Archive for June, 2012

Inexpensive Homemade Educational Games

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The best way to teach a child is through play. Children pick up alphabets, poems, maths and many more subjects faster, when taught through games. You can incorporate many concepts in their minds, without even making them realize that these are the same boring subjects taught in school. Games can not only be fun, but an excellent teaching aid in making children understand, remember and retrieve the concept they pick up while playing. You can build their language skills, widen their knowledge in world history, geography, science and many more subjects.

There are many interactive educational toys available in the market that can be very useful in teaching your children. You can find these educational games at toy stores and malls. But, it is even more fun when you and your kids sit down and make an educational game. It will help you bond with your child and the siblings can also bond among themselves. Children will learn a lot while making and playing a game. The fun in fact doubles on playing a game that has been made by you.

There are many interactive, educational games that you can try building at home. You can try making a few of the games listed below, which you and your family can enjoy together.

Jigsaw Puzzle
It is not only fun when playing a jigsaw puzzle, but making a jigsaw puzzle of your own, is also very interesting. The kids will love cutting the different puzzle pieces. To make a jigsaw puzzle, cut a thin cardboard sheet to your desired size. Paste a picture or photograph of your choice on a thin sheet of cardboard. On the backside of the cardboard, draw a zigzag line 1 inch from the left edge, top to bottom. Draw similar lines at a distance of 1 inch from each other. Similarly, draw zigzag lines horizontally, 1 inch apart. Cut along these lines to make your jigsaw pieces. Jumble the pieces and your jigsaw puzzle is ready to be solved. This puzzle will help in building the analytical skills of the kids.

This is an educational game that will help build your kids vocabulary and spelling skills. You will need three spools and 1 unsharpened pencil. Take a marker pen and write the letters s,r,l,g and f around one spool. Write a,e,i,o,u on the other spool and on the third spool write n,t,d,p and b. Use different color markers on each spool. Put the spool containing the letters s,r,l,g and f, then the one containing the vowels and then the last spool around the pencil. Now, turn the spools on the pencil and form a word. See who can come up with more words in a minute. This is an interactive and fun game that will be enjoyed by kids.

Brain Teaser Art
This game will help your children learn basic math skills. You will need a stencil to create geometric designs. Try making a bird with lots of circles, or make a house using squares, rectangles and triangle shapes. You have to keep in mind the number of shapes you draw. Color the brain teaser with an array of colors. After you finish preparing your brain teaser, ask your kids to count the number of shapes. It will be great fun as the children will get puzzled with the geometric jumble of shapes. This game will help the kids in improving their counting skills.

You can also play ‘who can bounce a ball more times?’. Children will learn to count and the game will help the kids in building their concentration. You can play Simon Says, with a twist. You can spell a word and ask the kids to pronounce it. There are other ways too, in which you can improve your children’s thinking capabilities. You can involve children when shopping and tell them names of the exotic vegetables and fruits sold at the market. Also, tell them about the countries or region where they are cultivated. The next time you visit a market, pretend you forgot the name of the exotic fruit and vegetable and ask them to help you remember!

There are many online sites where games based on phonics, language, arts, world history and maths are offered. Children love playing online games and educational games help them learn things the fun way.

by Batul Nafisa Baxamusa.

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Study loan conversion scheme expanded

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

PASIR GUDANG: Graduates who obtained first class honours before Jan 1, 2010 and have loans with the National Higher Education Corporation (PTPTN) can convert them into scholarships.

Before this, the loan conversion was available only to students who graduated after 2010.

Up to June 15 this year, 16,194 students had converted their PTPTN loans to scholarships worth RM445.27mil.

Explaining the decision to widen the scope for those eligible, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said: “The Government believes students who studied hard should be rewarded. Hence, we have decided to extend this offer.”

He said the decision will benefit 4,430 eligible first class honours students or those with equivalent qualifications. Khaled said most of these students had yet to complete repaying their loans.

However, he added, PTPTN would ensure that whatever the students had paid would be refunded.

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Call to abolish remove classes

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: AN education organisation has called on the government to abolish the remove classes aimed at helping students from vernacular schools transition to Form One.

The Educational Research and Welfare Foundation (EWRF), which has conducted a study into the one-year remove classes, found that they were largely ineffective in helping students from Tamil or Chinese vernacular schools overcome the Bahasa Malaysia language barrier before they enter national secondary schools.

Prof Dr N.S. Rajendran, the study’s taskforce head, said the weaknesses of the classes stemmed from poor implementation and a failure to distinguish between genuinely weak students and those who simply had not mastered Bahasa Malaysia.

“There were many situations where students who scored grade A and B for all other subjects, but failed to get a minimum grade of C for Bahasa Malaysia, who were asked to attend remove classes.

“Many of these students feel disillusioned and unmotivated as they are seen as slow learners and underachievers,” he said at the EWRF’s delegates’ conference yesterday.

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Sidma staff enjoy trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

APPRECIATED: Staff of Sidma College Sarawak celebrate its 20th anniversary at Mekong Delta.

KUCHING: Staff of Sidma College Sabah and Sidma College Sarawak enjoyed a sponsored company trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from June 8–11.

Given spending money of RM1000 each, they had the opportunity to visit several islands near Mekong River tributary and enjoyed Vietnamese cuisine and shopping at Ben Thanh Tay Market and Saigon Square.

The highlight of the trip, made in conjunction with its 20th anniversary, was a grand dinner of Vietnamese traditional dishes on world famous Saigon Restaurant Cruise Ship, a triple-decker 600-seat floating restaurant on a cruise ship anchored at Bach Dang Quay at the corner of Nguyen Hue and Ton DucThang Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

Prof Dr Morni Kambrie who is chairman of Dynamic Seminars Sdn Bhd and CEO of Sidma College Sabah gave a speech, tracing the history of Dynamic Seminars Sdn Bhd from humble beginnings on May 22, 1992 until today.

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Is There a Right Time to Enroll Children in Preschool?

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

There are probably as many theories on how to raise young children as there are children themselves, and in the end only parents can know how best to approach each stage of their son’s or daughter’s life. The innumerable books, videos, classes, and plans available to new parents should be taken as sources of advice, ideas, and inspiration when it comes to child rearing, and taken together, these can be valuable tools that can help parents understand and respond to the demands of parenting. However, no one book can contain all the answers, and parental instinct is often just as valuable as theory in making parenting decisions. Any parenting advice, therefore, should be taken with a grain of salt and should be used to aid in a parent’s own responsible consideration.


One of the topics about which parenting “experts” are the most vocal is the issue of when a child should be enrolled in a preschool or day care program. In many countries, children enter their first year of formal, obligatory schooling around age 6. Often, children enroll in a kindergarten program for one year before formal schooling begins. The concept of kindergarten was originally devised as a way to allow children to transition easily between home life and the demands and rigors of school. Although kindergarten programs typically contain educational elements, ample time is also made for play and socialization. Some kindergarten programs are only half the length of a typical school day in order to allow children to spend more time at home before requiring them to attend school all day.

The Stigma of Pre-K Preschool and Daycare

In the United States, kindergarten is not universally required, but in most places it is thought to be an acceptable time for children to begin school. Away from home programs that precede kindergarten are commonly called daycare or preschool programs. There is considerable controversy about the necessity and benefit of such programs. Society has long placed a high value placed on traditional two-parent families, one of whom stays home with the children. Possibly for this reason, parents who send their children to preschool are often stigmatized because they are thought not to be spending enough time with their children. However, early preschool programs can benefit children in a number of ways.

Socialization in the Early Years

Early preschool programs vary widely and can begin as early as infancy. Those in favor of early preschool may argue that children who are kept at home until they are 5 or 6 will be slow to develop social skills, which could potentially damage their social and academic lives for years to come. Although socialization is a complex topic, it is indisputable that children begin to talk and interact meaningfully with other people well before the kindergarten age. Being able to interact with other kids around their own age may indeed help speed their development. The famous psychologist Lev Vygotsky argued that children have a “zone of proximal development,” meaning that they will learn fastest by playing with children who are their age or slightly older and can challenge them in ways that are age-appropriate.

Independence, Self-Confidence, and Fun

Opponents of early preschool or daycare enrollment often argue that it is parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are appropriately socialized and have adequate intellectual stimulation before they reach the kindergarten age. It may be possible, for example, for parents to introduce their children to other kids around the same age, and attentive mothers and fathers probably know what activities are too challenging or not challenging enough for their own sons and daughters. However, every school-aged child knows that there is no substitute for unstructured free play. Even if parents are lucky enough to have the financial and home life stability needed to stay home with their kids, enrolling them part-time in preschool may increase their quality of life and allow them to develop a sense of independence and self-confidence.

by Buzzle Staff and Agencies.

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NUTP: Teachers under huge pressure to deliver

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

STRAIN: ‘Stress levels shoot up during invigilation to assess performance’

JOHOR BARU: Their stress levels were most apparent when they knew of invigilators or inspectorates turning up to assess their performance, she added.

Lok was commenting on the case of a teacher who had forgotten about leaving her 5-year-old son alone in her MPV for more than six hours on Wednesday. The boy died.

A friend of the boy’s parents had said the mother was under tremendous pressure on the day of the incident as Education Ministry officials were at the school to observe teachers in the classrooms.

Lok, however, said the case was a sensitive issue considering it was a police case and because the family was still mourning their loss.

“I feel empathy towards the teacher as I understand the pressure which teachers go through.

“I have experienced such pressure before, and I know teachers get stressed when officials come to their school to evaluate their performance.

“The pressure is such that some of them cannot sleep for two or three nights. Others even get distracted while driving and they don’t know where they end up in.”

She said many teachers wanted to give their full commitment at work and this might cause them to sacrifice their commitment for family and affect their well-being.

by Ahmad Fairuz Othman.

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Five Reasons Getting Students to Talk is Worth the Effort

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

“I just don’t see how students learn anything when they talk to each other,” a faculty member told me recently. “Their conversations are so superficial. They get things wrong. I can hardly stand to listen to them.”

Although I don’t agree, I can understand the feelings. Students talk about content as novices; faculty discuss it as experts. Novices do talk about things superficially, incorrectly and not very systematically. And those types of exchanges do cause experts all kinds of consternation. But there are good reasons to let students talk about course content. Here are five.

1. Students learn content when they talk about it. There’s lots of research supporting that claim, as well as plenty of first hand experience, doing it and seeing it. When you try to explain something to somebody else, you end up understanding it better yourself. Talking can make it easier to see how the new material connects with, relates to or disagrees with what you already know. It expedites making the material your own, making it more meaningful to you.

For most faculty the question is whether you need a knowledge base before you can talk about something. People talk about things they know nothing (or very little) about all the time. . .so it’s certainly possible. The question is more about whether you should talk about things when your knowledge base is minimal. You shouldn’t if the conversation is without an infusion of new information, but teachers can do much to prevent that from happening.

2. Talking lets students learn from each other. Learning can be an individual activity, but learning also can happen when students work together. Too often these are viewed as learning preferences and you’ll hear people say that students learn well alone or they learn well with others. In reality, they should have the skills necessary to learn in both contexts.

And sometimes it’s easier for students to learn from each other than from the teacher. It’s safer to ask questions of a peer and to test knowledge with someone you consider an equal. Sometimes when you’ve just learned something, you can explain it better to somebody who doesn’t understand than the experts who know the concept so well they’ve forgotten when and how they first learned it.

3. Talking gives students the opportunity to practice using the language of the discipline. Experts in every field talk about material with a highly specialized language; new words, big words, unfamiliar words. Students struggle with nomenclature; talking and writing are the best ways to learn the language of the professions. And nobody learns a new language without practice and without making egregious errors.

4. Talking connects students with the content.

5. Talking connects students with each other.

by Maryellen Weimer.

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Preschool Activities for Kids

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The preschool period is considered to be an important phase for children. This is considered to be a significant stage of development for children. Preschool activities can be made interesting where in the child develops a liking to explore and pick up new ideas. Besides, parents can also use them at home to keep their children busy on a rainy day! The trick lies in making these activities fun and interesting and keeping the young ones entertained and informed at all times. Here are some interesting activities for kids that are bound to keep them busy and happy at the same time!

Preschool Activities
You might need to be involved with your child for trying out these activities. Once they get used to it, you can probably watch them at a safe distance.

Easy Fish Beanbag:

What You Will Need
Tube sock
Dried beans
Felt scraps

Begin by helping the child fill a tiny tube sock with dried beans; fill up to three quarters of the sock with the same. Tie it tightly so that it forms a tail. Use some yarn to tie the knot. Then, push the toe area of the sock towards the inside so that it forms a mouth. Add some glue so that it holds the shape of the mouth. With the help of a marker, direct your child to draw some eyes and gills on the face area. You can even use felt to create the shapes; this can be glued to the sock.

Make a Cotton Snowman:

What You Will Need
Cotton Balls
Cups (to trace)

You will need to find different types of mugs or containers so that the children can trace different sized circles. Once you have all the containers, instruct the kids to trace circles with the help of these containers on paper. Make them fill in the circles with cotton balls. Use a little bit of glue to fix the cotton on the paper. Meanwhile, you can paint the macaroni and popcorn in different colors; these can be used to create eyes and mouth for the cotton snowman.

Shimmer Shapes:

What You Will Need
Powdered glitter

Instruct the child to use glue and draw different shapes on paper. This could range from the basic oval to a star shape. The child can then sprinkle some glitter over these shapes. Let it dry and shake off the excess glitter. Teach the kid about the name of each shape so that the child learns to identify shapes and forms, in a fun way!

Sing a Song:
Kids would love music any day and you can sing a few well-known songs for the class. Teach particular actions with the song, you can incorporate few claps or shouts with a particular verse. These actions should help them to interpret the meaning of the song as well. These body actions will help them to develop their powers of observation and memory skills.

by Kashmira Lad.

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From ethnic to civic nation building

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Civic nation building can help realise the full potential of all citizens.

IT is time for Malaysians who love this country to ask ourselves this fundamental question: Do we wish to live together as a nation, with common memories and common dreams? Or do we want to prove the pundits of 1957 right that the ethnic and religious divide of this country would eventually see it fall apart.

That the ethnic and religious faultlines of Malaysia are bursting at the seams cannot be denied. The increasing reports of violence and intimidation against political opponents – be they in party politics or in civil society – and the inability to discuss contested issues on race, religion and politics in a rational and balanced manner are ominous of what is in store in the heat of the upcoming elections.

We are a society polarised and the divide is getting wider by the day – the Rukun Negara, Vision 2020, Islam Hadari and 1Malaysia notwithstanding. Why?

About two weeks ago, I attended the inaugural lecture by Dr Muthiah Alagappa for the Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies, established at ISIS Malaysia and funded by the Noah Foundation.

He spoke on his current research topic which is relevant to the state of our nation – “Nation Making in Asia: From Ethnic to Civic Nations?”

Nation making, says Muthiah, may take several forms but at base, there are two approaches. One is on the basis of ethnic or religious community and the other on the basis of citizenship, equality, and commitment to a political creed. The first may be called ethnic nation making and the second, civic nation making. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. They share some common elements like historic territory and common culture but they also have distinct features. Citizens’ interests take centre stage in a civic nation. Group beliefs and interests dominate an ethnic nation.

Muthiah made the point that ethnicity has dominated nation making in Asia. And through a survey of China, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Malaysia, he concludes that this mode of nation building is fast running its course.

Much of what he said helped me to understand why we are in the muddle we are in today. More importantly, he offered a way out. To move from ethnic nation building to civic nation building. Actually to return to our history where once political leaders like Datuk Onn Ja’afar and Tunku Abdul Rahman, like other men of their generation, Nehru in India and Soekarno in Indonesia, who opted to build a civic nation out of multi-ethnic states.

Muthiah asserts that nation making on the basis of ethno-nationalism has been the cause of numerous domestic and international conflicts in post-World War II Asia. Core ethnic groups in control of state power engaged in constructing nations and states on the basis of their own ethnic groups. The core ethnic group develops and deploys state power to protect, remedy, and promote its values and interests including language, culture, demographic predominance, economic welfare, and political dominance. Political and other mobilisation, state institutions, and non-governmental organisations are developed to sustain and reinforce the national imagination of the core ethnic group and its domination of the state.

Their “nationalising state” strategies marginalised other populations residing in the country, provoking counter imaginations of nations also based on ethnicity, leading to violence and proliferation of demands for new nation states in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

Ethnic nation making leads to conflict and violence for several reasons, asserts Muthiah.

First, in multi-ethnic countries, constructing nations on the basis of majority communities implicitly or explicitly led to the formation of minority communities and their destruction or marginalisation. These groups became apprehensive about their futures, stimulating alternative conceptions of nation as well as imagination of new states in which minority communities would become the state-bearing nations. The demand for new nations and states led to violence and war as seen in Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and Pakistan.

by Zainah Anwar.

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Preschool Software

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Education has changed in a big way since the IT revolution came to pass. I didn’t really realize this until I saw preschoolers glued before their computers. Crayons and water-colors and clay and all that stuff isn’t exactly passé, but computers are taking over in a big way as an educational medium. There are loads of excellent preschool software programs available in the market currently. There are creativity and productivity software that have been developed by child educational experts and child psychologists. There are programs that encourage creative activities like drawing and writing. There are games, often starring favorite comic or cartoon characters, that will teach your preschooler to use the mouse, recognize colors, shapes, and letters, read and type, and so on. There are games that foster better coordination and problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills. There are games that encourage imagination and exploration. There are games that are fun and appealing and at the same time are touted to make great inroads in the learning process. It is rather baffling actually the sheer diversity and variety in the educational material you can find.

Since preschool software can be quite expensive in some cases and you can’t return it once it has been used, you need to think before you buy. What is the whole purpose behind buying this particular software? What kind of experience do you want your child to have? What kind of learning will it provide? What is the exact educational content? Does it gel with your educational philosophy? Will it really benefit your child and help him or her become more creative? Will it interest your child? What does your child want? Are you prepared to be involved in the learning process since a software, however brilliant, isn’t going to achieve it on its own? Are you really thinking of your child’s educational needs or is this a virtual escape from the trials of parenthood? You know, park the kids before their own computer, so they don’t bother you at yours.

Personally, I’m not at all sure that giving computer access to preschoolers is such a great idea. At this age, a kid should be out exploring the real world and interacting with real people, not be stuck before a television or a computer screen experiencing it all second-hand. If you want to learn about colors or shapes, you can do that in the real world just as well. In fact, you should. Take your kid out on walks or hikes or picnics and things like that. Spend time together doing things and building things in the actual world. Childhood is a precious time and I envisage a ‘My Family and Other Animals’ kind of childhood, not a ‘Matrix’ type, for my kid.

Computers will be a big enough and indispensable part of your children’s lives as they grow older. Starting earlier isn’t going to make them any more smarter. And if it does, so what? As someone really, really, really smart once said, if you win in the rat race, that means you’re just officially the biggest rat around. I mean, c’mon, what would you personally like to remember? That you visited the Borneo Rain Forest when you were three or that you googled the pictures of the Borneo Rain Forest when you were three?

But, like I said, this is my personal opinion and it’s not likely to stem the tide. It’s inevitable, of course, that kids should want to use computers too. Nearly everybody does these days after all, and most kids want to be doing the same things their peers are doing. What you as a parent should do is restrict the time spent on the computer – watch out for eye strain and body fatigue. Also be sure to monitor your kids’ activities stringently, especially if the kid has progressed to online adventures. There are just too many creeps and predators with legal second chances around. Keep the computer in the family room, so you always know what’s going on.

by Sonal Panse.

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