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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Using "Wayang" (Javanese-style Shadow Puppets) to Depict Bible Stories

"Wayang" is the Javanese word for "shadow", but it is commonly used to refer to the shadow puppet shows that are famous across Indonesia. Although Wayang is commonly used to depict the Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, I decided to use the beautiful form of "Wayang" and apply it to the Christian love story of Isaac and Rebekah. Wugs and Dooey love standing up in their cots and playing with their shadows so I thought it would be a fun way for them to interact with the story.
I created the templates of Isaac, Rebekah, the camel and the jug on card and then cut them out.  Although Abraham's servant plays a big role in the story, I decided to use the camel to fill his part - knowing that Wugs would enjoy holding the camel.  For the arms, I followed the template on this website.  The arms are in two sections and are held together with brass fasteners which enables them to move.  Before connecting the arms to the main body of the puppets, I gave Wugs the pottu ("bindis"). They were a little difficult for him to handle, as they are very small and delicate, but he did manage to add some to Rebekah's dress. I used black and gold pens to draw some basic features on the puppets.  Although the decoration cannot be seen on the shadow, the puppets are an art form in themselves and this was a nice way to get Wugs involved in the making of the puppets.  I added some decoration that would show up in the shadows such as the doily (on Isaac) and the cup cake border (on Rebekah).  Finally I fixed coffee stirrers (from Costa!) onto the hands of the puppets and a chopstick to the back of the puppets so I could hold the puppet whilst manipulating its arms.

I placed a lamp on a stand by the boys' beds and narrated the story with them both standing up in a cot and Wugs holding the camel puppet.

What we used:
A4 Card sheets
Pottu ("bindis")
4 Coffee stirrers
3 Chopsticks
8 Brass fasteners
Black marker
Gold marker
Doily paper
Acrylic gold paint
Cup cake decorative border
Masking tape

Note: If I carried out this activity again, I would have doubled up on the card that I used for the puppets' bodies and limbs as they seemed a bit fragile in action.  I would have also experimented with narrating the story by projecting a light behind a white sheet as the shadows may have been clearer than they were on the wall.

Monday, 21 July 2014

"Where I Live" Small World Play

 A couple of months ago, Wugs and I were in a taxi on our way home from shopping and he kept uttering over and over "second condo on the right".  I had no idea what he was referring to until we approached our condo and I leaned forward and said to the taxi driver, "Second condo on the right please".  Wugs was so familiar with me providing directions to the taxi drivers that he was beginning to remember them.  It occurred to me that it would be really useful for him to learn how to get home if we were separated.
What we used:
A2 size paper
Contact paper/sticky back plastic
Marker pens
Modular buildings

I tore off a piece of paper from our A2 pad and drew out a basic map of where we live, making the roads large enough for Wugs to drive his cars down. I drew a few landmarks on the map that are special to Wugs (the juice shop, the cupcake shop and the play gym).  Then I covered the map in contact paper.  (This turned out to be a very wise thing to do as the map was attacked by Dooey and water was spilt over it).  Finally I scattered a few modular buildings and signs and added the Singapore taxis.

We went through the main route that taxis take to our condo pointing out the landmarks on our way. As I have been teaching Wugs about traffic lights (that green means "go" and red means "stop"), we went through the different scenarios together involving "the little green/red man".  I didn't have a sign for this, so I adapted one using stickers and coloured pens and we played out the scenario of crossing the road with Lego figures.  Wugs spent at least an hour playing with it and talking about the cars being dangerous and turning left and right.  This was probably one of his favourite small world plays and it was so easy and cheap to make.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Counting using Bean Bags

This is my fifth counting activity with Wugs in the last two weeks and I have to admit that I was starting to feel a bit defeated.  He has definitely got into the rhythm of counting and has been doing it during his play and at the supermarket or when looking through a book, but the number he comes up with doesn't always correspond to the quantity he is looking at. Then I remembered a lecture I attended at university about how people have different learning styles and I decided to apply counting to something he loves more than anything else - to physical activity.

I brought out some numbered bean bags that I bought ages ago and have never used.  I placed the bean bags into a basket and let him put his hand inside, read the number on the bean bag, then jump, hop, clap, blow raspberries to match the number on the bean bag.  He absolutely loved it!  His own adaptation to this game was to shout out the number on the bean bag as loudly as he could,  throw the bean bag as far as he could down the corridor and then jump, hop, clap etc.  After we had thrown all the bean bags, I asked him to collect them up and place them in order which he did almost perfectly.  Every day this week, he has gone back to the basket and wanted to do the activity again.  Even Dooey had fun collecting up the bean bags.

What we used:
Numbered Bean bags

Counting with Petals

This activity was inspired by Wugs' love of flowers and my discovery of a box of fabric petals that I bought from Ikea about 5 years ago - since before we were married.

I made the base by cutting out an A4 size rectangle from a cardboard box and from light blue felt.  I stuck the two together.  I cut out the leaves, stem and head of the flower from felt and stuck them to the base.  The idea was for Wugs to roll the dice and whatever number appeared on the dice, he had to match by the number of petals he added to make the flower.

The first thing he did was roll the dice and took two petals and put them in the centre of the flower head and said "eyes".  He added more for the nose and the mouth.  It was really quite funny.  This was probably the least successful of the counting activities I have tried with him so far.  He learned how to roll and read a dice, but didn't quite appreciate that he was creating a flower.

What we used:
Different coloured felt
Fabric petals

Bakery Counting Game

With this counting activity, I was trying to tap into a couple of Wugs' interests: cakes and money!  It's a scenario that he encounters at least twice a week at the supermarket.  Usually I am paying by card, but he at least understands that something must be exchanged in order to take the items away.  Outside our supermarket is "Lamb's Cupcake" shop where we pay by cash and whenever we take a taxi, we get Wugs to pay the "uncle" using cash.

In this game, I made Wugs the baker so he had the satisfaction of collecting all the coins.  I asked him if I could have a cake, if he could tell me how much it was and then in front of the cake, I counted out the number of coins, so he could make the association between the number on the cake and the coins being counted.  We've played this game about 3 times and the first time, he ran off with all the coins!  (I learned to put out just enough coins to play the game).  By the third time, we played a whole game together and later that day I found him counting during his free play, so something must have stuck.

What we used:
Play food (real food would have worked just as well)
Plastic coins (real coins would have worked.  For us they would have been a choking hazard)
Marker pen

Counting Stones using a Chart

Continuing from my last post, I am trying to teach Wugs how to appreciate that numbers can relate to quantities.  This activity was a very simple one which involved lining up the stones alongside the numbers on the blue circles of the chart.

The moment I handed Wugs the activity, he tried to build a tower with the stones and then found it hilarious when they all fell down!  After a few more attempts at getting him to put the stones on the circles, he did the first 3 and then counted them (in the wrong order) as he put them in the bag.  We have some way to go, but these little detours are fascinating and I don't mind if he doesn't follow my exact intention in creating the task.  As my sister assures me, "They are learning all the time" and it's not always discernible to us exactly what they are learning.

What we used:

I created the chart myself and I'm happy to share it (once I've figured out how to attach a document to a post).  You could also simply draw one out by hand or use a whiteboard and marker.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Counting Crocodiles

I've set myself a challenge to make a counting activity for every day of the week after realising that Wugs doesn't (I think) appreciate that numbers can refer to quantities.  I got the brilliant idea to turn pegs into crocodiles from this site.  I drew the crocodiles' features onto the wooden pegs using a black pen and then coloured them using green marker pens.  I added the pink dots and sealed them with Mod Podge.  (I was concerned that Wugs would try to pull off the dots if he realised they were stickers).   Then I cut out fish shapes from blue card and numbered them.

The first time I introduced this to Wugs he matched all the crocodiles to the correct fish so I breathed a sigh of relief.  Since then, however, he has mismatched them so I think we will still get some more use out of our crocodiles yet.

What we used:
Wooden pegs
Black pen
Green markers
Pink circular stickers
Mod Podge
Blue card
Blue marker pen