Monday, November 10, 2014

BRAVO to Clover Talent Team!

Champs Talent Competition Invitation

I received many invitation calls from various organisers for the past few months to take part in their pre-school talent competitions, but I rejected all of them, except for this Champs Talent Competition, which requires all schools to present a 10 minute musical skit. I accepted this invitation as I thought it was professionally organized. Hankidz, which was the talent company being engaged to organize this event, would send coaches to the pre-schools to do pre-selection and coaching sessions with the schools. I thought this was a great opportunity for our Clover kids to be exposed to coaching from outside our school, and they would have an opportunity to make use of their musical and drama learning from Kindermusik and Speech and Drama classes.

How we got to the Finals

The pre-selection round was to show Hankidz our past year concert video -- we got in straightaway. To be selected as the finalist of this competition, the Teachers had to submit the skit storyline. My bed-rest advice from my doctor for my pregnancy was ditched right to the back of my mind -- I had a 4-hour long non-stop meeting with Kindermusik educators at my house. We came up with the full detailed storyline within the day. I was quite confident that we would make it, and we did. We got to the Finals. The real work began.

The real and hard work started...

Ten children were selected by our Montessori and Kindermusik educators in Sep 2014 to participate in the Champs Talent Competition (Southern region), Season 2. The Finals was on the 9th Nov 2014, which is Today.

It had been a short period of time for practice, we only had 8 practices before the children went on the real stage. Lots of coaching were done before the Hankidz coaches came from K.L. to see our Clover team the first time in October. After hearing their comments in their first visit, Kindermusik Educators (Shirin, Joanne, Winnie and me) continued to coach the children to work with their facial expressions. It was from incorrect expressions (should show angry face, but they were smiling all the time.), to more and better facial expressions. The children showed so much improvement by the time Hankidz coaches came the second time in November, which was also four days before the Finals. The instrument players were extremely precise in their timing to play their musical instruments at the right times.

Coach KC and Xue Yi were teaching the children on how to make facial expressions.

Stress came from third party which we couldn't control.

There were some hiccups at the vendor who made the props. Luckily, we had Kindermusik Educator Winnie, who is excellent in art, re-making those unsatisfactory prop on the night before the Finals. Her props looked so beautiful. I never had to worry about the work she produced.

At the Finals
The real day finally came. It was Today. When our Clover performance started on the real stage, I was nervous while standing by the side watching them as I was worried about those little mistakes that they had always made during practice sessions. However, they didn't disappoint any of us, every Clover child did their part to 100%, it was their best performance ever!Bravo! I was moved to tears! Hugging and kissing each of these little Clover angels as they walked down from the stage after the performance.

Narrator (Du Ee) spoke clearly with intonation. Main actors were acting with gestures and facial expressions. Instrument players were playing live musical accompaniment at the back.

The last part of the performance - the black bear revealed the Champs as magical cure for the sick monkey. They were dancing to celebrate.

I finally broke down at the backstage. My little boy, Du Ee, came and asked me, "Are you okay? Why are you crying?" He looked worried, he thought I didn't think highly of their performance or they had done something wrong. "I am crying because I feel very very happy to see you all did so well!" I said. (Well, he still looked puzzled.) He and other little darlings came to me and hugged me too.

Our Clover children evolved...

I felt so emotional because I saw how these little children evolved over a short period of 2 months. To let young children like them to understand working as a team was never easy. At the very initial stage of the preparation of this competition, the children were very ego-centric. They only did their part in the skit and lost focus and started playing , talking or laughing while it were their friends' turns to work on the roles. Or they would start to scold their friends who forgot to say the lines or play the instruments. Then, after the 4th practice of much counselling and coaching from us, they seemed to understand it was important to focus throughout the whole skit in order to achieve the best. They were observed to be more encouraging towards one another, and it was not easy especially for the young instrument players to stay still and wait for their turn to play.

Power, Power, Power, Oosh! We are a team!

The Clover Talent Team. Yay!
(From Back Left: Shirin, Joanne, Chaz Yee, Winnie.
From Middle Left: Taryn, Kayla, Trevor, Trishiqka, Ze Ming, Brandon.
From Front Left: Du Ee, Zheng Yuan, Yu Tong, Gabriel.)
They really pulled it off on the real stage in front of 400 audiences very well. I was extremely proud of them. The teachers and their papas and mamas felt the same too.

Although we did not emerge as the top three winners for this competition, our real consolation was that we were at the fourth place amongst the 15 finalist schools. We were the only school with 5- and 6-year-olds playing musical instrument live on stage. We did not spend any money like the winners to get extravaganza costumes, but our down-to-earth performance won so much praises from everyone. This was a great experience for both teachers and students.

At the backstage, waiting for their turn. The face painting was the last minute art done by Winnie.

The three protagonists of the act - Elephant Bonbon (Trishiqka), monkey Piko (Brandon) and Twinnie rabbit (Kayla).

Look at the happy faces. Children are children. (From left: Taryn, Trevor, Ze Ming, Shirin.

The wise old monkey (Ze Ming), elephant Bonbon (Trishiqka) and rabbit Twinnie (Kayla).

Our excellent instrument players Zheng Yuan and Yu Tong.


Waiting restlessly for another 2 hours in the holding room for the other finalist schools to finish their performance.

Our children might seem a bit disappointed for not getting any trophies, it was also time for them to learn that they had not done anything wrong not to win, but there were others who might be better than them in certain ways. We just had to improve on those areas and do better the next time. After all, this is what education is all about.

Gratitude and Appreciation

Last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to our Kindermusik educators - Shirin, Joanne and Winnie. They jumped straight in to this talent team the minute I called for them. This is how passionate they are as educators. I am glad to work with talents like them -- we recorded a sound track for this competition within 1.5 hours at Clover. It is with this kind of enthusiasm and talents that we can make things happen within a short period of time.

Also, I can't thank the parents enough to be supportive of their child participating in this competition. They had done much practice with their child at home in order to help us speed things up for we only had limited number of practices before the finals.

Group photo: The 10 Clover Talent Team members, their families, Clover Kindermusik and Montessori educators.

Author of this blog:
Chaz Yee
Head Directress


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Country Project - Vietnam

We had a special Vietnamese guest, Ms. Hang, who visited our school on 1st Oct 2014. It was a planned visit -  we invited her to come to Clover during the country project of Vietnam week. It was such an honour to have Ms. Hang doing the Vietnam week for us. She brought in all the things that we requested her to in order to conduct our Montessori country project lesson.

She got the child-size Vietnamese costumes for a boy and a girl for us. We dressed two students up. They looked Vietnamese! ;) So adorable.

As Ms. Hang wasn't used to conducting a lesson with children, she conveyed the knowledge to our Montessori educator, Ms. Latifah, who helped to do the explanation to the children at Clovers.
Firstly, the Vietnam flag was shown - "a red flag with a gold star". 

This is a traditional Vietnamese Coconut Bowl...authentic stuff...all the way from Vietnam! 

Children were passing the bowl around to have a closer look. The outer part of this bowl was made of coconut shell. 

 Now, showing the currency of a country is important, and Ms. Latifah explained the difference between the Vietnamese Dong from the Ringgit Malaysia.

We passed the Vietnamese notes around for children to have a closer look. They were told the man on the notes is Ho Chi Minh, who was the Father of the country, as he fought for independence.

Children were looking at more Vietnamese Dong notes, comparing the notes with one another.

Ms. Joanne assisted in the explanation of how the Vietnamese Coffee is to be brewed. The children were intrigued!

Our special Vietnamese guests, Ms. Hang, demonstrated the coffee-brewing process. 

All children waited patiently for the coffee to drip slowly into the glass jar below. 

While waiting for the coffee to be ready, we passed around the spring-roll wrapper, which was made of rice. This was to show children what was "before" the end-product of the yummy spring-rolls that they were going to pop into their mouth later. 

Ms. Hang brought in her home-made spring rolls and sweet-and-sour fish sauce. 

Yum yum...we always love food tasting.

These 3 year-olds Nursery children asked for more!

Our K1 and K2 children were enjoying it too! 

 Ms. Soraya was showing the children the hand-stitched bag. A very typical Vietnamese craft bag. So beautiful.
Children were having a closer look at the hand-stitched bags.

A. Chaz Yee presented a small gift to Ms. Hang, showing Clover's appreciation to her effort and presence in helping us make the lesson about Vietnam more lively and interesting. 

We hereby extend our heart-felt thanks to Ms. Joanne as well, who brought Ms. Hang to our school. Thanks Joanne!

 To view more photos, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Excursion to Malaysia Cultural Village

The day started with a bit a thunder and drizzle, but it didn't dampen the mood of the children, Teachers and parents who had already signed up for this excursion more than a month ago. I brought Clovers students to this village four years ago, and this re-visit is a brand new experience for the current batch of students. The village also varied their activities, presenting some new activities that were not done before here. It was a full 3-hour non-stop trip and we were glad our children did not complain at all in view of the humid weather.

Every year, we try our best to tie the theme of our excursion to the cultural theme that we teach the children during that year. This extension of learning beyond classroom usually helps children to understand and remember their learning well. This year, our cultural theme focused much on the Malaysia culture. It is high time for the children to understand more about their country in the midst of all the Americanized animation or children series.

 The guide explained the making of batik to the children and adults.
 This pot was used to melt the chanting.

The artist demonstrated the drawing of the floral pattern on the cloth using chanting.
 Youngest artists at work (they were only 3 years old)!
Our Clover ex-students returned to join in the fun with us!

 Our 4-year-old artists at work. Concentration was observed. Shh...don't disturb.
 Ta-da! Done!

Tea-time after all the hardwork of painting the batik! Nice fruit tea and coco biscuits. All were natural. 

While the children were enjoying their tea-break, parents had a chance to engrave their names on the pewter key-chains. They hammered the alphabets on the key-chains.

Pak-cik demonstrated how to catch a fish using various traditional equipment.

Pak-cik demonstrated how to weave the strings to make them into a fishing net. Cool.

 Yummy mummies!

Children were playing kompang for their "friends' wedding".

Two girls were dressed up as "bride" and "bridesmaid", while two boys were dressed up as "bridegroom" and "Best man", to depict the Malay wedding.  

Children were exploring Malay traditional instruments such as kompang and angklung.

Last but not least, the guide brought us to the coco tree and we saw the coco fruit on the tree.

The guide passed the coco fruit to the students and it smelled like mango.

 After getting to know more about the coco fruit, everyone had a coco drink made from the natural coco from the tree. Hmm....slurp...some children even asked for more.

 We came to the end of the excursion, the children brought back their batik painting to show their family.

We were proud and lucky to have Ken Neoh, who is a multiple award-winner, as our professional photographer on the excursion day! 

For more photos of this excursion, please CLICK HERE to go to our Web Album.