Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stories for Primary 2 Children (4)


Some animals cannot protect themselves against their stronger, fiercer and faster predator. As these animals cannot move quickly, they have a special way of eating. Whenever they find somd food, they run away to hide after swallowing the food quickly without chewing it for fear of being attacked. Once safe in their hiding place, they will force the food out from their stomachs, biting it over and over again, chewing the food at their leisure. This is called chewing the cud and animals that do this are called ruminants.

One such ruminant is the cow. Its stomach has five parts. Each of these parts does something different to the food.

Another ruminant, the camel, has three parts in its stomach. It uses the first to store food while grazing in the field and to form the food into cud. In the second part is the digestive juice while the chewed cud is digested in the third.

Source: Adapted from "Tell Me How?" By Chanceller Press

A Shopping Trip

Mrs Lee wanted to buy new clothes for her children, Mei Mei and Tze Min, as they had outgrown their old ones. She wanted to go to the mall because there was a sale on. Mother knew that the mall was especially crowded on weekends so she wanted an early start.

Mrs Lee and her children had breakfast. Then, the children got dressed. The thought of open spaces to run around and the numerous toys to play with was too much for the children. The children jumped up and down in the car and squealed in delight when they reached the mall. Mrs Lee reminded them they would only get new clothes if they behaved.

The Lee family spent three hours in the mall. IT was a more worthwhile trip for the children than Mrs Lee. Tze Min had two new pair of pants and three shirts, while Mei Mei had two pretty dresses. Mrs Lee ended up with a dress. Before they left for home, Mrs Lee bought chocolate ice-cream to reward her children for their good behavior.

Tze Min and Mei Mei had a tiring but memorable trip.

Father and Son

Mr Chiam came home from work late, tired and irritated. He found his five-year old son, Calvin waiting for him at the door. Calvin asked him how much he earned an hour. He told Calvin that he earned twenty dollars an hour. Calvin lowered his head sadly. Looking up all of a sudden, he asked to borrow ten dollars from Mr Chiam.

Mr Chiam was furious. He scolded Calvin for being childish and sent him to bed. Calvin quietly went to his room and shut the door. After about an hour, Mr Chiam had calmed downa nd thought that he might have been too hard on his son. Mr Chiam went to Calvin's room and opened the door. He apologised to Calvin and gave him the ten dollars he had asked for.

Calvin sat straight up smiling. "Oh thank you, Daddy!" he yelled.

Reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some crumpled notes. Calvin slowly counted his money, then he looked up at his father.

Calvin said, "Daddy, I have twenty dollars now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Stories for Primary 2 or Grade 2 Children (3)

An Old Man, A Donkey and A Dog

A long time ago, there lived a poor old man who had no wife or children. However, he had two good companions, a donkey and a dog. As the old man was very poor, the donkey and the dog often had to go without food.

The old man, the donkey and the dog would travel across the land and up into the hills, searching for gold in the ground.

One day, they arrived at the top of a hill. The dog stood still. It lifted its paw to pat a spot on the ground. The old man bent down and dug into the soft sand.

With a loud cry of joy, the old man threw his spade on the ground. What he found made him very happy. He loaded the gold onto the donkey's back. The three best friends walked down the hill and into the village. Never again did they have to go without food.


Butterfiles are insects. They are noted for their wings which are often colourful and bright. Butterfly wings are different from bird wings. Bird wings are made of feathers, but butterfly wings are made of tiny overlapping scales.

A butterfly has an interesting life cycle. It starts as an egg. When it is born, it is what we called a catepillar. Each caterpillar then moves into a cocoon and becomes a chrysalis. When the insect comes out of the cocoon, we call it a butterful.

Butterflies can be found almost all over the world. There may be as many as twenty thousand different species of butterflies. Butterflies usually feed on flower nectar.

Butterflies symbolise different things in different cultures. Some people say that when a butterfly lands on you, it means good luck. Other people may say that they have "butterflies in their stomach" when they have to sit for an examination that they are not prepared for.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stories for Primary 2 or Grade 2 children (2)

A Bad Dream

Sometimes when I am very tired and fall asleep, I have frightening dreams of monsters and wild animals chasing me. I had one of the most frightening dreams recently that I thought it was reality.

I dreamt that I was in the school field with my classmates during recess. We were playing football and laughing happily together. Suddenly, all my friends disappeared and I was alone. The field was covered with thick fog and it became very dark and silent. I began to call for my friend in fear, but the strange thing was that no sound came out of my mouth.

Then, I saw a tall and dark shadow floating towards me. I tried to scream but again, no sound came out. I tried to run, but my legs became as heavy as a log and I could not lift them from the ground. The dark shadow began to drift closer towards me. It began to laugh at me. It was a loud, horrible laughter. I struggled again to escape from it. Suddenly, I felt a pair of cold hands, grabbing me.

Fortunately, I woke up at this point and saw my sister using fingers to splash water at my face.

The Star Llama

Once, there was a young boy. He had no family except for his animal, an old sheep. Each day, the boy and his sheep would walk many miles, looking for a home. Each night, they would curl up together and sleep.

Once starry evening, the old sheep died. The boy buried his friend next to an icy stream. Then he sat under a tree and cried. He had no family and no home. The boy cried for a long time. There was no one to comfort him.

Suddenly, the sky filled with bright light. The boy held his breath. He was afraid to move. One bright star fell to the ground. Slowly, the star took the shape of the old sheep. She bent her head and drank from the stream. She looked at the boy and smiled. As she jumped back into the sky, bits of wool fell. As the sun began to rise, the boy picked up the soft, warm wool. It glowed in his hands like starlight. He carried the wool to the city and sold it. With the money, he bought a house and two young sheep. He never forgot the star sheep. He was never lonely again.

Source: Adapted from 'The Star Llama and Other Stories"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chalking it up, Part 2

Under the Language Evaluation segment, John shared with us about his personal experience to scale the skyscraper of English pronunication.

He found that it was not King's English or Queen's English but Clear English which was the highest standard of English.

Do practise saying the following words. If you are in doubt, you can also check out the pronunciation at

Long/short "E"
Feet/Feat/Fit (note "Feet" and "Feat" have the same pronunication)
Food/Foot (* Special - food - long, foot - short)

Next, he shared with us that there was a difference between pronunciation and enunication. The first one referred to the sound of word, the latter was the syllabus stress.


"Th" sound. To say this sound correctly, your tongue has to be in between your teeth and you blow when you say the word. Some words for practise.

There/Their (can be the same or pronounce "Their" sounding like "Air" behind)

The "s" in the centre

Word Ending

chute ("sh" sound)
grasp (pronounce "grass" with "p" sound ending)
itinerary (remember this is a 5 syllabus word, there is one "r" sound in the middle. I-ti-ner-a-ry)
library (li-bra-ry)
liaise (it is leeyas, not liar)
tuition (tu'i'tion)
won/worn (first word is pronounced as "one")
regardless/ with regard (there is no irregardless)

John ended this segment by telling that "practice makes .... better". And for those who are interested to improve further look out for a course on phonetics conducted by Mr Norman Lim at CC. I have done a google his full name is Norman Lim Thye Kee. If he is conducting one near my place, I will definitely sign up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chalking it Up, Part 1

On 5 Dec 2009 (Saturday), there was an Achievers Day cum 3-in-1 Workshop on Language, General and Project Evaluation at Whampoa Community Centre. The workshop was faciliated by John Sih, a highly entertaining trainer and Patrick Chang, trainer and coach with more than 20 years of experience.

First of all, I liked the way the pamphlet was printed - double-sided on an A4 paper, folded into three main section and a perforated half-an-inch slip. Each bigger portion contained the program for each session. It looked something like this:

Session 1

2.00 pm Welcome by TMD Appointment Holder 1

2.05 pm Opening Address Appointment Holder 2
5-7 mins - Division U Governor

2.15 pm Workshop Session 1
> Language Evaluation Workshop Facilitor 1

Basic & Advanced Speeches

2.45 pm P8 - Get Comfortable with Speaker 1
5- 7 min Visual Aids
Project Title


*Voting for best prepared speaker - SAA's

For the last perforated half-inch portion, there were three small rectangles with words typed 90 degree to the three big sections. Each rectangle could be torn off easily as voting slips. First rectangle was the "COMMEND & CRITIQUE 1 AREA", second was for "BEST PREPARED SPEAKER" (with the instruction that went like this "Please vote based on objectives of the project and manner of presentation." and finally, the portion for "BEST PERFORMED APPOINTMENT OR ROLE" (the instruction was "Please vote based on the objectives of the appointment/role.")


Next, let me move on to the flyer for the programme. What a good choice of words "Chalking it up"

"Chalk up" means to score or earn.

There was a very clever use of trios as in "Be chalking, chuckling and cheering through his workshop".

Another was the good use of "U" in Division U in the tagline "Renew your Promise with the U Attitude.

That is all for Part 1 of this blog on the first impression. So far, I have touched on the bread of the burger, in my next post, I shall touch on the meat of the burger. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What is Your Mental Model?

This is an article on Learning Organisation written a few years ago. While the article is dated, the ideas are still valid and perhaps even evergreen. Enjoy!

Ever wonder why it is so difficult to persuade others using on reasons? This is because "action is driven by passions, not reasons”. Remember, logic tells, emotion sells.

Basically, people won’t act because they know, but only because they believe. To rally and move people forward, one must appeal to their passions and beliefs. In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, Brutus tried to explain the reason for assassinating Caesar to calm the crowd. Mark Anthony on the other hand appealed to the passion and emotion of the crowd. No points for guessing who manage to won the crowd over. One can try to explain the reasons for doing something over and over again but will not win over the people.

Often, when we think we are being rational, we are simply basing our decisions on an assorted collection of beliefs, myths, assumptions and prejudices. While this is true, the question is how can one avoid it. Given that most Singaporeans, are brought up in an education system skewed towards science and engineering, we are brought up in an environment that emphasizes a lot on rational reasoning and deduction.

A person cannot see beyond what he knows. He may be aware that his reasoning may not be all there is to the situation but he, alone will not be able to do much about it, even if he has all the passion. He will need mirrors to help him see blind spots that are not apparent to him before. This means he will have to seek out new approaches, perspectives and views to the issue by possibly talking to others. As the changes that affect a body of knowledge most profoundly do not, as a rule, come out of its own domain, he may have to ask someone outside his knowledge domain for new perspectives.

As he seeks out new approaches, perspectives and views, the number of possibilities increases, thereby raising chance of him getting the right approach. Even Moulder, in The X-File, also need Scully to challenge and offer alternative views and perspectives. A key takeaway here is to seek out new approaches, perspectives and views on a particular issue before making a decision. This may take times but the result will often be worthwhile.

Another is the speculative nature of inductive thinking. Another way to put it is jumping to conclusion. A change agent needs to be aware that the conclusions drawn may not be the truth. We live in a world of self-generating beliefs which remain largely untested. We adopt those beliefs because they are based on conclusions, which are inferred from what we observe, plus our past experience. Our ability to see the truth may be masked by our feelings that:

Our beliefs are the truth.
The truth is obvious.
Our beliefs are based on real data.
The data we select are the real data.

This problem can be overcome by a passion for understanding that exceeds our rational need to draw conclusion. Realistically, life will become inefficient and tedious if we stop adding meaning or drawing conclusions on data we observe. The issue is therefore to become aware of the speculative nature of inductive thinking. Once we are aware of this, we can then slow down our mental processes and start inquiring into whether we miss any other observable data or information and how we arrive at the conclusion. As this process is likely to be tedious and not intuitive (imagine asking ourselves why we think like the way we think), it will take a great deal of passion for understanding for someone to constantly do it. The process is however worthwhile as it will help a change agent better understand the situation and therefore arrive at the truth.

We must also be aware that there is very little truth that is self-evident. This means if something presents itself as self-evident, be very cautious and start inquiring about it. A great deal of passion will be needed to drive us to the core of our individual or organizational being, to ask the worthwhile questions, to get at meaning and not just facts. This is so because as one tries to unravel the truth, he will have to ask very deep questions and challenge the obvious. This may get some people upset. However, if he stops digging when he encounters difficulties, he will not get to the truth. This means don’t just accept what is obvious but inquire into it to achieve a greater understanding to get nearer to the truth. Otherwise, a change agent may end up addressing the superficial issues without getting to the real issues.

On the paradoxical nature of reality, it is not a one or the other situation. Instead, it is possible to have a situation where one can have the cake and eat it. A decade ago, quality and costs are thought off as incompatible. A firm can only choose quality or low cost but not both. Today, quality leads to lower costs. It is all a matter of the mind. Of course, the correct time and space also play a part. A change agent will often face issues that are paradoxical in nature. While it may appear impossible to resolve the issue, it is but a perception. As one gets nearer to the truth, it may become clearer that the issue may not be paradoxical after all.
Change will always bring pain. If there is no pain, then it is not real change. People will however have a strong desire to avoid pain. It is sometimes necessary to incur pain early or the damage will be too great to heal. A few years ago, it was reported that a mountain climber had to amputate his own hand to free himself from under a rock and then hike some distance before he is found and send for treatment. A true leader will need passion to make difficult personal and organizational choices, especially when these choices will incur pain.