Monthly Archives: June 2009

George Eats Laksa, Not Durians

A few days ago we were playing Bible Quiz over lunch with some friends. One of the adults asked – “Who can name the first five books of the Bible?” After Genesis and Exodus, none of us were entirely confident about the order (which speaks volumes about our Bible knowledge!)

Anyhow, it was an opportunity to teach the kids about mnemonics, specifically first-letter mnemonics. The one I learnt in school for the colours of the rainbow was “Richard Of York Gained Battles in Vain”, which I always found a bit odd since the poor Duke is mostly unknown to Singaporeans. Much better that we come up with one that makes sense for ourselves!

Anyhow, I challenged the kids to come up with one for the Pentateuch so we wouldn’t be lost for the answer again. And the title of this post is Athos’ attempt, which I thought was quite a winner!

The Ten Commandments in Textspeake

A friend sent me this. Brilliant!

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg’s

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

Ice, ice baby

In the midst of this impossibly hot weather, I’ve been trying to think of things to do with the kids that don’t involve us (well, me really) getting too sticky and sweaty.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before but ICE is such a great, low-cost, boredom buster. Today we spent a good hour outside doing icey things, which worked so well in this nasty heat. And you can always teach some science on the sidelines – freezing, melting, surface tension, adhesion, cohesion, hydrophilia, hydrophobia blah blah blah.

But it’s really too hot to get into the science. So on to the activities –

  • Ice-racing – Give each kid a piece of ice and get them to blow it across a table. The first person to blow his ice off the opposite end wins. It helps to wet the table thoroughly to minimise friction. One variation we also tried is to use drinking straws to focus our blowing more precisely.
  • Ice carrom/hockey – Kids are to use their fingers to flick their ice cube carrom-style into a goal (I just used my hands in a V formation). They can also use straws, spoons or some other item as a stick or bat.
  • Ice fishing – Fill a basin with water and throw in some items that sink like marbles, coins or paper clips. Cover the surface with ice, the more ice the more challenging. Give each kid a spoon and they are to fish out as many items as they can. If you mix items you can give more difficult ones more points. To increase squeal factor, instead of spoons they are to use only their index and middle fingers (like chopsticks). If you have a bigger basin, you can also try bigger items which the kids must fish out use their feet.
  • Ice bags – Fill a small Ziploc with ice cubes and seal. Practice throwing and catching, and take cool break in between!

Stay cool!

More Fun and Frugal Birthday Cakes

It turns out the most popular post on Pilgrim Parent at the moment is
Birthday Cakes for the Fun-Loving and Frugal

So here are more cakes, created since that last post. All are made from Betty Crocker cake mix, and the icings are either butter or whipped cream based.

Porthos’ 6th birthday cake – an aircraft carrier with Lego figures and models made by Porthos himself.

Milo powder and nuggets simulate soil and rocks in this military-inspired, sugar-saturated creation for Athos’ 7th birthday.

Aramis’ 3rd birthday cake is a train featuring chocolate-chip cookie wheels, windows made of Loacker biscuits, and Kit Kat tracks.

Athos is begining to outgrow cutesy cakes so we had some difficulty brainstorming for his 8th birthday. Since he likes Lego so much, we decided on a Lego block cake. I’m a little embarrassed to say most people had difficulty recognising it 🙂


Make sure to check out these other cake posts too!
Birthday Cakes for the Fun-Loving and Frugal
The Smoke-Emitting Prehistoric Cake
The A380 @ Camel Diaries

Water shooters for toddlers

It has been blistering hot in Singapore so water play is the activity of first resort in the Pilgrim family these days.

It’s not always convenient to go to a pool, so here’s a fun alternative, especially if you have younger kids. Buy a spray bottle from any household goods store, fill it up with water, and let the kids at it! The cheapest bottles go for under $2, and the more expensive ones have different nozzle settings.

Here are some ideas:

  • watering plants, leaves, flowers
  • spraying into tubs and basins
  • aiming at specified targets (we sometimes draw a bull’s eye on our blackboard)
  • shooting at each other – this works especially well if you have, as the Pilgrim family does, kids of varied ages. The older ones will always win in an all-out water gun fight, so spray bottles level the playing field enormously. Be forewarned that older boys might consider this extremely uncool! Athos was most dismissive at first, but eventually deigned to join in and had fun.
  • add different food colourings to each spray bottle and let them spray paint on a large piece of mahjong paper or the bathroom wall
  • if it’s a sunny day, challenge them to make a rainbow. Porthos managed to do it without any guidance and was utterly thrilled (not surprising given his history with rainbows). The spray should be the kind that shoots out a mist of water rather than a jet, and you should stand with your back facing the sun.

The spray bottles are a useful tool for sand play as well – if you are building sandcastles on a hot day, spray the built structures occasionally to keep them wet and intact.

Don’t be surprised if the kids find other interesting ways to use the spray bottles. Athos started giving Porthos a “haircut”, spraying water like an old pro barber!

Have fun!

Red Sports – Daily PE? One primary school shows the way.

Just a quick post to link everyone over to Red Sports’ feature story on Seng Kang Primary School, the only school in Singapore that offers daily PE lessons for all its students, rain or shine.

Earlier this year, Porthos came home from school saying that he didn’t have PE that day, even though it was on the schedule. Why, I asked. “Because we were behaving badly. So the teacher punished us and didn’t let us go for PE.”

I thought that was one of the more absurd things I’d ever heard. I’ve also heard anecdotes of schools cancelling PE for PSLE revisions or make-up classes. Is it any wonder that the ruggedness of our nation is in question?

According to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, “Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world. In Singapore about 30% of the children become myopic by the age of 7 and by age 12 about half of them are myopic. There is a grave need to prevent myopia in children at a younger age because the younger the age of onset of myopia, the higher the risk of developing eye related diseases later in life.” HPB also supports daily outdoor time because “emerging evidence suggests that spending more time outdoors may help delay the onset or progression of myopia.” (Source: HPB website)

Add in our obesity rates, and the range of learning disabilities and sensory problems present in our chidren, and Seng Kang’s example truly stands out.

Red Sports – Daily PE? One primary school shows the way.