Review – Marshall Cavendish Parents Science Workshop – Coping with primary science (lower block)

After a month hiatus (and having a term of primary  school science), I am happy to be back for another parents science workshop organised by Marshall Cavendish. It was conducted by Kelvin Chia, who was also the same trainer for my first ever science workshop. You can read more about him and my review of my parents science workshop conducted by him here.

In fact, for today’s workshop for the benefit for new attendees, he also touched on the same information covered in the prior workshop. So given that I had attended his prior workshop, the first 30 minutes was more of a repetition for me. From covering the new PSLE exam formats to science being a spiral curriculum , this was covered in the 1.5 hour session previously. You can read all about this in my earlier review. He also emphasis on the 5-step in answering OEQ (open ended question). The trick is not to use these steps for all questions but only for question whereby the student is stumped and have difficult in answering the question.

He also touched on some strategies to strengthen the knowledge and love for science though story tellings, virtual labs (for eg. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/new) and flash files (https://www.edumedia-sciences.com/en/media/122-digestive-tract). Besides that, parents can expand the science knowledge by hands-on activities and also through documentaries.

Thereafter, he went through the PSLE science syllable from the MOE websites in specific the lower block syllable. He emphasized which are the simpler concepts and the harder one where students will often have trouble relating and understanding. For eg the concept of cycles in matter in particular the state of gas as it is not easily observable.

Another concepts which are not so easy for p3 and p4 to grasp is heat and light. In general, life sciences like life cycle of plants and animal or the human systems would be easier concepts to understand than physical science whereby there are many ways of application (which is the 60% of the exam paper). Life sciences are more knowledge in nature and less in application in nature (PSLE Science is 40% knowledge and 60% application of knowledge and process skill.)

It is more important for the student to be able to identify the topic and concept that is tested in the question to be able to answer the question correctly. It is also important to answer the question in context and than to give many irrevelant facts.

Even after going through the syllable in Term 1 – Living and Non-Living things (which is the simplest concept being the first topic in primary school science), I often has difficulty answering the question correctly even for such simple concept. Hence, it is imperative to identify the concept that the question is testing to be able to answer to the point. It is a steep learning curve for me as a parent, but I am confident which more understanding of how the science papers are set, I can guide my son to score better in paper 2 which is the OEQs.

For the complete list of parents science workshops in Term 2 (priced at SGD 20 or SGD35) , click here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


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ACT3 International’s March 2018 holiday workshops inspired by E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

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The school started and before long it’s a break for both parents and kids! As it is an extremely short break, typically we don’t travel out of country but staying home everyday of the school holidays seems to be unproductive according to me, the “tiger mum”.

So, I am more than happy to enrol big J for a drama workshop with ACT3. As you would have already known, I am full time working mum so enrolling for a week-long camp require a lot of commitment from me. However, 1 half day camp, I am more than happy to indulge my kids.

This upcoming March school holidays, Act3 International is organizing holiday drama workshop from 12 to 25 March 2018 centering around E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. There have workshops for all ages from as young as 7 months old all the way to 12 years old. The holiday workshops have one-session and also five-day workshops incorporating storytelling and drama actities.

These are the lists of workshop and the age group

A Web of Shapes (45-minute session)

7 to 17 mths, parent accompanied

Interactive and tactile workshop with “spiders”of all shapes and sizes.

Let’s Build a Story (1-hour session)

18- 36 months, parent accompanied

Using hand puppets, all children are invited to build a giant spider’s web with combination of dance, song and movements.

Discover Charlotte (five-day session)

3-4 years old

Mix of music, creative movement and choral speaking from the eyes of Charlotte as she interacts with her friends.

A Barnyard family (five-day session)

5 – 7 years old

Choral and individual speaking , creative movement and role playing of families in the a farm.

Spin Your Own Tales (3-hour session)

8-12 years old

Writing workshop using themes from original to recreate a new story.

An Entanglement of Songs (3-hour session)

8-12 years old

A musical workshop by singing familiar tunes and recreating the story of Charlotte’s Web.

You can register for the workshops at this link. The last I heard big J’s class has limited vacancies, so do plan ahead and book soon! Alternatively, you can call at 65 67359986 , email at act3int@act3international.com.sg and head down to their premises at 126 Cairnhill Road.

ACT 3 International

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Review – Marshall Cavendish Parents Science Workshop – An introduction to Science Process Skills

After attending my first ever primary science workshop last Saturday, (see review here) I am back for another 1.5 hours session which focuses on science process skills. Conducted by assessment books author Miss Low Wai Cheng, she outlined the framework of the primary school science and in particular the process skills needed to excel in this subject – SCIENCE.

There are 3 important dimensions of Science which are the content (which is primary what is taught in the textbooks) the processes of doing science (which is the science process skills) and scientific attitudes (being curious and imaginative, enthusiastic etc)

This is the Singapore Science curriculum framework outlining the 3 important dimensions in the 3 triangles. In a nutshell, the science curriculum seek to nurture the student as the inquirer.

This workshop outlines the 11 skills and 3 processes in the framework

Skills

1.Observing (lower block)  – uses five sense to make good observation, and most important as it is the foundation to all the other science process skillls

2. Comparing (lower block) – identifying similarities and differences

3. Classifying (lower block) – sort objects into group based on their observations

4. Using apparatus and equipment (not tested for psle)

5. Communicating

6. Inferring (upper block) – explanation and interpretation from observations

7. Predicting (upper block) – guessing the outcome based on observations

8. Analysing

9. Generating possibilities

10. Evaluating

11. Formulating hypothesis (upper block)

Some skills set like classification tends to be used across all levels.  As the workshop was a short session, the trainer did not go into details process skills 8-11 which are of higher order thinking.

This is the difference between observation, inferring and predicting from the same picture.

Processes

  1. Creative problem-solving

  2. Planning investigation

  3. Decision-making

The trainer also went through a few model questions (not to get the answers) but to identify the science process skills that is required to answer the question.In school, teachers are not only teaching the contents but also strengthening their process skills in order to excel in science. We as parents also can weave such process skills in our daily lives by asking questions based on our daily experiences ie when taking out an apple, where did the water droplets on the apple come from? We are also plan regular trips to science centre, zoo, parks or botanical garden to observe, explore and discuss natural phenomena.

This workshop only serve as an introduction to all the 11 science process skills for primary school science. For more in-depth workshop on science process skills, there are 2 other workshops – one for upper block process skills and one for lower block process skills.

For the complete list of parents science workshops in Term 1 (priced at SGD 20 or SGD35 for 1.5 hrs or 3 hrs workshop respectively) , click here. For the other subjects, click here

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


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Review – Marshall Cavendish Parents Science Workshop – Understanding Science Concepts

This is not my first parent workshop with Marshall Cavendish, you can read about my first session here. I truly benefited the previous workshop that I attended as I had better understanding of the requirement of a particular subject or sub-section of the subject. So as my eldest enters primary 3 and science is being introduced, I do personally feel a lack of confidence in myself to be able to guide and support  him in excelling in science. I was a science student all the way to Junior College even doing Physics and Chemistry but the themes in the current primary school science syllable perturbed me. To me, science is divided into Physics, Science and Biology. To my surprise, I see themes like Diversity, Cycles, Systems , Interactions and Energy. It sounded so foreign to me that I can’t visualised how science is being taught in primary school now. So these workshops organised by Marshall Cavendish couldn’t come at a better timing – start of the academic term.

In fact, this workshop is the first of this year’s series of science workshops that is organised by Marshall Cavendish enlisting their authors, subject experts and passionate teachers to guide parents like myself who wish to be more involved in the teaching process , and in the known of the curriculum and  syllable.

Today’s trainer was Kelvin Chia is who is also an author of several of Marshall Cavendish’s primary school assessment books and with 14 years of experience in teaching science behind him, he shared his knowledge in teaching, marking and parents’ expectations.

This workshop is pitched to parents of p3 onwards and especially useful for clueless parents like me who are “learning” this subject for the first time. The current science syllable is based on the 2014 science syllable which you can see from the MOE website. I bet my money that many parents would not have read through this 78 pages pdf documents outlining the current syllable. However, Kelvin mentioned that it is imperative to have an idea of the syllable in order to guide your child into understanding the learning outcomes that are tested in the PSLE, ie no need to go beyond the syllable and learning outcomes as prescribed by MOE.

As today’s workshop was more introductory in nature, I have listed down the key take-aways.

1. Science is less of a spiral curriculum that Mathematics

One of the biggest key differences between Science and Mathematics, is that Math is more of  spiral curriculum whereby you need to know p2 Math before you can do p3 maths etc. However for Science , there is no need for you to know P3 science before you can do P4 science, for eg, you do not need to know the lifecycle of a plant before doing reproduction. Primary School Science is divided into lower (P3 & P4)  and upper block (P5 & P6), which means that the school is free to doing any of the themes within the two year period unlike the other subject.

2. PSLE exam format

The PSLE science paper consist of 2 booklets of MCQ and OEQ (open-ended questions) and to be completed in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

3. KEEP ALL YOUR SCIENCE TEXTBOOKS!

As mentioned in point 1, Science is not a spiral curriculum, the student may have learn a topic in p3 and the same topic not revisited in p6 and yet it could be tested during PSLE. So PSLE science test all themes in both lower and upper block. So for PSLE the student need to revise and know all topics covered from P3 to P6.

4.PSLE Science is 40% knowledge and 60% application of knowledge and process skill. 

This mean a student who has memorised all the science facts in the themes would be able to get 40 marks but if he is unable to apply it, he wouldnt be able to score well.  Application of knowledge and process skills is the ability of the students to interpret information using of one or more of the following process skills – inferring, predicting, analysing, evaluating, generating possibilities, formulating hypothesis and communicating.

Kelvin also brief in the 5 step in answering OEQ by going through 2 PSLE questions.

Step 1  – looking for clues,  Step 2 -identifying Task Words (classify, compare, describe, explain, differentiate, identify, infer, list explanation, Step 3 – identifying topic that is being tested, Step 4 – identifying key words from the topic tested and Step 5 – phrasing the answer using CER (Claim, Evidence and Reasoning). As the workshop was only 1.5 hours, Kelvin could not deep dive into each of the steps in greater details. I am sure there are workshops specifically for answering such OEQ.

As this year’s Marshall Cavendish workshops have been reformatted to shorter durations – 1.5 hours and 3 hours (as compared to prior years’ workshops which were 6 hours long) , today’s workshop of 1.5 hours I felt was a tad too short to fully reap the benefits. That said, the amount of information that I have receive in that short 1.5 hours has been very beneficial to me personally as I embarked on learning primary school science with my child. In fact, I have enrolled for next week’s science workshop!

For the complete list of parents science workshops in Term 1 (priced at SGD 20 or SGD35) , click here.  In fact. the science workshops are on every Saturday till the March schools holidays!

For the other subjects, click here

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own


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Giveaway & Review : Big Ideaz Education Online Writing Academy

With the exception of Chinese language which I didn’t study in school, I am fairly confident in tutoring my child in the other subjects myself especially Mathematics. However, there is one component of a subject (even when I in school it was the paper that I struggled a fair bit even though I read widely) that I have little confident in teaching and guiding my primary 3 child -English composition.

I am often lost for words when I needed to guide  big J in his school writing. Even if I had written the composition myself and pass it for scoring, I am sure the marks awarded would not be satisfactory too. I did try to buy some composition and creative writing assessment books but I don’t think it is useful in my “cause”. Save for the some model composition writing books, I have since stop buying assessment books which aim to teach kids to write. As my kids schedule are quite packed, I am not inclined to start another enrichment class. Most of the English classes also teaches the other aspect of English ie comprehension, vocabulary , grammar, synthesis etc but at this juncture, I think big J needed more guidance is in composition specifically.]

So the Tiger mum in me started big J on an online writing academy by Big Ideaz Education during the December holidays. As we didn’t have a long holiday and big J was “loitering” at home , I thought it will be best to prep him for p3 composition writing.

What I really like about  Big Ideaz Education online writing academy is that it is done at the home and at any time the child chooses. There are 4 lessons in 1 month, of course it is best to do it on a weekly basis. The best part (and this part you can’t really get out from the regular classes), I can go through the video with my child so that I am well versed with the format and expectation of primary school composition.

To sum it shortly after going though the course with big J for 1 month plus, big J and myself as a parent  now have a fairly good idea the structure of a good composition. I love that the online writing course teaches big J each component of a composition per lesson (and not overwhelming him). Even as a parent going through the online video, I must say that the lessonshas been done in a systematic way.

The online course started with introduction for lesson 1 and slowly introduces the other parts – events leading to the problem, the problem, the resolution and the conclusion.

I may not be able to guide him but I am more aware of how marks are awarded for each component of the composition and what kind of content that the teachers are looking for.

For example, it is often encouraged to put a speech in the introduction to make it make the composition more interesting and appealing to the reader. And how to introduce the problem and its resolution with more depth and content than merely resolving a problem abruptly. After each lesson, parent will download and print the written homework. I will print 1 month’s homework at 1 go so that I have the homework ready after each lesson. Then I will scan big J’s written assignment and submit online for marking and returned within 5 working days with the comment and improvement points. The child is sometimes  require to do draft 2 so that he can incorporate the improvement points and make it a better composition.

That said, when it come to home-based learning, as there is no fixed schedule and timing, the child must have some discipline to go through a weekly lesson which consist of less than a 10 minute video followed by a written work. Online course may not work for every child but if your child (and the parent too) have the discipline, this may be the best arrangement without attending a proper writing class at this juncture. I will definitely let J go through few more months and see if this helps him in his composition writing and if both myself and big J have the discipline to do this on a weekly basis. It is too early to tell if this online writing course is helping big J but he is more aware of what he require to write for each component of a composition such as incorporating speech in the introduction, to describe more feeling that merely just telling etc.

You can also read more about the founder and the teacher behind this online portal here . Do check out her blog as well as she give insights into English subject and composition.

Big Ideaz Education 

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Giveaway

Big Ideaz Education has kindly sponsored 1 reader for 2 month access to the Writing Academy (8 weeks of lesson worth S$188) for kids p3 and above.

1. Liked FB pages of mypreciouzkids.com and Big Ideaz Education

2. Followed mypreciouzkids on Instagram

3. Liked and share this FB post and tag 3 friends who will be interested in this.

Please keep your Facebook shared post  (as indicated in step 3)  in order to qualify so that I can locate your entry. Bonus: repost the IG post with #mypreciouzkidsgiveaway and tag 3 friends (1 tag per comment)

I will be picking the 1 lucky winner. The giveaway closes on 4 February 2018 2359pm (Sun)

Winner: Teo Muan Hua

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


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Painting with a heart at Heart Studio

I have always known of the holiday art classes at Heart Studio from many years back and they have the most awesome themes that ALL kids love – My Little Ponies, Cars, Star Wars, Shopkin – you name a cartoon theme that your kids love they probably have it especially during the holiday programs. When I had only 2 kids, I do indulge them with weekly art and craft sessions with them at home but since the addition of the younger 2 boys, I didn’t had time to do that at all. It is very tough doing art and craft sessions for 4 kids and to clear the mess thereafter.

On a normal schooling days my kids have their regular enrichment classes and school, art classes would be an after thought. I do believe in the benefit of art classes as in my younger days I did dabble in it as well and even won some art competitions during my primary school days. I even had art classes but it was more pure practise than talent, so I can’t really draw and paint like a real artist. I don’t think my kids have much artistic streak or talent but my kids do love to doodle, paint , colour and draw. When I told them I sign them for a session of art with Heart Studio during the school holiday, they were over the moon. They have been asking me incessantly since the school hols started when is their painting session.

I only had a small happy problem – it is not possible to find a similar slot for all 3 kids based on their theme they like (qualms of a FTWM as i cant be possibly bringing each kid at a different session) but Heart Studio will be happy to do a swap during the same session. Big J had unicorn as his theme for his age gropu, which he isn’t too keen but big C is, so they did a swap. Big J was even happier painting snowman than unicorn for sure. And small J has the theme of his dream – Cars !

All 3 kids were in different classes due to the age group and complexity of the art theme. Before starting, they get to choose the picture they would like to paint as a guide.

I can tell the teachers at Heart Studio are patient and fantastic with kids. Small J is usually very apprehensive with new classes, he even asked if I will be with him throughout the art class initially but he warmed up to his teacher immediately! In fact, in small J’s class there was a boy 1 year younger than him and he could follow the class and listen to the teacher too!

You may wonder how is it possible for kids as young as 3 or 4 to paint such beautiful paintings – I was there thoroughout the session (not in the class per say but I check on their progress now and then). Firstly, they do have a picture to give them an idea how their final artwork will look like. They are guided step by step, stroke by stroke, detail by detail (big C unicorn had a tiara instead of a flower garland) and choose any colour details so make their art work truly their own (and only 1 in the world!)

first step is to sketch the object

painting the background and the main objects

drying before applying another layer of colour

There is definitely more help and guidance for the younger kids as the motor skills are still developing especially for fine lines and smaller details but i would like 90% are done by the kids themselves throughout step by step guidance from the very patient teachers (it was 2 hours 4 5min long!) and hence you wouldn’t believe how good the final product looks!

In fact, if you are looking to buy or commission paintings to decorate your kids room, may I suggest that you send your child for a session and you can have a respectable art piece by your own child  at the end of your session for their own room!

In fact, as we were making out way home with their masterpieces, they asked when they can be back to paint again as they enjoyed it so much. The teachers at Heart Studio have been so wonderful and patience throughout that they had such a wonderful experience painting to their hearts’ contents and having a piece of their own framed in their rooms! I may not be able to slot it into their weekly schedule, but I will definitely slot it into their holiday schedule. This half day art camp definitely works for FTWM during the holiday seasons!

I think there are several more sessions for the December school holiday program , you can check out at this link

Heart Studio

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


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Child Kitchen by Ippudo : Super fun ramen making for the school hols and super value for money too!

All my kids are BIG fan of ramen. They even does the slurping noodle sound just to show oishi ramen taste!

And when I stumbled across the ramen and gyoza making session conducted by Child Kitchen at Ippudo Robertson Quay, I know it is a must try for my ramen loving kids. In fact, Child Kitchen is part of Ippudo group and they have been organising similar ramen cooking classes in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand etc and they brought it into Singapore (only at Robertson Quay outlet) a year ago. It doesn’t happen every weekend, probably on the average one or two session in a month and it get sold out pretty quickly too or it has been taken up by a private event. You can add your email into their mailing list and you get notify when a new session comes up.

In fact, such cooking sessions are also suitable for adults for enjoy cooking and savouring ramen. They believe in the power of food to unite people centering around how to cook an authentic ramen.  Besides imparting culinary skills, these sessions are perfect for family bonding through the love for Japanese food.

After many missed opportunities and packed weekends, I finally secured slots for my 3 older kids at the start of the loooonnngg year end school hols. Suitable for kids aged 4 and above (below 6 need parent accompaniment) , we finally conducted our first ever ramen and gyoza making last Sunday! In fact, they have been incessantly asking me when the cooking session will happen when I told them about it in early Nov. Do note that you get Ippudo standard ramen to savour at the end of the session too – IMHO one of the best ramen in SG. At SGD 25 per pax (min 2 pax at SGD 50) for a 2-hour session , I think its the best value for money kids cooking session and you have a Ippudo standard bowl of ramen complete with cha siu and egg.

When we arrived   – aprons, bandana, all set nicely on worktable.

We had 3 packet of flours for our 3 little ramen chefs. First order of the day is to make our own ramen. Mixing lye with floor, we knead into a big round dough. It was mess with flour, but it was clear fun mess (thank god i dont have to clean the mess too). Thereafter, we split into 3 portions -1 for each kid and their portion was placed back into the plastic bag and into their apron’s pocket for it to set.

 

 

Next, its time to make the gyoza skin. Dividing a small portion of dough into 3 parts (to make 3 gyoza each) , they had to create 3 round gyoza skin using a template. Thereafter, they will put the chicken filling in the middle of the skin and using the same filing on the side around to “create a glue” to skin the edges together. It will then be handed over to the real chef to steam and pan-fried the gyoza.

Finally, its time to bring out the ramen dough and the most fun part – flattening the dough. They double-wrapped the dough , lay out the mat and had all kids remove their shoes. The kids are tasked to flatten the ramen dough using their feet – stomp, jump etc what ever it takes to flatten it so that rolled into the noodle maker machine.

They did two more round of “flattening” using the noodle machine until the actual ramen size noodle. All the kids had a good portion (Adult size) which will be cooked and filled with soup by the kitchen.

After 1.5 hours of kneading, rolling, jumping, stomping, my kids were famished and eagerly awaiting for their own made ramen and gyoza! I must say it tasted even better than my ramen at Ippudo as it is made by my kids (I had a taste as I finished the left over as the portions were huge!). I guess this was our best kids cooking session , they were so full from their ramen and gyoza that they didn’t needed any dinner at all.

 

we even had our own Ippudo chopsticks and spoon to bring home

For December, they will be conducting ramen and cooking making session, do check out poster for more details and how to register.

Child Kitchen

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 


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Review – Marshall Cavendish Education’s Conquering Comprehension

I had friends who had attending Marshall Cavendish Education (“MCE”) ‘s parent workshops on Saturday which were 6 hours long and had raved about it, ie money and time well-spent. Saturdays are extremely busy days for me as the kids have classes and swim classes, so I never didn’t want to take time off from parenting duties just to attend a 6 hour long workshop.

However, as big J’s home work and review papers are no longer walk in the park, I came to the realisation that I am not equiped to guide him at home effectively, the best way forward it so to “upgrade” myself. It is just like work, what I am lacking I need to find information, attend course etc. And like what my friend put it I will reap the most value out of these workshops as I have 4 kids and they will gradually would go through the system and sitting for PSLE.

They had many workshops during the June holidays which were beneficial to me, however due to parenting duties on Saturdays I procrastinated until July and finally I took time off from my parenting duties and attended my first ever workshop with MCE which focuses on  Conquering Comprehension.

During term 2 review, big J lost most of his marks in the English paper in comprehension (and it wasnt even open-ended), but after I had a read of the comprehension passage, I faulted the boy less. Even at the level of understanding of an adult, I had a double/ triple take at the questions and answers – which all require Higher Order Thinking (“HOT”) which will be further elaborated below. I even thought the correct answer was wrong. I guess these are the types of questions that differentiate the better ones over the others.

Only recently as well did I realise that unlike Chinese comprehension, the child cannot just lift off the passage. It clearly show me that I do not possess the knowledge nor strategies to properly guide big J through his comprehension section of the English paper.

The workshop was conducted Chitra Pillay- Chua who was once a HOD of the English Department of a primary school and currently focuses her work solely on comprehension making her an expert in comprehension questions and strategies.

At the start of the workshop, she asked the participants what were the most common problem faced by us.

  1. Most were unsure of the level of understanding of the child after reading
  2. The child reads but cannot answer
  3. Improper sentence structure (during PSLE no marks will be deducted for grammatical error made in comprehension section, however this may not be the case during school reviews/test)
  4. Complicated questions which required Higher Order Thinking (“HOT” – will be further elaborate below)

Chitra told us the story of 2 word cutters- one a young woodcutter and one an elderly woodcutter. The young woodcutter work through lunch and chop wood incessantly non stop while the elderly woodcutter had a lunch break. At the end of the day, the elderly woodcutter had chopped more words than the young one. The young one asked the elderly woodcutter, how did you manage to chop so much wood ,and even took lunch break! The secret was that he spend some time during lunch break sharpening his axe.

So we parents who gave worksheets and drills after drills (I am also guilty of this) are liken the young woodcutter. However, if we had known the proper strategies and techniques to “conquering” comprehension, it is liken to a sharpened axe of the elderly woodcutter, ie you may not have to do many drills to get the results you want.

I also wonder how are the students in school taught composition in school. Apparently most schools test rather than teach composition. The difference lies in testing comprehension involves asking a series of questions to ascertain the level of understanding while teaching comprehension focuses on equipping students with a set of comprehension skills to assist them in understanding the text thoroughly.

The workshop was broken down into 3 components, what does reading comprehension means, common comprehension strategies and Higher Order Thinking (“HOT”).

Reading comprehension

Reading does not equate to understanding. A voracious reader may not necessarily do well in comprehension.

All the participants were given this passage to read. How much do you understand of this passage after reading? How would we be able to understand this better?

The answer:  Background knowledge

If we had knowledge about galaxies or astronomy subjects, we would have a better understanding of this passage. However, none of the participants had a clue what this paragraph means as we have little or zero background knowledge to the subject in this paragraph. Many a times the child is able to read the passage but unable to comprehend the passage given due to lack of background knowledge.

There are some factors which could assist in understanding what you have read

-Knowledge / background to assist comprehension

Most of the times, the child may just be focusing on recognising the words , blending the letter sounds to read the words ie decoding. Those who are weak in comprehension do not make connections between what they read to what they already know (ie background knowledge) and they do not think deeply what is being read which bring to the next point. Some of the ways to mitigate this to accumulate a variety of knowledge and experiences through reading, exposure through travels, trip, outings, museum, etc.

-Good readers think while they read

One of the best ways to encourage this is to model our thinking. Reading a comprehension and articulating our thinking as we read along  is one way to improve understanding of the content. So instead of just reading the comprehension passage with child, articulate your thoughts throughout the passage so that when the child does the same during his own reading.  .

– Annotations

This is a good practise to make little notes, arrows or even emojis – sad face, smiley face, question marks etc  as the child read the passage to activate the thinking process as the child is reading.

The participants had a hands-on practice on annotations while reading through the passage

Common Comprehension strategies

There are many comprehension strategies, Chitra shared the 4 more common strategies.

1.Make connections with background knowledge

Throughout the workshop, much emphasis has been given to the importance of background knowledge. For example while reading a passage about going to the beach, you can relate an experience of  a recent beach outing so that they can make connection to the words/passage that they were reading. If you make a connection to yourself, it is called a text-to-self connection; if you make a connection from the story you are reading to another story you have read, it is called a text-to-text connection; and, if you make a connection to something you have seen on the news or to an experience someone you know has had, it is called a text-to-world connection.

2. Inferencing ie reading between the lines

This strategy requires readers to evaluate or draw conclusions from information in a text. Authors/ writers  do not always provide complete descriptions of, or explicit information about a topic, setting, character, or event. However, they often provide clues that readers can use to “read between the lines”-by making inferences that combine information in the text with their background knowledge.

3. Summarise

Somebody…..wanted….but….so….then. Doing a short summary of the passage after reading also improve understanding and for parents a way to test the level of understanding. For example the story of The Little Read Riding Hood could be summarised as a somebody wanted to visit her grandma but met a wolf along the way and told him about her grandma, so the wolf ate grandma , then the woodcutter manage save the grandma and her.

4. Ask questions

If the child ask questions about what is happening in the story, a character’s feelings, or wonder what will happen next, the child will be engaged in his reading, and that will help him understand on a deeper level.

Higher Order Thinking (“HOT”)

There is a difference between answer that can be found in the text or in my head. Answers that can be found in the text falls in the lower two level of Bloom’s taxonomy which are more on remembering and understanding typically for p1 and p2 level.  For more difficult questions which requires application, analysing, evaluating or even creating, this require HOT. For such questions, the answers are in my head  , is not located in the text and can be obtained by making inferences. Some questions may requires your own opinion/experiences which is the highest level in the Bloom’s taxonomy – creating!

Hence for one same passage, can be used for lower or upper primary depends on the type of questioning. For lower primary, the questions will be more in the text, while in upper primary, the questions will require more HOT and in your head.

It was a very informative 6 hour session as I learnt skills  to teach (not test) my son in doing his comprehension and most importantly, how to improve understanding when reading (not just for comprehension but any form of reading). We also had many hands-on practices to further apply what we have learnt with hope that we can guide our child more effectively at home. At least, now I have a clearer picture on how to use the comprehension strategies to teach comprehension to my p2. There was also an article on Straits Time early this year on parents attending tuition to help the kids. I believe such parents (myself included having attended my first tuition) would like to be avoid the tuition route , to be more involved and hands-on in our child’s education and to better understand the MOE syllable.

Marshall Cavendish Education is currently working on the second half year schedule and relooking at the formatting of the workshop . Do bookmark this page for their future workshops that you maybe interested in. Below as some of the type of courses that they have organised for parents of p1 to p4 and PSLE preparations for parents of p5 and p6.


Marshall Cavendish Education

No.1 New Industrial Road
Times Centre
Singapore 536196

T: (65) 6213 9300
E: marketing@mceducation.com

Website

Facebook 

Instagram

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 


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Design Innovation 5 day holiday camp at The Keys – Innovate with Empathy

In the day and age where kids are exposed to technology at a very young age , I have tried my very best to keep technology at bay for my kids. They have little smartphone and tablet interactions (I have never own any tablet or Ipad) and I wanted to keep it that way for as long as I can . I do know that kids exposed to cyberspace maybe be more knowledgeable, perhaps smarter but I feel that my kids will definitely catch up during formal schooling.  He maybe the most technology deprived kid as he only touched a laptop during K2 when I sign him up for a coding class with IDA. He was very lost as well intrigued by it both the laptop and the coding software during that class. 

In Primary 1,  there are e-learning modules and a daily online Mathematics challenges as part of the school curriculum. I guess time has come for my boy to embrace some controlled environment of technology.

So for the past 2 schooling terms, he has been using the laptop rather proficiently with little help from me for his school work and e-learning. (back to the point kids are inherently able to pick up and learn things quickly)

And in the name of embracing technology , I am not about to open a floodgate where he plays electronic games etc but meaningful technology-based programme and classes which are outside of school curriculum. Classes for coding  is the craze now , see this Straits Time article. There are many schools and centres offering coding and robotics but The Keys holiday camp for Design Innovation caught my eyes.
 
There are actually 2 suitable camps for J organised by The Keys for the June school holidays – Design Innovation (6 to 8 years old) and Tech Star Junior (6 to 8 years old). I must admit that the more true-blue coding class would be the Tech Star Junior which uses Scratch software to create animated stories (J and I had a brief introduction when we attend the IDA workshop last year) but I decided that Design Innovation camp would be something more beneficial and engaging for him at this juncture. Besides using the laptop and software, I would like see a mix of “hand-based” activities which is exactly that he got at the end of the camp.

On the first day of the June holidays, J needed to wake up earlier than usual (he attends afternoon session on a normal school term) but I assure him its going to be really fun and his eyes popped up when he saw the LEGO Mindstorms EV3. He was really excited to head to The Keys every morning for the next 4 days of camp too.  The Keys is located at Odeon Towers (central location) which is good as I could drop him earlier before 9am before heading to work. Since the camp ends at 2pm, there is some arrangements needed to be made for full time working parents. I was lucky that a friend of mine has enrolled her girl in the same class and we took turns doing the picking up at 2pm.

 J loved it so much that he actually incessantly requested to return for another week of camp. In fact since Day 2, he has been begging me to extend his camp till the end of week 2 of school holidays! There is indeed another another suitable camp for his age category which is the Tech Star JR which is more coding based using Scratch. Let’s say that mummy need a rest from the out-of-cycle routine and there is still the MEGA big December holidays to fill.

I guess his immense interest stemmed from the fact that this is something that he has never done before and the things with boys and LEGO.  Sorry to generalize but the girls in camp also had as much fun (testimony from my friend’s girl who attended the same camp as J). He kept raving about the breakfast challenges, who did what and who won etc and the capabilities of his and his friends’ EV3.

What I really like about these holiday camps organised by The Keys is the small age gap. Some holiday camps and workshops have age ranges from 7 to 12 years old. Speaking from a mother of a 7 year old (which is the youngest of the range), I feel that it is too wide of a range. What a 10 year old can understand may not be what a 7 year old can understand. Hence, I like that this  camp has a small age gap which is for kids between 6 to 8 years old. The knowledge and level of understanding would not be very different and the kids can discuss and relate to one another more easily.

The other reasons why I chose this over the Tech Star Junior was this camp is not all about technology ie the kids do not “play” with the EV3 thoughout the daily 5 hour camp. It is about problem solving and empathy with the daily breakfast challenges. You might be thinking why empathy. During the camp, they are required to problem solve how Tumanka (a kid from a developing country) goes to school and the kids from the same country take so much effort to go to school. This is where kids in the camp (our city kids) can form more understanding, appreciation and empathy towards children of developing countries and develop their problem solving skills.

If you read the course structure, there are some pretty big jargons throughout the course description which I can’t really explain at my child’s understanding level  – prototyping, innovation, modular design, etc. The instructors were able to bring such abstract concepts  at the kids’ level of understanding in a fun way which really amazes me. Most importantly, some level of empathy as they critically think of ways for improve the livelihood of kids in a developing country and finally build an amusement park for them as a finale to the 5 day camp.

Just to give a flavour of the Design Innovation camp that J just did with The Keys. As it is a drop off programme, the information below are based on the camp course structure , the best J has described his daily on-goings and photos provided by The Keys.

Day 1

The day typically start with a breakfast challenge where kids are divided into teams to tackle the challenge. For the first challenge, the teams are to build the tallest structure using spaghetti. This teaches them creative problem solving and teamwork.

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the winning spaghetti tower

 
Next up, they are introduced to the design challenge topic which will set the tone for the week long camp. They were introduced to Tumanka , a 6 year old kid from a developing country and the challenges she and her friends face when they needed to go to school. They were given problems such as reasons why Tumanka takes a long time to get to school. They were given a big piece of white paper to do mind mapping and present it to the rest of the class. This is where they learn empathy and storyboarding.
 
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J’s team mind map

 
Finally, the highlight of the day, LEGO! Ok not just any LEGO but the highest end of the LEGO series – LEGO Mindstorms EV3.  By using LEGO WeDo software, the kids are required to build and programme the EV3 to pick the kids from remote villages and bring them to school.
 
LEGO WeDo

LEGO WeDo

 
Day 2
For the breakfast challenge, they were tasked to build a very strong bridge for the billy goats to cross in Tumanka’s village with the use of ice cream sticks and duct tapes.
 
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 They further enhanced their individual EV3 capability with more motions and actions by building an automated feeding machine to feed the billy goats – innovation in daily processes.
 
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Day 3

They are given a task to design Tumanka’s school from paper, straws, binderclips and pipe cleaner. From the different materials, the kids will recognise constraints and come up with possible solutions.

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They even had a mini field trip to IDA Labs at National Design Centre (a stone’s throw away from The Keys) to understand how people innovate in real life settings.
 
Last order for the day is to improve of the EV3 capabilities with another design challenge.
 
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Day 4
For breakfast challenge, they built paper planes and the winner will be the one with the longest flight distance. The last order of the day was another design challenge and once again , the kids will do their programming on LEGO WeDo and test it out on their EV3.
 
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Day 5

The last design challenge for the camp was to build an amusement park for Tumanka and her friends which will be later presented and showcased to the parents at the end of the camp. Each kid will do a different park ride.  J chose to make a space-shot , which he proudly shown me how it works.

Other kids designed ferris wheel, carousel, roller coaster as part of the design challenge. J also brought me around showing me his team’s design of the bridge, school and the daily breakfast challenges. 
 
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Amusement park made of EV3

 
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J had so much fun with the camp and his new found friends, here with the course instructor receiving his completion certificate

showing how his spaceshot worked

If you are looking for something different (I know my boy woudn’t want a chinese oral and compo camp) and fun and yet give your child some basic foundations to problem solving skills and some preliminary exposure to coding and programming, this camp has a bit of everything to keep the child busy for 1 week of the school holidays.

There are 2 more weeks for the June holidays to fill so do check out the various camps that The Keys offer for the holidays.

For more information about the various camps, do click here. The below camps are left with limited spots.

  • CSI week of June 20-24th: Very limited spots
  • Silicon Valley 101 week of June 6-June 10th: Limited spots

For information on Design Innovation for your 7 year old, click here.

For those who cant afford the time to bring your child for a 5 day camp  but would like to get a flavour of their design and innovation camps, you can join their weekly parent and child workshop , do check their Facebook page for on-going workshops on Saturday or contact them at + 65 6734 8559 or email them at contact@thekeys.global.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. Photos during the drop off camp was mainly provided to me by The Keys.


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SeriousAboutPreschool.com – first of its kind enrichment centre portal for 0 to 6 years old

There was quite handful of enrichment centres in Singapore, ranging from music, Chinese, arts, right brain training etc. So when a parent decides on enrolling their child in an enrichment centre, often it is by recommendation or word of mouth. If not, it will be more like, just try, if no good then withdraw.

This is probably one of its kind portal in Singapore listing down an exhaustive list of enrichment centres in Singapore by genres for 0 to 6 years old. Besides that, it engages parents who have been to the centres to review it .

Before I go into the portal itself, mypreciouzkids were invited to the launch party held at Cool de Sac whereby seriousaboutpreschool.com invited 3 well known enrichment centres to give a taster/sampler of their programmes, namely Da Little, Julia Gabriel and Heguru.

Here are some photos of the launch party.

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fun with frame making by Da Little

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fun with frame making by Da Little

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completed with frame with instant photo print

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drama sampler by Julia Gabriel

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a taster of right brain training by Heguru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SeriousAboutPreschool.com is a portal whereby parents can search for preschool or enrichment centre by genre, age group and location. Thereafter , if the enrichment centre has been reviewed before you can click and view the comments.

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Parents who have reviewed the centres will be awarded points for each review. And the points can be redeemed for Port of Lost Wonder tickets, Polliwogs tickets and MUA kids iron on labels to name a few.

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Based on the reviews and ratings, SeriousAboutPreschool.com will be able to rank the enrichment centres by popularity and rating.

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This is a wonderful portal for first time parents or parents who are looking to the most suitable enrichment centre for their child. For parents who have tried some of the enrichment centres, they are able to share their experiences and be rewarded! Parents can register for free here.

Disclaimer: We were invited to join in this launch party. All opinions and photos are solely ours. 

 


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