Hideaways – Creating With Nature @ Playeum

[Media invite]

Playeum, Singapore’s first Children’s Centre for Creativity opens its second hands-on exhibition for children on 16 April until 30 October. Entitled Hideaways – Creating With Nature, the exhibition and accompanying programmes offer an immersive environment for children to explore, observe, construct, reflect, innovate and engage with nature and natural materials through hands-on exhibits and interactive artists’ installations.

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Hideaways – Creating With Nature features six installations which provide an interdisciplinary and engaging experience for the children and adults alike.

Creature Cave

This cave structure features animal sound pads and a range of textures and lights.Infants and toddlers will revel in exploring this multi-sensory cave through using their whole bodies, eyes and ears.

Make-believe Hideaway

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This installation invites children to experience playing with clay and building imaginary habitats inspired by nature, resulting in a collaborative installation.

At this juncture, I would like to comment about the facilitators who help to guide the children through the various installations. Faith was really shy when she first stepped into the exhibition area. She was befriended by one of these kind and caring facilitators who walked her through the various stations. In the end, she warmed up and could really enjoy the whole experience.

Welcome to my World

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At this station, children can imagine a world where they are as small as an insect in an immersive installation that presents the insect environment on a giant scale. Kids are encouraged to construct shelters, which will grow throughout the exhibition’s duration, while exploring sights and sounds through the eyes and ears of insects.

Faith skipped this installation after being inducted to it for a mere few minutes. Perhaps, she couldn’t imagine herself to be a small insect or maybe she doesn’t know how to construct using the materials involved? She lost interest quite quickly.

Knock, Knock! Who lives there?

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This has got to be our favourite station. We were introduced to the artist – Isabelle Desjeux – who created this installation and she shared with us her concept. Here, children can view insects and other creatures in their natural habitats through special surveillance screens.

They could also examine the creepy crawlies using a microscope and perhaps unleash their talents in drawing by sketching the creatures on the materials provided.

Science lesson in progress. It’s such a delight to see Faith observing the animals and plants in their natural habitats and because we were not limited by time constraint, she could have the time and space to learn about and understand the fascinating lives of ants, worms and other creatures. This station certainly appeals to me as well and I thought the older kids would benefit much from this as well.

Sounds of Earth – Nature’s Ensemble

This is an interactive sound installation where children can create and build musical instruments with natural materials. These will be attached to a skeletal structure that will grow throughout the exhibition’s duration, culminating in an immersive musical extravaganza.

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This baby boy was engaged by these natural materials too. Sensory play in action.

The last station is The Dark Space which is a sound web installation. Children can enjoy kinetic artwork and exciting hands-on activities int his changing space. However, this space is really dark and Faith was a tad frightened as she entered it.

The recommended duration for Hideaways- Creating with Nature is about 2 hours but we went beyond that and left after 2 1/2 hours. We could have stayed longer but dark clouds were looming and it was threatening to rain. I was surprised that the kids could be engaged throughout and went about exploring on their own (together with the facilitator). Granted that Faith wasn’t interested in every of the stations but she was totally captivated by three of them and that was sufficient.

Hideaways-Creating with Nature has done well in inviting children to play with nature, based on our experience, and hopefully it has helped the little ones to appreciate the natural world.

The best time to visit Playeum, IMHO, is during noon time or in the afternoon. We were told that the peak period is in the morning since there could be school visits. So, do drop by if you want to spend more time at Playeum.

Playeum is suitable for children ages between 1 and 12 years old. The admission prices is $20 per child/parent pair but additional adult will have to pay $10 per person. Playeum charges for entry to ensure the sustainability of the centre’s operations. It does not receive any core funding and is reliant on a funding mix from admissions, grants, sponsorship and donations. This collective income enables the organisation to continue to engage artists, involve quality facilitators and provide innovative programmes to all families and children.

IMG_6473[Credits]

Playeum | Children’s Centre for Creativity
Blk 47, Gillman Barracks
Singapore 109444

Opening Times
Tuesday – Sunday
10am-6pm

For full line-up of programmes, do visit http://www.playeum.com/#!programmes/ckx1

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Melbourne museum

I know this post is way too late. It’s been more than a year since we came back from Melbourne but I thought I had better record these wonderful memories on my electronic diary lest it be gone forever.

That morning, we had a slow breakfast at Queen Victoria Market before strolling to get onto the tram to get to the museum. Before that, we stopped in our tracks to have some workout and fun at the playground. This is one thing (of a lot of many others) that I appreciate about Melbourne – wide open space for playground.

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I didn’t expect Faith to be interested in visiting museums. She was, after all, just 19 months then but we still went ahead since we have heard good stuff about the museum.

And we were stuck in the Children’s Gallery for more than an hour. It wasn’t a big space and there weren’t a lot of exhibits but there are certainly interesting stuff that engaged the toddler.

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The area leading up to the Children’s Gallery has quite a few activities for children to work on such as puzzles, colouring paper, puppet show, blocks of different civilisations and books to read.

20140610_102644Just outside the area are some activities to engage the children physically. Look at these gigantic Lego rubber pieces!

Play is a way of learning…

20140610_110843Let’s enter the Children’s Gallery!

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One could learn much about nature here!

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To me, the exhibits are well designed and get the children to use their senses in exploring them. I guess if Faith was older then, we might have to be stuck in there for more than an hour.

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Faith has shown keen interest in building blocks at a very young age but then again, this applies to a lot of children eh?

20140610_105855One of the many quotes that I love…

20140610_124054The little girl finally fell asleep after I strapped her in the carrier and it’s time for the adults to view the other exhibits. We spent a good time at the other levels and eventually rested at the cafe.

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The food was nothing to boast about but we were glad to have a rest after all that walking.

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Oh, how I love the fall season.

20140610_134112On our way back, the hubs and I were just strolling with Faith following us behind. As we turned around, she was running towards us and then fell into the big pile of fallen leaves.

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Oops!

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But she got amazed by them and continued to play. This picture reminds me to allow her to explore and not restrict her no matter how dirty she might end up. ;p But I think the story will end up differently if there are lots of ants underneath the leaves.

Learning about Microgreens

In order to have a proper closure for our weekly play date, one of the mummies, Adeline of Growingwiththetans, suggested that we have a gardening session where the children could learn about plants and how to grow them. It’s a definite YES from us since it tied in well with the ‘Fuits and Vegetables’ theme.

Adeline had her friend share with us about Microgreens. For the uninitiated like yours truly, Microgreens are basically baby seedlings of our commonly eaten vegetables and herbs. They are harvested at a young stage (between 5 -14 days) and the whole plant is eaten (except for the roots). Although they are micro in size, they are intense in flavor though they are not as strong as their older sibling.

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We had the session at Bishan Park and Faith was all excited to be out with her friends again. It was warm and humid that late afternoon but thankfully the kids were not complaining!

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When Khai Lin first learnt that she was going to share her passion with a group of toddlers, she was a bit concerned as they were rather young and she wasn’t sure if they could benefit fully from it. ‘Let’s give it a try!’ was our answer to her and so she did. KL showed the kiddos the fully grow pea shoots and had them touch the seedlings. That set the stage for our lesson!

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We started off with some craft work. KL had the mummies and children create a bunny from a toilet roll as we were going to have a ‘carrot’ garden for them. The carrots are the pots that hold the seedlings.

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I like it that KL encouraged the kids to feel the pebbles and the peat moss (looks like soil to me) which is formulated for germinating seeds. Most of the children were curious and attempted to feel them. It’s a good lesson to have the children discover through their senses!

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KL was super patient with the children and showed each one of them the steps to start the gardening process. Here she got them to fill the container with peat moss. Look at Faith’s expression after she touched it.

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I must say that I enjoyed the whole learning process as an adult. Because I have very little knowledge about microgreens, this session is truly informative. I’m not sure if the young ones understand what they have gone through but it’s a good start nonetheless. There was a 4YO boy in our midst and he was really curious and posed KL loads of questions. I guess this session would be more beneficial to older kids?

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We are going to plant the speckled peas and sunflower and both can be harvested between 7 to 14 days. That’s really fast, you know?

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After watering the peat moss lightly in the pot to keep it damp, sprinkle the seeds generously over the top of the peat moss. However, do not overlap the seeds. Then gently press the seeds down using the hands. See how proud Faith is with her ‘garden’.

Before we went home, we were told to cover the big container so as to create a greenhouse effect. What we need to do is to keep the soil moist by misting it each day. Once the seeds have germinated, the cover can be removed and we can place it near the window for some sunlight.

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After about a week, the seedlings have grown and we are ready to harvest. Faith isn’t very enthusiastic about having her greens (sad to say) and I must think of ways to hide them in her food!

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So I decided to make some sliders for dinner and since she loves mushrooms, I roasted portobello mushrooms that were topped with sweet potatoes, breadcrumbs and well, the pea shoots!

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This girl has a sharp sense of taste and could pinpoint if there are any greens in her food. She did eat some but refused the ones that are found in the salad.  Oh well, I did try.

I will not give up!

Overall, we find the session on Mircogreens useful and I’m just surprised that they are so easy to plant and manage at home. The best thing is I don’t see any ants coming near my plants because I’m really particular about that. They also take up little space since I only need to place them near a window in any room (indirect light from the sun is good enough). I thought this can be an awesome project for the older kids as they learn about plants and their nutritional benefits; they should know the source of their food from young!

If you are interested, you can find out more about it via its website at www.microgreens.sg or visit its Facebook page. There will be recipes, kids’ projects and tips on growing Microgreens so stay tuned. 😉

The session above cost $25 per child at an introductory price. Usual price is $40. Materials are included.

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