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 

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Little Company's "The Ugly Duckling" 丑小鸭 Giveaway !

Originally presented in English in 2005 to sold-out audiences, The Ugly Duckling has returned for another run but in Mandarin! The Little Company’s (TLC) second Mandarin production of the year, this classic tale is told through the magic of song and puppetry.

The Ugly Duckling is retold based on the Hans Christian Anderson classic about a duckling which looks different and was ostracized. Teased and bullied, the duckling ran away from the farmyard and embarked on an adventure where he meets a myriad of characters and learns the truth about himself and his identity.

A story that has been passed on for many generations, this is one tale that is still relevant in this day and age. It is also one of the earliest stories that I read with Dumpling when she was younger as I love the morals discussed in that show – that it is alright to be different and we are all made differently. This play also provides a good platform to discuss these issues with your children, and how acceptance is important and that bullying is never ‘right’.

I am pleased to share that I have a pair of tickets to give away!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a pair of tickets! 

NOTE: Winner’s tickets are for Saturday 11 July, 2pm. The date cannot be changed.

Tickets are to be collected from the box office prior to the start of the play. Please collect at least an hour in advance.

Comments are compulsory so do remember to leave a comment on "Who is the author for the original story of The Ugly Duckling"?

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

To buy your tickets at SISTIC, please click here 

Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by Singapore Repertory Theatre. 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, June 24, 2015

Primary One: And we survived 2 Terms!

Term one and two ended in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, it was already the June holidays. The first month of school was spent settling down in her new school and new class. I thought that she settled down beautifully while I, on the other hand, was feeling my way around. :p 
A "whatsapp" group was set up and I also blogged about the 6 things I learnt about life in Primary School.

Dumpling was made Class Monitor in Term 1 and I feel that helped her assimilate into formal school faster as she had to quickly step up and learn to lead, to guide, to assist and she certainly seems to know her way around school faster, better.

Dumpling’s school uses the Stellar system for English and adopts a holistic approach where there are ‘assessments’ but not all are graded. She does not have any SA till Primary 2.  What I did not realise is that while technically there are no “exams”, there were mini tests across each term usually starting from Week 5. Some weeks Dumpling could have up to 3 tests – including a Listening Comprehension assessment.

All these results are then input into the system and marks are computed via the system. For Dumpling’s school, the weightage for Term 2’s results accounts for 20% of the whole year, Term 3 would be 30% and Term 4, 50%. The stream of mini tests really requires a lot of stamina and during some weeks, ting xie and spelling are ongoing too. So is it hard? Not really. But is it tedious? Yes it can be. But we have done good so far and here’s sharing 5 tips to survive Term 2!

1) Consistency is the key

As a working mum blogger, my plate is full. Instead of doing last minute revisions, I read with the kiddo almost daily and I go through her school work to look through the mistakes she made.
I am not a big fan of assessment books but I do have some for the kiddo to work on randomly as check points. This has worked well for us so far without having the need to do the last minute dash for any school assessments.

2) Homework

The kiddo does have homework from school. What I do is to encourage her to work on it after lunch (we use a chart too which you can see at the end of the post) and so far, this format has worked well for us. When she is done, she takes a short nap and then she gets to read / play / draw thereafter. 

3) Extending the Fun and Learning from Home

Being a FTWM and a former homeschooling mum, I still very much like to read and learn with the kiddo. My focus is to continue to fuel her love for reading and learning as I feel that sometimes school work and all those worksheets can be a tad dry. 

So after work, I would lead her through a range of literature-based activities where we also balance it out with her violin practice and some craft work. We would walk our dogs and head to the playground where she has a few rounds at the slides too. 

For "literature work", we have done classics like King Arthur, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, etc.where we would read and discuss the words / phrases mentioned, extend and read up more on some of relevant topics / things mentioned in the book. We also craft, read Chinese stories, work on writing of simple Chinese sentences as well as extend our learning with some of the subscription boxes that I have ordered from the States. (Reviews on these coming soon, I promise!)

The boxes have been great for her to attempt on her own and at the same time, acquire some General Knowledge. Some of the things learnt have shone through in her essays as well as class discussions. 

4) Spelling and Ting Xie

We are quite blessed because Dumpling is quite comfortable linguistically so we do not have to do a lot of work for spelling and ting xie. When we are really stretched for time, I will split up the list into 2 days. Short bursts of such “revision” / rote learning works better for most children than having to plow through. We received the list for Term 3 before the June holidays and there will be passages for dictation, so my suggestion is to split up the list if you have to. 

5) Keeping it organized

To set expectations, I put up a chart where it outlines the things which she is supposed to finish on a daily basis. This has kept us focused and helped us manage our time too!

We do not do all the things listed in the chart but about 3 daily. The idea is not to cramp the evenings but to have a 'goal' in mind so that it leaves time for dog walks, playground / craft. :)

If you have a K2 child going to P1, I would suggest to leave your child to finish 1/2 page of activities and slowly build up to 1 then to 2 - 3 pages on his / her own. If he/she is able to attempt them with minimal supervision, then he/she can finish his/her homework when you are not at home (e.g. working / have to run errands) and this would save you some precious time too. :) Good luck!

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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Giveaway! Sum of Fun bundle deal! Includes an entry to Underwater World Singapore + Buffet at Island Cuisine

Dumpling inherited the love of all creatures underwater from the dad. The two would spend time visiting various aquariums and the dad would indulge her buying fairly unusual ‘creatures’ such as apple snails, shrimps, etc. :)

We were recently invited to Underwater World for an all-inclusive-morning. Why all-inclusive? It is because they are currently running a 3-in-1 bundle promotion for just $19.90. What does it include and how was our morning? 

Here’s our day:

From 30 May to 28 June 2015, Underwater World Singapore will be hosting a special Sum of Fun bundle deal.

Enjoy up to 65% off the bundle deal which includes an entry to Underwater World Singapore + Sumptuous buffet at Island Cuisine + Other Fabulous Perks for only $19.90* per pax! 

(Meet the Dolphins and Fur Seals sessions: 11am, 2pm (excluding Wednesdays), 4pm & 5.45pm daily)

Looking forward to a fun-filled morning? I have not 1 but 5 pairs of tickets to give away!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win the tickets!

Remember to leave a comment on who you would like to bring to Underwater World Singapore and why?

To find out more about the promotion, please click here

Terms and Conditions:

1.     Promotion is only applicable to local residents of Singapore. (i.e. Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, Holders of Employment Passes, work Permit or Dependent's Pass)
2.     Promotion is valid for both adult and child.
3.     To qualify, visitors are required to produce relevant identification, subjected to one admission ticket per local ID.
4.     This promotion is not applicable with any ongoing promotions.
5.     This promotion is not applicable for group tours.
6.     This promotion is only valid for watching the dolphin show. Charges are applicable should invited visitors wish to participate in the dive or have contact with the dolphins.
7.     Point-of-exchange for promotion: Underwater World Singapore ticketing counter.
8.     Promotion is only valid for communicated date of visit
9.     Guest must retain and present this invite for entry
10.  Guest must retain and present this invite to redeem buffet meal at Island Cuisine.
11.  Guests are only allowed to use this invite once.
12.  UWS reserves the right to refuse redemption, entry and/or participation if the above conditions are not fulfilled.
13.  UWS shall not be liable for cancellation of any programmes due to wet weather or unforeseen circumstances.
14.  Island Cuisine will offer local delicacies in a buffet format daily from 11.30am - 3pm (Last seating: 2.30pm) and 5.30pm - 9pm (Last seating: 8.30pm).
15.  Island Cuisine is not a Halal certified restaurant. Dishes do not contain pork/lard.
16.  UWS reserves the right to substitute the buffet meal with another item of equivalent value.
17. Winners will be contacted via email and should the selected winners do not respond with relevant details in 48 hours, I will reserve the right to select another winner. UWS will issue the tickets to winners.
18. Each winning ticket only permits a complimentary entry into UWS and a one-time buffet at Island Cuisine.

 Disclaimer: We were invited to visit Underwater World Singapore and Island Cuisine to give our opinions of it. We were 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 

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