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The Artground, A Curious Place To Be

I am always on the lookout for children-friendly places that are fun, not too crowded and do not cost too much (because it adds up quickly with three kids!). Trust me when I say there are not many places in Singapore that fit the bill!

We received an invite from a secondary school friend of mine, Luanne (whose title is the Chief Worm, haha), to check out The Artground which recently opened at Goodman Arts Centre.

Essentially an open play space for children aged 12 and under, The Artground aims to provide positive arts experiences across a variety of art forms.

Throughout the year, there will be interactive art installations which provide non-directive play opportunities for children to discover and practice their motor skills. And the best part, entry to The Artground is completely FREE!

Upon arrival, my gleeful boys plunged themselves headlong into the engaging  playscape.

Created by local artist Poh Ya See, Down The Rabbit Hole is the current interactive visual arts exhibition that invites you to hop, skip, climb and crawl to explore the world of animals that live underground. Meet some unexpected furry friends, amazing insects and tiny little creatures that call the area under our feet home as you make your way through the installation.

The children could clamber through tunnels, doodle with chalk on the walls, thread pool noodles through a grid network of holes, cuddle up with giant plush snakes, run through a blue ocean and a forest with twinkly lights… it was tons of fun!

Luanne shared that The Artground hopes to provide a platform for emerging local artists to showcase their work. I thought it was such a wonderful initiative!

I love that the installation encourages creativity and open-ended play so the children were free to climb, run around, explore and just play. There are no ‘Do not touch’ signs nor are there any time limit for play. Our local museums really should take a leaf from them!

The place is airconditioned and very spacious. I think it would be the perfect destination on hot or rainy days, perfect for playdates or even for stay-at-home mums to bring the children on weekday mornings! Parents can just chill out on the beanbags while the children run amok 🙂

There is also a craft corner filled with bags of recycled materials which children can help themselves to, as well as a quiet reading corner.

Here’s a video snippet of the place if you are keen:

Come Saturdays and Sundays, Weekends at The Artground offers age-specific drop-in programmes that families with young children can engage in together. These include gardening, performing arts (music, dance/movement & drama) as well as arts & craft activities.

Each programme will be charged at $10 per parent-child pair. You can purchase a single ticket, TAG cards for 5 or 10 + 1 sessions at $50 and $100 respectively at the reception.

We tried out the Arty Crafty – Happy Funny Fishes class (for 4 to 7 year olds) where the boys learnt how to make colourful number-patterned fish using paper plates. Here’s what’s on for the weekend of 23 and 24 September.

Before we left, we also made sure we checked out The Good Garden, a children’s urban food garden initiative by Cultivate Central for The Artground.

The Good Garden is a whimsical food garden that will nurture a sense of what it means to connect with nature and help things grow. We sniffed at the herb patch and admired the airplants, crawling vines and even the most plump baby brinjals. We also spied compost pits and self-watering devices made from recycled materials.

Such a lovely green space – I would love to bring the boys back to attend the weekend gardening workshops!

The Artground is a lovely space where families can feel at ease to come to, to spend some time, to discover, to learn and to be curious. We had a really good time and will definitely be back!

The Artground

Goodman Arts Centre

90 Goodman Road

Block J #01-40

Singapore 439053

Opening Hours: Wed to Thu 930am-5pm, Fri to Sun 930am-6pm, closed on Mon and Tue.

Of dinosaurs and pschedelic animals at Artgrain

I would love to sign my boys up for regular art lessons (coz this Mama loves art) but they are busy enough as it is. So I have figured the next best thing is, sending them for holiday art classes. Which works out great because they see art as a recreational activity rather than something they have to do every week.

This September holidays, we tried out Artgrain for the first time ever. It has been around in our neighbourhood – we walk past it all the time and it is always packed with students. It was a 3-day art workshop (3 hours each day). Ryan did Jurassic Art – he shaped two dinosaurs out of clay and painted a prehistoric landscape for them. Sean did Psychedelic Animals where he painted zebras (my favourite animals!) in fun, quirky colours. I would have loved to see them in action but didn’t have the chance as I was at work 🙁

I thought Sean’s final masterpiece was really quite stunning! Definitely earned a deserving spot on my walls. The boys told me they had fun. Maybe we will be back next holidays!

Just Fly It!

How was your September holidays?

As a last hurrah before school reopened, we cycled to Bishan Park for MacDonald’s breakfast, much to the boys’ delight. A rare treat because our weekend mornings are usually packed with classes!

Then we attended a Parent-Child Chuck Glider Workshop with Singapore’s largest enrichment programme provider offering aerospace-related programmes, Just Fly It.

Designed for children aged 5 and above, parent-child pairs will work together to design and build a glider from scratch and be able to fly our very own model plane.

Captain Joyce who has 13 years of aeromodelling experience under her belt gave us a good technical rundown to the parts of a plane and their significance. I will readily admit I have zero clue about planes but I felt like I learnt so much in one hour!

Then the fun part: making our very own model planes.

We were taught how the different parts of the plane should be shaped from balsa wood and fit together. Sean relished being able to design his own plane while the younger kids helped to decorate the plane 😉

It was a bit tricky, especially working with penknives and superglue (I really would not recommend it for younger children) but I liked that we were applying STEM techniques and it was all very hands-on. There is really a lot to consider when designing a plane!

Everything came together quite nicely in the end. Loved seeing everyone’s completed planes together!

Finally, we could take our planes to Bishan Park for a test run. Joyce gave us a final ‘secret ingredient’ to make our planes fly better and sure enough, they did! We had a fun time whizzing our planes around – okay our planes need a bit of tweaking still, haha!

Thanks for a fun morning, Just Fly It!

If you are keen on joining the Parent-Child Chuck Glider Workshop, here is the Chuck Glider Workshop Fact Sheet. It is $45 for each parent-child pair. Really makes for a fun family bonding activity – I would highly recommend it for primary school going children!

Review: Jujube Tokidoki Seapunk BFF diaper bag from Agape Babies

Whenever I go out with the kids, I always make sure we have all our essentials with us. That includes water bottles, a change of clothes, wet wipes, snacks/gummies, bug spray, comics and activity books for the kids. This, on top of my wallet, camera, sunnies, keys and phone.

I am always hard pressed to find a backpack – I always choose them over sling bags so I can have my hands free – that can fit everything in nicely and look good at the same time.

So I was really thrilled my new Jujube Tokidoki Seapunk BFF diaper bag (RRP: $219) from Agape Babies checks all the boxes!

If you have used Jujube bags before, you will know their bags are thoughtfully designed for busy parents and impeccably made with sturdy quality finishing. I really wish I had discovered them sooner!

I couldn’t resist getting it in the retro BFF backpack design and the vibrant signature Tokidoki print which opens up to a chic pink interior. The light coloured lining makes it easy to see what is in the bag.

Few features I really liked:

  • The bag is very roomy and can hold all our things easily with room to spare.
  • There are side pockets for water bottles (good for ever thirsty children) and many internal compartments, pockets and even a retractable key hook to keep everything organised.
  • The bag comes with AgION Antimicrobial Linings which kills germs, mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria.
  • It comes with quality finishing like quiet magnets, metal hardware and really smooooth zips. You just know it will last for years.
  • Best of all, the bag is made of Teflon fabric protector which repels stains and is completely machine-washable. 

Seriously, why did I not discover this bag sooner?!

As you can see in the pics above, you can pretty much carry the BFF any way you want because it comes with detachable shoulder straps and messenger straps!

Definitely a handy bag that will see a lot of use in our household! You can find the new Jujube Tokidoki SeaPunk range online at Agape Babies. (PS. You can get $10 off every $200 purchase with the code 10OFF)

Disclaimer: I received this Jujube bag for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received. The pleasure was all mine, and all opinions are my own.

Jo’s excursion to The Animal Resort

I joined my little Joey on his excursion to The Animal Resort at Seletar recently. To be very honest, I hardly ever see him in school so he was over the moon to see me – he kept shouting to his teacher, 我的妈妈!!! Look at his happy face! So glad I didn’t miss it 🙂It was our first time at the Animal Resort. We were greeted by a beautiful horse at the entrance and the children enthusiastically started yanking grass around them to feed him.

We got a quick rundown by the lady who runs the place and the children sang ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’, haha.

The children were given packets of food and told to go forth to feed the animals. The animals are surprisingly very tame and seem accustomed to people. Jo was very brave and the birds just came right up to him to eat from his hand!

We also visited the rabbits and guinea pigs enclosure and Jo had fun feeding them carrots. I think the animals were very well-fed that day!

The farm is quite small and a bit run-down. The food for the animals is reasonably priced at $1 a packet. I would say it is good for young children. Though I am not sure if I would visit it on my own again! (Oh, if you are going, please spray lots of mozzie repellant coz the mozzies are vicious!)

Finally it was time for lunch. We sat down and Jo was so hungry he devoured an entire pack of fried rice. It was nice to meet his little friends – Jo still can’t really tell me the names of his friends  – because he is in an all-Chinese class and Chinese names are not his forte – yet but all the kids seem to know him 😉The children had a final go at the swings and said goodbye to the horse before we called it a day and boarded the bus back to school. This is probably the last time I can join my boys on their excursions because they don’t allow parents for higher levels. SOBS!

Innovative fun at Codomo’s Family Design Workshop

Over the Hari Raya Haji holiday, we were invited to Codomo‘s first ever Family Design Workshop at SUTD.

I was very impressed with Codomo’s programme when Sean attended the Design Innovation holiday camp at Keys Academy. Till today, it probably stands as the best holiday class my kids have ever been to!

To kickstart the Family Design Workshop, Aditya asked us what came to mind when we thought of the words ‘Design’ and ‘Innovation’.

As you can see from the word map above, words like ‘create’, ‘make’, ‘useful’ ranked highly among the entries. Aditya went on to explain that good design does not only mean making things look beautiful or sleek. More importantly, good design or innovation means coming up with solutions for people’s needs, whatever they may be.

Then we were introduced to the concept of ‘chindogu’ which is the process of creating something from two seemingly unrelated items.

We were asked to brainstorm what we could create with two random items on our table – a thick elastic band – you can see it on Ryan’s head in the pics – and a plastic clip. The boys and I came up with 3 different ideas (eg. using the band + clip to hold up notices on a pillar, or hanging up a bag of snacks in the car). How ingenious!

Next came the Spaghetti Tower Challenge. With nothing more than 20 strands of spaghetti, masking tape and string, we were tasked to make the tallest tower possible that could support a piece of marshmallow on top in 20 minutes. Quite challenging, but we did it! Can you see our precarious marshmallow tower? Ours was not the tallest but hey at least it was quite stable. Good fun!

During the break we were introduced to a carnival game designed by Codomo – they have an upcoming Micro:bit Carnival Tycoon holiday workshop this Sep holidays – as well as a Kickstarter-backed coding card game called Potato Pirates. I am going to get a set for Sean once it is launched!

We got reacquainted with Makey Makey during our final challenge. Makey Makey is a very ingenious kit that allows you to turn anything that can conduct electricity into touchpads.

With paper clips on paper cups, we designed a user-friendly game console for persons with disabilities. It worked great and the boys had a lot of fun playing Pacman with it! (Thought it was very cute as Ryan was holding the Earth wire and they had to complete the circuit by holding hands!)

It was a really fun and engaging workshop for the family. I loved that we were all encouraged to go all out and be as creative as possible. I do hope  Codomo will continue to hold such family design workshops in future!

Just to share, Codomo will be holding two half-day holiday workshops on 6 Sep 2017 – you still have today to sign up!

Micro:Bit Carnival Tycoon (Age 6-8)

6 September, 9am – 12pm
Get your kids to learn programming and electronics using the Micro:bit.

Potato Pirates Python (Age 9 – 12)

6 September, 1pm – 4pm
Learn 10 hours of programming concepts and basics of Python in 3 hours.

Happy holidays!

A Zahra-mazing Shimmer & Shine Show at City Square Mall

Believe it or not, my boys Ryan and Jo are huge fans of Nickelodeon’s Shimmer & Shine! They like to pretend to cast the magical spells (‘Boom Zahramay!’) just like the dazzling genie twin sisters do, and are constantly repeating the silly antics that the characters, especially Nazboo the dragon, get up to.

To kickstart the September holidays, my boys were overjoyed to watch Shimmer & Shine live on stage as part of City Square Mall’s ‘A World of Zahramazing Fun’ programme which runs from 1 September to 1 October 2017.

All genies-in-training will be happy to know that they can come to City Square Mall from 2-10 September to help Shimmer and Shine find a special Genie Gem in Zahramay Falls!

There were also special appearances by Shimmer and Shine’s human bestie Leah as well as their exotic pets Nahal and Tala.

Come dressed up as your favourite genie and you might get a chance to join them on stage to learn some genie magic 🙂

Personally, I found the show very entertaining because there were lots of catchy song and dance numbers. My boys were about the only boys in the audience (haha) but they were bouncing around and having so much fun!

Here are a few snippets from the show:

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the City Square Mall’s A World of Zahramazing Fun Activities such as dressing up like genies as well:

1. Shimmer & Shine FIRST EVER ‘Live’ On Stage

Date: 2 – 10 September 2017, daily except Monday

Time: Tuesday – Friday: 2pm and 7pm

Saturday and Sunday: 1pm, 4pm and 7pm

Venue: Level 1 Stage

Boom Zahramay! Help Shimmer and Shine find a special Genie Gem in Zahramay Falls! Come dressed up as your favourite genie and you might get a chance to join them on stage to learn some genie magic.

2. Up Close With Shimmer & Shine

Date: 2 – 10 September 2017, daily except Monday

Time:  Tuesday – Friday: 2.45pm and 7.45pm

Saturday and Sunday: 1.45pm, 4.45pm and 7.45pm

Venue: B2 beside travelators

Get a chance to meet your favourite twin genies up close and snap a family photo with them! Head over to the Customer Service Counter at Level 2 one hour prior to each show to redeem a Meet & Greet pass. The passes can be redeemed with a minimum of $50* spent in the mall (maximum 3 receipts), limited to 50 passes per session!

3. Shimmer & Shine Beauty Hall

Date: 1 – 10 September 2017

Time: 1pm – 9pm

Venue: B1 Fountain Square

Complete your experience with a visit to Shimmer & Shine Beauty Hall! Adorn yourself with glitter tattoos, dress up as your favourite genie and get creative with Shimmer & Shine colouring sheets. Redeem a Beauty Pass with a minimum spend of $40* in the mall. Passes are limited to the first 4,000 redemptions.

*T&Cs apply.

For more details on the activities and promotions, visit City Square Mall website or check out City Square Mall’s Facebook page.

Healthy bentos for children with Milo

Hands up, who grew up with Milo? 🙂

One of my favourite childhood memories is of my mother making cold Milo as an after-dinner treat. I would help add the ice cubes and stir before helping myself to a big cup of ‘Milo peng’. I also remember when I got bored on quiet afternoons, I would sneak into the kitchen and scoop Milo powder from the tin and eat it just like that. Anyone did this too?!

It’s quite amazing that Milo with its trademark green packaging looks (and tastes) pretty much the same today and my children drink iced Milo with the same fervour as I did (and still do)!

So when I received an invite to a bento-making workshop by Milo Singapore, I said yes immediately!

The event started with a short introduction to Milo. Did you know Milo originated from Australia and it is the most popular chocolate malt drink in Singapore?

Since Milo is a huge advocate of healthy breakfasts for children, we got to learn how to make a healthy bento breakfast with Shirley better known as Little Miss Bento at the Cookyn Inc premises. I have always wanted to learn how to make a pretty bento so this was a golden opportunity for me to learn.

Shirley brought us through the process of preparing a bento set with a Mama Hen rice ball and two baby chicks. She was really engaging and very good with the children. The instructions were actually quite simple and straightforward. Even the children like Sean could manage on their own with little adult supervision.

First, the boys peeled the hard-boiled egg to get the yolk (they happily devoured the egg white). They then mixed the yolk with a handful of rice. The mixture is then shaped into small yellow balls (for the chicks) using cling wrap. How ingenious! We did the same for Mama Hen but with white rice and shredded crab sticks.

(If you are trying this at home, it is probably best not to squeeze the rice like my boys did, or you would end up with very dense, hard rice balls!)

With a bit of ingenuity, a slice of chicken ham quickly got turned into an apron for Mama Hen, red part of the crab stick into her hair, corn bits into her beak, seaweed (using a hole puncher) into her eyes and carrot bits into the chicks’ beaks and feet. I was so impressed!!!

Then all that was left was the assembly of the bento. In went Mama Hen and her chicks, lettuce, a cob of corn, grilled chicken wings, steamed broccoli and beans, cherry tomatoes and of course, a packet of ice-cold Milo! Easy peasy! Look at the children’s happy faces and their cute bentos! We actually went home and had the bentos for lunch. Yummy and healthy!

Thanks, Milo Singapore, for an enriching morning. Now I am inspired to put a little more effort into my boys’ snack box for school!

#milopacktoschool

A review of SRT’s 小红帽 (Red Riding Hood)

We were thrilled to catch the opening show of Singapore Repertory Theatre’s 小红帽 (Red Riding Hood) in Mandarin last weekend.

Sypnosis:

红帽 (Red Riding Hood) is an uplifting story about a brave and fun-loving girl named 小红 (Little Red) who makes a journey through the forest to visit her grandmother.

Will she reach Grandma’s house in time? Or will the charming Big Bad Wolf distract her from her quest? Join Red on her adventure into the woods, where no one is what they seem!

Filled with humour and packed with original music, this is a fantastic show to be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages.

成功呈献备受好评的英语制作之后,新加坡专业剧场旗下的小剧团继而推出音乐剧《小红帽》的华语版。在这激励人心的故事里,一个名叫小红的女孩勇敢地走进森林里,她想要一家团聚,也同时希望能解救母亲的蛋糕店生意。

她能及时到达老奶奶的家吗?她会被大灰狼诱骗而无法完成任务吗?让我们跟随小红走一趟森林冒险之旅,用眼睛发现一个非一般的世界吧!

幽默有趣的精彩剧情、悦耳动听的原创音乐,这部老少咸宜的儿童音乐剧肯定能让你放声大笑、乐不可支。

The entire play is in Mandarin, which made for an interesting experience. Thankfully, Ryan and Jo could follow the story with a bit of prompting from me.

If you have watched the English version few years ago, the storyline is pretty much the same. I appreciated that the story was not simply just about 小红 visiting her grandmother but there was a whole back story as to why she was making the journey through the forest. Won’t reveal too much but there’s a very interesting plot twist in  the story so watch out for that!

The characters were interesting and entertaining. The Big Bad Wolf played his role very convincingly and the silly, absent-minded woodcutter drew huge guffaws from the children everytime he went on one of his long-winded rants. Lots of catchy songs and LOL moments – even I was laughing along.

There were many takeaways from the show – respect your elders, stay positive in the face of adversity, do not talk to strangers and most importantly, always listen to your mother because she is always right! 🙂

Ryan and Jo really enjoyed the show (even though they were quite scared at certain parts) and could recite the story back to me.

Here’s a trailer of the show:

The show is recommended for children aged 5 and above though personally, I think children aged 3 and above would enjoy it.

DATES: 20 July (Thu) – 1 Sep 2017 (Fri),  Weekdays : 10am, Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm (the show is an hour long)

PRICES: From $25 – excluding SISTIC fee

VENUE: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road

TICKETS: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or www.sistic.com.sg (Please refer to www.sistic.com.sg for more information about Group discounts/ Family Packages available.

At $25 per ticket, I think it is really good value for money. Good Mandarin shows are so hard to come by in Singapore – I really wish there were more of such plays for children!

Anniversary posy from A Better Florist

It was our 9th wedding anniversary last week.

Hubs and I met up after work for a lovely Japanese dinner at Mikuni and it was nice just spending some rare couple time together in the midst of a busy work week.

I really wasn’t expecting anything more so imagine my surprise when I got home to the loveliest bouquet of flowers from A Better Florist (though not from the husband, haha). It is so nice to receive flowers when you least expect it!

The bouquet that I received was The Keira (SGD98) which was part of A Better Florist‘s ‘Farmer’s Choice’ signature floral arrangments.

I adore the elegant mix of fresh lilies, summery-coloured roses and a delicate posy of ammi majus all beautifully wrapped in a rustic burlap. The dreamy sunset-like colour palette reminded me of my own wedding bouquet from many moons ago!

A Better Florist carries a wonderful selection of floral bouquets that would fit most budgets – I really like The Josephine and The Lilah which come in tall glass vases you can reuse again.

I find the website easy to navigate and the pictures and explanations clear. You really do get what you see in the picture!

If you are looking for a last-minute gift, A Better Florist offers same day delivery (at no extra charge) for orders made before 3pm. Please quote ‘DEBRA10’ at checkout for SGD10 off your order – offer valid till 20 Aug ’17!

Besides bouquets, A Better Florist also conducts floral arrangement workshops – I can’t wait to join the next one ! Will share my experience when I do. Do ‘Like’ A Better Florist Facebook page so you can be updated on their upcoming floral jamming sessions.

Thanks for making me smile, A Better Florist!