Fairy Dust Playdough Set

We are all familiar with how play dough has captivated children of all ages! They are fabulous for fun and learning! Here are 5 ways how it helps your child to develop!

1. Fine motor skills

Play dough is ideal for building the tiny motor skills through your child manipulating the malleable material by rolling, pressing, pinching, chopping, shredding and much more!

Poking in objects into the play dough requires focus and coordination.

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2. Develops creativity and imagination

Play dough provides endless possibilities for imaginative play and can represent anything in the mind of a child!

3. Great for building Cognitive skills!

Using play dough with letter shapes us great for letter recognition, and inserting small objects like buttons into play dough can be used for counting! Children can use the play dough to compare sizes, length and thickness. They can roll little balls and learn one to one correspondence, and even addition. They can also sort the balls by colour! iThe choices for learning are limitless!

4. Making Play dough- Great for Science concepts!

When you make play dough with your child, your child gets to be amazed by the process of mixing different ingredients into something gooey, and sticky! They learn to use their senses to learn about texture, and see the process of transformation of different materials!

5. Great for Language Development

Pretend play with play dough contributes greatly to your child’s language play. Interacting with play dough, your child taps on her imagination and comes up with play scripts, where she conceives ideas for a social scenario, and uses her vocabulary and functional language to verbalise and ‘act out’ her ideas. She engages herself in social dialogues and learn to think of solutions to problem-solve.

Our Fairy Dust Play Dough Setup

My little darling has been preoccupied with the theme of fairies in the woods, their magical journeys and fantasies of adventure and wonder.

To encourage creativity, I like to use open-ended materials for her to tap on her imagination and encourage originality.

This thematic fairy-dust playdoh set is easy to set up! And is perfect for a whole afternoon of make-believe and pretend play!

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Presenting the materials on a tray is like an invitation to play! which no child can resist!

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My little one immediately was captivated by the myriad of materials, and started coming up with her ideas as to how to use the materials. As she picks out the different materials, she used adjectives to describe the twigs and the paper flowers. She also started coming up with incredulous ideas about how a fairy has wings, and was  playing in the Pixie Garden. To make the fairy, she had to first used her palm to roll the play dough, and then estimate how to make a big and smaller ball. To join the parts together, I suggested to her using a sharp long object, and she immediately picked out the twig. To create the wings, she selected the angel wing embellishment and pressed it hard to make it stay. Using the eyes and twigs as hands, she completed the look of her little make-believe fairy!

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Next, to create the setting for the main character, she decided to make a garden! She stayed on task for a prolonged period of time trying to actualise her ideas for the garden! She flattened the dough to create grass and ground for the fairy to stand on. Then she inserted flowers and twigs to make it natural looking. She also added in little garden creatures like butterflies and worms. This was a great opportunity for me to use thematic vocabulary like different garden animals! To complete the garden look, she started referring to Tinklebelle story about pixie dust. She then sprinkled some glitter into the play dough and the wonder happened!

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Look at her little Fairy Garden with her Fairy! I love how this process of  creating art and actualising her ideas!

The process of creation far supersedes the finished product!





Maxilla-Book Review and 5 Book Activities!

Book Review- Maxilla


When my friend, Lianne first contacted me to do a blog write-up for her newly published book, “Maxilla”, I couldn’t be prouder of her! I have always been an ardent fan of local writers and illustrators, as I strongly believe they have so much to offer in terms of creating a local context for children to relate their daily experiences to, as well as showcasing their storytelling and artistic flare. So you can imagine how elated I was to receive this book! By our very local writer!

In this picture book, Lianne recounts her own boy’s magical experience with a caterpillar, and how a greater lesson of letting go comes through the storyline. The main character, Reuben found a caterpillar in the garden, named it Maxilla and hoped to see it transform into a butterfly. However, he found out that Maxilla can only survive in a natural habitat, otherwise it may die. Reuben is then confronted with the tough decision of whether to set it free or keep it.

Although this picture book resembled the theme in the all-time favourite- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it carries a deeper, more personalized meaning for young children. Children can easily relate to Reuben’s struggles of letting go, especially when they want something so badly. And the embedded message is when you choose to let go and do what is best, you may just be surprised with something remarkable!

My first reading with my little 3-year old was amazing. She was enthralled and captivated by the colourful, realistic illustrations. She could also relate with the main character in the story as we too had an amazing encounter with some caterpillars once! She could recall her past experience of watching her caterpillars metamorphosise into moths.

5 Awesome Activities Based on Maxilla

This book is rich in its potential to bring forth several learning objectives in terms of language, math and science! Based on this book, I have come up with 5 activities for my preschooler girl.

1. Caterpillar Art

For this simple art activity, simply re-use your little tea cups or bottles to make circle prints for the caterpillar! My little girl had so much fun making adjacent circles and seeing the caterpillar emerge in no time! She then requested to paint the caterpillar body green, as she recalled the illustration from the book Maxilla. She said she wanted the same caterpillar as Reuben in the story.

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2. Counting Caterpillar

The idea of using the circles to learn counting came to mind straight away when I was thinking up of a math-related activity to do. Simply write consecutive numbers on circle cut-outs, and you can create several caterpillars with numbers from 1 to 10, 10 to 20, and so on. Your child will be extremely motivated to line the numbers in sequence to create the caterpillar! It’s a great way to teach your child how to count using one-to-one correspondence!


3. Subtraction Story

For older children, your child can come up with a subtraction story, where they imagine the hungry caterpillar eating up food items. You can use food cut-outs as visual aids for your child, and simply write out a subtraction story. Then come up with a subtraction sentence and number bond representation for the story. This method helps to contextualize learning for your child since it is a book-based activity, and also interests your child to pick up beginning concepts of subtraction. I did this activity with my class of 6-year olds and they love it!

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4. Butterfly Snack

I saw this lovely idea online and decided to try making some butterfly snacks for my girl and her classmates. We went to the supermarket to browse through the selection of nuts and cereals, and turned out to be a very enriching experience of getting to know the various types of nuts and cereals! She then worked with me to decorate the clothespins and her eyes sparkled when I put it together to make into butterflies! It is a wonderful way to entice your little one to eat healthy!

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5. Butterfly Kit

This is probably our favourite activity to do! Learning science is simply about tickling your child’s curious mind. Providing a sense of wonder and curiosity is the first steps to getting your child excited about learning about the objects around them. This picture book is ideal in introducing the theme of insects or caterpillars to your child! You can easily get a butterfly kit from Oh Farms, and let your child have an experience of caring for their very own caterpillar and watching it turn into a butterfly! Through it, the lesson on the life cycle of a butterfly takes on greater meaning as they  experience it first-hand for themselves! Remember to document the whole process with photos and dialogues with your child, and it can become a long-lasting memory for your child!

You can find out more about purchasing your butterfly kits from this website http://www.ohfarms.com.sg/products/butterfly_kits

Author Biography

Lianne Ong is a freelance writer who writes primarily about parenting, education and fashion. Maxilla was written based on events that happened when her family was living in California. She now lives in Singapore with her husband and two children, Reuben and Phoebe.

Maxilla Book

Grab a copy of Maxilla picture book at all major bookstores in Singapore (Kinokuniya, Times Bookstore and MPH Bookstores) at only SGD $10.60!

For our overseas readers, it is also available worldwide at MPH Online!

For more information on Maxilla, do visit the Facebook Page


(FYI, I do not receive any monetary reward for writing this book review! It’s all for the love of supporting our local writers! 🙂

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This blog post is published in The Preschool Survival Kit Magazine distributed to all preschools in Singapore. 


Goldilocks & Three Bears- Counting Bears

Learning Counting with little bears!

This is another extension activity based on the much-loved book “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”


One of the main concepts we can draw from this story is the Math concept of quantity in counting. The number 3 is a repetitive number mentioned in the story- 3 bears, 3 bowls, 3 chairs and 3 beds. So to reinforce my girl’s counting skills, I came up with this simple thematic activity of having her to count bear biscuits on a number chart, and then having her to eat it all up upon completion of the activity!

To prepare the learning tray, simply print out or draw squares to represent the quantity for each number. The number chart aids the visualisation and comparison of the quantities for each consecutive number. You can get bear biscuits or any small treats for the little one to enjoy.

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My little girl was really motivated to get started upon seeing her favourite snack! She placed the first bear biscuit on the chart with number one and I counted with her. She practiced her one-to-one correspondence skill by placing one biscuit one at a time as she counts. For young preschoolers who are beginning to count, you will have to model the counting with them. Over time, they will be able to assign one number to one object. This chart also aids their visual discrimination of the varying quantities, and concepts of more or less.

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My little preschooler sure had a Beary good time with the little bears!


Learning about Shapes with Play Dough & Cookie Cutters!

Children always have endless fun with playdough; squishing, rolling, kneading, pressing it. They can create anything out of their imagination, and the possibilities are limitless!

What children can learn from interacting with playdough:

1. Develops their fine motor skills like strengthening their small muscles

2. Nurtures their imagination for pretend play

3. Develops and reinforces their Math and language concepts

4. Playing play dough with siblings and friends enhances their social skills like sharing, taking turns and enjoying the contribution of ideas by others

To create our little play dough learning set about shapes, you will need:

1. Play dough ( bought or handmade)

2. Rolling pin

3. Cookie cutters/ bottle caps/ shape sorters


My girl used the rolling pin to flatten the dough with her favourite shade of pink. She used her muscle skills such as kneading the dough and pressing on the rolling pin and the cookie cutter. To extract the shape out, she had to manipulate her small fingers to slowly peel out the shape. All these work happen within the short process of creating the shapes.

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Matching Shapes

After making shapes out of play dough, I asked her to match the shapes to ice-cream sticks with correct names. She was motivated to make more shapes to complete the matching activity!


Have lots of fun exploring shapes with play dough!

Shapes on Ice-cream Sticks

This week, we started a series of activities on teaching shapes! I concocted this idea from the many ice-cream sticks I have. My girl, already recognised the shapes and I wanted to teach word recognition of the shape names. So I created this matching game using ice-cream sticks!


1. Ice-cream sticks

2. Shapes cut-outs

3. Shape Name word cards

4. Ice-cube Tray with cover

5. Playdoh

6. Paper Cup

I presented the activity for my girl on the learning tray below:

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For preparation, you can stick the shapes and their names on separate ice-cream sticks and place them in a paper cup.


To start the activity, you can ask your child to put a little playdoh into each compartment of the ice-cube tray! Young children will love this tactile experience of kneading and manipulating the playdoh to fit into the compartment. It also helps them to learn how to estimate the quantity that is needed for each compartment.


First, model the activity for your child. Place the ice-cream sticks with the shape names firmly into the playdoh in each compartment. Introduce 3-4 shapes for a start. Read out the names of the shapes as you put them one by one. Then match the shape to the names by placing them in front. After you have finished matching, repeat the naming of the shapes as you point to each set, for reinforcement.

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Let your child try the activity out! You can place the shapes in front of the ice-cube tray, and let your child choose the shape to match.


My girl loves this hands-on learning experience of matching the ice-cream sticks to the names of the shapes! I helped out sound out the first letter of the shape name, and it helped her tremendously to recognise the names of the shapes. After finishing one round of matching, she wanted to repeat the matching game again!

She was also mastering the skill of making the sticks stand upright, and discovered the solution of using more playdoh as the base. Talk about incidental learning!

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The next day, we played the matching game, only this time, I stuck the shapes first, and she has to match differently with the names of the shapes instead. Using a game creatively and differently is often a sure way to sustain their interest in an activity. It also helps them to apply the concepts in different contexts, and thus helps them to transfer the learning.

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If you worry about the playdoh drying up if you can leave them in the ice-cube tray, it won’t happen if you get those that comes with a cover!


You can also use this activity to introduce other new words such as animals, numbers, anything!

This is going to be a week of learning about shapes for us! Watch out for our next posts!

Sandpaper Numbers


Montessori Sandpaper Numbers are individual cards containing numbers in raised sandpaper. This is one of the core Montessori activities which familarises children with the look and formation of each number, and adds to their muscle memory of the numbers in preparation for writing. Maria Montessori recognised critical periods in a child’s development where tactile and senses are most sensitive, and created multi-sensory materials such as sandpaper numbers and letters. They are designed to teach symbol recognition and writing by integrating touch, sight and sound.

According to the Montessori approach, children are suited to be introduced to sandpaper writing from the age of 2.5 years to 4. When I first started my girl on the sandpaper letters, I was amazed at its effectiveness of these tactile numbers. When she looks at the numbers, traces them with her two first fingers, and says out the numbers, she receives visual, tactile and auditory input all within the same exercise. This kind of sensory input helps the child get the information into her long term memory.

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Instructions on how to use sandpaper numbers

1. (Optional) Have your child wash her hands with warm water. This helps their hands to be sensitive to touch.

2. For new beginners, show them how to feel the numbers, using a light continuous touch of the index and middle fingers of the dominant hand, and to hold the card steadily with the other hand.

3. You will first demonstrate by tracing the number with your fingers, then say out the number. Do this 3 times

4. Have your child repeat what you did. Allow time for the child to practice tracing the numbers

Tip: I like to start with numbers with straight lines first (like 1, 4, 7), followed by those with curves.

Tracing numbers on a cornflour tray.

A nice practice tool is the cornmeal tray. Choose a tray or dish with raised edges and pour in a thin layer of cornflour. As they trace out the sandpaper numbers, they can repeat the same marks with their finger in the cornflour tray. These help your child to familiarise herself with the directionality and motion of writing the numerals in a sensorial manner.

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Writing numbers on a mini-blackboard with chalk

This is probably one of the my preschooler’s favourite writing activity. After learning how to trace the sandpaper numbers, she will attempt to repeat the same writing motion on the blackboard with a chalk, which brings her a step closer to using a pencil on paper in future. Use thicker chalk if possible for their tiny hands, as it encourages better pencil grip and makes it easier for them to practice writing.

For this, I prepared a writing tray, with the sandpaper numbers on one side and the mini blackboard on the other.

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My preschooler started tracing the number 7, and repeated the writing motion on the blackboard tray. She did not get it right the first few times, but with a lot of encouragement and modeling from me, she could eventually produce writing that resembled the number closely!

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Where to get sandpaper numbers & letters:
I bought mine online from Enrighten.com locally and they deliver it to your place

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Each time I walked past the asle at the supermarket where the baking supplies are, I always thought how nice it will be to bake with my girl at home. Well today, after having procrastinated it long enough, I decided to have a go at baking muffins! Out of a Betty Crocker Muffin Box! What else for a beginner? 🙂

The whole process was quick, easy and so educational! My girl put on her little apron and was raring to go when I brought out the ingredients! I told her the quantity for each ingredient that we needed, and she watched me measure and estimate the amount for the 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 vegetable oil. She then cracked the two eggs and I seized the opportunity to teach her the different parts of the egg (eggshell, yolk, egg white). She also stood on the little stool by the kitchen sink and helped me rinse the blueberries.


She then poured the ingredients one by one into the glass bowl as I read out the instructions on the muffin box. She stirred the muffin mixture with the wooden spoon with all her might, and she was so fascinated watching all the ingredients blend into a lumpy batter.

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The final step was to scoop the batter and fill the baking cups in the baking tray. It took great precision and focus to make sure the batter doesn’t spill outside the cups.

Upon filling the sixth paper cup, an idea struck her and she exclaimed, ” Mummy, can we put sprinkles and marshmallows on top?” And so we did!

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The first batch went into the oven and I took time to explain to her how to adjust the timer for 15 mins, and the temperature of 400 F. When the baking started, Rae just stood in front of the oven, completely fascinated watching the batter rise to become fluffy muffins.

When the little muffins were ready, I took them out of the oven and I could see Rae beaming with pride at our little achievement. The muffins sat pretty in the pink paper cups. That afternoon, we had the nicest tea time at home, delighting ourselves with our little homemade muffins.

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This whole baking experience is so rich in educational value! Let me summarise!

Fine motor Skills

1. Pouring the oil and milk into the mixture

2 Rinsing the blueberries

3. Cracking the eggs into a bowl

4. Stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon

5. Transferring the batter into the baking cups


6. Matching the paper cups to the compartments in the muffin trays

7. Counting the number of eggs needed

8. Using measuring tools like cups, and measuring spoons.

9. Be exposed to fraction terms like 3/4 cups or 1/4 cup of oil.

10. Understand time concepts like fifteen minutes.

11. Count the number of muffins made

12.For older children, you can introduce concepts of division when you divide the batter into 12 portions to be baked.


13. Learn verbs like stir, heat, drain, place, mix, grease, rinse, stir, divide, scoop,blend, remove, bake, cool, store, etc

14. Learn the different ingredients needed for baking muffins

15. Label the different parts of an egg

16. Learn what is instructional text and how is written on the box.

17. Follow one-step or two-step instructions