Tag Archives: unit study

Baking Lapbook and Unit Study

After about 5 weeks, we finally finished our baking unit study. We baked at least one dish per week. Some came out better than others, but for beginners, I think our baking attempts came out pretty well ๐Ÿ™‚

We took recipes from various books, websites and product packaging (for La Brioche):
Shortbread cookies and bread – The Baking Book
Candy Bar Pie – Keebler Ready Crust
La Brioche – saf-instant Dry Baker’s Yeast (back of packaging)
Cinnamon Rolls – The Usborne Children’s Book of Baking
Cream Cheese Frosting (for the cinnamon rolls) – simplyrecipes.com
Vanilla Cupcakes (our best output so far, thanks to the simple, easy-to-follow recipe) – cupcake-creations.com

After learning about the various baking tools, how to measure ingredients, how to mix, whisk, knead, etc., my children have been bitten by the baking bug (seeing parts of Junior Masterchef Australia has also added to the spark ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

They want to keep baking, and now my kids know they can bake some really nice tasting and looking cupcakes and breads from scratch (no more baking from a box). Great!

Lapbooks are done ๐Ÿ™‚ But the baking will continue… ๐Ÿ™‚

Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights

On November 5, 2010, the Hindus in Singapore and in many other countries celebrated Deepavali, or Diwali, the Festival of Lights.ย  We only heard about this very important Hindu festival when we started living here in Singapore (majority of Filipinos are Christian, some are Muslim, and the other religions would comprise a very small minority).

After hearing of and seeing the Deepavali celebrations in Singapore for 5 years, it was time that we learned a little bit about it.ย  And what better way than by doing a unit study on Deepavali ๐Ÿ™‚

1. My kids made chalk rangoli using sandpaper and chalk (thanks to activityvillage.co.uk for their wonderful section on Diwali for kids!).ย  This was a fun and easy, albeit messy and dusty activity.ย  My 10-year-old daughter made her own rangoli designs.ย  I made a design for my 5-year-old son and he filled it in with colored chalk.

Kylie’s Chalk Rangoli

Rafa’s Chalk Rangoli


2. Using an easy recipe from Cath Senker’s book, Hinduism: Signs, Symbols and Stories, my kids and I cooked kheer – a sweet, milky rice pudding traditionally prepared during Deepavali.ย  It was fairly easy to cook and didn’t require a lot of fancy ingredients.ย  Perhaps due to the nutmeg, which to my family’s palate is quite an exotic taste, we didn’t quite take a liking to our kheer.ย  Still, the experience of cooking was fun and educational.


3.ย  On Nov 4, the day before Deepavali, we went with some friends to Little India.ย  In and around the Deepavali Festival Village along Campbell Lane, we saw many, many stalls and stores selling vegetables, beautiful flower garlands, sweets, clothes, lights, gifts and trinkets, and much more.ย  The crowd was so overwhelming though that after about an hour we made our way out.ย  Fortunately, we were still able to catch the colorful street light up at dusk, just before we left Little India.

Deepavali Street Light Up

Lady selling flower garlands

4. Finally, we made the Deepavali/Diwali lapbooks!ย  In their lapbooks are pictures of the main characters of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, photos from our trip to Little India, pictures of diya, rangoli and the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, and a copy of the kheer recipe we followed.

Inside Kylie’s lapbook

Inside Rafa’s lapbook


We learned that Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration ushering in the Hindu New Year.ย  It is a time to ask Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and good fortune, for blessings of prosperity.ย  It is a joyful and colorful time to be with family and friends.

How Numbers Were Invented – Our First Math Unit

For our first math unit, we went back in time to the very beginning – how numbers were invented.ย  As our reference book, we used Think of a Number by Johnny Ball (published by Dorling Kindersley).

We practiced writing Babylonian numbers on clay, made Mayan numbers using popsicle sticks, beans and shells, and played an online version of the ancient Egyptian board game Senet (www.ancientegypt.co.uk).

We watched a few online videos about these ancient number systems: History of Mathematics on YouTube and Discovering Math: Reading and Writing Mayan Numbers on HowStuffWorks.

We played a game using our home made ancient numbers flash cards (can’t learn a unit without any games!).

And of course, the kids each made a lapbook about how numbers were invented.ย  I’d say this was a mini-unit for us.ย  We didn’t delve into it too deeply and for too long (spent 2 weeks on it).ย  It was, however, a good way to learn about the purpose of numbers in our lives, and how our lives would be so different (and difficult) without them.

Singapore Tales lapbooks

We’re wrapping up our Singapore Tales unit study, and the kids have finished their lapbooks.ย  Making lapbooks is a fun way to learn, and we’re learning to make nicer lapbooks as we go along our merry homeschooling way.ย  Till the next lapbook… ๐Ÿ™‚

Dioramas of Singapore Tales

As part of our unit study on Singapore tales based on the book Attack of the Swordfish and Other Singapore Tales (text by Charlotte Lim; illustrations by Alicia Tan Yen Ping; published by National Heritage Board), my kids made dioramas of their favorite tales.

Of the 6 tales in the book, my 5-year-old son picked Attack of the Swordfish, a story about how a young boy’s cleverness helped to save his seaside village from attacking swordfish and how this same cleverness led to tragedy.ย  In his diorama, he depicted the scene where the swordfish came to the coast and attacked the villagers (he loves fight scenes).

My 10-year-old daughter picked Sisters’ Islands, a story about two sisters who, not wanting to be separated when a tribe chief forcibly claims one of them to be his bride, chose to drown together in the sea.ย  Two small islands formed where the sisters had drowned.ย  In my daughter’s diorama, she depicted the scene where the tribe chief comes on a boat to the village where the sisters and their uncle lived.

My kids started out by painting the sea, the shore and the mountain backdrop and glueing the cotton clouds on their shoe boxes.

Diorama materials

Then, using cardboard and craft match sticks, they made kampong houses.ย  Finally, for the last and their favorite part, using clay, pipe cleaners and craft match sticks, they made people, trees, swordfish and a boat.

It was my kids’ first time to make dioramas and we all enjoyed it.ย  Making dioramas is a fun art project and a good way to reinforce learning about other people’s lives and stories ๐Ÿ™‚

Attack of the Swordfish diorama

Sisters' Islands diorama

Our First Lapbooks

I’ve decided to let my kids try lapbooking and notebooking. It seems to be a fun and creative way for them to express and keep record of what they are learning.

For our first attempt, I asked them to make a simple lapbook about one of their favorite vacation places – Phuket, Thailand. Making Phuket lapbooks will give us a place to keep all those souvenirs hanging around our drawers – maps, boarding passes, brochures, stickers, etc.

First attempt was a success! Fun for the kids because they get to draw, color, cut and paste without having to spend hours on a project.

Next attempt: lap-n-note (lapbook and notebook combo)!

Tyrannosaurus Drip (Book Review)

Mommy’s (leasj) Rating:ย  Fun ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  Smart ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’ก

My 4-year-old son and I just love this gem of a dinosaur story!ย  Borrowed it from the library several times (reading it now for our dinosaurs unit study) and will probably borrow again in the future (if I don’t end up buying a copy).

Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts is a very entertaining, lyrical story of a baby duckbill dinosaur’s mistaken identity.ย  Because of a sneaky little compsognathus (I recognized this dinosaur at the Hollywood Dinos exhibit, thanks to this book!), baby duckbill dinosaur found himselfย  the odd part of the mean Tyrannosaurus family.ย  He ingeniously finds his way home and a way to keep the duckbill herd safe from the Tyrannosauruses.

The rhythm and rhyme of the text and the comical and colorful illustrations of Tyrannosaurus Drip was just so endearing.ย  It’s one of our all-time favorite dinosaur stories for young children.

Available at the Cheng San Public Library, Singapore.

The Runaway Rice Cake (Book Review)

Mommy’s (leasj) Rating: Fun ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Smart ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’ก

Kylie’s (kyliesj) Rating: Fun ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Smart ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’ก

One of the storybooks we read for our Chinese New Year unit was The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine.ย  It was also my 4-year-old son’s and my favorite among the 5 storybooks we read.

On Chinese New Year’s eve, the Chang family prepares to share one homemade rice cake (nian-gao).ย  Suddenly, the rice cake comes alive and runs away.ย  The family runs after the runaway rice cake, which bumps into a hungry old woman.ย  The rice cake relents, and the Chang family shares it with the old woman, who ends up finishing the whole rice cake.ย  The old woman walks away grateful and full, and the Chang family walks home cold and hungry.ย  A wonderful surprise welcomes them at their home and the Changs end up celebrating their best New Year’s Eve.

My son loved listening to this story several times over.ย  It was fun to read about a rice cake magically coming to life and being chased around town by a father, mother and three young boys.

I liked the message of The Runaway Rice Cake – kindness and generosity always has a way of coming around.ย  The artwork by Tungwai Chau was also very colorful and beautiful.

The Runaway Rice Cake is definitely a fun and meaningful Chinese New Year read for young children.

Available at Cheng San Community Library, Singapore.