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.
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.