Tuesday, March 17, 2009 ;
10:42 AM
Latest art/ craft creations..

The cheapo Lego-like (but some other no-name brand) bricks I bought from Carrefour came in handy before our boxes arrived from USA. But even after the boxes arrived, the kids still play with it, especially when they need to abuse it. Lego bricks are made so well that they don't crash very easily after a tower or figure is contructed.

These cheapo bricks don't fit very well, so you might be frustrated if you are creating something delicate and complicated, but when the kids just want to build something and crash them with cars or whatever, they use these.

Some figures and animals ds1 made the other day. I think the lone brick in front of each is supposed to be the forest/ island/ plain etc habitat the figure is from. Some kind of game he invented with his brother.

Last Sat's art class. ds2 finally started his 1st lesson!

Initially I thought it was a drop-off class, unaccompanied. But then I saw all the grandmas and moms and also 1 dad inside with the kid, so I went in with ds2 also. I had tried to make Dh go with him at first but ds2 would not have that happen, so I had no choice.

It was fortunate that I did though. I realised I pretty much had to translate everything for him. The accent of the teacher was different from what the kids are used to, or me, for that matter, and she spoke so rapidly, just like ds1's art teacher and most people here.

She is a good teacher. I overheard another mom from the class ask the receptionist why there was a change in teacher. Originally it was supposed to be another teacher taking this class. (I had no idea, I wonder how come I sign up for classes not knowing anything apart from the time and day it is held.)

The receptionist (who is not too professional and very gossipy) replied that the original teacher failed her child psychology and some other tests. I was surprised, so I piped in and asked, "Oh, the teachers here have to take tests regularly?" She said yes, ever so often and if they fail more than one kind of test, they have to be taken out of classroom teaching. Apparently they are not just tested on content but also pedagogy, class management and how well they understand the kids. Wow. I hope I understood her correctly!

So this teacher first distributed materials and asked each kid his name. ds2 did say his name in Chinese, I had already taught him. But she didn't understand him! Argh! After he repeated 2x, I had to say it for him.

Then she tested the kids on their knowledge of shapes, colours and lines. For every shape she held up and every colour she quizzed the kids on, ds2 would shout the answer out in English. Oh my. I had to whisper to him the answer in Chinese. When it got to the lines, he finally took my cue and answered whatever I whispered to him.

Frankly, some of the lines, I had no idea what the Chinese term was. For example, the curve. Teacher said it was a 弧线 (huxian). I didn't know that. She taught them how to draw waves with the curve. “上弧线,下弧线,上弧线,下弧线, 就变成波浪线!”

And she taught the zigzag line, and I forgot the Chinese term already! Man! I better bring a notebook next time and copy everything down in hanyu pinyin first.

Then she brought out a picture and talked to the kids about it. After that, she started line by line, step by step on the blackboard, and the kids could follow and draw on their own paper.

Each step, she would highlight the shape or line that she had just taught them that was being used in the picture, in this case, the sun peeking above the ocean, with some birds flying in the air.

ds2 and I sat at the back, so I could whisper all the English translations to him. He needs to learn some patience. He would tend to go ahead and draw the whole thing before the teacher had reached that step. Often he would need to erase stuff he drew wrongly. Even colouring. He did it too quickly, see how messy it looks! This is the first time, so I held my tongue. Just told him to be more careful, and colour neatly the next time.

Here's a video of him in the midst of the lesson. I was rather bored after he started drawing because I preferred not to interfere in his art or help him out too much. The teacher would come around to have a look and make comments. Then I'd translate for him. Other than that, I just kept taking pics and videos. haha.

So ds2 used the 2B pencil to draw everything first, then go over with the black permanent marker (all provided by the school), erase all the pencil marks, then fill in with colour. In this clip, he had already reached the colouring stage, and had just started with the waves.

Not sure what he was doing pointing to the board halfway through.

One interesting thing about the class. It was very noisy because they were all young kids 3-4yrs old, and with so many adults telling them what to do. So the teacher often used a loud voice and instructed the kids to listen to her or raise their heads. She reminded me of a fierce primary school teacher. It had been some time since I heard/ experienced such words, quite amusing for me.

“快抬头,看这里。我看看, 谁没有抬头?huh?" In a stern manner. All the kids will automatically all raise their heads, very funny.

She replaced words like 举手,注意听 freely with the 抬头 so it was quite funny. Throughout the lesson, she'd be like "I'm gonna see WHO is not looking at me? WHO is not listening to me? Who did not raise his head?"


Ds1's art piece after his class. Today they drew a cartoon car as the centerpiece, and for the rest of the pic, they could add anything they want. Ds1 chose to draw an aeroplane and some road signs/ traffic light.

His teacher again reminded him not to use colours that are too dark. They masked all the marker lines he had painstakingly penned in earlier, creating a big dark mass in the art piece.

Both boys were super duper high-spirited after the art class. And I suggested that we try Din Tai Fung in Tianjin that night. Since we had it in Singapore, we haven't tried the one here.

So we took a cab there, and it was so near, the meter didn't even jump from the initial fare (S$1.80?).

We had to wait for a table for about 5 min, so the boys watched the chefs in action. They weighed every single jiaozi skin, and every single lump of meat. After the jiaozi was completed, it had to be weighed again. I like the ultra small electronic scale, so cute, although I am not sure what I can use it for, weigh my diamonds? haha.

I have a feeling the Din Tai Fung here is more expensive. Either the prices are, or the portion of the food is too little. We had to eat soooo many xiaolongbao to be full. The noodles were too spicy for the kids. But everything was very yummy indeed. We will go back, but not too frequently I think, it's too expensive for regular consumption.

There were a lot of expats there. And I met some families from school as well. Seems like we always bump into people from school at the nice restaurants in town. Do they dine at these places all the time? Or is it just that Tianjin has too little to offer, so there is no other choice?

It'd be great to learn how to make it, then we need not pay so much for such little food. I should apprentice myself for a couple of weeks, will they take me in?

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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