Archive for the ‘Baby Books’ Category

I’m four!



Here's what I can do at 4:


1. I can read!

Mummy's comments: YES! After teaching her phonics for the past few months, she's beginning to read. We use Reading Made Easy and Explode the Code and of course, lotsa lotsa reading everyday. She can read simple words and know most of the sight words. Mostly she reads by context and part memorization but sometimes she surprises us by reading signs that she'd never seen before. We've got a couple of Strawberry Shortcake readers and she loves to read to Levi (ok that's my trick of getting her to read aloud coz she still prefers us to read to her. If I say to read to Levi, sometimes she'll oblige.)


2. I can write!

Mummy's comments: We're still working on this. When we first started homeschooling this term, she wasn't keen on writing and it was too stressful to get her writing consistently and properly so I gave it a rest. But recently she's starting to want to write again so we've picked it up again and she's doing well!


3. I can talk to anyone about anything. Ok, anyone who would listen.

Mummy's comments: Sophie can REALLY talk. And talk. And talk! One of the best thing about being here is that everyone listens to a kid! Kids are not ignored, told off or brushed off when they speak. Or the worst, patronised. I love the way adults communicate with children here. They really listen to what Sophie have to say and she has lots to say. This has really helped Sophie to develop and form her identity. She is very confident amongst adults and older children and has no problem holding her own ground. Now I just need to teach her not to butt into people's conversations. :)


4. I can carry my didi!

Mummy's comments: She's doing really well as an older sister. I think it's been great to have a 4 yr gap between the two kids. Sophie has been rather patient during the times I need to look after Levi. She'll play or read in her room and wait for me. Sometimes I will just read to her while I'm feeding Levi. In the beginning it was a bit harder but 4 wks in, she's doing very well. She's been having a cough and cold this week and she's been very considerate not to go kiss Levi and remembering to close her mouth when she sneezes or coughs. But James has been really good and been very deliberate in spending more time with her and I think that really helped in the transition. I just wished I have more time to spend with her.


Things I like
1. Anything pink and sparkly
2. Princessy things, dolls, Strawberry Shortcake, ballerinas
3. Bling blings – rings, bracelets, etc
4. Cheese – I share Mummy's love for soft cheeses too!
5. Green leafy veggies and fruits
6. Fairy Tales – I still like reading a lot


Things I dislike
1. Main meals – Mum says it's SO hard to get me to eat!
2. Villains – I hate bad people or characters in movies.
3. Putting on too many layers. I don't feel cold! I'm really a summer kinda girl, give me a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, I'm happy.

Swaddle away!


I just spent the past 2 hours trying to put Levi down for a nap. Looks like he's past the feed sleep feed sleep phase! That was fast! Woah! Now he's awake for longer and can't seem to fall back asleep as easily unless we rock him or I nurse him. Oh wells, that's the reality of having a baby ya?


But we've found a great way to help baby sleep and soothe a baby. We discovered this when we had Soph. We were struggling with Sophie's colicky phase and inability to sleep. Then we found this book and DVD called "The Happiest Baby on the Block". Of course we bought it!


The author Harvey Karp emphasizes on 5 ways of helping to soothe a baby. He talks about the Fourth Trimester and how after a baby is born, we need to try our best to replicate his womb environment. Read more about it here.


We found that the first "S" – Swaddling really worked for Sophie and we've been swaddling Levi too. They tend to sleep longer and better. Coz they can't seem to control their limb movement and the funny thing is that their own hands scare them! So wrapping them well helps them. Sophie is attempting to swaddle Levi in the picture. She's very cute, she does that with her dolls too. I found a step by step guide with photos on how to do a swaddle on Babycenter. Check it out. I also found that large swaddle cloths are better. My aunt made some for us the last time. Unfortunately we didn't bring them here and have to make do with the smaller ones.


Btw, the reason why Levi can't sleep the past two hours is probably because I've chucked all the swaddle cloths into the laundry accidentally! Silly me! Hopefully the next nap will go better with a good swaddle.

Learning Mandarin

I’ve been really encouraged with Sophie’s recent interest in Mandarin that I thought I will share what we’ve been doing in this area.


For a long time I really struggled with having to prepare Sophie for school, in case we decide to return to Singapore to put Sophie in Primary 1. Esp in the area of CHINESE! Eeeeks! I had Chinese tuition from Primary 3 all the way till JC2 and it didn’t help at all! I still hardly read or write.


I’m really thankful that James’ family speaks Mandarin at home. My mum in law is actually a Chinese teacher at a kindy! In fact, my own conversational Mandarin improved heaps when we got married and lived with them. I can even joke in Chinese now, don’t play play. Cantonese is another ball game altogether though. I still feel like I’m in another country when I’m with his family sometimes.


On our recent trip back, Sophie picked up quite a bit of conversational Mandarin because of the exposure even though most of the time my in laws spoke to her in English. Which just reminded me that language can only be really picked up if someone keeps speaking it, even if it was in drips and drapes! But it was good enough to get us going! She started answering in Mandarin if we spoke to her in Mandarin. Previously, she had refused! And guess what were her first words? NO!


Our conversations went something like this (in Mandarin, I’m not going to put my hanyu pinyin to the test so just imagine the conversation):-
Me: Sophie, would you like some bread for breakfast?
Sophie: NO!
Faint… I guess in any language, kids learn to say “NO!” first!
Argh…. Ok, better than nothing.


I was really encouraged and decided to continue doing that here.


We picked up a couple of Chinese audio CDs, videos and books from Maha Yuyi (They are located at Bras Basah Shopping Complex and they also have an online store.) and Popular Bookstore (They also have an online store). This was in addition to the storybooks we already bought in China last year. Btw, China has a great selection of storybooks for kids at really good prices e.g. S$3 per book.


Here’s how I selected them, bearing in mind that my own reading and writing ability for Chinese is also at preschool level:


For Story Books:
1. It must have Hanyu Pinyin! If it is accompanied by an audio CD, all the better!
2. Preferably only 1-2 sentences PER page. Beyond that, I can’t read fast enough and it’ll bore Sophie while I try to figure out the hanyu pinyin.
2. Stick to the plan. I figured out my aim for this year is for CONVERSATION and EXPOSURE. I’m not trying to get Sophie to be brilliant in reading and writing. So it has to be FUN and of interest to her! I simply chose story books that were of interest to her e.g. planting, cooking, dancing etc.


These are some of the books that we chose: –

Left: The Winnie the Pooh book, Two Little Cats, I can Read (the one with rabbits) and Wizard of Oz books were from Maha Yuyi. All of them come with audio CD except I can Read. Sophie loves the I Can Read book because it's stories of two little rabbits and their family. Very easy to read. The two pink books are from Popular and there are lots to choose from. Sophie and I really like these coz they are so relevant and so easy to understand and read. The fairy tale book comes in a set of stories and I think my in laws got them in China but I've seen them at Popular.

Right: This book is a treasure! I found it at Maha Yuyi. It shows how the Chinese characters were formed over the ages. Very visually interesting. Love it. It's more for me to stimulate my own interest, ha!


For Workbooks:
1. I prefer workbooks with topical sections with lots of opportunities for discussion and conversation rather than those that focused on writing and word recognition.
2. Instructions for each section needs to come with an example, in case I can’t read the instructions. HAHAHA!


This is the book that we’re using and I love it. It's from Popular. It really suits the level we’re at or I’m at (ha!). Sophie loves it too. She can go on for 10 pages at a time, which I think is pretty good! I’ve only been homeschooling her for a month or so and we’ve finished almost half the book! She can also recognize almost 10 Chinese words!



Why I like about this book
1. Word recognition through learning how the characters have been formed over the years, very visual (SO GOOD!). They even have creative ways to help the kids remember how the characters look.
2. No writing required. She just needs to draw links and do ticks or crosses.
3. Lots of opportunities for conversation and discussion. I notice that most of these local workbooks have incorporated civic and moral education e.g it is right to throw the rubbish in the bin and not on the floor (so Singaporean ah…). Very interesting and been quite good for me to teach them to Sophie.


For others e.g Media:

I just bought and tried whatever I could find. I wouldn’t say that they are the best around or that Sophie really enjoys them but seriously, for the price range that we can afford, the selection is quite limited.


These are some that we are using:-

Left: Very old school and cheena but quite good. Got that from John Little

Right: Good song selection with flash cards of Chinese characters. From Maha Yuyi.

P/s: – I also found out that it pays to be really humble at a Chinese bookshop and just tell the salesgirl that I’m really pathetic in Chinese and want find some stuff for my little girl. HELP! Oh yes, and now Sophie can say things like “Ma ma, wo yao che xiang jiao.” (Mum, I would like to eat a banana.) That’s pretty cool ya?

Visiting The Library

We live next to the library.


That is the coolest thing ever. It’s like having an endless supply of books, magazines and……. the latest thing is that you can borrow up to 2 DVDs/VCDs on your library card! You used to have to pay for a special membership to borrow the video and audio materials. Now it’s free! Woo hoo! And it’s just next door! 3 mins walk for adults and 10 mins walk for a pregnant lady with a curious 3 year old who stops to pick up plants and rubber bands (it was prob less but it felt like 10 mins in the hot sun).


Sophie and I have been hiding in the library once a week since we got back. I get my weekly dose of magazines (for free!) and she gets to browse all the books (for free!). Plus free aircon! Now she even gets to borrow DVDs like Little Einsteins, Dora, Ni-Hao Kai Lan, Bindi etc for free! Now only if we had more time to read and watch. :)


For Singapore homeschooling parents, the local library is such a blessing and good resource! They’ve got most of the good books that are recommended by Sonlight and Five in A Row.

Charlotte Mason

I like Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling philosophy but I don’t think I have fully grasped the fullness of it yet. This is how the Simply Charlotte Mason website describes it: – "A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits."


There are essentially 3 parts to the education she prescribes – living books, experiences and good habits.


Living books are books that are usually stories written by an author with a passion for the subject and the subject comes alive. For example, Sophie has a book called "The Little Rabbit" (It is part of the Before Five In A Row reading list. She’s almost read it to death! The edges are bent and slightly torn.) It’s a story about how a little girl’s pet bunny gives birth and the life of the bunny. It’s a really simple story but the pictures are real photos. From it, one can learn about the life cycle of a rabbit, differentiate a pet bunny from a wild bunny, know what rabbits eat etc. It’s not a dry textbook or encyclopedia. Sophie loves encyclopedia type books as well but reading living books triggers her love to know more and understand more. 


Experiences – Charlotte Mason believed in providing a child with real life experiences. Reading from a book is not enough. Experiencing nature and culture is also needed. Sophie gets that a lot here but not sure how to fully implement that when we return for good to Singapore.


Lastly, teaching good habits – I’ve not figured out how to incorporate this fully into our lives yet but we’re getting there. Charlotte Mason has a whole list of how to do this and it’s a pretty hard read and almost seem archaic. BUT BUT so much truth to it. Just needs real discipling and vision to implement it.


Well, we’re starting somewhere. Not every book we have in the house is a living book but we pay a lot of attention to the kind of books Sophie reads. The Sonlight P3/4 books that we bought somewhat subscribes to the Charlotte Mason philosophy but in comparison, I much prefer the Five In A Row books and manual. There are some stories in the Sonlight books that are repetitive (e.g. the Fairy Tales) and Fairy tales, I find, are rather gruesome! E.g. stomping giants, ugly witches and magic potions etc.


Nonetheless, for this season, we’re reading Fairy Tales, for exposure sake. :) It’s quite fun re-reading these stories for myself too! Just to share some stuff that we’ve been doing with these stories: –



Jack & The Beanstalk

We painted some plants and planted some herbs. I meant to do a little booklet with Sophie about parts of a plant and life cycle of a plant but the internet failed on me so didn’t manage to get materials in time.



Sleeping Beauty

We made a castle out of a tissue box, toilet rolls and egg carton. I sewed a pillow for "sleeping beauty". Took out the lovely princess dress up cut outs that Steph gave Sophie for her birthday last year and she played dress up with them for a bit.

Mummy I like to peek into your book!


I LOVE to read. But i’m not one of those deep deep readers. For example, I’m not into Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter etc. Although when I was young, I read fairy tales, fantasy and mystery like Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew etc. I’m more a Amy Tan or Jodi Picoult kinda gal.


But in the recent years, I find myself gravitating towards coffee table books and magazines. I think I’m getting lazy. I like little words and pretty pictures.


Anyways for the past two weeks, I’ve been having Saturdays off where I go galavanting on my own while James hangs out with Sophie at home. As usual, when I shop, I end up buying books and magazines. Last week I got Sophie a craft book and this week I got myself a lovely coffee table book called Kids’ Room for only $15 and one of my fav mags Frankie. It’s hard to find Frankie around since it’s an Aussie publication but I managed to find it in Hamilton.


So today, after lunch, I sat down to do my fav thing, read and chill. And lo and behold, the little one wants to do the same thing. But she says, "Mummy I like to peek into your book!"

Our Sonlight stuff arrived!


The homeschooling books that I ordered from Sonlight arrived in the mail yesterday!!! Almost 30 kg full of books!


Ooo there was so much excitement in the house! Sophie was happily checking out the books and so was I. She could recognise some stories from the books. They were the books that we already had back in Singapore but didn’t bring with us.


Ok more about what I bought: –


I decided to buy the P3/4 curriculum from Sonlight. First of all, because it is such a costly affair, I had to think long and hard about which curriculum to go with.


Several reason why we decided to go with Sonlight:-


One, it’s a Christian company and that’s the foundation of the books and curriculum they choose and plan. Two, they are very big on reading. They believe that children learn best through reading good books, not just textbooks. Hurray for that! Three, they include most subjects e.g language arts, history, science and they recommend third party Math curriculum. Pretty comprehensive. James was quite insistent on us trying to use a complete curriculum so that I don’t have to spent so much time planning and figuring out what to do in our first year of homeschooling. So nice. Four, great support and internet community. Very impt since we’re away. I had a real good experience with their customer support. And lastly, they give a 25% discount to missionaries and hurray to YWAM because all I needed to do was mention YWAM and immediately I got a discount, without even needing to give any proof! So it cost us about S$400 including shipping from the US. I think that’s pretty good considering the amount we needed to pay if we sent Sophie to nursery. Plus they are such great books that we can use in the future.


Next, I deliberated a long and hard over whether to get the P3/4 or the P4/5. The former is for 3-4 year olds and the latter for 4-5 year olds. I "browsed" the books through Amazon and decided on P3/4 instead. I was really tempted to go for P4/5 because being the kiasu Singaporean, I wanted to move one standard above where Sophie was at so that she can grow into it. And P4/5 also come with ABC learning books, readers, some interesting science books and 4 IQ building books plus a year-long curriculum all planned out. Super tempting! However the Read-Aloud books were, I feel, far too difficult for Sophie to sit through. Quite a few of them were Chapter books. I think at 3, that’s a bit too much.


SOOOOOOO, I decided, we’ll do well with the P3/4 read alouds. I prefer that Sophie doesn’t get put off reading and that she enjoys the books. There is a social studies one (Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day), science related books (Our Animal Friends At Maple Hill Farm and A Flip Flap book on Body from Usborne), a couple of sorting and puzzle toys. P3/4 doesn’t come with a year-long weekly curriculum, only a 3 trimester reading list with suggested activities, a little like Before Five In A Row. But it’s great coz with our schedules, I can be a bit more flexible.


For learning to read, Math and Chinese, we’ll just supplement with some workbooks. Btw, Popular back home is great for these pre-school workbooks. We’ve got one for Math and a Chinese. Btw, these Chinese workbooks should come with Pinyin for the instructions. Got me there man! I am also planning to buy Reading Made Easy, comes highly recommended.


We’re all set for the year! Sophie’s been asking to read the books ALL THE TIME!


Anyways I think that whether we homeschool or not, the reading list from Sonlight for each grade is still a great reference for books to borrow from the library/buy for our kids. Btw, P3/4 also came with a story book published by Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) on a missionary’s experience! How cool is that!


So if you are looking for good books to buy, do take a look at the Sonlight list first. Another good book list is from the next step up from Before Five in A Row called Five in A Row.

A hedgehog




Aiyo so cute! James found it on the base, a couple of houses down from our place.


Sophie was careful not to go too close in case it runs away so we looked from a bit further away. She learnt that from the book Play With Me where the little girl in the story tried to catch the wild animals but they all ran away but when she sat still, they all came to "play with her" and sat by her.

Choosing a Children’s Bible


I’ve been wanting to blog about this for the longest time. Christmas is a great time to gift children with bibles.


I’ve been looking for a bible for Sophie. We started with The Rhyme Bible Storybook (For Toddlers). It served us really well. It has 4 lines per page and it rhymes! Really a joy to read. Many times Sophie memorized the stories and read it back to me. But funny how she doesn’t like some stories and she will choose her fav. Guess what are her favs? Her top three:The parable of the sower (can’t figure why), birth of Jesus (coz got baby), Jonah (always a good story to teach her about obedience! I think she likes it coz of big fish). Oh… and she likes the story about the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish (coz got little boy who gave to Jesus).


But she’s now 3 and for non-biblical books, she’s into long stories so I figured she can do that for the bible too. My ideal children’s bible is the NIV in full form with pictures for every chapter but of course it’ll be too big a book! Sigh…


I finally found one that I like a lot. It’s the Read & Know Bible (Publisher – Lion UK). It’s meant for older kids I think. But it’s cool because it has lots of details that toddler bibles do not have and the illustrations is more realistic. Yet it is pretty readable for a 3-4 year old who like books. It’s got mini bible encyclopedia pages with pictures of crops in bible times, the temple, etc. It really helps to open Sophie’s eyes to biblical times. It’s a huge jump from The Rhyme Bible but so far she loves it coz she is really into details and asks far too many questions. But most times it’s too much to read so I skim and just let her look at the pictures. Sometimes when I’m lazy, I switch back to The Rhyme Bible and it is interesting to note how she can link the stories between the two books. Oh yes and how cool that the author’s name is also Sophie.


The best part about this bible is that I learn a lot too and it tells a lot about the character of God through the narration. It doesn’t just tell a story but it gives you an idea about how God feels too and it’s pretty accurate. We’ve had this book for about a month now and I think Sophie’s understanding of who God is is actually growing!


Her godparents gave her the Sprout Bible which coincidentally I bought her when she was a wee baby just coz I was at SKS and I can’t resist buying books at SKS. But I didn’t bring it with us to NZ coz we just had too many things. So it was great when it came thru the mail for her birthday! I really like this one too because the stories are short, illustrations are GREAT and it has reflection questions for the kids at the end of every story. Sophie is at the age where she does think about these things and I find the questions very effective to get her to think deeper. We brought it with us to Christchurch. (Thank you godpa n godma! Great buy!)


Updated as of 17 Dec, Wed (I’m done! We’ll keep the rest of the toys! Let me know if you want to loan them.)


We’re selling off Sophie’s pre-loved toys and books over the next few days. I will keep updating this list so keep coming back to look for new items for sale. Everything is going at at least 50% off. Do click thru the links to see what they look like. Most of them are in 90% perfect condition, some even come with original boxes but none are brand new.


TO BUY: If you are keen to buy, pls leave a comment with your email add. Self Collect at Holland Village, West.


TO BORROW FOR FREE: If you have my number on your handphone means you are a friend, you are more than welcome to loan any of the items below for at least 6mths. Pls call or sms me directly.



Fav books at 2 yrs old


1. Madeline
Sophie loves Madeline (er… as a result of my influence of course. :)). She’s been reading Madeline books and watching the cartoon (from iTunes). We’ve got Madeline’s Rescue (Borders) and Madeline’s Christmas (Books Actually). Madeline is like a girl hero – she’s the smart one that always saves everyone! And of course she’s french. I love hearing her speak.


2. The Rhyme Bible Storybook
This is a must read every night. We’ve been reading it so much to Soph that she is now choosing which ones she likes to read again. Her fav stories are Zacchaeus who climbed up the tree to see Jesus, Jesus told the disciples to throw the nets into the sea and they had a big catch, Noah and the boat. We like this coz every story rhymes! Very cool to read. We got this from Angie’s online bookstore.


3. Ready, Set, Brush
James’ auntie got this from Borders for Sophie for her birthday. It’s REALLY cool – it’s a Sesame St book that is a pop up book, kinda "interactive" where you can brush the character’s teeth etc. It was a great book to encourage Sophie to brush her teeth.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Fav By Mermaid Theatre


We went to watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites by the Mermaid Theatre from Nova Scotia, Canada (check this link for the video). It was staged at Victoria Theatre.


Eric Carle is one of Sophie’s fav artist and author so she had no problems settling in. She was nicely propped up on two booster cushions and sat on her own throughout the show. The puppeteers were REALLY good. The show was almost an hr long, not sure I was so captivated I didn’t really know what time it was when it ended. They showed The Little Cloud, The Mixed Up Chameleon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. All of which Sophie has read except the first one.


I really enjoy watching these shows where kids are the main audience because they are SO spontaneous! It gets really noisy thru the show when they start shouting out the names of the animals but so fun!