Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 September Holiday Activities! :)

Just like that, Term 3 is coming to a close. It is quite scary when I “took stock” with Dumpling and we spoke about her first day in school. It is a cliché but it really felt that it was just yesterday when the man and I took leave to be in school for her Day 1 Orientation.

I recall that my hands were clammy and I had that sick feeling in my tummy. After all, I have homeschooled for 6 years and it was hard to let go. I do not like the education system here and I still have gripes on many areas but well, it is what it is.

When we were just half way through her Term 3 tests, the kiddo was already asking what she can do during the holidays. In June this year, one of the activities which she enjoyed most was the Zoo Explorer Camp. Unfortunately, that would not happen again till end of the year so it was another round of mad research to look for activities for her to enjoy during this one week break! So here's sharing a list of activities that caught my eye :) hope that it's useful for you! 

:: Performing and Visual Arts
It must be a Roald Dahl season as there are 2 performances (based on his works) for this period:

1) Concerts for Children: Jack and the Bean Stalk (SSO)

SSO regularly puts out such productions targeted at children and the kiddo has enjoyed it previously.

Based on Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes" (which is hilarious by the way), and best suited for children between the ages of 4 and 14, this production features actors, puppets and a 60 foot bean stalk that rises out of the stage.

12 to 13 September 2015
To book from Sistic

2) Roald Dahl’s George Marvellous Medicine by The Player’s Theatre
Dumpling and I watched an earlier production (Roald Dahl’s Little Red Riding Hood) together with our buddies and we enjoyed it tremendously; the humor was dark and the comic timing of the actors, brilliant. Needless to say, we are quite excited about this upcoming production.

George’s and his parents’ lives are thrown into a disarray with the arrival of Grandma, a grizzly, grumpy and ghastly old woman. George’s “adventure” starts when he helps Grandma with her medicine four times a day and noticed that the medicine does not seem to help in any way. And so, he concocted his own medicine and incredible things start to happen…

Dates: 5 September 11am & 6 September 1pm
To book from Sistic

3) Heart Studio September Workshop

This is a must-do camp / workshop for Dumpling. It amazes me when I realized that she has been attending lessons at Heart Studio for 3 years and still loves it. This September, Heart Studio in its usual fashion, rolls out a workshop that offers different medium (canvas painting + clay, pot painting, pebble painting, etc.) and different art techniques! From age 3. 

Click here for more information

:: Outdoor Fun
For those who prefer the sun (and no AC!), here’s a list of what I thought sounds really interesting:

Sunggei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Sunggei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one area which I have always wanted to sign up for tours but somehow, the dates always clash with our plans! L But here’s sharing more on some tours:

1) Wow Wild West! – Feathers & Beaks (Bird Week)

Excerpt from the website:
Why is Singapore such an important place for birds? How do you tell different bird species apart? Why do some birds have metal rings and flags on their legs? This themed guided walk for families will showcase the wildlife of Sungei Buloh, and is part of the Wow Wild West event that runs from 29th August 2015 to 19th September 2015.
Families are encouraged to register early to avoid disappointment as there are only limited spaces each tour!
Registration for this walk opens on 28 August 2015.
Click here to explore other activities happening at “Wow Wild West! this week.

2) Storytime with Sara at Jacob Ballas Children's Garden (A Storytelling cum Guided Tour)
5 September  Storytime with Sara edit
Excerpt from the website:

Join us for a fun-filled storytelling session, specially designed for little ones.  Children will explore Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden with Sara the Botanicosaurus and her squirrel friends, Fluff-tail and Twitchy. To conclude the programme, children will have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with plants that are featured in the story, and even have the chance to rock the Suspension Bridge and play hide-and-seek in the Maze.
Click here for more information

3) Fun with Math & Plants! (A Guided Tour)

Learn more on Math on the go! Dumpling and I have gone for a few of such guided tours and we have not seen this before. 

7 Sept Fun with Maths and Plants edit
Excerpt from the website:

Have fun being a little Mathematician and discover plants at the same time! Learn basic Math concepts through colours, shapes, sizes and numbers. Practice your skills using leaves, flowers and other plant parts. You will discover that Mathematics is fun and interesting!

4) Young Mathematician of the Gardens (A Guided Tour)
Do you have an older child? Then this Young Mathematician workshop may be for him/her! 

7 Sept Young Mathematician of the Garden edit

Excerpt from the website:
How many petals are there on a flower? Count the number of leaflets on a leaf. Get introduced to addition, subtraction and many more mathematical skills that you can apply to plants. Be a young Mathematician of the Garden in this guided tour and have fun learning about Math and Plants.

Click here for more information

5) Celebrating Wildlife Series: Our Fabulous Furry Flying Friends! (A Biodiversity Investigative Workshop)

11 Sept Celebrating Wildlife Series Our Fabulous Furry Flying Friends edit

Excerpt from the website:
Did you know bats are awesome flying mammals? Bats are important to the ecosystem as they help pollinate plants which in turn produce fruits for us. They also help to disperse seeds when they feed on fruits while insectivorous bats help control pest numbers! Get a chance to make a bat craft and go on a guided tour looking for bat roosts and bat food hunt.

Click here for more information

6) Cold-blooded (Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish)

Excerpt from the website:
Why do reptiles love to bask in the sun? What are the differences between frogs and toads? How do fishes survive in the mangroves? This themed guided walk for families will showcase the wildlife of Sungei Buloh, and is part of the Wow Wild West event that runs from 29th August 2015 to 19th September 2015.

Click here for more information

:: Others
1) Sentosa FunFest 2015

Sentosa is organising its first mega inflatable beach festival at the Siloso Beach! Made up of giant inflatable slides, foam and water-oriented fun; children will have fun gliding down a 12-metre tall triple sliding inflatable plunging into the Bungee Run.

Click here for more information

2) The Deep Exhibition
The hubs and the kid love ocean life and this is one exhibition which I am keen to go for this holiday break. 

Excerpt from the website:

The deep sea is Earth’s largest reservoir of life but has remained largely uncharted by Man, with only 10 percent of the seafloor mapped so far. The Deep reveals the mysteries lurking in the deep through the display of perfectly preserved and extremely rare animals in crystalline details, accompanied by mesmeric images of captivating sea fauna and ethereal bioluminescent creatures, some photographed for the very first time. The Deep brings together the largest collection of deep-sea creatures ever displayed in South East Asia. Providing a unique opportunity to encounter the reality of the deep first-hand and to raise public awareness about the fragility of the deep sea ecosystem.

Click here for more information

3) The Singapore Journey: 50 Years Through Stamps

The kiddo has been showing an interest in stamps because she finds it rare. Upon reflecting I realise that it is not surprising considering how much we rely on emails these days! Stamps for her such a rare sight and with the nation celebrating her 50th golden jubilee this year, this is one exhibition that we are both keen on!


Excerpt from website:

Singapore stamps document the growth of the nation, archiving trials, tribulations, achievements and aspirations.

Journey through 50 years of our nation's progress with specially selected stamps, philatelic materials and rarely seen original stamp artworks. Let these remarkable treasures tell you the story of Singapore in a way only they can.

Click here for more information. 

This list is updated as of 28 August 2015. I will be adding on to the list if there are more activities which catch my eye! :)

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Review + Giveaway! My Quiet Book!

When the kiddo was young, one of my favourite books was a busy book that my girlfriend gave to us as a “hand-me-down” as her two children were all grown up. I recall my fascination (and later, Dumpling’s) with the book as it was interactive and had an educational spin to it with different pages featuring different concepts which are age appropriate for toddlers.

My Royal Rae is a Singapore based online retail shop which specializes in selling high quality handcrafted toys, and nothing of the ipad / iphone / battery operated kind. J The toys are chosen by Cecilia who has a PhD in Communications and her husband who has a PhD in Development Psychology.

My Quiet Book is a 14-page book which is designed with the toddlers in mind.
In addition, it cleverly engages young children with fun activities which focus on fine motor skills which are important for writing when they are older. Age appropriate Math activities are also included too!

From Zipping...

To tying a ribbon...

And to color matching and buttoning!

Though the girl is almost 7, she had quite a good time with the activities in the book and mastered tying a really nice ribbon too. :)

Best of all, as these quiet books are made of cloth! So you need not fret over any spillage “accidents”. Simply hand wash and rinse! These books are also great for travelling as they are light to pack and when you are on the road!!! Know Golden Jubilee babies? These quiet books would be the perfect gift. J

I have 1 Quiet cloth book (worth $35!) &

Quiet Book
6 sets of Snakes and Ladders with Dolch Sight Words to give away!

Design your own snake and ladders set

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win this! (Make sure you have entered for both items!)

Remember to leave a comment on who you wish to gift this book to and why! J

Can't wait for the giveaway? No worries! My Royal Rae has also kindly offered a 20% STOREWIDE DISCOUNT CODE! 

Just add item(s) to the shopping cart and enter "Beanie N Us Discount"! 

1) The discount code cannot be used in conjunction with other vouchers / discounts. 
2) Discount code is only valid till end of September 2015. 
3) This giveaway is for SG residents only.
4) This book has detachable components which were added to aid motor skills development. Toddlers who are still teething should not play with the book unsupervised by an adult.

Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by My Royal Rae. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Primary One: Show and Tell

If I had collected $2 every time someone asked me / commented on the socialising and confidence part when they realised that Dumpling and I were homeschoolers, I think I would have collected enough money for Dumpling’s primary school fees through to Primary 6. The thing is, she's none of those.  

Dumpling is a fairly eloquent and confident little person. Just last evening I was running through with her some Holiday Programme options and I asked if she will be fine attending them alone. Her reply was "It's ok not to have any friends, I will make new friends there.". :)

We did put in the effort since she was young to ensure that she will not be awkward in social situations and that she will be confident enough to speak up.  What we did was to expose her to different environments – walks in parks, grocery shopping with me at the wet market (talking to the vendors in Mandarin), getting her to order her food at the Food Court / Hawker Centre when she was not even 5, and signing her up for various Speech and Drama sessions and camps.

Public speaking and doing presentations are a big part of my work as I am trained in Marketing and Communications. So, on that note, Dumpling is blessed as I am able to give her pointers. Show and Tell is a part of the school's Oral Assessments (from P1) where there are also "read aloud" and picture description. With the change in the Chinese syllabus, there is now a stronger focus on Chinese Oracy for children in schools as compared to previous years where the weightage of read alouds and picture conversation was lower. So if your child is in lower Primary or is entering Primary school next year, this may be useful for you. 

:: Topic & Guidelines
Topics are decided / set by the teachers where a guide / template are sometimes given by the teachers. In Dumpling’s school, an A4 sheet (guide) was provided for both English and Chinese Show and Tell. The guide / template will usually have pointers and what the children are marked on. For e.g. for Dumpling's English Show and Tell, the areas were things like "Sentences" (to show link between ideas), "Vocabulary", "Organisation" (sequence of events, appropriate connections) and "Expression" (pronunciation, speak loudly and clearly).   

For her Chinese Show and Tell, a recommended template was given. For both of these graded sessions, it was highly encouraged for the children NOT to read from a script. So your child must be able to present without one. 

Don’t just say it, show it too!

:: Angle
For Show and Tell, I do not dictate / write the script for her. As a Marketing professional, one thing that I have learnt is that the words and flow must come from the presenter. I have prepared presentations and drafted speeches for my bosses and I always encourage them to tweak and edit the copy / words to suit their “train of thoughts” and flow. This is important as it ensures that the presentation sounds natural. 

And this was the same thing that I did with Dumpling. For her English Show and Tell, the topic was on “My favourite animal”. She had 3 ideas which she wanted to explore. So I suggested for her to think about what she can possibly talk / share on each angle, and jot them down if she needed to. From there, I made some suggestions on what else she can add on.

From her notes, she could also see how much “content” she has for each angle and decide which animal she should present on; the more meaty the content, the better. In addition, because she came up with the flow (through the notes jotted down), she need not spend so much time “memorizing” her script and everything flowed naturally. When she got "stuck" during the first few practice rounds, all she needed to do was to look at the notes and work out the kinks from there.

If there are certain words which are not natural to her or they are too much of a mouthful, I will usually suggest for her to change the sentence to something shorter / simpler where she can speak through smoothly. The whole idea is the presentation should be smooth with a good sequence. 

:: Delivery and Expression
This was the hardest for us as the children need to be loud and clear in such presentations. Some children may also have a tendency to look down and speak; this then does not allow for the voice to be projected. 

What I did was to stand at the back of the room and hold up my hand. I then got her to speak to the hand (QUITE LITERALLY! LOL) and that helped her with the projection. If your child is naturally soft spoken, then you may need to set aside some time and work on it a bit. 

When doing work presentations, I am trained not to focus on one party but to scan across the room so that we are speaking to everyone. But if your child is really shy, I would encourage you to just tell him/her to look at maybe the teacher / the first row and slowly work from there. 

Expression wise, Dumpling has a tendency to speak fast and I needed to remind her to pause for effect and slow down her speech. Diction then comes in because with the slowing down, the words are then clearer and pronunciation, more crisp. This was the same case with her Chinese Show and Tell where connecting words like and were “glossed” over when she spoke fast. So she will dot on those sections where she needed to pause in her notes.  

Of course, what remains then will be to practise, practise and practise. If your child has a large / bulky item to hold onto, it is important to practise with it so that he/she is used to handling it while presenting. 

I hope that these tips are useful for you! :)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Little Company's "The Ugly Duckling" 丑小鸭

The kiddo and I have been attending productions by Singapore Repertory Theatre for years. When I started taking on the onus of guiding her in the Chinese language in the earlier years, I had problems looking for meaningful Chinese theatrical plays for children. I lamented to my buddies that such productions are so rare and it was such a pity because bilingualism is something really close to my heart.

We then caught our first Chinese play with SRT 2 years ago with The Three Little Pigs 三只小猪 and we loved it. So it was with great excitement when Dumpling and I met up with our buddies for a morning of fun with SRT’s Chinese production of The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭.

We first watched the English production of The Ugly Duckling in 2011 and the kiddo enjoyed it. The Little Company (TLC) incorporated small elements of audience interaction in the 50 mins production and it was the same in the Chinese version.

The play starts with a narrator in Fairy-tale Kingdom 王国 interacting with the children, telling the story. Isabelle Chiam as the narrator certainly brought the play to ‘live’. She was lively and humorous, providing some comic relief in the play. The entire production was told through puppetry with colourful props and backdrop.

The story of The Little Duckling unfolds as a mother duck waited patiently for her eggs to hatch where one out of the four eggs was none other than The Ugly Duckling. Much larger and 'uglier' as compared to the other siblings, he was mocked and ostracised from young. The duckling later ran away from home where he embarked on an adventure, met a myriad of characters and later learnt the truth about himself and his identity.

For me, the objective of bringing the kiddo to a Mandarin production is such that she gets exposed to Mandarin, useful expressions and phrases. For that, The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 did not disappoint. Comparing this to the Mandarin production of Nightingale 莺 (also by TLC), The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 was produced with younger children in mind.

Children were introduced to counting in Mandarin as well as simple idioms.The puppets used (friendly sheepdog, fat hen and the vain cat in the barn) were adorable and well liked by the young audience. At one point, there were wild geese “flying” from the back of the auditorium towards the stage where “Ooohs and Ahhs” filled the auditorium.

Of course, in this famous story by Hans Christian Andersen, the issues on bullying and being different were discussed. Values such as teamwork and compassion were also demonstrated when autumn leaves floated down from the ceiling and the audience was encouraged to pick them up to “cover” the poor ugly duckling and protect him from cold.

The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 is certainly a great production to bring your children to where they can soak up (almost) an hour of fun learning Mandarin! The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 will run until 1 August at DBS Arts Centre. Tickets are available through SISTIC.

Event Dates
Fri, 10 Jul to Sat, 1 Aug 2015
Mon - Fri : 10am
Fri(17 Jul):11am & 2pm
Sat: 11am, 2pm


Disclaimer: We were invited by SRT to watch the play in order to give our opinions about it. All opinions are strictly ours. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A visit to SOSD Shelter

A cacophony of high pitched barks and whimpers greeted us as we stepped into the SOSD’s Shelter a few weeks back. The friendlier dogs were jumping while others (those on rehabilitation) were wary as we walked past. (We were told not to stick our fingers into the cages or stand too close to the gates.) The family was there that morning to understand a bit more of the work that SOSD does as we recently became a fosterer to a puppy which we picked up from SOSD.

They say that the eyes are windows to the souls and I can’t agree more. A walk through the shelter and you can sense the struggles and confusion some of these dogs have gone through.

 As we walked from pen to pen and peered into their eyes, each dog seems to have a story to tell.

Maddox (above) has a fantastic temperament. Rescued from AVA last year, Maddox has proven to be really gentle and friendly and he is now a regular fixture of SOSD’s outreach team. The team also brings him to schools to show the children just how friendly and gentle street dogs can be. Having done so much for educating the public and to give a “voice” on behalf of his other friends in the shelter, ironically he has remained, till this day, not adopted.

Beancurd (above left) was rescued in from AVA when she was just 3 months old and has since been waiting for a home.

Hers is a bittersweet story:  she was one of the few lucky ones that escaped unscathed when she was quarantined with a dog that later came down with the Pavorvirus. Though lively and loving, the irony is that she was the only one left of the whole batch to have yet found a home.  There were a few times where was nearly adopted, but it has not quite worked out.

And essentially that’s what SOSD aims to do – to give these dogs a second chance in life by rescuing these street dogs and educating the public. This is where a few of SOSD’s teams come into the picture with its re-homing team and the outreach team.

This tour we registered for started with a talk by Tony and Ashlee (below) who were our shelter tour guides that morning. Tours typically start at 1130am and because SOSD is managed by volunteers, so email confirmation may only be sent out 2 – 3 days prior to the tour. 

Above pic: Tony with Ashlee

While waiting, we saw volunteers taking the dogs out and walking them. Tony shared that the dogs are walked 4 times a week by volunteers who head to the shelters on weekdays too. 

Above: Moomi with her ‘handler’ for that morning. She is part of the Ubin Trap and Neuter project which you can more about here.) After the talk, we were brought into the shelter. 

Above: Inside Unit 15/16 (There are another 2 units 13/14 which we visited for a short while too)

The operating expenses to run a shelter are very high and the highest the shelter has ever incurred in a month is $30,000! That was for medical cost and includes vaccination and sterilization. Because of these high costs, money is spent carefully and repairs made, only when necessary. 

(Above pic: painting work done only on the lower half of the gate which comes into contact with the dogs to manage expenses)

From a parental standpoint, it was a really good exposure for Dumpling. She did not quite grasp what SOSD does and the scale of the work involved and the tour made it more ‘legit’. As Tony shared with us some of the dogs’ stories, I could see Dumpling ‘taking it all in’.  

I could also tell that Dumpling was really surprised at how “basic” the shelter is. At its best, the shelter is “functional” but of course that can’t be compared to the comfort that of a permanent / foster home. The shelter tour brought across a message that is certainly more concrete in the little one’s mind – Adopt, Don’t Shop

What I was happy to see was a dog run that is outside the shelter where the puppies and dogs have a chance to roam and run a bit. Additionally, it is also a ‘neutral’ meeting ground for a potential fosterer / adopter to meet and observe the new addition to the family. 

Above: SOSD’s dog run

It was an hour well spent for us and definitely for the kiddo. In fact, she was sharing with me that if there’s a chance, she would talk about the shelter visit and our fostering experience for her school’s “Show and Tell”.

As SOSD is a registered charity (founded in July 2011, it is funded solely by donations. Here’s some numbers and ways you can help:

(Information provided by SOSD Singapore)

SOSD does not attend to ad-hoc visits as based on my understanding; they are often busy over the weekends with adoption drives. If you should be keen to register your interest for the next shelter tour on 26 July, you can click here.

To understand more about the work and events that SOSD does, you can follow their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: This is neither a sponsored post nor were we compensated for it. All opinions expressed are entirely ours though the dogs that you see on their website and at the adoption drives can be yours. :) You can visit the adoption page here

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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