What is Activity Blending?

Why stick with one activity when you can combine two!

Mixing common activities is a fun and intriguing concept for kids.

I like to call it ‘Activity Blending.’
‘Taking one typical activity and interlacing it with an entirely different activity. ‘

My thought process when combining activities is based on observations of the child’s current abilities.
Can they handle these two tasks simultaneously?
Will they appreciate two different activities merging as one?
Sometimes this is found through trial and error, and I may sometimes get ‘that look’ from the student. So, we find a way to adapt or change the blended activity to better suit their skill and capabilities.

Being a home-based private tutor, I have to utilise the child’s current environment, which usually means to improvise and get creative. See below (1)

(1) Trains and Short Vowels

From the picture below (2), the child’s balance beams have been turned into a walkway above the crocodile infested waters. Each step is a new word to unlock and another step to get to the safety of the mountains (the sofa).

My focus is about how can I engage the child more into the activity. In what ways can I spark the child’s imagination or shift the normal patterns of routine. How can I involve the child with mundane things they already have, and turn them towards the purpose of learning.

(2) Taking the Elevator Blending game and mixing it with a balancing skills activity.

One of the children’s favourites is Phonics Smash (bowling) (3). Kids can get active and choose a ball or car to knock down their sounds. In the video below, the child used his electric firetruck!
This worked out great, and I could send his card/s back to him via the truck!
So as you can see we have been able to ‘Blend’ the active nature of bowling with Phonics learning.

(3) Phonics Smash (Bowling)

(4) Using a small white board we were able to design our own elevator blending game. Combining some drawing skills of the child, and added sensory nature of the tiles. It was a much broader experience than blending the tiles by themselves. See the video below (3).

(4) Drawing and Elevator game combined

3 Benefits of Blended Activities

(1) New stimulation for your child’s brain!
Blending activities sparks new curiosity for children, and further encourages their learning.

eg. Instead of pointing to letters to decode words. Roll up some playdoh balls for the child to squish as they blend the word. A great way to add sensory stimulation to what may seem a boring process!

(2) Blending two activities can also be a great way to save time!

eg. Taking your kid to the park but want to do flashcard practice after? Play hide and seek with some of your child’s phonics cards or vocab cards. Trust me, the child will hardly feel like its a task if it’s fun!

(3) Turn a static activity into an active one!
“Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children’s and young people’s brain development and function as well as their intellect.” – University of Exeter (click to read article)

eg. Does your child have Sight-words to memorise? Lay some hoops in a line and place a card in each hoop. The child hops and reads the word as they pass through. Increase the difficulty by extending the gap between hoops, or take the hoop pathway over an obstacle or under an obstacle.

As a child educator and a parent myself. We have to find more ways to engage our children in learning in a fun and enjoyable way. If you have some ideas welcome to comment below this blog or send me an email. Happy learning folks!

Check out some more ideas below in the slideshow!

Would love to hear your feedback on this blog, please leave a star rating and comment below!
– Mr J

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Phonics Terms Poster

What are Phonemes?
What is the difference between Phoneme Awareness and Phonological Awareness?

If you are coming across terms like these, they can be quite confusing and foreign. I decided to put together a poster laying out the basic Phonic’s jargon.
If you are a parent encountering these sayings for the first time, or an educator refreshing your knowledge. I hope this poster can be useful.
Below is the text used in the Poster:

The smallest unit of sound in oral language.

Phonemic awareness
The ability to manipulate individual phonemes to form spoken words.

The relationship between graphemes (units of written language; letters) and phonemes (smallest units of oral language; sounds) in reading and writing.

Phonics instruction
Instruction in the relationship between letters and sounds and applying the knowledge to reading and spelling.

Phonological awareness
The ability to detect and manipulate larger units of sound structures, such as syllables and rhyme.

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How to make a Paper Helicopter

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 mins
Skills Learnt:
– Fine Motor skills and coordination (cutting and folding)
– Physics (motion and flight)
– Active Play

Paper Helicopter is a quick and fun craft activity. 
One A4 page creates 6 Paper Helicopters.

Equipment needed:
A4 printed copy
– Scissors
– Colour pens or pencils 
– 6 Paper clips

Building Steps 1-7

Step 2
Cut out one section ( Colouring now is best )

Step 3
Cut lines (NOT dotted)

Step 4
Fold on dotted lines

Step 5
Fold lower flaps in

Step 6
Add paper clip at the base

Step 7
Fly and Spin away!

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New Experience – Outdoor Mission

Time to take class outside into the real world!

Do you remember those field trips/excursions at school? You felt a tangible sense of excitement and had joyful jitters. You got to escape out of the classroom confines and finally touch the real world..

I do.

I remember them all. They were the sunshine days among the clouds. Why did they stand out so much from my other days at school? One of the reasons is this.


A major source of fuel for a child’s learning is curiosity.

From the Science Daily, I sourced information around how Curiosity directly effects the learning experience and retention of memory.

“…the team discovered that when curiosity motivated learning, there was increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for forming new memories, as well as increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit. “So curiosity recruits the reward system, and interactions between the reward system and the hippocampus seem to put the brain in a state in which you are more likely to learn and retain information, even if that information is not of particular interest or importance,” explains principal investigator Dr. Charan Ranganath, also of UC Davis.”

Matthias J. Gruber, Bernard D. Gelman, Charan Ranganath. 
States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic CircuitNeuron, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060

Alot of traditional learning environments are almost void of curiosity. A child is told to sit down, follow, listen, stay still, and obey. After awhile the child slips into a dulled down state or forces back with “poor behaviour.” Their engagement level becomes low and they become uninterested. They shut off their (metaphorical) gates for learning, and you are left trying to cram information through the edges..

For me personally, I hated being stuck in a classroom all day. My curiosity was bursting to learn about the real world. To have a chance to experience it up close, not just in books or songs.

“From my experience of working with kids, when you increase the curiosity factor of an activity, the child’s “learning gate” begins to open. Healthy chemicals like dopamine (contributes to concentration) and endorphins (feel good neurotransmitters) are flowing and the child is not only enjoying themselves, they are focused and fully engaged!”
– Mr Jamie

Going on outdoor field trips is like fireworks for a young child’s brain. New neural pathways are being connected and strengthened and this creates a fresh understanding of the world around them as well as bringing a new state of awareness.

“New habits, experiences, practice, and any kind of learning causes neural pathways to rearrange and change.”

Well what about Hong Kong children, they have lots of varied classes right?

Yes, they do have many classes. The list is endless:
Music, sports, gymnastics, martial arts, cooking, drawing, painting, languages, drama, computer coding, STEM, lego, chess, debate classes, … And so many more!

HOWEVER, most of these classes (except for some recreation ones) are typically done inside a learning centre classroom (or box prisons as I call them) Nothing entirely wrong with that. As it takes care of any variables that could go wrong, as well as increasing class numbers ($$$). But I wont go there..
It does provide a “safe environment” of comfortability, but this doesn’t stretch kids social and real life communicational skills. To learn skills that are relevant with the outside world, you have to go outside!

Seeing this could be a great way to engage kids, I began to start creating Outdoor sessions. While working with a few parents, we would take their children downstairs to the park, basketball court, or playground to conduct the last half our class. I would connect kids with their present environment, interact with games in their natural or manmade landscape.
Judging from the positive feedback, I continued. I began to formulate the Mission side of the session. To keep kid’s attention on a topic, we first had to create our mission. So when we are downstairs, the children have a purpose and a plan. This opened up new places to explore, like shopping malls and shops. Why use fake fruit for teaching, when you can experience the real deal up close!
Children also see their teacher up close interacting with locals in the community, and feel confident to try also. This type of modelling effect is quite powerful.
I look forward to further developing these sessions and building support around outdoor learning. It’s time for kids to escape the classroom and rediscover the true essence of learning!
Stay curious!

If you are interested to share your knowledge and collaborate around this topic, please fill the form below.

– Mr Jamie

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3 Quick Blending Tips


Bite sized 1 min Instagram video below for parents.
Here are the Tips below:


Introduce single sounds, diagraphs or letter combinations one at a time. The art of blending is step by step.


Guiding a child’s eyes from left to right sets them up for smoother reading later on. As English text flows from left to right. Trying to build the a word from the back to the front is counterproductive.


Drag out the sounds to let kids hear the sounds individually, but slightly joined. Progress in speed depending on your child’s performance.

Video Link here:

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Vocab List for 21 – 24 month olds

Free downloadable tick-off list for tracking your child’s vocab learning milestones.

Hey parents!
I put together this list for my son, who will be turning 18 months soon. It won’t be too long before he starts speaking some vocab other than Mama and Dada.
This list is merely for reference, so don’t be stressed if your child isn’t speaking all these by 24 months. Every child is unique and develops at their own speed.

What’s Inside?
Part One looks at important adjectives, pronouns and prepositions. These are words the child will encounter everyday as they grow.

Part Two covers a broad list of common nouns that will really expand their vocabulary collection.

How to teach these to my kid?
One of the best ways to teach vocab is through fun and play. When a child’s brain is actively engaged through play, it’s the best time to highlight vocabulary. Include the vocab into the game itself.
This may entail going out to explore at the park and pointing out nouns, “Hey, look! A BIRD!”
Even playing a game of hide and seek with items around the house. Any activity that can stimulate their curiosity.


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Kids Learn From Mistakes

“Mistakes are just learning opportunities waiting to be discovered. ” – Mr J

There would be no lightbulb if it wasn’t for the thousands of “mistakes” used to successfully create it in the first place.
Every little mistake was like a guide towards the end solution.

If we want kids to be successful, then we have to be willing to let them try new things, test new pathways and ideas, even if we know they may fail along the way.
As adults we have a tendency to want to control the outcome of an activity because we may share greater foresight of a solution. However this form of oversight isn’t helping the child, but rather dis”abling” them. It isn’t allowing them the chance to find their own solution through using their own abilities.

When a child is engaged and thinking on how to create, build or logistically plan something, we as adults should step back and let them take the reigns (to a degree). They need to know we are here to support them, but not control them. When kids sense they have this respect and freedom, it’s amazing what they can come up with!

Through the creative process, mistakes will happen. It is our duty to remind the child, “What can you try differently next time, what can you improve on, and what can you learn from this?
Questions are the driving force that cause us to remain curious, to find those new ideas and question ourselves about our recent attempt.

“There are no failures, just lessons in disguise.” – Mr J

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Engage Activity

“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.”

— Plato

The quote above is by the world renowned philosopher Plato. Seems he knew the secret code of kids.
Hence the BEST way to start a tutoring session with young kids is through a play based activity.
Why is it beneficial?
– Kid’s brain’s love the interaction. They go into a state of super learning, their stress receptors are off, and their “curiousity” sensors are switched on ready to roll!
– Kid’s feel they get to contribute to their session from the very start, and also share some of their emotional expression through the play activity.
– It’s a great way to warm up in the language, as well as to the teacher, because most kids are learning English as a second language.

The video above comes from an engage activity from Mr Jamie’s 50/50 Oral and Phonics session. As you can see we got busy creating and constructing with Duplo. The child was more than willing to share the results and describe her creation. She was now in a flow state of productivity, a perfect state of mind to be in to begin our session.

— Mr Jamie