Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ready to Write

I bought some writing activity books last year (middle of the year I think) for my little boy to use so he can learn how to write letters and numbers and practice his writing skills.  I tried different strategies to motivate him to practice writing.  I chose a Mickey Mouse inspired writing book with pictures of objects to color.  I also bought a connect the dots writing book that uses numbers as guide for children to connect the dots and another coloring book that uses the letters of the alphabet to guide children to connect the dots.  His Occupational Therapist gave him stickers as rewards when he finished writing tasks.  We were all set for our writing lessons last year... or so I thought.
I bought the Draw and Color and My Big Book of Dot-to-Dot.  My mom bought the third book for her grandson.


There were days when my boy liked connecting the dots to complete the drawings of objects in his writing book.  There were lots of days when he liked to color the objects after completing the drawings.  But most days, he simply didn't like to trace the letters on his writing books.  So, months passed and I just realized that he hardly used his writing books to practice his writing skills.  I noticed though that we were able to practice his writing skills through other activities we did like our art projects which he loved doing and looked forward to.  I chose not to force him especially whenever he begins telling me that he doesn't want to connect dots or trace letters and numbers anymore.  Instead, I gave him other activities which also enhanced and improved his fine motor skills.  I let him play with toys he can manipulate, with building blocks and clay and sand.  I let him doodle and engage in coloring activities.  We let him string beads and we did finger painting.  My stand is that if he isn't ready, I will not force him to do an activity.  I will try to motivate and encourage him but if he doesn't respond to that, I'll think of another activity he'd find more interesting.  I'm able to do this because my husband and I have decided to homeschool him during his formative years. 



This was what he answered. :)


I was thus surprised one evening last week when I saw him get one of his writing books.  I thought he simply wants to color again.  But he said he wants to trace the letters.  He traced some letters on the first page.  Then, I encouraged him by telling him that he can have some chocolate if he'd finish tracing all the letters from A-Z.  I was not expecting him to finish tracing the letters in one sitting.  I was thinking that he can choose to finish the task in the next days and then that's when he can claim his reward.  But what happend next surprised me.  He just kept on tracing more letters, turning from one page to the next!  When I realized that he might finish everything that evening, I reminded him of our house rule that he can't have chocolate at night or in the evenings anymore.  He can claim his reward the following day after his lunch.  He seemed unfazed.  He went on to finish the rest of the pages in his writing book!  Wow!  He was very happy and proud of his accomplishment!  So was I!


Aside from finishing his writing book, my little boy impressed me too by answering more activity books -- one in Math and another on Phonics.  He has answered some of the pages when he was younger with me helping him write some of the numbers as he answer them.  That evening however, he wrote the numbers himself on the blanks without asking for my help.  His penmanship isn't nice yet but readable already.

Yanthy first answered most of the pages of these books when he was around 2 years old. 
He finished answering all the remaining pages last week, around a year later.


I praised and thanked the Lord for allowing me to witness these developments in my son.  I felt that God was encouraging me in our homeschooling journey that evening.  He also taught me some lessons.

Here they are:

First lesson: when a child is ready to learn, he himself will find a way to learn even on his own.  This was what I saw my son do when he got his book on his own and began writing.  He was interested to learn and he had a goal in mind.  He wanted to trace letters.  And that what he did!

Second, a child who is motivated can not only achieve his goals but he can even surpass our expectations.  Thus, it's important to know the child so we can find out what motivates him and use these information to develop his skills to his advantage.

Third, when kids are ready and having fun, learning becomes easy and natural.


My son has yet to finish answering his other writing books but I'm not worried.  I know that one of these days he can surprise me again by choosing to work on them.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying our times together learning everyday about life and about each other.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bonding with my Boys over a Board Game

"It's your turn," says my eldest son to me as he hands me the dice.

I then get the dice from him and rolls it on our bedroom floor.

Playing with my eldest son's race track board game has been one of our bonding activities these past days. We've been using the racetrack board game from his Cars magazine.  For our dice, we use our big colorful dice with a bell inside which our baby like to play with.



The other day, my eldest son suggested that we let his baby brother join our game.

Since the boardgame is inspired by the movie, the game includes some of the main characters in the story -- Lightning McQueen, The King and Chick Hicks.  There were also boxes in the board game which were red, blue and green.  Yanthy said that he will be Chick Hicks while I will be The King.  He assigned Mateo to be Lightning McQueen. 

I like how the mechanics of the board game integrated the traits and background of the characters in the movie.  Let me quote some of the mechanics or rules in our race track board game.



The King: Experience

He's won lots of races. If you have this car and land on a blue box, throw the die again.



Chick Hicks: Grit

He never stops!  If you have this car and land on a green box, double your score.



McQueen: Turns

Doc told him how to race on turns.  If you have this car and land on a red box, advance 6 spaces.


My sons and I took turns rolling our colorful dice and moving our "cars" forward on the race track counting carefully as we move from one box to the next.

Yanthy was leading during the most part of our game the first time we played with his baby brother.  Mateo was trailing.  But as we approached the finish line, we were happily surprised to see Mateo advance and go past our "cars" until he won the race.  We were so happy for Mateo and we clapped our hands for him and congratulated him. 

I'm grateful that my sons and I can already bond through a simple board game.  I have fond memories of my childhood playing board games with my parents and my brother or with my brother only.  We had so much fun!

Here are some of the benefits I see in playing board games:
  •  They help kids practice their counting skills by moving from one box to the next.
  •  They train them to be familiar with the number of dots in a dice.
  •  They teaches them patience by waiting for their turn.
  •  Kids become more aware of rules and learn to practice abiding by the rules in the context of a game.
  •  Parents and/or siblings can bond and have fun with each other.
  •  It's an opportunity for parents to teach their kids about being a good sport.
  •  Kids can learn and practice addition if two dice are used in the games.  My husband and I plan to use this strategy soon since our eldest son has already mastered the dice and is now enjoying simple addition games.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ice Cream Art Activity

Yanthy made popsicle art last Monday as part of their activity with his Occupational Therapist (OT), Teacher Erl.  His OT said that he was so quiet and focused during the activity that at some point she asked him if he liked their activity.  He said yes and he proved it to be true when he said that he wanted to make two popsicles instead of one.  He said that the other popsicle is for his baby brother, Mateo.  How sweet!  After their session, he gladly and eagerly showed me his art project.  He used it right away in his pretend play.

Popsicles made by Yanthy for himself and his baby brother.
This gave me inspiration to do a similar art activity.  Yesterday, we made ice cream art.

Some of the things I like with this simple art activity are the following:
  1. It allowed us to use materials we already have in the house like scrap colored papers that we have used before but are still big enough to be used in our new art project.
  2. It allowed my son to practice his fine motor skills as he traced circles on the colored papers, drew a triangle as ice cream cone, cut the different shapes, spread the glue and wrote names and words on his art work.
  3. It helped my son practice being focused on a task until its completion.
  4. It's another activity that demonstrated he is capable of working on something long enough as long as he is interested in it.  It showed he is capable of long attention span that is much longer than what is expected for children his age.
  5. It's an activity that makes him sit still for a while and allows him to take a break from active play which he also likes to do all day.
  6. It's so simple to do and yet it provides a nice bonding activity for me and my son.

Here's what we did step by step:
  1. I asked Yanthy to trace some one peso coins on red colored paper for our cherry.
  2. I helped him trace bigger circles on pink and lavender papers for our strawberry and ube ice cream.
  3. Then I asked him to draw triangles for the ice cream cones.
  4. Next, I asked him to cut the circles while I watched him.  He's still having a hard time cutting curves that's why I like this activity because he gets to practice that skill.
  5. Cutting circles.
  6. After cutting the circles, I asked him to cut the triangles.
  7. Then, I first showed him how to arrange our cut outs to form ice creams.
  8. After that, I asked him to spread some glue on the cut outs and paste the cut outs on the bond paper.
  9. Next, I asked him to write names for his ice creams. As usual, one ice cream is for him and the other one is for his brother.  Actually, he wanted to make more ice cream cones.  He wanted to make enough for everyone in our household including our helper.  But I told him that we need to buy new colored paper because we've used up our supply.
  10. Then I also asked him to spell ice cream and write it down on our art work.  One thing I like about our art works like this one is that writing becomes fun for him when it is integrated to an art activity.  He is still struggling in writing the alphabet but his therapist says that children his age (3 years old) actually are only expected to draw lines or crosses.  They are not yet expected to write letters and numbers or their names. Anyway, Yanthy likes to write his name or words related to his art so I seized the opportunity to let him practice his handwriting.  He wrote all the words including his name and that of his baby brother on his own, no hand assistance from me anymore.  But I gave him some coaching or verbal assistance on how to write the letter M and R.  We also erased some of his lines when they become so big and not proportioned to the other letters he already wrote.  I'm happy that he persevered and remained committed to finish writing the words we wanted to write on his art work.  It showed again that he can be committed to something he really wanted to do even at this young age.
  11. Lastly, as with his other art works/projects, we displayed it by hanging it on our living room wall.  This gives him a lot of pride and confidence.  It encourages him to keep on doing more art projects that we can display in our house.

    Now serving!  Ready to party with our ice cream cones!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homeschooling and Giftedness

I've been planning to write about this topic even before our tv interview last Tuesday but didn't have time because of our busy schedule.  After our tv interview, I've decided that I should really write this post.  There's so much to discuss about homeschooling and giftedness that can't be answered in just a minute or two.  Anyway, I'm using the interview questions asked as my guide in writing this post.

Why did our family choose to homeschool?

We were inspired to homeschool by our leader in the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ), Bo Sanchez.  He and his wife had been homeschooling their kids and he has been sharing about the benefits of homeschooling to their kids and to their family as a whole.  My husband and I wanted our kids and our family to experience those same benefits.

Then, as we were slowly finding out more about homeschooling, our eldest son began to show signs of giftedness.  He was hitting his milestones as a baby and toddler far too fast or advanced for his age.  I wrote about his milestones here in one of my previous posts in this blog.  He also mastered the alphabet, numbers, and shapes before he turned two years old.  By two, he was already reading some words and spelling!  I brought this up with his pediatrician who in turn referred us to a developmental pediatrician.  That's when we got the confirmation that he was indeed a potentially gifted child.  When he was a little more than 2 years old, he was assessed to have the intelligence of a 5 year old kid. 

But one thing we learned about gifted children is that they can have multiple ages.  He may have the cognitive skills and receptive language skills of a 5 year old but his gross motor and fine motor skills are still that of a 2 year old which is his biological age.  His emotions are also that of his biological age and this is manifested in his behavior a lot of times.  Last month, we brought him back to his developmental pediatrician and he was assessed to have the intelligence of a 6-7 year old kid already, although he is only 3 years old and 8 months during the assessment.  His gross motor and fine motor skills however are still that of a 4 year old kid.  A bit advance for his biological age but not at par with his cognitive and receptive language skills.  This uneven development also called asynchronous development in his skills makes it difficult to simply enroll him in a regular school.  Acceleration is not the best solution either because of his different levels of skills.  Homeschooling then becomes the best option for our family now because in homeschooling, we get to tailor fit the materials we give him to his skills, needs and interests.  He is not limited by a specific curriculum be it for preschool, kinder, grade 1 or grade 2.  He is not also rushed to learn skills or things he is not ready to learn or do.  For example, he is not rushed to advance in writing or forced to answer worksheets that grade 1 or grade 2 kids answer.  We test his understanding of concepts through games instead because he is still playful and enjoys playing a lot.  And because he is a kinesthetic learner, he enjoys this teaching method.  At the same time, he is exposed to more challenging materials that his mind is ready to grasp.  Right now, he likes to read a lot and he reads fast like a grade schooler.  He likes to spell and play addition games.  Homeschooling enables him to move at his own pace.  In areas where he shows advance skills, he gets to move as fast as he can or wants.  In areas where he is challenged or not ready to deal with yet (physically and emotionally), he gets to take his time.


What are the advantages of homeschooling with regards to your relationship with your child/children?

Homeschooling not only  enables us to spend plenty of time with our children.  It also helps ensure that we spend quality time with them because we take time to plan our activities with them to help them learn and be exposed to the things they need to know and things they are interested in.  By homeschooling our children, we learn more about them -- their interests, skills, strengths, weaknesses or challenges, learning style, etc.  We also learn things together.  All these provide plenty of bonding opportunities for our family and help us build strong relationships with them. 

Moreover, we get to focus more on passing on our values and faith to our kids as we spend time together.  One of the things I experienced and learned firsthand as we homeschooled our eldest son is that it is so easy to teach academics to kids but it's not the case with teaching/passing on values.  It takes some time before kids learn certain manners and values, and develop discipline.  Homeschooling affords us that luxury of time to make the values formation of our children our priority in their growth and development because my husband and I believe that giftedness is not a guarantee that one will be successful in life.  Good values and strong character are more important ingredients to real and long term success.  That is one of our main reasons for homeschooling.  Through the strong relationship that we get to build by spending more time with them, we are able to share more our values and beliefs with them and thus become strong influences in our children's lives.  By choosing to homeschool our children during their formative years (birth to 7 years old), we're taking the main responsibility to form their consciences and character.  We choose to do this now because we want to prepare them for the future.  We want to lay down a strong foundation for them so that when they are already part of the mainstream, they would not be easily influenced or swayed by their classmates or teachers whose values may be very different from the values that our family have.

I have barely scratched the surface here of why homeschooling is the best option for our gifted son right now.  I have not even discussed the other characteristics unique to gifted children like their heightened perception or overexcitability or supersensitivity.  You may read more about gifted children in this very helpful article I discovered recently.  I'd definitely write more about this topic in the future as I discover and learn more about our sons.  Yes, I learned in a seminar I attended early this year that it's possible that when there is a gifted child in the family that the next siblings are also gifted.  This suspicion was strengthened by our developmental pediatrician's comment that our baby is very alert and attentive which are also signs of giftedness in infants.  So, that gives me more reasons to study about giftedness so I can be a better parent and teacher to my children.

If you are a parent who suspects that your child is gifted,  the following articles might be of help to you:
What is a Gifted Child?
Definitions of Gifted
Characteristics of young gifted children
Characteristics of gifted children
Is my child gifted?
Developmental Milestones - Three Months to Five Years

Until my next post!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Activities Inspired by Go, Dog. Go! Book

Go, Dog. Go! is one of my eldest son's favorite books these days.  When I ask him, "What do you want to read now?"  It's his automatic answer lately.  Thus, I chose to draw inspiration from the story in the book while thinking of activities we can do in our homeschool today.



I encouraged him to draw some of the things included in the story.

I asked him to draw a roller skate and scooter by following my lead and instructions.  I encouraged him also to look at the picture in the book more closely.  While doing so, I pointed out the difference between the things that we were trying to draw.

Go by foot.  Go on skates or scooter. 


Then, he decided that he wants to trace his foot and color it too.


Afterwards, he said he wants to draw a car.  So, I gave him verbal instructions and some hand assistance in drawing the outline of the car.  He then drew the tires and the window on his own.  Since he is interested in taxis, I asked him if he wants to put a name on his car just like the taxis we see or ride.  He said yes so I asked him what name he wants to write on his taxi.  As usual, he chose to use his name.  He wrote his name on his own.  Below is a picture of his taxi.


Go by car through Gian Taxi!



We both enjoyed our short and sweet activity today!  I thank God for the inspiration.  I thank Him too that Yanthy enjoyed our time together bonding over reading, tracing, drawing, writing and coloring activity.  I'm looking forward to our next book-inspired activities!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Rainy Day Activities in our Homeschool Today

It was a rainy Friday morning for us.  We were thus inspired to read May and Jay Stay Away from the Rain of Phonics-in-Reading.  And since our baby Mateo turned 8 months yesterday, Yanthy said he wanted to read another Phonics-in-Reading book entitled Sue's Birthday.  We love the Phonics-in-Reading Series!  Yanthy is now in Series 2.

We talked about clouds and why it rains once more.  I'm amused that Yanthy never gets tired of asking why it rains even when he already knows the answer to his own question.  I sometimes, bounce it back to him to test if he remembers and he does.  I guess he just likes hearing it over and over. :)  Then, we sang the song "Rain, rain, go away..."

While reading May and Jay Stay Away from the Rain, I was inspired to have a writing activity.  I told Yanthy that we will draw the rain.  He liked the idea right away so we breezed through our books.  We practiced writing standing lines and slanting lines by illustrating the rain.  After drawing lines or the rain, I asked Yanthy to practice writing his first name.

 
When we were done with our "rain drawing," Yanthy suggested that we make a cake for Mateo.  Since we can't bake a real cake today for Mateo (just like in the stories that we read where they had real cakes to celebrate the kids' birthdays), I suggested that we make a birthday card or art work for Mateo with a cake and cupcakes on it.  Good thing, Yanthy liked it again.
So, we got busy tracing circles on a colored board.  He used some one peso coins from his coin bank in tracing the mini cupcakes for Mateo's birthday card.  After tracing circles, Yanthy practiced his cutting skills by cutting the small circles one by one.

The next step was to glue the circles.  He first glued the big circle in the middle of a bond paper which served as our cake.  This was surrounded by smaller circles which became our cupcakes.

Yanthy puts "candy sprinkles" on Mateo's cake.
I helped him rub stickers to decorate his birthday card for his baby brother.

Then, he proceedded to write Mateo's name, write the number 8 on the cake, and decorate our cake and cup cakes with candy sprinkles.  Yanthy used his crayons to put "candy sprinkles."

He reviewed his birthday card and asked me to add some more gift stickers and star stickers on it.

I showed it again to him and he was satisfied and proud of what we have done.

While waiting for our art work to dry, he read two more books from the Phonics-in-Reading Series while I gave our baby a bath.  Yanthy stopped reading for a while when he saw that Mateo is finished bathing.  He went to the bedroom with me to hand me a diaper for his baby brother.  He likes to be my little assistant in taking care of his baby brother.  He helps by giving some of the things I need to use for the baby -- be it a diaper, lotion, brush, toy or book.  Mateo is blessed to have him as his big brother!

After that, he showed Mateo his gift, the birthday card we made.  Mateo smiled as he touched his big brother's art work.  That made Yanthy happy too.  He proudly told me, "Look Mommy!  He smiled at me!  He likes my gift to him."
Yanthy's birthday card/gift for his baby brother, Mateo,
on his 8th month.

I thank God for the grace to have an activity today that my son liked.  I thank Him for the inspiration and the guidance.  I thank Him for these simple, ordinary activities with my sons that make my life as a mom extra special.  I thank God for the rain that served as our inspiration today in our homeschool.   Lastly, I thank God that it's raining blessings in our household. :)
Yanthy embraces his baby brother yesterday as he greets him happy birthday.
Happy rainy day to you!  May you find yourself soaked with blessings from heaven!
Our boys playing ball yesterday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teach Your Kids to Read Fast through Sight Words and these Resources

One of the benefits of homeschooling our children is that I learn with them in the process.  I learn as I research and plan activities and games for our homeschool.  SIGHT WORDS and FRY WORDS are some of the new things I learned while thinking of ways to teach my eldest son, Yanthy, how to read. 
 

Yanthy enjoying his board book when he was still a baby.


Let me share what I learned about SIGHT WORDS and FRY WORDS so far.
  • Sight words are words that you cannot read through phonics or by sounding out the letters that make up the words.  Thus, you learn to read them by recognition or out of memory.  The more often you see them, the faster that you'll recognize and read them as you see them. 


  • There are thousands of sight words!  I initially thought that there are only hundreds of sight words.  I was surprised to find out that there are thousands!  3,000 to be exact!


  • In 1948, Dr. Edward Dolch first published a book on sight words in his book entitled "Problems in Reading."  He made a list of 220 words which were most frequently used in children's books in the 1930's and 1940's.  He also arranged these words by level of difficulty.  These words are recommended to be learned and mastered by third grade.  Dolch's sight words include include pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs.  There is also a list of Dolch nouns numbering 95 words.  You can check out the list of Dolch sight words here.


  •  In 1996, Dr. Edward B. Fry published a book entitled "Fry 1000 Instant Words."  Dr. Fry expanded on Dr. Dolch's sight words list.  Through his research, he discovered that:
           1. 1/2 or 50% of the materials we read can be narrowed down to 100 common words.
           2. 1/3 of the written materials published are 25 commonly used words.
           3. 65% of published materials can be reduced to a list of 300 frequently used words


    Since these 300 words compose more than half of all newspaper articles, textbooks and children's books, it is thus important that kids learn and master them.  Learning and mastering them are vital to growth not only as readers but learners as a whole since we learn a lot through reading.  It's one of the foundations to a lifetime of learning.   


    Dr. Fry arranged these words by level based on frequency.  It is recommended that kids master their FIRST 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 1, SECOND 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 2, THIRD 100 FRY WORDS by Grade 3, and UNTIL 1,000 FRY WORDS from Grade 4 to 5.


You can find this a bit overwhelming if this is the first time you encountered this.  I also felt that way when I learned about their number and when my husband showed me this website more than a year ago.  But as days and months passed (even while I was pregnant with my second baby and had very little time to "teach" my eldest son), I noticed that Yanthy has been learning a lot and has been improving his reading skills by simply reading at least one book every day.  We recently found out with the help of this site that our eldest son who is only 3 years old knows how to read roughly 200 sight words as of this writing.  It's possible that he can read more because we have just started using the assessment tool and list to check what words he already knows and what he can't read yet.

Yanthy reads one of his Phonics-in-Reading book.

Since I have already given birth and my baby is a bit bigger and eating solids already, I resolve to spend more time using these FREE resources that are available online.  They have activities, flash cards, games, writing exercises, assessment tools, and many more!  Check out these sites yourself to find out!



I also recommend the Phonics-in-Reading Series where sight words and phonics are used in the stories to help young readers or struggling readers develop their reading skills systematically.  You can read my book review of this series here.


Hope this post and these resources help your kids in their reading adventure!


April 27, 2013 Update: I asked my eldest to read the list of Sight Words arranged according to levels yesterday to check his reading level. I was pleasantly surprised that he breezed through all levels from pre-primer to Grade 3. He's only 4.5 years old. I have yet to make him try reading the next lists to find out if he can also read those in the higher levels.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Helpful Song in Teaching Science to Kids - Homeschooled or Not

I was surfing the net yesterday for more materials that we can use for our homeschool when I stumbled upon this video that explains the process of photosynthesis to kids through a song.  It's catchy and interesting though my husband says it's too soon to share this with our little boy. 

So, while I'm waiting for the right time to introduce this concept to my preschooler, let me share this with you in case your kids are already in grade school and are ready to learn more about plants and trees.

Here's the video.






Here is another video which shows the lyrics of this song.





Hope you and your kids enjoy your science lessons more with the help of this song.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chunky Potato and Bacon Soup Recipe

One of the soups I like preparing for my eldest son, Yanthy, and my husband is Potato and Bacon Soup.  It's very simple yet very delicious and nutritious.  I like pairing it with fried dishes like fried chicken, pork chop or fish fillet.  Or your child can enjoy it as is since it has carbohydrates and meat.


Ingredients:

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 strips of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Knorr chicken cube dissolved in 2 cups water or 2 cups chicken broth 
evaporated milk
salt
pepper


Procedure:

1. Washed the potatoes, peel and cut into small cubes. Set aside in a bowl with water to prevent browning.

2. Render the fat from the coarsely chopped bacon in a small pot.  Set aside the bacon in a saucer/plate leaving the oil.

3. Saute the onions until transparent.

4. Add the garlic and saute until light brown.

5. Add the the bacon back to the pot.  Add the chicken broth and the potatoes.

6. Boil until the potatoes are almost cooked.

7. Lower the heat and add half cup of evaporated milk.  (You may make it 1 cup to make it creamier or use cream instead of milk.)

8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until done.

9. Serve hot.





Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Sons' New Favorite Action Song

I just want to share this action song that my sons enjoy listening and dancing to these past days.  We stumbled upon this song video in You Tube last week while searching for nursery songs we can listen to.  We usually play music in our dvd and stereo or play with our musical instruments when we want some music.  But since our dvd was broken and my eldest son was not in the mood to play his musical instruments, we turned to my laptop.  And this is what we found.



I led my sons to do the actions while listening to the song.  My eldest son gladly followed with matching dance moves.  My baby liked it too and he kept on bouncing while our helper was holding him.

These past days, even when we don't watch this video in my laptop, I can hear my eldest son singing and doing the actions in the song.  Sometimes, he sings it while playing with one of his musical instruments.  He simply loved it!   He loves the jumping part the most. :) 


You might want to share this with your kids, too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Mother's Reflections on Cleaning and Dressing Wounds and Scars

It has been more than a week since our eldest son, Yanthy, scraped his knees when he fell after running very fast while playing outside the house.  The result: two wounds on his right knee and one big wound on his left.
Wounds on Yanthy's right knee.

He had been crying so hard for since day 1 every time he hears that it's time for his bath.  He would cry really hard that his body would be shaking.  When we ask him why he's crying, he would say that his wounds are painful and he's afraid.

Wound on Yanthy's left knee.
My husband and I would do our best and try different strategies to comfort him and to dispel his fears.  Since Yanthy got wounded on a weekend, his Dad took charge of cleaning them and dressing them during the first weekend.  I took over after that.
His wounds with dressing.

It has been more than a week and Yanthy's cries before bath time are lesser and if he'd cry it would be shorter compared to the first few days.

He was more cheery also when we bring out the cleaning supplies these past days because his wounds are starting to dry up and heal.

Since he sustained those wounds, he sat down longer to play and read.  We got to read more books together and conversed more.  We also embraced each other more often.

Looking back, I thank the Lord that He has given me this opportunity to be with my son when he needed me the most.  For us grown ups, having wounds may no longer be a big deal.  But not for kids like Yanthy who scraped their knees big time for the first time.  I'm glad that my husband and I were there on the same day it happened.  I'm glad that we were there to embrace him tight as he sobbed for what seemed like hours.  He actually fell asleep from crying after his Dad cleaned and dressed his wounds for the first time.  I'm grateful that he was not left to just a maid who might not be knowledgeable enough of the right things to do to clean and disinfect his wounds.  I thank the Lord that I'm not working outside the house anymore and I was able to clean and dress his wounds myself, comfort him and cuddle with him until he was no longer afraid or in pain.

I thank God that He has given me and my son an opportunity to bond and though it started out to be a very unpleasant situation for both of us, it's slowly showing me the truth that good things can come out of bad situations.  I wasn't happy that my son got wounded.  But I'm happy that while he was in pain and was afraid, I was there for him.  I'm happy that when he remembers this episode in his childhood, he would remember that Daddy and Mommy took care of him and that we were instrumental in helping his wounds heal.

I'm happy that we were able to teach and reinforce lessons to him through his experience.  Initially, he said he doesn't want to run anymore so that he would not fall and get wounded.  After a few days, he said he will not run fast anymore.  Yesterday, he was running again... fast!  I'm glad he did not get traumatized to be back to his usual active self by the experience.  I do hope that he would remember the safety lessons we've been constantly reminding him of. 

What's my biggest take away from this experience as a young mom?  I can't be with my children ALL THE TIME to watch over them and protect them from getting hurt.  BUT I can and should be there for them WHEN THEY NEED ME THE MOST so that they would be confident of my love, commitment and love for them even in times when I'm not beside them.

Other lessons learned?  A hug and a mother's touch and presence always make hurts seem less painful or make the hurt go away.  The joys that one experiences when the wounds start to heal are doubled when shared with someone you love. 


The scars after more than a week since he got wounded.


I've been worrying in the past days because I was concerned that his wounds would leave ugly scars on his knees until I remember now a story wherein a boy rejoiced over his scars because those scars remind him of his mother's love.  I still pray that my boy's wounds would heal well and that they will not leave ugly scars on his skin.  But in case that wish of mine is not granted, I pray that like the little boy in the story I heard, my son would remember my love and that of his Dad's for him every time he sees his scars.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Camote Tops Tea/Juice Recipe and its Medicinal Qualities

My batchmates and I were led to the dining area for some refreshments.  Then, we noticed that the juice was pinkish in color.  One of my batchmates asked one of the Sisters what it was and the Sister said it was camote tops/talbos ng camote iced tea with calamansi.  We tried it and we asked for more!  It was good!

That was many years ago when I was still in college and was investigating the life of the Carmelites.  Yes, it was in the Carmelite house that I learned about camote tops being made into tea.  Why I did not become a Carmelite is another story. :)

Trivia:  Do you know that this is the only plant that is very rich in iodine, high in calories and Vitamin A?

 This is how to make it:


1. Wash the camote tops (talbos ng camote) with water and vegetable and fruit liquid cleanser like that of Pigeon's cleanser for baby bottles and toys.  (It's made of 100% food grade or edible ingredients and removes pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.)

2. Boil water in a pot.

3. Once the water is boiling, put the camote tops (leaves only) and let them boil for at least 5 minutes.

4. Steep some more for 5 minutes.

5. Remove the leaves (or talbos) using a strainer and set aside.  You can make these leaves into a salad.  It's delicious too!

6. Pour on glasses (or cups if you want hot tea).

7. Squeeze 1-2 calamansi to get the juice and mix into the tea.  You can add some more if you want it to have a stronger calamansi flavor.

8. Add a teaspoon (or more if you have a sweet tooth) of honey and mix.

9.  Add some ice cubes for a refreshing and nutritious iced tea!


Now, while you're enjoying your glass/cup of camote tops tea, let share some of its medicinal qualities.
  • It's a remedy for constipation or aids in regular bowel movement.
  • It's a remedy for stomach distress like those cause by indigestion.
  • It helps maintain thyroid hormones that prevents the thyroid from getting big.
  • It helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol of patients with type 2 diabetes.
According to Wiki.answers.com:
  •  Sweet potato tops are excellent sources of antioxidative compounds, mainly polyphenolics, which may protect the human body from oxidative stress that is associated with many diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  •  Sweet potato greens have the highest content of total polyphenolics among other commercial vegetables studied.
  •  Sweet potatoes contain protein, dietary fiber, lipid, and essential minerals and nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, aluminum and boron.
  •  Sweet potatoes are also important sources of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid.

  • In recent years, it has been reported as well that this tea can help Dengue patients recover.  Read more about this on an article here.
    Below is the nutritional value that every 100g of camote tops contain as taken from First Vita Plus website :
    • 30 calcium
    • 24 magnesium
    • 373 potassium
    • 13 sodium
    • 49 phosphorus
    • 85 chlorine
    • 26 sulphur
    • 0.8 mg/kg iodine
    • traces of manganese, copper and zinc
    Were you surprised that this cheap vegetable can be this nutritious?  In fact, some people plant this in their backyards and just harvest them when they want to have them for salad or tea. 

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    8 Tips on How to Become a Better Storyteller

    Storytelling is one of the things we do before bed.  We either read from a book, get inspiration from a book and vary it a bit (or big time) or make up our own stories.

    My husband has just finished reading a bedtime story to our eldest son when I got the inspiration to write these tips.  I noticed that he has applied many of these tips which made his story interesting to our son.  I hope that by sharing these tips with you in this post, you would be inspired to do better as a storyteller to your little ones.


    1. Use different voices for different characters.  I know that this isn't easy but I dare you to try.  Trust me, it will get easier over time as you practice.  Before you know it, it will be second nature to you.

    2. Use props and costumes.  Engage the senses.  Don't just engage their sense of hearing.  Show them something.  Show them many things related to the story to help you bring it across and so that they have something to associate the story with.

    3. Use big or oversized books.  This will help you show them big pictures, enough for most if not all the kids to see.

    4. Act out actions or movements in the story.  Make the words come alive before their eyes by acting them out.  Don't just enunciate the words.  Act them out if possible for emphasis.  And use exaggerated movements every now and then to get their attention.

    5. Vary your pace in narrating the story as well as the volume of your voice.  This strategy will draw them to you and your story.

    6. Let your facial expression tell the story as well.  Let the emotions in the story be conveyed not just in your voice but in your facial expressions as well.

    7. Use music or songs.  They not only add drama or make the story more interesting.  They also make the story fun to listen to.  Songs also help the audience remember the story better especially if the songs used in telling the story were good and carefully chosen.

    8. Get lost in your story.  Did that shock you? What I mean is enjoy your own story as you tell it.  It would be evident to your audience if you are enjoying it or not.  So make sure that you like what you are doing and that you are not doing it as a chore.  You will be amazed at how sensitive and intelligent kids are that they can sense if you are genuinely present in the activity or not.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Mommy TG's Chicken Nuggets/Tenders Recipe

    Chicken nuggets, chicken tenders or fried chicken are staples in children's parties.  It's also a favorite baon of kids to school because aside from being delicious, it's easy and not messy to eat.  Moms like them too because they are easy to prepare and can be packed inside lunch boxes in a jiffy.  Moreover, it takes a while before they spoil. 

    In case you are tired of your usual fried chicken, chicken nugget or chicken tenders recipe, I'm sharing my own recipe in this post to give you another option on how to cook one of our kids' favorite food.   


    Ingredients:

    chicken breast fillet cut into small strips or nuggets
    all purpose flour
    Japanese breading/bread crumbs
    iodized salt
    ground black pepper
    tarragon
    eggs
    canola oil


    Procedure:

     

    1. Season chicken strips with salt, pepper and tarragon.  Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

    2. Beat eggs lightly in a bowl.  Beat just enough for dipping the chicken strips you are cooking.

    3. Dredge or cover the chicken strips with all purpose flour.

    4. Dip in beaten egg.

    5. Roll on Japanese bread crumbs until completely covered.

    6. Once all the chicken strips are covered with breading, heat oil in a pan.

    7. Pan fry the chicken nuggets or tenders until golden brown.  (If you're using this recipe for fried chicken, deep fry the fried chicken pieces.)

    8. Remove chicken nuggets or tenders from pan once brown and let the excess oil drip by putting them on top of paper towels before serving.

    9. Serve hot with rice or pasta.

    10. You may use catsup, capsup-mayonnaise mixture or garlic-mayonnaise mixture as dip for the chicken nuggets/tenders.

    Enjoy!


    Mommy TG tips:
    •  I suggest that if you are cooking this for very young children that you cut the chicken into bite-size pieces or into nuggets.  This would make it easier for them to eat the chicken even without your help.  It will also lessen the chances of wastage because the chicken is small enough to be consumed by a child.  Sometimes, small kids cannot finish one whole chicken tender.  Plus you might need to assist them in cutting it.
    • You can marinate the chicken overnight or ahead and put in the freezer or refrigerator and cook the following morning for your kid's or hubby's baon.