We’re back at Bishan Park for our weekly playdate, and I think it was the first time that we had such a good turnout, which meant the mums could each take only one segment, and the children could experience a wider variety of “teaching styles”.
Here’s the general format of our playdates, for those of you who might want to organise something similar for your children and their friends.
*Tip #1: Try to gather a group of four to six children of the same age, ie born in the same year. Too few children might mean that you end up with only one or two sometimes, and too many might be difficult to handle, as they might be more easily distracted.
*Tip #2: Find a common day and time (mornings are probably better for younger children), and stick to it. It’ll be good if you can find like-minded mums, so that working together as a co-op will be much easier.
*Tip #3: Set up a Whatsapp group chat and/or a secret (for privacy purposes) Facebook group to discuss what you’ll be doing each week, and to share photos.
1. Welcome Song
– There are many different Welcome songs which you can find on Youtube. Ours is very simple, as we sing the following lyrics, to the tune of “Happy Birthday”.
*Tip #4: Find a song that is simple enough for the children, even though they might not be able to sing along, as it signals the start of each session for them.
Good morning to you
Good morning to you
Good morning my dear friends
Good morning to you
Singing and waving Good Morning to each other
2. Recapitulation of previous session and Introduction of new items
– Our theme for this term is Animals, so we started with farm animals, and have now moved on to zoo animals. Mummy S brought some animal figurines and simple animal puzzles for the children to work on.
*Tip #5: It’s good for the mums to take turns being in charge of the different segments, to tap on the various resources each family has. Everyone will have a different take on the theme, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many different ways each segment can be done.
Introducing the animals
Working on the animal puzzle
– I read Who’s a Cheeky Monkey? to the children, and some of them were quite amused by the puppet monkey, so I got them to try placing their hands in the monkey’s mouth, after I had finished reading the book.
*Tip #6: Interactive books are more appealing, and you can try touch-and-feel books, as well as lift-the-flap books. I’ve got a really soft spot for books, so I have a lot of books at home, but if you don’t, the national library is always a safe bet.
Who’s a Cheeky Monkey?
Touching the monkey’s mouth
– Mummy C taught the children to make a monkey’s face out of some shapes, which was really clever, as last term’s theme was shapes. She was really organised, and even packed the materials into individual ziplock bags, so that each child could just take a pack, and work on it with his/her mum.
*Tip #7: It’s good if the craft and story are linked in some way, like how ours was this week.
*Tip #8: Don’t worry about not being good with crafts! The internet is also an extremely useful source of ideas, and we almost always get our ideas online.
*Tip #9: Prepare a sample beforehand, and make sure you have enough materials, such as scissors and glue, to go around.
*Tip #10: Keep the craft simple, so that the children can be as involved as possible, and remember that their attention spans aren’t very long.
*Tip #11: We also like to take a group photo of the children with their crafts, immediately after they’re done, as a keepsake of sorts.
The sample she prepared
Explaining the craft to the children
Giving out the materials
– Two of the mums in our group are Chinese teachers, so they take turns to conduct this segment. Sometimes, they introduce the names of the animals in Chinese, but most of the time, they will read a Chinese storybook, and follow up with a Chinese action song.
*Tip #12: We noticed recently that the children tend to be more distracted if we had Chinese after their snack, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the sequence of the segments, to figure out what works best for your group.
Chinese action song
– We usually take turns to host the playdates in our homes, and the host will then prepare the snack. When we go outdoors, everyone chips in, and brings a variety of snacks, which explains why the kids had such a good spread this week. We also get the children to say Grace before they eat, and it’s so heartwarming to see them seated there with their hands clasped in prayer.
*Tip #13: Check if any of the children have any food allergies beforehand.
*Tip #14: Simple finger food usually works best, such as biscuits, bread, grapes, and raisins. They create less of a mess, which is important, as you’ll have to clear up quickly before the next segment begins.
7. Action Songs and Goodbye Song
We sang the action song, My God is So Big, before the Practical Life and Big Muscles Activity segments, because we figured that the children would be too busy playing, to settle down for the songs after that.
*Tip #15: Use nursery rhymes or similar songs that they are familiar with, so that they will be more engaged.
My God is So Big!
8 & 9. Practical Life and Big Muscles Activity
We combined our Practical Life and Big Muscles Activity this week, since we were outdoors. Mummy L prepared some balloons and balls, to get the kids to learn how to lightly tap the balloons upwards, and to kick the balls around.
*Tip #16: If we are indoors, the host usually takes charge of this segment, so that the other mums don’t have to lug too many things along with them.
*Tip #17: Prepare one extra station for Practical Life if possible, ie if you have four kids coming, set up five stations, as some activities might take longer than others to complete.
*Tip #18: We like to bring the children to the playground for the Big Muscles Activity. You can refer to my previous playdates (there are 13 of them so far) for ideas on what to do for both these segments.
Playing with balloons
Since we were at Bishan Park, Mummy J bought some fish food, so that the kids could feed the fish there. I think they all really enjoyed it, despite the scorching heat! We also found some mimosa nearby, so Noah spent some time touching them, and watching the leaves close.
*Tip #19: If you or the other families in your group live near parks, do try to have some outdoor sessions, as it’s really fun for the children to be able to run around and explore their environment.
Feeding the fish
Playing with mimosa
We always have a wonderful time at each playdate, and I can’t believe that we only have seven more of such sessions to go, before they “graduate” and start school next year. I’m sure we will all miss the fun we’ve shared, but I’m so very thankful that we’ve the opportunity to be part of such a supportive co-op.
*Tip #20: Don’t be afraid to experiment with the various activities, and to extend/omit each segment as you go along, depending on the behaviour of the kids on that particular day. Have fun!
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