What would you do if there were no teaching resources that suited your needs? If you're like Early Childhood Educator Lai Hui Min, you would create them yourself! Marrying her interest in design and her passion for teaching young children, Hui Min illustrates and customises her own teaching resources and even hosts them online to share with fellow EC educators.
The Makings Of A Resourceful Educator
It was during the final year of her Child Psychology and Early Education Diploma course in Ngee Ann Polytechnic that Hui Min had her first opportunity to create learning materials for children. Pursuing the Writing and Publishing track, Hui Min was exposed to modules where she wrote and illustrated picture books and a Teacher’s Resource Kit. As she continued to pursue an early childhood education degree in the Singapore Institute of Technology, Wheelock College, Hui Min’s creativity never stopped churning. For example, she created “Chloe is Lost”, a stimulating digital game on PowerPoint. Apart from doing the illustrations, she also created activity guides and lesson plans, with fun ideas for EC educators to liven up lessons and reinforce learning.
“It has always been an interest of mine to design and create,” she said. “Creating digital games and projects allowed me to look at teaching in a new light. We need to change with the times. I have tried to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in my lessons and engagement with the children, though in small baby steps. "
Helping Other Educators Bridge The Gap
As an educator currently teaching at PCF Sparkletots @ Bedok Blk 13, Hui Min understands the issue other educators often face – lack of relevant teaching resources. To help, she set up a Teacher Resource Store in Teachers Pay Teachers, a popular online marketplace for original educational resources. The resources she puts in her store are actual working materials that she uses in class, such as her handwriting practice mat.
“As a teacher, I always look out for teaching resources online. At times, it is difficult to find the right one that suits my needs, so I would customise my own. I did not want to let these go to waste so I set up an online store to share them with other teachers.”
Tapping Into A Vast Potential
Hui Min believes ICT presents many opportunities and inspirations for educators like herself.
“There are a wide range of resources online we can use to enhance children’s learning,” said Hui Min. “From the creative songs made by channels like Pinkfong to informative videos on saving water on YouTube, children can be exposed to knowledge that’s out of this world.”
‘Out of this world’ is not an exaggeration. Her class once watched and learned how astronauts eat and drink in their spacecraft, which would have been a difficult lesson to deliver verbally, or even demonstrate. Online videos enable teachers to bring many things from the outside world into the classroom for the children — what a badly polluted river looks like, for example.
“Teachers also use songs available online during music and movement lessons, and carefully selected YouTube videos to provide visual learning for the children,” said Sarah B. Mohammad Yusoff, Centre Principal.
Making full use of ICT in education means going beyond just creating resources for children, but involving them in the process as well. Beyond the four walls, Hui Min introduces her young students to outdoor learning and involves them in photography and videography documentation projects.
As Hui Min says, "Children benefit from being engaged and involved in their learning." To that end, her children had fun lip-syncing in an environmental awareness music video they created with Hui Min, and took photos of landmarks using her spare phone before creating a map of their neighbourhood!
Overcoming Obstacles Along The Way
Hui Min admits that it has not always been plain sailing. “We are not ready – the people and environment. People might be receptive to the use of technology, but still have fears of using it in the classroom,” she recounts.
For EC educators looking to use ICT to innovate and push the boundaries, she offers this advice.
“There are many courses out there to learn basic IT skills. Even by mastering basic knowledge of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, you can create an e-book, almost like a video version of a book with moving graphics and voiceover. I also refer to tutorial videos on YouTube at times.”
Hui Min believes it is important to have the head and hand knowledge to nurture the next generation.
“Education provides a platform for children to uncover their interests and talents. In the process, children build up necessary skills, knowledge and dispositions to prepare them for what is to come. Education helped me discover my interests in art and passion in teaching young children. It motivates me to find the individuality in every child.”
Click on the images below to check out these resources illustrated and developed by Hui Min:
Qiu Qiu & Autumn’s Hawker Center Adventure e-Book, by Lai Hui Min, Foo Wee Jun, Rebecca Ting, Meyi Ongsono:
Chloe Book Series, by Hui Min in collaboration with Ngee Ann Polytechnic:
Clever Cat Practice Resource:
Special thanks to Hui Min for contributing her resources, photos and videos!