Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lapbooking Classes

We are resuming highly popular Lapbooking workshops and classes soon!

Please hop over to From Tiny Acorns for details.

Testimonials from parents ....  

After Joshua attended his very first Lapbook class in April 2010, he announced that he was going to quit kindergarten and just attend Teacher Shirley's classes instead, as the class was so fun and interesting! I am constantly amazed at how Shirley's creative trans-displinary thematic methods spur critical thinking and enable learning in a completely natural, experiential and fun way for the children. Joshua greatly enjoys exploring the cross-linkages across different subject areas while being centred on the selected storybook themes and has blossomed in his confidence and thinking processes. I have often wished Shirley ran an actual kindergarten based on her approach and teaching methods, and would highly recommend this programme to any parent!" 
Elsie, mum of Joshua (6-year-old)

More parents' feedback here

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lapbook: The Carrot Seed (II)

This was one of the lapbooks I made with Chip when he was nearly 3 years old.

Lapbooking was the core of our homeschooling curriculum, hence we used to spend a good part of our homeschooling time on lapbooking activities.

It was never dull. To Chip, it was always exciting, interesting and unexpected. Now that he is 10, he still remembers the learning process with great fondness.

A few months ago, I made a Carrot Seed lapbook with Dolly too.

Not all activities are the same as the lapbook I made with Chip as Dolly was already older by the time we began.

However, the lapbooking activities were still trans-disciplinary and thematic, with themes that were related to the literature. For more on what trans-disciplinary thematic approach is and why it is so effective to promote accelerated learning, read this. 

We spent over 20 hours on this lapbook if I include the time for introducing each activity and coaching, discussions, experiments, crafts and games that I introduced to reinforce concepts and reading supplementary materials.

So these are actual active learning time that Dolly spent as she worked on the lapbooking activities with me, which excludes the countless hours of research, lesson planning and material preparation time that I spent prior to starting the lapbooking process with her.

Here is a quick look at the A4 sized lapbook, comprising 11 pages of activities.

In line with my lapbooking style, I prefer to present mini-books in such a way that the little hands and young minds can contribute in their biggest way. So I always opt for mini-books that require maximum input from the learners, hence emphasizing learning effectiveness over aesthetics. Where we can have both, why not?! But creating visually appealing mini-books is never a top priority.

Like all previous lapbooks, I covered a wide range of themes, taught across multiple disciplines to encourage Dolly to appreciate the relevance of what she was learning.

1. There was lots of exposure to Language Arts
- through 6 carefully selected rhymes and poetry
- expansion of vocabulary with the introduction of 20 Garden Words through various games to reinforce recognition, understanding of meanings and reading
- introduction of Letter C and V words, both related and non-related to themes, again through reading and games
- 6 sets of Rhyming Words (totaling 25 new words) to teach word families

2. Imagination, Story-telling and Presentation Skills
- plenty of opportunities to hone these crucial skills which I think are largely neglected, poorly taught and understood by parents and current preschool and primary school teachers.
- through games and guided activities, Dolly learnt to tap on her imagination to create, build and question. The goal is to constantly challenge her to step out of her comfort zone and to develop self-confidence in her abilities through her experience.

One of the Creative Imagination games we played this round required Dolly to create this Vegetable and Fruit Monsters with stickers.

3.  Math concepts focusing on the key operations and problem solving through manipulatives, stories and games (such as How Many?). She can now read problem sums (Help Pat with Math) and solve them verbally with ease.

4. A total of eight Science concepts were taught through rhymes, stories, games, experiments and pictorial representation. Science experiments on Life Cycle and Function of Plant Parts were carried out through a series of activities that promote reading, comprehension and listening skills.

5. Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills Games related to themes

6. Memory Games
- with Garden Words and Letter C words
- activities that strengthen Photographic Memory and Linking Memory
- with flashcards and stories

7. Plenty of meaningful copy-writing and Creative writing activities to strengthen language development and story-telling capability

8. Activities that train Critical Thinking skills such as Fruits or Vegetables? and Do You Know? that were first introduced as games, before they were added to the lapbook as mini-books with interactive elements and lastly reinforced with reading and questions.

As always, my focus is on inquiry-based learning and coaching Dolly to seek information by questioning. It is not about acquiring huge quantity of content or learning advanced concepts to be ahead of peers, though as part of the learning process, she does pick up tremendous amount of knowledge and deepen her understanding of concepts simply through her own inquiry, and guided by her curiosity.

Like I said often,

Give a child a question and he enquires for a day.
Teach a child how to question, and he enquires for a lifetime. 

We have embarked on our next lapbook which covers a set of very different themes from what we did in The Carrot Seed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two is Company

They talk non-stop to each other the moment they are together.

Be it in the car, at the dining table, as they are walking or even when they are just waiting for the lift...

These days, rare is the time when they would sit side by side, just reading quietly.

More often than not, they are discussing strategies or updating each other on their latest conquests in their online games.

Otherwise, they would tell each other jokes they heard that day or tease or banter.

Sometimes they end up giggling or laughing...

Other times, one of them ended up offended or hurt or in tears.

It is all great though .....

It is heartwarming to be around them, to witness all these moments.

I just hope that decades from now, they will remember all these growing up years in the comfort of home.


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