Icky Gooey Bubbly FUN!

When David told me some months ago that he wanted a science-themed party for his seventh birthday, I think my first thought was “Oh no.” Not because I didn’t like the idea – I’m thrilled the boy is curious about a million and one things – but because I had NO CLUE how to plan a science program! I did google for some experiments that we could do, but just couldn’t envision how that would work out with a group of at least 10 kids. Crowd control is my weakest link.

Then I discovered Mad Science, the team which makes science come alive in fun and engaging ways for children with their collection of interesting gear and interactive programs. David and I watched some of their experiments online, and he was hooked! When the Mad Science Singapore team offered to sponsor us with a Mad Science program for his birthday party, he was over the moon – and so was I 🙂

Read more

West Side Story: A tale of forbidden love

It’s the age-old story of boy meets girl – only this is no happily-ever-after fairytale but an intense love affair that ends in tragedy.

WEST SIDE STORY tells the tale of a love between two young people ,whose happiness is destroyed by the hate of two enemy camps in New York City’s urban jungle. It is summer time in New York, and the boys from the Upper West Side neighbourhood are on the prowl, raring for action. They belong to two enemy street gangs ruling the immigrant quarter – the Jets and the Sharks – and a clash is imminent. The Jets, sons of previous immigrants to America, are fighting the new arrivals from Puerto Rico, the Sharks, for domination of the streets in the area. Among them, Tony, a Jet, and Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks, fall instantly, desperately, in love…

Read more

A visit to Ergoworks!

David has been so excited about getting his new workspace from Ergoworks, ever since I posted this some weeks back. And during the September holidays, we finally managed to make the trip down as a family to check out their extensive range of ergonomic products! Of course, somebody had to bring along his current Geronimo Stilton book to test out his new table 😉

Read more

Keep your cool with Ambi Climate

Ever had those days where you spend all day sweating under the hot sun, and come home to an equally hot and humid home, and immediately head to the toilet for a cold shower? Uh huh, I know I have. Or do your kids regularly wake up in the middle of the night, run over to daddy and mummy’s room, and jump into bed with you, leaving their own bedroom door ajar and wasting hours of precious AC (aircon) and electricity? Yep, that would be us too.

When we first heard about Ambi Climate, a device that allows you to personalise your AC system to fit your family’s unique usage patterns and needs, we were intrigued. Say hello to a smarter AC with Ambi Climate, which harnesses the technology of artificial intelligence, promising to deliver maximum comfort with minimum energy wastage. Created by Hong Kong-based IoT startup Ambi Labs, it successfully concluded its Kickstarter campaign in June this year, exceeding its initial funding goal by a whopping 310%!

We’ve tested it out for ourselves, these past two months, so here’s sharing our honest review with you…

Read more

Three things you need to know when shopping for an ergonomic workspace

The word “ergonomic” has become part of our regular vocabulary today. We see it sprinkled generously in newspaper ads and furniture showrooms, promoting bags and shoes, desks and chairs, computer keyboards and even pillows! The problem is that, while many brands and manufacturers may claim to be ergonomic, their prices can vary quite a lot. How’s a parent to make a discerning choice when it comes to picking out the best option?

Thanks to the world wide web, the answer is not so hard to find, if we would be willing to take the time to look. 🙂 My motivation? I wanted to find a workspace solution that works for my older boy, who spends a significant amount of time at his table these days – be it on school work, Berries homework or his own art. Due to his small size, he has this (bad) habit of kneeling on his chair in order to get a good view of his work. Or sometimes he slouches on the table and writes with his head leaning on the table, because he is tired of kneeling. We know that such a posture is bad for his still-developing body and certainly poses a strain on his eyes, and we want to stave off the possibility of wearing spectacles for as long as possible.

Of course we’re tried nagging at him to “sit properly”, but it hasn’t worked very well thus far. We’d also been feeling that maybe a better chair with a back rest might be more comfortable for him than his previous and current backless stools.

So I decided to read up on some possible workspace solutions for his posture, and along the way discovered some misconceptions that many (including us) may have about how ergonomic products work. Here are three things you should know:

Read more

Storynation: Where the story comes alive!

Everyone has a tale to tell – this is the heart behind Storynation, and a personal conviction of mine as well. From my boys’ fantastical tale of imaginary dino-friends and superheroes, to a lifetime of experiences shared with me by my grandmother. Stories are truly an integral part of all our lives, and yet too often, we don’t take the time to listen, to tell, and to discover.

I believe that story-telling doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone though. For me, I must say that I do enjoy story-telling – whether it be listening to others or sharing my own experiences, but I also recognise that it can be a struggle for many fellow parents who are not sure how to engage their children, especially restless, active ones like my Daryl, with a book. If that’s you, you’re certainly not alone.

From babyhood, my older boy, David, has loved reading books the way I do, i.e. sitting on the bed or sprawled on the sofa with a book on his lap, and being read to (then) or reading to himself (now). However, from babyhood, Daryl has pretty much been the polar opposite in this respect.

When he was younger, it frustrated me a lot. I couldn’t help comparing at times, and worrying that he would have a hard time learning anything at all, if he couldn’t even sit still to listen to one short book. But over the years, I’ve come to realise that this little boy simply has his own learning styles and preferences.

He can sit still with a book at home – for a long time, at that – but only when left on his own to flip the pages and look at the pictures and words. Once someone (me or the hubs) reads to him, it’s like he’s got ants in his pants – he can barely stay in his seat for more than a minute! And yet. Somehow when he’s in school, the teachers tell me he is one of the best listeners during story-time. Hmmm…

And yet, even when my Daryl is not sitting still, I’ve discovered that he is actually listening very intently to a story or song. Lesson learnt: my expectations of what a child engaged in a story looks like is not necessarily the only way children show they are interested.

Someone like Daryl, and many other young children I know, loves hearing and creating stories, but not sitting down with a book. Perhaps it’s the sitting still that takes the joy away from the story-telling experience sometimes. I was reminded of this at the Storynation x Kaboodle session we attended during the holidays. Seeing my boy completely enjoying the world of stories and make-believe while NOT sitting still sure made my day.

If you’re wondering, Storynation is the brainchild of three dads who want to foster a love for stories and story-telling in the next generation. It is primarily a community platform for parents to learn the art of storytelling, be part of a co-creation environment, and to practice their craft in a professionally facilitated environment. You decide the pace and level engagement that fits your schedule and needs. Storynation‘s goal is to help you connect with the most important audience of all – your children. 

During the session, I learnt a lot from watching how master storyteller Roger Jenkins related the story to the children. For his first story, he used a felt board and felt characters to tell his tale of the naughty monkeys who stole a shopkeeper’s caps. He didn’t just tell the story as is, but injected it with all sorts of gestures for the children to do, and asked them questions along the way. For example:

“Look at all the different colours of caps the man is selling! Now I wonder, what’s your favourite colour? Who likes the red caps?” he asked the children.

Or “Every time the monkeys saw the man do something, they would copy him. Like if the man did this [he clapped his hands], then the monkeys would do…?” And the children would become the monkeys, copying his actions.

Now I typically try to be extra expressive when I read to the boys. But from Roger Jenkins’ example, I saw that there are other ways be a lot more interactive with Daryl, and think of ways to make the story more “physically” alive for him.

Roger’s second story involved a pop-up book, and again, with the use of a variety of questions and actions, all the children were drawn to its tale. Daryl was beginning to get restless, I could see, but something was helping him stay in his place and listen, instead of running around. What was it?

It turns out that the fun people at Kaboodle have this fantastic range of Bobles furniture, and Daryl loved his donut “chair” so much that he was gently bopping up and down the whole time he was listening.

After the storytelling time, it was time for Part 2 of their session. Rogers brought the kids over to the huge main play area, filled with all manner of shapes of these blue foam blocks! Daryl vaguely remembered them from his first time at Kaboodle two years back, and was thrilled!

First, Rogers coached the kids into how to build some basic structures – for example, a cake. With a combination of thoughtful questions and suggestions, he got the children to create structures of their own. Then, by asking questions again, he helped them to craft a story about their structure. Eg “What is that you’re building?” or “What is this part for?”

Through this activity, the children were given the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, and guided to think about why they were building what they were building in that particular way. I thought that was a fantastic learning experience -for them and us parents too.

All in all, the little boy had a wonderful time at the Storynation x Kaboodle Holiday Programme, and I gained a lot from our time there too. Check out more fun videos on the Storynation FaceBook page, and see if you can spot Daryl there!

Stories and big blue blocks are quite the perfect match, I must say. 😉

If you’re interested to find out more about Storynation and their upcoming programs, do check out their Facebook page and website.

*

We attended the Storynation Program at a slightly discounted rate. No monetary compensation was received, and all photos used and opinions expressed are ours.

Taipei Travels: Our adventures in the land of street markets and night lanterns

Unlike our Tokyo vacation of 2016, our itinerary for our Taiwan trip was rather vague and open-to-change. We figured that, since the boys were not coming along, we had more freedom to flex and make up plans along the way. I had gotten some recommendations from friends on places to visit, since it was my first time to Taiwan, and hubby had only ever been there on business trips before. Thanks to their suggestions, and the invaluable GoogleMaps, we managed to navigate ourselves around the city pretty smoothly for first-timers. 😉

Read more

Flower magic with Bloomen

I’ve been wanting to learn the art (and science) of floral arrangement for a while now. Ever since I started making my paper blooms for Dottieshop, I found myself struggling with how to position blooms together, whether in a small bunch or a bigger bouquet. Thanks to a friend, I discovered Daryl and Hema, the amazing couple-team behind home-based florist Bloomen!

Read more