Friday, July 31, 2015

Book set of the month: Folk & Fairy Tale Easy Readers (Scholastic)

This month, Little One choose to have this set of readers for bed time story. There are 15 stories to choose  from including the popular "Cinderella", "The Gingerbread Man" and " The Three Little Pigs" .  There are also folktales which I have not heard before such as "The Stone Soup", "The Nightingale" and "The Spider and the Beehive".

Each story  is 16 pages long with illustrations, They are graded in levels of difficulty from 'E-I', 
("E" being the simplest while "I "being the hardest). 

What I like about this set is they are relatively short and perfect for bedtime story especially when I am tired. Either the girl or I would  one pick book and I would read for her. Sometimes, she would read to me instead. When we are both not tired. We would read 1 or 2 books to each other.

I particularly love the folktales which teaches moral and values. One particular one is the story "The Spider and the Beehive" which teaches one not to be greedy and to be nice to people.

If you intend to get some readers for your pre-schoolers. This set is suitable for kindergarten children.
I've got mine in Popular sometime ago. It is not in stock now. You may want to get from Amazon or Scholastic. 

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PS: This is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Secrets of Sime Road

Are you into history? Does HIS-STORY (That is what I used to call history) bore you? Below is a short story I wrote. The story is inspired by one of the tours organised by the brownies, named as Battlefield Tour by Jon Cooper. The story incorporated part of the trail I experienced. If you do read it, tell me your thoughts. 

"Dad, can I not go to SICC?" yawned Ben.

It was one of the mornings, Ben was going with his family to Singapore Island Country Club. His father, Mr Low is a businessman, a member of the Club, often invites his business associates to the Club for a game of golf. Initially, Ben enjoy visiting the place as it is vast and full of greenery. There are so many things to engage in. He used to love playing in the play room but now he had outgrown it. Occasionally, he plays bowling with his father or swims with his mother. But really, both are not his passion. If possible, he would rather not go to the Club. He would rather watch shows on television.

"No, your uncle and his family are meeting us there. Shawn would be there too!" replied Dad.

Ben dashed up to dress himself upon hearing Shawn's name. He is his favorite cousin. Shawn, two years older than him, is regarded as a smart and sensible young lad. He has a young sister, Emily , who is nine years old.

Mr Low drove the family to the Singapore Island Country Club located at Sime Road. Ben recognised the place as soon as he saw Chinese tombs located on the left of Sime Road. A large, flat golf field appeared on the right.

As Mr Low drove into the carpark of the Country Club, they saw Shawn and his family alighting from their car.

" Hey, bro! A game of golf?" Ben's father called out.

The men left for the golf game while the women and the children went to swim. For Ben, swimming with Shawn and Emily is totally a different thing from swimming with mommy. After an hour of fun, the women and children bathed and decided to have breakfast at a nearby cafe.

" How's Ben doing?" asked Shawn's mom. The smell of bacon, sausages and omelettes filled the air.

"Well, still the same. I had enrolled to Berries. I hope that would improve his Chinese proficiency. Oh yeah! Shawn will be having his PSLE this year isn't it?"

Conversations such as these bored Ben. He decided to gobbled down his breakfast and probably excused himself from the scene.

"Shawn, shall we go exploring the place after this? We are too old for Playroom." whispered Ben into the ear of Shawn.

Maybe he was not soft enough for Emily heard him. "I wanna go too!" Startled, Ben glanced at the women but they were deep in their conversations.

"I guess it should be ok. Let's just ask our moms later." replied Shawn.

"Gor, I wanna go too!" insisted Emily.

"OK. We'll include you in." said Shawn, patting his sister's head fondly.

After breakfast, Shawn sought permission and promised to take care of the rest of the children. They wandered around the compound.

"Shall we explore outside? I know there is a pillbox just outside SICC !" exclaimed Shawn.

"Pillbox? What's that?" asked Emily and Ben in unison.

"Remember Labrador Park? Daddy brought us there to take a look at mangroves. We stumbled upon one of the pillboxes at the playground?" replied Shawn.

"Isn't that a machine gun post?" enquired Emily.

"It's the same thing. You'll see what I meant when we explore. " said Shawn excitedly, walking faster towards the entrance.

The pillbox is near the security barrier of the Club with a plague in front of it. Shawn approached the plaque excitedly. He is very interested in history ever since he explored the Labrador battery with his father. Ben went straight into the pillbox while Emily cried in dismay that she did not want to go in. Shawn pacified her and led her inside the pillbox.

"Bang! Bang! Bang! So this is what it is like to be a soldier in the past guarding here. This pillbox is rather spacious." Ben was already pretending to shoot using his invisible machine gun.

"Shall we go back now?" asked Emily.

"I believe there are more World War 2 relics here, just like Labrador. I am interested to seek them out. Are you?" replied Shawn. Ben agreed enthusiastically. Realising she was the odd one out, Emily agreed reluctantly.

The children started exploring down the road. Although there was not much traffic , Shawn had the common sense to remind the children to walk on the side of the road and keeping an eye on the traffic.

" Oh! Look at those Black and White houses! " Emily started to appreciate the beauty of the place. Many are marked "Private Property". Further down the road, the children spied some monkeys. They were wandering on the field but quickly scattered away when the children approached.

"Monkeys! Did you see that?" exclaimed Ben. He enjoys being on an adventure with Shawn.

"I thought they appear only in the zoo!" laughed Emily.

Suddenly, Emily squealed in delight, "Flowers!" and dashed in the direction of a row of garden arches which were overgrown with vines. There were plenty of brightly coloured orange and purple flowers at the side of the arches. Shawn and Ben chased after her. She stopped right in front of the arches and started to admire, her eyes wide with excitement. " This is really my kind of Secret Garden!" and danced a little dance. She took a step and started to walk through the arches wondering what is beyond that.

The garden at Sime Road
When I post on my personal facebook account, I was asked where it was from.
"Wooooahh!!!" a unison of voices broke out behind the children.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Night scenes in the City

A replica of the lighthouse on Fort Canning lights up the night sky

Awesome view from the top of the hill.

View from National Gallery - Former Supreme Court
View at Fullerton Heritage Precinct is not to be missed

The newly constructed Jubilee Bridge
Wonder Full show at Marina Bay Sands added beauty to the Marina Bay

Attempting light play using camera

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Vintage vehicles- Summertime in the park 29 May ~ 9 Jul

Further the  post on our facebook page, these are some other photos.I didn't photos of all the vehicles. These are my favorites. 
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Little One @ Cantonese Clan Associations Open House Part 1

We went to the open house of clans during Singapore Heritage Festival. It was an eye opener. Although I have learnt much from these visits, I knew I have not explore enough. 

Clans and associations played an important role in the past as they provided support and assistance for new immigrants. As Singapore develops, the role of clans and associations changes. They are now seen as places that promotes the preservation of Chinese heritage, By visiting, I hope Little One would be interested in our Chinese culture.

Hok San Association

History is always dry for Little One. Hence, I chose to visit Hok San because it is the oldest lion dance troupe in Singapore. The association is founded in 1939. It specialises in the southern school of lion dance.

According to the Singapore Heritage Festival website, there was supposed to be a guided tour but when we were there, we did not know where to register. We were walking around and asking questions about the props until a young man from the clan started to introduce and tell us about more about the history of the clan. He showed us around. We would like to say thank you to him. We would not have learnt so much if not for him.

King of Lion Dance
Since 1920, the troupe has been known for its emphasis on the traditional “cat-like” dance moves. The lion dancers has been observing, imitating and perfecting cat movements.

Built around the late-19th century, this three-storey shophouse in Second Transitional Shophouse Style. It forms part of the elegant terraces that step down the hill along Kreta Ayer Road. The building was restored in 1997. The entrance features the traditional pintu pagar and a rare set of horizontal timber security bars that can slide sideways.
This lion head is about 80 years old and weighs about 5 kg ! (one of the heaviest)
We were shown how the lion moves its eyelids and mouth using this unfinished lion. Even this incomplete lion head is not light, it is at least 2 kg. Many time, the lion dancer had to handle it single-handedly.
We were told  that the craft of making lion head from scratch is a dying art. 
Props for Lion Dance (including Big head doll,大头娃娃 Da Tou Wa Wa)

Gong and mallet
Cai Qing or plucking the green (采青)
Southern lion dance has an activity that is unique to it alone and that is – 'plucking the green' (采青 Cai Qing) which is common during the Chinese New Year. The green here refers to vegetable leaves which are tied to a piece of string which also has a red packet attached containing money. The string is hung above the door of the business, shop (or home), and the lion 'eats' both, the leaves and the red packet. Lying on the floor the leaves are 'chewed' by the lion while the musicians play a dramatic rolling crescendo. The lull is broken as the lion explodes back into activity, spitting out the leaves. This is a symbolic act of blessing by the lion, with the spitting out of the leaves signifying that there will be an abundance of everything in the coming year.

We were told in the early days, "plucking the green" were very challenging as the troupe were being challenged to do difficult stunts.  Sometimes, the host would also play tricks on the lion troupers such as throwing fire crackers at them or setting traps such as snake in a huge container. Hence, people with no real skills would not dare to participate in Cai Qing performance.

Notice on the lion head's forehead, it looked like the chinese word  '王 (King)' . Coincidentally, they were conferred the “Lion King” title at a carnival to celebrate the last day of the Chinese New Year at New World Amusement Park.

Plucking the green
Olden days, difficult stunts
Singapore was renamed Syonan-to after the Japanese occupation in 1942. The people were forced to celebrate the Japanese victory with lion dance performances. Thereafter, all the local lion dance troupes stayed dormant ceasing all activities. This photo is taken after the Japanese surrendered .

Medal and plaque

Queen Elizabeth's token of appreciation when Hok San participated in the Queen's coronation celebration in Singapore  

Local politicians such as late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, late Mr Wee Kim Wee and late Mr Ong Teng Cheong appeared on the wall  of the Main Hall of Hok San Association . It was said that when Singapore first become independent 50 years ago, Mr Lee approached clans and associations (they were considered to be the fittest men in Singapore at that time)  to encourage them to volunteer defending Singapore then as the nation had no ready army.

 Southeast Asian Drum King the late Master Leong Siew Foo

Preserving the culture :Tomb Sweeping at Bishan

From this trip, we learnt much about lion dance and its history in Singapore. They do not go around asking to perform during Chinese New Year. They are invited to perform. Unfortunately, there was no lion dance performance that day.

Are you interested in learning more about this clan?

Hok San Association
Address: 21 Kreta Ayer Road Singapore 088991

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Little One @ Playground near Jubilee Square

Near Jubelee Square, there is this playground which looked rather ordinary and unimpressive.
Guess what we found? 4 musical scores!  Lucky for us, Little One was the only child playing in the playground.
Next to the playground are one convex mirror and one concave mirror. Children could play with their reflection here.
 At the same time learning some scientific knowledge, hopefully...
In between the 2 mirrors (mentioned earlier) is the kaleidoscope, Little One ducked into it and took pictures of what she saw in there. 
If you are somewhere near Ang Mo Kio Central, do consider to pop by for a visit.

61 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8

Update: Dec 2015
The playground was revamped, the 'piano' was no longer there. I will post a photo once I found it! My computer crashed twice during the last holiday and it took quite some time for the computer to recover. I need to sort out those photos soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Library Hop #6 - Let's hop to Ang Mo Kio Public Library

I have visited Ang Mo Kio library a couple of times for craft sessions but have not really explored the library until recently. The library is a stand alone library with very few amenities around. The MRT station is quite a distance from the MRT station. (About 15 to 20 miniutes walk) There is no shelter and not many buildings near the library, it can get pretty hot walking from the MRT station. Many times, I prefer to take a bus instead.

Covering an area of 4,277 square metres, the library spans two levels in an isolated building of its own. Ang Mo Kio Public Library was officially opened on 17 August 1985 by Mr Yeo Toon Chia, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio Constituency. It was closed in April 2002 for upgrading and officially re-opened on 25 January 2003 by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of State for National Development.

The name Ang Mo Kio is synonymous with phrases in the Hokkien dialect which either relates it as the "Red Tomato", or the "Bridge of the Caucasian".
Can you spot the Ang Mo Kio here? These paintings are found on the ceiling outside the library.

On level 1, it is mainly the Children's collection and Adult's English Fiction collection. If you need books on Parenting and Family matters, they can be found here too.  Programmes are usually conducted in the Programme Zone which is located at this level. If you find yourself hungry or thirsty, you may want to pop by the Cafe Galilee next to it.
Programme Zone

The special collection of this library is the wide Tamil Collections which is located at Level 2. Ang Mo Kio Public Library carries one of the most comprehensive and varied collection of print and non-print materials in Tamil among the public libraries. This includes fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, and newspapers.
Entrance to the Tamil Collection. Look at the pillars! Don't they look Indian?
Such magnificent set of chess and sculptures! 
Also, on the second level are the adult Non - fiction books. I find that the books are categorised in an organised way. At one glance at the information provided next to each shelves, you would know which shelves to head to to hunt for the books that you need. I was looking for recipes then.

Back to the Children's collection at Level One. Look at what I have found! These shelves of
books are particularly useful for children who are taking Chinese are their second language.
Hanyu Pinyin books are Chinese-English Bilingual books are found here. I knew other libraries offered these books as well but they are not categorized in such eye-catching way for library goers to find them easily.

All in all, if you are looking for Tamil books or in a rush to grab some Chinese -English bilingual books, this is probably the library for you.

Books recommendation

I would be introducing 3 interesting books in this post. 2 are related to ballet while the last one is related to family tie.

1) Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake / James Mayhew

2) Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker / James Mayhew

Reason for choosing the books
If your child loves ballet, the books I am going to recommend today should be able to entertain her well enough, especially these two a famous ballet pieces.

Synopsis: - For both stories, Ella Bella drifted/ transported into the world of both famous ballet scenes. In Swan Lake, she met Odette and tried to unite her with her prince.
In Nutcracker, she joined Clara to fight against the evil mouse king.
On the last page book, young readers would learn about the origins of each ballet.

Although the stories are probably nothing new to me but definitely a great introduction to little girls who loves ballet. Both books are beautifully illustrated , Little One loves them very much and we are looking forward to borrow new titles!

Trixie Ten / Sarah Massini
Synopsis: - Trixie finds her 9 siblings too noisy and decides to leave home.  After she leaves home, she discovers other animals with plenty of siblings too. She misses home thereafter.

Reason for choosing the book:
From the book cover, you realised that Trixie is a fingerprint. Not surprising, her siblings are all fingerprints. Even the animals that she met are made from fingerprints! It gives you an idea of creating art pieces made of fingerprints.

The book has various illustrations which are good for young readers who are learning to count. 

The book is also good to instill that family ties are important regardless they are annoying or not, they care about one another.



4300 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6
Singapore 569842

24-hour Bookdrop

How to get there

Nearest MRT: Ang Mo Kio
Bus Interchange: Ang Mo Kio
Buses: 13, 86, 162, 138, 851, 852, 853


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