My 7 Year Old’s Doodles

My 7 year old enjoys doodling. He would doodle random things that comes to his mind or things that he likes such as planes, knights, cars, battleships. Occasionally, I get a ‘get well’ card when I am sick. Sometimes, a confusing picture book on a fight between his good and bad guys or even a scene from the latest book he has read.

It is not always easy to decipher what he draws. But if you ask him, there is aways some ‘stories’ behind his drawings. It is interesting to watch him tell his story with gusto and to find out what goes on in his little head. It is this innocence and enthusiasm that make these doodles so endearing and precious.

He drew this one day and wasn’t too happy when I couldn’t recognize his Star Wars characters.

He went onto the internet and found some step by step tutorials on how to draw Star Wars characters. He was so determined to get it ‘right’ and the amazing thing was he could remember all the steps. Empowered by his new skill, he spent the afternoon duplicating storm troopers and Kylo Ren. I tried but just couldn’t seem to remember all the steps!

Recently, he learned about Keith Haring during art class in school. He likes the artist’s graffiti-inspired drawings because they are simple, colourful and cartoony and I think it pleases him that he could actually reproduce some of these quirky drawings. He was so excited to tell me about the artist ;and how he got started by spraying paint at NYC subways.

We spent more time googling about the artist which led us to a conversation about graffiti in our country and how people got punished doing it. It was a challenge trying to explain what is perceived as Art and what is vandalism. Frankly, I have no answer but we all agreed that the metro stations and tunnels in Paris were much more interesting because of graffiti and perhaps they should do so for our MRT stations!

He probably spent a lot of time thinking about Haring’s work because he made all these Haring inspired doodles for the next few days. He even made me a Haring inspired get well card that week when I was sick.

His Haring’s inspired doodle kind of culminated to this piece which he did for his Dad’s birthday while he was away.

It was a colourful surprise for his Dad when he came home. The kind of present that would put a smile on any parent’s face.

 

 

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Learning Watercolour Painting

My husband and I finally fixed up some wall shelves on one of our empty walls during the school holiday. This is how the wall in our lounging area looks now.

A mini collection of my amateurish artwork and it is kind of satisfying to see them framed and displayed neatly. Part of the satisfaction comes from knowing that I am capable of learning something new at this age!

So a friend saw some of my watercolour paintings and was quick to recommend me to her painting teacher.

Leach is a very talented self taught artist who is also very passionate about teaching. She conducts painting classes at her home studio regularly and on demand. On top of that, she runs a beautiful website and regularly posts her work on her Instagram account.

I’ve attended a couple of art jamming sessions before and I’ve done some painting on my own by following YouTube videos. While it was fun mixing colours and filing up blank canvases with my limited ‘artistic instinct’, it wasn’t enough to provide me a good understanding of the fundamentals of watercolour painting.

I still felt overwhelmed when I walked into ArtFriend and I still couldn’t figure out what art materials to buy. I ended up buying the cheapest paint and paintbrushes I could find at Popular bookstore.

Well, there may be nothing wrong with using cheap art materials but it would be good to know what a 100 dollar paintbrush can do that a 10 one can’t. Leach was able to enlighten me on this.

Over the 4 sessions, apart from learning how water, paint and paper interact to produce the different effects, I learned about the importance of buying high-quality paints, brushes, and paper instead of buying cheap supplies.

Just paper alone, there are different qualities of cold pressed, hot pressed, and rough watercolor paper. I learned about the qualities of the different weights of paper available and the effects one can achieve with each. I also learned during the lessons the different pigments used in each colour, from generic historical pigments to the modern ones and the binder used ultimately determines the type of paint – oil, acrylic, watercolour etc. I seriously felt like I was back to attending lecture at LT27. There was so much theory to know even before picking up the paintbrush to paint! It was mind boggling.

Thankfully Leach has thoughtfully prepared these notes which summarized what was being taught in class. She must have encountered students like me, whom after years of child bearing and rearing, have quite lost their abilities to grasp new knowledge.

I realised that painting can be laborious and effortful. Colour is diligently controlled by dabbing exact quantities of paint and water. Every brushstroke is deliberate. Every careless flick of the wrist can cause water and therefore colour to flow where you don’t want it to. The shades and tones can change inadvertently. Too firm a brushstroke would change the texture and feel. Each painting is made up of hundreds if not thousands of such deliberate brush strokes. To perfect my skills, I couldn’t be as carefree as before. Mastering this delicate, subtle and very fluid painting medium is not easy. I felt myself crippled by my own fear. A fear of making mistake.

Leach being an experienced teacher understands that. She has been very encouraging with her kind words and patience. Her witty humour also helped to lighten the mood during class and made learning less stressful!

The other day, I came across this picturesque Norwegian riverbank on Instagram by @doting_dad (who blogs at Life’s Tiny Miracles). I was so inspired that I got it sketched and painted in one sitting.

It was therapeutic to be fully absorbed and focused at working with this spontaneous and free flowing medium. It was a joy watching the water and colour separate and coalesce on the paper. But without constant deliberate practice, my technique was far from perfect and the painting was quite a mess. The journey was blissful but the outcome was far from desired.

Like most things, practice makes perfect. I came to the conclusion that while I should strive for perfection in my basics, there are times where I should just let go, don’t worry so much and just paint.

 
 
To find out more about painting classes with Leach, you can visit her FB page – Art Workshops by Leach.
To feast your eyes on her beautiful artwork, you can follow her on Instagram or visit her website.

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Holiday Camp at The Little Executive

My 7 year old was whisked off to a 5 day Globe Trekker holiday camp with The Little Executive at the start of the June school holidays. It was his first time going for a holiday camp and he didn’t quite know what to expect.

I showed him some videos and photos of The Little Executive’s past holiday camps such as the Dino Discovery Camp and Astronaut Training Camp which got him fairly excited, yet I was a little bit concerned because the camp he would be attending didn’t have any of his favourite dinosaurs or spacecraft, he would be ’traveling’ around the world instead.

It would be a 5 morning program where the kids ‘travel’ to 4 different countries to learn about their history, traditions, cultures and the languages they speak.

I was excited and thought that the camp could better prepare him for our upcoming Japan trip. Then Day 1 came and he figured out that instead of having the luxury of spending the morning at home, fiddling with his toys, he would be going for some sort of ‘lesson’. It took me more than an hour to cajole and coax him to get out the house.

We met Michelle Wee, one of the 2 brilliant ladies behind The Little Executive. I have known Michelle through a close group of mother bloggers and was drawn to her blog for her very down to earth approach to bringing up 6 kids! Yes, you heard me right. She has 5 girls and 1 boy and in her blog, she often dishes out sane tips and wise parenting advice on how she does it without going broke while maintaining her sanity. Apart from being a mother of 6, she is also a trained occupational therapist and she seems to have married passion with work when she started The Little Executive. I have been eager to find out more about their program, so when Michelle offered a spot for the upcoming Globe Trekker holiday camp, I was quick to grab it.

Marcus quickly met up with the facilitator for the camp. His name was Jim, a very friendly guy and it wasn’t difficult for my playful one to warm up to friendly stranger. Very soon, he forgot about our morning fuss and disappeared into his classroom without bidding goodbye. By the time I picked him up after the class, he was chatty and chirpy and rattling off about what he had learned. They had travelled to Mexico and learned about the Aztec people. They did some worksheets, made some craft and tasted some food. It was not hard to see that a lot of thought has been put into the lesson plan. Everything was planned around the country they ‘travelled’ to that day. I like this thematic way of teaching and learning. There are so many interesting things and ways to learn about a country!

I was glad that he enjoyed his first lesson and that kind of set the mood for the rest of the week. He was eager to know the next country they would ‘travel’ to and the week whisked by quickly. I was curious to find out what made him change his initial impression of a ‘learning’ camp and here are 3 main things that I found out from him that the camp did differently from his school.

1. More interactive teaching and learning

Instead of listening passively to the teacher delivering the lesson, the session was a lot more interactive and provided an end to end learning process.

The kids got to watch interesting videos on the countries they were visiting and that was certainly more interesting than listening to his school teachers’ monotonous voice. Before watching the videos, they were asked to look out for certain objects so that they could complete the given worksheets and the facilitators would discuss further the information that they have gleaned from the video. The kids were particularly attentive and would buzz with excitement while watching the video.

This would follow by a craft session where they would get their hands dirty, making things that were associated with the country they visited that day. Beside Aztec mats, they made boomerangs, sushi, paper origami and even a sandy beach using kinetic sand.

I think these craft sessions are good for tactile learners who learn by touching and doing. The physical activity and “hands-on” craft helped these kids to understand and remember things better.

2. Talking is allowed

Yes, kids are allowed to talk in class. In school, my boy would tell me that he was not allowed to talk even after he has completed his work.

During the camp, the children were allowed to talk and discuss, albeit quietly and respectfully. My boy confessed that he gets bored, sitting whole day in school, listening to his teachers talk. I probably get bored too and I seriously think this is the reason why so many children these days are being diagnosed with ADHD. Well, I probably need more data to justify my assertion. I think interaction and exchange of ideas are such important aspects of learning but sorely absent in our current school classrooms.

3. Peer learning

The age for the kids at the camp ranged from 4 to 8. The class was a mix of kids of different age groups, thus different abilities. It was so completely different from our local schools where the kids are grouped based on age, graded, sorted and further grouped into groups of similar abilities.

During the camp, the older kids got to help out the younger ones. Age appropriate activities of varying complexities were also given to the kids so that the activities were within their abilities. Being an older boy, Marcus was assigned as a group leader. He told me his job as a leader was to help out the younger ones. He loved it and felt mighty pleased with his new role as a ‘big brother’ in the group.

On the last day of the program, the kids were grouped and given the task of doing a presentation to the parents. So I was expecting something like a show-and-tell session my boys did in school, where a written script is required for rating and often parents go to great lengths to help prepare the most impressive presentation materials.

At the camp, I was impressed that the kids did everything themselves and were free to decide how much to present. The older kids would help the younger ones in the group. I saw them whispering to the younger ones during presentation helping them out with what to say. It was so very cute and heartening to watch these little people work as a team.

Personally I like this ‘peer learning’ setting where the children learn and help each other. I think at the camp, they have found a good way of mixing the kids without leaving anyone behind. The younger kids learn by observing how the older ones do things. The older kids learn a great deal when they have to explain what they know to others. It is like reinforcing and internalizing what they’ve learned. As fellow learners, they are more empathetic and understanding towards another kid who is struggling to grasp the new concept. They learn empathy, cooperation and team work. Isn’t that how we have always learned since the beginning of mankind when we lived in small tight communities.

All in all, I like the fact that the camp focused on the journey and the process of learning rather than the outcome. I think this runs against the grain of the Singaporean psyche where outcome is the penultimate. It is not easy putting such a program together and I think at The Little Executive, they have done exceedingly well in delivering such a program.

To find out more about The Little Executive’s curriculum and programs for children from Nursery to P2 Level, please visit their website or follow their FB page

You can reach them at

Address : 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844
Telephone : +65 6908 1889
Email : knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia

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