Overcoming Fear – Weeeee

It was El’s friend’s 4th birthday party. It was held at Amazonia, an indoor playground at Great World City. He was a little uncertain about going up, so I went along with him. There was a giant slide, about two to three storeys high, and we climbed up together. When he reached the top, he froze, and did not want to go down the slide. He refused to play. When he saw his classmates, he called out to them softly and told them that it was dangerous. However, they ignored him and simply went down the slide.

ball pit

playing in the ball pit

I tried to get him to climb the other places, but certain areas were just nettings, and he must have been paralysed by his fear of heights, and he simply did not want to play. He spent most of his time in the ball pit area, and playing with his brother at the area for 3 years and below.

I tried to go down the slide with him. It was actually quite dangerous to go down the slide together, as I had read before that more accidents happen when an adult went down the slide together with the child. However, he had to be persuaded a few times before he did that.

Two months later, I brought him to the same place. This time round, he refused to explore the place, and he spent most of his time at the young children area. For more than 1.5 hours, he did not play at other places. Finally, we accompanied him again on the slide. This time round, I asked him to go down first, while I held back. He managed to slide down a little. I quickly went to the slide beside him, and slid down, waving at him. When he realised that he had actually slid down on his own, it was as if he was being released from a cage. He continued down on his own. It helped that we were wearing jeans, so the friction slowed us down, and it was not that scary. When we reviewed a video of them going down the slide, I noticed that El engaged in dangerous behaviour by switching lanes midway.

Going down a giant slide

Going down a giant slide

Subsequently, he kept going down the slide. Even Gar wanted to go on the big slide, and his father accompanied Gar. From totally unwilling to can’t wait to have more fun, it was time to go. He had to be persuaded to leave.

We really need to expose our children more, and get them to take chances more often instead of being scared of everything.

Educational Toys and Books from Flea Market

A flea market was held recently at my estate. The residents set up stalls and sold their old stuff. Some had spent too much on online clothing sites, and are clearing their never-been-worn dresses at ridiculous prices, while others sold their children’s old stuff. I picked up quite a number of children’s educational items.

flea market educational toys and books

flea market educational toys and books

I picked up What Comes Next?, a series of pictures showing actions. This is good for young children to learn about sequence, and cause and effect. El opened it up and started arranging them in sequence. Then, I asked him to tell me verbally what took place. In a sequence example, it is about mailing a letter. First, the girl writes a letter. Then she puts it into an envelope. Finally, she mails the letter. If you want, you can also use it to teach imperatives. Write a letter. Put it into an envelope. Put it into the mailbox. It was funny because I had recently asked my Secondary One (seventh grade) students to write out these steps using imperatives. Of course, they had to be more detailed than what you would expect from a young child, although if you could demonstrate how to do so, your child should not have any problem. Other picture sets on cause and effect included planting a seed, watering it, and seeing it grow and bloom. I also got him to describe the other items seen in the picture. The good thing about these cards is that you can practise in any language. Apart from English, I used Mandarin too.

The other educational cards that I had were Fun with Opposites with Baby Looney Tunes pictures. They were jigsaw like in appearance, with two cards interlocking each other. Some of them included ‘Near/Far’, and ‘Hot/Cold’. For those who are able to read, it should be quite easy. For those who are not reading well yet, the pictures could help them to understand the different concepts. They could also use colours to match the pictures.

My next-door-neighbours set up a stall too. Their daughter is in her teens and she was selling a lot of her old stuff. I got a jumble jigsaw puzzle on numbers. El likes jigsaw puzzles at the moment, and this one is simple as the numbers are in progression. I hope this will teach him to arrange jigsaw puzzles according to the straight lines first.

My neighbours are French-speaking, but they have a German picture book on colours, Hanni Hase entdeckt Farben by Patrick Yee. Long time ago, a child psychologist told me to let El learn more things so that he is more meaningfully engaged in activities. One suggestion was to get him to learn a third language. The good thing about German is that its phonics is quite similar to English, except they are even more regular! You do not get a huge range of different sounds for the same vowels. There is a short sentence on an activity, and the colour is written at the side. I was totally amazed when he read ‘blau’, ‘rot’, ‘gelb’ and ‘rosa’ correctly, and required slight prompting with ‘grün’, ‘orange’ and ‘schwarz’. He had trouble with the umlaut. I tested him a few times and he got them correct on different occasions. I gave him a prompt on pink by saying the word look like a type of beautiful flower. I wish I had more German materials though. I think I have more French-speaking neighbours in my estate than German-speaking ones. Now that he is finally speaking more Mandarin, and singing Mandarin songs, I think I can expand on this. Perhaps I should start singing German nursery rhymes to Gar again. I need to do much more than just baby talk.

It was really funny, because after that German session, El came up with his own bilingual dictionary of ABC animals and other words from A to Z. Most of them are nonsense words, but it was very funny. Unfortunately, that piece of paper is missing. I wish I could have captured the words.

I bought a lot of other Chinese story books, and they were dirt cheap. I haven’t got to reading any of them with El. The only thing I got for Gar was pickup wooden pieces, but I realised that there were no matching pictures below, so the only hint was the shape. I have a few of such toys, but I have no idea where they are at the moment.


Tales of The Frog Prince

El and I arrived at the theatre 15 minutes before the play, “Tales of the Frog Prince” started, so we slowly made our way up to the circle seats. When I was booking the seats, mine were the last two seats together. I took a child booster seat, and so El could see the stage very well. Some of the expat children were so prepared, they came with blankets and pillows. Coincidentally, I was seated at the same place the last month I was there for “Everything but the brain”, a play about a physics teacher and her father who suffered from a series of strokes.

Now, El is a very inquisitive child, and he would ask a lot of questions. This was the first time he was watching a play in a theatre. When he saw the stage, he asked where the evil witch was. I had earlier told him in the car that an evil witch had turned a prince into a frog. Throughout the whole play, he kept asking loudly where the evil witch was. I had to tell him that the witch had cast the spell a long time ago, so she was not there. Apparently, whatever answers I could think of were not satisfactory enough. They mentioned the witch a few times in the play.

I was glad I did not tell him about the original story about the princess and the golden ball. If not, he would be repeatedly asking where the golden ball was, as this play had deviated from the original story.

Next, he asked when they were going to start. I told him that there was dry ice, and it meant it was going to start soon. People were still streaming in. Again, I was glad that I had reached the place 15 minutes earlier, and not 30 minutes. If not, he would be badgering me the entire time.

He had spotted somebody lying in the middle of the stage, so he pointed that out. We were a little confused, as it was an elf or something, but as he was dressed in green, we thought that he was the frog prince. It started off well. The songs were quite catchy. The frog prince was dashing, and he sang very well. Some songs about hopping and scratching were quite nice and easy to sing along.

frog prince

frog prince – taken from their FB page

Tales of The Frog Prince stage

Tales of The Frog Prince stage

The story was quite different, with many new characters, such as the princess being considered a little strange by the family. She saw the frog prince playing with the elf, and followed them. I like the interaction part, as they asked the children to play along. The royal family then arrived. The king was a henpecked man, but I had forgotten to ask whether El understood that. There was another princess, who was the sister, and a prince from elsewhere. The queen was a tyrant. The tap dancing was interesting, and then there was some saucy fun, but not too titillating for young children.

About 35 minutes into the play, El suddenly declared very loudly that he wanted to leave. They were spending a little too much time on the unrequited love and misplaced love between the first princess and the frog prince, and I thought that it was slightly slow in pace at that time, but El was extremely bored by it. The theme was probably not that suitable for him. Thank goodness they settled that, and the team broke into a song and dance again in the last ten minutes.

Apart from the very loud questions, which I tried to quieten him down, he was actually quite well-behaved. He laughed at the appropriate funny parts, and was seated properly, except for that lull where he deliberately slid down his booster chair. However, I did not quite understand him when he said there were many frogs on the stage right at the end.

Both of us anticipating the play

Both of us anticipating the play

At the concessionary stand, he spotted Ribena, and asked for it. Then he spotted Yan Yan, and kept repeating it until I could not stand it and bought him one. I bought the CD, hoping to have the songs, but it turned out to be songs from other plays, such as 1-2-3 Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the 3 bears. The songs were pleasant to listen to on the way home. They were offering Red Riding Hood at 15% discount if we showed our ticket stubs, but I have not decided on it.

Anyway, it was a great first time experience for him. When I asked him whether he enjoyed the play, he smiled and said yes. The run ends on 29 September 2013.

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