Kids playing in peace

[Idea] Kids play peacefully when mum showers

by mievee @ on April 7, 2017

Homeschooling means the kids are stuck with me the entire day, so I need to be creative in managing them. Here’s how I get my post-exercise morning shower done in peace

Mum: Children, mummy is going to shower now. El, please come into the room. I’d be locking up for a while. Jae, please play outside.

Kids: Huh? Why? We want to play together!

Mum: Play together? Only children who are calm and peaceful are allowed to play together? Those who aren’t need to be separated when I shower. I need to keep you safe.

Kids: We’ll be calm!

Mum: Really? Ok, you may play together first. If you aren’t calm, then I’ll need to separate you until I’m done showering.

Kids: Ok!

Both continue to play peacefully while I keep a close ear on them. This works in the morning when Jae (5y5m) and El (3y5m) are freshly awake and calm. Evening time when they’re more hyper, this probably won’t work.

Hope it helps!

~ MieVee


mindfulness & meditation for children

[Mindfulness & Meditation] What Parents Must Know

by mievee @ on April 5, 2017

For years, my children and I have been practising some forms of meditation in a science-based non-religious way. Recent scientific studies are confirming the benefits, something that all parents and teachers must know.

Mindfulness vs Meditation

To clear things up, this is a brief explanation of mindfulness and meditation, which are different:

  • Mindfulness: an awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally — Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
  • Meditation: a mind-body method. This category includes interventions that employ a variety of techniques designed to facilitate the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. In meditation, a person learns to focus attention. Some forms of meditation instruct the student to become mindful of thoughts, feelings, and sensations and to observe them in a nonjudgmental way. — The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

In short, there are many techniques for meditation and mindfulness is one of them. That is, mindfulness is a subset of meditation.

What are the benefits?

Most relevant to me as a parent are these:

1. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density

The results in Hölzel et al.’s research (2011) suggest that participation in the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme is associated with “changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking”.

Other studies show that:

  • the amygdala (responsible for fight-or-flight response) is less activated
  • the hippocampus (critical to learning and memory) is more active
  • the prefrontal cortex (associated with maturity) is more activated

This means the person could learn and make better behavioural decisions. Better behaviour?!? As a mum to three super-active boys, this IS just what I need.

2. Mindfulness training improves memory and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering

Mrazek et al. (2013) found out that a 2-week mindfulness-training course “is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences”.

Two weeks to improve results in a relaxed way? Yes, for us please!

3. Mindfulness-based programmes can help improve students’ social-emotional skills and well-being

In a San Francisco school, after implementing a meditation programme over a four-year period, it was reported that “suspensions decreased by 79 percent and attendance and academic performance noticeably increased”.

Summary of areas of reported improvements:

Social-emotional skills:

  • emotional regulation
  • behaviour in school
  • empathy and perspective-taking
  • social skills


  • test anxiety
  • stress
  • post-traumatic symptoms
  • depression

(For the full list of references, check out Mindful Schools website here.)

With such a truckload of potential benefits, I’d highly recommend mindfulness and meditation to every parent.

How to practise?

For a start, these are some simple activities you could do with your child:

  • deep breathing and
  • relaxation activities before home lessons / tackling homework / potentially-stressful music practice etc.
  • visualisation
  • Montessori Silence Game
  • playing alpha music for relaxation during work periods
  • encouraging mindfulness during daily activities such as eating
  • gratitude exercise (“Today, I am grateful for … “)

Here’s a recap on the previous article I wrote on the activities:

Even when the day turns out challenging, once I remember to implement some of the above techniques, we can recover rather soon.

And remember to practise the activities yourself so that you reap the benefits too. As a parent, I’d want to be smart, calm, creative and have enough positive energy to last through a long emotionally-challenging day. Meditation every day certainly helps me to achieve these goals.

More resources

I’m planning to order these books:

If you’ve got a nerdy appetite too, check out the following resources:

Hope you found the information useful and happy teaching your child(ren)!

~ MieVee

P.S. Check out my workshops here

Disclosure: Mummy’s Homeschool™ is an information site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Homeschool™. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.


reading memory game

[Reading] Fun memory game created by Jae

by mievee @ on March 2, 2017

We love playing memory games and Jae (5y3m) just created a new version that may thrill your little one while he’s learning to read.

The Progressive Phonics free printables include memory game cards to help in remembering the words through a fun way. Usually, I’d arrange the cards in neat rows and columns, which is much easier for *eh hem* me to remember. (It’s quite taxing on my brains to play games with energetic young people for hours each day.)

Today, I went for a quick toilet break and asked Jae to arrange the cards. He surprised me by arranging the cards into the picture of a camel. For the next game, he created a picture of a lion (shown above). Such fun!

He was happy to play a few rounds,  after which he was already familiar with the words and could read them in the booklet.

This game would work with word cards of any language. Just print (or write) two sets of the same cards and have fun playing!

~ MieVee


montessori pestle & mortar

[Practical Life] Baking cheese sticks

by mievee @ on February 16, 2017

Today, Jae (5y4m) and El (3y3m) helped to prepare their snacks: wholemeal cheese sticks.

The recipe is from Right from the Start written by my good friend, Daisy Ng. It happened that I bought too many packs of frozen Kawan parathas by mistake, and have almost all the ingredients on hand, so this recipe was perfect.

My garlic powder has turned lumpy, so the boys helped to bash it back into powder using the mortar and pestle. They love doing this.

They measured the ingredients, mixed them up while I cut and coat edthe parathas.

Jae also set the timer on my phone and monitored the count-down. When it was like 50+ seconds left, he figured that 7+ minutes had passed. Great mental math practice!

We finally got the cheese sticks brown at about 12 minutes. Paired with a simple yoghurt dip, all the sticks were gone faster than we prepared them!

Cheese sticks and yoghurt

Have fun teaching and cooking with your little ones…

~ MieVee


Thean Hou Temple

[Excursion] Thean Hou Temple, KL

by mievee @ on February 16, 2017

During the second week of Lunar New Year (LNY), I brought 5yo Jae to visit the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur (KL) with my friends.

Many Chinese visit Thean Hou Temple during the LNY period to pray for blessings. Though we aren’t a religious family, I took this chance to expose Jae to the local culture.

Thean Hou TempleThis year, the temple has entered the Malaysian Book of Records for three giant artworks:

  1.  the biggest 3D Metal Rooster and Paper-Cutting Artwork,
  2. the biggest 3D Solar Terms metal panel Paper-Cutting Artwork, and
  3. the biggest Chinese Chess Set replica

(Source: The Star)

The giant paper-cutting and Chinese chess set are in the collage above. I think Vee will be thrilled to see the chess set.

We also saw a pond full of tortoises. Unfortunately, one poor tortoise looked injured.Thean Hou Temple tortoise pond

Jae said later that the best highlight of the excursion was drinking Ribena at the food court. Seriously?!? I’m assuming he enjoyed the special time with mummy.

For more info, go to Visit KL website.

~ MieVee


lunar new year homeschooling activities

[Learning Activities] Lunar New Year 2017

by mievee @ on January 20, 2017

Since Lunar New Year (LNY) is on 28 Jan this year, we find ourselves busy preparing again.

The good thing about homeschooling preschool is that I get a longer stretch of time at home by cutting off traveling time. And the young kids get to watch how I get the house ready and learn too. It’s not like they go to school and the house is magically transformed when they’re back.

The activities below cover practical life, fine motor skills, math geometry and art.

Activity 1: Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning
The most important thing for us is to spring clean and clear out the clutter at home. Since LNY is so early this year, I’ve been clearing out old stuff since early December!

Today our target is the kids’ “special place”. Each child has a personal drawer where he stores his collection of special things, such as piggy bank, photo album, souvenirs, old vouchers, small toys and handicraft. Over the months, the stuff start piling up and the each special place resembles a special rubbish dump instead.

5y2m Jae and 3y2m El enthusiastically removed all the items and sorted them into three piles:

  • To keep
  • To file away
  • To recycle or throw

(This seemingly-simple activity requires quick judgment, decision-making and organisation skills.)

Then they wiped the drawer (and neighbouring furniture) thoroughly with a damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth.

And ta da… each special place is neat and tidy again. My future daughters-in-law will be thankful to me for all these early training sessions.

Activity 2: Red packet latterns

red packet latterns

I found many extra red packets from last year, so we recycled them to make latterns for the first time. It’s easier to do crafts now that our youngest El is more cooperative and independent.

The children (who already love origami) were so eager to make these that they folded and stapled red packets until their fingers were sore.

I personally love this activity too because it brings math geometry alive by transforming 2D red packets into a wide variety of gorgeous 3D shapes.

For more ideas and tutorials, check out Submerryn’s blog here.

Activity 3: Chicken handicraft

Lunar new year chicken craft
Last year, we bought some pretty monkey-themed decorations and actually left them stuck until now since they aren’t reusable. (It’d have been a waste to throw them out after displaying for only one month.)

Today, we finally removed them and started doing DIY chicken-related craft to decorate the house.

(Note to our non-Chinese readers: It’s currently the lunar year of Monkey, and is going to be the year of Rooster.)

Jae is in love with cutting symmetrical shapes, so I found an activity that involved cutting a symmetrical chicken. (Hidden math skill again)

Both boys enjoyed colouring their chickens although El’s looked like it fell into mud. Oops!

Find more chicken craft ideas at here. This year, we’d also explore using recycled materials such as used bottles, old magazines, cardboard and (of course) old red packets to create home decorations. This would minimise creation of new garbage.

It’s going to be a busy final weekend before LNY arrives. Have a great time!

~ MieVee

P.S. Check out my workshops here


Gigo toys junior engineer story line

[Educational toys] Gigo Junior Engineer & Story Line

by mievee @ on January 13, 2017

During the final 2 weeks of the school holidays, we were busy visiting Singapore and Taipei, Taiwan. We love getting Taiwan-made educational toys at attractive prices. Today’s post shall introduce you to Gigo Junior Engineer and Story Line series…

The children have been enjoying their 3 boxes of Junior Engineer toys for several years. We’ve got Junior Engineer, Mini Zoo (with ball tracks) and Magic Gears.

5y2m Jae is ready to move to construction pieces smaller than LEGO Duplo, but regular LEGO gets too messy with 3y3m El in the house. So that’s where Gigo’s Story Line series caught my attention — neither too big nor too small. We visited Gigo’s Taipei store, wanting to grab the Story Line series.

Gigo Story Line series

Indeed, the series impressed me — easy-to-hold pieces and patented joints that allow the models to move in various directions.

Dino Park: Since the boys love dinosaurs, this set is absolutely suitable. They could build various dinosaurs with movable heads, legs and tails.

Gigo story line dinosaurs dino park

Speed Chaser: This Speed Chaser set lets them build different vehicles.

Gigo story line vehicles speed chaser

Heavy vehicles: Jae has been asking me to get him a toy digger, which I’ve put on hold. (I buy toys based on research rather than request.)

This set is for building at least 10 different heavy vehicles such as the bulldozer, tower crane, cement truck and more. Perfect!

Gigo story line heavy vehicles

Each box set contains about 120 pieces and is priced at TWD649 before discount. After 15% discount, each set was about SGD25 / RM77 / USD17, which we find value-for-money.

Junior Engineer

Junior Engineer has been the kids’ staple construction toys for years. Someone would play with it every day, building anything from pretend violin, ladders, ball tracks, animals, buildings to vehicles and more.

The large chunky pieces are easy for a toddler to handle. My kids started playing with these from about 18 months old. Then they build progressively more complex models. Even I played with similar toys as a toddler!

(Note: for young toddlers, keep away ALL small parts.)

Almost-8yo Vee seemed to have finally outgrown these until… we saw the huge Theme Park set in Taipei. As a theme park fan, he was attracted by the huge ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and thrill rides the set offers. Daddy-the-ex-engineer is always supportive of developing the kids’ engineering mind and decided to get it.

Gigo junior engineer theme park

Vee immersed himself in it upon our return until school started, building various complex models (in the booklet) over 3 days. He needed help with looping and tying the rope. Otherwise, we had peace from him for many hours when he literally put his mind and body to constructive use.
Gigo junior engineer theme park

This alone makes the set a totally worthwhile investment. Peace at home with the 3 boys around is priceless!

By the way, the smaller Junior Engineer kits cost about RM220 (SGD71 / USD50) while the Theme Park set cost about TWD4000 (SGD180 / RM565 / USD127).

Where to get

Gigo store Taiwan Taipei

Below are some places to find Gigo toys:

  • Taiwan: Gigo website here
  • Singapore: Growing Fun
  • Malaysia: Brainet, Popular Bookstore (IPC Shopping Centre)

Based elsewhere? Check out the prices at Amazon here*

Have fun with your little ones!

~ MieVee

P.S. Check out my workshops here

Disclosure: Mummy’s Homeschool™ is an information site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Homeschool™. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.


school holiday activities

School holiday activities

by mievee @ on December 11, 2016

We’ve been kept busy during the first two weeks of the year-end school holidays. Here are some school holiday activities ideas:

1. Robotics


7y9m Vee loves robotics. We stopped his school robotics activity after one term because he became too tired to complete his homework and had insufficient time for free play.

In replacement, we agreed on joining a robotics programme during the school holidays. So he went for full day session at RM140 (~SGD45 / USD32), paying half out of his savings.

Robotics classes in Singapore and Malaysia often use the Lego Mindstorm school sets. This is an example of the home set:

2. Free coding courses

In the afternoons, Vee may also work on free coding courses at Code Studio here and learn to use simple computer commands.

3. Playing with LEGO & other construction toys

lego education
This is something Vee has little time for during the school term. He spends about 2 hour per session building on his own, trying out both guided and creative building.

Highly recommended:

We bought our LEGO Education sets from Amazon here:

These are superb value for money and offer unlimited possibilities for creative play.

Other construction toys we love are:

  • GIGO Junior Engineer* (good for 2+ to about 6 years old): We have 3 boxes — basic set, ball track set and gear set — for the kids’ building projects.
  • Lepao (good for about 5 to 9 years old): Lepao (Taiwan) is the authorised manufacturer of German-designed Lasy blocks, so we bought our huge sets from Taiwan Toy R Us.

Here’s an example of the Lepao elevator:

lepao elevator
Next up, I’m planning to buy this:

  • K’NEX* (good for about 7 to 12 years old. I’ve already given a set of K’NEX to a nephew as birthday present.)

4. Culinary sessions

toddler mashing bananas
Learning to cook is an essential life skill. (Frankly, I prefer baking snacks much more than cooking a full meal.) Little El was the first to start on making nutritious cookies — mashing bananas, pouring & stirring ingredients.

Older children can help out in more ways in the kitchen, IF they’re cooperative.

5. Drawing

jae drawing neighbourhood
This is something really easy to offer — provide a wide range of art supplies to let the children explore. Give initial guidance on how to use each material and let their creativity run wild — ON the paper, and not on the furniture though.

Some of our favourite basics:

  • Drawing block paper (thin and about size A4 for colouring; thick and about size A3 for painting)
  • Thick coloured paper
  • Coloured pencils (thick for younger kids, thin for older)
  • Crayons
  • Crayola washable marker pens*
  • Paint (Crayola washable ones for toddlers)

The first presentation of each art medium includes how to clean up after art work. By being responsible for cleaning up, the child learns to be careful when working. (5yo Jae actually enjoys washing the paint materials he uses!)

6. Strategy games

the rivals for catan
I grew up playing card and board games with my family during each school holidays. Because my dad worked night shifts, the rest of us sometimes played until he returned home at 5a.m.!

Currently, Vee is hooked onto playing The Rivals for Catan* with me. We limit it to 45 minutes per session so that I can tend to the younger children too. Embarrassingly, I’ve lost EVERY game so far. He even taught me how he strategised to win. Am I getting old or what?!?

Anyway, I’m glad that he’s finding his interests and strengths.

Other strategy games that our family plays:

Next up, I’m going to buy:

  • Go* (or Weiqi, since El is older than 3yo now and not likely to mouth any small parts. Finally…!)

It’s been a hectic two-week taking care of the kids from morning till night. Hope this post gives you some ideas for this or the next school holidays. Have fun!

~ MieVee

P.S. Check out my workshops here

Disclosure: Mummy’s Homeschool™ is an information site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Homeschool™. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.


Teach Chinese reading

[Chinese] Easy & fun reading activities

by mievee @ on November 29, 2016

This post is on easy and fun activities to teach a young child to read Chinese characters. There’s a free flashcards download at the end too, so read on…

Over the past two weeks, the family has fallen in love with this Chinese nursery rhyme — 老鹰捉小鸡 (translated as “the eagle catches the chick”). It’s catchy, related to a childhood game in my (and probably your) generation and we can’t help singing it.


So I created a simple set of flashcards. After singing and flashing it, I hung it on our big pocket chart*.

Chinese reading activities song flashcards

I also followed up with these activities:

  • act out the story
  • explain the story

This chart is at our homeschooling area, between the living room and kitchen, with good traffic. Whoever walks past has the chance to read the lyrics.

The kids who are learning to write are also attracted to stop and trace the characters with their fingers.

Even the daddy was happy to learn the actual words after work.

Notes for the flashcards:

  • big and bold words
  • font: Kaiti. (It is sans serif, without small lines at the end of each stroke, similar to Chinese calligraphy.)

Important: Avoid serif font such as Songti, which adds many small lines and is harder to read. It’s also different from the way we teach children to write.

Word Cards – Arranging

While reading Charlotte Mason’s The Original Home Schooling Series* Volume 1, I came across her ideas on teaching reading and tried new extension activities.

I printed an extra set of the flashcards and cut out the individual characters:

Chinese reading activities song word cards

Then I showed Jae (5yo) the characters one by one while singing slower than usual. It’s like slow flashing small word cards.

And I invited him to arrange the lyrics in the right order.

Since he loves the song, he eagerly tried. When he was unsure, I suggested he could check out the displayed flashcards on the pocket chart, look, memorise the character then return. (Montessori control of error)

The activity rug should be a short distance away from the pocket chart so that the child has to memorise the character longer while walking back. Yet not too far that the child finds it tiring. As usual, observe your child’s learning needs.

Through this activity, he scampered back and forth several times, looking engaged and pleased.
Chinese reading activities arrange word cards
After arranging the cards, we sang the song again. This is an activity he can repeat independently since it has a control of error.

Word Search

Next, I shuffled the word cards and played “Word Search” game with him. He already loves playing memory games with Progressive Phonics game cards, so I knew he’d like this new game.

How to play:

  1. First player: calls out a card for the next player to find
  2. Next player does the same
  3. If player doesn’t know the word, he can check out the flashcards on the pocket chart.

You can make up your own rules as appropriate. Most importantly, the child gets to look at the characters many times to imprint them better while having fun.

Chinese reading activities word cards search game

Download your free flashcards here:

(You may listen to the song at here.)

The same ideas above can be used to teach English and other languages too. The key is to work from a nursery rhyme or poem that the child loves or would love.

Have fun teaching!

~ MieVee



  • Mason, Charlotte. Home Education: Training and educating children under nine (The Original Home Schooling Series* Volume 1). Charlotte Mason Research & Supply, 1989, 211-214

To receive updates and FREE resources (printable flashcards, game cards & a Montessori album worth 200+ pages in total), join Mummy’s Homeschool Club below:

Disclosure: Mummy’s Homeschool™ is an information site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Homeschool™. We test each product thoroughly and give ratings according to our experience with it. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.


[Introvert] Motivating child to perform in a new group

by mievee @ on November 23, 2016

violin practice

Today’s post is on how I motivated my introverted child to participate in a group performance.

My #2 Jae (5yo) is an introvert. In his 4 months in kindergarten, he rarely spoke. Over 1.5 years of weekly music classes, he rarely interacted with other children. Yet at home, he can be talkative and loud at times.

Two months ago, he confidently completed a violin solo event, which means he isn’t shy.

Suzuki violin is supposed to be a group class. However, his only classmate left some time back, so he has individual lessons.

Next month, there will be a Christmas group Suzuki violin performance. During the first rehearsal, he chose to watch without even touching his violin. Among the group of about 30 children are two acquaintances.

With about 30 children and 30 adults in the practice studio, nothing near the small company he enjoys, he was expectedly overwhelmed.

After that observation session, he was cooperative in practising the pieces at home.

Right till lunch time before the second rehearsal, he insisted that he didn’t want to perform.

He loves playing the violin, is able to play all the required songs well, and has solo stage confidence. I’d a strong feeling that he simply needed a good nudge to join the new group and I wasn’t convinced to let him worm his way out of the performance. At least not yet.

The script

During lunch, I casually mentioned the post-performance celebration, which involves eating at the child’s favourite place.

“Jae, after the Christmas performance, we will go and celebrate like the last time. You may suggest where to celebrate. Perhaps you’d want to have one ice cream cone all to yourself? There’s Baskin Robbins at XXX mall, just nice! Thanks to you, we can all celebrate too. So have you decided whether to perform?”

He had the choice of whether to participate, since there was no way to force him onto stage if he refused.

His eyes grew rounder, he thought over it for a few seconds and then agreed! I was surprised because just a moment ago, he’d flatly refused to perform.

During the car ride to the music school, he napped, so I had to carry him and the violin upstairs. Gosh, hazardous to my back!

Thankfully he woke up calmly before participating fully in the session. I didn’t even have to say anything to encourage him in class. The power of the ice cream cone in helping our introvert cross his mental barrier!

After the session, he asked if we were going to have ice cream. Ha, of course… not. That’s reserved for post-performance, to celebrate the child’s bravery on stage.

How did this work?

I usually use natural consequences rather than offer rewards or punishments for motivating the child’s behaviour. These might be why the reward worked this time:

  • I rarely use a external reward to motivate my children. When I do, it’s when there’s no obvious or near-term natural consequence. So this isn’t an overused technique. Each small success will convince the child of his ability, and then I can gradually wean him away from needing any reward.
  • We had tried it out earlier. In the previous performance, Jae was willing to participate. However, the practice drills got tiring and all of us (including mummy-the-coach) needed an extra boost of motivation. So we agreed to consider celebrating at the child’s suggested place if he puts in his best shot right till the end. (Note that I use “consider” instead of “promise” to ensure the adult always gets the final say, just in case.)
  • I know my introverted child well. I understand that he needs great courage to try out certain new experiences. I know that he would enjoy the performance and just had to overcome the thought of joining a new and enormous group. A small reward that he loves was all it took to help him focus on the longer term and bear with the initial discomfort.

Where to read more

To find out more about the world of introverts, especially if you’re an extroverted parent, these are some references:

  1. Introverts: You Were Born That Way by Neil Thompson: A quick read to know who is an introvert
  2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking* by Susan Cain: The current #1 best seller in behavioural psychology at Amazon

Happy parenting!

~ MieVee

P.S. Check out my workshops here

Disclosure: Mummy’s Homeschool™ is an informational site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Homeschool™. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.