butterfly blooming

Ok, I have a confession to make: I love butterflies. I love the way they look, I love the way the fly and most off all, I love they way they bloom. I’ve always thought the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is one of the most amazing things nature can offer.

We are lucky to live down the road from a lime plant growing neighbor who has a knack of finding young caterpillars in her garden, she was quite happy to hand them over to us so that my boys could watch the amazing process as well.

We’ve hatched several butterflies to date and the best part of the whole thing is when we set the butterfly free. So, since it has been a while since our last butterfly blooming project, we went scouting for a caterpillar to rear. She was kind enough to find us three.

Our first caterpillar was a real eater of a caterpillar and he worked his way through the leaves quick enough and got really fat fast. Next thing we knew (also, because we were quite distracted those days), he was in chrysalids mode. And in another blink of an eye, he emerged as a beautiful lime butterfly. Before we set the butterfly free, we took the chance to talk about the beauty of the butterfly, what they ate (nectar), how no two butterflies are the same and do some butterfly related crafts: in today’s case, we did butterfly fingerprinting ala Ed Emberley.

And as the sun was setting, I took my boys and we said farewell to the butterfly and wished him well. Q was very clear in telling the butterfly that if he needed to find food, he could go ask Mr. Bumble Bee cos they ate the same thing, but to be careful cos the bee might sting.

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Mushroom Magic

After what felt like a mammoth undertaking with our ABC series, I decided to take it a little easier and start exploring other less structured (read: more world life fun) stuff like Solar System, life cycles, things in our past… etc. Basically, random stuff; still educational but less formal than learning about ABCs and 123s.

We recently took Q to Bollywood Veggies for lunch with some friends and I decided that it would be fun to try growing our own edible stuff. I don’t have a green thumb at all so I had to go find other ways to make this work. I came across a nice mummy (Hello Poppletots!) with an online blogshop selling these cute and fun mushroom growing kits and I bought one to show Q how sporing plants reproduced/grew. He already kinda understands how seeds work.

The mushrooms come in a stump of sawdust with online instructions that they need a warm, darkish, humid place to thrive. You are to spray water it several times a day and let nature takes its course. Q’s job was to spray the stump several times a day and the truth is, he got kinda bored of the work cos things appeared to be moving really slowly. Then, suddenly, overnight maybe about four days in, little white stuff started to sprout and we had to ban the kid from going near the stump because he kept trying to peel them out. He actually succeeded and luckily we caught the little fella quietly ensconced in the storeroom (where the mushrooms were) doing peeling work. We lost one side of our budding mushrooms actually. That is why, if you look at the photo, there’re only mushrooms on one side.

From the little white bits on, things progressed quite rapidly. We’re talking about whole mushrooms growing from 1 cm things to what appeared to be full sized in under 48 hours. We gave it another day or so and decided it was time to harvest our first batch of homegrown oyster mushrooms which we fried with garlic and japanese rice wine. The adults in the house only ended up eating a piece or two, the kid ate the rest.

Digging for Dinosaurs

We took the kids to Universal Studio Singapore for my birthday and one of the highlights of the trip there was taking Q to the Lost World where dinosaurs roamed.

Sidebar: Wun and I enjoyed some adult time with harrowing jurassic park ride where we miraculously got away dry while our fellow ride goers ended up utterly and completely wet. ┬áIt was kinda like taking a trip into Stephen Spielberg’s iconic movie franchise Jurassic Park. We only wished we knew more dinosaur names.

Anyway, we took Q on the Dino-soaring ride (again after dying from heat in the long queue) and he utterly loved the ride. We missed out on meeting Diane the animatronic dinosaur so we decided we’d have our own little dinosaur adventure right at home.

I found us a dinosaur excavation kit, complete with a little excavation chisel and brush. The whole kit cost me about S$12 and we settled to a happy afternoon of chipping (very slowly) at the block of earth hoping to unearth the first of six promised dinosaurs. After an hour (read: eternity to a kid), we finally saw the tip of what would be later revealed to be the top of a T-Rex’s head.

We did the whole process properly for about two dinosaurs before Q figured out that by smacking the block on the floor hard, more earth would fall out. So that’s what he did and lo and behold, less than fifteen minutes later- and mummy having given up trying to convince him that we had to unearth the dinosaurs slowly; the rest of our dinosaur brood emerged.

As we were washing the earth off the dinosaur figurines, I explained that paleontologists and other excavation crew would spend months and years digging up dinosaur bones and then, like a really difficult jigsaw, piece them together. And my little Q in this 2,5year old wisdom said: They should just bang on the ground, then they would find the dinosaurs before they died and became bones.

Ah. The wisdom of babes.

Letter of the week- We made it!

 

After 26 llllooonnngggg weeks, we finally made it through all 26 letters of the alphabet! We’ve been faithfully sticking them up on our cupboard and here you see it- all 26 letters, upper and lower case alphabets!

Its our first education milestone since we started the Growing Tree Project. And while Q’s been able to sing his ABCs for a while already, I think this take-your-time method has really helped us enjoy learning, learning the alphabets and its place in our lives more. Sometimes when I feel like maybe he’s not “quite getting it”, he’d surprise me by correctly identifying the alphabet in random words we come across: street signs, words in books, names of his friends… Interestingly enough, he seem to like some letters more than others!

We’ve been working on writing some of the alphabets and we started with the letters of his name. We’ve gotten through all the different letters of Q-U-E-N-T-I-N (not so steady on the E and N just yet) but we’ll get there soon enough I think. He writes the letter Q very well ( a circle and a line) and I look forward to hitting this new learning milestone!

Letter of the week- Z

We finally made it to the Letter Z! I had great plans for the letter Z since Q’s favorite place in the world began with the letter Z: The Zoo! Unfortunately, between my crazy schedule (its peak work season) and the terrible weather (too hot, too cold, too wet), we did not manage to go to the Zoo to see the Zebras.

So, to make up for it, we pretended to build our own zoo! We pretty much have all the animals in our animal menagerie and our lego set has “gates” so we spent a happy afternoon building ourselves a zoo. In our zoo, of course, the crocodiles would live harmoniously with the Pandas and the goldfish next to the lions. Its a very peaceful, friendly zoo.

Methinks a trip to the zoo might still be in order next week.

Letter of the week- X

I’d be honest and say that the letter X doesn’t quite rank as high for me in importance when I rank all 26 letters of the alphabets. But the “lets be fair” part of my says, that I gotta give good ole letter X his equal emphasis; after all, what would Fox, box and X-ray be without the letter X.

So I did a little digging.

X, as most of us already know is the 24th letter of the alphabet. Aside from its (meta)linguistic importance (ahem!), X also has mathematical importance as it is often used to symbolize an unknown variable and has been thereafter co-opted within linguistics to denote a similar unknown: person X, for example.

Traditionally, X was also used in lieu of a person’s signature back in the day since many people could hardly read or write. Though, I never quite get that since they could always use thumbprint. Maybe they did both. I’m sure there were and are huge legal issues to title deeds or will signed simply with an X. Clearly who ever came up with that was either lazy or clever or both.

Then there’s X in lieu of a kiss: this dates back to early Christian times when people would place a kiss on a cross as a mark of a promise. X was a symbol of the cross of calvary as understood by the Greek word for Christ: Xristos. I’m thinking maybe this is why some people aren’t fussed to use X’mas. I personally like spelling the word CHRIST in whole. But back to my point- this was why people would write X at the bottom of letters: to suggest earnestness. Though why hugs are fat Os is beyond me. I like to think someone thought the contrast between both letters looked nice. Or maybe Hallmark came up with it.

Anyway… then there is the all famous X chromosome. The all important X chromosome is one of two sex determining chromosomes. Females have two X chromosomes and males have XY. I think this is why women are considered mysterious and all- evidently the mathematicians got that observation right seeing as they like to use X to denote the unknown variable.

And most importantly, to me anyway, X just kinda looks cool. Don’t you think?

Joining the dots

Q hit a stage about two weeks ago where all he would want to draw are shapes: circles, squares, triangles and rectangles.

All fine, well and good and we started introducing the idea of complete the picture to him: I’d show him a sample picture made of shapes and draw another one half completed and he would finish it up. Usually it’d be something simple like missing wheels on a car (circles) or ears on a cat (triangles).

Then he went on to wanting to draglines. Many many lines, so I begun using his fat do-a-dot markers to draw thick luminescent lines (like highlighters) and he would either draw on them or between them “like a maze” he says.

I got kinda bored with doing that so early in the week instead of starting our letter of the week, I introduced him to connect-the-dots since he knew his number sequences quite well and simple line matching (where you join an item from the left column to a corresponding item on the right column).

I left him with very sparse instructions and was pleasantly surprised he managed the tasks well enough. He tore through the stack of self generated worksheets fast enough, mainly, I think, driven by the fact I’d give him two M&Ms for each correct task and soon started requesting for specific picture I had to craft the connect-the-dots around: like Nemo.

His requests have gotten more complex (turtle, rhino, dinosaur…) so maybe I think I will go find ready made ones.