Friday, May 31, 2013

The Joy of Learning - A Workshop Featuring "Chief Mum" Carrie Lupoli

When I first began this blog to document our activities “in lieu of preschool” (there’s a great blog by that name, by the way), I thought of the words that would capture the essence of what my husband and I wish to provide for our children. I came up with the following: love, wonder, magic, imagination, exploration, discovery, and lastly, the phrase “joyful learning.”

People often wonder how to make learning joyful for children. The answer is really very simple – PLAY. The phrase “play is the work of childhood,” attributed to renowned developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, captures what childhood is about. Children wake up in the morning ready to play, it is the language that they understand, it is something that they do naturally. It is through play that they explore and learn about the world.

The idea that learning should be joyful is close to my heart. It is something that I believe in, encourage in my children, and actively advocate through the parenting seminars that The Learning Basket holds around Metro Manila. Ever the learner myself, I am excited to be a partner and participant of an event that promotes joyful learning.

Joy of Learning Workshop

Fisher-Price brings to Manila “The Joy of Learning Workshop” featuring international parenting consultant Ms. Carrie Lupoli. Founder of Live and Learn Asia, a special needs consultancy firm in Singapore, Carrie is also “Chief Mum” of Mum Centre, a family of parenting blogs in Asia. I am excited to participate and learn from fellow parent-educator Carrie in the workshop on June 16!

Tickets are priced at P1000, but that already includes lunch, snacks, a gift bag, and of course the workshop fee. There are also great raffle prizes, including book baskets from The Learning Basket for five lucky parents during the workshop.

You can buy your tickets from us (just email me at or text me at 09175215606) at a 10% discount. You will also be entitled to join me and Sanne in a private meet and greet with Carrie on June 17. Get ready with your questions and see you at the workshop!

Make magic!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Maestro Classics Giveaway!

I love sharing my fabulous educational finds with friends and readers here on the blog. Giving those same friends and readers a chance to also have and experience my fab finds is a wonderful bonus. That's why I was so thrilled when Maestro Classics generously offered to host a giveaway here at The Learning Basket.

Maestro Classics is one of the gems that I am so happy to have discovered last year. It is a company dedicated to introducing classical music to children through its high quality and age-appropriate CD productions featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra. These recordings come with exciting narration by Professor Konrad Czynski, known as Yadu in the Maestro Classics CDs. (When two-year-old Little Sir started asking for Yadu all the time, I knew I had another winning educational material!)

In addition to the main orchestral track, the albums also contain recordings of the conductor explaining the music and of the producer talking about the life and times of the composer. Other fun musical recordings are also included, such as the unforgettable "Speed Metal Swan," a rock version of the theme of Tschaikovsky's Swan Lake, and the highly danceable "Russian Peter" by a Russian folk trio.

Last month, I wrote about how my children and I fell in love with Maestro Classics' "Peter and the Wolf." We used the CD to introduce classical music in our home and to appreciate Russian music as we were reading a book then set in Russia. We followed it up with "The Story of Swan Lake" as we prepared to watch a ballet recital.

You now have the chance to enjoy classical music with your children with the perfect musical story - "Peter and the Wolf." Just follow the Rafflecopter and make sure to say hello to the wonderful folks behind Maestro Classics!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Condition: This giveaway is open worldwide. Maestro Classics will ship the CD with the accompanying 24-page educational booklet to the U.S.-based winner, but will give an mp3 download if the winner is a non-U.S. resident. This giveaway will run until June 1, 2013.

Make magic!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Geography Made Fun and Easy

We read “How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World” last week, and see the world we did!

Part of the Five in a Row book list, the book is about a girl who wants to bake an apple pie. She goes to the market but finds it closed. So she goes around the world instead to get the best ingredients for her pie. Readers learn along the way what products some countries are known for, like Italy’s semolina wheat, Sri Lanka’s cinnamon, Jamaica’s sugar cane, and England’s cow’s milk.

One of the benefits of tracing the girl’s route on our map is that we got to naturally talk about the four oceans of the world (though apparently there are five now) and four of the seven continents as we “travelled” to each country mentioned in the story: Italy, France, Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica, and Vermont, USA.

From the free Five in a Row Fold N' Learns

What really got Little T’s interest though were the hands-on activities that we did based on the book. Come see!

We milked the cow from England… without a cow.

I was set to just put the whipping cream in the mixer to make butter. Little T, though, remembered reading in her picture dictionary that butter is made by putting cream in a jar and shake-shaking it vigorously for quite some time… so that’s what we did!

We then had our unsalted butter for breakfast.

And of course, we (and I mean my husband and the kids) baked an apple pie for Mother's Day. 

Before that yummy apple pie though, I made some play dough for the kids to play with and make pretend apple pie with.

Everything that we did seems such light work, but I can't imagine learning about countries, continents, and oceans any other way. 

Make magic!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mom & Me: A Giveaway

This May, Sanne and I are thrilled to be part of the Mom & Me lifestyle bazaar that seeks to promote the mother and child bond through shared activities. To be held at Rockwell Tent, Makati, be sure to catch us on May 25 at 1:45 p.m. as we speak about making reading an important part of childhood. Get ready too to enjoy a musical story time with your kids!

See that great line-up of activities? Personally, I'm excited to attend Young Artist's Studio's session with my little ones and have our family portrait taken by mommy photographer BG Valencia of Red Stiletto.

Entrance passes to this fun-filled weekend are at P499, good for 1 mom/dad and 1 child; additional participants at P250. Those who prefer access to only the booth activities such as the family portrait area, beauty booth, play area, and shopping area can get passes for P199.

Win Tickets Here

As a partner in the event, The Learning Basket is giving away three full-access tickets. Joining is easy – just follow the Rafflecopter. If you want to have more chances of winning, just email me at a photo of you and your child doing an activity together! We will post the photos on our Facebook page. Winners can claim their prize on or before the event. Good luck!

Make magic!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reading and Singing to Your Unborn Child

I was thrilled to receive an email from a reader asking for book recommendations for the 5-month-old baby in her womb. It brought back memories of how I was also eager to do “everything right” and to do everything I could for my unborn, but already much-loved baby. I thought I would share here a longer version of my reply to Mommy Jill.

Pure Magic

I read to both of my babies while they were still peacefully floating inside me. Reading and singing to my first baby, Little T, was very intentional. I bought books for her (the beginnings of our home library) and diligently read every night before going to sleep. And since my husband would often arrive home very late during that period, I would feel sentimental and sing lullabies too.

One of our maternity photos in 2007 by Dino Lara

Little Sir, on the other hand, was able to listen to all the wonderful books that his sister and I were reading. He got to hear songs and to join our dancing too!

Some would scoff at such enthusiasm, but there is a growing body of research that says babies respond to sounds from the womb, and that it’s never too early to start communicating with them.

My reason for reading and singing to my unborn babies was that I wanted to connect and bond with them right from the start. More than just to aid their brain development as widely written about, I wanted them to know my voice and know me the moment we met.

And so it was pure magic when Little T was crying inconsolably during our first hour together and I just heard myself singing hush, little baby, don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird, my “pregnancy song." She stopped crying, looked up at me as if she recognized me, and went peacefully to sleep. I was thunderstruck, awestruck, lovestruck.

What to Read and Sing

I only remember two books that I read to Little T then. Sam McBratney’s “Guess How Much I Love You” and a collection of poems, “Who’s That Baby?: New Baby Songs” by Sharon Creech. Both books celebrate babies and the love that parents have for them. In the few times that I intentionally read to Little Sir in my tummy – please forgive me as I figured I was already reading to him together with his big sister! – I remember choosing “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle.

I suppose the guidelines for choosing what to read and sing to the unborn baby are the same ones that we use for very young children: simple, rhythmic, and repetitive.

If you plan to read to the little one in your womb, or are looking for a gift for an expectant mom, you can’t go wrong with some of the same titles that I recommend for those with newborn babes: 
  • Eric Carle’s rhythmic books such as the aforementioned “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”
  • Margaret Wise Brown’s classic “Goodnight Moon”
  • Deborah Guarino’s “Is Your Mama a Llama?”
  • Sam McBratney’s “Guess How Much I Love You”
  • Vera B. William’s Calecott Winner “More More More Said The Baby”
  • P.D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?” 

Lastly, brush up on your nursery rhymes in preparation for your child’s birth and get a collection of Mother Goose Rhymes, which you and your baby will love until toddlerhood. 

Make magic!