally turned off. I threw it away with the rest of the spoils. I learned later that in places where humidity is high (like rainy Taipei), the dough absorbs moisture from the air and becomes sticky. Cooking it over heat again will make it fine again. I'll keep that tip for the next time. Another idea I like to try is using natural dyes to colour the dough like turmeric, beetroot.

The playdough idea is from Instructables which I think is a really cool website for fun things to do with kids.