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State of Desolation

What do you feel when you think everything has shattered and you are left in despair? What is going in your mind when you think the world conspires against you? Do you feel alone? Depressed? Angry? Upset?

Whatever you feel at that chaotic moment of your life, feel it! Do not be in denial of what you really feel. Be accepting. Accept it! It is only when you accept that you will be able to find out the root cause of the problem and come up with sound solutions. If you need to isolate yourself, be alone for a while or stay away from others and reflect, then by all means do it if that what will help you alleviate the pain.

I was in the same state six years ago. I had relationship problem, and then issue at work. I had problem here, problem there, problem everywhere. I had great friends and colleagues who were there to listen, advice and comfort me or even served as my clown just to elicit that smile from my face. But, I still felt messy! I had to introspect, and from that introspection, I realized that time that my friends and colleagues could only help on the superficial level of what I was going through. If I had to eliminate the root cause of my problems, then I had to deal with the inner part of myself. That’s because problems stemmed from the inside and not from any outside force! Only when I dealt with the problem myself that I was able to move on and be happy with life.

In a nutshell, be accepting and move on! There’s no point to be stuck somewhere… let your life flow!

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Blood Experiment

Our lesson for the first term is on Blood. As a culminating activity, we had Parent-Child Experiment to determine if Blood Type A can donate to Blood Type B or vice versa.

I did the experiment before our final experiment, and my children were telling me, “Wow, teacher, you are a teacher and a scientist. You are a scientist teacher!”

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This simple experiment will make a child understand the concept.

Materials needed:

  • cups
  • test tube
  • dropper or pipette
  • food color (red and blue)
  • water
  • marker

Procedure:

  1. Label all cups (near the rim) with blood type names (A, B, AB, O).
  2. Pour water until half on all cups.
  3. Add a drop of red food color in Blood A cup.
  4. Add a drop of blue food color in Blood B cup.
  5. Add a drop of blue and red food color in Blood AB cup.
  6. Do not add any food coloring in Blood O.
  7. If the receiver is Blood A, then use a dropper to transfer the liquid in a test tube. Then, again use a dropper to add another Blood Type as the donor and see if there is a change in the color. If the color changes, it means that the blood types do not match.

Results:

  1. Blood O can donate to all blood types. In the experiment, it is colorless. Definitely, it won’t change the color of the receiver when it is mixed together.
  2. Blood AB can receive blood from all blood types.
  3. Blood A can receive from A and O.
  4. Blood B can receive from B and O.

After the Parent-Child experiment, the parents and children played Blood Game whereby we called someone who, for example, had Blood Type A, then those parents and children with matching blood types would huddle together.

It’s a fun way to make a child understand a challenging topic, and most of all, parents and children were able to spend time together doing a simple investigation!

Child’s first aid on how to stop bleeding: A talk by Mummy Christine

Do you think children should learn first aid? First aid is important because accident can happen anytime, and yes, children should learn the basic first aid because it is not at all times that adults are with them. When they know first aid, they will be able to help themselves in case of emergency.

Since we believe that first aid is a life skill that children should learn, we invited Mommy Christine to our school and share ways on how to stop bleeding. She taught our 5-6-year old children what to do when they have nose bleed and a cut.

What to do when there is nosebleeding:

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  1. Sit down on a chair.
  2. Lean head forward.
  3. Pinch the soft part of nostrils below the bridge of the nose for at least ten minutes.
  4. Breath through mouth while applying pressure on the nostrils.
  5. Apply ice pack or cold cloth.

What to do when there is a cut:

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  1. Take a clean cloth.
  2. Put it on the wound.
  3. Apply pressure to stop bleeding.

It had been a very informative and beneficial talk! Days and weeks after the talk, we have children sharing, “Teacher, I had nosebleed at home. I did what Mommy Christine said.”

Printmaking

Bored of doing painting, drawing, coloring or the usual arts you do with your children? Why not try printmaking?

Printmaking is an art technique of making prints. You can create print on a paper using any objects with various shapes and texture.

Here are the steps on how to do printmaking using string as a tool:

1. Prepare the materials that you need like paint, string, paper and magazines.

2. Soak the string in the water for half a minute or one.

3. Use two fingers to apply paint on a string.

4. Put the string on a paper in any design you want.

5. Cover it with another paper (magazine or newspaper) and press it as you gently shake and pull the string.

Remove the magazine, and there you will see your wonderful print design!

Heart Pump: A Science Project

Making a Heart Pump Model is a good way to make children visualize what happens when the heart pumps blood.

Here are easy steps on how to make a Heart Pump for your Science project:

1. Pour water in a jar until its almost full.

2. Cut the balloon’s neck.

3. Cover the top of a jar by stretching the balloon’s head.

4. Poke two small holes opposite with each other using a satay stick.

5. Insert a straw on each hole. 

6. Tape the balloon’s neck on one of the straws.

You’re done! Now, press the centre of the balloon cover (heart) to see how water (blood) moves…

Gravensteen Castle: Not all those who live in a castle has a happy ever after!

During your childhood, you will hear fairy tale stories about prince and princess who live happily ever after in a castle. However, that is not quite true for Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium.

Gravensteen is a Dutch word meaning “Castle of the Counts”. Gravensteen Castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace to serve as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until its abandonment in the 14th century. It was then used as a courthouse and a prison.

In 1885, the city of Ghent renovated it, and in 1893, it was restored. This is what Gravensteen Castle looks like now.

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Come and let me take you in the castle for a virtual tour!

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This is the Arms Museum. Here, you will see harnesses and coats, pistols, swords, and other historical collection of arms used in medieval warfare.

Walk all the way up to the top of the castle to see the magnificent view of the city.

When you go back down the stairs, the way will lead you to the Museum of Judicial Objects. Here you will find torture devices which were used to force people to confess and be punished.

Basically, not all castles are a place for a “happy ever after”. However, it is worth to visit Gravensteen Castle if you are a fan of historical arms and weapons.

WHERE TO STAY IN GHENT

Check Booking.com for a range of options that match your budget and needs.

Blood Donation Drive

To investigate more about blood, our K2 children went to witness a Blood Donation Drive. Here they had the chance to witness how a blood donation drive was done, observe how blood was taken out from a person, see the tools and equipment needed to take blood and interview a person who was knowledgeable about blood.

The children themselves were empowered to do the activity. They did a great job with their roles. They were seen serious with the task they needed to do. They knew the structure of a formal interview and how to operate a camera and an audio-recorder.

In the future, when similar activity is to be done, the event can be structured in this way:

1. Have children go around the different processes before a person can donate blood such as registering their names and then screening.

2. Interview the Donor Manager. Do a formal interview. Ask prepared questions.

3. Let children observe the blood extraction focusing on what needs to be done before taking blood, what are the tools and equipment needed to take blood and how blood flows from the person’s body to the bag.

4. Do an informal interview. Ask questions to the person who donated blood and the nurses. This should be done after the donation, and not when the blood is being taken out as this might stress the person donating blood and the nurse who is performing his/her duty.

5. Group photo and giving of tokens. At the end of the activity, pass the token of appreciation to the host as a sign of gratitude and then take a picture.

Overall, it was a good opportunity for the children to interact with various people to get information about blood.

Thank you Red Cross Singapore and NCS for accommodating our curious learners!

Blood Model: The Four Components of Blood

Learning about blood can be unfathomable to 6-year old children. However, with diagrams and models, it is easy for kids to have a better understanding of topics as such that might be too abstract for them.

Here is how we made the Blood Model in class to make children visualize the four components of blood.

Materials needed

  • white styrofoam – white blood cells (fight germs)
  • red cloth – red blood cells (carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body)
  • red styrofoam – platelets (help in blood clotting to prevent bleeding)
  • water with yellow food colour – plasma (carry blood components to all parts of the body)
  • clear plastic water bottle

Procedure

  • Let the child put the white styrofoam, red cloth, red styrofoam and water in the bottle.
  • Add yellow food colour to make the plasma (water) appear yellow in colour.

As children put the materials in the bottle, the teacher or the adult may ask what each of the material represents. Also, the teacher or the adult can further ask the function of each blood component.

Five things to do during volcanic eruption

After witnessing and experiencing a volcano erupting in Sumatra, Indonesia last December, the following are the things I have learned on what to do during volcanic eruptions:

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1. Stay calm. It is something that is out of our control because it is part of natural forces.

As you all know, the third largest earthquake that hit the world was the 9.1 up to 9.3 magnitude that was felt in the West Coast of Sumatra and triggered the deadliest tsunami killing 230, 000 up to 280, 000 people in 14 countries with Indonesia particularly Aceh in Sumatra as the most damaged place.

Not only Sumatra has tsunamis and earthquakes, it has also active volcanoes. In fact, Mount Sinabung of North Sumatra had its biggest explosion last year. Curious, thinking that the place was a disaster-prone area, I asked our tour guide, “Why are you still here?” His answer was simple… because he was “born” there. Then, I further asked, “So, what did you do during the 9.1 earthquake. What would you do if Mt Sinabung erupts?” His reply was, “Nothing we can do. We just need to dance to its rhythm”.

So, during volcanic eruption, stay calm and dance to its rhythm! It is something that we cannot control.

2. Follow government warnings and heed to the authorities evacuation orders. When the authorities said leave the place, then leave. I know it is painful to leave your house, land and your livelihood, but your life is more important than all of these.

Mount Sinabung started to erupt in 2010 after its last eruption in 1600. Government advised people to evacuate in 2013 but only in 2016 that all people have evacuated the danger zone when there was a pyroclastic flow that killed 7 people. Do not wait for this incident to happen. Evacuate right away when it is needed.

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3. Stay indoors with all windows and doors closed especially if you have respiratory ailments. When there is falling ash, remain indoor with windows and doors closed until ash settles. In Sumatra, there were cases of deaths of people who suffered from asthma. So, if you have asthma or any other related ailments, stay indoor or evacuate the place immediately.

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4. Wear mask and goggles. When a volcano erupts, ashes are flying everywhere. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles or eye glasses (not contact lens) and use mask or damp cloth to help you breath.

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5. Do not run your car or truck engines. It can stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles. Not only that, when the car is running fast, it can trigger ash to fly around, thus drivers will not be able to see the road or the upcoming car. Road accidents can happen. If you have no option but to run your car, then run it at 35MPH or slower.

These are the five basic things to do during volcanic eruption. Keep safe everyone! Stay calm and evacuate immediately!

Climbing Mount Sibayak, an active volcano in Sumatra

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Mount Sibayak is an active volcano in northern Sumatra, Indonesia in the town of Berastagi that erupted more than 100 years ago. It is 2 212m high, and is relatively easy to climb.

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We began our expedition at 4:30am and reached the peak of the volcano after a hour.

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On the mountain, there was a strong smell  of sulfur emitted by the steam vents.

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From the mountain top, we also got a bird’s eye view of the whole town of Berastagi.

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Mount Sinabung, a superactive volcano, can also be seen from the top of Mount Sibayak.

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And of course, climbing a volcano is incomplete without seeing its crater. Its crater has a small lake with acidic discoloration due to the seepage of sulfurous gases.

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After trekking, it was good to relax dipping ourself in a hot bath from the hot spring.

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Overall, it was an unforgettable experience to hike to the top of a volcano and see its crater, sulfur mine and indulge in a healing bath thereafter.

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Watch video here.