Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A little about the Superfood - Quinoa

For centuries rice has been a staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia.  I don't know about you but I love smelling steaming white rice, especially when I scope spoonfuls of braised meat sauce and drizzle all over it to eat with all the other dishes.  Rice tastes great when we cooked it in other ways too we can make them into fried rice, baked rice, risotto, casserole mmm~~ all my favourite kind of food!

However, in the recent years there is an increase of people substituting white rice with either brown rice, couscous, barley and the more popular one is Quinoa. 

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is a tiny grain (actually it is a seed of a leafy plant called Chenopodium quinoa) that is considered as complete food because it is high with protein, full of vitamins, is antioxidant, totally gluten plus it is wheat and cholesterol free.  That's not all, quinoa have other health benefits too, from aiding weight loss to lowers blood pressure, on top of tha because it has low GI or Glycaemic Index it is a beneficial food to diabetics patients as it helps to lower blood sugar.

Now, it is difficult for us to change our taste let alone a staple food in our diet, with loadful of health benefits or not.  However, I guarantee that you will love it after the first mouthful.  So, let's talk a little bit more about quinoa.

How does a quinoa look like?
Quinoa is a grain that is tiny and round with a find band around it and ending it with something that looks like a tail,  As it cooks this "tail" sort of spirals out and almost detaches itself and when it is cooked it retains a little bit of crunch thus giving it a unique texture.

This is an amazing part about quinoa - when the grain is cooked it expanded to almost four times of its original volume!

Quinoa varieties?
There are different varieties of quinoa, it is available in gran flake and flour form thus making it suitable for cooking in many different ways.

Colors of the quinoa?
Quinoa basically comes in three colors; white which is the more widely available and quickest to cook, red takes a longer time to cook and black that takes the longest and keeps most of its crunchy texture.

How does quinoa taste like?
Cooked quinoa has a very distinctive nutty taste and appearance which makes them stands out from other grains.

How to prepare quinoa for cooking?
Due to the arid climate that it is grown in, quinoa seeds developed a coating of naturally-forming chemicals known as saponins to protect itself from the harsh elements. This coating leaves a bitter residue that is not easy on the palate.  Even though store bought quinoa are pre-washed with the saponins are already removed, it is still a good idea to rinse it thoroughly before cooking by placing the seeds in a strainer, and running cold water over the seeds while gently rubbing them together with your hands to remove any residue of saponins.

How to cook quinoa?
As shown in the infographic above it's 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.   You can cook the quinoa using the rice cooker, this is the less fussy way.  However if you are like me, who likes to watch my food being cooked, you can cook them over the stove too.

Start by adding water to the quinoa in a pot and bring it to boil over high heat, turn down the fire to let it simmer till all water has been absorbed, this will take probably about 10-12 minutes. When it is cooked you will notice that the quinoa becomes sort of translucent, and the detached white germs appear to be white-spiraled strands.  After it is cooked, cover the pot to let the quinoa rest for 5 -10 minutes before fluffing it, this will ensure it is softer and fluffier.

Quinoa works brilliantly with spices such as cumin, coriander and paprika, for easy flavouring add a pinch while the quinoa is cooking, if you don't have these spices then add a pinch of kosher salt instead.

I recently tasted quinoa and I love it so much!  I did not have "white-steaming-rice" withdrawal syndrome and felt as much tummy-satisfied as having white rice.  I went a step further by asking Mummy Edlyn to help me buy a small packet of red quinoa from Australia because it cost slightly lesser over there.  She was so nice to lugged 2 packets for Mummy Christy and myself. 

Though I am keen to continue eating this superfood I am still not sure how best to cook it so that it is both tasty and flavorful.  It will be great if I am able to make them into dishes that are so delicious that I can win the boys over to my side of the fence thus giving up on white rice!  For my first step I have set up a pinterest board DinoMama's Collection of Quinoa Recipes so that I can try out the recipes and hopefully accomplished my goal of substituting white rice completely with quinoa. 

After reading about the wonderful benefits of quinoa, are you interested or excited to start a journey to include them in your diet?  Join me in this journey then!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tackle Primary 5 SA1 like a Boss

A couple of days ago someone asked me online; actually it was a P6 boy *smile*, "What are your expectations for him (for SA1)?" and I replied that I have no expectations which is the truth.

This is because much like what was expected when a child enters Primary 3, there will be a drastic change in their academic achievements in Primary 5 but the difference will be greater as the level of difficulty for each subject went a few notches higher.  Instead of being graded against a full marks of 20, this year it will be against 40 which means that marking will be more stringent as they (God knows who?!?!) thinks that at this stage the 11 year olds are able to demonstrate higher-order thinking (what in the world is that!??!) and to analyse the questions in depth so that they can give a "solid solid" (dialect slang) answer thus earning them full marks.  Woah!  I get dizzy just by typing this out, what ever happened to "one plus one equals two"?  Higher thinking??? In depth analysis??? Are we still talking about a Primary school student???

Having said that, all is not lost... that is IF your child's foundation is strong, otherwise they really really have buck up and to put in a lot of effort this year in order to catch up with their peers.

No joke about that!  With Maths problem sums getting lengthier and trickier (see below an example of Maths problem sum and you will see why the child needs Higher Order thinking), Science covers Primary 3 to Primary 5 syllabus plus the questions involves more than one concept (I guess here's where the "In depth Analysis" comes in), English Cloze Comprehension passage with no helping words and we haven't even talk about Chinese, which is a killer to most students.  I'll be happy if the boy don't flunk any of the subject this time!

A friend shared this P5 Maths question with me
If you read my earlier post We Survived P5 Term One you will know that the boy has tons of homework daily.  It did not stop nor did the load get lesser during the exam weeks, it's like the teachers are out on a vengeance to either kill the child's passion for learning or to drain their energy out so they all look like zombies from The Walking Dead.

And because of that it leaves us with practically no time to do any revision.  What ever posts you've seen in my instagram for our #30minrevision were what we did.  The last revision we had was in mid April, 2 weeks plus before the 1st SA1 paper . Can you feel the level of my anxiety going up?

Since his school does not have CA1 or Continuous Assessment 1, I still do not know how he is faring in Primary 5 which makes it a nail-biting wait till end of May to see his SA1 results.  Anxiety level going further upwards... I think I have chewed off all my fingernails!

The reality is that there is nothing this Mama can do except venting her frustrations and unhappiness as she stomps around the house ranting about not able to do revision, scolding the boy for taking forever to finish his homework and getting into every one's nerves.  DinoPapa has full confidence that the boy knows his work and will be able to score well in the exam, he failed to pass some of his confidence to me *sigh*

There are no yardstick for me to compare with or set as a target for him to achieve, so how can I have any Expectations?

Well, despite my stress and roaring "Time NOT Enough", the world still continue to revolve with the boy being oblivious about the VERY IMPORTANT exam that is drawing near!  While most of the kids are putting in efforts into their study, revising and doing assessment books during the weekends, he did not do the same, instead he read and re-read his story books, request to play games on the iPad or watch tv.  Don't get me wrong, I did force him to study but all I receive are Justice Bao's face or lackluster attitude which irks the hell out of me!  The most heart breaking moments was he had a major meltdown, he threw his books, broke his pen and wailed... he was feeling so overwhelmed, so so tired and drained!

So we told him that if he is confident that his work is ok and no additional revision is required than we shall stop doing that BUT he has to bear all the consequences when SA1 results are released.  He happily agreed with a sigh of great relieve definitely and this is what he has been doing since days before the exam weeks.

However the Mum the Worry Wort kicked in on the 2nd week and I gently told him to revise his Maths, go through the Maths textbooks and worksheets to refresh his memory, ensure that he realized his mistakes he made and ensure that he knows the correct solution/method so that he will not make the same mistakes again.  Surprisingly, he turned off the tv immediately and went off to study, no tantrums no stomping off behaviour.

Hide in air con room, made himself comfy and study
Yes, I do not have any expectations for the boy because there are so many factors that obstructs our route to our desired goals.  I just hope that the teachers have done enough to prepare him and the rest of the class for the exam. 

Today is the last day of SA1, the boy is exceptionally chirpy, he laughed more, joked more and walked with a skip, he even went to bed happily.  This is what I love to see in my 11 year old.  This should be the way he feels and behaves every day, this should be how every single kids should be every single day!

So while he sleeps peacefully (smiling in his dreams I bet!), I awaits for the day when SA1 results are being released and hope that I will not have a heart attack.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cold Storage Kids Run 10th Anniversary!

Cold Storage Kids Run is back and this year is a BIG event for them because its their 10th Anniversary!  We have only participated in the past 2 year's run and are really happy that we will be part of this special event.  And a special year calls for a special Finisher's Medal, I am sure DinoBoy will be jumping with joy to hang this with his other 2 Cold Storage Kids Run medals.

This year's event will be happening at Palawan Green, Sentosa on Sunday 28 May 2017 from 7.15am to 12pm.  We have been running at Palawan Green a few times on other family fun run events so we are no stranger to this place.  

Race Categories

The race categories are the same this year but this year up to 2 parents per child to run with the child together, allowing the whole family to the experience of running and finishing with your child.

Look at the things they are giving the kids!  Check out the entitlements of other participants and the goodie bag items over here.

Child Entitlements
  • Limited Edition Cold Storage Kids Run 10th Anniversary Compressport Tee
  • Limited Edition Cold Storage Kids Run Bag
  • Exclusive Cold Storage Kids Run Finisher’s Medal
  • Limited Edition Cold Storage Kids Run Fan
  • Limited Edition Cold Storage Kids Run Water Bottle
  • Finisher Race Certificate*
  • Fantastic Sentosa Offers and Vouchers
  • Free Admission Into Sentosa
More Great Deals for Us!
To complete our Sentosa experience, Cold Storage Kids Run has added on other discounts for attractions and F&B for us to enjoy the whole day!  Simply show your race bibs or vouchers on race day to enjoy the discounts.  Woohoo!!!  Check out the deals over here.

Stay tuned for the race route, individual category's flag off time and latest news at their facebook.

We'll see you at the run~ Do say Hi! if you spot us~

Disclaimer : We are in no way affiliated to the staffs and management of Cold Storage or Enterprise Sports Group. We were invited to participate the Cold Storage Kids Run 2017, our registration fee was waived for the purpose of this post. No other form of compensation was received.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Our Effective Ways of Learning Chinese

For someone who is proud to be bilingual, I must admit that I failed to pass on this trait to DinoBoy, it was my greatest regret that I did not expose him enough to this beautiful language when he was a baby.  I didn't think much when he prefers English story books over the Chinese story books, I didn't want to force him so I decided to leave it to him and kept thinking that ONE DAY he'll pick up a Chinese story book without hesitation.  That day of course did not come and till today he still refuse to pick one up to read unless I forced him to do so.

Well, as expected we struggled with DinoBoy's Chinese when he entered Primary 1, you can read about it from the post we wrote here back then, I tried to make him like and appreciate Chinese but it proved to be really challenging.  To me, learning Chinese comes easy for me as I mastered them through my extensive reading of Chinese story books and novels, but since this is not the way with him, I have to find some other ways that works for him.

Due to our financial commitments we couldn't afford tuition so we have to tackle this "problem" on our own.  We've tried so many methods and ways these past 4 years to revise or improve his Chinese, most of the time it ended up with some scolding from me and temper flaring by both of us.  Miraculously he managed to pass the subject with above the average marks.  Thank goodness we learned from our mistakes and today I can safely say that learning Chinese is much easier than before.

We know many of you also faces the same challenges as us and we are glad to share our experience and methods with you.  This is only a guideline, may not work for your child so you just have to tweak it or choose the method(s) that fits.

#1 Online Dictionary
When he was in Primary 4, I made him do assessment book assignments daily, but I realized that he got many of the questions wrong and some were even easy questions!  That's when it hit me that his Chinese language foundation is really not as good as I thought they were.  Upon checking with Dinoboy, he told me that he couldn't understand the questions, he could pronounce the words but when they come together to form a sentence or phrase he is clueless and is lost.  Now it makes me wonder how in the world did he manage to past the Chinese exams all these years...

Since his English is stronger than Chinese, I needed something that can translate Chinese words or phrase into English as accurately as possible and in simple words so that he can understand it's meaning easily.  A search on the web and leads me to a user friendly dictionary apps -  LINE Chinese-English Dictionary, they have both the web version and also apps version for Andriod or iOS smart phone.

The app looks simple and have minimum but clear options in the menu bar, we are mainly using the dictionary section but I do encourage you to explore the other section of the apps.  When you are at the main page you can immediately start looking up words by tapping onto the clear space on top of the screen and proceed with keying in the Chinese alphabet or hanyupinyin to find the word.  If you don't know how to pronounce the word, have no fear, all you need to do is simply call out the writing pad by clicking on the pen icon (see orange arrow in photo below) then proceed to write the character on it.  The apps will proceed to suggest a few examples of words that are close to the Chinese alphabet or  hanyupinyin or word you have entered, choose the one that you want and out pops every thing about this word from definition down to the video showing the correct stroke order.

DinoBoy relies heavily on this app when he is doing Chinese homework but I am not too worried that he will be over reliant on it as this app has helped him to find out the meaning of words in shorter time as compared to using the physical dictionary.  He is able to understand the passage or questions thus takes a shorter time to complete his work on his own without waiting for me to come home to do with him.

#2 Chinese E-dictionary
Students are allowed to use Chinese E-dictionary or Electronic Dictionary during school days and also during Chinese composition tests & exam.  There is a list of approved Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Dictionary and E-dictionary by Ministry of Education (MOE), click to see the list.

Since last year, we have used two E-dictionary; the BESTA All Pass 2 and Creative's HansVision PX2131, we prefer the latter because it has a back light for the screen, without this it is difficult to see the words clearly and effortlessly.  Even though HansVision has smaller screen than BESTA but it is also the writing pad which means it has a bigger writing area than BESTA and for the kids to scribble the words.  E-dictionary does not have a speaker outlet so you can only use an earpiece to listen to the pronunciation of words, we find that BESTA's volume control quite limited and the highest volume is too soft and if the surrounding area is kinda of noisy we can't hear the words clearly.  HansVision on the other hand has an higher range of adjustable volume and the words are pronounced more clearly.

These pocket sized E-Dictionary is almost similar with Online Dictionary with the exception that it does not translate the words or phrase in English and that is the reason why we are using them concurrently.

#3 Word Bank Book
I remember when I was a little girl, my primary school's Principal told me to read more books and keep a Word Bank Book with all the words I came across that is unfamiliar to me.  I diligently entered the words in the book together with its meaning for a year plus, showing the book to my Principal weekly.  I seriously think that is how my English language foundation was laid.

Since it has helped me tremendously I am using the same method with DinoBoy with hope of helping him recognize and understand more Chinese words.

When does he writes on his Word Bank Book?  Well, basically whenever he has to do Chinese work, it could be school's homework or assessment assigned by me or story books that I wanted him to read that afternoon on his own.  We will go through both the work and the list where I will further explain to him the meaning, usage of words/phrase/Chinese idioms in the list.

It can take a longer time to finish a piece of home work because looking up words and writing the meaning requires time and if he has many words that he is unsure or does not recognize, it can take up about 30 mins to finish writing them down in the book.  However, by doing so he is learning the words and doing his work at the same time which in turn enable him to complete his work with lesser errors.

#4 Story Books
I have been reading Chinese story books to DinoBoy not on a regular basis for years with hopes of igniting his interest or love of the language.  Two years ago I started a few blog posts sharing the books that I read to him - DinoBoy Chinese story books recommendation, but I have stopped writing about the books because I can't find time to do it and later on we don't even have the luxury of reading books together.

I was determined to keep exposing him to Chinese story books and since he has displayed that he is disciplined enough to finish the assessment assignments I laid down for him, I decided to include reading of Chinese story books as one of the tasks too.

Given the fact that his grasp of the language is not as strong as his peers, we are reading books that are for younger kids.  These are illustration books with words that ranges from minimum 2 or 3 sentences to a huge chunk of paragraph in a page.  Below are some example of books we are reading now, you can see that they have different level of "difficulty".

This is not a simple story book reading task, which I know he will probably skip many words he can't identify and/or flip through the pages.  I told him that at his 1st attempt to read the book, he will encounter words that is unfamiliar to him, so he has to enter them into his Word Bank Book.  Later that night we will read the book again together during our #30minrevision, we will discuss about the story and at the same time I will identify some useful phrases or point out Chinese Idioms he has missed out earlier for him to add on to his Word Bank.  And because we are only using 30 minutes to do this, sometimes a book will take 2 blocks of #30minrevision to finish.

#5 Speak more Mandarin

Image Credit

Remember this slogan back in 2011?  A campaign by our government to encourage our citizen to speak more Mandarin?  Well, they are not wrong because there isn't any better way to learn or improve a language than to use it every day!

I know how you will cringe and frown when your kid tries to converse in Mandarin initially but do that internally (hahaha!) so that you will not hurt their feeling.  Do teach them the correct way of phrasing a sentence or correct their pronunciation in a positive way, don't forget to give them loads of encouragement and praise them for trying.

So start speaking Mandarin to your kids and learn this beautiful language together!

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This is the 2nd year we are using the above methods on our Chinese learning journey, we weren't disciplined enough last year but after seeing some improvement in his Chinese, we are determined to keep on doing this with hopes of pulling up his Chinese grades a little bit higher this year.  Let's all GANBATTE and conquer Chinese one day!

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We will be sharing a series of studying tips in our blog periodically, look out for our tag Primary 5 Journey.  Here are what some of my capable and resourceful mummies are doing to support their kids;

  • For PSLE kid, hop by to Kids 'R' Simple and catch Mama Christy's PSLE Series posts. 
  • If you are looking for extra resources to engage your child in learning or tips on handling school work, head over to Mama Sue's Primary School posts. 
  • To get great tip on studying guides for all primary levels, hop by to Universal Scribbles and read Mama Meiling's useful Study Skills posts.

Remember to follow us on instagram din0mama and kidsrsimple to catch snippets of our daily #30minrevision with our kids.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review on The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice 2017

We went for The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice 2017 and even though it was not up to my expectation I still love every bit of it!

This year's The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice brought us down memory lane in colorful celebration of magic, spirit and family fun. Besides The Little Mermaid, Tangled and Frozen from last year, there were new acts included too. 

Here's sharing what we love about this year's performance.

PS : In my excitement, I have accidentally switched the microphone off thus some of the videos in this post has NO SOUND!  Bummer I know! 

Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald
I caught myself screaming when Mickey & Minnie came onto stage!  They are so adorable, don't you agree?  Like all previous shows, they are the main narrator for the show and this year they brought along with them a book that has ALL the Disney stories in it.  As they flipped the pages, they gave clues on the story that they were going to show, and the clever audiences got all the answer correct!  

While this couple are loving and sweet, the other 2; Goofy and Donald, brings laughter, fun and comical moments whenever they are on stage.  

Lion King
I love the props and costumes in this segment, you should see how they dress up as a giraffe, with its long neck and long legs.  The segment where Simba dances with Nala was so romantic and graceful~

I was fidgeting with my camera and did not managed to capture many good photos of Lion King performance but I thought this photo looks cool, sure looks like a herd of kudu running around the rink eh?

Well, no magic carpet ride performance this time but Genie steal the show that night with his wittiness, humorous jokes and his flamboyant personality.  Did you know that Disney created Genie with Robin Williams in mind?  Well, you see the resemblance between the two.

I didn't want to take my eyes off the performance taking photo so I decided to record part of it, this grand entrance by Aladdin after Genie turned him into a Prince with his troupe of  guards, slaves and lady in waiting to meet Jasmine.  Stay till the end to watch the HUGE Elephant that Aladdin was riding.  I wonder how that Elephant managed to skates without falling on fours.

Toy Story
I wasn't a great Toy Story fan, in fact I was traumatized by Sid's mutated toys, that is because I didn't like to play with Barbie or any doll when I was young coz I thought they look creepy, Sid just made this creepiness visual to me and I really couldn't take it.

Having said that one character did steal my heart and its Buzz Lightyear. I like that he is always so full of energy, so brave and courageous. And he takes his job as a space ranger seriously, just like a real life astronaut

"To infinity and beyond!"

Finding Dory
Between Nemo and Dory story, I prefer Dory's adventure because it has so much excitement & thrill injected in it, and then there were toughing moments that she found paths of shells at the seabed near Marine Life Institute and got united with her parents.  Much as I love the story, I would prefer the production team gave it more performance time and perhaps more props.  The fishes looked so lonely and out of place in a big stage with minimum or no props.  Kinda difficult to catch the audience's attention for long.

This year Frozen is the grand finale again, I think because it was and still is such a hit with the young and old it was given a longer performance time.  There were no Sven though which is disappointment, I mean what is Kristoff without Sven?  The Frozen performance is mostly the same as last year though shorter version, I enjoyed it very much.  I was mesmerized by stage prop for Elsa's castle.  The sheer curtain on top gives some magical effects that were better than last years.

Princes and Princesses
I am not sure about others but what caught my heart that day was seeing all the Disney Princes and Princesses waltzing out to the stage and dancing!  Since I can't afford to fly to Disneyland to see them, it's like a dream come true for me to see all of them at the same time!

The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice performance has ended last weekend but we are already looking forward to next year's show!

Disclaimer : We received complimentary tickets to watch The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice 2017 in return for this post. All photos & videos in this post unless otherwise staged, belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not take it for personal use without out permission. All opinion in this post are 100% ours based on our experience during the show.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SRT Presents A Peter Rabbit Tale

Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company is currently staging A Peter Rabbit Tale, based on the beloved children’s classic by Beatrix Potter, until 14 April 2017

Somebody stop that rabbit!

Peter causes nothing but trouble with his constant mischief, but when he breaks the rules and steals from Mr McGregor’s garden, he knows he’s gone too far. Afraid of what his mother might say, the only option for this little fugitive is to leave his warm rabbit hole and run away into the big world.

Peter goes on a musical adventure of new places and new faces as he discovers the importance of family and the wonderful freedom of being yourself.

This play teaches children the importance of family and to cherish their loved ones.

A Peter Rabbit Tale is based on the bellowed children’s classic by Beatrix Potter and beautifully reimagined by Sarah Brandt.

Event Date
Fri, 24 Feb - Fri, 14 Apr 2017

Show Time
Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm
Weekdays : 10am

Event Venue
KC Arts Centre Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre
(Formerly Known as DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT)
20 Merbau Road
Robertson Quay
Singapore 239035

Ticket Pricing
(Excludes Booking Fee)
Standard: S$28, S$25

Family Package of 4: S$95 for Cat 1 tickets
Family Package of 4 (with TLC CD Vol.2): S$107 for Cat 1 tickets

Weekends (Sat & Public Holiday)
Standard: S$48, S$38, S$35

Family Package of 4:
Cat 1 (with photo taking)*: $163
Cat 2 (no photo taking): $129

Family Package of 4 (with TLC CD Vol.2):
Cat 1 (with photo taking)*: $175
Cat 2 (no photo taking): $141

*Ticket includes a photo taking session with the cast in costume.
(Applicable for Weekend show only.)


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Giveaway Details

Prize : Family Package for 4 to show on 1st of April, Saturday 11 am show
Contest Ends : 27 March 2017 @ 2359hrs
Open : Singapore
How to Enter :
1. By using the Rafflecopter widget below and remember to answer the question by commenting on blog post too.
Terms and conditions of giveaway are as follow:
- To avoid being disqualified without prior notice for the giveaway, please read carefully the following and fulfill ALL the requirements stated.
- Winners will be notified via email, please ensure you have provided a valid email.
- Winners will have 24 hours to respond by replying to our notification otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
- Prizes will be given out by sponsor.
- Only one winner per household.
- This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer : We were invited to watch the play for the purpose of this post. No other compensation was received.

Monday, March 20, 2017

We Survived P5 Term 1, YAY!

Some of you have read in my facebook page about the amount of school work we have been dealing with since the start of this year, here's what been keeping the whole family on the toes with no chance of relaxing.  I wasn't joking when I told a friend that it sure feels like WE are going to school instead of the boy.

Before the P5 days starts
We have been warned by friends and DinoBoy's P4 teachers that there will be a huge difference between P4 and P5, like the content of subjects will be more in depth and requires more analyzing and logical thinking.  One of the "known" set back that was highlighted to all P5-to-be-parents is that some students who fared well in previous years may find themselves getting red marks in certain subject(s) during the CA1 (Continual Assessment 1).  Well, knowing this and actually be the "unlucky one" at the receiving end will still strike both parent and child, hard in some cases.

"Haunting" by MTL Teacher
DinoBoy has always been a Band 2 student for most of his subjects, which is perfectly fine with us, we are not worried about his schoolwork so long he don't flunk the subject, we thought we could stay relaxed for this year but OH~ NOOO~~~ the school would not let us have that luxury.

I am no stranger to receiving calls and emails from DinoBoy's teachers but that was mainly on his behavior in school or that he got into serious trouble on that particular day.  This year, when his Mother Tongue Language (MTL) - Chinese teacher sent the following letter to us within days of the new school term.  I thought nothing of it "Just another school's letter" I told myself, I was wrong...

by the end of the same week I was suddenly added to a WhatsApp chat group with the following message;

"Ok lah, the teacher said no need to reply so I probably don't need to pay much attention to it" I thought. Wrong again! Everyday, from Monday to Friday at around 11am I will hear the familiar WhatsApp notification sound telling me that MTL teacher had just texted us, listing out the homework that she has given out to the kids AND which student forgot to bring which study material or who has not handed in his/her homework.

Wah! Stress sia! I wasn't ready for such "on the ball" teacher nor used to this kind of communication style.  I have heard friends telling me their WhatsApp chats with their kid's teachers, some even have WhatsApp groups with fellow parents (OMG!) but I told myself that I will NEVER get myself into that kind of chat groups, too stressful and way too drama (by the parents of course).  Apparently the choice is not mine to be made this time...

Later I learned that this teacher is the Head of Department - Mother Tongue Language, Ah~ no wonder she is micro managing the students!  I guess as the HOD you have to ensure that the MTL results are always good with no chance of falling near or worse, below last year's result.  And as Chinese is a challenging language to most students, extra efforts have to be put in to ensure that the students does not fail and pull down the school's overall Chinese standard are being pushed to show their utmost potential and score great marks during the exams.

Having said that, I have come to appreciate the teacher's effort as the weeks goes by.  Her daily message(s) made me check on DinoBoy's homework and coach him when he made a mistake.  Also, last month DinoBoy suddenly started to converse with me in Mandarin! I was curious at this sudden change and I asked him, of course he said he "wanted to start using the language so that he can improve it." but a check with the teacher revealed that she was the one who threw the challenge to him so as to improve his Chinese and he took it up.  Frankly, what's not to like about such a passionate teacher?

The Spelling Lists
Spelling has "evolved" into something that I would roll my eyes at every time I look at them.  Instead of words, now they have short phrases or idioms and short sentences WITH dictation (the asterisk in the English list is the dictation).

English spelling has always been "chicken feet" to DinoBoy, thanks to the phonics he learned during his kindergarten days.  The amazing thing is that he only need to take a look at the list, 15 mins later and it is done.  We can keep the list and go forward to do other stuffs.

On the other hand with Chinese spelling, it is more challenging, the list has to be tackled according to the sections and learn on separate days.  The hardest part is to memorize dictation, which always causes distress to DinoBoy, sometimes he is so tired after a long day in school that his brain shuts down when he is home.  On such days we have to skip learning till the next day, luckily we always managed to get it done a day before the actual spelling day.

Why are we so persistent in ensuring that DinoBoy is able to do the spelling? We could just forget about this since it is not a test nor does it contribute to the exam score at the end of the year.  Well, read on and you will understand...

Supplementary Classes & CCA
Out of the 5 days week, DinoBoy is only able to come home early on ONE day around 1.45pm coz school ends at 1.30pm.  Other days will be occupied with 2 days of supplementary classes, CCA on 1 day and as he is in the school team it means another day for the team to train for performances and competitions. 

Even though it has always been like this since P2 but this year, the classroom activities and learning has increased significantly, by the time he reaches home after the supplementary classes and CCA he had already spent 9 hours in school!  I mean, he is seriously mentally and physically drained!  According to DinoPapa, DinoBoy will laze on the sofa for as long as 30 mins before heading off to shower.  In case you are wondering, no rest for him after that too!  

some one clearly is not keen about supplementary classes too

Now, the reason why we are breathing down his neck on Chinese spelling is because the teacher will keep students back after school to test spelling again if they fail badly during the actual test.  Sometimes she will get those students who did not do their corrections or hand in their homework despite numerous reminders to stay back too.  Seeing how tired he is every day, we didn't want DinoBoy to stay in the school any longer than required thus we have to take part of responsibility to ensure that such thing will not happen.

Home work
When I reached home around 630pm, this is the scene I will see almost every weekday as I open the gate - DinoBoy sitting at his study table trying to finish up the mountain of homework, 1.5 hours after he sat down at the table.

How much homework exactly does he have daily?  Well, from the MTL chat group WhatsApp screenshot I shared above, you know that he has Chinese homework daily without fail, so far he does not have Science homework and very minimum for English but a fair bit for Maths.

2 subjects, should be manageable right?  WRONG!

The Chinese teacher assigned at least 2 home work daily; either copying phrase or words they learned from textbook, or 3-4 pages from workbook, or from the magazine 新列车.  Maths home work is at least 5 pages of worksheets that require detailed working such as problem sums; sorry no MCQ homework for them.

On the average its 4 pages of work for both subjects that requires reading, understanding and writing, that can take up to 2 hours easily!  And on days where DinoBoy does not know how to do the homework, he has to wait till after dinner before I can sit down with him to go through them.

Well, some one's not too thrill about homework too

THEN there are days like this which makes me lose any tiny bit of  faith with our education system.  How is it productive or beneficial to a child who has to do so many home work, sometimes late into the night AND yet be able to get ample rest for the mind and body so that they are ready for the next day's challenge?  Mind you, this is DinoBoy, who is not attending any enrichment class nor tuition so he has the whole later half of the afternoon free to do his homework.  And yet, time is still not enough!  I shudder to think about those kids who have to go for tuition on weekdays and the struggle they are going through to manage both school and tuition work.

YES! We survived but...
Well, ranting, stomping of feet, tearing or pulling out of hair aside, let's face it, the situation is as what it is and we cannot change anything except to adapt and conquer.  I have learned to make some changes on the expectations for both DinoBoy and myself, I understand that there is no way he could withstand the amount of work load without having us to support him both physically and emotionally.

Our Major Concern on the boy
One major concern that I wish to highlight here is Stress.  Kids handle stress in their own unique way and as a parent we really have to keep a close watch on our kids to catch any little thing that shows that they are under too much stress and pressure.

DinoBoy has a high level of stress endurance but he needs to release them eventually and the last time he did a year ago, it was explosive.  The teacher was giving out home work when he suddenly screamed in class, keep repeating that he has "no time to do homework and assessment!".  He totally lost it and was unconscionable.  A scary image formed in my mind while the teacher recounted the whole incident to me over the phone, imagine what the teacher faced at that moment?  It would be a traumatized incident for both the teacher and the classmates!

That same thing happened within the first month of P5, we were just glad that it happened at home instead of in school.  We allowed him to go through the whole process of releasing his anger and pent up frustration, allowed him to bawl his eyes out for as long as he needed.  After he had calmed down, we managed to talk about his feelings and emotions, sorted out how best to deal with the school work.  Most importantly I told him that "We will always be here to help and support you."

The Still-to-be-Ironed-out Issues
There are a couple of things that irks and exasperates me!  Despite numerous effort to ensure things goes well smoothly, it simply just did not!

Issue #1 - Writing down homework
DinoBoy did not write down his homework for that day in his Student's Comm Book, resulting in him forgetting to do them or only remember it just before bedtime.  It wasn't entirely his fault, it's because he has to shuttle between classes for different subjects so once the lesson is up every one's busy packing and scampering to the next classroom.

Solution - Pagemarkers to the rescue!
After seeking advise from friends I decided to try the pagemarkers.  I bought a big pack from Daiso and put them in his pencil case so that he could simply just stick one onto the homework page.  The vibrant color makes it difficult to miss out while unpacking the bag.  We only started to use this method 2 weeks before school term break, it seems to be working at that time but I think it takes time for DinoBoy to cultivate the habit of sticking them BEFORE rushing off to the next class.

DinoBoy's verdict -  "its a GREAT IDEA!"

Issue #2 - Revision Time
P5 is a crucial year, a preparation year for next year's PSLE or Primary School Leaving Examination, I have bought the assessment books during BookFest 2016 and was eager to let DinoBoy start on them.  However we weren't able to do so because of the school work load, by the time he finishes his homework he don't have time to finish any assessment assignment.

Solution - #30minrevision to the rescue!
This was originally shared by Mama Christy from Kids 'R' Simple, she did bite size 30 mins revision with her girl and it worked well!  So I am following her foot steps to do this daily after dinner, 30 mins, no more nor lesser than that.  We will be sharing more about this later but do find snippets of our revision with our kids in Instagram with hashtag #30minrevision.

DinoBoy's verdict - He likes that it only lasted 30 mins, not too short but long enough for him to finish a section of assignment.  He feels that night time is more relaxed and he can sleep better too.

Yes, we survived P5 Term 1 but not without sustaining some bruises and cuts, we will take this as a learning period to better ourselves in order to breeze through the rest of the year effortlessly.

I always remember to tell Dinoboy this after our hugs and kisses at the school gate.

*** *** *** *** ***

We will be sharing a series of studying tips in our blog periodically, look out for our tag Primary 5 Journey.  Here are what some of my capable and resourceful mummies are doing to support their kids;

  • For PSLE kid, hop by to Kids 'R' Simple and catch Mama Christy's PSLE Series posts. 
  • If you are looking for extra resources to engage your child in learning or tips on handling school work, head over to Mama Sue's Primary School posts. 
  • To get great tip on studying guides for all primary levels, hop by to Universal Scribbles and read Mama Meiling's useful Study Skills posts.

Remember to follow us on instagram din0mama and kidsrsimple to catch snippets of our daily #30minrevision with our kids.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

First DreamWorks Day 2017 in Asia!

A boy, a moon and a fishing rod.  If you thought of DreamWorks, then surprise! Not because you got it correct but even better, because DreamWorks Day is coming your way this June Holidays!  What's DreamWorks Day you ask?  Only one of the most memorable and fun filled days of your life that's going to be filled with smiles and laughter!

If you like DreamWorks movie characters as much as we do, be sure to catch them with your family for the first time every in Singapore during the June 2017 school holiday!

Join Kung Fu Panda as he pursues his dream of being the dragon warrior, Shrek as he adventures with his companions, Hiccup and Toothless as they soar through the skies, Alex and friends as they work together to survive the wild.

Events Details
Date: 24th June 2017, Saturday
Venue: Gardens By The Bay, Bay East Gardens
Time: 16:00hrs – 20:00hrs

Categories & Entitlement 

DreamWorks Day is all about FUN for every one in the family~ With a variety packages offered, choose between attending a run  and a carnival or just the carnival alone!

Receive an event t-shirt and a temporary tattoo when you sign up for any of the packages, and an addition SGD10 worth of carnival coupons if it's only for the carnival.


To Register

So if you are ready for an unforgettable day of fun with DreamWorks Family, register now at DreamWorks Day website here.

Promo Code

For all DreamWorks fans out there, here's a great news for you!  Enjoy 10% off for DreamWorks Day 800km  Kids Dash or 5km Fun Run when you enter the code "DWXDINOFAMILY" upon check out.  Hurry now because the code is only valid till 26 May 2017. *Terms & condition apply*

Be sure to keep an eye out for your favourite dragons which are joining us in person!  See you there at DreamWorks Day 2017!

Psstt... spot us with our very own dragons on that day!

Disclaimer : We were given 2 complimentary race for the purpose of the pre-event shout out. All photos in this post are created by DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise stated, you may not use it without permission.