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Inline Skating Lessons At Inlinex

(Not sponsored!)

Time flies. It has been half a year since the boys started lessons with Inlinex at Bedok Reservoir Park. After fifteen lessons, sadly, we have to stop our weekly lessons cos Kor Kor is starting primary school in the afternoon session and his usual weekday swimming and wushu classes will be moved to the weekend. (I already foresee attending one class each day of the weekend to be very tiring. Can’t imagine trying to squeeze in one more >.<)

  

The instructors are all young people, lively and energetic and they get along so well with all the children! My boys not only have fun learning inline skating, they also enjoy playing and bantering with the instructors. 

Each session, the students might get assigned to a different instructor, according to the number of students per level who turn up that session. This might seem less than ideal, but each student has a record book which indicates what he or she has learnt so far, so the instructor is able to provide guidance accordingly. And amazingly, I have been impressed with ALL the instructors my boys have tried! 

I also love the flexibility of the lessons – no need to commit to a fixed day or time. There are six timings every weekend, just show up at any one (or even more than one, if you wish!) Payment is for a term of five sessions, no penalty for missing lessons, no need to inform beforehand if you want to go for lesson. 

Inlinex also conducts inline skating classes at quite a few other venues, including an indoor one at The Riverwalk. Kor Kor is currently attending skateboarding lessons with them as he requested. And to make full use of our time, Didi is attending inline skating classes at the same place while Kor Kor learns skateboarding. 

  
  My biggest headache now is, there are only weekend classes at Bedok Reservoir Park, so HOW am I going to reunite my boys with the lovely instructors there??? 

  

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Camping at P.Ubin : )

We have done it! A 2D1N camping adventure at P.Ubin, with fellow homeschoolers. A total of seven families and 17 children, most of whom were below five years old. Amazed? I was! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Our campsite

Our itinerary was simple – met up at Changi Point Ferry Terminal in the morning, took a bumboat ride to P.Ubin, set up camp, had lunch at a local restaurant, cycled around the island exploring. Then it was back to camp in the late afternoon to cook dinner, followed by a night walk after washing up.

Dinner, prepared in mess tins over solid fuel

Dinner, prepared in mess tins over solid fuel

The older kids playing. (This is too funny. I try not to post any photo with other people in the photo, but in this case, it just happens that my photography skills plus my iPhone 4s camera blurred most of the faces!

The older kids playing. (This is too funny. I try not to post any photo with other people in the photo, but in this case, it just happens that my photography skills plus my iPhone 4s camera blurred most of the faces!

So how did we manage camping with three young kids? We were pretty minimalist – other than the usual things like clothes and diapers, the only ‘camping gear’ we brought were the tent (which we had from pre-kids days), mess tins (hubby’s army gear), solid fuel, and a few torches. Dinner was very simple, just instant noodles and luncheon meat. It was the first time our kids got to eat instant noodles, and I am sure just once wouldn’t cause any damage. (Well, it’s likely to be instant noodles again when we go camping again. So be it!)

All of us slept on the hard ground, with just the tent separating us from the grass. No mattresses for us. Frankly speaking, my idea of camping is for my boys to rough it out. The standard shall be same as what they gonna get when they go for National Service ๐Ÿ˜›

Kor Kor cycled on a bicycle we rented from one of the numerous bicycle shops on the island. Didi was in child seat on Hubby’s bicycle, while Meimei was on mine. Unfortunately I am not a very good cyclist and the group had to wait for me to catch up >.<

It was my first time cycling with a child seat. Before that, I never knew how unstable the bicycle would be even with the stand down, when the child was in the seat. The uncle at the bicycle shop did warn us not to leave the child alone on the bicycle, and we took his advice seriously. But alas, an accident still happened. I was not strong enough to hold on to the bicycle while getting on (i.e. with only one leg on the ground), and I caused Meimei to fall!

I include this photo here not to gross you out, but to show you how 'heavy' the fall was..

I include this photo here not to gross you out, but to show you how ‘heavy’ the fall was..

Luckily luckily LUCKILY Meimei was wearing her helmet and buckled in on the child seat, so she did not sustain any injuries at all. The brave girl didn’t even cry! But she did fall, and her head did come into contact with the ground, so I am really very thankful that I decided to bring her helmet along. In fact I had just bought her helmet a few days before the camping trip for this purpose. Previously I wasn’t sure whether a child riding in the bicycle’s child seat needed a helmet, though I would definitely ensure the cycling kids wear their helmets. Parents, please let your child wear a helmet as long as she is on a bicycle! Or a balance bike.. or skates.. or skate scooter.. any of those dangerous speed machines.. ok??

I did a recee trip with my sons the weekend before

I did a recee trip with my sons the weekend before

All in all, I enjoyed the camping trip a lot, and the boys said they had fun too. I am glad they finally got to try camping, and hopefully we will get to do it again soon! And we shall also go over to P.Ubin for more nature regularly!

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A Crazy Month… And The Lessons I Learnt

December was a really crazy month for the kids and me, mainly because I signed Kor Kor up for a few holiday programmes at the CC, plus a 3-day skate course and a Lego workshop at KidsSTOP. On top of that, we joined a zoo homeschool co-op, toured Gardenia factory, had playdates with friends who were back from overseas, and attended two birthday parties, and of course, Christmas parties! There was a year-end break from swim class and speech and drama class, but wushu lessons were on-going.

It was quite a stressful month due to the rushing around and more significantly, because we could not follow our usual routine. On hindsight, I really shouldn’t have signed him up for SO MANY programmes! Argh. Actually I had only planned to let him attend a speech and drama programme. But when I looked through the CC’s holiday programmes, so many seemed so interesting! I guess I got too excited… ๐Ÿ˜›

On the positive side, Kor Kor was OK to attend the programmes. Now that he is older, he doesn’t mind being left alone in an unfamiliar place with strangers anymore. However I don’t think he really enjoyed the programmes, other than the skate camp. I also felt uncomfortable that the classes were mostly accompanied with worksheets even though they were non-academic topics (Space Fantasy, Kitchen Science, etc)… Even worse, Didi and Meimei wasted their time while waiting for Kor Kor. I wish I could say I spent the time purposefully and constructively with them… but..

Come to think of it, I think I could have done a better job teaching Kor Kor and playing with him the activities that they did during the programmes. Minus the worksheets and waiting time and the course fees. Argh.

So, I have learnt my lessons. For the June holidays, I shall probably only sign the boys up for the skate camp.

You know, quite often we hear people saying the firstborn gets many more advantages and privileges. For example, Kor Kor attended My Gym and Little Neuro Tree when he was not even two years old. Earlier this year he attended Alpha Gym for a term. But the younger two will NOT be attending such classes, and definitely won’t be attending holiday classes like what Kor Kor just did. Not because I am not willing to pay for classes for Didi and Meimei. Not because I have no time to bring them to class. But because Kor Kor aka the Guinea Pig had tried and I have found that these classes are not good enough/necessary/much beneficial. So Didi and Meimei are reaping the fruits of Kor Kor’s labour, haha!

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We Made Insect Specimens!

Yes, at Kea Xplorer again! I had signed the boys up for this even before we attended the woodwork session, because I hope the boys would love and be comfortable in the great outdoors. But it was beyond my expectations, and seriously, I was blown away by the exhilaration of catching the insects with our own hands and making them into specimens!

There were two parts to the insect specimen workshop. In the morning, we went insect-hunting.

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Briefing at the beginning of the session. Yes the instructor, who was also our woodwork instructor, MADE the benches!

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Let’s go catch some bugs!!

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The bugs no chance

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My boys. Cool, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

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A slug!

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Instructor demonstrating how to break the nerve of a butterfly

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Got to hold the butterfly

Does it look like we were in a ulu forest? Actually, no! We were right across the road from many, many residential apartments, and a bit farther down were some other industrial-like buildings. It was just a long strip of some trees. It proved to me that we need not go to the forest or mountains to get a good dose of nature.

Before we attended this session, I was wondering HOW to catch the insects. I mean, I did spend quite a lot of time at places like Venus Loop, but other than mosquitoes and ants, I never noticed any other insects…

OK, the key word here is ‘noticed’. It is just about purposeful noticing, aka observation, aka Open Your Eyes Big Big. All we had to do, was hit the clusters of long grass with the insect net a few times, and we saw numerous grasshoppers, katydids, unknown insects jumping out!

But that didn’t mean it was easy to catch them. The little things were quick! And also very smart. After a while, it wasn’t that easy to spot them anymore. Argh. Never mind, then we moved on to the second part – making the captured insects into specimens.

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Demonstration… on a handmade clay beetle ๐Ÿ˜›

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Tata! Our work of ART! Haha, ok, work of sweat : )

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And we were given mealworms to bring home as pets!

Sorry, not many photos of the specimen-making process. Because I was too busy listening and learning and guiding the boys to do and urmm, doing it myself ๐Ÿ˜› So, how did we make the specimens? Basically, what we did was a fast-forward version of the proper procedure. The insects should be soaked/dried for days between the steps. The instructor had many jars with various chemical solutions to kill/preserve the bugs. What we did – immoblised the insects on corkboard with pins, then glued them to the box, and lastly the box was sealed.

Ya, I know that wasn’t much help, haha. Anyway I am definitely the wrong person to ask if you wanna make insect specimens yourself and this post was never meant to be an Instructable. The point of this post is to tell you how absolutely impressed I am by this workshop! If you are interested, do check out Kea Xplorer for their upcoming sessions. You can also see more photos of our session at Insect Specimen Pak 1 and Pak 2.

By the way, I am in no way affiliated to Kea Xplorer and this is not a sponsored post. I paid for the workshops and had never met the instructor prior. But really, I am now a super fan and strongly recommend their workshops to everybody! Good things must share! : )

 

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Kor Kor Learns Woodwork!

Last Saturday, Kor Kor and I attended a three-hour woodwork session by Kea Xplorer. It was a great start to woodworking experiences, which I want the boys to learn and to try. Though the program was targeted at children, it was very useful for me as well, cos I was totally clueless in this area!

We learnt how to use the tri-square, hacksaw, F-clamp, file, sanding block and sawhorse, as well as woodworking safety. The instructor and his assistants were very helpful and went around the room giving each participant individual guidance. Kor Kor was a really happy boy throughout the three hours, despite the gruelling work of sawing. (Good for training patience and perseverence! Cos a junior hacksaw is not that powerful, you know? :P) I think it also helped a lot that the instructor was able to engage the children very well.

I would like my sons to know how to do woodwork, to be a handyman at home. But regardless of gender or whether this is a learning goal you have for your child, I think the sense of satisfaction of making something with one’s own hands is indescribable!

We are already looking forward to the next workshop!

(This is not a sponsored review.)

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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part Two)

Finally we made it to faraway Science Centre again! This time we managed to cover five exhibits.

Critters

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Hmm, nothing much here – tree frog, gerbil, freshwater fish, hermit crab, chicks, incubator. There is also a short complimentary presentation at 4.30pm daily where the staff introduce the animals and the kids get to touch the chicks.

Kiddie Theatre

Alas, I don’t know how to introduce this section. Firstly, I am not familiar at all with filming equipment etc. Secondly, my kids aren’t exactly enthusiastic performers. So this section did not really catch our fancy.

Math & Tinkering

Rather disappointed with this section too. Some sensory play with green beans and a few containers… Some magnetic shapes… Two toy cars and tracks…

OK, probably I was too excited and expectations were too high. Furthermore I only found out today that the Innovation Lab and Kitchen Lab are only open to school groups. That leaves 20 exhibits for us then.

Flight & Space

Magnetic blocks with the planets’ names for the kids to match with the planets, and rubber bands to form constellations.

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Pedal or turn the handle to power the fans.

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Airport scene with flaps for the kids to open.

Pilots in action! (Actually just a few buttons to press the make the dashboard change colour :P)

The Flying Machine Factory! Our favorite stop for the day. The materials provided are very basic – balls, strips of fabric, pieces of foam, all with velcro to attach them together. Place them into the wind tunnel through a hole at the bottom, and watch them fly! The more successful machines (or the very light individual pieces) will fly right up to the top of the tunnel and drop out after they clear the top. Flying action, falling action, of course the kids were thrilled!

Built Environment – Blocks

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Nice blocks.. But from my observations of the boys and other kids, they prefer to use the long blocks as weapons. ้‡‘็ฎๆฃ’๏ผ

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Like this. No kidding.

Virtual Pond

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Virtual fish… step, step, step…

That leaves nine more exhibits to go!

Sadly, I noticed some ‘deterioration’ in the exhibits even though KidsSTOP is only two months old…

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Most of the tools are… gone… So are the excavators.. The crane wasn’t in use either – ‘upgrading in progress’. (See their previous glory in my earlier post.) Hopefully they will be replaced soon!

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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part One)

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Since KidsSTOP opened in June 2014, we have been there twice. The first time was a couple of weeks after it opened, during the school holidays, and it was too crowded for me to take photos properly or even think about whether it was good… I was busy keeping track of the kids! As promised on my Facebook page, here is the review! : )

According to KidsSTOP official website, there are 22 exhibits (play areas / themes, in my understanding) in total. And though we have been there twice and spent about five hours, we have only seen two exhibits in passing, touch-and-go for another seven, and really spent time at five exhibits. Thus I shall only include here the areas where we spent a significant amount of time.

That said, the other exhibits which are not included here, do look quite interesting too. – Flight & Space, Human Body! And the eight which we have not laid eyes on, I am excited just by their names! Tinkering, The Innovation Lab, Kitchen Lab, anyone??

KidsSTOP is really a dream come true for me – it provides opportunies for my kids to try things which are way too large-scale for me to even try to emulate at home (and gosh, I do try very hard to do many uncommon things at home!). Bonus points as it is under the Singapore Science Centre, which means that education and promoting the young scientific minds are duly considered in the setup of the edutainment centre.

In my opinion, rather than trying to cover all the exhibits in one visit (limit of three hours on weekdays, and four hours on weekends & public holidays), it is more useful to allow the child to spend as much time as he likes (or needs!) at each station, so that his learning is optimized. (If you have been following my blog, you probably know that ‘learning’ in my definition is often not what we adults can see/test. Trust me, there is definitely learning going on in that brain – ‘hear’ the gears moving?)

Built Environment – Crane

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We spent a good amount of time here! There is only one ‘crane’ here though. (See the exhibit name? It’s singular crane ok! The three kids were jostling to play with it.. I can only imagine the queue when it’s crowded..) In the photo Kor Kor is controlling a crawl above by pressing the buttons on the panel and moving a joystick. The crawl then goes down and picks up the balls, and the crane operator moves it up and out. Then it’s the climax! Open the crawl and release the balls into one of the big tubs (like the pink one on the right of the photo).

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In addition to the crane, there are other things to captivate the kids. The activity in these two photos really requires teamwork! While Meimei collects balls and puts them into the machine, Didi operates the crank. Kor Kor arranges the various parts on the wall (with attached magnets) to ‘catch’ the balls. Many movable parts, I like!

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Also in the same area, movable gears with attached magnets. The kids were not really interested. Not yet, anyway.

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Ride-on excavators! I had high hopes for these when I saw them in photos before our visit to KidsSTOP. Unfortunately, I think they are under-utilized. There is nothing around for the kids to scoop! And there is a television screen in that small space, which means Kor Kor was staring at the screen most of the time *gloomy* Would be great if there is a ‘real’ construction site to play with the excavators.. at least some sand please?

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All three kids liked this station. Meimei was especially interested in the hammar and nails! Bang bang BANG! A great excuse for creating a din >.< It looks like the boys are interested in simple machines and maybe carpentry too. Hmmmm. Time to rack my brains to ride on their interests.

Dino Pit

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Sadly, I think this is under-utilised too. The main problem? The fossils are not movable! And since there is a constant stream of kids playing here, the fossils are exposed all the time. What fun is there for a palentologist when he doesn’t even need to dig to see the fossils??

Brushes are provided for the kids to brush the sand off their hands and feet when they are leaving the pit. But… the same brushes are used for the hands and the feet!! EEKS!

Supermarket

Look at the variety and quantity of goods! Complete with weighing scales and cash registers! And when you scan the items, you hear the familiar ‘beep, beep’ too! But it’s just a sound effect – the ‘scanning’ is not connected to the cash register and the price is not reflected on the cash register. The cash register is like an electronic calculator – the child can key in numbers and add them up. It does not open and there is no play money. But still, it’s already a very good supermarket!

Cafe

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A very well-equipped kitchen! And it’s right next to The Supermarket, so you can bring your purchases home to cook right away. How convenient! And look at that fried rice, it seems so real! I think Meimei really wanted to gobble it up.

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And that’s all the exhibits we managed to cover during our second visit. And we also caught the complimentary puppet performance. It’s funny and worth the time I think.

Honestly, admission fees aren’t cheap. But it’s comparable to indoor playgrounds, and definitely cheaper than enrichment programes…. and more fun too! KidsSTOP, we will defnitely be back soon!