Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Box Thursday: I'm A Big Sister

I wish I found this book before AA was born. It would have been so apt to read it to EV then, to prepare her for her new role as a big sister. But as I discovered, I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole is relevant and still makes for good reading even now.

Big Sister 1
As the title goes, this is a simple story about a little girl who gets a new baby sibling. After introducing herself, she soon becomes mummy's little helper, and helps to look after the baby.

What I like about this is that no gender is given to the baby. This means that this book is relevant to be read to any big sister who is getting a new sibling.

What is also heartwarming is the way the story ends. In just a few lines, the story brings the focus back to the big sister, and emphasizes that there is only one 'her' and that she is unique in her own way.

'Mommy loves me. Daddy loves me.
I am special to them.
I'm the only me in the whole world!'

When reading this to EV, I could see the 'light' in her eyes, as she realised that the tale was also referring to her. That though there is AA now, there is only one EV, and that DaddySay and MummySay both love only one EV. Every time when we reach this part, we always give each other a hug and kiss, and for some time after, we would snuggle and cuddle. I really love these moments.

The best moment of the book though is the last page.

Big Sister 2

Isn't this just so awesome?

The heartwarming tale is matched by the colourful pastel illustrations by Rosalinda Kightley. There is a touch of whimsical gentleness and playfulness to the pictures that makes it even more appealing to big sisters like EV. I also like the way details like the table and the hanging laundry add depth and realism to the story.

Lots of hugs and cuddles when we read this story. I also showed EV pictures of herself when she was young, just like what happened in the story. Of course, lots of sibling bonding time with her little brother too. It's just so touching to see the two of them look out for each other, when they are not fighting over toys, or being cheeky with mummy, that is.

Big Sister 3

In our next Book Box Thursday, we'll be sharing a tale about a tiny dentist. Till then, Happy reading! 

Specially for ToddlyMummy readers!
Ready to go book shopping at My Imagination Kingdom? Here's a deal to make your shopping so much sweeter - a 15% store wide discount for the next two weeks, until 14 November!! Just use this discount code when you order: 'TOM15'. Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: We received a copy of I'm A Big Sister from My Imagination Kingdom. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween craft fun with CBeebies

What's Halloween without some Halloween craft, Mister Maker style!!

Recently, we were invited by CBeebies to a craft session held at Cups N Canvas on a cool Saturday morning. Because she's such a big fan, EV could name almost every character on the banner that was just outside this quaint little cafe. That was a good start.

After mingling with the CBeebies folks and some fellow mummy bloggers, such as Susan of A Juggling Mum and Delphine of In the Wee Hours, we went straight into the craft session. We made two cute yet spooky Halloween crafts - Hairy Spider that's inspired by Mister Maker and an unusually rectangular pumpkin.

CBeebies 1

CBeebies 2
Both needed the nimble fingers of adults to complete, especially when inserting the pipe cleaners through the spider's body, though EV gave it a try. EV enjoyed herself, especially when twirling the wool to make the spider's body and pasting eyes and mouth to the spider and rectangle pumpkin.

CBeebies 3

CBeebies 4
She was really impressed by the snacks. And while mummy was busy putting the final touches to the crafts, she finished the ice milo faster than I could glue the pumpkin's stalk.

CBeebies 5
We hanged out at Cups N Canvas, as it was raining heavily, and shared the Eggs Ben-Addict for an early lunch. I like how the honey ham fitted on the bagel perfectly. I found the Hollandaise sauce a tad bland, but I think EV loved it, because she got to eat lots of honey ham!  The Cloudy Apple Juice was a perfect match though. Can't wait to return and try the Mango Orange Juice and Iced Peach Lychee Tea. Oohh… and they have Babyccino too! I think I'll get that for AA the next time we visit.

CBeebies 7
Sometimes, she would entertain herself by holding the CBeebies information sheets and 'presenting' them to an imaginary friend. It's really fun to see her do this. Besides stretching her imagination, I think she also gets to practise her language skills too.

And here's Susan's girl, Sophie and EV posing proudly with their Halloween crafts. What fun!

CBeebies 6
So how to make the two crafts? Here are the instructions.

Hairy Spider
You will need:
- Wool
- Paper
- Pipe-Cleaners
- Orange and black felt
- Cardboard
- Scissors

1. Take a rectangle shaped piece of cardboard and carefully cut two slits into either end.
2. Cut a long piece of wool and feed it in to the slits.
3. Wrap the rest of the ball of wool around the cardboard, tie up the ends of the wool and trim any excess.
4. Take the long pieces of wool out of the slits and tie them tightly around ball of wool.
5. Slide the wool off the cardboard. Turn it upside down and tie the pieces of wool again. Snip off the extra bits
6. Very carefully, snip the loops around the edges making sure you don’t snip the middle as your spider will fall apart.
7. Tie on a long piece of wool (so you can hang it), then scrunch your pipe cleaners up before pushing them through the ball of wool. Then bend them on either side to make the legs!
8. Cut eyes and teeth out of black and orange felt.
.9 Glue them onto the spider’s body and here it is, your own hilarious hairy spider!

Rectangular Pumpkin
You will need:
- Recycled drink packet, emptied and cleaned
- Orange felt, large
- Green and black felt
- Glue
- Scissors

1. Wrap the large orange felt around the recycled drink packet, like wrapping a present.
2. Cut a rectangular piece of green felt, approximately 5cm long and 2cm wide. Roll the felt and glue the end. This is the 'stalk' of the pumpkin
3. With the remaining green felt, cut out leaves of different sizes.
4. Cut eyes and teeth out of the black felt.
5. Glue them to the pumpkin's body, and there you have it, a cheeky rectangular pumpkin!

Disclaimer: We were invited by CBeebies Club to attend the Halloween Craft Party. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Costume making at Liang Court's FaBOOlous Halloween event

Over the weekend, we were invited to Liang Court to attend a costume making workshop. This is part of their FaBOOlous Halloween mall event. Don't you think this arch leading into the workshop area is so nicely done up? 

Liang Court 1
EV didn't get her nap, so she was really tired and moody when we arrived. She flatly refused to choose a costume to work on (she could choose between a chief, vampire and cookie). Then she refused to do the costume, and surprise surprise, this mummy had to do the handiwork for her. It was really quite simple, as most of the materials had already been prepared. All there was to be done was paint the axe.

While mummy was busy doing this, EV made friends with the Vampire Onigiri, and watched other children play games.

Liang Court 2
I really like the Halloween decorations here, especially this pumpkin with the pointed hat. EV liked it too, and checked it out while having a fish ball snack.

Liang Court 3
What really got her ticked that afternoon was the Japanese street gag performance by Kaja, who comes from Yokohama. 

Liang Court 4

Liang Court 5
Her renewed energy didn't last long though, and she knocked out on the way back to grandma's place. I bet she was dreaming about the funny, entertaining guy who juggled and did magic tricks.

I was hoping that after she woke up, she would be in a better mood to try on the chief costume. She had other plans - imitate her grandfather and play pretend golf. Then I thought, perhaps I could get AA to wear it, so at least, I could get a photo of one of them in the costume. AA followed his sister's lead and refused to do so too. Sigh.. sometimes, I do wish they were not so united. 

Well, there are still a few days till Halloween. I will keep trying. Let's see how that works out.

FaBOOLOUS Halloween @ Liang Court
The Halloween celebrations event continues until 31 October. The highlight is the Kids FaBoolous Costume Contest, featuring children aged between 1 and 7 years old, happening this Sunday, 27 October from 3pm to 5pm.

There are also fun fringe activities happening this weekend, such as a Halloween instant photo booth at the side atrium just next to Starbucks on both Saturday and Sunday (1pm-5pm). There is also an instant tattoo booth featuring Halloween characters on Sunday (1pm-3pm).

Other events include two flea markets. The 'Quirky Flea Market' features temporary stick-on tattoos and cute handmade accessories. It ends on 24 October.

From 25 to 31 October, the 'Family-A-Fair' will feature robot demonstrations and other interactive activities. 

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the costume making workshop at Liang Court. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Play Learning Tuesday: No-Bake Puffy Paint Wooden Chinese characters

We've been neglecting Chinese for a while now, though the reading of Chinese story books continues daily, along with the use of 我会读 Level 1 and 二三快读 series. Just the other day, I saw EV follow the handwriting instructions in a Sage Montesorri book (which we got from Popular) and 'write' characters, I felt it was time to bring the focus back to Chinese.

I've been wanting to try out puffy paints, so I thought: why not do it with Chinese characters? It will help us go through the characters she already knows, and lets her practice her writing in a sensory way. Perfect!

So we made some No-Bake Puffy Paint Wooden Chinese Characters.

Puffy paint cover

To make these, you will need:
Small square wooden pieces (I got them from Daiso; these are rather small and works better with characters with fewer strokes)
DIY puffy paint (instructions below)
Squeeze bottles for putting the paint in

Puffy paint 1

How to make no-bake puffy paint
1 cup flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cup water
Food colouring

1. Mix the flour, salt and water together until you get the desired consistency, neither too watery nor thick. If it's too watery, the paint will dry flat. If it's too thick, it will be difficult to squeeze out of the bottle.
2. Separate the mixture into the desired number of portions, depending on how many colours you are making. We made four colours - pink, blue, purple and orange.
3. Put the mixture into the squeeze bottles.
Then it was just a matter of squeezing the puffy paint out, writing the Chinese characters on to the wooden blocks and leaving it overnight to dry.

Puffy paint 3

We had heaps of puffy paint, so I gave EV some paper and she made some shapes with the puffy paint. For this batch, I made it a bit too thick, and after a while, it refused to be squeezed out of the bottle. Adding a full cup of water would have been better.

But no matter. EV removed the cover, squeezed out the paint in a big dollop, and started painting with a straw. The consistency of the paint meant that it dried quite fast. While she painted, she could feel the texture of her earlier work. She was amazed with how the paint puffed up and how it felt soft yet not wet while it dried. So while it was a tad thick, it was great for the senses. Love the colours too.

Puffy paint 4

Puffy paint 2

AA had a go at it too, with a wooden stick and plastic spoon. This let him practice his motor skills and he made lines and tried to scoop up the paint. Later, EV joined in and the both of them had an awesome time mixing the puffy paint into an unrecognisable mixture. Mummy had a great time cleaning after them too. Rather messy it was, but just hearing their infectious laugh was enough to make me smile. As long as they are having fun, any mess is good mess.

Puffy paint 5

What messy fun are you having today?


What is Play Learning Tuesday?

Play Learning Tuesday is a bi-weekly linky hosted by Toddly Mummy where bloggers are invited to share their child-friendly play, learning and craft activities. Taking part for the first time? You might like to read the guidelines here first.

Toddly Mummy

Linking up with:

Tot School No Time For Flash Cards Activities for Children Lessons Learnt Journal Kids Co-Op Tuesday Tots Mama to 5 Blessings Photobucket Teach Beside Me


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: heART Studio Little Dali art programme for 3 to 4 years old (Part 1)

As you might have read here and here, EV has been taking part in heART Studio's holiday programmes. And you know how she loves her Teacher Syafiq and how her mummy has a good impression of not only the teacher, but the studio itself.

But how about the actual term lessons at heART Studio? EV recently signed up for one term of the three to four year old Little Dali classes. I will be documenting what was taught, as well as her progress and development during this period. It would be great if you can join us in this journey.

EV's art adventure at heART started in the end of September and at first she seemed a little hesitant. After all, about two weeks since she was last at the studio, since she last met Teachet Syafiq. She was checking the whole new experience and wondering what she is there for. Of course, she's assessing her new classmates too. Are they fun to be with? Of course they are, and by the end of the lesson, she was playing catching with them along the studio's spacious corridor.

The first theme for the term is shapes, and I was glad to see what transpired. An art class at heART Studio is not all about art; EV even got an opportunity to practice her writing when she wrote the word 'shapes', with guidance from Teacher Syafiq, who drew dots for her to trace.

Heart Studio Wk 1 1
Teacher Syafiq introduced the various shapes, such as square, triangle, circle, heart, star, oval and many others. He demonstrated how to draw them and got the kids to draw them themselves. They also drew a shape within a shape. I was glad to see EV acting on the instructions very quickly and draw independently. 

Heart Studio Wk 1 2

Heart Studio Wk 1 4
Despite the kids being somewhat distracted at times, asking him endless questions, Teacher Syafiq was extremely patient, guiding and helping each child along the way. 

After drawing the shapes, the kids were taught warm and cool colours. What I liked about it is the use of examples to help the kids connect to what they are familiar with in the real world. For example, when talking about the colour orange, a photo of oranges was shown. Usually at home, I would just ask EV to choose a particular colour. I didn't think about showing her the difference between the colours in this way, and I'm glad that coming to heART Studio has given me another idea to reinforce her knowledge of colours.

Heart Studio Wk 1 3

The first lesson focused on establishing the basic knowledge of shapes and colours. The second and third lesson was devoted to actually creating an artwork based on what was learnt in the first lesson - a combination of shapes and colours. As you can see here, Teacher Syafiq is pointing out how shapes like circles, triangles and semicircles work together to create an abstract landscape picture of the land, mountains and sky. 

Heart Studio Wk 2 2
Using oil pastels and cool colours of blue, purple and green, EV created the land and mountains of the art work. The sky was to be completed in the next lesson.

Heart Studio Wk 2 3
Another thing I like about heART Studio is how pictures and drawings relevant to the theme or task of the lesson are put up on the wall. 

Heart Studio Wk 2 1
See how EV is skipping with glee here? It was Children's Day week, and as a treat, each kid was given a bottle of soap bubbles and a pencil. EV kept holding on to her bubble bottle all the way home.

The following week, EV was all eager to start the art lesson, and complete her art work. This is enough evidence to tell me that the Little Dali programme is extremely suited to her. Her good rapport with Teacher Syafiq also means that she is ever ready to listen and learn, an important aspect in a teacher-student relationship. As she often tells me: 'I like Teacher Syafiq'. See her broad smiles here?

Heart Studio Wk 3 3

Heart Studio Wk 3 1
This is EV's final work. Amazing!!! I really don't think I will be able to help her create something like this at home on my own. If you don't already know, I'm a klutz at art, and only rediscovered a tiny sliver of my creativity after EV was born. To teach EV and guide her to create something like this? Nah… only the experts at heART Studio are able to do it.

Heart Studio Wk 3 2
See the picture on the right? I just absolutely love to see her in action like this, so full of concentration.

Heart Studio Wk 3 4
Oh, and there's another fun thing that EV has come to like at heART Studio, and it's the punch-in-punch-out machine. It's unusual, but yet so much fun. It gives kids like EV a sense of independence and accomplishment.

Want to find out more about the rest of EV's art adventure at heART Studio? Stay tuned for the remainder of our four part series on the Little Dali programme.

Disclaimer: We received sponsorship of a term of art lessons under the Little Dali programme by heART Studio. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Box Thursday: The Wheels On The Bus

One of my EV and AA's favourite song is The Wheels On The Bus. Just humming it is enough to get them grooving. So imagine their surprise when I opened a particular book and began singing to them. They must be thinking: why is mummy singing, not reading?

The Wheels 1
That particular book that I read was The Wheels On The Bus. Illustrated by Annie Kubler, this book was intended for AA, but as it turns out, EV has taken a liking to it too. I believe they are attracted by the bright colours and 'active' illustrations. Many things seem to be happening on the same page, and it's interesting to see the attention given to the details. As the song develops on each page, different passengers, such as a clown and a magician, 'run' to catch the bus, and join the children and adults already on it. The bus seems to be rushing somewhere, as illustrated by the water splashes near the wheels and the little animals who are trying to move away from the bus' path. 

Soon we realise that the bus is bringing the passenger to a carnival, and this is depicted in the final page. In fact, what's interesting is the back cover. Instead of the usual summary, the back cover shows a road, presumably the route taken by the bus, with passengers such as the clown waiting by the bus stop. This means that besides just reading the text, the book is also great for picture storytelling and discussion, which is helpful in the development of visual literacy.

It's currently officially the kids' favourite title. Every night, I will have to read it to them without fail. I believe they like the fact that their favourite song also comes in the form of a book, not just something that they can hear, but something that they can read, feel and touch. They like it so much that they like to read it themselves too.

The Wheels 4
Here's AA reading it himself, and putting his finger to his lips, to the lines 'The parents on the bus go shish shish shish…'.

The Wheels 2
In line with the 'bus' theme of the book, I brought AA on a bus ride, and it was a fun bonding time for mummy and son. AA also did a 'shapes' activity, where he made a bus using different shapes cut from felt. 

The Wheels 3
Other possible activities include:
- DIY bus pretend play, where I made a 'steering wheel' out of recycled cardboard, arranged chairs in rows, and we boarded the bus!
- Paint a bus, and introduce other types of transportation at the same time, such as car, truck and motorcycle
- Take a ride on a open-top bus

We hope you enjoy The Wheel On The Bus too. Till the next Book Box Thursday, happy reading!!

Disclaimer: We received a copy of The Wheels On The Bus from My Imagination Kingdom. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shanghainese Wontons

My mum's Shanghainese, and I've grown up eating many delicacies that Shanghainese cuisine is known for, such as braised bamboo shoots, stewed meatballs with vegetables, beancurd skin strips with Chinese ham and pork and Shanghainese rice dumplings, which are long not triangular in shape. Even hairy crabs are something that we would dig into every year, at home. Grandmummy would buy from her favourite Shanghainese shop in Causeway Bay (they lived in Hong Kong) and would estimate about two to three crabs for each adult, depending on the size. Then she would steam it at home, and at the dinner table, we will proceed to break and tear open the crabs ourselves. There's even a tradition of young children eating the legs first, before advancing to the main body when they get older. The whole meal would just be of crabs, maybe an additional vegetable dish, but nothing more. I've never eaten hairy crabs in a restaurant; it's just better and more appetizing to 'attack' the crab yourself, rather than letting the wait staff do it. And, nothing beats eating it in the comfort of your own home, with the company of family.

The other culinary tradition we have has to do with Shanghainese Wonton. When I was younger, Grandmummy, mum and sometimes my aunt would sit together at the table and make wontons, trays and trays of it. From a young age, I've joined this 'ladies group' and was taught how to make Shanghainese Wontons by Grandmummy, like how mum learnt to make it from her Grandmummy. I still can't wrap as fast as mum, but I like to think that my skills have improved over the years (though mum still sometimes nag that I either put too much filling, or don't close the wonton skin well).

So it's just a matter of time before EV gets assimilated into this. While we were making the wontons for this post, I was comforted by the sight of my mum showing EV how to make the wontons. EV's learning has started.

Shanghainese wonton 3
Making Shanghai Wontons is not difficult, but a bit of effort needs to be put in during the preparation stage. Here's our family recipe to share.

Shanghainese Wontons 
Ingredients (Makes 108 wontons)
6 packs of 250g wonton skin, from Yue Hwa Emporium Singapore
1.5kg xiao bai cai
500g pork mince
400g prawns, devein, peel and cut into 1cm pieces
3 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp Hua Diao wine
2 tbsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt
A pot of pork bone stock
Sichuan vegetables, minced
Spring onions, chopped

When buying the wonton skin, you can choose from big size or small size. The size actually refers to the thickness of each individual skin. We got the big sized skin, and each pack contains about 18 skins.

Shanghainese wonton 6
Preparation - Vegetable & pork mince filling
1. Blanch the xiao bai cai in boiling water until cooked.
2. Chop the xiao bai cai into mince.
3. Squeeze the excess water from the chopped vegetables.
4. Add the cooking oil and salt, mix and and set aside.
5. Add the light soya sauce, Hua Diao wine and sesame oil to the pork mince. Mix.
6. Combine the seasoned chopped vegetables and pork mince together and mix thoroughly.
7. Put the filling into the the fridge for about 15 to 30 mins.

Shanghainese wonton 1

Shanghainese wonton 2

Shanghainese wonton 4

Shanghainese wonton 5
Preparation - wrapping the wonton
1. Put a small amount of corn flour into a saucer and add some water. This mixture will help to seal the wontons.
2. Hold one wonton skin in one hand, and put the vegetable and pork mince filling, about the Size of a 20-cent coin, in the centre.
3. Add a slice of prawn.
4. Fold the wonton skin into half and gently press down around the filling to keep it from seeping out from the sides.
5. Gently fold into half again, twisting such that the two folded ends meet.
6. Dab a little of the corn flor mixture to seal the folded ends.
7. The wonton should look like an ingot.
8. Set it aside on a tray lined with paper towels, then proceed to make the next one.

Shanghainese wonton 8

Shanghainese wonton 7
Cooking the wonton
1. In a big pot of boiling water, put in the wontons, about 8 to 10 at a time.
2. Once the wontons floats up, or the skin becomes translucent, the wontons are cooked.
3. Use a strainer to scoop the wontons into a bowl.
4. Pour some of the pork bone stock, which has been prepared separately, over the wontons.
5. Add preserved mustard green and spring onions for that added punch.
6. Add fish sauce, light soya sauce or pepper to taste.

Shanghainese wonton 9

Shanghainese wonton 10
Ta da! A piping hot bowl of handmade, hand wrapped Shanghainese Wontons! Enjoy!

Shanghainese wonton 11

Linking up with:

This is part of a 'What's Cooking' blog train / party where, together with some blogger mummy friends, on the second week of each month (from Sept - Nov), we will be bringing you home recipes featuring different 'cuisines'.

Next up on this blog train is Alicia Tan of Beanie N Us!. A mother of one, she will be sharing with us the secrets of making Cantonese Soup. A traditional soup which has been passed down fromher mum's side of the family, this soup is both flavorful and nutritious. Black eye beans is the base ingredient here as it adds a smoky flavour to this chicken soup which is peppered with meaty mushrooms and slivers of abalone.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you.