“My Secret Button Recipe”

This article on “rote learning with creative activities” was published in Vita Edition Year 2010. Vita Edition is an educational magazine recommended by the Singapore Ministry of Education .
Written by Megan Wong, creator of funtoysland.com

  “Mom, I forgot to memorise my spelling and the test is tomorrow!”

My 10-year old daughter had leapt from her bed one night, running to my room because she was anxious about her impending spelling test.

I pulled myself drowsily from my bed but restrained myself from giving her a lecture and asked her calmly, “How many words?”

 “20”, she whispered. I am still wondering how I managed not to blow my top when I peeped at my alarm clock which was just ticking past 12 midnight.

“Mom, I have to remember the words too, and it is already so late.  I definitely cannot remember all the words and my teacher will surely punish me! ” my daughter cried. Sensing the panic arising in her, I jolted from my drowsy state and geared my brain to think how to memorise and spell 20 words in less than an hour.

I know for sure that she would not be able to memorise even 10 words under her present state of mind, not to mention 20 words. I sat down and reminded her of a memory game which I have once played with her. She blinked at me trying to figure out what I meant then she shouted, “Yes, Mommy, the silly story!”

She took out her list of 20 words – select, favourite, ingredient, recipe, blend, foamy, light, button, amount, weight, quantity, substitute, optional, creation, prepare, dough, separate, smooth, range and delicious – and we put on our creative thinking cap. This is how the story goes :-

I asked her to invite left brain’s neighbour, the right brain to join in the game by coloring the words she has to spell and drawing simple pictures. Coloring and drawing pictures can help to trigger the brain to remember faster and retain the words longer.

“Mom, I can’t seem to remember “ingredient.”  It is so long!

“Try breaking into smaller parts, like this in/gre/die/nt.

“Oh, my gosh, this seems easier now. I can spell – in, gre – green for short, die – I die to see Robert Pattinson but NoT now.”

This game took us about 35 minutes and the marvellous thing about it is that after my daughter  had finished writing, coloring, drawing and breaking big words into smaller parts, she had already memorised and  spelt  all the words  in sequence and she did it quite effortlessly as it was so fun!

She climbed back into her bed feeling contented and said that the title of her little story would be “My secret Button recipe.”

“I have enjoyed it very much and I wonder why they never play this game in school.” my daughter asked.

“Yes, it was really fun but you have forgotten one more very important lesson…..” I said yawning and pointed at the alarm clock.

“Okay, Mum, I will  never wake you up again at this ungodly hour and I must always remember to finish all my school work before dinner time,” she said with a beaming smile.

What I had done with my daughter is that I have combined rote learning with engaging, fun and creative games and activities, simultaneously  creating an environment for her creativity to flourish and attracting her interest and attention. Creative learning comes into play when you are able to think, make new connections, invent and perceive things in a different way.

Here are some other learning strategies you can use :

  1. Have an inquisitive mind and do not be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes, there may be aspects of a topic that you may not understand. After transcribing notes, you should check your level of understanding too.
  2. Rather than just memorising facts and information by heart, do reflect and explore further on what you have learnt. Use your imagination and think out-of-the-box.
  3. Do not study and cram everything at the last minute. Revise your work regularly.


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Visit our other blogs https://funtoysland.com/blog/ which shares creative games and activities to play with our collection of toys to boost your children development skills!

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