Little Nonas’ Nature Finds

Hello, I have been posting our home preschool learning journey in nature, which I titled “Little Nonas’ Nature Finds” in my Instagram and Facebook account. Do hop over if you’d like to journey together with us as we observe and discover the natural wonders around us! 🙂

Here’s to learning together!
Yosetine

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Work Early

My late paternal grandma used to say, “Do not fear of having to work, fear when you have nothing for work, because then you will have nothing to eat.” She directed the admonition at me and my cousin sister as we were quietly grumbling at the sink full of dishes from our weekly big family dinner. My father seemed to inherit just the same philosophy, for every morning during school holidays, we would jump off our bed from his shouting from the shop downstairs.

“Get down here now! Time to work!” was his line which we hated so much. We would then be ordered around to write down the customers’ shopping lists, weigh the sugar or oil or coffee powder, carry packs of bee hoon and also bundle up a dozen bottled drinks into a neat 2-3-4-3 formation, among many other works common in a traditional ‘kedai kelontong’. Such a holiday spoiler.

But of course, now we will tell anyone what our senior generation ‘forced’ on us was the right and good thing. Even as kids, behind the murmurs and complaints, we knew it was for our good. And I shall not fail to mention about how good it felt to complete one customer’s shopping all by my own, or, my favorite, to bundle up bottled drinks all nice and tight! (It’s a skill that I’m proud of till today.)

I guess, it’s the same feeling when I managed to tidy up my toys cabinet, whip up a meal, or complete a project. It matters not whether it’s in my childhood, my professional years, or my current stay-at-home moments. The joy of doing meaningful work and the rewarding satisfaction are universal.

To quote Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft, the knowledge and experience of doing, making or fixing things with our hands not only affords us joys but also is essential to our well-being, to our flourishing. I can testify that one of my husband’s most joyful expressions is obviously seen when he is baking bread. Those who know him know how flat his default poker face is.

So, we are doing the same thing to our own children, and we start early; insisting that they dispose of their used diapers to the bin, make their beds and tidy up toys, help out with vegetables rinsing and cutting, help make the pizza, et cetera. Yes, the kids don’t always like it or do as told. Yes, we are hearing murmurs, protests and whines, and will still do for quite many years. But there are times when the littlest will clap having tossed her used diaper into the bin, and when the eldest will say with pride “Daddy, that veggies you are eating, I cut them this morning.”

That’s what it’s all about, passing down the gift of joy and satisfaction of doing meaningful work, and being useful and helpful in tangible ways to others around, as early as possible. As my father used to say very often, “If you don’t learn to work in your youth, what good will you be in your adulthood?”

What a Butterfly Boasts In

It is now midnight, I am watching an Autumn Leaf caterpillar in the midst of pupating itself as I write this in my notebook. Maybe it’s the coffee. My husband and kids were already sound asleep and I left my phone in the bedroom. I do not have any picture or video taken of the process so attached here is a video I took from the YouTube.

As I watch the caterpillar attaching itself to a stem; twitching, squeezing and shrinking itself into almost one third its original size some four hours ago, I cannot help but to contemplate on the meaning of its life.

What is the purpose of this little creature’s life? To be a beautiful butterfly. And then what? Be a bird’s prey, or die some 30 days after?

Ah, if only it could talk, the caterpillar would have protested! Why the hassle, why the painful process? For such a pathetic purpose, that cannot be!

But thanks be to GOD, as one watches the caterpillar’s journey from one ugly, creepy thing; molting itself into a pupa, and to finally emerging as a splendid butterfly, one cannot only learn about the life cycle of a biology subject, or contemplate on life’s meaning, without also raising to his lips praises to the magnificent GOD, the Creator of this little caterpillar, and of all living beings.

In fact, it is impossible for one to observe the Nature, and not be awed by its beauty, order and wisdom. And as one stands in awe of the wonder of all these, it is impossible not to acknowledge its Creator and lift up proper praises due Him.

No, I say so not because of an overly religious sentiment. Instead, it is the most making sense response. Just as one should naturally credit the artist behind a masterpiece, and applaud the composer behind a moving music, acknowledging the existence of a brilliant Mastermind behind the very existence of this caterpillar, and give Him glory for the awe-inspiring handiwork that the final beautiful butterfly is, is only the most natural, honest and logical thing to do.

The glorifying of GOD, and His enjoyment – which He graciously shares with man. This, is the purpose of the butterfly-caterpillar’s life. This, is what its gorgeous wings boast of.

Let man observe and take heed, in all their splendor let they give glory to their Maker, to whom all honor, praise and adoration are due. Lest they boast in their foolish arrogance, and end up a prey to worldly vanity and die after a meaningless life of 70 or 80 years.

The caterpillar is still twitching and contracting, but I am done with my notes. So I am turning in, both of us have our own lives to fulfill tomorrow.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Little Nonas’ Nature Finds: Rearing Autumn Leaf Caterpillars

Our little nonas are very much fascinated with butterflies; their beautiful wings, in amazing array of patterns and colors. But we have never been able to get close enough to admire the detail of arts they carry on their wings.

Yesterday morning, as we were chasing butterflies around, we thought why not try rearing caterpillar, that way we could have a chance to get up-close with the butterfly once it emerges. So we got ourselves some Autumn Leaf caterpillars as pets from the garden behind.

We have since been watching these creepy crawlies with amazement; their colors, their movement, the way and the speed with which they chomp down leaves, and how quickly these creatures excrete their frass too. We hope we’ll get the chance to see them metamorphe into the beautiful butterflies they are meant to be. (Just please don’t die on us.)

I am probably more excited than the nonas. It’s the first time I get this close with caterpillars, and while I still freak out a bit inside, I find it very exciting and I delight in observing them. I guess not only is it preschool with mommy but also preschool for mommy. Never mind I am in my late twenties, because learning never ends.

Singapore, 19 May 2017

 

Little Nonas’ Nature Finds: Mating Snails


While the Big Nona was chasing a Changeable Lizard this morning, she fatefully jumped over another creature. The lucky thing turned out to be a pair of garden snails (Cornu aspersum), and they are in the busy process of mating!

It’s the first time we saw copulation process of snails, and it’s so unlike that of vertebrates. We had initially thought that it was just two snails lying dead before noticing that they were actually connected by what we supposed were their reproduction organs (see the white tentacle-like organs near their heads).

Not long after, we met a pair of dragonflies, yes you guess right, in the process of mating too. No picture as they kept flying away whenever I approached them (“What a rude human being!” they probably thought ).

Love is in the garden. May could be the month of love for them.

As to the 4 year old I could only say “The snails and the dragonflies are both getting married.”

Singapore, 11 May 2017

Little Nonas’ Nature Finds: Gliding Lizard

We spotted a gliding lizard (possibly a Draco boschmai) during our morning walk last week. With body color that very much resembled the tree on which it was perching, the lizard was well hidden. It took some time for the nonas to be able to spot it, with Mommy busily pointing “Look! Over there! There! Can you spot it?” all the while.

The lizard had a yellow triangular gular flag under its neck, which I initially thought was a piece of leaf. (Wait, do lizards even eat leaves?? Haha ) Only when I spotted its folded patagium (wing membrane) between the limbs did I suppose it to be a type of flying lizard. And true enough, Big Nona caught it gliding to another tree nearby soon afterwards.

We tried to take a picture of the lizard but it was no good, the lizard was way too far and we were facing the bright sun. I guess we should just leave such phototaking to the professionals and make do with hand sketches.

This was the first time we spotted a different lizard. The ones we usually meet are the Changeable Lizards (Calotes versicolor). But to Young Nona, they all probably look the same, because she always points to every one of them and says “MUSHU!”

glidinglizard

Sketch reference from:
www.ecologyasia.com/verts/lizards/boschma’s-gliding-lizard.htm

Singapore, 08 May 2017