Review: Chinatown Trail, Singapore

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This is a backdated post of our Chinatown Trail in August – how we spent National Day 2017 before returning home to watch the evening’s National Day Parade.

Before embarking the heritage trail, you might find it useful to download the Chinatown Trail Booklet or Map from National Heritage Board. There’s a mobile application to download as well.

The Chinatown Trail Booklet includes the map and nuggets of information about each historical site. The estimated trail distance is 2.5km. Doable when bringing young children. Letting the kids scoot certainly help!

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We took a train to Outram Park. Starting from Bukit Pasoh Road, we walked through Kreta Ayer, settled lunch at Maxwell Food Centre before finishing our trail at Tanjong Pagar.

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The children got to see the different architectural style of Chinatown’s shophouses; how these styles vary because of changing economy and socio-political circumstances.  A wonderful chance to sing 童谣 (“Tong Yao”) while walking along the five-foot way!

The history of these pre-war buildings come alive as we learn how they were used during World War II. For instance, the Chin Kang Huay Kuan was used by the Overseas Chinese General Mobilisation Council to help the British in supplying labourers and volunteers for the defence of Singapore during the war.

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We discovered how early immigrants contributed to early Singapore. Like Tong Ah Eating House (above) which occupied this triangular plot for over 70 years. Started in 1939, the great-grandfather of Mr Tang Chew Fue who originated from Fuzhou, China started his coffee shop here.

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The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple was built in 1925 by Nattukkottai Chettiars, a noted money lending community from Tamil Nadu. The temple was given the name Layan Sithi as it was originally located at the old Sepoy Lines where Indian soldiers , known as Sepoys, used to be housed.

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Keen to start walking? We found these things came in handy:

  • Umbrellas/raincoats (not much shelter to hide from occasional showers)
  • Sunblock and hats
  • Water
  • Snacks (all the walking can get the kids really hungry!)
  • Heritage Trail Booklet

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Lastly, we ended the Chinatown Heritage Trail at URA Centre. It was a treat for the children as they found pianos to play! As part of the Play It Forward movement,  pianos are placed in open spaces in various parts of Singapore for anyone to tickle the ivories. Sweet!

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A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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I usually don’t review non-homeschool or kid-related product, but New China Opticians, Singapore really made a difference.  Here’s why.

As a a SAHM with 2 young children (without help), I’m unable to do things like getting a new pair of glasses, facial or visiting the dentist very often.

However, after several chewing incidents and ripping my spectacles off my face (thanks to Elijah), my frame started to give way. Unable to park the children with their grandparents, I had no choice but to lug the children to the optician.

I dread that knowing they’ll fiddle with mirrors and will want to try on shades. A salesperson will then start to “chase” them around the shop, telling them not to break anything or touch anything.  Just too much pressure on me! Continue reading A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

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Mark Van Doren, a poet and writer once said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.

Teachers play such an important role in our children’s lives.  Whether we homeschool our children or not, we inevitably have teachers some point in time.

For Hannah, these are the inspiring teachers in Sunday School, in swimming and dance classes.  They make classes enjoyable and learning fun.

As we celebrated Teacher’s Day on 2 September in Singapore, we kept our gift simple and doable by the child.  After all, it’s the child’s appreciation to her teacher right? Continue reading Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

Heritage Fest 2016

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A belated May blog post on Heritage Fest 2016, Singapore.

Running its 13th year, Singapore HeritageFest brings to the public the diverse cultural heritage of this little city. From food trails to music recitals to experiencing Singapore’s last living kampong; Pulau Ubin. There’s something for everyone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s our first year participating in Heritage Fest. We managed to catch two programmes:

Aliwal Arts Centre Open House

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Through the workshops, we learned various traditional art forms, such as the Malay dance by DIAN dancers and Chinese opera by Nam Hwa Opera.

Hannah liked the pretty DIAN dancers so much that she wanted to take a picture with them.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Hannah is a big fan of Chinese opera. She was excited to watch the opera up close!

We found out how opera singers use gestures, facial expressions and their props to express the emotions of the characters portrayed.

Here’s one opera-related activity you could do with your little one. Be sure to read these two (here, here) wonderful books on Chinese opera too!

Romance, Hope and Dreams @ Velocity, Novena Square

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Like most little girls, Hannah loves weddings! Ask her about the weddings she attended, and she’ll rattle off the names of the couple, and colour of the evening gowns those brides wore.

“Romance, Hope and Dreams” was the perfect exhibition for her to learn about the meanings of traditional wedding practices and beliefs of different ethnic communities.

Every traditional wedding ceremony had been modelled with clay.  See how intricate they are? They remind me of Alexandra Bruel’s clay pop art. Amazing.

Singapore HeritageFest happens from April to May every year. Be sure to check out www.heritagefest.sg for their latest happenings.

Why We Homeschool

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Every Chinese New Year, we are asked this question: Is Hannah attending school?  And when I tell people that she’s not attending a kindergarten or a childcare centre, they’ll naturally ask why homeschool?

My reasons to people are never quite complete.  I’ve learned to give different reasons to different people; mainly to avoid further questioning or run into a debate about homeschooling (or what’s best for my children).

Anyway, I’m penning down my reasons for homeschooling so as to remind myself why I grit my teeth and soldier on through those hair-pulling days (with a capital ‘S’).

It all started when Hannah around 16 months old.  After being a stay-home mom for nearly 3 months, I was kind of bored at home with a toddler (I truly had no idea how blissful life was then…)  Then I met up with a friend who homeschool her children.  The word, “homeschool” was really something new yet exciting to me.

After much research (…prayers, self-doubt and worry), we embarked our homeschooling journey when most of Hannah’s peers start to attend childcare or play groups.

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::  Learn together  ::

Homeschooling has showed me God’s world with fresh perspective.  It’s clearly evident that I don’t know a lot of things.  I thoroughly enjoy researching and discovering the new with Hannah.

I find it such privilege to be by my children when they start reading for the first time, or see their faces go “A-HA!” when they finally understood a concept.

Learning together with my children has taught me how to rely on God for wisdom and direction.  It has taught me to dig deeper into His word and to realise the marvellous creation He has made.

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

::  Learn at our own pace  ::

It’s generally acknowledged that school stress hits both children and parents in Singapore.   The number of hours put into enrichment classes and assessment worksheets just throws me off.

I hope to hold back the pressure for as long as I can.  We want our children to look at the world around with wonder and intrigue.  They are allowed to develop at their pace, not by peers or stated benchmarks.  We are created uniquely so why are we expected to perform uniformly?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14

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::  Grow as a family  ::

A relationship with a sibling is probably the longest relationship you’ll ever have.  Homeschooling has allowed the siblings to bond through tears and laughter.  They are still learning how to share and get along with each other.  Lots of squabbles and “..I was playing with this first…” But you know what?  It’s really something when you see them walking hand in hand.

A friend loveth at all times; And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

::  Faith begins at home  ::

Life lessons cannot be found in textbooks but demonstrated by deeds and actions.  Christ should not be only found in Sunday School but in our daily lives.  People have jokingly said, “Are you thinking of raising a pastor?”

I’d say, “Why not?”  I don’t want my children to think of Bible stories as fairy tales that took place in Neverland.  What’s recorded in the Bible is true.  It happened for real.

Homeschooling allows us to recognise the truth of God.  If we don’t start now, then when?

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy  6:7-9

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Having said all this, I don’t have everything mapped out.  I don’t know if I’m homeschooling through the primary school years.  It’s unnerving to have the weight of your children’s education upon your shoulders.

We are taking each year as it comes.  Our family schedule is ever changing.  But one thing’s for sure: No regrets taking this plunge!

National Gallery Singapore | Keppel Centre for Art Education

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This is a backdated entry which finally got published. Phew!

While the hype of National Gallery Singapore has somewhat fizzled, nevertheless, this is one awesome place to check out as a family.

The National Gallery Singapore, which has been in the making for 10 years, finally opened its doors to the public on 24 November 2015.  To commemorate this milestone, there was a two-week long of free events and activities.

With the festive season and “school” moving on slowly, I decided an impromptu outing to National Gallery Singapore.  Getting there (with a stroller) wasn’t a problem. It was just minutes away from City Hall MRT Station.

Once in the 64,000 sqm museum, we felt kind of lost.  On hindsight, I should have downloaded the museum’s Gallery Explorer mobile application.  It offers visitors a self-guided tour and turn-by-turn directions from one’s location to points of interest within the Gallery.

Wandering quite aimlessly, a friendly security officer approached us (our faces must have said we were lost!) and shared about Keppel Centre for Art Education.  It was a facility dedicated for children.

Not feeling so lost now…we proceeded to locate Keppel Centre for Art Education. 🙂

Moms with babies in tow, you’d be glad to know that strollers are permitted in the galleries.  However, they are not permitted in the Keppel Centre for Art Education.  You’d need to park them outside the facility.

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Inside Keppel Centre for Art Education you will find:

  • Art Corridor: explore art through tactile play
  • Art Playscape: develop imagination through active play
  • Project Gallery: learn creative process through art making
  • Children’s Museum: learn to put up exhibitions through role play

Parents, be warned: Lots of persuasion and patience is needed to get your little ones moving from one gallery to another.  And you may be paying for every kit at each gallery.

Like most children, Hannah was stuck at the Art Corridor for a while ( I really mean a long while).  Everyone was busy trying to put colourful discs into the art puzzle.

At the Project Gallery, it was no surprise that Hannah wanted to create her “boat in the sky” as the room was filled with whimsical artwork of flying buses and boats.  The activity kits could be purchased at SGD $4.

Finally, at the Children’s Museum, we took a peek into the artist, Milenko Prvacki ‘s art studio, and examine the artistic process: tools he used, techniques he created etc.  The children could decorate a postcard and send it to Milenko Prvacki himself!

There was a Pocket Sculpture Starter Kit which could be purchased at SGD $2 (see what I mean?) but we didn’t get that for Hannah.

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We didn’t manage to enter Art Playscape as Elijah was getting cranky and hungry.  But we managed to snap some photos of its fancy backdrop and layout.

What was Hannah’s highlight of the day?

It must definitely be Who’s in the Woods.  An interactive platform that features day-to-night scape of a forest.  Children get to choose and design their animals, and watch them come alive on screen. (See first image of Hannah’s tiger.)

You also get to receive a printable of your designed animal via email.  Then piece your animal and play them at home. How cool is that?

As I was saying, Elijah was getting hungry. There are several F&B outlets in the museum.  But being the frugal mom, we ended up eating sushi at City Link Mall. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food joints around the area.  You won’t go hungry. 🙂

For families thinking of visiting the National Gallery Singapore, check out these upcoming programmes.

 

 

 

Picture This: Community in Bloom (Queenstown Library)

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Maintaining a garden seemed almost impossible.  Like more than 80% of Singapore residents, we live in an HDB flat. That means limited space. It doesn’t help that our apartment receives little sunlight too. (Does it sound like I’m living in a cave?  LOL!)

When I discovered Queenstown Library’s Community in Bloom project, I quickly signed ourselves up!

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We attended a session run by a fellow homeschooling mom.  It was nice spending the morning, tending the community garden with other homeschooling families.

The session began with a short storytelling.  Then the kids went on to dig into the earth and pluck weeds.

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It was conducted in a casual manner with minimal supervision.  So if you’re a beginner gardener, this might be for you. 🙂

Useful things to bring:

1. Hat and Sunscreen: The children will be out in the sun all the time. It happened to be cloudy when these photos were taken.

2. Mosquito patch: I’m a mosquito magnet so this was my must-have.

3. Extra clothing: Children will feel more comfortable after a change especially when the dirt gets on them everywhere.

4. Watering can/trowel: Bring a watering can or trowel, if possible. There weren’t enough watering cans to go around that day.

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Join the Community in Bloom project:

Day: Alternate Saturdays, from 2 Jan 2016
Time: 11.30am to 12.30pm
Venue: Activity zone at Queenstown Library, 
              53 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149297

 

Pebble and Stone Painting

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The haze is back… 😦  As we stay home, we’ve found an enjoyable activity to occupy our afternoon.

Our recent read, “Love You When…” by Linda Kranz has inspired us to start pebble painting! Every page we flipped, we admired the beautifully painted rocks and its heartwarming message.

It’s hardly possible to collect pebbles in urban Singapore (those at hotel/mall fountains aren’t for picking!) so I’ve decided to buy a pack of pebbles from Far East Flora Garden Centre.

Then, Hannah painted the stones with Crayola Washable Kid’s Paint. Since it washes out easily, I can safely let her paint while doing housework.  If you want a glossy finish for your pebbles, try acrylic paint.

Pebble Stone Painting

Looking for more inspiration? Try browsing these pages:

Martha Stewart: Rock Crafts

Hodge Podge: 20 Reasons to Paint Rocks

British Museum: Painted Pebbles

HubPages: Painting on Stones is a Craft that Rocks!

Teachers’ Day 2015: “Tea-riffic Teacher” Tea Lights

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: "Tea-rriffic teacher" tea lights

Happy Teachers’ Day!

We celebrate Teachers’ Day in Singapore today.  These gifts were made for Hannah’s Sunday School teachers.

I was inspired (with the help of Pinterest of course!) to DIY tea lights with washi tape.

Not only do they look adorable, they are absolutely easy to make! Hannah was able to make these on her own.

To make washi tape tea lights, you’ll only need tea lights and colourful washi tapes!

My tea lights were GLIMMA unscented tea lights from Ikea, and the washi tapes from Daiso.

Wrap the washi tape around the tea lights and you’re done!

Teachers Day Gift: Washi Tape Tea Lights

To complete the packaging, I printed the cute gift tags from Rowdy in Room 300.  Then twirled two coloured strings together to make somewhat like a baker’s twine.  The strings could be purchased from Daiso.

I enjoyed making these washi tea lights with Hannah.  We chatted while crafting, and I got to understand my girl a little better through observing the way she gingerly wrap the tea lights, how she insists which pattern should pair up, and who should get which set of tea lights.

And to all homeschool parents in Singapore, give yourself a pat on the back! Happy Teacher’s Day!

Celebrate SG50: Museum Hopping in Singapore

Did you manage to enjoy the free admission to some attractions over the Jubilee weekend?

I know thousands waited hours for the free cable-car rides, admissions to the Singapore ArtScience Museum and the Science Centre.  As for us, we spent our Jubilee Weekend at home with a sick child. Yea, tell me about it… :/

Good thing is, we can still enjoy free attractions even after the Golden Jubilee – MUSEUM HOPPING!Visit to the Singapore Philatelic Museum

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Get to know Singapore’s history through stamps!  Check out the first stamp issue when Singapore became an independent nation.

Discover the early trades in Singapore: We got to see how life were back in the early 19th century, try on red wooden clogs (a common footwear then), and smell the spices (Singapore was a prime redistribution centre for the spice trade).

Before we left, Hannah designed a postcard and mailed it to ourselves from the museum. She was excited to receive it the next day!

That evening after our trip to the Singapore Philatelic Museum, we made a cardboard mailbox.  I’m rather proud to say that it does somewhat resemble our local mailbox. 🙂

Singapore Philatelic Museum

National Museum of Singapore

We visited the National Museum of Singapore early August during Children’s Season (end May to mid August). Like our past visit to the “Masak Masak” exhibition, Hannah enjoyed herself thoroughly.  Read about our first visit here.

Singapore National Museum

Army Museum of Singapore

Besides visiting the gallery to learn about the Singapore Army, we got to see the “big boys” (tanks and trucks) up close.

We also tried our hands at the mini Standard Obstacle Course – one of the challenges a recruit will face in army.

That was really the highlight!

Army Museum of Singapore

Singapore Discovery Centre

While you’re at the Army Museum of Singapore, swing by to the Singapore Discovery Centre for more fun.

Visit the “#My Singapore – Ours to Create” exhibition to discover what makes us uniquely Singapore. Exhibition is from 27 Jun 2015 to 3 Jan 2016.

Singapore Discovery Centre

All visits to the museums are easily accessible via public transport.  They are within walking distance from the MRT stations.

Moms with strollers, fear not! 🙂

Enjoy learning Singapore’s past, present and future!

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P/s: Hannah wanted to take a photo with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew…and so we did!