Jul 3, 2015

Shoot, This Paper Camera Really Works - and is Great for Kids!

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I remember I was around 12 years old when I first started using my first film point and shoot camera. It was a truly a simple one but I loved it... even though I still remember my Dad’s advice on how to use it: "Don’t take too many photos".

This was back in the day of film photography where developing photos from negatives cost money so it was probably good advice. But that also made me more careful of the shots I took and I would like to think it had somewhat improved my photography skills over the years.

Nowadays with the proliferation of digital cameras, everyone has it good.. .and convenient. Almost anyone can pick up a digital camera and start snapping away - kids included. And I just happen to believe that the images that a child can take are special, simply because their eyes sometimes see something that we adults might miss.

So if you are looking to get a digital camera that is affordable, stylish-looking and packs in all the standard features (and more) for the kids, then this camera made out of paper casing will be it.


Wait, WHH-AT? A camera made out of paper???

Yes, the case is made from reusable paper. So instead of throwing an old casing away, recycle it. Talk about being eco-friendly!


The fun of owning a Paper Shoot camera begins right from the moment the monkies unboxed it... all because they got to piece their very own camera together!


The package included an interior camera body, one paper case, four transparent screws (2 are extras), one lanyard, one USB cable, and an instruction manual. Two AAA batteries are required to power the camera, which are not included in the package.

I think part of the excitement that the monkies exuded when they go their hands on the camera was due to the fact that they saw how the interior of a digital camera looked for the first time.


And putting all of it together was a breeze as well  - all done in less than 5 minutes. Which was just about right since the monkies were getting impatient to try out their new cameras.


The camera uses the standard SD card so all I had to do was to slide one into the side and it was all ready to go!


Ale naturally took the camera with the pink casing while Ash gunned for the Vintage Lomo Camera Case above. The great thing about Paper Shoot cameras is the paper casings are all interchangeable and replaceable but most importantly for parents, the designs are printed using non-toxic ink.

Or if you prefer, you can choose a blank casing where you can personalize it to what you desire. Like Ayd.


This must be the only unique SG50 digital camera in Singapore. Trust Ayd to be ever so patriotic! Heh.


Just 12mm thick and weighing only 80 grams (including the weight of two AAA batteries), the camera has a sturdy cardboard body that is strong enough to withstand accidental drops as well as resistant to slight water splashing on the surface.

Attach the provided lanyard to the camera so that it will not be easily lost, and I reckon the Paper Shoot camera is currently one of the most lightweight and compact cameras on the market for kids!


But this camera is missing something that the conventional digital cameras have.


Yes, a LCD screen. I got to admit the monkies were initially not used to not being able to view their photos immediately after snapping a shot. Okay, me too actually... especially since we live in a today's world of instant gratifications, no thanks to the implosion of smartphones, iPads and video games.

In fact, I recently came across The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment conducted by Professor Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s, where it found that children who were able to delay gratification subsequently did better in school, had fewer behavioural problems, able to sustain friendships longer and scored higher SAT scores. They have higher rates of completing college and earn higher incomes at their later life.

So not having a LCD screen embedded with the Paper Shoot camera might just be that small step needed to inculcate the sense of delayed gratification in my monkies! But even then, the absence of a screen means an absence of radiation emitted which is definitely welcome for parents I'm sure.

All well and good BUT how does it fare when it comes to photo-taking?


Designed to be simple and easy to use, Paper Shoot cameras have only 2 buttons - a 3-in1 On/Off/Shoot button and a four built-in LOMO effect button - to fiddle with, enabling the monkies to effortlessly shoot their own masterpieces.

And snapped they did, when we visited the Flowery Fun Times with Nursery Rhymes at the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay a few weeks back.


The above photos were captured by Ash while those below were that of Ayd's.


Not too shabby huh? The thing about letting kids start on photography is it nurtures aspects that has to do with right-brain development – Alertness, Planning, Thinking-on-your-feet (deciding what to capture or not capture) and Thinking out-of-the-box. Kids get to experiment by shooting from different perspectives (up high, down low, etc), getting in close or stepping back for a wider angle shot, and even moving around the subject to shoot from different sides.


In fact, the monkies even brought along their Paper Shoot cameras during our family's recent trip to Cairns and surprisingly, Ale was the one that got really trigger-happy when it came to snapping photos wherever we went!


I particularly liked some of the black and white photos she took during our cable car ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.


Very mood feel, no? Thanks to the Paper Shoot camera's ability to capture images in 4 LOMO effects – Classic, Black & White, Golden Memory, Blue November - the monkies had a field day experimenting with the various modes as well.


Oh, and that occasional selfie attempt too. Lol.


The camera uses a 5 megapixels lens (from the same supplier as Apple’s), so the vivid images are captured in pretty good resolution and can be printed up to A4 size.


Which reminds me, the wifey and I have promised the monkies to print some of the photos that snapped during our Cairns trip and compile them in a scrapbook. A perfect family bonding activity if you ask me!

A DSLR camera the Paper Shoot camera is not but then again, it need not be one. It is meant to be a fun camera that not only appeals to everyone but also can be operated easily too. For once, kids have a digital camera that is lightweight, compact and fun to use.


Coupled with its interchangeable, customizable and environment-friendly casing, it is no wonder that the monkies are bringing along their Paper Shoot cameras every time we head outdoors. Not that I am complaining because there is no better way of immortalising memories than photography - and having loads of fun while at it too!



The Paper Shoot camera is available for Pre-Order now at an introductory price of $70 (usual price $80)! Email peppermintapac@gmail.com or call 9838 7272 to reserve your set now. 

For more information on the camera, visit www.papershoot.com/enu/index.html.


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Jul 1, 2015

How my Son Scored Full Marks for his Oral Exam with 'Got Kids, Go Where?'

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Hands up if you are more interested in finding out how my son scored full marks for his English oral exam for Semester 1 than reading more about my book, 'Got Kids, Go Where?'.

Yep, I figured.

But before you go screaming 'CLICK BAIT!' and all, it definitely happened. The son in question? Ayd, but more on that later.

Allow me to first give a little background story on how my book came about.


Sometime in April last year, I was invited to pen a Foreword for Armour Publishing's 'Keep Calm and Father On' book, a collection of 399 quotes from around the world and across time - some of the best things that have ever been said about this magical journey called Fatherhood.

Then the Managing Editor asked if I would be interested in authoring a book about activities in Singapore that parents would be able to do with their kids... and not just 10 or 100 activities, mind you but FIVE HUNDRED!

Frankly, the first thought that came to my mind was why would anyone want to buy a book written by me??? Of course, the daunting task of compiling 500 activities into a handy book equally loomed in my mind as well.

But the excitement of possibly having my work published and becoming an author probably made the process easier. And so, the research phase began in earnest. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to write a book that was not just a collection of blog posts on activities I had written. Rather, I wanted my readers to have something different so I began to involve my monkies in the research process.

Once I had identified the 50 chapters in the book, I started short-listing the places and activities that could fit into the various chapters. And there began our 5-month of dragging the monkies to every corner in Singapore whenever the weekends roll along.


Whether it was play, heritage, nature, eating places, or travel ideas, the monkies were with me while I took notes and snapped photos for the book. Speaking of photos, I had wanted the photos in the book to be of a personal nature so all of the photos in the book were taken by me.

Once the visits had been completed, I then sat down together with the monkies (mainly Ash and Ayd) to assign a cheekiemonkie rating ranging from 1 to 5 - with 5 being the most awesome on the scale - for each activity and attraction. They even chose the best of the lot (otherwise known as the RAVE!) in each chapter.

As an added bonus, I also included various 'Cheekie Tip' and 'Did You Know' information boxes within the book!


Oh, and it comes with an Index section with information such as addresses, opening hours and fees - just for that extra convenience!


After a further 3 months of editing, my book was finally sent to the printers! Around that same time, Ash and Ayd sat for their Mid-Year English Oral Exams... which the wifey and I did not exactly prepare them much so it came as a complete shock (in a pleasant way) when Ayd came back one day announcing he had scored full marks for his English Oral!

I mean, who scores FULL marks for an oral exam??? This was definitely a first to me.

I asked Ayd what was the topic he spoke about and he replied that the question which his teacher asked him was, "What do you do during the weekends?"

Ah, no wonder. After 5 months of dragging the monkies everywhere in Singapore during the weekends, I will have presumed that he would have loads to tell! Lol.

Even Ash performed rather well too, scoring 14 out of 16 marks for his oral exam!

Perhaps it was fortunate that the topic for the oral exams was close to Ayd's heart but I have always believed in experiential learning, or learning through experience. The outdoors offers a lot of learning opportunities for kids, and skills that one cannot learn in the classroom. So I would like to think that all our outings as a family contributed to the boys' exceptional performance in their oral exams.


So while I would not go so far as to claim that your child will score full marks for his oral exams if you buy my book, I can safely tell you that the best place for a kid to learn is outside. And the next time you have a head-scratching moment and drawing a blank as to where to bring your family during weekends or school holidays, 'Got Kids, Go Where?' will be that quick saviour that you need.

Even better, allow your kids to flip through the book and let them decide on the places they would love to go!


---

'Got Kids, Go Where? is retailing at $16.90 (before GST) at Popular and Kinokuniya bookstores. Alternatively, you can order online or purchase your copy at the following locations:

1. Chillax Market (#03-07 The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Rd)
2. Heart Studio Singapore (1 Charlton Lane #01-04)
3. Urban Farm & Barn (Top of Bukit Panjang Hill - walk from carpark at Blk 210 Petir Road)
4. Hokey Pokey (B1-28/29 Seletar Mall)



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Jun 29, 2015

Over 80 Role-Playing Activities for Kids at KidZania Singapore

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Media Invite

KidZania Singapore, the theme park with NO rides or arcade attractions to boast of, will be opening by the end of this year! Instead of rides and games, kids get to participate in a variety of role playing activities specifically designed to educate and inspire kids aged 4 to 14, creating a kid-centric city experience from arriving at the airport, to visiting a city centre and exploring the city streets.

So before the year is up, I guess we will all have another fabulous reason to visit Palawan Beach at Sentosa - even more so for the monkies!


Previously announced partners include 7-Eleven, Abbott, Camp Challenge, Canon, Carl Zeiss, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, KFC, Killiney Kopitiam, Kiss92, Maybank, Nanyang Optical, Nickelodeon, PictureAir, Pizza Hut, Sticky, Spritzer, Sunstar, The Learning Lab, The Soup Spoon, Warung M Nasir, WTS Travel and Yakult.


So joining the 22 already on board are a further 10 industry partners to offer a diversifying range of career options for the little people.


Automotive
Be a petrol station manager at an Esso Petrol Station and help fill up vehicles for customers. Kids can learn more about the different types of fuels used to power vehicles on our roads, and the importance of good customer service.

Culture and Entertainment
Be a Museum curator and docent at The Intan, Singapore’s first private Peranakan home museum. Appreciate the traditional Peranakan culture by curating galleries that focus on iconic Peranakan elements such as the sarong kebaya, nyonya porcelain and Peranakan tile architecture, and proudly share Singapore’s rich Peranakan identity with visitors through the galleries and exhibits.

Industrial
Be a Health Institute Researcher at Lifebuoy and learn the intricacies of soap making along with the importance of hand hygiene through first-hand experience of making their very own soap.

Be an ice cream maker and mix delicious flavours and ingredients at the Paddle Pop Ice Cream Factory. Kids will learn about nutritionally responsible snacking before enjoying yummy treats.

Public Services
Be a surgeon and perform a delicate kidney transplant operation in a fully furnished operating theatre at the city’s very own Mount Elizabeth Hospital, and learn important health practices.

Be a radiologist at the Toshiba CT scan room, and analyse scan results while operating a functional CT scan machine, and learn the importance of early detection.

Be a junior nurse at Johnson & Johnson’s nursery, kids are tasked to take care of newborn babies, learn the basics of diaper change, baby massage techniques and the benefits of baby moisturisers.

Retail
Mini fashionistas become fashion gurus at the Camouflage Fashion Boutique as they learn how to curate their own fashion style, and gain confidence by modelling their handpicked outfits in a fashion show.

Be a Traditional BBQ meat specialist and discover the secret recipe that goes into the age-old process of making one of Singapore’s best loved traditional snacks at Lim Chee Guan Traditional BBQ Meat Store.

Private Services
Learn the importance of having protection and savings plans to help other kids take care of themselves and their loved ones as a financial services consultant at AIA Insurance.

Sports 
Be a telematch participant, footballer, cheerleader or even commentator at one of the few stadiums available in KidZanias world-wide. Kids can take part in an array of different activities from telematches to football games with AIA at the Stadium.

In addition, KidZania Singapore has appointed Singapore Children’s Society as its CSR Partner for a year, starting June 2015. KidZania Singapore will donate the sales proceeds of 3,000 tickets to the Society.


Also, I got a glimpse at KidZania Singapore's layout as well.


Interestingly, districts will be set up within the kid-sized city to group establishments based on the nature of the establishments and role-play activities.  The decision is based on the concept of zoning, one of the common techniques adopted by urban planners in most developed countries.


All in all, there will be a diverse range of over 80 (!!!) role-playing activities within KidZania Singapore with the following various districts in KidZania Singapore:

- Automotive
- Culture and Entertainment
- Industrial
- Public Services
- Private Services
- Retail
- Sports
- Restaurants (Food and Beverage establishments will be located throughout the city)


From activities that will challenge a child’s physical limits to experiences that will inculcate values such as the importance of better health and caring for others, kids can independently decide and participate in occupations and roles that aid social, emotional and intellectual growth.


One of the more exclusive facility I am looking forward to is the Stadium. 


KidZania Singapore will be home to one of the few stadiums available in KidZanias worldwide - the Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta ones do not have one - where kids will be able to try their hands at being a telematch participant, footballer, cheerleader or even commentator.


When we first visited KidZania KL back in 2012, Ale was too young to participate in the activities. This time around, I think she (and her brothers) can hardly wait!


For more information, visit www.kidzania.com.sg.


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Jun 26, 2015

Un-Plug to Play: 3 Ways to Better Connect with your Child

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With Singapore having one of the world's highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, it is perhaps inevitable that kids here are exposed to screen devices at a much earlier age than we parents would have liked. 

So while I'm sure that most parents are already aware of the dangers of prolonged exposure to electronic devices, I think we could do with a little more help when it comes to having positive opportunities for the whole family to bond through engaging, offline activities.


So in order to help parents better connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices, Nutella is launching the ‘Un-Plug to Play’ campaign as part of their brand social responsibility programme, which was designed to encourage and support parents.

To advocate active families and emphasise the importance of an active lifestyle in a child’s development, the Nutella Active Family Experts panel will also be introduced to give ideas and encourage parents to connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices. And I am extremely honoured to be one of the three Active Family Experts to be selected for this campaign!


Read more of my interview with Nutella HERE.

The other two include Dr Janice Wong, Paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre and Ms Kareen Lai, Founder and Head Coach at Mums In Sync. Together, we bring a wealth of experience spanning medical knowledge, fitness and parenting and will come together to give ideas and encourage parents to connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices.

To help parents, we have come up with a few rules as the basis of helping parents have a fulfilling time with their children:

1. Quality time over Quantity

There is a difference between spending time with your child and having that time be legitimate quality time. Just because you are physically with your child doesn’t mean that you are, in fact, spending quality time together. Being in the living room while your child is watching television and you checking emails would not constitute quality time.

Quality time means enrichment time that is highly interactive and engaging. These moments are an investment in the relationship between parent and child. According to psychologists, there are four key ingredients to a successful playtime between parents and children: education, inspiration, integration and communication.

Because we are all busy, so focus on quality and identify pockets of time to connect with your child. Take a few minutes every day to really listen and participate in a conversation or activities with you kids - it can be on the way to school or having a conversation over dinner (no TV or smartphones allowed of course!).

2. It IS okay to PLAY

Albert Einstein famously said, “Play is the highest form of research.” and who am I to argue with him? Kids will be kids, and they love playing so engage them in activities that encourage their sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and energy.

Got kids but don't where to go? Here is where I will shamelessly promote my new book, 'Got Kids, Go Where?'! Containing a whopping 500 family-friendly activities for you to take your pick from, from play, heritage, nature, eating places to even short trips out of Singapore, each listing in the book have been specially picked for its family-friendly nature.

Personally, I find it more fun when we get out of the house and do something together as a family. It may be at the museum, a park or just a simple playground but we do bond more compared to being copped up at home. Oh, and do seek your kids’ input on how to spend family time too as they often have good ideas!

3. Be a Role Model

What kind of example are we setting for our kids when we parents are swiping at our smartphones at the dinner table? Yes, I'm guilty as charged as well. That is why I have resolved to put down my electronic devices when not needed and show my monkies that they have my utmost attention when I am spending time with them - without a screen.


And in line with the ‘Un-Plug to Play’ campaign which emphasises the importance of play in a child’s development, Nutella will be organising a special afternoon of games and activities for families on 4 July 2015!


Families will be able to take part in game stations with analogue versions of popular games and compete as a team to win attractive prizes. This is a chance for parents to bond and connect with their children without the distraction of electronic gadgets. And a prerequisite to take part? Phones must be switched off to play!

So put those phones and tablets away on 4 July 2015 and give your child an opportunity to connect with you. What's more, pre-register for the event HERE to be eligible for a special lucky draw!


Useful Information

Nutella Un-Plug to Play
Date: 4 July 2015, Saturday
Time: 11am - 9pm
Venue: United Square Shopping Mall
FREE Admission
Visit www.facebook.com/nutellasg for more information.



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Jun 24, 2015

Nursery Rhymes Come to Life!

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Without a doubt, nursery rhymes formed a huge part in both my and the monkies' toddler years. I mean, who can escape singing along to 'Itsy Bitsy Spider', 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' and 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' right?

So if you have been yearning to relive some of your childhood memories and/or bring these nursery rhymes to life right in front of your child's eyes, skip down to the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay!


The third of six chapters in Gardens by the Bay's storytelling journey in 2015, Flowery Fun Times with Nursery Rhymes has the Flower Dome Flower Field transformed into a world filled with beloved scenes from childhood nursery rhymes and stories.


So expect to see familiar characters brought to life - much like Mary and her little lamb, the old lady in her shoe, Old MacDonald with his farm animals, Humpty Dumpty, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Baa Baa Black Sheep and even pay a visit to Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary in her garden.


But the one thing I loved about the floral display? Not only does it feature the usual English nursery rhymes and stories, it also included rhymes in other languages such as Tamil and Malay as well!


Ale, for one, was ecstatic to see one of her favourite Mandarin rhyme, 小蜜蜂, on display and she just went '嗡嗡嗡' on repeat mode after that.


Ayd's favourite Mandarin song when he was a toddler, 泥娃娃, was also painstakingly brought to life. Loved how the characters were constructed out of flower pots!


Amidst a field of colourful Lupins, Delphiniums and Foxgloves, the entire flower field display was truly a feast for the eyes.


Compared to the previous Tulipmania display where I felt that the gingerbread house stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of the Flower Field, the props for Flowery Fun Times complemented the floral display really well this time around.


There is a natural flow of the rhymes and stories with each linking up with one another seamlessly. So yes, all of us definitely loved it!


So if your kids are fans of nursery rhymes, this is one display they will be delighted to see! And the parents? You will be secretly mouthing the lyrics to the rhymes... Go ahead, you know you want to. :)


The Floral Display runs until 19 July but the best time to head down to Gardens by the Bay will be this weekend (27 & 28 June 2015)... all because of Megapalooza! Visit with your family and friends and have a whale of a time playing gigantic board games, enjoying magic tricks and taking in wonderful performances!

Giant Board Games
27 - 28 June 2015 | 10am - 7pm | Supertree Grove | Free
Tired of playing tabletop board games? Try your hands at our 3D, life-sized games for a mega time of fun with family and friends. Immerse yourself in the craziness of it all!

Tricky Patrick
27 June 2015 | 5.30pm - 6.30pm | Flower Dome*
28 June 2015 | 4.15pm - 5.15pm | Flower Dome*
Fancy a trick or two? Check out what Tricky Patrick has up his sleeves. Kids, come and see some seemingly impossible tricks and amazing stage illusions. *Admission charges to Cooled Conservatories apply.

Urban Street Team
27 June 2015 | 6.40pm - 7.40pm | Supertree Grove | Free
Gooaal! Enjoy an exciting soccer showcase as the Urban Street Team dazzle you with their fancy footwork and creative stunts.

NUS Wind Symphony
27 June 2015 | 8pm - 8.45pm | Supertree Grove | Free
Enjoy an evening of beautiful band music brought to you by the NUS wind symphony. Sit back, relax and be entertained by a wide repertoire of quality tunes ranging from classical orchestral pieces to familiar pop tunes.

The Players Theatre
28 June 2015 | 5.30pm - 6.30pm | Supertree Grove | Free
Watch a play with stories told by the Berenstain Bears! Look forward to colourful costumes and interesting props, and let the Berenstain Bears' special narration of honesty and responsibility move you.

Shili & Adi
28 June 2015 | 7pm - 7.45pm | Supertree Grove | Free
Let Shili & Adi bring you back to a more nostalgic time with familiar tunes that you will love. Enjoy an evening of acoustic music by this talented duo. Let their wide repertoire of songs and versatile voices entertain everyone in the family.


Useful Information

Flowery Fun Times Floral Display
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
Now until 19 July 2015
Opening Hours: 9am - 9pm
Admission Charges apply. For more information, visit HERE.

Promotions

June Holidays – Gardens by the Bay Family Package Local Families
Grab Family Package at $50 (usual price $64), which allows entry to both conservatories for two adults and two kids! Offer valid to 28 June 2015, Sunday.

SG50 Special - Free Admission for Seniors
In celebration of SG50, local seniors (aged 60 and above) can enjoy free entry into two conservatories. Accompanying caregivers of seniors can also enjoy 50% discount into two conservatories. Valid from 1 June to 31 August 2015.


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