Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eggs on a tree Part 2

Here's a Youtube video (6 minutes) of a fine motor activity that we did
a couple of weeks back. Ryan is hanging ornaments (wooden eggs)
onto a metal tree. If you're wondering what he's saying, he's naming
the colour of each egg as he picks up each one from the box.
He also says, "Oh! Sorry!" if he drops an egg.
He says, "Tree! Tree! Tree!" somewhere in the middle of the video.

I love it that he does a little hop and dance after hanging each one.
I especially love it when, after getting the eggs on the tree, he shifts
them around and arranges them, as if he is making an art piece.
At the end, he stands back with his hands on his hips,
gives his masterpiece an admiring and approving look and says, "Wow!"

I'd always thought that hanging stuff was a natural "skill".
Actually, it's not. It needs to be learnt.
Once Ryan got the loop onto the point, he needed to understand
that he could just let go and let gravity take over.
Of course, it's not a difficult lesson, he caught on pretty quickly.
Click here for our first Eggs on a tree post.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Playing with beads!

Remember those beads that Ryan was using for threading? Since then, we've used the beads for all sorts of games - sorting by shapes and colours, counting, etc. We've also used them for much simpler games, like this one in this video (you may want to moderate the volume on your computer for this).

Great sensory activity and Ryan enjoyed it thoroughly!

To be honest, I actually planned a different activity, but when the beads landed on the tray and rolled around making all that lovely noise, Ryan started this game all on his own! All we had to do was hold on to the tray!

Now this is the activity that I had originally planned, which we eventually got around to on a different occasion. It's a fine motor activity. Ryan picks up each bead and places it onto one of the suckers on the suction pads. The hand-shaped pads are the size of his hands.

We have suction pads in the shape of feet and hearts too. Quite fun, although it's not a game that we play often. Definitely less exciting than the game in the video!

If I had to recommend a picture book for young children, Freight Train by Donald Crews would be one of my top choices. Whenever Ryan brings it out, he insists on that we read it over and over again at least five times, sometimes up to ten times!

There is no plot or story line. The book merely describes the different cars (in different colours) that make up a cargo train and describes the train's journey from country to city, day to night. There is limited text on each page, which makes it perfect for young children. Although the text does not rhyme, it has the rhythm of a poem when read aloud. The illustrations are simple and colourful. Sometimes the images are clean and sometimes they are blurred and smudged to show movement. On the last page, the train chugs out of view, Ryan loves to read the last word - "gone".

To be honest, I was surprised at how much Ryan loves this sparse book. To an adult (or perhaps just to me) the book seemed quite boring, as it does not actually tell a story. I then realised that that's where the magic of the book lies - it lets the child make up his/her own story, it inspires the child to wander off into his/her imagination where the train gets into all sorts of adventures, it fosters the child's natural creativity. The child's natural curiosity is piqued and they want to learn more about this exciting-looking train. Ryan can stare for a long time at the page where he first sees the entire freight train, who knows what he is imagining! That's when I realised that this book is pure genius.

The book was named one of 1979's Caldecott Honor Books. The popularity of this book led to a sequel in 2001, "Inside Freight Train", also by Donald Crews, which features fold-out panels so your child can see the inner workings of the train.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

English Edudrama Show-and-Tell

For English Edudrama last Saturday, Ryan had to present something for Show-and-Tell. I decided to give him something extremely basic and simple, so I packed these paper puppets for him.

I actually made them a few weeks ago for Ryan to play with at home. If you have Eric Carle's book, "Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?", you'll recognise them. I traced the outline for each puppet from the book onto tracing paper, transferred the outlines onto drawing paper and coloured the animals with crayon and colour pencils. After cutting the shapes out, I taped a disposable chopstick to the back.

I had the idea to make them because we were enjoying the book so much and I wanted to use the opportunity to encourage Ryan to use more descriptive words - brown bear, red bird, yellow duck, etc.

As it turned out, Ryan didn't say much during Show-and-Tell, he was too busy "flying" the red bird around, but the other children loved the puppets and were eagerly shouting out each animal's name!

In other news, I mentioned that, after the previous (Mandarin) Edudrama class, Richard and I made a windchime to help reinforce the words "feng ling" (Mandarin for windchime). Well, I pointed to that thing every morning and evening saying, "feng ling! feng ling!" and I recited the windchime poem in his Edudrama book whenever I had the chance. Well, I'm pleased to report that Ryan seems to have absorbed the lesson! He actually said (a mangled version of) "feng ling" the other day when I pointed out the windchime to him! I'm so happy that our efforts paid off!

I will try to think of a way to reinforce this week's Mandarin lesson, which was "qi qiu" (balloon). If you have any ideas on that, do share!

There are four things to bear in mind while doing Senses Play / playing ESP games:

1. Your child should be in a good, relaxed and happy mood throughout the activity.

2. You should believe in your child's powers of ESP. Otherwise, your skepticism will have an adverse effect on how you play the game with your child and how your child responds. Iin Professor Shichida's book, there is a report from a parent that when she did not believe in her son's talents, her son keep getting the answers wrong. He only got them right when she understood the theory of the right brain and believed in it. This is consistent with scientific research in ESP, which has found that people who believed in ESP scored positively on ESP tests while those who did not believe in ESP did not. If you are uncomfortable about ESP, I hope that reading Part 6 will ease your fears and help you to understand how fundamental it is to right-brain training as it is a basic capability of the right brain.

3. Exercise patience. It may take a while for your child to train up, at first he may only get one of out five correct, but keep at it with a cheerful and optimistic spirit, and in time your child will surprise you! If he gets it wrong, please no harsh words and do not feel or show disappointment. Accept that your child is a work in progress (remember Part 2?). Also, I have had parents ask me what to do when their child shows little interest in the activity or looks/walks away in the middle of the activity. I think there is nothing unusual about this, whether playing these games or doing other things - sometimes when I introduce a new storybook to Ryan, he loses interest after the first two pages. Love doesn't always have to be love at first sight. Just let it go, and try again another time with a cheerful smile.

4. Keep it fun!

The most essential ESP game is playing with Zener cards. Shichida parents in Singapore are issued two sets of cards and are asked to practise with them often at home. The set of cards we have are similar to Zener cards except that on one of them there is a hollow triangle - the original Zener card has three wavy lines. We do not play this in class as class is only once a week.

You can use the cards to play clairvoyance games, precognition games, telepathy games, and psychometry/hand reading games. Here, I will share with you how to use these cards for clairvoyance play.

1. If your child is over 3 years old or if he/she is not in a relaxed state of mind, you should lead him/her to relax, breathe deeply and slowly. Make positive statements about the activity and his/her ability to do it.
2. Place the five cards face up in a row.
3. Give your child another set of the five cards, face down.
4. Let your child place one card after another face down in row below yours such that the card he/she is placing corresponds to a card in the row that you placed. The goal is to match up the cards.
5. When your child has placed all five cards, let him/her turn over his/her cards to check if they match up to the cards in your row.

During the Shichida Parent Education Course, we watched a video filmed at an aviation academy in Japan where the trainee pilots were paired up. They played this game over and over, switching roles each time, one person arranging the cards and keeping score, the other guessing the order. And yes, they scored 100% each time. Why pilots? A heightened sense of perception results in an ability to predict danger and oncoming bad weather. In low visibility, the pilot can still navigate safely even though he cannot see through the clouds/mist/fog.

The Singapore Shichida parents' handbook provides some suggestions for more games that you can play at home. I have set these out below. Some are for younger children and some for older children.

Clairvoyance. Remember clairvoyance is the ability to know the identity of hidden things eg. cards, or to identify the color of balls in a box. It is different from telepathy, which is mind reading. The child is being clairvoyant as the mother herself does not know the answer, so the child is not reading her mind.

a) Identifying Cards

Line up 5 picture cards or game cards face down in front of your child and have him/her guess the card you point to.

b) Guessing What’s In The Box

Put one ball out of a possible 5 colours – red, blue, yellow, white and black - into a box, and from the outside without touching the ball, have your child guess the colour of the ball.

c) Matching Cards Memory Game

This is also a memory game. All cards are arranged in rows faced down. When it’s your child’s turn, ask him/her to open 2 matching cards. If he/she is successful, he/she can keep the cards, otherwise the cards are closed again.

d) Guessing While Blindfolded

When games (a) and (b) are done 100% successfully, try this blindfolded game. Have your child blindfolded and guess what object is being placed in front of him without him touching the object. Alternatively, have your blindfolded child guess and point to where Japan, Australia, America, Russia, etc are on a map placed in front of him. This is pretty advanced.

e) Catch Mummy

When your child can guess what is placed in front, play the game of having him/her try to catch you while blindfolded. After your child is blindfolded, ask your child to catch you as move away from the place you were standing before to a new position.

Next, telepathy, which is the ability to read thoughts. You will need to be able to visualise a clear image in your mind (not easy!) and your child will try to make a successful guess of what is visualized in your mind.

a) Animal Cards

i) You will need 2 sets of 5 cards, each with pictures of animals like giraffe, panda, elephant, bear or deer.

ii) Line up one set of 5 cards face up in front of your child and the other set of 5 cards face down in front of you.

iii) Take one of the cards in your hand, stare at it intensely until you see the image in your mind. Then ask your child to pick the matching card from his set.

iv) Do this 5 times.

b) Mind Reading

i) Mother and child face each other.

ii) Hold an image in your mind and ask your child to guess what it is. (Decide a category first eg. shape, colour, animal, vehicle, letter, etc.)

Then hand reading, which is different from clairvoyance in that the child is asked to touch the object with his hand and guess it.

a) Guessing the Colour of the Ball

At one side of a completely sealed cardboard box, make a round hole just right for a hand holding a ball to be able to pass through. Place 5 different coloured balls inside the box. Let your child put his hand into the hole and guess, without looking, what the colour of the ball in his hand is before drawing it out.

b) Card Play

In front of your child, lay 10 cards face down. Have him touch each card one by one and guess the colour of the cards. Animal or picture cards can be used as well.

c) Guessing What Is Written On The Paper

On a piece of paper about 2 square centimeters, write a letter of the alphabet. Wrap it up into a little ball and hand it to your child. Ask him to put the paper ball to his ear, or tuck it under his arm-pit and guess what’s written on the paper.

Precognition is the ability to understand the future with a concrete image that is more precise than intuition.

a) Guessing The Weather

Have your child predict the next day’s weather.

b) Guessing The Card

Have your child guess the order of the next day’s 5 cards and write his prediction down. The next day, mix the cards well and line them up face down. Let your child turn them over one by one and see if they agree with the order written down the day before.

Once you understand the concepts of clairvoyance, telepathy, hand reading and precognition, you can come up with your own games to play with your child at home or when the two of you are out and about. Questions like, which elevator will arrive first? or what shoes will daddy choose to wear later? are precognition games. Telepathy games can be as simple as hiding a snack in your hand and asking your child to guess which hand it is in, or hiding a toy under the blanket and asking your child which toy it is. Guessing which of the cupcakes you baked has an extra strawberry inside, assuming you can't tell either, is clairvoyance (or hand reading if he touches them). Simple and fun, the options are endless.

Of course, in class, it is less flexible as you are sitting in the classroom. In the next instalment, I will share with you how we do Senses Play/play ESP games in class.

A critical component of right brain training is strengthening the right brain's ability to pick up and process information. In Shichida, this is done via Senses Play, which means playing sensory games tailored for the right brain, also called ESP (extra sensory perception) games.

ESP refers to the ability to obtain information through ways other than our five physical senses. While some people think it is something supernatural, according to Shichida, these "extra" ways are simply the five natural senses of the right brain. Every person is born with this natural ability.

In Part 4, I mentioned the theory that every object in our universe emits vibrational waves and that the cells in our bodies can resonate with these waves, receiving information about the object. Professor Shichida says that the right brain processes wave information into five types of images: visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory and tactile. Therefore he describes the right brain as having five internal senses of perception, just like the left brain has five physical senses of perception. As an example, when the teacher sends a mental image of ice cream to the children (using telepathy), the children scream, “Cold!” or “Tastes like ice cream!” The children feel and taste the ice cream with the senses of the right brain.

Some parents are apprehensive when they find out that there are ESP games in Shichida and I know there are even parents who want "right brain" programmes that do not have ESP elements. This apprehension stems from a lack of understanding about the right brain (which makes me wonder why they want a right brain programme in the first place). I doubt that any programme which omits training the senses of the right brain is truly providing right brain training as the resonance and visualisation function is the most fundamental faculty of the right brain.

Somewhat inconsistently, parents who are resistant to ESP accept that a baby in the mother's womb receives information about the environment outside the womb. When they talk to the unborn baby, rub or tap on the belly, or when they play music to the unborn baby, they believe that the baby receives this information. Yet, an unborn baby cannot feel with his skin, hear with his ears, see with his eyes, smell with his nose or taste with his tongue. Shichida tells us that the baby uses the senses of the right brain, which he calls the ESP function, to receive and process this information.

The Singapore Shichida parents’ handbook says that ESP is now known as HSP which is "Heightened Sensory Perception". I'm not sure that the two are truly the same but really, it doesn't matter what it's called. Don't get fixated on labels and names. Just take it that the goal is to strengthen the five senses of the right brain to allow sensory information to be processed and analyzed more thoroughly and deeply, which will contribute to creativity, intuition, sensing implications and attention to detail. This means your child will pick up information which most other people are unaware of.

ESP includes the following aspects (in Shichida, we focus on the first four):

1. Clairvoyance - the ability to gain information directly from an object. It's like "looking through" a locked box or a sealed envelope to tell what the contents are.

2. Telepathy - the ability to gain information from another person, to tell what the other person is thinking.

3. Precognition/ Prescience - the ability to know in advance what is going to happen, eg. some animals know when a storm is coming.

4. Psychometry/ Hand reading - the ability to gain facts about an object by touching it, eg. guessing the colour of the ball in your hand without looking at it.

5. Telekinesis - the ability to move objects or to change objects without physical touch, eg. Professor Shichida tells us of parents who reported that their children were able to switch on the television without touching it.

Remember, there is nothing supernatural about this. It's just waves and energy.

In the next instalment, I will give you some examples of the games we play to strengthen the five senses of the right brain.

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