[Dec 9, 2012] Charity Christmas Choir


English Storytime Podcasts

I thought I had a list of podcasts on this blog already, but I can't find it, so here we go again.

We've recently been listening to stories at www.storynory.com.  There are lots of traditional fairy tales and original tales on this site.  The narrators tell the stories clearly and with feeling.  There is no animation, so it's nice to put on as a background and not worry about kids insisting on watching the the images.


Young Lohas Swim Club, Baifu District - Great Family Day Trip

It's pretty hard to find a pool facility that caters for all ages, has indoor and outdoor areas, and a 50-meter pool, in Taipei City.  That's why I feel very lucky to live near Young Lohas Club in Baifu, just past Shijhr (Xijhi?) on the train line from Taipei to Keelung.

If you click on this link and take a look at the pictures, you'll get an idea of what the club is like.  Situated in the lovely Baifu Park (great for kids, with grassy area, little trails, climbing frames you don't usually see in Taipei, basketball courts, and a little stream), Young Lohas Club is in some ways very "local", but definitely offers a lot that I like.

Available to non-members:
-50-meter outdoor pool, open all year
-25-meter indoor pool
-Outdoor kids' pool with water slide, open during Summer
-Little kids' pool with mini-slide and climbing equipment indoors
-Spa and sauna area

For members:
-Aerobics, yoga, and dance classes
-Free tea and internet
-Table tennis and pool

For extra fee:
-Beauty spa with facials and massages

One of the great things about the pool is, it has things you don't usually see available. During Summer, they have pool parties, let the kids play water games, they have a Tarzan-style rope into the pool, you can usually jump into the pool outside without being nagged at, you can wear flippers, the lifeguards come out and shoot you with waterpistols now and then, they have huge bits of foam floating in the pool for the kids to climb on and blow-up water gear for kids to slide into the water from... all good fun, safe but not as uptight as other pools can be.  (Like all pools in Taiwan, you do need to wear a hat.)

During term-time, my kids are the only children in the pool during the day, unless a school is visiting.  It gets a little busy during Summer, but it's not crazy.  The lifeguards do a good job at coaching kids in group classes.  They all seem to work pretty hard when they teach.  My kids loved their classes.

The Xijhr Swimming Club trains there every morning, and they have lifeguarding courses throughout the year, too.

Membership works out to about TWD1400 per month.  You can also buy 50-visit cards for TWD7500.  Single visits are more expensive, at 250 per adult, but worth it if you want to make a day of it.

There is a very nice little coffee shop in the complex (closed Mondays), where you can sit for the entire afternoon if you choose.  They have Lavazza coffee and make it well.  Their meals are really fresh, too.

The complex is closed on the last Monday of the month.  The manager, Alan, speaks enough English to communicate with customers.  Staff are friendly but most don't speak English.

The complex is a 10-minute-walk from Baifu (百福) Train Station.  You can see it from the station, as well as from Wugu (五股)Exit of Highway One.  It's got a huge white roof.

Chinese Information:
百福水漾樂活會館 Young Lohas Club
基隆市七堵區實踐路259號(百福公園) TEL:02-24518188 FAX:02-24518669
Hours: Daily 5:30am-11pm, last entry 10pm, pool closes at 10:30pm
Chinese Map.  "百福 車站"=Baifu Train Station


List of New Year Celebrations Around Taiwan for 2012-2013

The Sinotour website has a useful list of New Year Celebration spots around Taiwan.  These are places you can go to see in 2013.

Some Places to Stay Around Taiwan - Ongoing List

I've been bookmarking a few places around Taiwan that I would like to stay at.  These are places that people I know have enjoyed, or that I have read about.  We don't actually do much traveling these days, but I can still dream and at least share with those who do.  If you have any other suggestions, feel free to contact me.  They must be family-friendly. Pet-friendly wins double-pints.

1. One House Three Looks, Hsinchu County

"One house three looks" was recommended by a friend.  Run by a mixed-culture family living in Hsinchu, it is a reasonably-priced place for a family holiday.  They have horses you can ride, and by the photos, a nice little orchard.  Click on the link to read the bilingual introduction.  Rooms are listed at 2500/double, plus 500 per extra bed.

Address: 新竹縣峨嵋鄉石井村6鄰沙坑農路63號
Tel:  0918-300068

The Awesome Playgroup News Online Edition Fall 2012

I'm excited to share the latest edition of our playgroup's student-published newspaper.  The children involved range in age from first to seventh grade.  The theme for this issue was "Book Reviews".


English site: Theme Parks In Taiwan


[Dec 9, 2012] Animals Taiwan Bake Sale

I'm going to send you off to another fabulous blogsite, A Handful of Sapphires, for information about this event.  A Handful of Sapphires lists events hosted by charities in Taiwan that don't usually get much coverage.

This bake sale is huge.  You will be able pick up some fantastic Christmas-y treats this time round.

[Nov 24, 2012] Taipei European School Christmas Bazaar

With over 6,000 visitors last year, the TES Christmas Bazaar is always a fun day for the whole family.  There are stalls selling Christmas items, games to play, and lots of food and music, too. Entry is usually something like 10NT per person.

When: 10am to 4pm, Saturday November 24th 
Where: Swire European Primary Campus (727 WenLin Road, ShihLin District, Taipei 11159)
Suitable Ages: All

[Nov 2012] Pizza DIY for Kids at Alleycats

Alleycats Pizza, one of Taipei's popular pizza restaurants, is offering classes for kids aged 3 to 12 this month.

Check out the poster.  Info is mostly in Chinese, but pretty straightforward.

Where: Alleycats Huashan Restaurant
When: 2-3:30pm on the last two Fridays of November
Cost: 700 for one class, discounts for two, and a deal when you eat there with your children.


Taiwan Encyclopedia - English and Chinese Versions

This online encyclopedia is comprehensive and detailed.  The English version is well-written.  Definitely aimed at Junior High and above, it's quite academic in nature.

Some more useful Chinese-language-learning sites

Thanks to the group at Learn@home in Taiwan (on Facebook) for these links.  I checked them out and this is my quick review.

 http://eivg.org/eig/interactive02.php?type=4 National Taiwan University's site for developing language schools in "Taiwan's new citizens". There are a few games up so far.  Click on 華語.

http://eword.ntpc.edu.tw/ - 新北市政府教育局 - characters teaching website, where you can create a printable worksheet for practicing writing characters

http://media.huayuworld.org/home_en.htm# - Global Chinese Language and Culture Center - choose 'Chinese' and appropriate level.  Lots of stuff here, including "Learn Chinese in 500 words or less" course, and lots of English info on Taiwan and Chinese culture in general.  Much of this is for older children or adults.

http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/lang/basic/ch_cards/index.htm - Flash cards with Chinese characters. It has background music that reminds me of a hotel lobby.  Be warned!

http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/biweekly/ - Journal of Chinese Culture for Children. Has materials for preschoolers and up.  Click on "English" to get to a pretty easy-to-navigate section.

http://www.5qchannel.com/ - Taiwanese company whose products have been chosen for Chinese learning materials in schools in Singapore.  Has a few free animated stories, but you need to pay to get full access.

You can also check out some of my previous listings

Chinese poetry for children.

Animated children's stories.

Pronunciation for children and adults.


School Introduction: Badu Elementary, Keelung

Two days ago, I attended a meeting in Keelung. I had the opportunity to meet some of the parents at Badu Elementary in Keelung.  I was impressed by their energy and enthusiasm for the program they have been developing at the school.  A number of parents have moved from Taipei especially to let their children attend this school, as they were frustrated with the more traditional education systems they encountered.

Badu Elementary is a public school.  Like the school we attend (Maling Elementary, which I will write about in detail), it has a low roll.  It is currently around 50 students, but is set to increase as more people see what they are doing. 

Class size table:
class Population
Grade 1 7
Grade 2 9
Grade 3 12
Grade 4 16
Grade 5 6
Grade 6 14

If you are looking at putting your children into public school in Taiwan, I recommend you take a look at their English website (very well done!), and take time to visit the school.  Badu is on the train line between Taipei and Keelung, and it only takes about 25 minutes to get to Taipei on the train.  Badu is also near lots of natural, historic sites.

Here is their English website: http://ms1.badps.kl.edu.tw/englishsite/html/index.php
Here's a picture of their English class. I put this up because it is a typical public school classroom. http://css000000084133.tw.class.uschoolnet.com/

Address and telephone:

Badu Municipal Elementary School
 No.27, Yuanyuan Rd., Nuannuan District, Keelung City