Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birthday @ Ulu Langat 27thMarch2011

Blow till your balloon bursts! How terrifying.

HC's birthday was held in a campsite in Ulu Langat. Once again competitive games were organised, Fai and Han backed out after trying out the first game.

While the other kids filled up plastic bottles with water using sponges, my boys looked on with disinterest.

Dear Hubby brought up the socialization issue and I guess he was wondering if homeschooling had made the boys shy away from such games and mixing with other kids.


I gave this some thought. I think the boys just didn't find the games worth participating in.

It is not that they had issues mixing with the other kids, it is just that blowing huge balloons and having it burst in your face and running up and down squeezing water into bottles with a group of kids they have just met, besides HC, at the behest of an adult with a loud hailer must have seemed mindless and pointless to them.

The boys headed for the stream.

As we waded in the cool water, enjoyed the feel of the smooth rocks under our feet, the familiar tune of 'Chicken Dance' invaded our tranquil sanctum.

JY baked and decorated the 'Polar Express' birthday cake.

One boy appreciated her cake so much he wolfed down 3 of her fondant train carriages.

The log bridge was a favourite with the kids. Some butt-scooted across. Others balanced their way over, tightwalk style. The stream could be dammed up till the water was chest-high. I can imagine the young and the young-at-heart doing a backflip into the water from the log.

The campsite was a perfect place for a gathering.

A few parents who had placed their kids into an international schools were lamenting about the dismal state the school was in.

One of the parents thought that service learning in schools such as building toilets in Third World countries was what he had envisioned his child would be doing in his school and another was disappointed that her child was starting to rudely answer back.

It has been some time since I have heard complains about the school system and the problems of socializing with the wrong crowd.

I was pulled into the discussion by HC's dad and JY was interrogated by the parents.

It is easy to complain about the school system but not many are willing get out of the system and take the challenge of teaching their own.

Through homeschooling, your child could be collaborating with other homeschoolers from around the region or the world using the internet to discuss and build toilets or libraries, if he chooses to do so.

The book "Dumbing Us Down" was mentioned. A good book that deals about the issues that schools, teachers and schoolkids face and how it is detrimental to the development of our kids.

The kids in their own world. Creating their own games with just their imagination and Mother Nature. And socializing certainly wasn't an issue, Fai and Han quickly cliqued with the rest of the kids. Happily joining in with whatever that was cooked up.

Ean sploshing paint. It was very thoughtful of HC's mom to set up a painting table, vegetarian food, an array of dishes that could feed an army, waterguns, bubbles, sugar-free drinks...this woman had immaculate planning. The face says it all. We had fun.

Birthday Party @ Bangsar Village 26March2011

Slithering like a snake. It was JMing's 5th birthday party.

What a workout the boys had. First an hour of climbing, sliding, jumping and running at the play apparatus followed by games with the facilitator. Phew!

I have a question: What is it with 'Chicken Dance' at kids' parties?

This time around the mummies were roped in to do the dance.

Fai and Han didn't like the games much and excused themselves after the second game.

Competitive games like the ever popular scavanger hunt - get a belt or a 10cent coin or a strand of white hair was not their idea of fun.

Maybe seeing their mummy do the Chicken Dance took the fun out.

Other kids, especially the birthday boy, had a whale of a time though.
Ean, on the other hand insisted on joining the Disco Dance. He said that he wanted to dance and kept pulling me into the dark room with flashing lights and groovy music.

Hungry Kids.

The food was thoughtfully portioned and laid out on kid-sized tables.

So all the kids had to do was choose a seat and attack the food.

Thank you CHOoi, HLing and JMing for the lovely time.

Before heading back home, origami cranes caught JY's eye.

She happily folded 20 cranes.

She would have contributed more cranes if I hadn't given her a deadline.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Science Centre 25thMarch2011

Thanks to the wonderful sharing on the Malaysian Homeschooling Network, the library at the National Science Centre was brought to my attention.

I made it a must-visit on my day out. Before stepping into the library on the 3rd floor, we were just in time to catch the Science Show in the auditorium located next to the lifts.
The first demonstation was on the amazing effects of liquid Nitrogen. Nothing is quite so attention grabbing as 'steaming' cold liquid nitrogen. The kids were expecting piping hot liquid from the gaseous mists billowing out of the beaker but when the demonstrator walked around with the beaker full of liquid Nitrogen, they were surprised by how cold the surface of the beaker felt.
We were informed that the temperature of liquid nitrogen was -196C.

The kids got a treat when they got to see what happened when a balloon and a branch of leaves were immersed into liquid nitrogen.
Second demo: Elephant Toothpaste, the demonstrator entitled it "snake experiment' Another jaw-dropping experiment. Mix acidified hydrogen peroxide with a little dishwashing liquid, 'Glo' was used. Then put in a tablespoon of potassium iodide, KI. Fai and Han eagerly volunteered to put in the KI. The moment they put in their spoonful of KI, they were asked to stand back and watch. What a thrill it must have been for them as they watched the white foam bubbles shoot out from the measuring cylinder. I shall bring along a satay stick on my next visit to test out the evolution of oxygen gas. JY touched the measuring cylinder later and remarked that the cylinder was hot to her touch. A lesson on an exothermic reaction there.
All along I had held back any instructions on Chemistry, now it is time I begin. JY, Fai and Han expressed a lot of interest. Yippeee! Chemistry lessons to the fore!

When asked for volunteers, Fai and Han rushed to the stage but when the board of nails were brought out, Fai ran back to the seat. Han, realising his brother was gone, quickly dashed back too.

They wanted nothing to do with the sharp looking nails. They were astounded that the balloon did not burst when pressed onto the board full of nails.

The boys kept on asking why. I had to explain that the pressure on the balloon was evenly distributed out onto the nails and that the balloon would only burst when added pressure was put onto the balloon.

Too bad the demonstrator did not press onto the balloon harder to show that.

JY's favourite demo. Butane gas was bubbled into a foamy solution of water and dishwashing liquid. JY's hand was submerged into the soapy solution and she took a handful of butane bubbles. The bubbles were then ignited with a lighter.

Tahdaaah! JY's hands were on fire!

She said it just felt slightly hot but the excitement was great.

The Science show is highly recommended. It made science interesting and was entertaining as well. The kids loved it and so, I really, really love it too.

We loved the library the moment we walked in.

The shelves were lined with books of the newest edition.

Books for toddlers right up to the advaced learners. Books on bugs to skeletons. JY had her nose buried in a Horrible Science paperback.

Han was stuck on a book about skeletons. Fai on nature trail markings.

RM60 for a family of 4 per year with free entrance to PSN. What a bargain!

Look at what the library had to offer. Who can resist?

Later we lazed about by their splash pool.

The kids had some fun with the Archimedes screw and JY waded near the whirpool.

We had to lunch on biscuits and water though. Food at the cafeteria was not to our liking and I would suggest bringing your own food if you are planning to spend a few hours in PSN.

We chatted on the science demonstration and from the liquid nitrogen demo, the kids were surprised that the balloon retained its original shape and texture after being removed from the liquid nitrogen.

They hypothesized what would happen if a live grasshopper was placed in it, could it be revived?

That was when I brought up cryogenics and the freezing of the human body. JY and I discussed that for a while with Fai listening in intently. Ahhhh...what a wonderfully scientific day :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

PD Army Museum 19March2011

If there is one place you must visit in PD, it is the Army Museum.
It has been some time since our last visit and this time around we were accompanied by 40 children from Kapar Kidz.

Choo...chooo...chuggg...chugg....The train even had smoke billowing out for added effect. The train's whistle and chugging was so real that Ean refused to go anywhere near it.
We were pleasantly surprised to see booths set up and soldiers manning them. A week long exhibition was being held during the school break, what luck!
The boys didn't expect the guns to be so heavy.
Han, the one that makes guns out of anything from branches to drift wood and rocks, held the real rifle for a moment and quickly placed it back and ran off to the next exhibit.

Firefighting gear.
Fai noticed that the harness and accessories were similar to the ones used for rock climbing. He had gone rock climbing a few days earlier during the hot-air balloon carnival in Putrajaya.

A few nights ago, during Ean's daily dose of Maisy's Fire Engine, one of his must-reads, he said that he wanted to go on the fire engine - looks like another visit to the fire station.

I liked this display of knots.

Army food in mesh tin to sample (left) Have a look at their menu (right).

JY found their rations interesting, especially the sardines as she could feel the fish inside

We were given two horseshoes as souveniers.
Ean who likes to say "Neigh, I want some hay" could see what real hay looked like.

Minesweeper with one arm blown off.

What a treat it was to go for an armour joy ride on a Armoured Personnel Carrier. We paid RM1 per person, went into the APC, climbed up to the top and was taken for a ride around the barracks. It was bumpy and fast. We enjoyed every moment of it.

Setting up a trap for larger animals such as deer.
Smaller animals such as squirrels and jungle fowl had loops that snared their neck or feet rather than being impaled by spikes. All rather brutal but the kids now had an idea what was required to survive in the jungle.

A python and a frog.

Using a blade and a rock to start a fire. It took quite a while and a lot of effort. The hardest rock is required for the job. The hardest rock is usually found at the bottom of the riverbed.
A whitish wool-like substance was scrapped off the bark of a palm tree to use as a fire starter.

Smoked meat can keep for months.

Smoked monkey anyone?
Next to the monkey is the white wool-like substance used as a firestarter and above it, a more palatable chicken and fish.

When setting base in the jungle, look out for tiger or elephant tracks. If detected, sleep on a high-rise condo style. The tiger is sure to pay you a visit the moment it detects your foreign odour...the soldier sniffed his armpits as he said this.
The rattan ring that was used to secure the 2 pieces of wood was similar to the ring that JY bought in Miri, Sarawak.
JY was surprised to see her ring being used on a trap.
The traps demonstrated were similar to the ones we had seen before in the Orang Asli Museum. Seeing the traps in use by the army was eye-opening.
This outreach programme by the Malaysian Armed Forces was very educational and enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Starfish 20March2011

I was adamant. I simply had to spot a starfish. Previous attempts were futile.
Dear Hubby would stroll by and say "Didn't you spot any? There's one here, one here and another there." I had enough of him. I just got to find me one!
So one day when Dear Hubby was busy with the installing of window frames etc, I seized the opportunity to go starfish hunting with the boys and leave hubby home.
Sure enough, the tide went down really low, I had a feeling that today could be it, me, spotting my first starfish.
I had high hopes.
I dashed to the waters edge, scanning the sand, walking ever so slowly. Just as I was about to give up, I spotted something bright yellow. When I looked closer, there was a starfish with its arms turned up as if it was waving at me and yelling "Look here, Look here!"
And then I heard a high pitch whistle, when I glance up there was a huge group of raptors soaring on the thermals. Picture perfect!

It was a good day.
Spotted lots of different seagrass in a rainbow of colours and shapes.

Very low tide.
Most of the shoreline was exposed which made it ideal for spotting sea creatures and seagrass. The tide doesn't go this low all the time. I need to read up on tidal charts, so that I can predict the next one.

Fai examining the starfish's underbelly and tube feet.

Saying goodbye to the starfish.

Starfish gliding towards Fai's hand. we could see the tube feet extending out and propelling itself forward.

Pottering 20March2011

Fai trying to teach Han a game of Checkers.

Although Han can draw pretty well, he still asks his big brother for help. Fai would
drop whatever he was doing and assist him. Han has progressed so much that I have to ask whose drawing I was looking at.
These days, Han would announce at the top of his lungs, "I need to draw! Give me a pen!" The drawing bug has certainly bitten him.

JY took over her grandmother's untouched Sudoku book and in 2 days was attempting the 57th puzzle. She insisted I tried out the simpler puzzles that she skipped and when I had completed it, she said "Now you know why I am addicted to this thing??!!"
Fai drew out Sudoku boxes that were out of alignment and added his own numbers into the boxes. He wanted me to solve his puzzles.
I told him I needed straight lines and showed him how to draw the boxes. He added the numbers, he made sure he doesn't place the same numbers in each column or row or region.
I was discussing the house's renovation plan with Dear hubby and told Fai to give me a moment.
Whatever we discussed, Fai managed to draw out. Note the rope to climb up to the loft.

Art inspired by Machika and Mulu.
Machika taught JY the crane origami.
The carved orange peel(top, right) by JY was an attempt in replicating the wooden warrior's shield she saw in Sarawak.
Fai cut out his orange peel into a castle and a human figure.

JY managed to find this long-forgotten origami book and she soon mastered folding a duck. She created a flock of ducks :)
Fai's green origami penguin with breast coloured in.

Han found a dead millipede. I ran to get my microscope eager to have a look at its mouth and legs. Han said its legs look like crab's legs. The head got lost when I spent too much time focusing the microscope.
Ean tried to shove dried leaves under the eye-piece.