once upon the alphabet review recommendation letter w

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers – Children’s Book Recommendation #1

It is believed that stories, made of words and words, made of letters. Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers depicts the concept of short stories, made of words, made of the letters and FOR all the letters.

This children’s book reminds me a lot of the quote by the famous American Poet, Muriel Rukeyser, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” this book is indeed a quirky and curious alphabet book for children (and adults) that consists of short tales of experiences from each letter, from A to Z. Do not expect the cliche of “A is for apple” kind of description or fable!

The way the stories are presented is so BRILLIANT for some reasons:

#1 The Diverse Protagonists

There are so many different protagonists introduced on each page of this book, each with their own peculiarities. It covers protagonists with different occupations, from the Astronaut to the guard to the king to the lumberjack, as well as the inventors and the nun.

An object can be a protagonist too, such as the cup, the robot, the typewriter, the parsnip and the cucumber.

Some animals including the octopus, the owl, the monkey and the yak who are facing their own “issues”.

There is a splash of creativity too as Whiraffe (mixture of a whisk and a giraffe) and yeti (folkloric ape-like creature) get a part to be protagonists too in this book.

My favourite is the detective duo of Octopus and Owl who love searching for problems to solve.

#2 Whimsical Stories

How amusing it is if we can really find a door made of jelly for the fear of us forgetting to bring the key?

Imagine a regular cucumber who aspires to be a sea cucumber with its own struggles or staying in a house which was halved by the lightning.

What about a story of two guys by the name of Bernard and Bob who are constantly feuding and when Bob decided to burn the bridge, he did it from the wrong side?

All the stories are indeed short and simple but inventive.

#3 Some Stories are Related and Presented with a Twist

A guy named Edmund who is an astronaut whose fear of heights makes his high-flying profession a struggle, there is a revelation for him  at the end of the book. His story does not finish on the letter ‘A’ part only.

Let some characters surprise you on other parts of the book, when they show up again to help the protagonist on that particular letter’s story or simply be the “extras” in the story.

#4 Words Which are Uncommonly Used in Children’s Book

How many times do we find the words ‘enigma’,’vanquished’, ‘molecule’, ‘incognito’, ‘yeti’, ‘sea cucumber’, ‘rusty robot’ or ‘ingenious’ in children story book?

#5 The illustrations

Most importantly, the illustrations in this story book are so “Jeffers”, handsome and catchy!


Hope you and your child find a joy in reading this book too. Check our our next children’s book recommendation, Angelica Sprocket’s Pockets by Quentin Blake.


Happy reading,

Capella Preschool Team

loose parts play in preschool with rocks paper

Let’s Loose Parts Play in Preschool!

 “As long as materials can be moved, redesigned, put together, and taken apart in a variety of ways, they are classified as loose parts.” – Simon Nicholson, 1971 (Founder of the idea of Loose Parts)

The theory of loose parts has begun to influence child-play experts and playscape designers in a big way. It was first proposed back in the 1970s by architect Simon Nicholson, who believed that it is the loose parts in our environment that empower our creativity.

So, what IS loose parts play in preschool?

In a preschool, loose parts are any collection of natural or manmade objects that can be used to extend and further ideas in children’s play. They are open-ended materials that can be moved, combined, taken apart, redesigned, lined up. There is no pre-determined use of the function.

Loose parts are open to a child’s interpretation and creative thinking.

A loose part can become anything!  

In a preschool, be it indoor or outdoor environment we can provide an array of loose parts for use in play: stones, egg cartons, sand, soil, fabric, branches, wood, strings, balls, buckets, baskets, crates, boxes, leaves, rope, tyres, shells and bottles…

Why loose parts play

When children play this way, they

  • Do the thinking and figure things for themselves
  • Learn how to take healthy risks
  • Find innovative ways to think about the world and how it works, based on their own self-led, intrinsically motivated interests.
  • Practice necessary skills such as overcoming obstacles, creative problem solving (on their own or with other children), communicating their feelings effectively with others, and working with those who may have different points of view.
  • Experience the joy of self-discovery, the thrill of being able to pursue their own creative ideas without the fear of failure that usually arises when there is one, predetermined way to be “right” or to “win”.

theory of loose parts in preschool  

In a nutshell, Loose Parts allows children to do the thinking and it aids in the following learning areas:

  • Problem Solving
  • Engineering
  • Creativity
  • Concentration
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine motor development
  • Gross motor development
  • Language and vocabulary building
  • Mathematical thinking
  • Scientific thinking
  • Literacy
  • Social/emotional development

and believe there’s much more…

How to loose parts play?

  1. Start collecting loose parts materials or add to your existing collection
  2. To support child-directed play, give children permission by making sure they have their playtime every day – time with no adult-directed activities. Some children may need encouragement, ‘It’s Okay! Just play.”
  3. Children need to have a place that they feel safe to play freely and get messy! This is where we play an important role. Assess the area and materials that children will be using before they get wild during their magnificent play. Making sure loose parts are age-appropriate and be aware of choking hazards.
  4. Lastly, Children are experts in their own play. To support them, simply observe and listen. When invited, play along! If children ask for help, lend a helping hand. This shows that you are supporting their play without taking over.

Say goodbye to fancy toys and gadgets… Happy Playing!


Capella Preschool Team




Anna Housley Juster (Aug, 2o13), The Amazing Benefits of Child-Directed play The Amazing Benefits of Child-Directed play Excerpt from Pop-Up Adventure Play’s P.L.A.Y. Guide

Sally Haughey and Nicole Hill (2017), Loose Parts: A Start-Up guide

Retrieve from FairyDustTeaching

best preschool singapore

What is the Best Preschool in Singapore for My Child?

Having worked in preschools for many years and helping many families to decide on the right preschools for their children, I have encountered many of these questions from parents — “What is the best preschool in Singapore?” “Do you think this is the best preschool in Singapore?” “Can you recommend us some best preschools in Singapore?”.

If you have similar questions, I apologise for not being able to name you a preschool. Because, I personally believe that it is more important to find a preschool that best suits your child, in other words, Your Child’s No. 1 preschool, not Singapore’s Best Preschool.

Here are some questions that you may find helpful in choosing a preschool that will best suit your child.

Focal Point #1 – What is important for your child?

Being academically inclined, possessing positive moral values, an independent learner who has intrinsic motivation to constantly explore, investigate and construct his/her learning, able to understand his/her likes and dislikes, confident in his/her strengths, acknowledging and striving to improve his/her weaknesses.

By rating the above outcomes based on their level of importance can be a good way to determine what kind of approach and curriculum you would want to provide for your child’s education. It is important that the preschool you choose have the pedagogy and curriculum that will provide your child the best opportunity to become that person you want to help him/her to be.

Focal Point #2 – The Environment

Is the school clean? Does the school provide meaningful and safe facilities that engage children’s learning? Is the school filled with caring and fun-loving teachers who prioritise children’s needs above theirs? Is the management one that supports the teachers in prioritising children’s needs?

These are important things to notice because the environment plays a big role in providing the type of experiences that both you and your child will receive.

Focal Point #3 – Local Primary School VS International School

All parents would want to prepare their preschoolers so that they can transition in to the next milestone with minimum hiccups.
If your child is heading to local primary school, you may want to consider a preschool with a more structured curriculum that gives opportunity to your child to exercise a good balance between guided and child-initiated learning. Such curriculum will better ease your child into the local primary school which generally has more structure with mostly guided learning.

Talk to Us

If you would like to have a chat about finding a preschool that best suit your child, we are more than happy to help! You can give us a call to schedule for a visit to speak to us and meet our team. We are also contactable at sayhello@capellapreschool.com.

Read our article about separation anxiety here: Understanding Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers.

Happy Reading,

Capella Preschool Team

Why, Mummy, Why? A Tribute to All Parenting Souls Out There

They say, “curiosity kills the cat” but when you kill children’s curiosity, you kill their desire to learn.

According to researchers, babies are born with an internal desire to explore and discover the things around them. This is the reason one of the most frequently used words by children is the word, “why?”

Too frequent that sometimes parents wished they never knew this word. If this is how you feel, it is time to take a different perspective and start embracing the fact that your child has a very strong desire to learn.

It is crucial to turn every “why” into learning opportunities for your child. “But I do not have the answers to all the questions asked”, this probably runs through our minds. But that is okay because a learning opportunity does not always require a correct answer.

Here are some tips to help caregivers manage the endless “whys” from children.

What do you think?

It is important to find out what the children’s thoughts are before giving them the answer to their questions. This is to gauge how much knowledge they already have so that you can give answers that are appropriate to their age. Ask children open-ended questions, not those questions that will encourage them to answer with a yes or a no, but those that will lead them to the answers.

Let’s find out together!

We live in a world that we have access to search engines, or even the library to find out about things that we do not know or understand. This is so useful especially when you do not have the answer to the questions that your children asked. Doing researches and/or experiments together with your children can be very interesting and fun! You will be amazed at the amount of knowledge you will gain from such experiences.

Good try! How about this?

Always use positive reinforcement, without discouraging the children to talk and to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid answer. Learning to redirect their answers to a more accurate answer by encouraging them through suggestions instead of telling them that they are wrong.

Always remember, you kill their curiosity, you kill their sense of wonder and eagerness to learn.


Happy Reading,

Capella Preschool Team