How to Inspire Children to Learn about the World (and a Little Passports giveaway!)

“The world is your oyster” has never been truer than it is today. Because of globalisation, traveling has never been easier, and it has resulted in more than 200 million people living in a country that they were not born in!

 

Today’s children will one day work, study and live with people from all over the world, and we feel that it is important for our kids to be aware of the world and to appreciate different cultures. We’d love to take them for a trip around the world but until that dream comes true, we’ve adopted a rather broad approach in the hope of inculcating their interest in the world around them.

 

1. Read, read, read!

The library is a wonderful source of information. We borrow information books on countries, as well as stories written about or from those countries. Older kids will have no problem with non-fictional information books, but younger ones may find them a little dry, so that’s where storybooks come into play! Here are some books that we like (many of these books are part of a series so be sure to keep an eye out for them):

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One World Together by Laurence and Catherine Anholt
This is Paris by M. Sasek
Madeline at the White House by John BemelmansA Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino
I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakite
The Danger Zone : Avoid Working in the Forbidden City! by Jacqueline Morley
Tutankhamun and the Golden Chariot by Damien Harvey
Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior
When you go to Melbourne by Maree Coote
Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent
Miyako from Tokyo  (this is part of a lovely series of children introducing their daily lives in their cities)

 

2. Watch videos

Want to get the gist of a city in less than 5 minutes? There’s no better way than to check out tourism videos! It may not depict the true city, but it’s definitely a good starting point for further discussions and deeper research. Or do a specific search like “how to wear a Japanese kimono”, or “Scottish highland dance”, or “African musical instruments” or “how to do the hula dance”.

 

3. Food

We are very lucky to be living in a global city with people from all over the world. This means that all kinds of cuisines are available at every corner! Indonesian bakso, sushi and teppanyaki from Japan, dumplings and noodles from China, kebabs and doners from Turkey, tacos, burritoes and quesadillas from Mexico, kimchi from Korea, sauerkraut from Germany, smoked salmon from Sweden….

Learning while eating? I have no problems with that!

 

4. Art and Craft

Most children enjoy art and craft, so squeezing in a little lesson on another culture through art and craft time is a sneaky way to learn. Make Hawaiian flower leis, Chinese lanterns, Japanese carp kites, Australian aboriginal masks… the internet is your friend!
5. Get a country delivered to your doorstep!

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We’re so happy to be partnering with Little Passports to share with you on something very exciting! For the past couple of months, our kids have been camping next to the mailbox, eagerly waiting for their monthly subscription packages from Little Passports.

Their first pack arrived in the form of these gorgeous well-made little suitcases, and at first I was worried that they would get a suitcase each month. They’re beautiful, but where was I going to store that many little suitcases! Thankfully, kids will only receive a suitcase in their first month, and for subsequent months, they’ll get little envelopes (they can then store the contents in the suitcases).

Early Explorers kits have so many wonderful things in them that you can almost see the hundreds of questions popping up in thought bubbles from your child’s head as soon as he opens the pack. Unlike the World Edition where the older kids explore a country each month, the younger kids have themes. This month we’re halfway through learning about music around the world, and last month we had so much fun with landmarks.

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The brightly world map was nice to have, but what my 4 year old really really really enjoyed was sticking the continent stickers on her little suitcase. Our deal was that she could stick a sticker on after we learnt more about that particular continent. Phew – else, she would have gone through them in 60 seconds! Her little passport included many activities that she zipped through in a flash.

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Our favourite thing among all the kits we received? These little landmark tokens – I wasn’t sure what kind of quality they would be, but was pleasantly surprised to see that they were very well made. Hooray!

Find out more about Early Explorer kits here.

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World Edition kits are also filled with fun, but since the activities are geared toward older children – the puzzles are more challenging (like this month, the theme was Japan and there were beautiful origami papers and instructions included), and there is also the option to log on to Little Passports’ page for more fun and games, which they can access by means of a secret password – love it!

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Kids receive a postcard from “their penpals”, Sam and Sofia, which is a fun thing for them. They also get a little souvenir from that month’s country – isn’t the little sushi eraser the cutest! Last month we were introduced to Brazil, and Miss 8 received a real amethyst! It’s still one of her most treasured items.

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Thanks to our sponsor, Little Passports, we’re thrilled to announce this wonderful giveaway! One lucky reader stands to win a 6-month subscription pack (the winner may choose which subscription they would like)

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How to take part in this giveaway:

1. Like Little Passports Facebook page

2. Like Life is for Exploring Facebook page

3. Comment on this post, telling me why you’d like to win this set. You must leave your email address and country (just in case there are remote locations that Little Passports does not ship to).

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This content ends on 23.59 of 25 December 2016. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. By participating in this giveaway, you agree that your name and email address will be forwarded to Little Passports for a representative to contact you to coordinate the delivery of your subscription package. A winner will be randomly picked, be contacted and verified (so make sure your email address is correct!) before results are announced. Results will be announced on the Life is for Exploring Facebook page.

This is a worldwide contest and open to anyone in a global destination that Little Passports ships to. Good luck!

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** Edited: This contest has ended. Congratulations, Grace Tan, you’re the lucky winner!

Volunteering in Singapore

We’ve heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive”. Perhaps the month of December, with the long holiday stretch and the holiday mood in the air, is the best time to put this into practice. If you have always an interest to volunteer but never knew where or how to start, this post is for you!

Volunteering could be an ad hoc activity like packing goodie bags for a charity event, to crafting with children for an hour a week, to patrolling the streets as a volunteer police officer. I’m sure you can find something that fits your needs and schedule.

Where does one go to volunteer one’s time in Singapore? Read on! (This list is inconclusive!)

 

CARING FOR THE ELDERLY

1. Cycling Without Age

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If you believe that everyone has the right to enjoy the wind in their hair and are reasonably fit, consider being a pilot with Cycling Without Age, a social enterprise that wants to give elderly people the feeling of ‘riding’ a bicycle again, by cycling them around on a trishaw. The good news is that the trishaw has an electric option that the pilot (rider) can choose to use (I know, my calves panicked a little too)!
Contact: cyclingwithoutagesg@gmail.com

 

2. Lion Befrienders

Once a week, Lion Befrienders volunteers conduct home visits to elderly persons with little or no family support. Worry not about your ability to converse in dialect; your sincerity is what counts! Find out more here.
Contact: List of centres and contact numbers can be found here (Contact respective centres directly)

 

3. Home Nursing Foundation

You can make a huge difference to an elderly person who lives alone by befriending him or her. You could deliver food, or read their letters to them, or simply be a companion. Sign up here
Contact: 6854 5500 or enquiry@hnf.org.sg

 

HELPING YOUTH AND CHILDREN

4. Let’s Read Together

If you love to read, spread that love with children from low income families through storytelling and literacy activities via the Let’s Read Together programme by the National Book Council.
Contact: alycia@bookcouncil.sg

 

5. Sports Tuition and Mentoring Programme

If you are good with youths and children, consider being a volunteer mentor for at-risk children and youth in a school environment. The Sports Tuition and Mentoring Programme (S.T.A.M.P) is looking for mentors to train and improve at-risk children physically, academically and equip them with values and life skills.
Contact: wanqian@lovingheartj.org or 6567 4166

 

6. Beyond Social Services

If you’ve always dreamed of being a pre-school teacher, Beyond Social Services might be the perfect fit for you. It believes in the theory of ‘taking a whole village to raise a child’ and by volunteering your time for to help guide young children, you would be part of that village.
Contact: 6375 2940

 

7. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

If you have a talent in balloon sculpting, magic, enjoy crafting with or reading to little ones, KKH needs volunteers who will bring a smile to their patients’ faces.
Contact: volunteer@kkh.com.sg or 6394 2327

 

8. Care Singapore

Care Singapore also looks out for youths at risk. There are opportunities for counseling and sports training for those with existing expertise. Sign up for their volunteer programme here.

 

FOOD RELATED

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9. Food from the Heart

Food from the Heart helps about 25,000 individuals every year. It distributes surplus bread and other perishables to families whose per capita income fall below $450. If you have a car, you can help with deliveries. If you don’t, you can help with packing food items.
Contact: volunteer@foodheart.org

10. Willing Hearts

If you’re comfortable in the kitchen, consider helping out at Willing Hearts, a soup kitchen which prepares, cooks and distributes over 5,000 meals island-wide, daily. Many hands make light work and for that many meals, they need all the help they can get in terms of food preparation, cooking, cleaning and delivery. Volunteers required every day from 5.30am!
Contact: 6476 5822  admin@willinghearts.org.sg

11. Soup Kitchen

Soup Kitchen feeds lower-income persons in the Jalan Besar and Lavender Street. You’ll help by packing and distributing vegetarian dinners to lower-income persons in the Jalan Besar / Lavendar area. They need volunteers every Monday evening.
Contact: 98423287

 

HELPING THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

12. Association for Persons with Special Needs

The Association for Persons with Special Needs requires committed individuals with skills in art, drama or music to help out in their schools and centres, or ad hoc volunteers who can assist in events and school outings. More about volunteering opportunities here.
Contact: 6479 6252

 

13. Autism Resource Centre

The Autism Resource Centre is constantly looking for people to help their educators with preparation of their teaching materials, and to support their students with school events or outings. Find out more here.
Contact: 6323 3258

 

OFFERING A HAND TO MIGRANT WORKERS

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14. Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics

HOME provides a refuge for migrants escaping from their abusive employers. Can you help conduct English Language classes or vocational skills training? What about health education seminars, or provide counseling and legal support for migrant workers through Help Desks?
Contact: volunteer@home.org.sg

 

15. Transient Workers Count Too

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) champions for fair employment practices for migrant workers in Singapore. You could accompany injured and salary unpaid migrant workers on outings to discover Singapore, or organise outreach programmes to reach out to more migrant workers to spread awareness of TWC2. Find out more on the various programmes available here.
Contact: 6247 7001  or  info@twc2.orgsg

 

16. Healthserve

Healthserve provides healthcare for migrant workers without health assistance from their employers. They also provide social services like free meals, subsidized transport or temporary shelter for those who are not able to work while recuperating. If you speak Bengali, you will be able to help follow up with injured workers. If you are a medical professional, please volunteer your services here.

 

BEING PART OF NATURE

17. National Parks

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Is bringing a group of people on a nature trail your cup of tea? If you are one with nature, then being a nature guide would be second nature (haha!) to you. Sign up as a nature guide for Sungei Buloh or Pulau Ubin.

 

18. Blue Water Volunteers

Interested to check and monitor coral bleaching around Singapore? No need to swim or dive to be a reef guide at Singapore’s islands as a volunteer with Blue Water Volunteers.

 

19. Waterways Watch Society

Fancy a morning of canoeing or kayaking will picking litter on the waters? Then keep your eye out for Waterways Watch Society’s updates for such fun, meaningful and healthy opportunities.
Contact: wwsmarcom1@gmail.com or 9684-0893

 

20.National Environment Agency

If you want to help Singapore remain clean and green, the National Environment Agency needs volunteers to help with spreading the message of dengue prevention, public cleanliness and educating the public on resource conservation. More information here.

Contact: 93 632 632

 

WORKING WITH ANIMALS

21. ACRES

If you’re an animal lover, Animals Concerns Research and Education Society (or better known as ACRES), Singapore’s only dedicated wildlife rescue service, needs you. Join the team to help rescue wild animals or help keep rescued wild animals happy in rehabilitation.
Contact: 9783 7782

 

22. Action for Singapore Dogs

If you used to bring homeless animals home as a kid and as an adult now want to do more, ASD opportunities for volunteers to foster homeless and stray puppies to give them a second chance. To find out more about this opportunity and more, go here.

 

COMMUNITY SERVICE

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23. SAF Volunteer Corps

Never had the chance to serve National Service? Now you can. The SAF Volunteer Corps welcomes Singaporeans as well as first generation Permanent Residents (with no commitment to NS) to join and contribute to national defence. You will have to go through a similar form of BMT! Find out more here.

 

24. Home Team Volunteers

Fancy chasing bad guys, driving the police car and donning the police uniform? If you were part of the Volunteer Special Constabulary team as a Police Officer, you could. And yup, it’s the same uniform! Or you could join the Civil Defence team, the Prisons team or  SCORE (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises), each with a variety of meaningful volunteer options.
Contact (VSC Police): dong_hui@spf.gov.sg   6557 5869

 

Where else?

25. Caritas Singapore

Caritas (the official social and community arm of the Catholic Church of Singapore) also has a range of institutes and roles that need volunteers, ranging from elderly befrienders to manning pregnancy crisis services, befriending the intellectually disabled and their families, to going on overseas mission trips.
Contact: 6338 3448

 

26. Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services

There is a large range of volunteer roles offered, including counselling for persons undergoing drug rehabilitation, hairdressing for the elderly, recreational facilitators, kitchen helpers and plumbers, electricians and carpenters for the centre. Find out more here.
Contact: 6489 8161

 

27. SINDA

SINDA, the Singapore Development Indian Association, needs both episodic and long term volunteers to help young children to read, guide and mentor youth, and befriend needy families. Can you help? Find out here.

 

28. Singapore Girl Guides Association

Were you an ex Girl Guide? If so, you might be interested in keeping in touch with your Guiding Spirit by helping out in activities like international projects, or training young Brownies or Guides, or to be badge testers. Find out more here.

 

29. Giving.sg

If you just want to have a look around to find something that suits your needs, check out  Giving.sg it showcases a whole list of roles available with various organisations so you’re bound to find something that fits your requirements.

 

30. One Singapore

One Singapore strives to make poverty history. It’s a big goal and they need all the help they can get from food packers to those who excel at communication to help spread the word. More info here.

 

I hope you’ve found one (or more!) that suits you! Happy giving, everyone.

 

How to have lots of fun with a small budget during the School Holidays

The year-end school holidays in Singapore officially start on 19 November and end on 31 December. And here’s a list of places for you to counter those 41 potential days of “Mama I’m bored”!

 

I must flex my muscles!

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I hear you. You thrive on adrenaline. If going on a zipline across a huge body of water appeals to you, then you are bound to have a blast at Forest Adventure. Can kids do it? Definitely. There’s a kids course that’s fun for little ones; adults can go on the big course which takes about 2.5 hours to complete. It’s tough, but that feeling when you’re screaming AHHHHHHHHHH over Bedok Reservoir is indescribable. In a good way. Read our review here.

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Or a less strenuous activity perhaps? Like bowling? SAFRA at Mount Faber has the option of rail guard for little bowlers!

 

like the idea of ice skating but not getting your butt wet? Check out the shaking rink at Marina Bay sands where you can enjoy “ice” skating and keep dry. If it’s good enough for world champion figure skater Michelle Kwan, it’s good enough for us all!

Have you heard of the Health Promotion Board’s free exercise sessions? We’re talking kickboxing, Zumba, yoga, pilates…. Sign up for one here!

 

Time for some wheel power!

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Road Safety Park is bound to be a hit with the little ones. With mini sized roads and pedestrian crossings, and even a little petrol kiosk, they will be in scooting and sweating away while you chase after them (note: wheels not included, bring your own).

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If East Coast Park is too mainstream and crowded for you, check these other places instead: Work those calf muscles together with your kids (actually they’re just there for the joyride while you do all the work) with these manual go-karts at West Coast Park. Or bring the kick-scooters and bicycles out for a scenic ride along Berlayer Creek/Bukit Chermin Boardwalk with a view of Sentosa, or around Lakeside toward and into the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

 

Got energetic kids but the weather skies are grey?

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Head to any one of Singapore’s trampoline parks for a bouncey good time. It’s also a great opportunities for you to burn off some calories! There’s Bounce, Skyhigh and AMPED to choose from.  Here’s our review of AMPED at River Valley.

 

Indoor playgrounds are a big hit with the little ones but can get a little pricey so if you’ve got more than one, a $25 admission charge can quickly add up to a sizable sum. Skip the mainstream indoor play areas and head for Kidz Amaze at Safra – there are outlets at Jurong and Toa Payoh.

 

You are die-hard water babies but it looks like it’s going to rain? Head on down to the newly opened Splash @ Kidz Amaze at Safra Punggol for a sheltered splash.

 

Have fun with your food!

Join a cooking or baking holiday class at ToTT, or incorporate play time with meal time – cook your own meats at Korean BBQ spots, order dim sum from the trolley at Red Star Dim Sum Restaurant, flip your own prata at Casuarina Curry House, eat with your fingers at Zam Zam Restaurant… You get the drift.

 

Is it going to be an educational sort of day?

Play and learn at Kids Stop in the morning and watch chicks hatch or catch a fire tornado at the Singapore Science Centre after lunch! And if you’re there on a Friday, why not stay till 7.50pm and visit the Observatory for free. Gaze at the moon and whichever planet is visible!

 

Let’s get soaked!

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Don’t waste an overcast day – grab your swimmers and head out to any of the amazing free water playgrounds atop shopping malls. We like Kallang Wave Mall’s Splash N Surf – it’s got a decent slide, and a waist high pool and a lifeguard on duty. All for free. Our review of Splash N Surf can be found here.

Right next door, you can sign up to learn how to surf on a boogie board! Check out prices and schedules for Stingray Clinics here.

If Wild Wild Wet is too far for you, and Adventure Cove is too pricey, and the Port of Lost Wonder is too small, check out the public pools at Sengkang, Jurong East, Jurong West and Choa Chu Kang – you’ll get slides, jacuzzis, wave pools and kiddy play slides at a fraction of the cost. We’re talking $2 for adults and $0.80 for children per entry on weekdays. #Legit.

 

Need an all day activity?

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If you want something to occupy the kids for the whole day then dude, look no further. Kidzania is the answer. Your kids will go wild pretending to be doctors, firefighters, pilots, delivery personnel, radio DJs, newscasters, dentists, cashiers, and you will be …. very tired. Our review of Kidzania (and how to survive it!) is here.

 

Got a headache and need a quiet afternoon?

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Need a slow, quiet and air-conditioned afternoon? I hear you. Museums are your answer. The more well-known ones like the National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum are great, but if you’ve already been there, do check out the smaller ones like the Peranakan Museum and Philatelic Museum (where the Harry Potter exhibition currently is held). Have you been to National Gallery with the amazing Keppel Centre for Arts Education, and where you can check yourself into a jail cell? Here’s our review of Keppel Centre for Arts Education.

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If you’re in a museumy kind of mood, check out the Maritime Gallery as well as the Land Transport Gallery. Read our review about the Singapore Maritime Gallery here. Or how check out the Fifty Years of Singapore Design at the National Design Centre.

 

Craving for something simple?

Remember how happy you were when you found a bright shiny saga seed? Share this joy with your little ones and watch them squeal in delight when they find them. We’ve had our biggest hauls of saga seeds on the grounds of St Andrew’s Cathedral and Fort Canning.

 

Fancy some game time?

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We are in love with board games. The concept of a board games cafe is not a new one and there are a few around Singapore – Settlers’ Cafe, The Mind Cafe, Coffeemin. We tried out The Mind Cafe at Princep Street and quite enjoyed the experience – most games were in good enough condition, some had missing pieces but staff had replaced them with reasonable tokens, the vibe was good with plenty of young crowd (though we were the only ones with kids on a weekday non school holiday afternoon). Make sure you book early to get a nice spot on the couch or sofa area – we had the regular tables and chairs which were OK but not as fun. What we liked most : the large selection of games as well as knowledgeable staff that could explain them and propose suitable games for us.

Hint: The staff on duty told us that their other branch at West Gate is more catered to young kids and has more kiddy games BUT was pricier. $2.50 per half hour per person, compared to $2 per hour at Princep. That’s without food or drink.

 

Get close to animals

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Have cake, coffee and… cats? Well you can enjoy your coffee, and your kids, cake, in the presence of cats at Cat Cafe. Visit the SPCA at their new home at Sungei Tengah and get cosy with furry friends. Meet a horse, a cassowary and a marabou stork at Animal Resort, a laid-back kampong-ish kind of farm. Read our review of Animal Resort here.

 

Outdoorsy, are we?

Sign up for a free walk at Kranji Marshes or Sungei Buloh and learn about flora and fauna while getting the day’s step counts clocked

 

Need to read?

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Libraries aren’t what they used to be anymore! We love the National Library at Bugis with its gorgeous tree house! Membership is free and sometimes during the school holidays, we’re allowed to borrow up to 16 books.

 

Getting away without getting away

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Have you checked out the M&Ms room at D’Resort at Downtown East? You should! Staying on a ranch? With horses? Now you can, at Punggol Ranch! How about some countryside fun? Check out D’Kranji Farm Resort. Want to wake up with the sea breeze in your hair? Go camping at East Coast Park. All you need is a tent and a permit. And a sense of adventure.

 

Like these ideas? Here are more things you can do in Singapore when on a budget!

The Kidzania Survival Guide (Parents’ Edition)

Remember a time when you used to put on a paper hat and cooked vegetable scraps in the kitchen? Or when you ran your own little clinic by checking all your stuffed animals for fevers? Did you ever put little price tags on all your belongings to set up your own little departmental store? Kidzania offers children the chance to experience traditionally adult activities like going to work (and getting paid), and making purchases.

Role playing is the best way to learn, and in Kidzania where everything is made to resemble a little functioning city, it promises nothing but fun.

Everything is beautifully set up in a child-sized environment, and meticulously thought through to ensure an almost real running economy. Children will love it, there’s no doubt about it; it will be the best day of their lives. But perhaps not as fun for adults because they won’t be able to participate in any of the activities. In fact, most times, adults will be separated by a glass panel where they can watch but not interfere with their children’s experiences.

We’ve been to Kidzania twice – once in Singapore and once in Kuala Lumpur – and stayed from opening till closing both times. Our kids loved it of course, and we did as well. Based on our experience, here are ten things we think are necessary for parents to know or have in order to survive Kidzania. And by surviving, I mean minimal meltdowns for both parents and kids. Sounds good? Let’s go.

Planning a trip to K.L? Read about the kid-friendly activities that we enjoyed here.

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1. Enjoy yourselves too

When you enjoy yourselves, your happiness rubs off your kids, and they’ll have a better time too, don’t you think?

Kidzania opens with a bang where all the Zupervisors will line the streets and dance to the Kidzania theme song. You will soon realise that they do this every hour on the hour. So you can choose to do one of two things – 1) try to ignore them and race past them as you and your children head on to the next destination, or 2) sing and dance along with them together with your children, or at least smile and wave at them. Many children enjoy the dance and bop along to the music whenever it comes on.

While you’re at it, when Zupervisors smile and greet you with “Kai!” (Kidzania’s way of saying hello), go ahead and put two fingers over your heart like they do, and reply “Kai!”. The same way you would put on Mickey Mouse ears while in Disneyland, right? So just let loose and enjoy yourselves too. It will make your entire day so much more fun.

Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes. Our step counters told us that we walked about 9,000 steps while in Kidzania so choose shoes over flip-flops, please. Your feet will thank you.

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2. Let your children enjoy the complete experience

Sometimes our fault as parents is that we love the kids too much and want to do everything for them. In doing so, we forget that the best way for them to learn is through experience.

They will be paid Kidzos when they complete their respective jobs, and will need to pay to learn certain skills. All these transactions are done within the activity area where you will not be allowed to enter. Give them a little pouch or sling bag to carry so that they can manage their own money. It will be easier, not to mention faster, to prepare their Kidzos for them, but if you let them do it on their own, not only will they learn better, but also enjoy the independence. I can honestly say that one of my favourite moments out of the ten (yes, ten) hours we spent at Kidzania Singapore, was watching our 4-year old answer questions from the facilitators (sorry, Zupervisors) and counting her own money from her little purse for each activity.

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3. Let them do the choosing

Parents, I am going to tell you something, and it will absolutely gut you. Ready? Here goes : It is called Kidzania, not Momzania. So as much as you want to get a picture of your darling in a pilot outfit, try not to push your own ideas to the kids. Let them do the choosing. Remember that at the end of the day, it’s just a fun place, and whatever they choose is absolutely no indication of their ultimate career path.

As parents, we have the tendency of wanting to squeeze many activities into a short time, so that we can get everything done. But kids think differently. So if they don’t want to see a performance, or try out acting classes, or learn about surgeries, then don’t force them.

It’s all about fun. It’s all about enjoyment. It’s all about learning. It’s all about them. So if they want to earn Kidzos laying bricks at the construction site, or delivering newspapers, just let them. Our 4-year old really enjoyed being a window cleaner.

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4. Go at their pace

See above point about Kidzania/Momzania. There are approximately 100 activities that kids can participate in, in over 60 establishments. With each activity lasting at least 20-30 minutes, it is impossible to cover everything even if you stay from opening till closing.

As a practical adult, I can understand the urge to want to cover as much as possible because hey, the admission tickets are not cheap. If we were to let the kids go 100% at their own pace, there is the slight (almost impossible) chance that they might end up wanting to simply walk around and not participate in anything, thus wasting all that money.

So while you want to give your kids the experience of ‘shopping around’ for things to do, gently remind them that they will not be able to do everything, but that they will be able to do many activities if they focus.

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5. Go for coffee breaks when you can

Do not misread what I just wrote. I did not say chuck your children somewhere while you go off gallivanting.

There are certain sessions that you will not have any contact at all with your children – like when they are training to be pilots or part of cabin crew for instance. Unless you’re a passenger on the aircraft, you can either choose to spend half an hour sitting by the entrance or the activity area, waiting for them to emerge, or you can dash to any of the F&B outlets for a quick cuppa. Yes, coffee. Go for it. It’s going to be a long day.

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6. Hold off the cameras

Yes it is a special occasion, and yes having pictures of your children in those little chef hats are absolutely adorable. But think of it this way: knocking on the glass panel every 2 minutes asking them to look at you not only distracts your children, but also the other children in the group. How about just snapping a pic or two and then spend the rest of the time smiling at them and giving them the “Awww you’re so cute” look of adoration? That would be a better memory for them anyway.

And don’t forget – this is a fun day not only for your children, but for all the other kids as well. So don’t get so engrossed in photo taking and waving that you end up blocking other kids or worse, bumping into them!

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7. Manage expectations

So you’ve explained to your children that they simply can’t do everything. Let’s talk about your expectations now, shall we?

Your research will show you that the best thing to do is to send your kids to bake pizzas or make burgers or sushi when lunch time is approaching. That is a fantastic idea. But it is also the same idea that every other parent will have. So first, it will get crowded, and second, your child might not have the same idea.

So we started the day out fixing a loose time for lunch and dinner, and the kids knew that if they were to fuss about eating, then we’d all bid Kidzania farewell. I think that was the fastest I’d ever seen my children eat.

Just be warned that food options are not only limited, but they also um shall we say, do not rank the highest in nutritional value. So that’s another expectation to manage. Bring your own little snacks if you like. And water bottles (fill up at the coolers).

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8. Let them do their own queuing

There is a queue line at the entrance of every activity, and the rule is that the child participating in the activity must be in line himself. Alone. Don’t worry, you can be just out of the queue and beside your child. But no, parents and guardians are not allowed to be in the queue in place of the child. Which is perfect because that would mean that every child in Kidzania gets a fair and equal chance to participate in all activities.

So if Junior is in line, then runs off to do something, nobody is allowed to hold his place. So if he returns and finds that his spot is gone, he loses it and would have to queue again. Well, that would be the perfect chance to explain a life experience, wouldn’t it?

What about toilet breaks? As long as your child is already in the queue, let the Zupervisor know that he just needs to step out to go to the loo, and he will be given a queue card of sorts. The whole idea is to encourage responsibility and independence, through a fun way, no less.

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9. Ditch the map

Upon entry, you will be given a map of Kidzania. It is very comprehensive. It is also very big and shall we say, not entirely child-friendly. It is pictorial but it is sometimes hard to decipher what the images are trying to depict. Of course, there are numerical references, but that can be quite confusing for a young child. I suggest to ditch the map entirely, and simply go with the flow. We took the map but it remained in our pockets the entire time; we simply did not feel the need for it.

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10. That final activity

Ah yes, everybody panics when the announcement comes up to say that Kidzania is closing in half an hour. That’s the last call to squeeze in one more activity. This is when you tell your children very calmly that they can only do the activity that is closest to them with no queue. There is no time for queuing at that time. There will be no time to go hunt for something they saw during the day and want to try it out. There is a high chance that they either 1) won’t be able to find it or that 2) there will already be a queue. So tell them – it’s either this, or nothing, because the place is closing. And every child understands “the place is closing”.

I have to admit that the child in me thoroughly enjoyed both my times at Kidzania, even though I didn’t participate in anything. I hope that you’ll enjoy your Kidzania times too. If you let loose and let yourself have fun, it will not be a long draggy day, I promise! Till next time, zee you!

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Kidzania Singapore is located at Palawan Kidz City, 31 Beach View, Sentosa Island. It’s opposite the Port of Lost Wonder. You’ll see the big aeroplane nose sticking out of the building. The closest train station on Sentosa Island is Beach Station. Check out updated ticket prices here.

Note: Images shown were taken at both Kidzania Singapore and Kidzania Kuala Lumpur outlets.

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AMPED Trampoline Park: Practice Your Kegals Before!

We thoroughly enjoyed jumping away at AMPED Trampoline Park, my 4 year old and 8 year old, as well as their 30-something year old mother. If you have reservations about going to a trampoline park (essentially, a huge room full of interconnected trampolines), please watch this video. It is so much fun!

Each session lasts and hour and within that time, you can just about bounce around anywhere you wish. There’s an enclosed area with balls, free fall areas where you can jump into pits loaded with foam squares (with trampolines under!), and even have a go at jousting.

It consumes lots of energy (yay, no jogging for me tonight!) and you’ll need plenty of water. The great news is that they give out complimentary water for jumpers. Score!

There’s a big spectator area if you’re not jumping. But why not though, it’s so much fun.

Wear clothing that doesn’t restrict your movements because there’ll be a good deal of jumping and climbing, and perhaps even a little falling. Lots of laughter guaranteed.

Deal sealer: It is fully airconditioned.

Ladies, um, you might want to practice your kegals before. Just sayin’.

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this video, so that I can improve on my future ones. Feel free to leave a comment in this post! Thanks for watching 🙂

 

About AMPED Trampoline Park

Website: ampedsingapore.com/

River Valley

46 Kim Yam Road, The Herencia, #02-11, Singapore 239351

Tel: 8228.5961

There are 2 branches in Singapore – River Valley and Jurong. We visited the River Valley outlet.

Price: Prices vary, according to days (Mondays are the cheapest), check updated prices here.

Book your sessions online to guarantee a spot (walk-ins are entertained but there is a capacity limit). Sessions are only for an hour and start every hour, on the hour. Arrive 15 minutes before for your safety briefing. Remember to sign your waiver online before.

Amped grip socks are compulsory for all jumpers. You can buy them on the spot or online

 

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What can you do in Singapore on a Budget? Plenty!

“The world’s most expensive city in 2016”, says CNN.

“Of the world’s most expensive cities, Singapore has kept its title for the third year running,” says Fortune.

“If you’re looking for an affordable place to live, scratch Singapore off your list,” says CNBC.

Yikes, that’s pretty scary to hear, and enough to chase any would-be visitor away. Because surely you wouldn’t want to be having to pay for a meal with gold bars or sell your family heirlooms just to buy a bottle of water.

The good news is that, and this is coming from a local, it can get expensive if you choose to buy a big car, or live in a very convenient centrali-ish location. But if you’re just visiting for a week, then things like these wouldn’t have an impact on your travel budget.

Still not sure? Here’s a bunch of stuff you can do, without breaking the bank. Warning: this is a gigantic post! And it’s only Part 1! Part 2 will be up soon, on what to eat and where to stay. Stay tuned!

WHERE TO GO WITH KIDS?

L.I.F.E Gardens by the Bay

1. Gardens by the Bay has a beautiful water play area and playground (called the Far East Organisation Children’s Garden) that kids will absolutely love. Cost: Free.

 

L.I.F.E East Coast Beach

2. If you’re escaping a cold Winter, then a beach is a must-do. Singapore’s beaches don’t rank as high as its South-East Asian neighbours’, but there are family-centered activities around them that probably make up for it. Some beaches like East Coast Beach have bicycles and inline skates for rent. It is also home to Road Safety Park, which is an area with mini roads and traffic stops, a little petrol kiosk and bus stops – it’s a little run down but kids love it. Cost: Free, unless you rent a bike. There’s also a hawker centre around, and a jetty to hang out at. You’ll want car park E2 for all this.

If you find yourself at East Coast Beach on a Sunday, learn to build awesome sandcastles at Castle Beach. For free.

 

L.I.F.E Universal Studios Singapore1

3. If you could choose just one thing to blow your budget on, it should be Universal Studios Singapore. All those rides, all those shows, all that entertainment! Your wallet will feel the pinch but your kids will remember this as the best day of their lives, plus they’ll fall into bed that night faster than you can say goodnight.

Read our ten tips on how to make your trip to Universal Studios Singapore a great one.

 

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4. Go splash at a water playground! Hint: You’re gonna get wet!

What’s a country to do when it has limited land area, but yet it’s hot and humid pretty much all year round? Introduce water play areas on the rooftops of shopping malls, that’s what. Many shopping malls have this facility, but we particularly like the ones at Kallang Wave Mall, Tampines One, Vivocity and NEX. Cost: Free.

Read more: Splash N Surf is the perfect answer to a hot day

For serious water play, there’s the Adventure Cove Water Park that’s awesome but if spending $36 for entrance fee (it’s $28 for kids) is a little hard to swallow, head to the local public pools instead, where you’ll pay less than $2 per entry. Sengkang Swimming Complex has tall slides for big kids and a little water play area for little ones, plus a jacuzzi, Jurong East Swimming Complex has tall windy slides, a kids play area, jacuzzi, wave pool and a lazy river, and Jurong West Swimming Complex has a long slide, kiddy area, lazy river and a jacuzzi. These public pools are all within walking distance from MRT stations.

If you really want a water park where you can spend an entire day at, there’s a cheaper alternative in the East called Wild Wild Wet. Cost? $20 for adults and $14 for kids (off peak)

 

L.I.F.E Singapore Sports Hub

5. Play giant chess at the Singapore Sports Hub’s library. Pieces are light enough to maneuver easily, yet sturdy enough not to topple over. Cost: Free.

 

ARE YOU A CULTURE VULTURE?

L.I.F.E Sultan Mosque (14)

1. Kampong Glam houses Singapore’s second oldest (and possibly most impressive) mosque, Sultan Mosque – it also conducts free tours. It’s home to trendy shops and hip cafes, and you can probably spend a couple of hours roaming around. Cost: Free.

You might be interested in our Complete Guide on what to do in Kampong Glam.

 

L.I.F.E Little India (4)

2. Little India is probably Singapore’s most colourful neighbourhood. The smell of Jasmine fills the air as you walk along the streets, colourful saris swish around you, you’ll give in to getting a temporary henna tattoo – Little India doesn’t just welcome you, it demands the attention of all your senses! Cost: Free.

Find out why we think Little India is best explored on foot!

 

L.I.F.E Chinatown4

3. Chinatown in Singapore buzzes with excitement all year around, particularly around when Chinese New Year is around the corner (typically end January/early February – check local calendars to find out as they vary year to year). Cost: Free.

Here are 10 things you can do in Chinatown; many of them, free!

4. Find out how a Peranakan family used to live by visiting Baba House. Cost: free but advanced registration is necessary.

 

L.I.F.E Esplanade

5. Into music? The Esplanade-Theatres by the Bay often holds free performances and activities. Check out their website for the latest updates. Cost: Free. Getting wet at fountains: optional.

 

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6. Love museums? There are many to choose from, with reasonable admission rates, starting from $2 (many are free for locals). Traveling with kids? We’ve found the Singapore Philatelic Museum to be the most kid friendly.

Have you read this – Singapore Philatelic Museum: More than just stamps!

 

DO YOU LIKE WALKING?

L.I.F.E Treetop Walk Macritchie Reservoir Singapore (15)

1. The MacRitchie Reservoir Treetop Walk is along a beautiful nature trail within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. There are many routes you can take, ranging from easy to are-you-crazy. If you do not get lost (like we did), it can be a really pleasant walk (not even a hike), and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views. Cost: Free.

Find out how not to get lost on your way to the Treetop Walk here.

 

2. The National Heritage Board has various heritage trails that you can embark on. There are no guides; just download the maps and off you go at your own pace. There are markers around the trails so you can read up on each location along the way. Find a trail that suits you here. Cost: Free.

 

3. If you’d like a free guided tour, Singapore Footprints is run by a group of university students – they organise weekly guided walks around the civic district, as well as Chinatown. Cost: Free.

L.I.F.E Chinese Gardens

4. The Chinese Gardens and Japanese Gardens are located side by side so set aside a cool morning to explore. There are many pretty spots for photos but not much shelter. Note that kick scooters and bicycles are not allowed within the park. You will be asked to leave them at the entrance to be picked up later, but this could be inconvenient because there are many points of entry, and you may choose to exit from somewhere else other than your original point of entry. Cost: Free.

 

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5. It never fails to amaze us that nestled thick in urbanisation is a beautiful park, free for all to explore. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Singapore. UNESCO agrees too and recently named the Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sometimes there are also free concerts at Palm Valley on weekends. Cost: Free

Here’s what we think of it (spoiler alert: we love it).

 

L.I.F.E Singapore HDB

WANT A PEEK INTO WHERE SINGAPOREANS LIVE?

About 80% of Singapore’s population lives in public housing. The best way to see how Singaporeans live is to visit a housing estate, and most of them are easy to get to. Each housing estate is equipped with amenities like schools, food courts or hawker centres, recreation centres and sometimes even shopping malls near train and bus interchanges. Cost: Free.

L.I.F.E Tiong Bahru

1. Tiong Bahru estate is one of Singapore’s oldest but hippest housing estates. The unique designs of the flats are not found anywhere else in Singapore. Most of the blocks are about 4-5 storeys tall, and the estate is made up of elderly couples who have lived here since the flats were built in the 1950s, to young families with kids on bikes. Also, it’s home to Singapore’s only remaining World War II air raid shelter.

While you’re there, go on the heritage trail (it’s free) and grab a bite at any of the cafes if you’ve got a bit of a budget, or at the hawker centre (it’s rather famous, even among locals). Take a closer look at the Tiong Bahru murals here.

 

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2. Bishan estate is one of Singapore’s most populated estates. It’s home to one of Singapore’s most beautiful parks – the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park. A lovely place for a walk if you’re up for one. Check out Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park here (I had to go for a tetanus jab after our visit! – But you won’t if you’re careful. I wasn’t).

 

UP FOR SOME QUIRKY FUN?

L.I.F.E Haw Par Villa (4)

Haw Par Villa is quite possibly informally voted as one of Singapore’s weirdest places. It was originally built on the grounds of a villa from one brother to another as a token of love, and filled with scenes of Chinese mythology and folklore, depicting Chinese values such as filial piety and family togetherness. Which is sweet. But over the years, it was opened to the public, and now the descriptive plaques have disappeared, so visitors are left to form their own opinions on what they think each diorama or statue might be trying to depict. In any case, it’s free.

 

WANT TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT?

L.I.F.E DBS sailing (11)

1. Hop on a boat and enjoy the sea breeze on DBS Marina Regatta Sailing Programme and experience the beautiful Marina Bay from a different angle. Everyone else will have a picture of Marina Bay Sands, but you’ll have one from a boat. Book early here, and remember to bring a copy of your passport or identity card when you arrive, together with your printed indemnity form. Cost: Free.

Get your sea legs on, matey, and find out more here.

 

L.I.F.E Forest Adventure

2. Put on your monkey suit (or not) and sign up for an adventure that will require you to climb, swing, balance, jump, and stretch long forgotten muscles. Forest Adventure is a fun activity that will take up about 2 hours, but there’s a price to it. Cost: More here for updated costs; go on Tuesdays for better rates.

Read more about how we pushed ourselves to the limit at Forest Adventure.

 

This is by all means not an exhaustive list and I will probably add on to it regularly. But it’s a good place to start, I think. At least to show that there’s lots to do without burning a hole in your pocket.

If you’re Singaporean or have visited Singapore, I’d love to hear what you enjoyed! If you know of anyone who’s thinking of visiting Singapore or putting off a visit because of cost, I’d love for you to share this with them!

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Complete Guide to Kampong Glam: More than Mosques and Murtabaks

Singapore in the early days drew many traders and immigrants. They were ultimately grouped and allocated certain areas in which to live and trade – the Chinese were given the area around New Bridge Road (where Chinatown currently is), the Indians were given an area in Serangoon Road (known as Little India) and Kampong Glam was the designated Malay-Muslim area.

Have you read Ten Things to do in Chinatown? and Little India on Foot: The Best Way to Explore?

There are so many things to do around Kampong Glam that I suggest you dedicate at least half a day for exploring. You’ll be able to visit Sultan Mosque, the Malay Heritage Centre, wander around the shops of Arab Stret and Haji Lane (where a lot of hip shops have sprung up), and squeeze in a lunch at one of the many eateries.

Visiting Kampong Glam? The National Heritage Board has an awesome walking trail you can follow. Download it here.

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L.I.F.E Sultan Mosque (6)

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Sultan Mosque

First order of business was Masjid Sultan, or Sultan Mosque. We love that there are volunteers roaming around to answer any questions and guide you around. Don’t worry if you’re too shy to approach one; just wander around looking confused and someone will approach you and ask “Sister/Brother, do you need help?”

The hospitality we received reminded me of the time I visited the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.

 

You’re not allowed to wander around much, just around the main prayer hall (but not into it), and around the perimeter of the building. I love finding out about other cultures and religions and think it’s good to expose children to beliefs apart from their own, but wondered if it would be too heavy for the kids.

My 8-year old surprised me by asking a string of questions that included “What’s the name of your God?”, “What do the star and moon mean?”, “Do you pray alone or with a group?” and “Does everybody need to fast?” Each was answered by our very patient guide, and I love that he directed his answers to my daughter, and explained them in a way that an 8-year old would understand.

 

We were fortunate enough to witness part of a wedding solemnisation as we were leaving. We would have stayed longer had hunger not ushered us out.

 

Most interesting facts we learnt from our guide:

1) The prayer hall resembles the interior of a cathedral because it was designed by a European architect – He wanted to give the room a feel of openness, and was inspired by cathedral interiors

2) The Muslim community all contributed to the building of the mosque – the rich donated funds while the poor donated glass bottles. If you look just below the gold portion, you’ll see a ring of black – those are the bottles. Soya sauce bottles apparently!

 

Note: This is a place of worship so please dress appropriately. However, there are robes you can borrow for the duration of your visit should you need to cover up. Visitors are welcome at the following times: Saturdays to Thursdays, 10am to 12noon, 2pm to 4pm, and 2.30pm to 4pm on Fridays.

 

Children Little Museum

Bussuroh Street is the walking street from the main entrance of Sultan Mosque. Along the street, among the restaurants and souvenir shops, is a unit called Children Little Museum. Level one is full of retro knick-knacks, and there’s even more on the upper floor, including a horse from a carousel. Entry to the lower floor is free, and you’ll be welcomed by the very friendly owner (each time we’ve passed over the years, he’s given a little toy or knick knack to our kids). Entry to the upper floor is $2 per person, and he’s not pushy about it at all. Fun to see for those old enough to appreciate retro toys.

 

L.I.F.E Zam Zam (1)

L.I.F.E Zam Zam (2)

L.I.F.E Zam Zam (3)

L.I.F.E Zam Zam (4)

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It’s makan time, but where to eat?

Our original plan was to eat at HJH Maimunah, which was highly recommended by many Muslim friends for good nasi padang. Unfortunately, a ten minute walk was too much for very hungry little kids so we ended up at Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant (or affectionately known as Zam Zam). Apparently this is an iconic establishment among Singaporeans so I was pretty excited because as a Singaporean, I’d never been to Zam Zam before.

 

The kids enjoyed their Milo Dinosaur, I was in love with my teh terik (it’s possibly the best I’ve ever had!), and we all appreciated the air conditioning. Together we polished off one plate of chicken briyani and a pack of papadums but struggled with the chicken murtabak. All in all, $18.20 for a heavy lunch.

 

Just opposite the Malay Heritage Centre is Rumah Makan Minang, famous for its nasi padang. We love the food, but it’s pricey and there’s usually a big queue at lunch. But worth a try if you’re in the area.

 

 

Arab Street, Haji Lane

Lunch gave us all an energy boost so we were up for more exploring. I love how the shops at Arab Street all adopt an open concept – there are no doors and most of them are cooled down with ceiling fans. It just gives the whole area a very relaxed vibe. Had they brought their purses, the kids would have bought a Persian rug or a bale of shiny cloth, I’m sure.

Haji Lane was nice to explore too with shops and cafes but with all that Zam Zam in our tum tum, we needed to move and not sit for more yums!

 

L.I.F.E Malay Heritage Centre (1)

Malay Heritage Centre

The Malay Heritage Centre was once the Sultan’s Palace and you can feel a sort of grandeur when you roam around. We love the area where they showcased snippets of old movies in a little theatre setting (with old cinema seats!). They occasionally have days where they teach visitors traditional Malay games, and that’s usually fun. It’s a little dark within the building so maybe it’s not best for very young children.

I thought it might be a bit more interesting with a section on Malay food and culture. Because a lot of the Heritage Centre is focused on the past, and not much on the present.

Get your tickets from the Visitor Centre first before going into the main building. Also, washrooms are not within the main building.

There are always special programmes (usually free but requiring pre-registration) popping up so make sure to check here before you visit. Free guided tours are available at 11am Tuesdays to Fridays, and 2pm on weekends.

 

Kampong Glam is easily accessible by MRT – the closest station is Bugis. Take Exit E and walk along Victoria Street toward Raffles Hospital. Past Raffles Hospital is Sultan Mosque; use that as your landmark!

 

We really enjoyed exploring Kampong Glam – it’s easy to get to and move around in, even with little children. If you know anyone who’s interested to find out more about Kampong Glam, I’d love for you to share this with them.

 

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National Gallery Singapore: Big love for the kids’ area!

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When the old Supreme Court building opened up to visitors a few years ago before moving to its new premises, we went for one last look, worried that the building would be designated for the wrecking ball. We should have known that such a beautiful building with such a rich history would never face such a fate.

Special note: It was at this very building that the Japanese army surrendered in 1945 after 3 years of rule in Singapore. Also, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was sworn into office as Prime Minister here in 1959.

Japanese_surrender_at_Singapore,_1945Image: Wikipedia

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Today it is home to the National Gallery of Singapore and is filled with, well, lots of stuff I suppose. I’m not quite sure because when we visited, we went straight to the Keppel Centre for Art Education and got sucked into it for 5 hours. Five. The kids didn’t give me a chance to see anything else. But it was a whole lot of fun – we were there for 2.5 hours in the morning, then went for lunch, and back again for “ten more minutes” that morphed into a further 2.5 hours.

When I hear the word “corridor”, I think of a place that we walk through without stopping. But the Art Corridor is something else altogether. It’s so colourful and happy looking that you can’t not stop. Particularly if you have young ones that like noise. And colour. And dropping things.

Giving visitors the opportunity to play and discover through colour and Physics, this was almost like a Science Centre-ish kind of exhibit, and the little ones loved it.

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But it was the Art Playscape that we spent the most time in. We nicknamed it the “enchanted forest”. There were hallows in trees to hide in (warning: adults are welcome but do watch your head!), tree houses to explore, and lots of little nooks to hide in. Thus, the game of hide-and-seek/chasey was developed among all the kids. Which explains the length of time we spent here.

It’s got a no-shoes rule which was great because everything was kept clean. But truth be told, some areas smelt a little funky. There are activity sheets that you can get from the counters so do take them; they’re great for meal time entertainment.

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L.I.F.E Singapore National Gallery11

L.I.F.E Singapore National Gallery12

The Children’s Museum room was nothing like a museum at all. There were lots of Magnatiles to play with (on light tables, no less!), a cosy reading corner with a small number of books, but the winner of that room was the little cardboard boxes that kids could build castles with.

L.I.F.E Singapore National Gallery13

L.I.F.E Singapore National Gallery14

At Project Gallery, you can buy little project/activity kits and create your own flying bus and boats in the sky, but I’m a seasoned parent, and I know that buying these kits only means that they’ll be done in a short time (or left incomplete), and I’ll be the one left holding two little cardboard structures. So we smiled and said no thanks and moved on.

We really enjoyed the Keppel Centre for Art Education – its aim is to offer a dynamic environment to stimulate creativity in children, but if you miss the point, just take it as a fun and free way to spend an afternoon. Your kids won’t mind.

The entrance is located at the side of the building, facing St Andrew’s Cathedral (which we visited just before! You can read about it here). From the main entrance, the Keppel Centre for Art Education is on the left, just after the souvenir shop. Keppel Centre for Art Education is located on Level 1, at the City Hall Wing.

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If you have the time, or if the kids let you, do visit the (former) Supreme Court building – some of the court rooms as well as the original holding cells (two of the original 12) are still around and very well preserved. There are also tours that you can follow for free. Registration opens 20 minutes before the tours begin, on a first come first served basis. Find out more here. This list from The New Paper also shares ten interesting things about National Gallery that you can look out for.

Everyone else I know who’s been says it’s awesome with wonderful exhibitions. That means that I will have to return once more, sans kids. Here‘s a list of all the awesome exhibits. L.I.F.E Singapore National Gallery15

The National Gallery of Singapore is located at 1 Andrew Road. Opening hours:  Daily from 10am to 7pm, and late closures at 10pm on Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays. The closest MRT station is City Hall. Non Singaporeans pay $20 for admission; it is free for Singaporeans and PRs.

If you’re visiting on the weekend of 11-12 June, check out Common Grounds, lots of performances, activities and fun awaits!

 

*****

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Reflections at Bukit Chandu: A Solemn Reminder

Situated upon Bukit Chandu, off Pasir Panjang Road, is a little black and white bungalow with a tiny manicured lawn and fish pond. More than 60 years ago, this was one of the sites where 1,400 soldiers from the Malay Regiment stood against a 13,000-strong Japanese army in the fall of Singapore, in 1942.

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Reflections at Bukit Chandu allows visits to embark on a sensory journey to learn more and experience what it was like in the final hours before the British surrender. On display, you’ll see rifles and machine guns that were used. Through recorded interviews you’ll hear and read about the heroes that fought fiercely and stood with loyalty.

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In History books, children in Singapore learn about the Japanese soldiers who advanced into Singapore on bicycles while all canons pointed out to sea, the British thinking that there would be a naval attack. Seeing the actual bicycles and watching the video footage is something that you’ll get to experience at this museum.

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You’ll get to witness the Battle of Pasir Panjang as told by a Corporal from the Malay Regiment.There’s a theatre in which you’ll be in darkness and hear all the sounds of war like gunfire and bombs, and people shouting. The pictures, the drawings, the sounds…. It can get a little too much. It wasn’t a big place, but it held so much history. After your visit, you’ll probably to walk around the surroundings a little to appreciate life and count your blessings.

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We went to this place not quite knowing what to expect, but emerged a whole lot more knowledgeable of the event that occurred. This is an extremely interesting place for an adult; children should be at least of school going age to fully appreciate this place. There are no children facilities around, and because of the strong nature of the content, I would strongly advise against bringing very young children to this.

L.I.F.E Reflections1

Reflections at Bukit Chandu is located at 31K Pepys Road Singapore 118458. Tel: 6375 2510. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 5.30pm (closed on Mondays). Admission is free for Singaporeans and PRs, and foreign visitors pay $2 for adults and $1 for students and seniors.

There is a small parking lot available for those who drive. Via public transport, the closest MRT station is Pasir Panjang (or you can take 10, 30, 143 or 188 from Harbourfront MRT station). Cross the road and walk into Pepys Road. There is only one way up and the hill can be quite steep so make sure you wear good shoes. Be prepared to walk up for at least 20 minutes.

There are no food options, and if you’re not too excited about what you find at the foot of the hill, take a bus back to Seah Im Hawker Centre, opposite Vivocity, for good ole hawker food.

 

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St Andrew’s Cathedral: Singapore’s oldest cathedral

L.I.F.E - St Andrews Cathedral Singapore (16)

L.I.F.E - St Andrews Cathedral Singapore (2)

Standing quietly and serenely in downtown Singapore, St Andrew’s Cathedral has witnessed many of Singapore’s major events – it even served as an emergency hospital during the Second World War.

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It is almost 200 years old and from that very spot, Singapore’s largest cathedral watched as the landscape around it changed over the years. It watched as the National Library got torn down to make way for a tunnel to ease traffic. It watched as the food vendors along the Esplanade made way for the world-class theatre that welcomes millions of visitors a year. And most recently, it watched as its neighbour, the former Supreme Court got gutted and refurbished into the swanky new Singapore National Gallery.

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This outstanding monument is hard to miss, yet many often walk by it on the way to City Hall MRT station, Central Fire Station, or now, probably the Singapore National Gallery, without giving it a second glance.

The land was reserved for a church in 1823 by none other than Sir Stanford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. The original church was struck by lightning twice and had to be rebuilt. It was financed by Scottish merchants, and therefore, was named St Andrew’s Cathedral, after Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.

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It is a functioning Anglican church, and still conducts Sunday services for today’s community. It attracts many wedding couples who have their pre-wedding pictures taken at the church’s lawn – that’s OK with the church; you’ll just have to write to them in advance. It used to conduct guided tours, but somehow that’s seemed to have stopped. What a pity – so much of Singapore needs to be discovered!

Special note for kids: the trees that line the roads are saga trees, which means that there are plenty of red saga seeds to be picked! And the lawn is full of grasshoppers!

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L.I.F.E - St Andrews Cathedral Singapore (3)

St Andrew’s Cathedral is located at 11 St Andrew’s Road Singapore 178959

How to get there:

Nearest MRT station: City Hall (it is visible from City Hall MRT station). Just cross over.

Buses: By bus : 61, 124, 145, 166, 174, 197, 174M, 32, 51, 63, 80, 195, 851, 961

Or refer to this map.

 

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