Future World: A new children’s play space at Art Science Museum

The kids had a really awesome time last week exploring Future World, the new permanent exhibition at the Art Science Museum. It was a whole new world of play.

Future World is a collaboration between Art Science Museum and TeamLab, an award-winning Tokyo-based art collective of “ultra-technologists” that includes artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects and designers. Future World is touted to be Singapore’s largest interactive digital playground, and I think the kids have to agree with this.

Future world_table

There are 4 different spaces within the exhibition – Nature, Town, Park and Space. Our favourites were Park and Space. Most of the exhibits are designed to be highly interactive. Take this Table Where Little People Lived, which comes to life when visitors “play” with its inhabitants. Try moving the wooden blocks around the table and the little people will react and change their movements accordingly. It even responds when you place your hands on the table! JJ was very excited trying to “catch” the little people, and observing how they react to different things and movements.

Future world_screen

This huge screen is the Sketch Town installation. It includes recognisable landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum, the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer. The kids got to colour drawings of buildings, cars, and even spaceships. Then watch their creations come alive (in 3D) after they are placed on a scanner and “transported” into Sketch Town itself. Very cool!

The same drawings can be scanned into a 3D paper model version that they can bring home and cut and fold to form their own 3D models.

What’s more, kids can interact with the screen by tapping on buildings and cars, and watch them hop, dance, or skip, with accompanying music. And watch out for the dragon who comes to attack Sketch Town – when you see it, tap on the fighter jets on the screen and they will start shooting at it!

Future world_colouring

There is a similar installation called Sketch Aquarium, a digitally rendered aquatic world of underwater animals. Both Vera and JJ were busy colouring (and scanning) in different fishes and marine life.

After a while, JJ got distracted with the Light Ball Orchestra, made up of luminous multi-coloured giant balls. The balls react when touched and played with, they glow and change colour, and create different kinds of sounds when kicked and rolled over. A multi-sensorial experience!

He was content rolling and frolicking with the balls for a pretty long time.

Future world_balls

Then he discovered the Create! Hopscotch for Geniuses…now this is where he really got hooked.

Here you can create your own game of hopscotch by arranging different shapes on a tablet, which are then projected onto the floor. As you hop your way through the course, different light and sound effects are triggered. Also, specific shapes and colours create different visual effects on the forest background projected onto a separate screen, so it’s interesting for older children to observe.

Like the Light Ball Orchestra, this was a great game for JJ, who like most boys can’t stop moving their bodies. 😛

Future world_hopscotch

Finally, we come to the final highlight of our visit – the Crystal Universe, a beautiful and intriguing installation made up of over 170,000 LED lights arranged across the room. There’s a tablet here that allows you to create different lighting and movmeent effects. Vera said this was her favourite part of the exhibition. It definitely was a magical experience so I can understand why!

Future world_crystals

Future World, the new permanent exhibition at ArtScience Museum, is now open. Ticketing information here.

Admission prices (for Singapore :

  • Adults: S$14
  • Child (2-12 years): S$7
  • Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): S$35
  • Senior (65 & above):S$11
  • Every Friday is Family Friday! Up to four children under 12 years old enter for free with every adult ticket purchased.

Timed-entry has been introduced from 1 April 2016. Admission times are: 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 5.30pm (last entry).

It’s definitely worth a visit, so go check it out!

The gift of play – Fun things to do with kids outdoors

You may have read my 20 easy ways to play at home.

Now it’s time for some outdoor play ideas.

1. Catch the bus to nowhere, get off on a whim and explore the area. The only catch is it must be someplace new. 😉

2. Walk in the rain with or without shoes. Jump into puddles. Laugh out loud.

3. Visit a pet shop. Get your child to name the number of different animals you can see. Keep a count of those animals.

4. Gather as many different flowers and leaves as you can when you next walk in the park. See who has the most number of variety in their bag. (When you get home, press these flowers and leaves between paper and stick it under a heavy book for a few days. Pressed flowers make simple and pretty craft items.)

5. Bring markers. Collect rocks or pebbles and draw on them. If your child is older, you can get them to write little messages on these rocks.

7. Pebble-fishing – BYO coloured rocks or pebbles and scatter them into a wade pool for the kids to pick up.

8. Collect pine cones. Bring them home and hang them up as a mobile.

9. Go to the Botanic Gardens (or any park) and do any of the following:

– climb a tree

– sky-gaze

– paint whatever catches your eye

– have a picnic

– bring along  paper and crayons and do leaf shadings (Thanks Evelyn for the idea!)

10. Hug a tree. (Inspired by this wall mural at Food for Thought.)

Since it’s the holidays, why not put on your collector’s hat this week? Take a bag and run outdoors and pick up whatever catches your fancy. Or bring along a magnifying glass to examine some creepy crawlies. The world is an amazing place, if we would just make the time to see it that way. 😉

Let our children play! 20 easy ways to play at home

Play is a non-negotiable for kids. It’s a need, not a want. It’s the first thing on their minds when they wake up – even before breakfast – and probably also the last thing on their minds before they fall asleep.

As Prime Minister Lee himself also acknowledged in his recent National Day rally speech, we can and should let our children play during these precious preschool years.

However, due to the hurried lives we lead today, the odds seem to stand against play. The increasing attention being paid to academic development and enrichment activities goes against the grain of free and easy child-centered play.

All of that sounds pretty gloomy, but here is the good news. In spite of the competitive environment, you can make a choice to let your kids play. It’s easy and there are so many psychological, cognitive and social benefits to play. As psychologist Lawrence Cohen points out, play is a child’s way of exploring the world, communicating feelings, bonding with their care-givers, and dealing with stress and anxiety.

Most of all, I think play is a child’s special love language, so the more you play with them, the more love they’re receiving!

You don’t need state-of-the-art toys or the latest gadgets. You don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars. All you need is to put on your play-hat. Here are some ideas to get you started…

1. Alphabet workout! – Get your child to do the alphabet using their body. Allow them to use other props if necessary or even an accomplice, especially for letters like “H” (two people standing facing each other and joining hands). Easy fun for the family!

2. Play bowling with recycled drink bottles and a soft ball.

home bowling with recycled bottles

3. Pitch a tent in the living room and pretend you’re going camping.

4. Take out an old muffin tray and let your toddler have fun scooping pebbles from one part to another. Can also try sorting by colours.

5. Put on some fun music and dance with the kids. (Have you tried the Rhinoceros Tap? Hilarious fun!)

6. Make funny faces in the mirror and see who’s the funniest. (Capture these on camera and recap for a good laugh afterwards.)

7. Create a colourful “sand pit” with a large plastic container, some rice grains and food colouring, and give the kids scoops and pails. You can easily turn this into a craft session with some glue and drawing paper, but you may want to lay newspaper on the floor before doing this, or do this at the balcony or outdoors. (Tip: go easy on the food colouring, as a little goes a long way. Let the coloured rice dry first before playing.)

8. Play dress-up!

9. Explore nostalgic games with your kids such as five stones. Adjust the rules of the game according to your child’s age. For example, you can place a small hoop or draw a square on a paper, and ask your child to throw as many stones into the hoop / square as possible!

10. Bedtime silliness! Daddy or mummy gets to piggyback the kids to bed. Alternatively, you can try making a bedtime sandwich – where kids take turns getting squashed in between mummy and daddy. (Caution: Only try this with preschoolers and not infants okay?)

11. Concoct-a-potion using flour, water, food colouring. Try mixing in shaving cream or other gooey stuff lying in your house, just so you can see what happens. Bonus: Put on a wizard’s hat, and pretend you’re mixing a magic potion.

12. Pillow fight!

13. Read a book and act it out. This was actually an idea suggested by a reader on my recent post, We’re going on a bear hunt. The best part about this is that any good book can be inspiration for dramatic play, and you can improvise any way you like using whatever materials or “obstacles” you can find in the home. Great for building the imagination. Alternatively, do some craft-work inspired by the book. For instance, if your child loves The Hungry Caterpillar, you can try out these caterpillar crafts.

14. Peek-a-boo sensory play – this game is good for younger children and infants. Put different materials of different textures into a bag and let your child reach his hand in to touch. Use words to describe each specific material, such as “soft”, “tickly”, “rough”, and “furry”.

15. Name hopscotch – use crayon or chalk to draw boxes, and write each letter of your child’s name on each box, starting with the first box.

16. Crayon rocks – this was quite an accidental discovery. Fellow mum-blogger Evelyn was the one who introduced crayon rocks to me. Besides being easy for little hands to handle, I found that they were good for counting as well. You can also divide the colourful rocks into little groups like we’ve done below, to get a bit of math action. If you’d like to purchase some, you can find them from SG baby mall or FoxySales.

crayon rocks

17. Tear paper and guess the animal – Have you ever imagined clouds looking like animals? Well, this is simply that. Give your child different coloured pieces of paper and ask her to randomly tear them into different shapes. Guess what animal or object each piece looks like. You can further build on this game by turning it into a craft session – add on the different parts of the animal’s body onto it using crayons or whatever you have at home.

18. Puppet play – Puppets are fun props to have around the home. You can make them dance to music or better still, rope in the kids and create your own little puppet drama!

19. Pack a picnic and sit around the balcony to enjoy it. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a picnic than in the great outdoors, so this comes a close second. The best part? Get everyone to close their eyes and make-believe they’re at a beautiful garden in a country of your choice. 😉

20. Make goopMix 1/2 cup of corn flour and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl, and add 2 to 3 drops of food colouring. It’s like  half dough, half body paint. Let the kids play and make a mess just before bath-time.

There! I’ve tried my best to keep these ideas simple and either costing nothing or next to nothing. And I really hope you guys have fun with them!

PS. Let your kids explore and use their imagination. You’ll be surprised to see how they build on a game or reinvent the rules. By all means, let them try different ways to play, and take their cue when they’re tired or want to do something else.

Let’s go out! 4 fun-tastic ideas for outdoor family play

This guest post is written by Sarah from The Playful Parents. She is a real play enthusiast, and has infected many around her with the play bug (including me). She has reminded me that life with children should be about play, so let’s not take things too seriously, starting from today.

Here are some fun and easy ideas for outdoor play. Take it away, Sarah!

~~~~~

Tired of your usual haunts and in need for some fresh ideas on where to go as a family? Well, here are some ideas to set you off on brand new adventures. Best of all, they’re easy on your pocket, but big on fun!

#1. Discover & Conquer

You don’t have to travel far to find fun and adventures, really. As a non-car owner, I assure you that public transport travel with young children isn’t that scary or impossible. It is actually a rather wonderful way for our children to learn more about daily life.

Be a tourist around your neighbourhood. Head out on the bus, bike or on foot. Hit a street you’ve never been to before. I would dare say all neighbourhoods have gems waiting for us to discover. We just need to make the effort to look for them.

Butterfly-spotting: Trying to stand still long enough to see the butterflies

Try these neighbourhood conquests:

  • Play Trail: Do a playground hop to check out all the playgrounds. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and see if you can find any of the classic heritage Singapore playgrounds too!
  • Food Trail: Pick a favourite food and try every stall you find that sells it. Ask for recommendations from random strangers who live in the area. Search out the must-try stalls from online food bloggers.
  • Flora and Fauna Trail: Parks are fantastic treasure troves of biodiversity and great for kids to just run about. Go bird-watching or butterfly-spotting.  Singapore’s NParks has produced several fantastic guides and walking trails for you to download. I highly recommend exploring the park connector trails. Or how about going on a hunt for these10 Trees in Singapore?

# 2. Host An Outdoor Olympics

The Terrific Tot-lympian: Trying to cross a hurdle in his path

  • Bubbles. Play Blow and Pop: Someone blow up bubbles while another chases and pops them.
  • Catching in its many variants old and new: Police and Thief, Fire and Ice.  I especially enjoy the co-operative catching games where a group has to work together against the ‘catcher’ like  Eagle Catching the Chicks ( Lao Ying Zhua Xiao Ji) and What’s the time, Mr Wolf?( similar to Grandmother’s Footsteps).
  • Ball games: Basketball, football, volleyball, poison ball, monkey ball.
  • Sack races: An oldie-but-goodie that is good both indoor and outdoor.
  • Obstacle Races: Gather some neighbours and their children to have an obstacle race! Here’s a starter planning list.

# 3. Do Outdoor Art

How about letting the outdoors inspire you and your young ones? Pack up your art materials and sit at a nearby park to draw or paint. Crayons, watercolours-in-a-box and a sketch book are easily portable. Even better, use Nature itself to create art.

Stick + Sand + Kids = Artistic Fun!

Here is more mess-free stuff to try:

  • Chalk drawing: For a twist, bring along a water spray filled with water. Spray water on chalk drawings and see how your art changes.
  • Family Profile Silhouettes: Find a sunny spot. Stick up cardstock on the wall. Stand in front of the paper. Trace the silhouette cast. Cut along the outlines.
  • Water painting: All you need are brushes and some bottles of water to paint the floor.
  • Outdoor sculptures: Gather twigs, leaves, stones and whatever catches your fancy to construct your sculptures.
  • Make a kite and fly it!

#4. Go Geo-Caching: Contemporary Treasure Hunt

Have you heard of geocaching? It’s a ‘real world’, treasure hunt game you play using GPS devices. Many cities and countries around the world have geocaches so if you’re truly adventurous, you could even do this on your holiday. Here is a list of current geocaches in Singapore. Click here to find out more about how geocaching works!

For more playful ideas, do check out The Playful Parents.

About Sarah, Family Play Advocate

Sarah is an educator-storyteller-writer turned domestic circus ring mistress. She currently runs her circus show 24/7 starring 3 males, and counting. It can be a mad yet fulfilling life. A passionate advocate for more playfulness in life, Sarah enjoys sharing ideas and resources on practical ways to live more creatively, artfully and playfully on her blog. Swing on by and say ‘hello’ to other Playful Parents like you!

A toddler’s prayer

We have begun praying together with Vera for quite a while now. And Vera has started to echo whatever we pray.

One particular evening, things started to get quite peculiar halfway through.

Here are the words to our prayer…

~~~

Dear God,

Dear God,

Thank you for the wonderful day we had.

Thank you for the wonderful day we had.

Thank you for the time we can spend together as a family.

Thank you for the time we can spend together with our family.

Thank you that Vera was such a good girl today,

Thank you that Vera was such a good girl today,

and JJ was such a good boy.

and JJ was such a good boy.

We pray for the week ahead.

We pray for the week on the head.

[Daddy and I swallow back our chuckles.]

We ask, Lord, that you be with us.

We ask, Lord, that you play with us.

[Laughing out loud now…]

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~~~

Isn’t it funny how this goes to show what the important things really are to a 3 year old? Anyway, I think God’s pretty cool about it, after all, He created us with the desire to have fun, right?

Though I’m still not quite sure about the praying on the head part. Maybe it’s an expression of her desire to learn head-stands?

Have you had any funny conversations with your child lately?   

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