The Power of Play in Early Childhood Development –
An Age-by-Stage Guide
Most young parents these days are aware that play is essential for healthy development in our children. But what is play and how does it actually relate to learning and development? National Public Radio Education (nprEd) reports that play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of the brain, and those changes help wire up the brain’s executive control centre in childhood. This has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems, preparing children for life, love and yes, even schoolwork.
"In fact," says Dr Yang Linqi, Paediatrician & Paediatric Cardiologist at Thomson Paediatric Centre, “studies have consistently proved that interaction and engagement of a child is extremely important in brain growth and development. MRI scan images of a neglected child’s brain compared with that of a child brought up in a nurturing environment is jarringly different. Input of sounds, feels and smells are often abundant in play, and these are crucial experiences that a child should have.
Still, parents aren’t sure how to draw the line between productive play and just ‘having fun’ – is there even such a thing? Let’s take a closer look at how the power of play can benefit children at each stage of their development. We also offer some ideas on how you can practise play-based learning at home to bring out your child’s best in the early years.
Precious Poppets (0-12 months)
Babies are amazing little things who are born ready to learn! They do so through experiencing and observing, honing their five senses as they explore their new world. It’s useful to create an environment that’s rich in colour and texture, movement and sounds. As they build sensory systems and cognitive abilities, babies are also developing awareness, coordination and balance. That’s why it’s a great idea to spend time at their level – join them as they lay, roll, clamber and crawl around on the floor!
Dr Yang agrees. “Six to 12 months is a good time to help develop core executive function and self-regulation skills. Supportive and responsive interaction with adults via games such as peekaboo, hide and seek and mimicking actions, or holding conversations and naming things are good activities to do.”
Play-based learning with babies is all about finding what amuses and challenges them at the same time:
- You probably already do this. Hold their favourite toy above them, singing and gently ‘bopping’ them with it. It actually engages hand-eye coordination! You can also try moving the toy across their torso, encouraging them to roll onto their sides and tummy, building strength and muscles.
- Here’s a good one for bath time. Freeze different coloured ice cubes (you can use food colouring or juices) that they can play with in a tub of warm water. Let them try to grip the ice as it slips through and melts away! This teaches them about colours and temperature while training motor skills.
- Time to start weaning? For breakfast, put them in a highchair with a palette of yoghurt, using different fruits for colour. Let them swirl it around, eat and basically make a mess. Yoghurt painting not only provides visual stimulation and colour blending effects but is also yummy and nutritious!
Trailblazing Toddlers (12-36 months)
Curiosity rules in the toddler years as they begin to experiment in earnest. Jumping off the sofa, knocking cups off the table and kicking over a stack of blocks? Why, they’re learning about gravity, creating different sounds when things fall and discovering principles of demolition. Oh, and learning that they’ll get a reaction out of you too, of course. But these apparent acts of mischief are really how they learn! Instead of getting frustrated, why not capitalise on this stage by using play-based learning?
Dr Yang further suggests that toddlers can begin to play games where language plays a stronger role. “This is where they can be taught to identify, hold and explain their thoughts. Bilingualism is associated with better executive function skills and should be encouraged too. You can do this via storytelling, matching and sorting games, imaginary play, for example.”
“They can also be taught to follow complex rules and learn to modify their behaviour accordingly,” she adds. “Games involving motor skills such as playground time, catching, musical chairs and action songs are also great for this age.”
Helping to foster useful foundational skills, play-based learning with toddlers is only limited by your own imagination:
- Don’t get fancy. Nothing beats ‘raw materials’ such as stones, string and cardboard boxes. Such items push toddlers to use their imagination and get creative. While most commercial toys are task-specific, a cardboard box has limitless potential – a mailbox today, a train tomorrow!
- Don't stop at Twinkle Twinkle. Let them go to town – or the kitchen – with pots, pans and baking trays. Rubber bands stretched over an empty tissue box create unique sounds and vibrations. Sounds and rhythms encourage toddlers to tap their feet and sway in a multi-sensory experience.
- On a hot day, make fruit pops! Slice up fruit like strawberries, kiwi and mango. After your toddler mashes them up separately in a big bowl, spoon into popsicle moulds. Freeze, and voila! Now proudly enjoying the treat they made, they unknowingly developed some fine motor skills too.
Purposeful Preschoolers (3-5 years)
Preschoolers are naturals when it comes to learning through play. It’s how they express their curiosity and make sense of the world around them. As their physical milestones begin to get farther apart, their social and emotional growth expands by leaps and bounds. Through more complex play and active exploration, their growing brains are shaped, preparing them with critical skills needed for school and even adult life.
Dr Yang has this advice: “Games for preschoolers can be more individualised and adapted to the child’s skills. Imaginary play, storytelling, ballet, gym, sports, and puzzles are some useful activities.”
The best thing parents can do when it comes to play-based learning for preschoolers? Support – not judge – even their silliest play ideas:
- Bring Hollywood home! Create a box of dress-up materials, from old clothes and shoes to face paint and wigs. Let your preschooler be playwright, director and actor. Besides language and communication skills, dramatic play hones empathy as they play roles from multiple perspectives.
- Build sandcastles at the beach, playground or in the garden. All children need are buckets (or pots), spades (or spoons) and some water. It’s a great exercise in problem-solving – the sandcastle won’t stay up because it’s too dry? They may get frustrated, but that’s emotional regulation at work!
- Planting rice is never fun, or so the song goes. But planting an onion or a potato can be lots of fun! A simple planting project not only teaches them about the science of life cycles and the concept of time and patience, but also responsibility – remember to water the plant!
Let Them Take the Lead
In his book Building Resilience in Children and Teens, paediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg says that free, unstructured playtime allows kids to discover their interests and tap into their creativity. This is a crucial element for building resilience, an attribute needed to become happy, productive adults. Through free play, children also learn how to work in groups, negotiate, share, self-advocate and make decisions.
So, Mums and Dads, instead of saying “Stop playing!”, start saying “Let’s play!” – and build happy, well-rounded and more resilient superkids!
What’s more, as you learn how to “Make Playtime Count” with OCBC Mighty Savers®, you and your child stand to win exciting prizes in our monthly giveaway! These include a Cartoon Network Wave Cruise Experience, GV Gold Class® Movie Package, Giant Toy Hamper and the grand prize of a $10,000 Education Endowment Fund. Click here for more details.
The Great Screen Time Debate
It seems that everywhere you look these days, you’ll find children barely old enough to feed themselves tapping away expertly on a mobile device. This, while their parents catch up on their own social media feeds – pun unintended – on their smartphones. In fact, in a 2014 study done by a team of NUS medical undergraduates, it was found that almost half of Singaporean children under two years of age are exposed to screen devices. Of these, 33 per cent had more than two hours of screen time daily.
Still, many parents would argue that they aren’t just letting their little ones play and watch mindlessly, but rather, using educational apps that teach languages, maths and science. Surely that’s okay, right? To figure this out, let’s look at the pros and cons of using such devices to entertain and educate young children.
Firstly, isn’t it a good thing for children to pick up tech-literacy earlier rather than later? After all, while some parents are surely guilty of using screens to occupy their kids so that they can enjoy a meal in peace or get chores done more efficiently, it’s undeniable that society’s reliance on technology continues to grow.
According to a statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society, interactive ‘learn-to-read’ apps and e-books can build early literacy by providing practice with letters, phonics and word recognition. It further suggests that quality programming also fosters aspects of cognitive development, including positive racial attitudes and imaginative play.
Children demonstrate a clear readiness to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning early in life, says research from the Joan Ganz Clooney Center. And, just as with language and literacy, STEM education should start early in order to maximise its benefits and effectiveness.
Many parents are hesitant to send their littlest ones to enrichment classes earlier than necessary. Yet not every parent has the time or expertise to provide their children with the head start that they deserve. Quality screen time and interactive educational apps could help fill in the gap. Besides cognitive and motor skills, kids could potentially pick up social skills that will come in handy in preschool and beyond.
A child’s brain triples in size from birth to two years, and by three years, produces 700 new synapses every second. Synapses allow information to be passed from one part of the brain to another. Child development expert Dr Gail Gross explains that if children focus too much on one thing, they will lose the unused synapses. This ‘synaptic pruning’ occurs mostly during early childhood, before a child turns four, and cannot be undone.
Another worrying effect of over-reliance on tech devices is children turning into digital addicts. Senior consultant Dr Jennifer Kiing from NUH’s Child Development Unit, who works with children on various developmental issues, mentions preschoolers who suffer withdrawal symptoms when they go cold turkey on their digital devices.
Did you know that Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs were both reported to limit their children’s use of mobile devices? This speaks volumes on the negative effects of too much screen time, as does the fact that some Silicon Valley schools are intentionally – and ironically – low-tech, using chalkboards and pencils while teaching soft skills rather than coding.
In summary, Dr Serena Tung, consultant paediatrician at NUH’s Child Development Unit, lists the following effects of excessive screen time on children:
- Language delays
- Disruption of sleep patterns
- Behavioural and attention problems
- Low self-esteem and anxiety
- Impaired academic performance
Finding the middle ground
Research coordinator Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, from the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, suggests that moderate use of digital technology tends to be beneficial for children’s mental well-being, while no use or too much use can have a negative impact. The experts generally agree that the key to the use of screen time is to control and filter.
To help you along, here are guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Children younger than 18 months should not be exposed to screen media, except for video-chatting with family and relatives.
- If parents of toddlers 18 to 24 months wish to introduce digital media, it’s important to only use high quality apps together with them, because this is how toddlers learn best.
- In children two to five years, limit screen time to no more than one hour of well-designed apps daily, with as much parental involvement as possible.
- Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent-child playtimes screen-free. This should apply to everyone in the family. Yes, parents, setting the right example is your job!
- Avoid using tech devices as the only way to keep your child calm and ‘behaving’.
- While it may be useful on occasion (on flights, for example), constantly using media in this way could lead to problems with setting limits or the inability of children to develop their own emotion regulation.
The AAP also points out that children younger than two years need hands-on exploration and social interaction with trusted caregivers to develop their cognitive, language, motor and social-emotional skills. Children two to five years also develop higher-order thinking skills and executive functions essential for school success best through unstructured and social play, as well as responsive parent-child interactions.
“Play is the Work of Children…”
…as early childhood education pioneer Maria Montessori famously said. Indeed, play and work are not opposites, and this is true especially when it comes to children. They actually learn and develop best through productive play. For instance, free play with building blocks helps develop everything from fine motor skills and colour recognition to problem-solving abilities and scientific concepts!
With this in mind, OCBC Mighty Savers® has recently launched the Make Playtime Count campaign to remind parents that play is beneficial to children across all ages and to provide inspiration on how we can meaningfully engage our children during playtime.
So remember, to aid your child’s growth and development, keep screen time to a minimum and spend more time playing with them. For more insight and ideas on how to make the most of your children’s playtime, check out OCBC Mighty Savers®’ Make Playtime Count campaign.
Tackling the Stress Bug in the Household
Just last year, it was reported that 86% of Singapore students are worried about poor grades at school, compared to 55% average from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) study. Study-related stress is not a new topic in Singapore but it’s definitely one that’s been around for a long time. The funny thing about stress is that it’s a two-way street. Parents are equally as stressed about their children’s education. Sometimes, this ends up creating a tense atmosphere in the household which ends up causing adverse effects on familial relations. That’s why this article is here to help identify if your kid is stressed and share some suggestions on how you can possibly battle the stress bug with your kid.
1) How to identify if you kid is stressed
The symptoms of stress and anxiety in adults and kids are quite similar. Think of how you feel or react when you’re stressed and you can get an idea of what are the things to look out for. Here are some common indicators:
- Loss of appetite
- Behaviour changes such as losing temper easily and crying more often
- Physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches
Besides identifying if your kid is stressed, you also need to check yourself and see if you’re feeling this way when it comes to kid’s studies.
2) Acknowledge that you and your kid are stressed
Children may not understand that the feelings they have or the way they react is due to stress. This might be new to them and they would most likely not know how to deal with these feelings. The first step to deal with an issue is to acknowledge that it exists. Open communication is the solution to everything – sit your child down and have a conversation with him/her. You can even do it over ice cream or McDonald’s, if that’s more likely to help your child open up and get comfortable.
More importantly, you have to help your child understand what stress is, give examples and explain what the causes are. With this information, they can then be more aware of how they feel and identify these feelings in future as signs of stress and get help early.
Both of you will have to discuss about what’s causing or contributing to the stress at home. For example, it could be about the expectations of grades. The next step is to agree that this is not a conducive way to achieve these goals and to put out a plan of action to prevent this from happening again.
3) Embrace broader definitions of success
Together, discuss the aspects of success which your family values – once you start this conversation, it becomes clear that grades are not the be all end all. Success is measured across the span of a lifetime and not by end of year examination results.
There are also other ways you can encourage your child to study hard – act as a cheerleader and supporter. Show an interest in the content your child is learning, recognize that different people learn in different ways and have different styles of retaining information. Observe your child and talk to him/her to find out the most optimal way of studying.
4) Develop a schedule for work and play
As the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, do up a schedule that ensures that your child has enough time for rest, homework, play and family time. It doesn’t have to be a hard schedule with specific timings. This is just meant as a way for you to track that your child isn’t spending too much time on homework without getting adequate rest. In fact, playing can also be part of learning! It just depends on the kind of play your child is involved in. This can be a good alternative to staring at books all the time as experts have mentioned that productive play teaches children how to solve problems, encourages creativity and strengthens fine motor skills. You can start by checking out programmes or classes that encourage children to learn through playing games.
Combating the stress bug is a commitment that both you and child must be involved in. In order to help your child, you also have to help yourself and ensure that you get enough rest and stay healthy. Always remember the priorities which you’ve set as a family and know that results are never a defining factor in one’s life.
How To Get Your Kid Away From The Screen
This March Holidays
It’s the time of the month again – March holidays are nearing. If you’re worried about keeping your kids occupied or don’t have any plans, then you’re in luck! We’ve got a plan and the plan is to get our kids away from the screen this holiday. Let’s face it, our kids do spend a disproportionate amount of time on their phones, iPads and computers. Anything that has a screen, you name it, they’re definitely on it. In fact, experts have explained that more screen time could lead to lower IQ. That’s why we’ve put together four activities for your kids to keep them occupied productively and minimise screen time!
1) Enrol in holiday programmes
No time to take your kids out? Simple, enrol them in an enrichment programme where they can learn through playing! The sound of an enrichment programme can be quite daunting for your kids who are looking to enjoy their holiday so best to remind them that they’re not going to study - they’re going to make new friends and have fun instead. This time round, we’ve partnered with Today Got Class, an online platform that allows parents to discover and book the best child enrichment classes.
a) Rice Up To The Occasion by PlayFACTO School (For children aged 7 – 12 years old)
What better way to learn than to experience hands-on activities and nurture awareness of food demand and supply, shortage and life skills at 'Rice' Up To The Occasion! The 'Rice' Up curriculum centres around key topics around rice, merging a multi-disciplinary enrichment involving the use of both languages, math, science and games to spur your child's innate love to discover the world.
Dates: 12 - 16 March
Time: 7am - 7pm (Parents can drop off their children anytime from 7am to 10am)
Venue: Serangoon North | West Coast | Tampines
Cost: $280 / child
OCBC CDA and Mighty Savers® customers enjoy 10% off booking fees for classes with the promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE. Terms and conditions apply.
b) Amazing Science by Kids DiscoveryWorks (for children aged 5 to 9 years old)
Introduce your child to the wonderful and amazing world of science! In this programme, Scientists and Explorers will engage in fun, hands-on learning activities and experiments that are sure to bring smiles to their faces.
Date: 15-16 March 2018
Venue: 209A Upper Thomson Road Singapore 574347
Cost: $304 / child
OCBC CDA and Mighty Savers® customers enjoy 10% off booking fees for classes with the promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE. Terms and conditions apply.
2) Take your kids out on a nature friendly hike
For parents who have more time to spare, why not go outdoors for a change? There are loads of things your kids can learn about regarding the fauna and flora of Singapore.
Being Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park, this place is a must-go and is home to many wildlife. Throughout the year you can see everything from water snakes to bird and monitor lizards at the Tidal Ponds. This month is extra special because many migratory birds such as the Great Egret, Marsh Sandpiper and Himalayan Swiftlet fly into the wetlands.
You can start with the visitor centre to educate your kids about the types of animals they can see. There are also signboards along the trails with Q&As about the migratory birds.
Home to the former Gammon granite factory, today the granite cliff looms above a beautiful serene pond. You can start by taking a scenic walk through Bukit Batok Nature Park and then end right at ‘Xiao Guilin’. Don’t forget to look out for signboards at the pond to learn more about the wildlife that’s home to that area. The site also has a World War II significance and memorial plaque.
This list is not exhaustive. You can even get your kids enrolled in baking classes or take up swimming lessons – the whole point is: ditch the screen and play more to learn more!
5 Ways To Use 'Ang Baos' To Teach Your Kids About Money
Chinese New Year means ‘ang bao’ collection time! Instead of just simply collecting red packets, you can use them to teach your kids the value of money - literally. Our 2018 Mighty Savers® red packets come with tips to help your kids learn to set goals for their finances. This is when you can teach them the importance of saving, how to spend their money wisely, grow their money and give back to the less fortunate.
Here are some useful tips:
1) Split the dollars
First thing your kids need to know about money is: there is more to it than just spending. Set goals with your kids using our red packets to get them started. Following these goals, you can then split all the dollar notes from red packets into the following jars: 'Save', 'Spend', 'Grow' and 'Give'.
Next step is deciding the breakdown of the money. There’s no specific breakdown, just think of how you usually manage your finances and you can give your kids some tips from there. It’s good to discuss this with your kids so that they can take ownership of their money. Generally, the bulk of the money should go into 'Save', 'Grow', followed by 'Spend' and then 'Give'.
2) Work towards a goal
Instead of just getting your kids to save passively i.e. filling up the 'Save' jar with 'ang bao' money every year, get them to work towards a goal and commit to it by writing down the amount somewhere. Both of you should discuss how much this amount should be and why this amount works.
3) Spend wisely
With the money set aside in the 'Spend' jar, you can then ask your kids what they want to buy. When they’ve decided on something, first establish with them if it’s something they need or want and explain to them the difference between the two terms. Understanding of these two terms are extremely important because they form the basis of making wise spending decisions. Of course, it’s fine if your kid wants to buy a candy or toy once in a while because we all like an occasional treat.
The second part about teaching kids how to spend wisely is to compare prices of the same item they’re looking to buy. Depending on what the item is, you can visit 2-3 stores with your kid to help them in the decision making process. This inculcates the habit of considering other factors before buying something.
4) Help others
It is also important to teach children to appreciate what they have by giving back to the needy. Start by explaining to your children that there are others who are less fortunate, you can bring up different kinds of charities and even go for visits together as a weekend family activity. This gives you the opportunity to talk about various social issues in Singapore and how different organisations are addressing them. Conversations like these help to broaden the minds of your kids to be civic-minded individuals. After finding a cause which your child is passionate in, you both know what to do with the money in the 'Give' jar.
5) Visit the bank
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Teach your kids how they can make their money really grow by explaining to them the concept of bank interest. They’ll be happy to know that they get rewarded by getting extra money when they put money in a bank account.
For this Chinese New Year, we’re looking to give your child more rewards. Sign up for a Monthly Savings Account with your child under the OCBC Mighty Savers® Programme and deposit at least S$300 to receive a Mighty Savers® Limited Edition Hardtop Pencil Case.
It’s never too early to start learning about the value of money and how to handle it properly. The conversation about how to handle one’s money shouldn’t only start or end during Chinese New Year. That’s why the money jars are a great way to continue to teach your kids how to handle their finances daily. You’re welcome!
In the meantime, we hope everyone is enjoying the Chinese New Year festivities. May you and your loved ones have good fortune all year round. Happy Chinese New year to you and your family from the OCBC team.
Start the Year Right for Your Kids with these 4 Habits
There’s no better way to start the New Year than to teach your kids good habits so that they can practice it all year round. No idea where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered.
With Chinese New Year just a month away, you can turn the preparation and celebration into a learning ground to pick up some habits. The habits are tailored so that your kids can help take a load off your shoulders and also impress the relatives during visiting – you’re welcome.
1) Involve your kids in Spring Cleaning
We know that preparation for Chinese New Year can be hectic, which is why you’ll need all the help you can get! For starters, you can teach your kids the following:
- Make their beds
- Wash their dishes
- Pack their toys
The trick is to make it look simple and fun. To make it look simple, always break down your instructions into no more than 4 steps so it’s easy to remember. There are no fixed steps, just think of how you learned to do the above and come up with some guidelines. Always demonstrate once and then repeat all the steps while guiding your kid through them.
To make it fun, you can turn cleaning up into a ‘Who does it better and faster’ competition. Winner gets an extra pineapple tart!
After getting your kids started on this, what’s more important is to explain to them their personal responsibility in cleaning up. Start by establishing the expectations of cleaning up and possible consequences of not doing so.
2) Lesser screen time more play time
If you’ve been trying to get your kid off the TV or iPad, there’s no better time to do so than during Chinese New Year visiting. Here’s how you can encourage your kid to play with others:
- Keep the iPad away or don’t bring it out.
- At gatherings, make it comfortable for your kid to play with others. Introduce your kid to other children and get them started playing by suggesting a game. Play with them until they warm up so that reduces some of the shyness.
- If you’re hosting people at your home, set up a ‘play area’ because toys help kids to warm up to each other and soon they won’t even remember you exist.
- When the visit is over, always ask your child to tell you about the other kids they met and played with. Then explain why it’s important to make friends instead of always staring at the blue screen.
3) Eat more greens
Now, this is possibly the toughest habit to teach of all but it has to be done. Here are some ways you can take advantage of Chinese New Year to get your kid to eat more veggies:
- Children like colour on their plate. Reunion lunch and dinners are occasions where there’ll be a myriad of dishes on the table. You can expose your kid to more colour by adding vegetables to their plate.
- Children are more invested in a meal if they had a hand in preparing it. Bring your kids grocery shopping, get their opinion on what food to prepare and get them to help with simple tasks such as washing the vegetables or setting the table. This makes them more enthusiastic and cooperative.
- Reward them. For every piece of vegetable they eat, they get to eat one more piece of their favourite Chinese New Year goodie.
4) Grow a coin bank
Before the collection of red packets begins, it’s good to have a conversation with your kids on what to do with them. This sets the tone for the importance of saving post collection of red packets. Naturally, children understand that ‘the more money I have, the better’, building on that, you can then explain why saving helps to grow money.
To start your kids on this journey, you can get your kids a coin bank and remind them to feed their coin bank everyday so that it can grow fatter and heavier. To further show your kid that saving can be rewarding, sign up for the Mighty Savers® programme with your child and deposit S$300 to receive a Mighty Savers® Limited Edition Hardtop Pencil Case. More info here.
The trick to making these habits stick is getting your kids to understand the rationale behind their actions. So, always take time to explain because once they get it, they’re more likely to continue practising it. Good luck!
Last but not least, we’ll like to wish you and your family good health and fortune this year. Happy Chinese New Year from the OCBC team.
5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Differently with Your Kids
I had a conversation with my husband a few days ago about which toys to get our children this Christmas.
Yes, you read that correctly. It was not “What to get” but rather “What toys to get?”
We realised this when the bulk of our discussion was spent trying to anticipate the toys our extended family would be getting our kids so that we don’t buy duplicate gifts.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with toys. They can be wonderful and fun, especially those that encourage activity and imagination. The issue, however, is that our kids have become overwhelmed by the volume of toys they receive these days which leads to a lot of wastage.
After thinking about this for some time, we made a bold decision to spend Christmas differently from this year on by focusing on new experiences that have educational or imaginative values instead. This is what our unconventional Christmas looks like:
1) Create a family portrait
Kids love to paint and draw, both which are good for a child’s development. This Christmas break, our kids, my husband and I are going to going to paint portraits of each other. We’ll draw lots to randomly decide who we’ll be painting before the final outcome is wrapped up and presented to each other during our annual gift exchange.
To show our kids how proud of them we are, we’ll put all the finished paintings up in the living room as a family portrait.
2) Set up Christmas decorations
Every year our Christmas decorations are put up in a hurry and at the last moment. We tend to put everything in the same place year after year. This holiday our kids will be in charge of deciding where and how the Christmas decorations should be, especially the Christmas tree.
We’ll also give them a budget to buy new Christmas decorations or accessories with as they see fit, teaching them how to spend wisely and be creative at the same time!
3) Build a snowman
Where in the world are we going to find snow in Singapore? That’s the point! This will stretch our kids’ imagination to get creative and find substitute materials to build a snowman with. They may build it using paper cups, stuffed plastic bags, or more likely something so creative that only a kid could come up with.
Challenge them to make the snowman at least 1 metre in height and watch them go into overdrive in their creative modes.
4) Cook together
I always cook some of the family favourites during Christmas season. This year my kids will help me with preparing the dishes, from chopping ingredients to putting sauces on dishes to stirring with the ladle. This gives them ownership of a task. If your kids are younger, they can be in charge of timing and reporting when it’s time to take a dish out of the oven.
Be sure to watch them swell with pride when they tell their friends and family about their accomplishments.
5) Write and act out a Christmas play
Get your kids to enact a story of Santa Claus coming to give presents to the children in Singapore. Let them take turns impersonating Santa and showcasing the values of a good child through the play. Be open to having them give you roles in the play as well.
Then enjoy as they perform their skit in front of the entire family to wild applause on Christmas day!
Christmas is special and we want to keep it that way, building great memories and experiences for our kids over time. We hope you will join us this year in celebrating Christmas differently!
Merry Christmas from the team at OCBC Bank.
5 Ways to Keep Your Child Entertained This School Holiday
2017 has been an action packed year. Your children have no doubt achieved a lot during this year, whether in sports, academics, CCAs or personal growth. The school holidays are nearly here and your kids are probably looking forward to relaxing, playing and having a blast! But kids being kids, that will only last a few days before they’ll be looking for new ways to keep themselves entertained.
Given that it’s a long holiday (nearly one and a half months), it’s an opportunity to kick-start some longer-term projects that are more fulfilling for your children, keeping them busy without having to spend a bomb.
Here are 5 ideas you can explore during the school holidays:
1) Re-decorate their room
The last time you’ve decorated your children’s room was probably a few years ago and they may have grown out of it by now. Give them a clean slate to decorate with and set up their room however they’d like, from colour themes, the furniture placement to buying new items.
Your child will have to come up with the theme, decide what goes where and be heavily involved in the execution. This includes buying art and craft materials or learning how to paint furniture and walls. Sit back and watch them unleash their creativity.
To make it more fun, give them a small budget to buy items to teach them financial management principles along the way!
2) Unearth your family tree
Let your child play detective by putting together your family tree. He or she will have to interview and meet with various family members throughout the exercise, unearthing wonderful stories of your family’s history in the process. Encourage them to create a two or three paragraph profile of each member, highlighting something distinctive about them.
In most cases, your child will uncover stories of sacrifice, love, the World War and other momentous occasions that have shaped the world as we know it. These will teach them key values such as love, friendship, resilience, care and respect.
And most importantly, your kid will learn and understand where you and your family came from.
3) Document your entire holiday
For those of you going overseas on holiday, let me share one idea that I’ll forever cherish. My family went on a long holiday when I was younger and my father appointed me the official ‘Historian’ of the trip. That put me in charge of detailing what happened and what we saw and felt during the holiday. I made it my responsibility to take wonderful pictures and wrote a handwritten journal (we didn’t have universal computers back then) detailing our adventures.
Over time, we forgot some of the finer moments of our holiday. But with the stories I had captured, we’d often re-read and re-lived the escapades with a ton of laughter during family gatherings, reminiscing the fun we had.
4) Make a difference to society
Teach your children good values by challenging them to give back to society. Let your children decide what and how they want to do it, and support them throughout their endeavours.
Ideally, start with something that they would be most comfortable with (such as donating old clothes or toys) before moving on to other ways that can have a meaningful impact on others.
5) Get outdoors!
After being stuck with their books throughout the exam period, it’s time to explore all the outdoor hotspots in Singapore! Explore the MacRitchie Reservoir TreeTop Walk, go cycling along East Coast or climb the giant spider web at West Coast Park.
Whether outdoors, indoors or overseas, there are many ways for your children to spend their time. It’s a long break so let them enjoy themselves, but do also try to make it entertainingly productive. Whatever you plan, we hope you and your family enjoy the school holidays!
Top Picks for Holiday Programmes by Today Got Class
It’s that time of the year again, the long-awaited year-end holidays! While it’s time to unwind and recharge, you might want to make this holiday an enriching one for your little learners with our holiday programmes!
The Little Executive (TLE) is a learning centre ahead of the game. TLE’s exciting thematic camps develop important 21st century skills and are jam packed with fun activities for kids from 3 to 8 years old.
The Little Executive Holiday Camps include:
- Little Chefs Camp
- Dino Discovery Camp
- Astronaut Training Camp
- P1, Here I Come! Camp
- Secret Agent Camp
Exclusive Deal from Today Got Class:
Save 10% on holiday camps when you book through Today Got Class.
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Enjoy a free 90-minute trial class worth $60 for every holiday camp booking made. Simply flash this page at The Little Executive to redeem your free trial voucher.
Kids DiscoveryWorks' unique and innovative curriculum brings Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) to preschool and primary school children. Through fun and engaging hands-on experiments and learning activities, kids investigate and better understand the science of the world around them. Suitable for kids age 4 to 11 years old!
Kids DiscoveryWorks Holiday Camps include:
- SuperHero Science
- Masters of Invention
- Secrets of the Lost Tomb
- Once Upon a Time
- Dino Discovery
- Junior C.S.I.
- Giants of Science
- Space Camp
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE to enjoy 10% off holiday camp bookings (worth up to $46) on todaygotclass.com.
Achievers Arts offers creative developmental programmes which teach children to stride through their learning journey in creative ways.
Engage your child in some creative fun through canvas painting and/or a series of lessons during the upcoming year-end holiday Art Camp! Suitable for kids age 4 to 12 years old.
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE to enjoy 15% off holiday workshop bookings on todaygotclass.com.
Children's Worklab’s technology workshops and camps offer creative thinking for inspired learners and a fun holiday adventure. Suitable for kids age 5 to 12 years old!
Children’s Worklab Camps include:
- RoboCamp Apprentice
- RoboCamp Robotics & Engineering
- MyCamp Animation & Lego Engineering
- Minecraft Adventure Camp
Exclusive Deal from Today Got Class:
Save $99 on selected holiday camps (UP $499)
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Get additional $12 off holiday camps when you use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE on todaygotclass.com.
Master Chinese with HUA Language Centre. Teachers at HUA Language Centre are encouraged to inject their unique styles and creativity into their classes to make learning fun and lively. Going beyond purely scholastic achievements, students are taught to enjoy using Chinese in their everyday lives. Suitable for kids age 4 to 12 years old.
Exclusive Deal from Today Got Class:
Save 10% on Hua holiday camps
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Get additional $12 off holiday camps when you use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE on todaygotclass.com.
Two by Two is a preschool cum enrichment centre with an innovative and dynamic curriculum.
This year-end holidays, Two By Two brings you 3 holiday camps suitable for kids age 3 to 6 years old:
- I Am A Star (with celebrity Dennis Chew)
- Mythical Magic
- Sports Holiday Camp
Exclusive Deal from Today Got Class:
Save 20% off Two By Two holiday camps
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Get additional $12 off holiday camps when you use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE on todaygotclass.com.
Krystal Charm Etiquette Academy is one of the only locally established training provider which specializes on etiquette training, character education and personal development suitable for children and youths age 5 years to 18 years old.
Krystal Charm Etiquette Academy’s camps include:
- Elegant Etiquette Workshop
- Cool Character Workshop
- Charactiquette Boot Camp
- Appetizing Etiquette Workshop
- Bon Appetit Workshop
- Ace Your Interview Workshop
For OCBC Child Development Account holders or OCBC Mighty Savers® customers only:
Use promo code OCBCEXCLUSIVE to enjoy 10% off holiday workshop bookings for single enrolment on todaygotclass.com.
Offers end 30 November 2017. Only applicable to bookings made via todaygotclass.com.
3 Ideas For An Unforgettable Children's Day
Growing up, Children’s Day was one of the biggest days to look forward to. In the days leading up to the big day, we would receive goodie bags in school, our teachers would organise fun activities, and there was less homework! This was followed by a school holiday on the day itself.
At home too, there was always something special planned by my parents, whether it was creating an art piece or going to the zoo. No matter what, Children’s Day was always a memorable experience for me.
As a parent, my children look forward to Children’s Day with the same anticipation and energy that I did. I want them to know that no matter what, they will always be special to me. As such, instead of getting them a new toy, I’ve made it a point to give them a new experience each year. Something that is fun, but also informative and exciting.
Here are 3 ideas that will give your child an unforgettable Children’s Day:
1) Do something you haven't done before
Singapore is full of little treasures waiting to be discovered. While most families have gone to the Singapore Zoo or Gardens by the Bay, there are plenty of other exciting activities you can explore. Here are some of our selected activities that my children have enjoyed in the past:
- Teach your child how to fly a kite at Marina Barrage (it is now one of our children’s favourite activities).
- Take your child out for a game of bowling (most bowling alleys have lanes for children where they can put the side bumpers up so that the balls don’t go into the gutter).
- Explore the stars at the Singapore Science Centre Observatory for free any Friday from 7:50 pm to 10 pm (the awesome views are captivating and made a lasting impression on my children).
- Learn how to ride a bike at East Coast Park (be sure to get your child a bike with learning wheels on the side to get used to the sensation of riding a bicycle).
- Visit a SCDF Fire Station (any except Jurong Island Fire Station) on Saturday for their Open House between 9:00 am to 11:00 am (your child will actually learn how to extinguish a real fire!).
- Try your hand at some of the activities your child loves to do with his other friends (I once had my children teach me how to play video games and they enjoyed my failed attempts at it).
2) Re-create your child’s life story so far
In today’s digital age, most pictures are viewed once and then forgotten. Nothing beats a physical photo, something tangible that you can hold and put up around your house. This Children’s Day, why not spend time with your child going through all your digital photos, selecting your favourites, and then re-creating his or her story in the form of a scrapbook?
Your kid will get a kick out of it, especially with selecting a name for the scrapbook and the pictures that go inside. Make sure you update it at least once a year – to look back and enjoy the memories together with your child.
If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can create a “Wall Story” and give your child ownership of what pictures go up on the wall!
3) Do something meaningful for the community
Volunteering is not the first thing you would think of doing on Children’s Day, but arguably, it is the most meaningful and impactful for your child. A few hours of your time can have a big influence on someone else and your child will also learn important values and principles.
In Singapore, there are many options when it comes to volunteering. You can visit an orphanage, where your little one can befriend another child and build long-lasting relationships. Or you can join a green volunteers’ network and join the community in recycling and clean-up activities. As a follow-up, your child can be in charge of recycling at home. Last but not least, you can volunteer at an animal shelter where your child can learn about fostering kindness for animals.
Have a great Children’s Day!
Whatever you plan for this Children’s Day, make your child feel special. Shower them with hugs, kisses, surprises and activities that delight and educate. Most importantly, remind them that you are proud of who they are and will always love them.
Thank You for Celebrating Children’s Day With OCBC!
Thank you for spending your Children’s Day weekend with us! We hope your family had a great time at the event. While our celebrations have ended, continue to enjoy rewards when you sign up for a selected plan at any OCBC branch.
For the OCBC Mighty Savers® ® family
All Mighty parents enjoy an additional cash gift of S$200 when you sign up for a selected plan at any branch.
20 Activities to Jazz Up Your September School Holidays 2017
The third term of the school year is coming to an end. It’s time to start making plans for the upcoming September school holiday week
School is officially out from 2 to 10 September, but the fun begins one day early, thanks to the Hari Raya Haji public holiday falling on Friday, 1 September. If you already have a getaway planned, happy holidays! If not, don’t fret. There’s lots going on right here in Singapore! For starters, how about keeping the kids occupied with activities that are fun and different? One or two of these could be just the thing.
1) Fun with Food
Bond over baking a checkerboard cake at a parent-child baking class with The Little Things on Hari Raya Haji, or send in your independent chef to create works of art in the kitchen! Kids as young as four years old can whip up items such as shibuya toast, oreo mini cake, turtle bread, eggs benedict or queen of hearts cake. Or what about chee cheong fun and crispy beancurd skin? Package prices apply with a minimum of three 90-minute classes.
When: 1 & 5-7 September, various timings
Where: 244N Upper Thomson Road (above The Prata House)
Cost: $65 per parent-child pair; $48 per child for independent classes
2) Family Weekends at National Gallery Singapore
Enjoy a weekend of fun-filled parent-child programmes at the Keppel Centre for Art Education. Pick up an activity trail and discover how people travelled in the past. Then join an artist-led family art workshop involving broccoli, cabbage and goldfish, designed for kids seven years and above with one or both parents. Afterwards, listen to some magical fishy tales with master storyteller Kamini Ramachandran.
When: 1-2, 9-10 September, 10am to 6pm
Where: Level 1 City Hall Wing, National Gallery Singapore, 1 Saint Andrew’s Road
Cost: $20 per parent-child pair; $30 per parent-child trio
3) Ballet Under the Stars
Have a picnic with the family as Singapore Dance Theatre presents this year’s celebrated outdoor dance event. The first weekend features contemporary pieces such as Sticks and Stones that’s about customs and traditions. The second weekend will focus on classical works kids may be familiar with, as three iconic weddings – Coppélia Act III, Aurora’s Wedding from Sleeping Beauty (above), and Kitri’s Wedding from Don Quixote.
When: 1-3 & 8-10 September, 7.30pm
Where: Fort Canning Green
Cost: $28 per child; $35 per adult (Sistic fees apply)
4) Experience the Force
Star Wars fans, rejoice! Now you can interact with BB-8 in a virtual reality experience and get up close with giant replicas of the Millennium Falcon, AT-ST Walker and AT-ACT Walker. Young Padawans aged four to 12 years can also discover their inner Jedi at Southeast Asia’s first Padawan Training sessions! Diehard fans can queue for toys, collectibles and apparel from the night before as Star Wars: The Last Jedi merchandise go on sale at 12.01am on September 1. For more of the Force, head to the Singapore Toy, Game, & Comic Convention (STGCC) on 9-10 September.
When: 1-10 September
Where: ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn
5) Chalk & Win
Let your kids discover chalk as a way to create art. Parkland Green is providing free chalk and space on any corridor pavements to be the platform for your and your child’s creativity. So head to East Coast Park and prepare to create some revolutionary street art! Share a photo of the art piece on Facebook or Instagram and stand to win a Hvper Sport Scooter worth $229 and a $50 Tag Team voucher.
When: 2 September, 8am to 8pm
Where: Parkland Green, 920 East Coast Parkway
6) Fun with Birds
Everyone knows that Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is where you go for a spot of bird-watching. Artist Ms. Joyotee Ray Chaudhury is inviting kids aged five to 12 years to join her there, where they will learn to create bird-inspired art pieces. One adult can accompany each child at this two-hour-long workshop where lots of feathery fun is to be expected. Just meet up at the Visitor Centre’s information counter.
When: 2 September, 9.30am to 11.30am
Where: Visitor Centre, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 60 Kranji Way
7) Waders Watch Workshop
If you love spotting migratory birds but art isn’t quite your thing, sign up for the Waders Watch workshop instead. A popular signature event that only happens annually during the migratory season, it takes place at the same time as the art workshop. Families with kids aged five years and above can learn about identification and habits of our feathered guests. Sign up soon as there are limited spaces.
When: 2 September, 9.30am to 12.30pm
Where: Wetland Centre Theatrette, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 301 Neo Tiew Crescent
8) Footwork for Twinkle Toes
The annual da:ns festival offers dance workshops by professional instructors, including special hour-long bonding sessions for parents and kids aged three to six or seven to 10 years. Together with daddies and mummies, the little ones can discover the joy of movement via ballet or tap dance, while the older kids can fall in love with the exciting Broadway jazz or exotic Bhangra!
When: 2-3 September, various timings
Where: Esplanade Rehearsal Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive
Cost: $24 per adult-child pair, $36 per adult-child trio
9) PAddles on WaVe
Try a beach sport or six…for just $5! Experience stand-up paddling, windsurfing, kayaking and water soccer at this carnival of water and beach lifestyle sports. The inflatable obstacle course will surely be a blast, and there will also be an arts booth for kids. While most of the sports are suitable for adults and kids from 10 years old, younger kids from six years old may sign up for land activity tryouts. Limited slots are available – register online for the 8am-1pm and 1pm-6pm sessions.
When: 3 September, 8am to 6pm
Where: Water-Venture East Coast, 1390 East Coast Parkway
Cost: $5 for up to 6 sports per person
10) STEM with Disney Cars
Take your child’s interest in Disney Cars characters such as Lightning McQueen to a new level. Thinker Tinkers introduces a five-day hands-on and minds-on STEM workshop where five to seven-year-olds can learn all about speed and friction, while making balloon-powered and matchbox cars.
When: 4-8 September, 9am to 12 noon
Where: #01-03 Eastgate Shopping Centre, 46 East Coast Road
Cost: $320 per parent-child pair
11) Kidz Amaze Discovery Camps
Help your child find their calling in a three-day Talent Discovery camp, in which kids aged five to 11 years learn contemporary music, hip hop dance, creative art and robotic science. Or join the Eat, Play, Love camp where they’ll discover international history and culture of food. If you prefer a one-day camp instead, let the kids discover their inner strength conquering crashing waves and soaring through the sky at Sentosa.
When: 4-8 September, various dates & timings
Where: Various venues
Cost: From $220 per child for Kidz Amaze or SAFRA members; $250 for guests (including free play at the indoor playground before or after the programme)
12) Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship
Aspiring lion dancers won’t wanna miss this! The annual Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship will bring you a whole week of excitement over acrobatic stunts and drum beats. Both freestyle and traditional moves will enthrall both the young and the young-at-heart. It all begins with a rousing opening ceremony on 4 September and builds to a heart-pounding and climactic final.
When: 4-9 September, 7.30pm
Where: Civic Plaza, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road
13) Holiday Skate Camp for Juniors
Whether they’re total beginners or experienced skaters, kids aged five to 13 years can sign up for one of Skateline’s three-day camps. Professional instructors will teach essential skills like balance, standing up and most importantly, how to skate and stop safely and avoid falling! They’ll also have lots of fun playing games on skates. All gear will be provided, and course fees include goodie bags with snacks and a drink too.
When: 5-7 or 6-8 September, various timings
Where: Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, West Coast Park or Choa Chu Kang Park
Cost: $90 per child
14) Ukulele Experiential Workshop
Join experienced and fun-loving teacher Gary as he shows adults and kids aged eight years and up how to play the ukulele. No music background is required to learn some simple, classic songs in this casual diner in a park setting. Ukuleles will be provided, so all you need is to have your fingernails trimmed short. Oh, and the workshop fee even includes your choice of burger and fries!
When: 6 September, various timings
Where: GRUB, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, 510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1
Cost: $35 per person
15) Nature Keeper Camp
Young nature lovers aged seven to 11 years old will embark on nature walks, play nature-themed games and participate in hands-on learning activities indoors. Designed to increase kids’s appreciation for nature and nurture young minds in conserving our natural heritage, this camp will see our kids exploring Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Halal lunch and tea will be provided.
When: 7 September, 9am to 5pm
Where: Seminar Room, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Cost: $25 per child
16) Warriors’ Holiday Day Camp
Amidst the farmland, Bollywood Veggies is hosting a day camp for seven- to 12-year-olds. Young ‘warriors’ can try their hands at outdoor cooking, paddy planting and getting crafty with plants. Unplug, explore, and develop confidence, independence and teamwork at the same time. Lunch and tea will be provided and parents can choose to hang out at Poison Ivy Bistro if you wish.
When: 8 September, 9am to 5pm
Where: 100 Neo Tiew Road
Cost: $95 per child
17) Community Chest Heartstrings Walk
There will be a vertical marathon, a family carnival, and a fun walk on the morning of 9 September – register for your goodie bag, while stocks last. All funds raised go towards Community Chest. Suitable for the whole family, the 4km fun walk will take you around picturesque Marina Bay with the beneficiaries! More carnival fun happens throughout the weekend with loads of fun activities, live music and a sundown picnic hosted by Marina Bay Sands.
When: 9 September, 8.15am to 11am
Where: Level 1 Event Plaza, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
Cost: $10 per person
18) Let’s Make a Terrarium
Choose whether you prefer to design an closed or open terrarium at this two-hour Make Your Own workshop, where you’ll also learn how to care for your mini garden. If you choose to upgrade to a bigger terrarium, you can select the container, plants and decorative items that take your fancy from their wide range of materials. While it’s suited to kids at least 12 years old, younger participants can be accompanied by an adult.
When: 9 September, 3.30pm to 5.30pm
Where: #01-06, 4 Upper Aljunied Lane
Cost: $30 per person; $50 per parent-child pair
19) Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention
If you or your kids are into comics, manga, anime, cosplay, toys and games – and which kid isn’t! – make a beeline for the 10th edition of STGCC. On top of the Star Wars Experience and a star-studded line-up of personalities, expect a plethora of kid-friendly activities, attractive giveaways and family-bonding fun. Five- to 12-year-olds can even dress up as their favourite princess, superhero or villain and join in the Kids’ Cosplay Parade on Kids’ Day (10 September) – register here for free.
When: 9-10 September, 10am to 8pm
Where: Halls D, E & F, Level B2, Sands Expo & Convention Centre, 1 Bayfront Avenue
Cost: From $19 per person for an all-access 1-day pass (kids 12 years and below enter free on Kids’ Day)
20) Sandsational Fun at Sentosa
Head down to Siloso Beach at Sentosa to discover more than 30 intricately carved sand sculptures, the tallest of which is 4.9m tall! Spread over 2,400sqm, walk through three zones showcasing different experiences from day to night. To get there, hop on a Segway miniPro at 50 per cent off, then flash your Sandsational Fun Ride tickets at the event’s food kiosk, Wavehouse Sentosa and Good Old Days for a 10 per cent discount. Complete your evenings on 2, 3, 16 and 17 September with beach-themed family-fun movies under the night sky on Palawan Green.
When: 1-17 September, 10am to 9pm
Where: Siloso Beach, Sentosa Island
This article was originally written by Christy Muliana and published on www.singaporemotherhood.com on 23 August 2017 at 20 Activities to Jazz up Your September School Holidays 2017
7 Things Different About National Day Parade 2017
National Day Parade 2017 - #OneNationTogether
We've all gleefully plastered 'I Love Singapore' tattoos on our faces at least once in our lives, and for some, the exhilaration of watching the nation unite in song and dance, and the fireworks glamorously close the parade, are what keeps them coming back for more.
But whether you're a religious parade attendee or just someone looking to enjoy this year's festivities, here's a sneak peek of what to expect from never before seen segments to the comeback of our favourite Red Lions at this year's NDP 2017:
1) Special tribute to 50 years of National Service
Our national servicemen spend almost a good 2 years of their lives low-key protecting our nation, and it's about time we show our appreciation for their efforts. This NDP, join the spectators in a unified salute to thank all our NSmen, their families, and employers for their dedication to our nation for the past 50 years.
2) Be wowed by the latest military vehicles and witness a live reenactment of a terrorist attack
Ever ready to defend our country in the event of danger, the SAF brings back its Dynamic Defence Display (D3) after a two-year hiatus to show Singaporeans just what they've been busy working on. The highly anticipated segment is made up of 2 parts - a showcase of Singapore's land and sea military capabilities, and a realistic simulation of a counter-terrorism.
While getting embroiled in a terror attack is a reality most of us wish to never experience in our lifetimes, the Special Operations Task Force's intense counter-terrorism demonstration will have you squirming in your seat. Brace yourself for realistic gun shots, a blanket of smoke in the air and the flying of sparks!
3) Watch a comeback parachuting performance by the Red Lions
If there’s one thing that most of our Primary 5 selves vividly remember at our first-ever National Day Parade, it’s the slick yet graceful landing of our parachuters in the Parade square as though straight of out a Mission Impossible movie.
Sorely missed at the 2015/2016 parade, our soaring Red Lions will finally be back to tantalise the crowd with an impressive air display - so ready your lungs to cheer them on!
4) One of the MCs is not like the rest
One of them is not like the rest. Taking the stands besides familiar faces and voices of our hosts Joakim Gomez, Julie Tan, Subramaniam Narainda and Nurul Aini this year, is a unique individual - Edgar-2, a robot who is the brainchild of a group of researchers over at NTU. Built with quite a personality and a river of wit, it’s hard to tell what he’ll get up to at this year’s parade.
5) Watch the show via a 360-degree video streaming and participate in real time
And even if you're stuck in boarding school, university, or a job stint abroad and not physically present to the witness this year’s celebration, you'll still be able to join in on the parade's magic through a 360-degree live video stream on Youtube and be a part of the conversation on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the hashtag #OneNationTogether, #NDP2017, #NDP17, and #SG52.
6) New & improved vibrant show segments
The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Aerial Salute
If fighter jets and Apache helicopters ring your bell, look out for the RSAF's Aerial Salute to the Nation, with 5 F-15SG fighter air crafts taking to the skies to perform a bomb burst manoeuvre for the first time ever.
This year’s military tattoo segment will be the largest one yet, with a strength of 170 performers making up a combined band, silent precision drill squad, and bagpipers from the Singapore Police Force and performing some of our favourite NDP hits!
7) The surprise of their newest fun pack
I think we can all come to a general consensus that the NDP fun pack is a cause for excitement for all attendees. It’s akin to Dora the Explorer’s magical backpack, just sans the English and Spanish speaking capabilities.
Expect to find everything you'll need from an innovative multi-purpose clap banner to the fun pack staple tattoos we know and love to get in on all the action and festivities.
Celebrating Singapore’s 52nd birthday at NDP 2017
More than just a show of arms, it’s interesting to note that every single parade is modelled to represent the authenticity and genuine nature of an actual birthday party - just on a much larger scale. And that's not all - from an inaugural unmanned aerial drone performance to a showcase of talents of all ages, you're in for a real treat at this year's NDP 2017.
This article was originally published on thesmartlocal.com, at 7 Things Different about NDP 2017 - Including Giveaway Of 3 Pairs Of Preview Tickets
Sentosa Goes ‘So Singapore’ to Celebrate National Day 2017
Celebrate National Day 2017 at Sentosa with a So Singapore experience in the months of July and August. The range of free programmes include a Heritage Carnival, a special edition light show and entertaining performances around the island.
Sentosa's Heritage Carnival 2017 - So Singapore
From 4 to 13 August, visit Sentosa’s Palawan Green for the Heritage Carnival 2017 – So Singapore.
Roving characters, dressed in costumes from Singapore’s early days, will be mingling with the crowds. Sample food from Singapore’s past with more than 20 stalls offering local dishes such as Peranakan Kueh, Burger Bombs and Chendol.
There will also be movie screenings from 7 to 13 August, retro food photo props and an outdoor obstacle course for children.
On 9 August, Singapore’s National Day, visitors to Sentosa can watch a live screening of the National Day Parade 2017 on the big screen on the façade of iFly Singapore.
Sentosa's Heritage Carnival 2017 - So Singapore
The Merlion at Merlion Plaza will be dressed up in lights for National Day 2017. A special Merlion Magic Lights! – So Singapore edition will take place from 14 July to 27 August.
Merlion Magic Lights! – So Singapore edition will take place at half-an-hour intervals between 7.45 pm and 9.15 pm. There will be an additional show at 9.45 pm on weekends.
Visitors can also download a free AR application, marq+, to view the sound-and-light show with additional augmented reality effects.
The same AR app can be used by visitors to learn about Sentosa through augmented reality at five photo points found at Merlion Plaza, Beach Plaza and Beach Station.
Sounds of the Lion City Performances
Every Saturday between 15 July to 26 August, music and artistic performances based on Singapore’s four ethnic groups will be held in the Sounds of the Lion City show. These include traditional face-changing, Wushu, Peranakan folk songs, classic Indian songs and East-meets-West fusion music and take place from 5.30 pm onwards at the Merlion Plaza.
Discounts Around Sentosa for National Day 2017
Singapore residents, including Singapore citizens, permanent residents and employment pass holders can look forward to deal and discounts around Sentosa’s attractions including Trick Eye Museum Singapore, Singapore Cable Car and the Sentosa Merlion.
This article was originally published on Little Day Out (www.littledayout.com), at Sentosa Goes ‘So Singapore’ to Celebrate National Day 2017.
Dressing Up in Ethnic Colours for School
Whether you’re looking for traditional clothes or something unique for a special occasion, our Indian fashion mama lets you know where you can deck your kiddos out in style
With a background in fashion blogging in her native India, Puneet recently moved to Singapore and initially had a tough time finding cute kids’ clothes to match the selection back home. After some serious scouting, she has put together her top picks for Indian fashion for kids so you can bypass overpriced tourist traps and find the highest quality threads for your little ones, whether you’re after comfy cotton kurtas, embroidered silks for special occasions, or anything in between. Check out our gallery for her fave shopping spots!
Fabindia has loads of alluring colors in the kids range. Kurta set, lehenga set, churidhar, jackets, and more are all available here. The best part is the clothes are mostly in cotton fabric, which is suitable for a child’s sensitive skin. So whether you are searching Indian clothes for a baby or a teenager, Fabindia has plenty to offer. Prices start from $30.
Fabindia Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, #04-04/05 Paragon, Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore 238859
Tel: (+65) 6733 4741
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm, open all days
Fabindia Vivocity, #01-141 VivoCity, Singapore 098585
Tel: (+65) 6376 9355
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm, open all days
Looking out for party wear for your kids? Mustafa has a huge collection of clothes. One can find clothes for a baby up through a teenager in wide variety of styles, from simple outfits to heavily embellished ones in infinite array of colors. Available for boys and girls at Level 3 near women’s clothing and kids toys section. Prices start from as low as $5.
Mustafa Centre, 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Tel: (+65) 6295 5855
Open 24 hours
3) Fashion Palace
Tucked along colorful Buffalo Road in Little India, Fashion Palace has an entire floor for kids’ clothing (on the second level). You’ll find beautiful prints in cotton, brocade and silk in the form of jackets, kurta, dresses and suits. Whether it is for an Indian wedding or a small celebration, Fashion Palace offers plenty of choices for the little ones. Prices start from $15.
Fashion Palace, 8 Buffalo Rd, Singapore 219783
Tel: (+65) 6295 1175
Opening hours: 10am – 9pm
4) Lotus Mantra
Little India Arcade is always full of tourists day and night, but a shop like Lotus Mantra is hard to miss. The hand-embroidered collection of clothes for women, men and children stands out. The range majorly consists of cotton clothes and has all sizes available. So whether you have a baby or a teenager, you can be sure to find amazing options here. Prices begin at $15.
Lotus Mantra, #01- 06/07, Little India Arcade, 48 Serangoon Rd, 217959
Tel: (+65) 6297 5067
Monday – Saturday: 8:45am – 9pm
Sunday: 8:45am – 6pm
5) Minora Centre
Minora Centre located on Serangoon Road caters to clients of all ages. They also have a range of partywear Indian clothes for kids. You’ll find a range of kids’ outfits in various colors and detail-work. Lehenga set, Kurtas, Salwar Kameez and Achkans make up for Minora Centre’s collection. Prices start from $30.
Minora Centre, 202 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218069
Tel: (+65) 6341 7977
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm, open all days
This article was originally published on www.sassymamasg.com, at Top 5 Places to Shop Indian Fashion for Kids in Singapore
Play Traditional Games from Different Ethnicities
Lure the kids away from their gaming consoles and handheld devices by introducing them to these well loved games from your own childhood. We refresh your memory with this list of games that will remind you of those good ol’ kampong days.
Gasing or Top
The gasing or top is a traditional Malay game and the aim is for the top to spin as long as it possibly can. the last top left spinning wins. The game is played with wooden tops and strings and modern adaptations of this top can be seen in the popular Beyblade cartoon and toys.
The name “five stones” originated from the original game being played with five actual stones. They have since progressed to little pyramidal bean bags about the size of a 50 cent coin. These ‘stones’ are tossed in the air in different configurations and caught. Although seemingly simple, the game is great practice for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Check this video out on how to play the game.
This traditional game revolves around a feathered shuttlecock that is bounced around on the heel of your foot. The aim is to keep the chapteh from falling to the ground. This deceptively simple game requires a great amount of concentration and balance as the small area of the heel requires focused movements so that the chapteh does not end up too far for you to catch and end up on the ground.
Marbles or goli
The marbles or goli was a popular kampung game amongst the boys who would challenge each other. The aim of the game is usually to knock your opponents marble out of a circle drawn on the ground. This game required great aim and dexterity and was a stepping stone for adult games such as snooker and pool which uses the same kinds of dynamics.
This game played in a group was a favourite of mine in primary school. The process included making the zero-point ‘rope’ out of rubber bands and then challenging teams to jump across the ‘rope’. The video below shows both how to make the ‘rope’ as well as the mechanics of the game.
Short Island Getaways that Don't Require Flights from Singapore
You’d be shocked to see what’s right on our doorstep, mama! Check out our guide to easy island breaks from Singapore, no flights required!
Family travel is obviously a huge perk of living in Singapore, with the great cities of Australia, Asia, and the Middle East all within a day’s flight away, not to mention world-class island destinations in Thailand, Bali, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. But airfares can add up, particularly when you’ve got a few kids in tow, and every mama knows how stressful air travel can be at the best of times.
Fortunately, we’ve got our fair share of idyllic island breaks within driving and boating distance, too! Did you know, for instance, that nearby Tioman in Malaysia stood in for the paradisal Bali Hai in 1958’s South Pacific? Or that you can catch a glimpse of rare Pangolins on Cempedak in Indonesia?
Check out our guide to easy island breaks so you can start planning your next super-easy escape with the kiddos, mama!
1) Telunas Resorts
Travel time from Singapore: 2.5 hours by boat
Whether you opt for a villa on the luxe Private Island or the budget (and family)-friendly Telunas Beach Resort, you’re in store for absolute tranquility (no Wi-Fi!), picture-perfect beaches, delicious, eco-conscious cuisine and warm, friendly service. Telunas Private Island has just added a new one-of-a-kind spa and kids’ club, and you’ll also find various water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Can’t decide which accommodation is right for you? With a 3-night minimum stay you can try out both!
2) Alang's Rawa
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car and boat
You’ll find turquoise water, palm-fringed white sand beaches, and absolutely legendary seafood at this beach resort near the seaside Malaysian town of Mersing. With simple houses, guest rooms, and charming beachfront chalets, there’s a range of accommodation to suit any family’s needs (no TV or aircon, though). We hear things get particularly lively on weekends with barbecues and table-top dancing!
NB: Children are not allowed on weekends, though from Sunday to Friday kids under 5 stay free!
3) Aseania Beach Resort
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car and boat
Located just off the coast of Mersing, this 3-star resort on Pulau Besar is a fave for snorkelling, jungle trekking, or just kicking back on its beautiful beach. Describing its style as “laid-back Kampung”, rooms are fairly basic but do offer both aircon and satellite TV.
Travel time from Singapore: 45 minutes by boat
This island in Indonesia just might be the closest getaway possible from Singapore. Of course, that means the scenery won’t change that much (you still might see the odd oil tanker off in the distance), but it’s certainly quieter and more peaceful than our Little Red Dot, with some particularly picturesque beaches. Top family resorts include the luxurious Montigo Resort Nongsa and affordable Holiday Inn Batam, which offers up a kids’ club, waterslide, and family-friendly 2-bedroom suites. Mamas and Papas looking to treat themselves should head straight for the spa pampering of Tempat Senang!
5) Batu Batu (Pulau Tengah)
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car + boat
A luxury private island off the coast of Mersing in Malaysia, Batu Batu draws raves from families for its laid-back vibe and plethora of kid-friendly activities (everything from turtle-watching camp to a children’s playhouse, not to mention all their baby supplies so you don’t have to schlep too much gear). We also give big thumbs up to the children’s annexe rooms located in most of the resort’s plush Villa accommodation (Beach Villas are your best bet, mama). Parents will love the on-site spa and PADI dive centre. Food is delicious, but menu options are limited for picky eaters.
Travel time from Singapore: 1 hour by boat
Another easy-peasy trip to make, this Indonesian island feels just far enough away from Singapore to justify the rather high hotel prices you’re apt to pay (considerably more than you’d pay in Thailand or Bali, for instance, despite a lack of much in the way of culture or restaurants). The beach and some excellent golf are major selling points; we also can’t fault the gorgeous spa at the Banyan Tree. Other fam-friendly lodging options include Angsana Bintan, Club Med Bintan and Nirwana Gardens (or you can really splash out at The Sanchaya).
7) Cempedak Private Island
Travel time from Singapore: 2.5 hours by boat(s)
From the team that created luxury family escape Nikoi Island (more on that in a sec, mama!) comes this 17 hectare adults-only private island newly opened off the coast of Bintan. With its own rainforest and a host of fascinating birds and other wildlife (including the endangered pangolin), Cempedak makes the most of its natural surroundings with state-of-the-art villas constructed using bamboo and local grass (each has its own private pool, too!). Villas are either beachfront or have sweeping sea views. You’ll also have tennis, a spa, and plenty of water sports to keep you busy.
8) Nikoi Island
Travel time from Singapore: 2.5 hours by boat(s)
A 30-minute boat ride from Bintan, Nikoi is a private island renowned for its unspoilt coast and pristine conditions. Ringed by white sandy beaches and coral reefs, it’s also home to a rainforest and a diverse population of local birds. All accommodation is in villas handcrafted from driftwood and local grass; a number of the one-bedroom villas even come with bunk beds to accommodate families of four. There’s also a pirate-themed kids’ club, plus plenty of back-to-nature fun like swinging on vines, climbing rocks, and snorkelling. Meanwhile, mamas can head to the plush spa (they actually offer kids’ massages, too!), or get active with rock climbing, mountain biking, or any number of water sports. Book early – Nikoi is known to fill up months in advance.
9) Pulao Joyo
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car and boat
Calling itself “your classic Robinson Crusoe island”, this spot near Bintan in Indonesia is all about barefoot luxury — think white sand beaches, turquoise seas, luxe massage bales and fab food (which is included in your room rate). With just seven “palaces”, mostly constructed out of local driftwood and fronting directly onto the beach, it really can feel like your own private island, particularly if you manage to book in with a group of friends. Our co-founder Hester just visited and raves, “Kids can run wild as they are totally contained on the private island and there‘s an amazing reef for kid-friendly snorkelling. Absolute bliss!”
10) Pulau Pangkil Private Island Resort
Travel time from Singapore: 3 hours by car and boat
The sister resort to Pulau Joyo, Pulau Pangkil is actually a private island that’s intended to be hired out to one group at a time. Rates include just about everything: accommodation, meals (not alcohol, though), transport, and a full slate of activities ranging from sailboats and snorkelling to beach volleyball and evening bonfires. Accommodation is perfect for families: you can squeeze up to six beds into one big room (or go plush with just a single four-poster).
Pulau Pangkil Private Island Resort, Indonesia
11) Rawa Island Resorts
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car and boat
Similar in price to nearby Batu Batu, Rawa has the edge in kid-friendliness thanks to a trampoline and giant waterslide that are always a hit with munchkins. It’s also a bit bigger, with 77 rooms in total (with aircon; Wi-Fi and TV are available in public areas only), and serves up all meals buffet style. Other attractions include snorkelling, diving, and a lovely Thai-style spa.
12) Sea Gypsy Village Resort
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 hours by car and boat
This back-to-nature, jungley option in Malaysia is perfect for a digital detox, with no Wi-Fi, no TVs, and in fact no aircon and no hot water. It’s all about chilling by the golden sand beach, exploring the island’s wildlife, and enjoying the tranquil sea breezes. Along with plenty of supplies for babies, you’ll find lots of great kids facilities (and we hear kiddos are usually quite worn out after days filled with plenty of exploration). Rates are exceedingly reasonable, and include all meals.
13) Tioman Island
Travel time from Singapore: 3.5 - 4.5 hours by car and boat
Another island located off Malaysia’s eastern coast with ferry access from Mersing, Tioman is particularly idyllic (it stood in for Bali Hai in the 1958 movie of South Pacific!), with lush mountains, gorgeous beaches, and world class dive sites. Besides all the obvious water pursuits Tioman also offers jungle trekking, mountain biking, and sea turtle conservation. Here you’ll find everything from backpacker accommodation to high-end resorts like Japamala. Good family-friendly options include Tunamaya Resort and Berjaya Tioman Resort.
This article was originally published on www.sassymamasg.com, at Easy Island Breaks That Don’t Require Flights from Singapore
Places Fathers can Bring the Children to,
while Mothers Take a Break
Mother's Day is coming up, mamas (maybe you've heard?)! We're sure many of you are looking forward to spending the day being looked after by your loving children, but in case a little mama me-time figures into the plans, we wanted to share some of our favourite, Dad-approved/kid-friendly spots around Singapore. We've polled our in-house Sassy Papas to find out where they most love taking the kiddos; from men's rooms with baby changing tables to the best places to watch sports, we've got you (and your partners) covered, mama!
“One spot I regularly take my energetic 2-year-old is Gardens by the Bay East. It's usually empty apart from a few walkers and cyclists so you have the entire place to yourself. Make sure you bring a scooter or a bike for the little ones as there's plenty of ground to cover; especially now that it's connected to the East Coast Park. Go early to beat the heat and bring water and snacks for the kids.”
-Kelvin, husband of Managing Director Emilie
“I like taking my kids to Vivo City, as there's so much to do there. They can ride cars for $5, and there's the Cinema, bloke-friendly shops (Best Denke, Giant etc), great activities and play areas for the little ones, as well as a large array of food options from cafes to good restaurants.”
-Rich (aka “Sassy Dada”), husband of Partnerships Manager Amanda
“A friend invited us to a barbecue at Pasir Ris Park, and I was so impressed with the kids' play area there. We set up at one of the barbecue pits and played cricket and frisbee, and one of the guys brought a blow-up kayak for the kids to paddle off the beach. Beer in hand, it was a really chilled afternoon.”
-Rich, husband of Partnerships Manager Amanda
“If I'm doing a solo morning I have a few things I like to do : we often head to Tiong Bahru Bakery for a croissant and coffee (for me!), then wander around the neighbourhood picking up some fresh flowers to bring home and a run around in Tiong Bahru Adventure Playground.
Or we do breakfast at Common Man then take scooters to the Botanic Gardens where I mostly end up carrying them around while the girls walk or feed the fish there. If I want to do a longer outing we'll hit up River Safari or the Zoo and finish up with lunch at Din Tai Fung or Suju in Mandarin Gallery where the Chawanmushi is always a hit”.
-Chris, husband of Founder and Creative Director Hester
“I like taking our baby and the dog to East Coast Park early on Sunday mornings to let Kate sleep in; it's great with a stroller and they both love watching all the birds. I also like Tanglin Mall because it has (1) tons of kids stores (2) Chili's and (3) baby changing stations in the men's room.”
-Jim, husband of Sassy Mama Editor Kate
“I recommend City Square Mall. There is a playground outside, a Timezone fun centre, a movie theatre, two play places, and plenty of food options. At Timezone there is an art game where kids can draw pictures and print their work. My daughter loves it. On B2 and other floors there are Zoomoov rides where kids can ride motorised stuffed animals. It is connected to the Farrer Park MRT so getting there is easy, especially if you live on the NEL.”
-Chris, husband of Sassy Mama contributor Jennifer
“Boomarang is great for lunch because they put the sport on and the kids can scoot on the path outside.”
-Rich, husband of Partnerships Manager Amanda
“West Coast Park is a great place to take the kids to let off some steam. Bring kites, scooters, a football – there are patches of open grass, a few different play areas that are good for different ages, a zipwire, sandpits and proper swings. Grab a coffee at McD's (no better options unfortunately) or bring your own picnic to make a day of it.”
-David, husband of Sassy Mama contributor Beate
“I like taking my twin boys to NEX, because it has a public library, a great playground, a sports store, Popular (the bookstore) and Smiggle. We usually end up spending half a day there, starting with a junkie treat (Mc'Ds, KFC or Carl's Junior, even Din Tai Fung if the queue isn't ridiculous!). Then we're off to the shops and finally wind down with a sundae from Baskin Robbins.”
-Rohit, husband of Sassy Mama contributor Priyanka
“I find Pasarbella an excellent way to spend an afternoon with my 14-month-old son. It's a great place to find some food for lunch like the jumbo pan of paella and The Great Beer Experiment for Dad. We always stop at Bonheur Patisserie for a macaroon treat. If you are heading there on a Saturday morning The Blue House Infant & Toddler Atelier has a great “Daddy and Me” session for little ones under 3, or if you have the whole carpool in tow Fidgets is a regular for us to run around for an hour or two. Friendly staff, and lots to play with for little and large kiddos alike.
-Jason, husband of Partnerships Director Kristin
This article was originally published on sassymamasg.com, at Top Dad-friendly places to take the kids in Singapore.
A Fun-filled Easter Party
Parties are great fun but it can be so hard to organise one, especially if it involves a big group of kids, right? I totally understand that.
Last month, we went for a Easter party organised by one of Angel’s kindergarten classmate’s mum and it was such an awesome session packed with fun-filled, kid-friendly activities that I thought I would share it with you in this week’s Creativity 521. In other words, yes, I’m taking a break this week from doing any DIY stuff, ok? It’s my birthday week yeah!
I always look on in awe when I see other mums who can bake and craft. For me, I see it as one or the other and given the time and brain juice I have, I can only manage one. Obviously, my passion lies more in crafting with the kids. Anyway, this fellow mummy is a great baker and she always graciously offers to bring along homemade cupcakes when we invite her over for the girls’ birthday parties, how sweet!
Here’s a look at the activities that we did at the Easter party that day.
Favours and goodies
Firstly, we were greeted with sweet treats and party favours displayed neatly on the dining table. The kids could pick out bunny ears, candies, chocolates and each of them could bring home a pretty egg, which reminds me of a matryoshka doll, filled with goodies too.
Besides cupcakes, brownies, sandwiches and even bubur cha-cha, one of the most creative sweet treats that day was this - a pot of 'soil' decorated with cute chocolate eggs and hearts and chicks! Well, the 'soil' was edible and it was made by crushing Oreo biscuits, how creative, right?
The first activities we did was to decorate the cookies! I love that the cookies came in various shapes and the icing in various colours for the kids to choose from!
The egg-shaped biscuits had a layer of base cream on them so it made it easier for the little ones to decorate these by drawing lines, dots, borders or any pattern they liked. Ariel had a little difficulty trying to squeeze out the icing and hold the piping bag at the same time, but after she got the hang of it, she managed to do a couple of biscuits too!
Next, we got our hands sparkly, sticky and colourful by doing egg painting! We were pleasantly surprised by the efforts made to cook these hard boiled eggs and dye them in all these pretty colours!
There was also a range of art supplies for the kids to use - including googly eggs, paint, stickers, markers, coloured pens, ribbons and other decorations.
Isn’t it great that the kids had the chance to use their imagination to beautify their eggs? Angel said she wanted an egg called Snow White and Ariel decided she wanted a Little Mermaid. In fact, each of them did two because they had so much fun with the first one!
Tata! Presenting..... *drum roll* yup, Snow White and Little Mermaid. Well, not too bad, right? The most important thing was they tried their best and I gave them full marks for effort!
Since kids love to go outdoors, our friend also planned an egg hunting game which took place at the playground and she even prepared buckets for the little ones!
The eggs had been hidden all over the playground but let’s just say that the majority of them were in plain sight so they were picked up by the children who reached the playground first.
It didn’t matter to me that my girls picked the least number of eggs, just one each, because I saw how they held hands while walking to the playground and I knew they were looking out for each other. Even though they were a tad disappointed when they held up one egg each while their friend had 13 eggs, it was yet another chance for me to remind them to be contented in life and voila, each egg opened up to three sweets and that was enough to cheer them up!
The finale game we played was Bunny Hop where the kids had to take turns to compete with each other by hopping across the common corridor. To make it more fun, each of them had to hold on to a bucket filled with sweets and they were not supposed to let the sweets fall out. Awww, isn’t it amazing just how much joy a simple game can bring?
We truly enjoyed ourselves that afternoon and were so thankful that we got to be part of this wonderful Easter party. The girls kept talking about the games and everything they did up till this day so it goes to show that they made some lasting memories and had a fabulous time.
Cheers to parties and great friends! We’ll be back with more DIY activities to share soon!
16 Pocket-Friendly Ideas to Have Fun
With Your Kids
You don't need to forgo fun just because you're on a shoestring budget. Here are some pocket-friendly ideas:
1. Plan your family vacations early and book travel packages at the Natas fairs, and if necessary, combine with another family (with a child of about the same age) to go on trips together.
2. Every week, empty out your pockets/purse of loose change and get your little one count it and put it in a jar or their coin bank. You'll be surprised how much you can accumulate after a month. Junior will also learn the value of thrift from a tender age.
3. Alternate weekly trips to the movies and dining out with watching DVDs at home and going on a picnic.
4. Reading provides hours of engaging entertainment. To remind yourself to live within your means, read local lighthearted chick lit, Budget is the New Black, by Claire Betita de Guzman ($16.50 before GST, from major bookstores). Sabbie, a high maintenance PR girl, loses her job and discovers the thrill of thriftstore finds. Sounds familiar? Read on…
5. Instead of meeting your mummy friends at a café, take turns to host gatherings at each other's homes. Your toddlers will learn social skills while you catch up on gossip. Plus you can swap and learn fun recipes to make with your friends. Or tell everyone it's a potluck.
6. De-stress by taking a jog or watching TV, instead of shopping.
7. Spa treats can strain on your resources — so go the DIY route. Watsons' new collection of house-brand toiletries has an extensive range of face, body and hair care products you can avail yourself of at home that won't put a hole in your pocket. Create your own in-home spa with its signature Green Tea facial range, Bird's Nest essence mask or try the popular Beer hair treatment. With prices starting at just $8.95, you can indulge yourself anytime! Plus peewee might enjoy getting messy with mud packs.
8. Children get as much fun at parks and pet shops as they do at the zoo ― and they're free.
9. Instead of costly indoor play centres, check out wonderful outdoor playgrounds like the children's playground at Pasir Ris Park (mini-maze) and West Coast Park's Adventure Play Area, the arrival plaza at Sentosa Cove Village, a tilted-train at Tiong Bahru Park and a three-tier playground at Changi Village with poles to slide down. Your mini-action-terrors will be happily occupied for hours at the many play structures.
10. Keep a lookout for our museums' open-house days, usually on public holidays like National Day, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Chinese New Year. You'll enjoy free entry to the exhibits, where junior can make a beeline for the interactive displays.
11. Get your toddler to make cards and presents for family birthdays. A batch of home-baked biscuits, a hand-decorated plant pot or a framed handprint are cheap but meaningful, personal gifts.
12. Your neighbourhood library offers an abundance of books ― whether your mini-reader digs dinosaurs or loves lions. Junior can also attend free storytelling sessions and affordable holiday activities. Go to golibrary.nlb.gov.sg to check programme schedules.
13. You'll be surprised how much fun your kitchen cupboards contain. Pots, pans, spoons, tins ― you name it, they'll bang it! If you collect bottle caps, they can put them in containers and pour them out, count them and just play with them.
14. Buy some balls. Whether your tot is crawling after it or kicking one about, a ball is a classic toy for kids of all ages that lasts and lasts.
15. When you go out, bring along drinks, snacks and, if appropriate, a picnic ― don't waste money buying refreshments for a day in the park. Look out for picnic-able events like Ballet under the Stars at Fort Canning (reserve Shakespeare in the Park for slightly older kids).
16. The best toys in life are free ― really! Children love to stretch their imagination ― so, turn a box into a bus or boat, or fill an old water-bottle with rice to make musical maracas. And we've yet to meet a tot who doesn't love ripping pages out of magazines.
Learn How to Make Glutinous Rice Balls
for Yuan Xiao
Sweet dumplings, known as Tong Yuen or Tangyuan in Chinese, are glutinous rice balls filled with peanut, sesame or red bean. It is a common tradition among Chinese families to eat Tangyuan during Chinese New Year, as they symbolize reunion and togetherness.
Follow this easy recipe by Little Steps to make peanut butter-filled Tangyuan during this festive season. They are yummy and easy to make, perfect as a Chinese New Year celebration activity with the family!
2 cups glutinous rice flour
1 cup water
1.5 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
Sweet ginger syrup
4 cups water
80 grams sliced ginger
80 grams brown sugar
Filling: Whisk together filling ingredients until even and smooth. Divide into 15 equal portions. Freeze in fridge until needed.
Dough: Put glutinous rice flour in a large bowl and add in vegetable oil. Add in water a little at a time until dough become soft and smooth.If dough is too wet (or dry), add in more flour (or water). Divide the dough into 15 equal portions. Cover with cling wrap to prevent the dough from drying out.
Make your Tangyuan: Flatten a dough piece and place filling in the middle. Fold the edges, roll it and make it as round as possible. Make sure your fillings are completely covered. Dust with extra glutinous flour to prevent it from sticking on the plate. Repeat with the rest.
Cook and Serve: Prepare the sweet ginger syrup by bringing the water, sliced ginger and brown sugar to boil. Gently drop your Tangyuan with a spoon into the syrup. Cook for around 4 mins until they float to the top. Serve immediately when still hot yums!
Tips from Little Steps
* Tangyuan can be big or small, filled or unfilled. If you want to make it easier for your little ones, let them make unfilled ones. Simply roll the dough into small balls.
* These amazing peanut butter goodies can be kept frozen for later!
8 Ways To Bond With Your Kids This Chinese New Year
Your enthusiasm for it, though, might be fading just a bit year after year. You’d rather pack your bags and escape that long weekend. No spring-cleaning, no entertaining, no fussing over reunion dinners.
But remember how you loved Chinese New Year as a child? As a parent, you have to share your heritage with your kids and make the most out of it, no matter the stress that comes with preparing for it.
This Chinese New Year, bring the focus back to spending quality time with your family. Here are 8 ways to bond with your kids during the festive season:
1. Clean with a spin
Who like chores? Nobody. So why not make it a fun activity?
Here are a few suggestions:
Play "Follow the leader"
Organise a cleaning squad and give each member an apron, an old rag, a bottle of cleaning liquid. Assign a leader who will take the cleaning squad dusting, wiping, and scrubbing from room to room. Change the leader after each room.
Let your children keep the trinkets or money that they find abandoned in forgotten corners of the house. Be generous, and hide some goodies and coins and notes before the cleaning.
Jazz it up with music
Move your body, shake you’re hips, and together, sing and dance your way to a tidier house. Forget the tacky Chinese New Year songs, though, and make a song list that will appeal to the young ones.
2. Bake goodies together
Every family seems to have a secret recipe for a Chinese New Year favourite. Be it pineapple tarts, almond cookies, Kueh Bangkit or Kok Chye, why not rope in the grandparents and get them to teach the secret family recipe?
Baking Chinese New Year goodies is a great activity for the whole family. It’s no fun baking alone this season, especially considering how many treats have to be baked. From shopping for ingredients to packing and cleaning up, there is so much for everyone to do.
The best part of it? Sampling the freshly baked goodies. Before they munch their way and finish up all the goodies, your children will probably appreciate the effort behind all the baking and the time spent with you, their cousins, and their grandparents.
3. Go for a homey family reunion
Why flock to popular restaurants for reunion dinners? And forget about splurging on over-the-top reunion dinners in fancy restaurants! As the saying goes, “Families that eat together, stay together”.
Reunion dinners are about the importance of spending family time together and having everyone back home. Make this year’s reunion dinner a meaningful one by getting everyone involved, including the children, in preparing dishes for the family.
Help the tiny chefs in your family by adapting recipes from recipe books or dish out child-friendly recipes that are readily available on the Internet. Help them pick out recipes that they can manage on their own.
Don’t just stop at preparing the dishes. Involve your children in setting up the table. Get them to decorate a centerpiece for the table, using flowers, tangerines, gold coins, and floating red and gold coloured candles.
4. Make special fortune cookies
Your visitors will be charmed by the special fortune they will receive, handwritten by your children. Although not a Chinese New Year tradition, these fortune cookies will soon be staples once they start appearing in your household.
5. Make personalised red packet envelopes
Yes, we get them for free these days, but how special would it be to be giving out red packets with the signature design of the family?
As a family, design a meaningful family emblem that symbolizes your family values. Use gold dust to imprint the family symbol on the red folded envelopes. Your children will have fun telling your visitors about how unique your red packet envelopes are.
6. Learn the art of Chinese paper cutting
Traditionally, Chinese New Year decorations were all handmade. So, instead of buying ready-made decorative items, try the art of paper cutting with your kids. This activity is more suitable for older kids, but with close supervision, you can guide your little ones to work on simpler patterns.
7. Make your own lanterns
A hands-on craft activity that always appeals to children, making Chinese paper lanterns is easy and fun.
First, learn the basics and then put your own creative touch to your finished Chinese lanterns. String them all up to decorate the walkway, or put tea-light candles in them and let them illuminate the balcony.
8. Hire your child as the photographer or videographer
Like the years before, you can expect the Chinese New Year this year to be a bustling family affair. Why not hire your child to be the photographer or videographer this season?
Have her capture all the special family moments and edit them too. Share the video with the entire family on the 15th day of the celebration while eating tang yuan. What a great way to start the Chinese New Year together!
Parents, do you have other ideas on how to bond with your kids this Chinese New Year? Share with us by leaving a comment below.
This article was originally published on theAsianparent.com, at: 8 ways to bond with your kids this Chinese New Year
Cool Christmas Gift Ideas for all Budgets
Christmas is around the corner and if you are panicking because you still haven't bought your Christmas gifts, you can heave a sigh of relief. We have the ultimate Christmas gift guide which will suit every budget from below $50 to $100 and above. Happy shopping!
Christmas — the season of giving and one of the best times of the year to get some great shopping deals!
Whether you are looking for something that is friendly on your wallet, or you have some extra cash set aside for this year’s presents, we have put together a fantastic guide of cool Christmas gift ideas suitable for all budgets.
Prices range from under $50, $50 – $100, and above $100, so there’s something for everyone and you can still get a great present for that special someone this festive season.
We get it, you’ve probably spent a small fortune on the Christmas decorations for your home, those lovely new outfits for your whole family to wear on that pricey year-end holiday overseas, and big ticket items on those near and dear to you.
So you’re not really willing to break the bank just to buy something for your next-door neighbour who you’re not really close to but is nice enough to greet you every single morning without fail, or that sweet colleague from your office who you’ve only known for a short while but has helped you out a few times at work.
Here are some great Christmas gift ideas that are under $50:
The holiday season would not be complete without some tasty sweet treats, so head on down to SOPHISCA to pick up their gorgeous ready-t0-gift goodie bags which are filled with a special collection of gummies and hard candies.
Or check out the limited edition Christmas gift boxes and adorable Christmas socks which are bursting with delicious delights!
Their special Candy Rush Christmas sale will give you 15% off if you buy three items or more, and 20% off if you buy four items or more (not valid for promotional items).
Price range: $2 – $49.90
Books from Times bookstores
For that little bookworm in your life, they will be sure to appreciate a new book they can devour and add to their ever-growing collection.
Head on down to Times bookstores and get some books from the Fiction, Children, or Young Adults section – and you can even pick up some collectibles and toys under the same roof!
For only $10, you sign up as a member and you can enjoy a discount of 10% off all books and stationery (except concessionaires), 20% Birthday voucher, exclusive members preview sales, and more.
Price range: $19.80 – $42.95
Star Wars Monopoly game 2015
Do you have a die-hard Star Wars fan in your family or circle of friends who would jump for joy if they were to receive some official merchandise as a Christmas gift?
There is no need to scour the galaxies far far away, because we have great gift idea – the new Star Wars Monopoly game 2015, suitable for ages eight and up!
This unique round-shaped game is totally out of this world and will be sure to keep the whole family entertained while you spend some quality time playing together.
The Monopoly Star Wars Edition game consists of the following items:
- 1 x game board
- 4 x character tokens (2 Rebel, 2 Empire)
- 48 x bases (all double-sided)
- 36 x Force Cards
- 4 x symbol cards
- 2 x dice
- 1 x money pack
- 1 x game guide
Museum Label Collection Christmas gifts
Museum Label is the retail brand behind the museum shops operated by Singapore’s National Heritage Board, and they have a wonderful range of Christmas gifts with a local twist!
Highlights include a cute Kueh Tutu eraser, a hilarious Chilli Crab apron, some funny Singlish magnets, a handy Kan Cheong Spider clock, and many more.
If you’re in need of a great Singapore souvenir for your good buddy who’s migrating overseas, or a fellow friend who is migrating back to their original home country, be sure to have a look through the unique Christmas gifts available at the Museum Label.
Price range: $2.50 – $46
$50 – $100
So you have a fair amount of money to spend on your Christmas shopping this year, but you’re not sure what exactly to get for your favourite cousin who you grew up with, or your dear little niece who is like a daughter to you. Check out our lovely mid-range Christmas gift ideas that are between $50 to $100:
These lovely round carafes can keep your drinks either hot or cold for hours. (Image: Thermos)
Alfi Kugel carafes
Thermos has re-launched Alfi in Singapore and offers the perfect Christmas gift for all home-owners who are design-conscious, with their gorgeous statement pieces which will stand out at any house party.
The lovely classic round Kugel carafes not only look like pretty Christmas tree baubles, but they also offer up to 24 hours of cold retention and up to 12 hours of heat retention, making it the perfect addition to the food table at any social gathering so you can fill it up with refreshingly cold fruit juice or soothing hot cocoa.
The Kugel designs come in a lovely shade of red, a nice clean white, an elegant black and even a cool stainless steel.
Price: $69 (for colour models) and $249 (for stainless steel models).
Philips Easy Natural Hair Curler
If your gal pal has always complained about wanting to change up her look, give her the new Philips Easy Natural Curler BH777, which will help make it easy to create luxurious curls.
Designed with the modern woman in mind, this curler has a unique tulip shape to help you create curls in one simple movement, and since the styling plates are protected from touching, you can glam up your tresses for the holidays without the worry of accidentally burning yourself – which is not a great look for Christmas!
Mini Melissa shoes
We have the perfect gift for your mini fashionista daughter or niece — comfortable and stylish Mini Melissa shoes in a wide range of colours and styles.
This beautiful footwear is made in Brazil and has soft padded insole to keep those tiny feet happy and is made from flexible and durable PVC, so your active little one can still run around yet look cool at the same time.
Choose from Mini Melissa Ultragirl II, Ballet, Campana Zig Zag VI, Ultragirl Sweet, Flox, Ultragirl IV, Furadinha VII, Aranha VIII, Ultragirl Disney Twins, and Aranha + O Peqeuno Principe II.
Price range: $85 – $140
Personalised white hooded towel with ears
If your bestie just had a December baby, you should welcome her little one with this personalised 100% cotton hooded towel with adorable little bear ears.
The soft towel comes in unisex white and will keep bubs or tots warm and snug as they dry off after bath time; the corner hood keeps their ears extra cosy before bed; and you can even personalise it with their name for that extra special touch.
Hey big spender! Looking for a more luxurious list of Christmas gift ideas for your loved ones who have been extra nice this year and deserve a super special (and big!) present under the tree?
Here are our favourite picks for those generous gifters who have a little extra dough to spend this festive season:
Tickets to Disney on Ice presents Magical Ice Festival
If your little ones are big Disney fans, then they will be sure to squeal with delight when you present them with tickets to the Magical Ice Festival!
Join all the favourite characters from Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Beauty and the Beast, plus you can receive the royal treatment when you purchase the Magical Moment Package which includes:
- 1 rink side seat (1st row only)
- Priority entrance access via VIP entrance
- Exclusive crowd-free merchandise shopping opportunity (30 minutes before general doors open)
- 1 VIP lanyard
- 1 event poster
- Post show meet & greet
LEGOLAND Annual Pass Gift Pack
Scratching your head wondering what to get for your sister and her family this Christmas?
How about sending them all off across the border for a fun day out at LEGOLAND, which is the ultimate family holiday destination with over 70 hands-on rides, slides, shows and attractions – ideal for those with little ones ages 2 – 12 years.
This festive season, Santa Claus will be making his grand appearance there and for the whole month of December (every Friday to Sunday), there is an exciting surprise for 15 lucky kids per day who write their wish list of LEGO products at The Big Shop, which will be granted and become a reality!
In the true spirit of giving, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is offering an awesome Annual Pass Gift Pack where you can purchase four passes for the price of three and will also be given the opportunity to personalize a 2×6 LEGO brick in the Park to make it the perfect gift for your loved ones.
Price: RM$245 – RM$450
Epson’s Full HD Home Theatre Projector
Here’s a big ticket item for that special man in your life who works hard to bring home the bacon and does his best to help out with the kids, even though sometimes it’s, umm, quite different from how mummies would handle it.
Your husband deserves a great gift this Christmas and the people at Epson have created a a high-end, full HD home theatre projector which has so many features and high image quality at a great price!
The key features of this cool gadget include:
- Basic full HD projector packed with features to deliver remarkable performance
- Tune to Fast Mode for gamers that requires quick response
- Advanced connectivity with screened mirroring and WiFi
Not only can daddy enjoy this awesome Christmas gift, it is something that the whole family can benefit from as well when you have a fun family movie night together, or play engaging video games for an exciting bonding time.
Gifts Less Ordinary jewellery
Pamper your beloved mother or mum-in-law with a beautiful piece of jewellery from Gifts Less Ordinary, which is a new luxury gift marketplace which has brought high-end and hand-picked treasures to Singapore.
Their Leopard enamel cuff is a gorgeous statement piece and has been beautifully hand-painted with a bold, striking design and mounted with 18ct gold-plated rims which will be sure to make your whole outfit pop this Christmas.
Price range: $112.20 – $766
We hope you found our Christmas gift guide handy. Which one will you be getting for your loved one this festive season? Leave a comment below!
GET.com‘s 10 Incredible Kid-Friendly Staycation Venues In Singapore
Who doesn't want to be a jetsetter experiencing the entire globe without stressing about the bunch of silly emails that have been keeping your mobile buzzing all day long? I know I'd love to!
The lucky ones are always whisked away on planes so often they don't even purchase toiletries and cosmetics full-sized anymore, while most of us are stuck in a rut.
No (wo)man can function optimally without ever taking a breather. I have absolutely no idea how parents do their thing but just in case you're a parent who's in dire need of chilling with your kids without getting your passports chopped, here's a list of 10 kid-friendly staycation venues GET.com has rounded up for you to make your life just a bit easier!
1. Fullerton Hotel
Oozing with heritage and sheer grandeur, the Fullerton Hotel may not be the first name that pops into your head when you think about family-friendly staycation spots, but you'll be surprised to learn that The Fullerton Family Package that they offer is quite the deal.
Note that the promotion is only valid till 28 February 2016, so act fast if you're keen on organizing a staycation at The Fullerton!
The Fullerton Family Package is a great choice as your family gets to stay in one of their Heritage Rooms with a daily American buffet breakfast for two adults and two children (below 12 years old) at Town Restaurant.
On top of that you'll be taking home an adorable Fullerton Plush Bear and having the chance to discover Singapore's culture with the Singapore Standard Jubilee Pass when you reserve via their website.
Additionally, children will receive Fullerton's exclusive colouring book with crayons, an ice cream pass for one scoop of ice cream daily at Town Restaurant, delicious cookies, and also a Kodomo amenities set including baby wipes, baby powder, baby lotion and shampoo.
1 Fullerton Square
2. Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
Thanks to its massive rooms, suites and ultra kid-friendly touches, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the premier luxury options that families can seriously consider spending a fun weekend at. Rooms with two double-beds are available, as are bigger two-bedroom suites.
You'll be happy to know that deluxe rooms come with a King-sized bed for you and your spouse, while a rollaway bed or baby cot can be provided at no extra charge upon request. Bathrobes and slippers in kid and adult sizes are also provided in the room.
Also, babysitting services can be arranged should you be needing that extra service!
Right from the moment your children become Ritz Kids, those between the age of 4-12 are entitled to a cup of Ice Milo and Oreo Cookies at the lobby on weekends, plus they will be issued with an Ice Cream Pass which entitles them to one scoop of ice cream daily at the Pool Bar.
Also, your young ones can embark on a learning adventure with the activity book, stickers and crayons provided! Infants and toddlers will receive a set of mini bath amenities comprising of baby powder, body lotion and shower gel instead.
Want a sweeter deal? Book a staycation during your child's birthday and s/he will receive a complimentary birthday cake, an exclusive Birthday Badge and a special birthday turndown amenity!
Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
7 Raffles Avenue
3. Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort
If you are looking for a relaxing beach staycation away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this is one spot you should be bookmarking right away.
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is literally heaven on earth, especially in the eyes of kids. You also get direct beach access to Siloso Beach from the hotel if you're holed up there!
Boasting a myriad of water slides, a separate kids' pool, an exhilarating splash pad, a ton of activities, arcade games, an outdoor playground and jungle-themed play areas suitable for babies and toddlers, this luxurious beachfront resort is a water paradise for energetic, outdoorsy children. Nobody says the sun, sea, and sand are only for grown ups!
Should you run out of ways to tire your kids out, get them to try out the Flying Trapeze. You'll be glad to know that the you'll be returning to your calming, family-sized room that is spacious enough to accommodate two adults and two kids.
Each room comes with an attached private balcony and a view of the hills, garden, pool or sea so guests can enjoy the lush, natural surroundings.
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa
101 Siloso Road
4. Hard Rock Hotel
Here's another family-friendly hotel located on the island of Sentosa. Littered with plenty of rock n' roll nuances, musical touches and memorabilia, the Hard Rock Hotel is especially appealing to families with tweens and teenagers who can better appreciate all these unique touches that make Hard Rock Hotel true to its name.
In case you're wondering, the rooms are done up just over-the-top enough to make staying at the Hard Rock Hotel a super fly experience unlike any other.
Although the rooms aren't as massive as some other family-friendly hotels, the pull-out beds shouldn't dock too many points off the entire staycation experience.
The huge free-form, beautifully landscaped pool in the hotel will definitely keep all water-loving children (and adults) happy while the beach bunnies can soak up the sun and play some volleyball on the private man-made beach within the hotel's compounds. How exciting!
Hard Rock Hotel
Resorts World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway
5. Festive Hotel
Also situated on Sentosa island is this 5-star hotel that is big on space and fun altogether. Without a doubt, Festive Hotel has some of the best family rooms in any of the hotels in Singapore.
The humongous rooms are cleverly conceived to consist of separate areas for parents and kids, and can easily accommodate up to 5.
Some rooms come with living areas while others are structured like mini-flats. Children even get the option of sleeping on loft beds.
I would be beyond ecstatic if I were them! Additionally, Festive Hotel boasts an assortment of deluxe amenities, a kids' club, a kids' pool and it offers anything from family-friendly facilities to even babysitting services.
Strategically located next to Resorts World Sentosa, an integrated resort that houses the world's largest oceanarium, S.E.A. Aquarium™, along with Adventure Cove Waterpark™ and Universal Studios Singapore, guests will find plenty to see and do.
And if you'd prefer not to splash out on hotel food, you may want to head over to nearby VivoCity and HarbourFront Centre; the sea of food options available there are really quite breathtaking!
Resorts World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway
6. Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
This gem of a transit hotel is out of this world. It is too magnificent to even be categorized under the generic "transit hotel" with those drabby ones in other countries.
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is a tropical paradise resort that's been conveniently plonked right next to Changi Airport Terminal 3. Did I mention that they're connected? You don't even need to drive, how convenient!
Even though the hotel itself may not be entirely child-friendly with all those fancy kids-approved activities, all that kid-friendliness that you're looking for can be found in the nearby airport terminals.
You can never forget the indoor air-conditioned playgrounds, tall slides, plethora of food and shopping options there, can you?
Honestly, tell me which kid doesn't like the cheap thrill of taking the sky trains back and forth just for the fun of it?
The experience at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is surely one that cannot be replicated elsewhere in Singapore - you get to check yourself and family into a swanky 5-star hotel complete with a strangely therapeutic view of planes taking off, landing and taxiing along the runway all day long.
Children and adults whose hearts are with the soaring planes are bound be extremely stoked! Just make sure you request a room that faces the runway, just to be safe!
Also, the beautifully landscaped swimming pool is gorgeous albeit not very child-friendly compared to some of the other hotel pools mentioned in this article. Be sure to always supervise your kids when they are frolicking in the water!
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
75 Airport Boulevard
7. Rider's Lodge
If horses, ponies and treasured family time in the lush outback is your idea of an unconventional staycation, consider Rider's Lodge.
Nestled in a colonial building in Turf City, this 40-room hotel has accompanying horse stables and keen riders can participate in horse riding lessons and trail rides.
Your little ones can even try their hand at riding adorable ponies and feeding gentle horses on weekends!
Where else can you get a laid-back staycation experience in the company of mild-natured horses in urban Singapore?
It sure doesn't hurt to breathe fresh air and stray away from the usual stressful lifestyles that we're all so accustomed to.
A word of advice - you may want to book in advance if you're interested in taking your family there for a relaxing getaway because the rooms are very limited!
If you're looking for more choices of kid-friendly activities in the vicinity, The Grandstand at Turf City is just minutes away from Rider's Lodge.
The newly revamped lifestyle mall has plenty to offer your little ones including fun-filled kids' enrichment and play options such as Bricks 4 Kidz, Kiddy Fun and Fidgets World.
100 Turf Club Road
8. D'Kranji Farm Resort
D'Kranji Farm Resort is another option that is far away from the concrete jungle of Singapore. You will fancy it if you're keen on huddling in nature's arms.
It is Singapore's first and only agritainment farm that offers its visitors a one-of-a-kind staycation experience in a farm setting.
Fret not if you're one of those who can't live without air-conditioning, because the villas overlooking the Kranji countryside are fully air-conditioned.
Isn't it heartening to see your precious kids wonder and marvel at nature's creations instead of glaring iPad screens?
I reckon it makes an enriching experience for them young city dwellers to explore the on-site fruit and vegetable farms and learn about the various fruits and plants that are unique to Singapore, too!
With its unique drive-through check in/out reception, visiting D'Kranji for a family retreat is a breeze.
Take your little ones to the Fishing Village to teach them a thing or two about fishing and prawning.
Note that equipment rental charges apply! Also, if your kids would like to embark on even more exploration, the Hay Dairies Goat Farm and Jurong Frog Farm are also a short drive away.
D'Kranji Farm Resort
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2
9. D'Resort @ Downtown East
Located far away from the busy city precinct, this considerably new establishment at Downtown East provides a refreshing, fuss-free respite for families and children.
D'Resort @ Downtown East is Singapore's first nature-inspired resort with an integrated Wild Wild Wet water park experience.
From complementary activities at eXplorerkid to child-friendly and elderly-friendly amenities, their family-oriented rooms are designed with every family member in mind.
Children would love the themed family rooms offered where you get to pick from the Amazonian Jungle or Underwater themed rooms. They also have one room specially designed with an M&M's theme!
Parents will definitely be pleased to know that your LinkPoints can be used to offset the costs of many activities at Downtown East!
A special kids' check-in counter, welcome pack and a specially-prepared treasure box full of surprises are some extra touches to keep your little ones bubbly and excited.
Additionally, if attractions remain closed for more than 30 minutes due to rain, they'll re-validate tickets for use within the next 60 days.
*Note: eXplorerkid is closed for renovation from 12 Oct 2015 to 31 Mar 2016
D'Resort @ Downtown East
1 Pasir Ris Close
10. Swissotel Merchant Court
The Swissotel at Merchant Court has bedrooms that are specifically tailored for kids. Each child-friendly bedroom is beautifully furnished with bright bed linen, age-appropriate toys, DVDs, books and games.
In case you're wondering, the kids' rooms are sub-categorized according to ages 0-5 for babies and toddlers, ages 6-12 for young children, and ages 13-17 for teenagers.
Each kid's room includes family-friendly amenities and a range of entertainment options that the entire family can enjoy together.
The idyllic swimming pool equipped with water slides and a wading area is especially popular with children!
If you ever need a temporary nanny, the hotel offers babysitting services at a small fee.
Parents should also be very pleased to know that the delightful kids' room is adjoint to theirs, so that makes it so much easier for you to keep an eye on your children. And if you want some privacy with your spouse, all you need is to click the lock!
*Note: The Swissotel Merchant Court is currently undergoing refurbishment on weekdays between 9am-6pm, except public holidays. Guest facilities including their resort-style pool and 24-hours gym remain fully operational.
Swissotel Merchant Court
20 Merchant Road
**All information is accurate as of 12 Nov 2015.
This article was originally published on GET.com, a lifestyle and personal finance website, at: GET.com‘s 10 Incredible Kid-Friendly Staycation Venues In Singapore
4 Fun Kids‘ Activities Under S$20 according to GET.com
Are you looking for cheap ways to have fun with your kids? Even though Singapore has a pretty high cost of living, letting your kids have fun beyond the gates at home or the playground downstairs doesn't mean you it has to cost a bomb. FYI, handing your child mobile devices so that he can spend the bulk of his time playing handphone games or staring at Youtube videos just doesn't make the cut. Your kids surely deserve better.
Here are 4 fun kids' activities under $20 we at GET.com have shortlisted for you. We've also taken the liberty to throw one bonus point in there too. Take your kids out and weave in some fun elements for them already!
4 Fun Kids' Activities Under $20 (+ 1 Bonus Point)
1. Have A Splashing Good Time At The Children's Garden
Did you know that hidden in the heart of our bustling Central Business District sits this amazing play area that all children would love?
At the Far East Organization Children's Garden in Gardens By The Bay, your little ones can have a whale of a time engaging in interactive play delights, educational programmes in a lush environment and even splash some water to cool themselves off under the sun, all at no cost!
The Children's Garden is a huge playground designed with the aim of enhancing the physical and cognitive abilities of the little ones through sensory playtime elements. There's a toddler play zone, rainforest tree houses, water play area and an amphitheatre with a covered canopy. The Children's Garden is closed on Mondays, so do check out their official site for more details!
2. Visit The Fire Station
This may not be your typical idea of fun but why not take your kids out to the Fire Station Open House that is open every Saturday from 9am-11am if they've always wondered what firefighters do to respond speedily to fire and rescue calls or always wanted to experience riding the Red Rhino?
Your little ones and you get to learn more about our SCDF, their mission as the life saving force, the roles and functions of fire stations and more!
This thrilling experience may even get your kids clamoring to spray water hoses or take a ride up the ladder! No prior registration is required for groups comprising less than 10 persons, so all you have to do is to do a walk-in as visitors to any of SCDF's fire stations (except Jurong Island Fire Station). For more information, visit their official site here.
3. Bask In The Intriguing World Of Science
We certainly can't leave out a mention of Singapore's Science Centre. Singapore's Science Centre is an excellent place for kids to discover and learn while not compromising on fun elements!
Jam-packed with intriguing interactive exhibits, you can be sure that your little ones will be having fun with all things hands-on! There are plenty of galleries with over 1000 individual exhibits, so I guess you'll have to plan return trips if your little ones want to explore all of them.
Cost: Free during off-peak days. During peak days it costs $6 for Singaporean/PR adults and $4 for children.
4. Let Your Kids Go Wild With Their Creativity
Catering to children between the ages of 1 to 12, Playeum is a unique, hands-on, centric, non-profit organisation that champions children through creativity and play. Nestled in Gillman Barracks, it is natural that the activities found here are specially designed to encourage creative open-ended, exploratory learning and play alongside all things with an artsy slant.
If your little ones have a flair for all things related to the arts, this Children's Centre for Creativity is a great place for them to unleash their potential.
Cost: $20 for a child (aged 1–12); free for accompanying adult; $10 for additional accompanying adult. Annual memberships are also available.
BONUS #1: Reward Your Little Ones With A Day Out With Adorable Dolphins
Not only are dolphins clever and adorable, they are one of the most fascinating marine mammals of our vast oceans! If your little ones have a big heart for dolphins, you should definitely give them the opportunity to mingle and interact with the magnificent Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Island. This wonderful experience will surely be an unforgettable one for your kids and you, don't you think so?
With a myriad of dolphin interaction programmes ranging from one that lets your kids get up-close with the dolphins without getting into the water (i.e. Dolphin Encounter) to one that lets them swim with the beautiful dolphins in the lagoon (i.e. Dolphin Adventure), your little ones have the option to pick whichever they like most!
Even though these programmes aren't the cheapest, a memorable yet enriching experience should be worthwhile, right? Plus, all dolphin interaction programmes come with a one-day pass to Adventure Cove Waterpark!
50 Things to Do with Kids in Singapore before They Grow Up
We’ll be the first to admit that we’ve had many a day where we haven’t had a clue how to keep our munchkins entertained. The amazing thing about Singapore however is that it’s positively teeming with things to do.
- 1. Catch the ferry to Pulau Ubin, hire bikes and ride around the entire island, exploring the few original villages that still remain. Have lunch at one of the local seafood restaurants and watch the chef clean and dice a crab in under 2 minutes.
- 2. Head to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and hike with the kids to the top of Bukit Timah Hill (Singapore’s highest peak) — just don’t feed the monkeys.
- 3. Make your way to MacRitchie Reservoir with the older kids to do the Treetop Walk. The 250m free-standing suspension bridge offers a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy and is a fun stroll for mini adventurers.
- 4. Take a step back in history and explore the Battle Box at Fort Canning Park. After taking in the history of this underground bunker, walk through the park and look for other World War 2 artefacts.
- 5. Visit Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple to see Singapore’s largest buddhist temple and take photos of the kids in the grounds with the mini stone statutes.
- 6. Unleash your little explorers on the forest adventure ropes course at Bedok Reservoir and watch your mini monkeys in action.
- 7. Pack some lunch, catch the ferry and head to St. John’s Island for a beach-side picnic.
- 8. Eat yum cha in Chinatown, preferably during Chinese New Year so you can see all the decorations or during the Mid-Autumn Festival to enjoy the colourful lanterns.
- 9. Burn some energy by kayaking with the kiddos at MacRitchie Reservoir.
- 10. See how organic veggies are grown at Bollywood Veggies and take a wander around the 10-acre farm. Enjoy a meal in the on-site restaurant, Poison Ivy Bistro whilst you’re there.
- 11. Wander ’round super-cool Kampong Glam, cafe-hopping and boutique browsing in Haji Lane to your heart’s content!
- 12. Stroll (or scoot! or bike!) along Robertson Quay, stopping off to grab a coffee at Toby’s Estate or Common Man Coffee Roasters.
- 13. Take the “train” and play in the sandpit at Tiong Bahru Park, then head to the Wet Market to gorge on pau at Tiong Bahru Pau.
- 14. Take the cable car to Sentosa then splash about at the Port of Lost Wonder — little pirates can get wet and wild!
- 15. Get ‘hands on’ at the Singapore Science Centre, with discoveries to make and ton of buttons to push. Then head outside for a splashing good time at the water park just outside!
- 16. Hire bikes and ride all (or part of) the 15km cycling path at East Coast Park. Keep your cool with the refreshing sea breezes.
- 17. Take an evening spin on the Singapore Flyer. Watch the sun set over Singapore and take in the view as the city lights flicker to life.
- 18. Pick up a water taxi from in front of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel at Robertson Quay and get off at the Promenade in front of the Singapore Flyer. Bring the scooters so the kids can scoot all the way back to Clarke Quay for a well earned drink (for all of you!).
- 19. Feed the fish at the Botany Centre and look for turtles in Symphony Lake at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
- 20. Get educated at Images of Singapore and let the kiddies learn about the history of Singapore — in a fun way!
- 20. Channel your inner Dr. DoLittle at the Singapore Zoo! Pack the swimmers so the kiddos can cool off in the water-play area after a morning spent looking (and feeding) the animals.
- 22. Get up early and head to the Zoo for breakfast with the Orangutans!
- 23. Learn to windsurf at Mana Mana Beach Club. Younger siblings can build sandcastles in the sand while the older kiddies are out on the water.
- 24. Show your munchkins the toys of your childhood at the Mint Museum of Toys — keep an eye out for the Spiderman exhibition. Cool man!
- 25. Watch the kids (and the mamas) giggle their way through a session of Fish Foot Therapy at Underwater World.
- 26. Fly at kite at Marina Barrage! Bring the swimsuits so the kids can jump around in the water play area afterwards.
- 27. Stay up late to watch the light and sound show at Marina Bay Sands. With shows at 8pm and 9:30pm, get there early to bag the best spots.
- 29. Visit the Central Fire Station on a Saturday morning and let the kids learn about firefighting (and maybe even take a ride on a fire truck!). Visit the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery afterwards to learn more about Singapore’s civil defence history.
- 30. Eat ice cream the Singapore way — between a slice of rainbow coloured bread!
- 31. Take cheesy pictures with the kiddies in front of the big Merlion at Merlion Park, before stopping for lunch at one of the restaurants at Collyer Quay against the backdrop of Marina Bay Sands.
- 32. Catch the travelator from VivoCity to Sentosa (along the Sentosa Boardwalk) and wander down to C-Side to laze the day away by the water while the little ones splash in the waves.
- 33. Get a green thumb as you explore Jacob Ballas Children’s Gardens with the kiddos, then cool off with a splash in the water play area afterwards. Just remember — this one is closed on Mondays!
- 34. Introduce young palates to yummy chicken rice at Newton Food Centre. Watermelon juice is optional.
- 35. Spend a night under the stars and go camping at Changi Beach Park. Don’t forget to register with NParks first!
- 36. Go on a Monkey Walk with the Jane Goodall Institute of Singapore and learn more about our cheeky friends.
- 37. Catch some serious waves at Wave House Sentosa and let the little ones learn how to surf.
- 38. Stock up on plastic fantastic at Mustafa Centre before grabbing a bite to eat at The Banana Leaf Apolo Restaurant. Show the kiddos how to eat their lunch from a banana leaf!
- 39. Take a wonder through Joo Chiat — stop for a play at corner junction, pick up a coffee and a cake at Relational Goods, then stop for a browse through children’s furniture boutique, Ni Night (they also stock children’s clothing and accessories!).
- 40. Make the trip to Pasir Ris Park to let your mini monkeys go wild on the huge adventure playground. Burn that last bit of energy by riding bikes around the gardens (the wide flat paths are fantastic for beginner cyclists!).
- 41. Head to Jurong East Swimming Complex to let your tykes hurl themselves down one of the 3 big water slides, bob around in the wave pool or float down the lazy river. Splish Splash!
- 42. Introduce junior diners to the infamous Chili Mud Crab and teach youngsters how to eat a freshly cooked crab at East Coast Seafood Centre.
- 43. Pick up a rod and head to Kid’s Kampong for some fishing with the kiddos!
- 44. Discover our nation’s history at the interactive National Museum of Singapore. Sign the kids up for an interactive tour to keep them entertained!
- 45. See how far your children can trot by tackling the 10km Southern Ridges walk. Connecting Kent Ridge Park with Mount Faber Park and Labrador Nature Reserve, this hike includes the Henderson Waves — the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore.
- 46. Let the minis run wild at West Coast Park — there’s an adventure playground with 8 play zones, space for scooting and cycling, grass for flying kites, go-karting for the big kids and even a sea breeze to keep everyone cool! Phew!
- 47. Take your mini pirates to play on the “battleship” playground at Sembawang Park before cooking your own BBQ lunch (don’t forget to book your BBQ pit before you get there!).
- 48. Get up close and personal with our feathered friends at Jurong Bird Park (don’t forget the bathers either so the kids can play in the water play area too!).
- 49. Play tourist for the day and book a Duck Tour of Singapore. See the city and take a thrill ride at the same time!
- 50. Spend a quiet morning at My Tree House at the National Library — it’s the world’s first green library (and loads of fun for littlies!).
This article was originally published on Sassy Mama Singapore, a lifestyle and personal finance website, at: 50 Things to Do with Kids in Singapore before They Grow Up