Category Archives: museums

Public transport too crowded? Make your own!

My boy is crazy about transportation and the people and activities around them.  Which boy isn’t at this age?  If given the choice, he’d always want to take the public bus or MRT.  He can even say and/or show you the picture (if you say the word) all the different types of cars, buses, trucks, diggers, rescue vehicles … in CHINESE with surprising accuracy! When we had free Saturday mornings, we’d visit the fire station open houses (Central or Bishan for us), where the highlight for him was to sit in a REAL fire engine.

Real emergency vehicles ROCK!
Real emergency vehicles ROCK!

So this Children’s Season, I brought him to two new places – The Land Transport Gallery and the Police Heritage Centre. Both had kids activity booklets and tours, with the LTA Gallery offering more interactivity – stickers, stamps, exhibits and videos. Overall though, the places were just okay because of one major omission = no opportunity for kids to RIDE in a real or model vehicle!

Sample activities in each book
Sample activities in each book

Mama decided to take things into her own hands and make a wearable and portable public bus and MRT for B 🙂

This MRT isn’t crowded at all!
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The wheels on Bus 145 go round and round

Here’s how we did it: Find a suitable, sturdy box.  Cut out a large square from the top and the bottom – big enough to fit your kid’s head on one side, hips and legs on the other.  Secure the insides with masking tape.  On separate paper (I recycled the back of B’s white drawing paper art works), draw out the images of the front and side bus/train views with markers, et al.  I didn’t find any templates, so I just googled SBS bus and MRT train, and hand drew them from the screen 🙂  Once done, stick each drawing (bus/train section) on each side of the box accordingly with double-sided tape.  Find a broad rope or string to hang the arms over.  Use a penknife to cut slits at the top, just big enough to fit the rope/strings through.  Ideally use ONE long piece and thread them through all the slits before tying them neatly.  This will enable you to adjust the length depending on the size and height of the kid.  Except for the drawing (outlining), your tot should be able to help with almost everything else!

My little helper couldn't wait to play with it
My little helper couldn’t wait to play with it

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Boys like to cook too!

We went down to the National Museum in the opening week of the annual Children’s Season. There were many toddler-friendly play areas and activities – all free – for this year’s exhibit on Masak Masak: My Childhood. If you are planning a visit, note that the outdoor lawn dragon and watermelon bouncy castles and some workshops are ONLY on weekends. A bit odd as school holidays are starting and families would rather come on weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Anyways, in line with the theme, B enjoyed masak masak the most. Who said pretend cooking was only for girls?  Watch chef B  whip up his specialty dish of fish and prawns with veggies, even adding sauce and tasting it before serving!

Here’s other sections we enjoyed:

Favourite childhood games like Pick-up Sticks and Five Stones are brought larger than life by SOTA students. This one - Marbles - was a big hit with kids of all ages.
Favourite childhood games like Pick-up Sticks and Five Stones are brought larger than life by SOTA students. This one – Marbles – was a big hit with kids of all ages.
Rouleaux depicts scenes inspired by daily lives and culture, made out of reused toilet rolls and intricate cut-outs. There’s a craft corner  nearby where you can make your own DIY version
Sculpture Scribble recreates works by famous Dadist artists  using old and scrap materials to creatively demonstrate the laws of physics
Sculpture Scribble recreates works by famous Dadist artists using old and scrap materials to creatively demonstrate the laws of physics
Play: Activity stations built around a “home” – kitchen, living, TV and bedroom, garden. B loved the kitchen area with its pretend play, picture and word matching, and local food embossing
Explore: At the top floor, try your hand at chalk drawing at the sundeck, or try audio and light drawing in the studio nearby

At a time when Singaporeans are questioning if they are cultural orphans, it’s good that museums are stepping up to showcase our rich Southeast Asian heritage, and (re)imagine it in a creative, sustainable and relevant way for the next generation.

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When dinosaurs ruled the earth

February ended with a roar, a dinosaur roar! Unlike space, transportation and animals which were easy hits back when we were doing monthly themes, I wasn’t sure how B would take to dinos – I mean, the names are hard to pronounce and animals are all dead and scary looking (except for Barney, but he’s not quite … real). By the end though, B was impersonating the T-Rex walk, wrapping his tongue around “triceratops,” “apatosaurus,” “stegosaurus,” and knew how to spell “D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R” with playdough. A success!

Lucky for us, there were TWO great dinosaur showcases in Singapore this past month, both different yet good.

We first visited Titans of the Past – Dinosaurs and Ice Age Mammals at the Science Center. To be honest, we’d trekked out west before for the Megabugs Return exhibit butweren’t too impressed. I felt the center overall could do with some upgrading. However, this time, we were pleasantly surprised by the toddler friendly activities and animations that managed to keep 2+ year boys entertained throughout! It’s a shame the exhibit is over so soon (25 October 2013 – 23 February 2014) and not that well publicized. When we went on a Thursday afternoon, there were less than 10 visitors there. Besides pressing all the buttons to make them roar and eat, B also enjoyed the mini paleontologists sandpit dig where they brushed for fossils.

We also went to Dinosaurs: Dawn To Extinction at the ArtScience Museum (25 January – 25 May 2014), getting there just before 5p in time for the free English tour. IMO, the exhibits here were of better quality and clearer presentation, with bone fossils AND life size models, info boards and occasional activity stations. The caveat was we had to pay admission for B whereas he got in free (under 3 years) at the Science Center. That said, even distracted mommy retained a few bits of knowledge in between making sure my lil live dino didn’t break anything!

B attempted to fit all the puzzles, but most were set too high for toddlers – and he’s quite tall at 95cm+ (for 27 months). He also enjoyed the model of the walking T-Rex and the footprint section, where you could make your own track, identify and compare various footprint tracks.

Go here to see the other kid-friendly events and activities coming in March (booking required) if you have older kids, 6 years and up.

Some of our dino themed art, crafts and books:

Wayang kulit (shadow puppets) dino-age birds and lizards
The care and feeding of a 3D apatosaurus

 

 

 

 

Dino-awesome library books!
Making a dino foam penholder
Stamping with paint on styrofoam

Tracing and colouring pre-writing worksheets from here. His fine motor skills aren’t great, but he’s slowly improving, i.e. changing colours for different objects, following straight and curvy lines, etc.

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