Christmas Tree Ornaments Craft

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We really love our Christmas tree from last year, a dead tree branch that fell into our back yard.
As much as we love having fresh pine scent in the house, it doesn’t make sense to buy a real tree when we will be traveling for the holiday.

So this year, we all agreed that some dead tree branches from the park will do. It will be great if we could find something as beautiful as what we had last year but I wasn’t hopeful, knowing how our National Park people were good at keeping our parks clean.

We headed to the park early one morning and found some fallen branches big enough to fit into our make shift vase. The branches weren’t very pretty but we all thought that with some work, they should look better. And that was how we got started on our Christmas project, churning out knick knacks for our tree.

We made a few versions of snowman, one from blown light bulb, another from mineral bottle caps and my 5 year old made a paper one which he thought was the most handsome.

We bought a huge bottle of Hama beads from Ikea for less than 10 bucks. The boys end up using them to make all sorts of weapon and swords, ah boys! They did make a snowflake just to make mom happy and I thought it looks pretty good.

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They had the most fun fiddling with their Lego and they made a Christmas village complete with Santa workshop, reindeers and sleigh. However it was all too heavy for our flimsy tree, so only the Christmas tree, candy cane and little house made it up our tree.

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All these were enough to keep them busy and excited for a few days.

Here are some Christmas crafts we made in the past
Toilet roll Christmas wreath
Toilet roll Christmas ornaments
Burlap Christmas wreath

This entry was posted in craft.

My Take On PSLE

I look with keen interest on the announcements of the PSLE results and the flurry of activities and posts in its aftermath.  It is not easy to disregard the PSLE score. If you know a parent whose child has just received his PSLE results, you know that most likely he is some state of emotional turmoil.

So what is the purpose and meaning of PSLE and all the heartburn it causes?

Consider this question from a Primary 4 exam :
Explain why the shadow appear in front of the person?
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I went around asking 5 working adults and they all gave me the above answer.
The answer the teacher is looking for is, because the sun is behind her and she is blocking the path of the light.

Here’s another question: Why did the water level rise?
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If your answer is, the ball has volume, then wrong.
The answer that the teacher is looking for is, because the ball occupies space.
So is there anything that occupies space but does not has a volume?!

Suggest a reason for the water in the glass tube to move in the direction indicated
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If your answer is, the plant takes in the water. Wrong.
The answer the teacher is looking for is, the roots of the plant sucked up the water.  
Ok, then why not the cuticles on the roots of the plant.
Oh, it has not been taught in school yet.

The students were given an open ended question but expect a specific answer that was given in the textbook.

Meeting with school’s Science HOD was enlightening. In her words, they were preparing the child for PSLE. They were training the child to give the type of answer the PSLE examiners want.

In other words, train the child to regurgitate from the text books, to deliver the model answer.

The school system does not reward initiative to learn outside the school curriculum. It discourages logical or analytical thinking. For subjects like Chinese, some teachers actively encourage memorising idioms and model essays, and offer strategies to adapt these essays to the exam question. In other words, our kids are being trained to be exam smart.

So what is the purpose of putting our children through school? I thought it was to learn?

PSLE is about standardised testing for the average mortal on the average road, like what this mom blogger wrote. Its purpose is to reward those who have good memory and are willing to put in enormous amount of sheer hard work required to ace the exam. After all, providing the model answer to an open ended question takes some hard work.

Is there a better way? Probably not. Does it mean much if your child didn’t do well for PSLE? Probably not either, if I go by the explanation that the Science HOD has offered. It probably means that your child sucked at memorising and regurgitating the textbooks.  Does it mean that your kid is really smart if he aced the PSLE? Could be.But chances are that he is exam smart and knows the PSLE system like the back of his hand.

And that is my point. PSLE results are meaningless when taken out of context. Primary school and PSLE is not about learning neither is it about thinking. The form has changed but the substance has not. It is about rote learning. It was like that 30 years ago, and it continues to be the same.

If your child is a late bloomer or not willing to put in as much hard work, he is probably ok anyway. You just have to accept that he will not be competing for that nice government scholarship or he may not go to university the “usual” way, if at all. Because in a system that is going to continue testing him on his ability to reproduce the model answer, good memory and hard work wins.

Your child would probably be better off enjoying his childhood, playing, learning or just day dreaming. You just have to accept that his path will be different, possibly more exciting and fulfilling. After all, what would a university education buy them nowadays? Hope of a better future? Or a working class life doing something that they don’t enjoy and struggling to make ends meet?

 

 

Lemon Chia Cranberry Breakfast Bar

If you are like me, a regular patron at NTUC, you will know that cranberries are in season now.
I was on my regular grocery run and had my trolley packed with the usual fruits and vegetable when I saw a Caucasian lady pushing a trolley packed with cranberries.

Okay, I know that cranberry juice is good for urinary tract infection. My 4 year old loves cranberry bread and dried cranberry snacks are healthier than raisins. That’s about all, fresh cranberries, I have never tried them. But since someone is willing to load a trolley full of cranberries, it must taste good. So the ‘kiasu’ me decided to do the same. I lugged home 4 bags of cranberries.

To my dismay, the cranberries taste nothing like the fruits I usually buy. They were sour, bitter and not at all juicy. They were nothing like the dried cranberry snacks that my kids love to munch on and it made me wonder how they extract juice from this tarty little fruit. Great, now what should I do with my 4 bags of cranberries ?!

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As usual, I googled. Thankfully, Martha Stewart has a whole list of recipes for fresh cranberries. But I was feeling ambitious and wanted something healthier than what the domestic goddess had to offer, preferably something with no added sugar.

Most of the recipes called for dried cranberries which are already sweetened. It took me a while before I found this. Now, this looks like the kind of super duper breakfast or snack that I wouldn’t feel guilty munching on. And better still if my kids would eat them for breakfast. I love granola bars but it is almost impossible to find something off the shelf that doesn’t contain ingredient that I can’t pronounce.

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What I love about this recipe is that it is totally flourless! In its place is rolled oat, ground to a powder form. Besides that, this recipe also uses chia seed and coconut oil instead of your regular butter. I add chia seeds into my fruit blend every morning, but I have never tried baking with them.

I wasn’t so sure about using agave nectar as sweetener, since it is still controversial whether agave nectar is indeed a ‘healthier’ sweetener as compared to honey and sugar. So instead of agave nectar, I blended an apple with 1/3 cup of water and used it for sweetener since the original recipe also called for applesauce. And I really like the idea of using applesauce as sweetener, so totally natural.

All in all, the modified recipe looks almost too healthy to be tasty. So to make sure my kids would eat them, I substituted the shredded coconut with dark chocolate chips!

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Unfortunately, the cranberries still taste bitter even with the chocolate chips. I also suspect that the lemon zest contributed to the bitterness.

My 5 year old loves it anyhow, cos he loves anything chocolatey. His elder brother with his more discerning taste bud wasn’t so fond of my creation. He was obliging enough to have some for breakfast and snack and I am happy that he get loads of fibre out of them.

As for me, these are the perfect energy bar for me to munch on while on the go. I can’t say I ate them totally guilt free, because of the chocolate chips. So for my next bake, I would probably take out the chocolate chips and add more nuts instead.

Lemon Chia Cranberry Breakfast Bar
Yields 16
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  2. 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approx 1.5 lemons)
  3. 1.5 cups regular oats, ground into a flour into a blender
  4. 1/2 cup regular oats (not ground)
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  7. 1 cup semi sweet dark chocolate chips + additional for sprinkling (optional)
  8. 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  9. 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (made by blending 1 apple with 1/3 cup of water)
  10. 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  11. 1/4 cup almond (chopped)
  12. 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degC. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the chia seeds and lemon juice. Set aside to gel up while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Take your 1.5 cup of oats and blend till flour form
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the oat flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup regular oats, sea salt, lemon zest, fresh cranberries, chopped almond, and chocolate chips.
  5. In another small bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, applesauce. Mix in the gelled up chia seed mixture until combined.
  6. Add wet to dry and stir well until blended. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out smoothly with a spatula. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top before baking.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes at 175 deg C until golden around the outer edge.
  8. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring onto plate. Cut into squares and enjoy.
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