4 Ideas To Engage Your Child During Holidays

The December holiday period is here, and I have two boys who are having their school holidays. What can I do to engage the two boys, aged three and six, so that they will not drive each other crazy (usually it’s the younger one that drives the elder one crazy)? I only have two or three weeks of break before I start working again.

Make and play homemade games
I was at my parents’ place when my mother was throwing out some things. I happened to spot a few laminated A3 paper, and realised that they were some snake and ladders games created for my history students in the past when I was a beginning teacher.

I took them home, and played with my children. It was about a time travelling piece where they get to learn about the trading and travelling history of ancient China and India.
india travels and trade

I had included information about how difficult it was for traders to travel in the jungles in ancient India as there were fierce tribes, and when they reached such boxes, the players would miss a turn or go down a snake. If there were new trade markets opening, the players would get to go again or go up a ladder.
china travels and trade

My children had a lot of fun playing, especially El. He was so excited about the games he asked to play both ancient India and China games a couple of time. He even said he wanted to create his own game. He wanted to do Malaysia at first. Then I suggested Southeast Asia, as that was also part of the former history syllabus. In the end, he wanted to do Thailand.

I discussed some quick facts with him, and then he decided he needed more information. I said I would take him to the library and he wanted to go there the next day.

playing board game

This would be a great way to make use of the holidays as it is the time I really have time with my children, and they would have other things to do in the school term. Making such historical games requires research, and there is the fun element.

Go on a holiday
We were planning a holiday to Australia, and El was really keen to visit the Australia Zoo, managed by the Irwin family. It would be our first overseas holiday ever since he was born, so we felt that going to Brisbane would be a pretty long flight (at least 7 hours) and the air fare was way more expensive than going to Perth. After attending a financial literacy course, El agreed to go to Perth instead since we would save more money.

Since both children like animals and El especially likes nature, we would be going to places such as farm, nature park and zoo. It would be great to expose them to Australian wildlife and other farm animals. I just hope the weather would be fine and not too hot.

They like dinosaurs too, and I googled Dinosaur Perth, and found a great website that collates all the sightings of dinosaurs in Perth. The Perth Museum looks like a great place to start looking! Unfortunately, we have missed a November exhibition, and going to miss something dino-related in January. There is also a theme park, which we may explore if we have the time, although our schedule looks pretty packed.

Looks like we can try the Kings Park. There are some dinosaurs there.

I am also going to pack lots of paper so that they can do some drawing if they are bored. El also asked me to bring along the snake and ladders game, which is very light.

It would be fun to plan holidays together with your children if they are old enough. Read up websites to find out how to save money, and where the best places to go to. As we only made our decision to go there really late, and I was too busy to book accommodation, they were nearly full. I decided to try my luck with airbnb, and it mentioned that only 6% of all the listings were available for my date. It is a house in a suburb, so I hope it will not be too inconvenient for us.

Take up holiday classes
The boys had just taken up taekwondo classes (to protect himself from Gar, who is quite aggressive at times, though both boys are learning it together).
taekwondo

They seem to have so much fun from the class, and they get to expend their energy. They have not received their white belts yet, so they even went to do their own by cutting a piece of paper!

He likes drawing and going for short term art lessons would be more interesting to him. Gar wants to go for art classes too, but he is too young to complete all the drawing and painting. However, he gets so upset that he would even lie when he sees all the paintings belonged to his brother, so going for holiday lessons would be great for him too, just so that he would have his own artwork.

The paintings might have required a lot of guidance from the teachers, but their satisfaction at the end of it is great. They make great décor too.

El requested to go for a science cookery class at the local Community Club, so I signed up a class for him. This will allow him to have fun, and at the same time, hopefully learn something new.

Since he is going to primary school next year, and is pretty weak in the Chinese language, he will go for something more academic in focus. He has a few lessons to attend. I had signed him up for some fun day trips, with immersion in Chinese, but he told me he was still conversing with the other kids in English, so that was not too useful. He had lots of fun though, but I think it may be too tiring to go out the whole day. I am glad he still comes out of the class smiling.

I guess it depends on what your child’s strengths and interests are. Find holiday classes that are suitable for them, and that keeps them occupied. If they have weaknesses in any academic area, it may also be a time to help them catch up. It’s your call (and your children’s).

Make videos
El took his brother’s rabbit project and used it as a prop. He wanted to stage a puppet show or something, then decided he wanted to record it. He then started doing his own videos and called it the Rabbit Show. He had his own commentary, and he also recorded his brother singing about a rabbit. I think the quality is really bad, but hey, even Steven Spielberg has to start somewhere. My secret wish is he can do something like the Hobby Kids, where Gar loves to watch. For now, I just let him use my iPhone to record.

rabbit show
He had been thinking about this a long time. He wants to make his Minecraft commentary videos, but after I read up on how to record iPad games, I think it is far easier to hook up the iPad to the TV via HDMI cable, and then use a video cam to video the TV. The other option is to buy a newer version of the iPad, but I do not see the need to spend that money when the current one is in good condition.

The rest of the time during the holidays, we will probably go to various places of local attractions that are free. If possible, I may just bring the older one to watch a movie. We usually watch at home, because you never know when the younger one gets really scared. I’ve also brought them to a playground recently.
playground

Only less than a month left before I have to go back to work!

This post is part of a blog hop by Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page in December on Surviving the holidays. Check out other blogs too.
surviving the holidays

The Art of Lying

the art of lying mickey mouse painting
After weeks of missing lessons, El finally finished his painting of Mickey Mouse. His teacher had explained the concept behind it, but I had forgotten who the artist was. It was supposed to be have vintage feel, with all the patterns and designs behind Mickey Mouse.

mickey mouse el vintage painting

When I saw it, I liked it very much. His current art school, HeART Studio, is more interesting than his previous school, where they did blending of colours all the time. He has a greater sense of achievement here because he gets to see his completed works on canvas or on paper, instead of sketches in a notebook.

When we went home, Gar saw the painting and immediately became insanely jealous. He started saying it was his. We brushed him aside and said it was done by his brother. Agitated, he threw a tantrum.

“I painted this,” he reiterated, when he saw the painting on the wall the next morning. He was lying through his teeth and became upset when we repeated that it was done by his brother.

I had remembered reading articles about lying. Lying is actually a good thing for the children, because they require cognitive skills to tell them. The earlier they lie, the brighter they are. However, we have to guide them and not let them get away with lying. If not, they will continue lying as they get older.

I went to search for the articles and read them. According to Victoria Talwar and Kang Lee’s developmental model of lying, they mention that at the primary stage of lying, which occurs around age 2 to 3, children lie blatantly. It is very easy to tell they are fibbing, because it is impossible for the event to happen. Gar’s lie was easily exposed. At the secondary stage of lying, which occurs around 4 to 5, children tell lies that are more plausible. At the tertiary stage of lying, when they are around 7 to 8, they will tell lies that depend on facts and they have follow ups.

The articles mentioned that we do have to address the issue right away, and not much later. We should not let them get away with the lies. Young children might not be able to tell between make belief and reality, hence the tall tales. He could have told the lie because he had liked it very much and had imagined himself drawing that. However, he did not express it the right way.

We should also avoid showdowns, and not accuse them of what they did. Very young children do not know that they are in the wrong. Instead, we could talk about the other party’s feelings, or mentioned that something had happened.

To resolve his issue, I asked him later in the evening who had painted that. Again, he said he did. I was a little glad he did, because that meant I could address this properly this time round.

“Do you like this painting very much?” I asked.

“Yes,” Gar answered.

“Do you want to have your own painting like this too?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want Mummy to paint Mickey Mouse with you?”

“Yes.”

“This painting is done by Kor kor (El). Is it very nice?”

“Yes.”

I took a deep breath, and hope that he would be able to tell the truth this time round.

“Who painted this?” I asked again.

“Kor Kor.”

I heaved a sigh of relief.

El was in the living room when this exchange happened. I told Gar to tell El that his painting was very nice.

Gar shouted, “Kor Kor, your painting is very nice!”

El kept quiet and pretty much ignored him. I went to El and told him that someone had just paid him a compliment. He should acknowledge that and thank the person.

After some probing, El finally said, “Thank you for your compliment.”

I went back to Gar, and told him what to say.

“You are welcome!”

Children need to be taught how to respond in different social situations. I find that El can be quite nonchalant at times, and I need to get him to greet people, including his teachers and friends, or say goodbye to his friends.

Going back to the painting, I sat down with Gar to do the painting. I searched online for a picture of Mickey Mouse, and asked Gar which one he wanted. He said he wanted a blue Mickey Mouse, and selected a picture. I sketched it out, and got him to paint.

He had been doing some painting with my mother, who is very talented in drawing. My mother had reminded me to use the white colour to mix with the colours, so that the pictures would be more dimensional instead of flat.

He wanted various colours for different parts of Mickey Mouse, and after he had painted the mouse, I got him to paint the background. When he was done, I added the outline to make the picture a little better. I also added some touch ups to the side.

mickey mouse gar painting

Gar was extremely proud of his painting and demanded that we put up his artwork on the wall too. When he observed that his brother’s painting had a name, he asked to include his name on his artwork too. His father wrote his name and he was as pleased as a lark.

The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse

I had just watched a short video on Eric Carle who had written and illustrated a book titled ‘The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse‘. He talks about how we should not be limited by colours and we should just allow children to use their imagination. He had actually based his drawings on an expressionist artist, Franz Marc, who painted blue horses and yellow cows.

blue horseCheck out his split!

Gar loves the book and he asks me to read it frequently. I do not have this book, so I borrow it from the library a couple of times for a year already.

blue horse

Blue Horse!

purple fox  Purple Fox!

pink rabbit

Pink Rabbit!

orange elephant

Orange Elephant! (Elephant is one of his favourite animals.)

Other books by Eric Carle that he likes include Have you seen my cat, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you hear?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you see?, The very busy spider, and recently, Papa please get the moon for me.

I like the books because the lines are quite repetitive. Gar is able to memorise what comes next, so he will shout it out.

There are worksheets available online. Do a simple search and you can find pictures for colouring, mobile hangers, book marks and other lessons.

What books does your child like? Share in the comments!

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