I have 2 children with an age gap of 5 years, 1 is turning 9 and the other turning 4 this year. With this considerable age gap, you would have thought it difficult to share learning resources between the 2 of them. However, with some thought put into it, I have managed to use the learning resources bought for my 9-year-old Primary 3 daughter in teaching my 4-year-old preschool son.
Sharing learning resources has its practical benefits of maximizing the use of things we bought, saving precious storage space and saving money. It also allows 2 children with a big age gap to play together, thus giving the younger one confidence in his or her learning ability.
Here are some specific learning resources which I have accumulated over the years which both my children can use simultaneously for Mathematics, Chinese, English and Science.
- Mathematical cubes: When my daughter entered Primary 1, the school bought each of them a set of 100 connectable coloured cubes using Edusave funds (if I remember correctly). She has since outgrown the cubes after Primary 2. But they have found a new owner in my son and proven very useful in helping him to learn addition, subtraction, counting in tens and sequencing based on colours. He also plays with them like Lego to build objects such as dinosaurs and bridges.
- Geometry set and Numbers set from Math-a-Morphosis: My husband bought these for my daughter 3 years ago and she hardly ever touches them. However, the geometry games in the Geometry box interest my son immensely. He started playing with the tangram pieces since 2+ years old. There are many cards printed with shapes created from the tangram pieces. He will follow the shapes and fit them accordingly. Some cards come with helping lines while others expect the player to visualise and use the correct pieces to form the given shapes. Through the game, I have taught him an important point: there can be many different solutions to the same problem.
This year, he is able to understand and play more higher-level games, some requiring at least 2 players. We play together as a family and this helps in bonding. By being able to play with us, my son has gained a lot of confidence in solving difficult tangram puzzles. He also stretches his brain when he has to think of ways to win. Sometimes he can also come up with solutions which we have not considered earlier!
In the Numbers set, there is a set of numbers cards for playing memory game. Players have to place the cards face down and open the cards to find matching pairs. This is an easy game which my son enjoys playing with his sister.
- Chinese character cards for Primary 1 and 2 (字宝宝): I have used the 4 boxes of Chinese character cards very extensively to teach my son common Chinese characters after my daughter has outgrown them this year. They are very useful for teaching, revising and playing games. (link to my article on Learning of the Chinese Language for more elaboration on the use of the cards)
- Chinese supplementary readers for Primary 1 to 3: There is a Chinese reader which accompanies each copy of the Primary Chinese textbook. Except for the reader accompanying Primary 1A textbook, the rest are drawn and written by Ah Guo阿果 (KF Lee), a local picture-book author and illustrator. The books are rich in illustrations with main character 点点and other animal characters. Each book consists of about 3 to 4 short and sometimes funny stories. I find the books quite simple to read and understand by my son. In fact, he can read the 2 books from Primary 1 with help since he has learnt many of the words from flashcards.
- 汉字王Wooden character parts set: This set of wooden character parts is meant for my daughter to form Chinese characters by joining 2 pieces together, but it has proven useful again in introducing Chinese radicals (部首) to my son. For the past 2 months, I notice that whenever we read in Chinese, he will scrutinize every familiar character and use his hand to cover part of it, then tell me its radical (his answers are mostly wrong by the way. But I am very happy that he is listening to his teacher in school and come back interested to show off his knowledge of Chinese radicals). Since this set consists of so many Chinese radicals, I use them to teach him common and basic ones such as 单人旁, 女字旁, 木字旁, 提手旁. At the same time, I also roughly explain the reason for certain Chinese radicals to be used in certain characters. For example, 妈, 妹, 姐are females, so their Chinese radical is 女字旁.
- Audio books: I bought many storybooks for my daughter which came with audio CDs. The children love listening to stories when they sleep at night. Sometimes we also bring the CDs along so that they can listen in the car. While some of the stories may be too girly, they are still classics such as Snow White and Beauty and the Beast, which I thought all children regardless of boy and girl, is good to know. Being a boy, I can tell that my son prefers Lightning McQueen and Lion King though!
- My Very First Encyclopedia with Winnie the Pooh and Friends- Animals and Nature: These 2 books come with many pages of animal and nature facts, real illustrations of animals and plants, and short write-ups per page. The contents are not difficult to understand. While my daughter can read on her own, my son is happy to be read to and he will ask questions as we read along.
Any other Science books or magazines such as The Young Scientists series containing scientific facts can be shared as long as we first scan through the contents and sieve out the easier to understand portions. Scale down the language used according to the age of the younger child by replacing long sentences with short ones, replacing difficult words with simple ones to help him or her in understanding.
Whether a learning resource can be shared between children of different ages largely depend on how we want to use them. With a bit of creativity and understanding of our own children’s learning ability and interest, we can make optimal use of many things at home.
(Most of the mentioned learning resources were bought from Popular bookstores.)
Content Source: Mummy Jaclyn
Edited By: Preschool Resources
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Preschool Resources