Cornstarch Goo Science Experiment

Cornstarch Goo Science Experiment

I love sensory play even though now I am a mummy (yep, I always join in in their sensory play) and the same goes for smarties. I love stimulating their senses since young: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities allow children to explore and encourage them to use scientific processes while they are creating and investigating the material/substance. Children (even adults) engage better through sensory activities that indirectly making them learn better and retain more information. On top of that, it helps them to develop and enhance their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skillsets.

This week, not only do we have some sensory fun, we get to perform some science experiment too. Smarties can’t wait to get their hands dirty. We are working on making cornstarch goo! So what do we need for this sensory cum science activity? Well, all you need is just cornstarch and water! Simple right?

Smarties get to pour the cornstarch into a small pail and slowly mix in the water while using their hands to stir. If you are trying it out, do let your child feels the powdery cornstarch before mixing in the water.
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While mixing in the water, let them tell you how they feel. Great way to increase their vocabulary of words too!
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Once it becomes gooey, notice the unusual consistency. Throw in some toys to make it more fun.
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While playing with it, smarties discovered something. They realised that when they hold it tightly, it behaves as a solid, but when they hold it gently, it turns into a very sticky-looking liquid that dripped like glue.
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Smarties got really excited and started punching and slapping the gooey substance. At times, they will slowly stir it using their toys. They slowly added more and more toys into it. Check out the mess they created while enjoying the fun.
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They were curious why the substance acted differently when a different force is applied to it. Now a brief science explanation here: the gooey substance is actually made up of tiny, solid particles of cornstarch suspended in water. When you squeeze or add force to it, the molecules line up hence it becomes solid. When no one is pressing or applying any force on it, it will act like a liquid because the molecules relax.

Am I worried about the mess? Frankly speaking, I don’t because smarties will take up the responsibilities of cleaning up. We have rules at home: whoever messed up the place will have to clean up. So here we are, cleaning up after a day of fun.
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Here’s a quick step by step guide on how to make the gooey sensory play. Enjoy!

PS: Follow us if you want to know more fun experiments 🙂

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How to make milk stone

How to make milk stone

If you have been following us, you would have noticed that smarties love science experiments. This time round, we found a way to reuse/recycle fresh milk that has been expired for our project. Yes, even milk does not go to waste with this project.

With just 2 ingredients, we can make stones out of it. Some people called it plastic. Whatever it is, it was a fun and fulfilling experience for all of us.

Our 2 main ingredients are:
– milk
– vinegar

Equipment:
– strainer
– container
– spoon or anything that can use for stirring
– kitchen towel/paper
– cookie cutters

Step 1:
Warm the milk a little. Adult supervision and guidance are necessary at this part.

Step 2:
Pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar into the milk and mix it till you see chunks (casein) forming.

Step 3:
Strain the chunks out and further pat it dry using kitchen towel/paper.

Step 4:
Mold it into any shapes that you desire and wait for it to dry. The drying takes at least 2 days. Touch and feel it once it is dry.

What is happening here?
When you mix vinegar to the milk, a substance called CASEIN is formed. Casein occurs when the protein in the milk meets the acid in the vinegar. In other words, the acid in the vinegar separates the protein from the water hence forming the casein (or chunks).

Check out our video here for step by step guide on how to do it. Have fun!

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Colour Sticks Boomerang (Exploding Boomerang)

Colour Sticks Boomerang (Exploding Boomerang)

As a mum, I always buy things that look like I can do something with it but without knowing what to do with it in advance. The other day, I saw a pack of colourful jumbo size ice-cream sticks, I just bought it and left it on the craft trolley where smarties are free to make full use of the materials on that trolley to make or do whatever they want.

The next thing I know gor gor made a few boomerangs out of it, with no sticky tape or glue! I was amazed at how the boomerang turned out with just the sticks. He was happily throwing and exploding the sticks but there were some stubborn but solid ones that didn’t get “exploded” though.

He finds it’s a good way for him to calm himself with that where he can fix (distract him from his negative emotions), throw (vent his anger out) and explode! Isn’t that an amazing discovery?

Check out his video on the making of his boomerangs 🙂

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Our first Halloween Trick Or Treat @ Woodlands Woodgrove

Our first Halloween Trick Or Treat @ Woodlands Woodgrove

Smarties have been going to those commercial Halloween parties for the past few years. To smarties, it is just a dress-up party and having fun collecting sweet treats. Now that they are older and able to understand better, we got to learn more about what Halloween and Trick or Treat is about.

What is Halloween?
Halloween is also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.

Experts believe that the spooky festival started in Ireland, where the Celtics celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. This Gaelic festival was held after harvest and honored the souls of the dead to prevent bad luck. 

Sounds like how Chinese celebrates the Hungry Ghost Festival in the 7th month of the lunar calendar. The difference between them is that in the Chinese culture, everyone will usually avoid  staying out too late especially children, while in the western culture, everyone will stay out late to collect treats!

Why trick or treat?
In the past, people believed that in order to satisfy the hunger of demons, they would leave little treats outside the household. If the demon was satisfied with the treat, it was believed it would not trick the person or cast an evil spell.

Over the years, it evolved into the present day trick or treat where people would give the children apples or buns and later candy to keep from being tricked.

After a brief lesson on Halloween. We are ready to join our friends for the real trick or treat happening at Woodlands Woodgrove. Smarties were really excited about it and it was their first time going to houses asking for treats. They didn’t dressed up as any scary characters as they were scared of them themselves. So here they are as Iron Man and not-so-white Snow White. Check out the wolf behind them!
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We “caught” the wolf in our camera!
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Smarties were in shocked with the frightening decorations by the owners of the houses. Although in shocked, they still went ahead to get their treats. The owners themselves joined in the fun with their awesome costumes and make-up too!
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Look at that! Imagine the effort put in to welcome the little ones?
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We were truly amazed by the set up at the different houses.
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My not-so-white Snow White was stunned by this lady with pink hair, along came 2 Minni Mouses and asked for a photo taking session. Of course, not-so-white Snow White was happy to take pictures with them.ys_collage_halloween4-1

As time went by, the sky getting darker, smarties were holding onto each other even tighter because the place was getting scarier with the crowd. Along the way, we spotted a very creative umbrella jellyfish and nicely carved out pumpkins.

If you are not a owner of any of these houses, no worries. You can always set up your car and join in to give treats to the little ones.
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The further we went, the more interesting the setup of each house was.

As more people came, the crowd at each gate got pretty jammed and squeezy. One of the houses was creative enough to get their children up on the wall throwing sweets to all the children below them.
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Smarties had a great time asking for treats at each house and checking out the different costumes that people put on. Look at the treats they have gotten! I think it can last us for a year or two, don’t you think so?
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We really appreciate all the efforts made by the generous families living in the Woodgrove estate. Not only do they spent so much on giving treats to the children, they have even pooled money to hire first aid, security and apply necessary permits to block off the streets so that visitors to the neighbourhood can have a maximum Trick or Treat experience.

When they said: “this is probably the only place you can truly experience a traditional Halloween Trick Or Treat in Singapore”, I raised my 2 arms up with 100% agreement to that. It was really a great experience for all of us.

 

 

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So you think tracing is nothing great?

So you think tracing is nothing great?

 

They are many methods of learning and tracing is one of them but tracing is also a method that most of us overlooked. What is so great about tracing? It’s just an action where the child follows and draw/write. It’s just like copying. Well, it may look really simple but there are several benefits to that simple tracing action especially for preschoolers who are learning to write.

Here are the benefits of tracing:
– develop children’s fine motor skills especially when learning to write
– to improve their hands/eyes coordination, dexterity and spatial awareness
– refine children’s muscles and coordination when tracing different shapes
– with improved visual-spatial and fine motor skills, it set a child to have higher achievement in reading and mathematics
With so many benefits you can get from a simple tracing activity, will you still overlook this? I guess not, huh.

Tracing is an art of learning and is a way to learn an art. We made use of tracing in our art lesson today. Smarties love tracing. They traced their toys, shadows,  hands and feet. So over the weekend, we did a drawing of “ME” by tracing their hands and feet. Sounds easy? It is easy!

First, they traced their feet on the paper. Make sure you have at least a drawing paper so that it is big enough to “fit in your body” as well, later on.


Next, trace the hands. Tracing the hands is a very good exercise for the children. Because of the “inconsistency”, it requires extra practice tracing the patterns, thus providing more exercising on their fine motor and visual-spatial skills which in turn made gains in mathematics.

If you want to read more on spatial skills and Maths, do check out this article “Children’s Spatial Skills Seen as Key to Math Learning” written by Sarah D. Sparks who covers education research.

Once, all tracing is done. Visualization and creativity take place here. They have to draw the rest of their body within the paper. Don’t like to draw sitting at the table, no worries. You can find your comfortable position and let your creativity juice flows.

The final step is to add in the colors!

The final results of their portraits: Awesome!

You may be wondering why is the face blue?
Because mei mei loves blue.

Do I restrict or control how she colors her drawing?
No, I don’t  because that will extinguish her creativity sparks.

During the process, smarties had a great time comparing the size of their hands and feets. If you noticed, gor gor has the concept of front and back. The drawing of his foot actually overlapped his hand. Tracing may be simple, drawing and coloring may be simple but there are lots of learning abilities and skills developed while your child/children are working on it.

So, do you still think tracing is nothing great after this?

 

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Mini hike near Bukit Timah Hill

Mini hike near Bukit Timah Hill

Actually, we wanted to go for hiking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Instead, we discovered many people walking up a not-so-obvious slope taking pictures. Our curiosity kicked in and we followed suit and headed up as well.
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Mei mei wanted to try walking up the slope. She went down and up again, this time round using  the slope.
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The moment we reached the top, we found a railway track. Smarties were having some fun time here on the track before we moved on further.
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Frankly speaking, we’ve never taken this path before. We didn’t know what’s ahead but we were all curious. I asked smarties if they wanted to take the risk to find out what’s ahead or they wanted to head back to where we are familiar with.

Smarties chose to have their curiosity uncovered but with some rules set.
Rule no. 1: if we see something strange, we have to run.
Rule no. 2: if we see wild animals like tigers, lions, snakes, etc, we have to run.
Rule no. 3: if we feel something weird, we have to run.
So, basically, no matter what, we just run!

Mei mei started skipping happily along the way while…
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Gor gor was busy checking out plants and stones and whatever he could find along the way.
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They love mimosa and there were a lot in that area. Whoever found mimosa, they would call out to each other and started touching the leaves with their sticks. The leaves will close up whenever it is being touched or shaken. The full name for it is Mimosa Pudica. The word Pudica is a Latin word meaning “shy, bashful or shrinking”. Now we know how this name came about.
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Gor gor wanted to find out how the flower of a mimosa plant looks like and he kept a close look out for it while we were hiking. Lo and behold, he found it along the way! He was so excited to see it.
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Smarties also noticed the different colours of the leaves found on the ground and started exploring and asking questions about it. I felt like a walking google dictionary throughout the hike. There are many reasons why leaves turn colour. It can be due to soil conditions, weather conditions, environmental conditions, etc. Guess we will have a lesson on why leaves change colour very soon in order to answer them!
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They also found some plants with seeds in it and it was all dried up.


Walking further we found a small log with some white fungus on it. It looked really cute. Mei mei started counting the number of “mushrooms” on the log before she moved on.
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We found a bridge and smarties wondering what’s up there. There weren’t any stairs but we found a slope beside it.

We went up and found the “abandoned bridge” filled with grasses and leaves.
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There weren’t any paved footpath or any other kind of pavement near the bridge. We had to walk among the tall grasses and bushes to find our way out as we didn’t want to walk down the slope that we came up from.
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There were many discoveries along the way and smarties were enjoying loads. It is a fun learning experience out of the classroom and home. It is, even more, fun when you get to exposed to new things or opportunities that you have never expected.

Looking at how they get engaged to the surroundings and environments and how their interest developed while we are out and about. Not forgetting, we can keep fit too. A really worthy trip indeed!

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Evolve with Pokemon Evolution Cards

Evolve with Pokemon Evolution Cards

Recently saw a post on Internet where they made Pokemon evolution cards. Those who play Pokemon will know what I mean. Some of the Pokemon have different evolutionary stages. Here’s how the evolution looks like:
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Image from http://pokemondb.net/evolution

The cards that I was referring to are not those playing cards. They are really amazing and you can get it free from Red Ted Art! But not all Pokemon included, though.

Smarties like Eevee a lot, so we printed out Eevee’s template and started coloring, only then we realized that it is better to make the card first before coloring.
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So halfway through his coloring, we assembled the card. As for mei mei, her card was assembled first and so she started coloring her Eevee not the usual brown but blue and later on moved to rainbow color.
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The steps on assembling the cards were pretty easy and fun. Smarties love their cards and kept playing the whole day. Go on, get the free printables at Red Ted Art and start making one!

We made a quick video on the process too. Pardon the “unsteadiness” of the video as smarties were the filmmakers and mommy was the one assembling it. Not only did they enjoyed assembling and coloring the cards, they also enjoyed filming it as well. Check it out!

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Most entertaining and messy ice-cream craft ever!

Most entertaining and messy ice-cream craft ever!

Since gor gor started his primary journey, his time is always spent around homework, English spelling, Chinese 听写 and preparation for the many many mini tests. No matter what, I would still try my best to squeeze in some mini art and craft time for the kids to stimulate their brains and to keep their creativity juice flowing. Academy may be important, but art and craft is as important in building a kid’s brain. It allows them to think creatively with an open mind.

This October, we embarked on a bigger art and craft project, THE ICE-CREAM, instead of a mini one because is children’s day! Why I mentioned big is because it took them days to complete.

Here’s what you need for the project:
– cardboard (cereal box or tissue box will do)
– scissors
– flour
– white glue
– tempera paint or any other poster paint
– aluminium foil
– coloured paper cut into small pieces
– pom pom balls
Looked easy huh? So why do we need so many days? Read on…

1. We cut out the cardboard to make into this shape.
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2. Shred newspaper into “slices”. Let the kids do it as they love tearing things up, aren’t they? Smarties were having fun ripping and tearing up the newspaper. Tearing of the newspaper actually can be really satsifying. It enhances their motor skills and allowing them to release any negative emotions at the same time.


3. Make a batter using flour, water and white glue, just like the tempura batter used for frying food. Mix the shredded newspaper into it. The batter acts like a glue and stick the shredded newspaper onto the box. They love this part as they got to get their hands dirty and messy as well…
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4. Stick the newspaper onto the cardboard and let it dry for a day.
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5. Get some aluminium foil and crushed it into a ball and stick the newspaper on it too (another hand exercise to train their motor skills). Same as the cardboard, let dry for a day. This will be the ice-cream.
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Smarties made 3 scoops of ice-cream each.
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6. Once the cardboard and the scoops of ice-cream are fully dry. Kids can start adding colours to it by painting and wait for it to dry again…yes…is waiting time again…
If you noticed, they were sharing the colours. A good chance to learn about collaboration and sharing during this time. Not forgetting a good chance of bonding between them.
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7. Once the paint is dry. Decoration and toppings are next!
Spread some “chocolate syrup” (mixture of glue and brown paint) on top of the “ice-cream”…

sprinkled some “rainbow rice on it” (coloured paper cut into small pieces)…


and, finally, add a cherry (pompom balls) on each scoop of ice-cream.ys_icecreamcraft19-1

Check out our ice-cream! Isn’t it entertaining and messy while creating it? Smarties enjoyed the process lots and they were really proud of their final results. It’s a great confidence booster for them.
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On top of that, this project took them days to complete, as it required many times of drying and waiting, it was a good chance for them to demonstrate self control and patience. With so many benefits from it, who wouldn’t want to join in?  🙂

 

 

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Let's tinker and create @ The Big Draw

Let's tinker and create @ The Big Draw

Does your child love to create?
Does he/she love to explore?

Look no further and check out Playeum, the Children’s Centre for Creativity. Playeum is an independent registered charity that support and encourage children’s learning through play & creativity. 

Last Sunday, we went for their event known as The Big Draw. The theme for the event is STEAM. In case you do not know what STEAM is about: it represents Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. STEAM is the latest educational trend and  it encourages kids to bridge subjects and problem solving, not forgetting creativity as well and that’s where the Art comes in.

The moment we stepped into into, we were greeted by their friendly and smiley staffs. Smarties couldn’t wait to soak themselves into the STEAM mood. There were many installations in the hall.
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Installation 1: Soundweb
A dark room where there was sounds made by the natural habitat creatures. This is where imagination plays a part. Smarties imagined themselves in a dark dark forest with owls and insects singing to each other.
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Installation 2: Creature Cave
A cave made out of cardboard. How cool is that? It’s the creation by Bartholomew Ting and there was even cave sounds as well by Richard Kearns.


Installation 3: Knock Knock! Identification Table
Smarties loved this! They love exploring the insects that were being displayed on the table with the use of the magnifying glass. They were asking loads of questions and luckily my saviour was there to help to answer them.
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After the exploration, smarties got down to draw and write a letter to the insects that they like and post it to them!
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Installation 4: Wind Chimes
Children got to listen to the sound made from swaying and knocking on the wind chimes. They have to be gentle, of course.
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Installation 5: Make a bee’s nest
This installation provides materials for children to make a bee’s nest for the bees. As there were several recycled materials available, children started becoming more creative and started making not only bee’s nest but also other creative artworks as well.
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Instead of bee’s nest, smarties made something else. There’s no restriction on what you do and how much materials you use because creativity and imagination are LIMITLESS!

Installation 5: Make-believe hideaway
Smarties had a good time here with the pottery clay. They got to poke it, squeeze it, hit it and so on with either using their bare hands or tools provided on the table. We love pottery clay as it generates curiosity, imagination, and creativity. It is good for their motor skills too!
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On top of that, they learnt to share the tools with other children as well.

Once they were done. They got to display their creation together with everyone else who did it.

Installation 6: Power Up Gillman with Imagin8ors
This is where technology meets with creativity! Smarties ran straight to their table full of “tools” and started tinkering. Their serious face when they were seriously “working”.
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Once you are done with your creation, you can add them on to their “3D map”! Check out the cool stuff that others have created.
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Installation 7: Spin art
This is a great experience for kids where they put art into action without knowing how it turned out! It’s good for learning about colours too!
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Installation 8: The amazing shape trail
The real outdoor adventure began when we headed out in search of different shapes we can find at the specified spots stated in the booklet given to us. A quick explanation and off we went!
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The adventure clashed with our lunch time and smarties did not relax a tad bit. They were still drawing and searching for shapes even at the dining area.

Finally completed our trail and, boy, were we tired after all the activities. Smarties were extremely satisfied with the results of their shapes hunt and gotten a badge as a reward!
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Do not panic if you have missed out this event. They do have other programmes at their centre. Do check out their website and join their mailing list if you do not want to miss out their next event.

Playeum’s opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm
You may walk in anytime during their opening hours!

Address:
47 Malan Rd, Gillman Barracks, 109444

* Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and they do not represent those of people or anyone else. No monetary benefit / compensation is involved. All photos belonged to Young Smarties. If you require using any of the photos, do write in to us for permission. Thank you!

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Learning about horses and more @ Singapore Polo Club

Learning about horses and more @ Singapore Polo Club

Smarties love love love animals especially mei mei. When we got invited to the Singapore Polo Club 130th Anniversary Open House Celebration, smarties were thrilled!

The minute we got there, smarties were asking about the horses…
“Where are they??”
“Can I pet them?”
“Can I feed them?”
“Can I play with them?”
Gosh! You can see how excited they were.

We reached the lobby and checked out the programme for the day. Loads of activities the kids as you can see from there…
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First thing first, the horses! We had a nice and friendly lady guide who gave us a tour around the horse’s stable. The first horse that we saw were “blindfolded” and smarties were asking why. What the horse is wearing is known as fly mask which is used on horses to cover their eyes and sometimes the ears to protect from from the flies. The mask is semi-transparent thus allowing the horse to see and hear while wearing it. Interesting huh!
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We moved on to another row of horses where we can actually pet them and “talk” to them. The horses were happily sniffing our hands and that was really ticklish. But smarties loved it. From then on, they keep giving their hands for every horse, we passed by, to sniff.
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This is where the “riders” keep their equipment or tools used for horse riding.
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Check out mei mei’s white horse aka prince charming (白马王子). They were communicating while she kept chatting away and he kept licking and sniffing her hand.
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The horses here were all imported and are very well taken of. Their diet is one of the main factors that the caregivers need to take note of. Too much feed will result in an overweight, inactive or sick horse and too little feed will result in a skinny horse with reduced stamina and poor immune system. Caregivers usually gauge if they are well or not by their physical appearance.

Even though it was a short tour, we got to ask questions and getting loads of answers from the guide. We got to see the horse’s food store room and their bathroom too!
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Right after the tour was the Dog Agility Show. The number of cute dogs there really got smarties elated with joy. They went around asking permission to pet the dogs and hugged them. The dog owners were really kind to let them play with their dogs.

Do they get tempted to own a dog as a pet too? Yes, they do and they did ask me permission to get one but nope…not at the moment…
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Smarties spotted the game stalls and ran for it. They saw the top prize and couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. They went through the games with confidence and with the aim of winning the top prize. Their motivation was awesome.
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Guess what? They got the top 2 prizes! Gor gor won the 2nd prize while mei mei won the top prize, her favourite little pony.
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She was the first top winner and everyone was in awed with her luck!
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Before heading for lunch, we had a quick tour around Singapore Polo Club’s track on their “tractor”! Cool huh!
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We had a quick lunch as smarties couldn’t wait to explore other activities. First thing after the lunch, mei mei went for the tattoo, while gor gor went for the photobooth for some photo taking.

She was pretty satisfied with what she chose: butterfly. Don’t ask me why butterfly and not dolphin or flower….but I preferred the dolphin, though…
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Before we know it, it was the Fancy Dress Horse Pageant. Check out the pretty horses and children!
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They were all so adorable. We love Pinkie Pie group as they were the brightest but it was the Green Cupcake group who won the best dress. Nonetheless, I bet the children had loads of fun dressing up themselves and the horses. Smarties kept asking me if they can take part in the future…hmm… I’ll check that out.


Finally, what they have been waiting for: horse riding. Even though is written on the programme as pony rides, we got the big horse instead and it was the winner of the fancy dress!

Look at their happy and satisfied face while on the horse. As a mom, you know you did the right thing when you see such happy faces on your children’s faces.
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Smarties went for another round of games and won 1st and 2nd prize again! How lucky can a person get? Here’re their happy faces with their loots after we reached home.
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As mei mei has 2 ponies, she graciously gave me one of them before bedtime.
“Thank you mummy for bringing me there. I had fun and I love my prizes, here’s one little pony for you to keep you company tonight.”
Awww…I was touched…really touched.
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The trip was really fruitful as we got to learn about horses, how to take care of them, how to communicate with them. What are the dos and don’ts while taking care of the horses. The mini tour cultivated awareness, knowledge and appreciation for the horses.

Smarties were happily running around in the field, chasing after the dogs. That short period of sun and outdoor unstructured play helped a great deal in developing their fitness, motor skills and overall well-being.

As for the game stalls, smarties overcome their fear of losing and disappointment. At some of the game stalls, smarties couldn’t win. They were slightly disappointed but that didn’t deter them from winning their top prizes. Instead, they overcame their disappointment and moved forward. The self-esteem and the motivation in them really inspire me. Glad that they had fun playing and learning at the same time.

* Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and they do not represent those of people or anyone else. No monetary benefit / compensation is involved.

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