Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Xmas '17 - the tree, ofcourse.

Xmas time '17.

Brought the ornaments from IKEA and set up the Xmas tree, much to the delight of little Anouk. Arun made good use of his Origami skills to make the silver top star as well as two small golden stars. All in all a happy kid and relaxed parents and still-standing-in-one-piece-Xmas tree.

Friday, 6 October 2017

DIY #9 - Indoor toddler tent

Its indoor camping time. Timeline : September '17.

We had two sponge foam (each 1" thick) mattresses, ever since kiddo was around 6-7 months. We initially joined them together using a duppatta and kept it on ground for kid while the kid learnt to crawl and later used it as a safety filler under her spring cradle. After the cradle era, the mattresses were stashed away for a long time, and in early September, we finally revamped the two mattresses - folded each one into half and stitched new covers - and voila, it easily made a kid's corner in the house. 
This gave us an idea about building a tent around it and make it a better toddler's-own-space. But we also wanted to be able to easily move it around everyday, while dusting and mopping the floor. The ever creative father guy came up with an idea of how-to for the tent and we proceeded with the plan immediately. One evening was all it took, from planning- procurement -conditioning - building - wrapping. 

Raw materials we used, as below.
  1. Bamboo poles - 2 (each ~2.5 m long)   
  2. Plastic twine
  3. Some old clothes and socks - for covering up exposed ends and making it child & floor safe
  4. Bed sheet -1 ( as a tent -wrap)(single size)
  5. Good mood and diplomacy skills - a lot, the kid wants to do everything, so had to ward off from time to time.
  6. Hooks/ Velcro - to keep the tent-wrap in place.
We cut the poles into halves, making four poles for the kid size tent. Tied them together using diagonal knots that I had learnt in Girl Scouting decades back. Just re-inforced using plastic twines and covered the exposed ends on top with some old clothes. The skeletal structure is super sturdy [Fig. 2].

Used a bed sheet to wrap the tent around. Stitched the hooks on to the bedsheet and secured it 
(1) at the top - this was very important, as it kept the bed sheet in place.
(2) around each front pole
On hindsight, velcro might have been a better choice and may change over to it, in future, when time and mood permits. The bed sheet length did not give room for too much flaps in the front. We also used some of the kiddo's old socks, padded it up and tied to poles as bushes - to prevent marks on the wooden floor.

For the final layout, we used a Rexine sheet on the ground, as a safe cover for the mattresses, placed the tent and filled the inside with mattresses. Thankfully, it turned out to be an instant love for the kid, who would go straight from her bed in the morning to have some tent time. From time to time, we see kid bringing toys, books, bowl of popcorn, to the tent, enjoying her own time and space.  The finished look is snapped below.

1. DIY Toddler's tent - Sep'17
2. Skeletal structure


Om Harisree Ganapathaye Namah

Anouk's Vidyarambham on Sep 30, 2017. Morning 11:20 SG time.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

DIY #8 - To all two-and-half-year-old Jedi-s and Sith-s

"Do or do not. There is no try." --Yoda

We saw a cute Lightsaber toy at Toys"R"Us a while back during a routine Lego Duplo shopping and the idea of a DIY light saber hit us. We decided on the swimming noodles, but wasn't able to make a trip to Decathlon for a long time. Finally, during a recent visit to Daiso, we found a 60" long pool noodle at an amazing S$ 2.00. We bought it and set on to make two toddler-friendly light sabers with all raw materials available already at home.

Materials needed:
  1. Swimming needle (60" long) - 1
    • We got for two dollars from, well, the two-dollar store. Makes two swords.
  2. Duct tape - black (insulation tape)
  3. Duct tape - metallic colour (insulation tape)
  4. Scissors 
  5. Time - maybe total 15 mins
  6. Patience and good mood- a lot - to diplomatically ward off a 2.5 year old kid (who constantly wants to use scissors all by herself ) and to decide when to let her help with the cutting.
The finished lightsabers and the equipped warrior are snapped below. ( Timeline : Aug'17)

Sunday, 2 July 2017

And then, Johnny reads...

This post is not about any of our typical DIY activities, instead, just a personal note..and indeed very special.

In January'17, we had published our views on early reading and how we had introduced Anouk to the world of letters and phonics, starting when she was 18 months and how we were just beginning to learn the blending of sounds to form the words, when she was around 22 months. By Jan end, Anouk could read most three letter C-V-C (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words, though very slowly,  (with parents pointing out the letters) but very methodically. We went on creating word list after word list (courtesy: Larry Sanger's essay and word list database). The word list were created originally from Flesch word list and were very well organised. Apart from teaching Anouk how to form a word, it also introduced a huge world of vocabulary together with the aid to how to form a sentence with it. 

And not to mention the book reading - her reading interest elevated from small story books to elaborate story books, leaving the parents pretty tired after every reading session. We were literally exhausted from reading 4-5 books (big ones at that) at one go, and were trying to convince her after the 5th book, that its time to do other activities (which demanded a little less of our energy) J One thing that changed during our reading together, was that, we now started trailing our fingers under the words whenever we read books and after a while even if we accidentally removed our fingers in between (may be to scratch our head), Anouk was quick to drag our fingers back to the page J And apart from the reading sessions, kiddo will be seen simply browsing through the books by herself, a lot, through out the day.

With all these, there was one thing that left the parents set wondering--apart from the initial independent reading that Anouk demonstrated with the three letter words, she refused any further attempts we made, to get her read further words, all by herself. While she easily blended two-syllable, three-syllable, mutli-words etc, when we sounded them out, she did not show much interest in reading out those words by herself. Even a gentle push from the parents, like, "Hey, try if you can read this by yourself" was met with with a cheeky "Amma, you read it" replies.. And so, even after happily blending several hundreds of words, we(actually the mother-creature) decided to give up my attempts to make her read independently and pacified ourselves that she'll start reading whenever she wants to and additionally found solace in the fact that the kid still loved learning new word list on a daily basis. So far so good. All the while, the extraordinarily-cool father-figure tried to convince me saying "She knows these words. She doesn't read all the silly three letter words that you show her, because she find them, well, silly". The words in discussion were bag, cat, pet, zip etc. Anyway, me being me, I would still try to get her read the above said words and the like, from time to time, and met invariably with smirks, running away-s, and some blatant "Amma, no!"-s. 

Then, the sun rose on the morning of Sunday, July 2, 2017. Anouk was a bit under fever the previous night, though showed no signs of tiredness. After waking up and getting the usual wish of a bottle-of-milk-in-bed, unusually granted, Anouk was in a true sunny Sunday mood. When she saw the latest wordlist, which I had cut out early that morning and left on the dining table, she just picked the cards (this set of words was for "al" sound). When (as usual) I began to sound them out, she declared.."Amma, dont read; Scout reads..".
"Huh, what..."
 And she started one by one, while moving her fingers swiftly under the letters...
 "s-t-a-l-k...stalk, ch-a-l-k...chalk, h-a-l-t...halt, m-a-l-t...malt, s-m-a-ll....small"
and a few more and when done, casually kept the word cards back on sofa and moved to the next demand.. "Lets say wakey-wakey to Achachan"...
And I was too shocked to respond. All the while I was trying to get her read the simple three letter words and the little rascal is blending fluently and reading words like stalk, chalk etc.. Its a beautiful feeling when I can really laugh at myself. Later in the day, both of us made her read through another new set, to witness and convince ourselves. 

So, finally, at 29 months, Anouk had started reading out the words all by herself, moving her fingers underneath the letters, and not necessarily sounding out all the individual sounds (might be blending in her head). As I said in the beginning, just a personal update and a happy note. Happy reading for the days and years to come ! J

Thursday, 1 June 2017

DIY #7 - Numeral Flash cards

We had captured our DIY Phonics Flashcards in an earlier post. We set out to create the numerals flash cards in the same fashion. 

By the time we introduced these numeral flash cards (~Mar'17), Anouk was 24 months old and knew numbers 0-10(both identifying and saying the numbers), and was counting objects up to four objects (too impatient to count after that). Though she was saying aloud the numbers till ~30, she could not identify the 2-digit numbers(barring 10) or get the logic behind naming the 2-digit numbers.

 Two sets of 0-9 are made, to teach all whole numbers till 100 as well as the logic behind their formation & naming and many possible (though not explored yet) higher digit numbers. No pictures were used and care was taken not to highlight the flashcard borders to enable a visual continuity (in our opinion) while blending two/multi digit numbers. 

Flashcard Specifications
  • Size : Each was roughly 85mm x 105mm (4 cards in one A4 sheet- B&W printout)
  • Layout : Numbers on one side, left blank behind; no colored margins were used.
  • Software : Inkscape [1] 
  • Materials used 
    • Normal A4 sheet print paper
    • 2-3 mm thick chart paper ( the prinouts were pasted on the chart paper, to render suitable thickness)
    • Scissors, rulers, pencil (to mark and cut)
    • Clear/transparent tape (to tape all the 4 edges to ensure better longevity for the cards, in our household)
Outcome : The snap captures one set of cards from 0-9 (We made 2 sets)

Numeral Flashcards - Timeline March'17


Friday, 12 May 2017

DIY # 6 - The Periodic Table

Time line : April 2017. Its periodic table time.

For no reason whatsoever, the parents-set decided to build a DIY periodic table. We just took split- printout(B&W) of the periodic table PDF resulting in a landscape oriented, 5 A4-page (Width) X 4 A4-page (height) wall hogging Periodic table. It was a massive project in terms of arranging all the pages, which cut through the print in several cells. Colour coding is also done, based on the family, each element belonged to, rather than the group. The vanilla printouts were crayon coloured. It took us close to a month to get the finished product, owing to small amount of daily time we could allot from our schedules. The whole periodic table  is sprawled over 5x4=20 A4 sheets in landscape orientation. Final dimension, after trimming the edges : 72cm x 122 cm

Materials used :

  1. Mendeleev's periodic table :
    1. Split -printout (B&W) in 20 sheets, in landscape orientation (by default will have a margin, which is very useful while aligning adjacent sheets) 
  2. A4 sheets - 20 of them. In landscape orientation, the periodic table was a 5 col, 4 row affair, the sides were later massively trimmed to concentrate on the table.
  3. Mahjong paper- 2 sheets over which the above A4 sheets are placed
  4. Crayons, Ruler, pencil
  5. Paper glue
  6. Patience - lots of it.
All the coloring was done on individual papers(prior to assembling), and the final assembly, measuring, cutting and pasting, took almost 4 hours straight, from 1am-5am on a Friday night :)

The finished look : As below
Periodic table (122cm x 72 cm) Apr'17