Lee Kong Chian National History Museum
Opened in 2015, this houses over 2,000 specimens that trace the evolution of the biodiversity native to Singapore and Southeast Asia to what we see around us today.
The museum is divided into 16 zones, with themes ranging from plants to mammals, including – this will grab children’s attention – dinosaurs. Expect to see remains of Singapore’s only known sperm whale and leatherback turtle among others.Click here for details.
Dairy Farm Nature Park
Dab on insect repellent and explore some of Singapore’s most hidden nature resources. At Dairy Farm Nature Park, children will come face to face with many of Singapore’s freshwater flora and fauna – which you can explore either by foot or cycle through.
The area itself has an interesting history: English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, set up camp here to collect samples for his research on the theory of evolution. You can get a glimpse of his findings by exploring Wallace Trail and the Education Centre (pictured here) he set up. Every Saturday, the park also holds nature workshops that parents and children can bond over. Click here to chart your own DIY trail.
It’s ironic that as the world gets more and more modern, we find ourselves revisiting our forefathers’ ways when it comes to saving the earth from a certain destruction? And thanks to kampung life, our grandparents probably know more than a thing or two about the earth from a grassroots level.
At Wow Kampung, your children can get an education on ways to live sustainably and get a sense of what kampung life was like through crafts and activities. If you plan on going next month, September is harvesting season and families can participate in the process in a kind of farm to table tracing of the food we eat today. Held In the 26,000 sq m Kampung Kampus, children will learn hands-on about our soil, basic gardening and harvesting and enjoy a meal made from the fruits of their labour. Click here and here for details.
Mint Museum Of Toys
Five stones, marbles, chapteh… give your children a chance to see firsthand that a world of fun and toys existed before video games and remote control cars.
At the MINT Museum of Toys’ monthly “Guerilla” exhibition, you can show off the toys you grew up with up; reminisce about your first comic book or that plush toy you had to work hard in school to earn. The museum also holds a weekly Make & Play programme, which involves making a vintage toy after a tour of the museum’s archival collection. Click here for details.
Singapore Public Libraries
Did you know that the Sultan Mosque is a fusion of Islamic, Indian and European architectural styles? Do you know how the Central Fire Station (pictured here) nickname “blood and bandage” came about?
There’s more such interesting trivia for kids about some of Singapore’s most iconic structures. The good news is that you don’t have to drag them from point to point in the hot sun for them to learn about them. “Building History: Monuments in Bricks and Blocks”, an exhibition by the National Heritage Board showcases miniature models of eight most iconic monuments in Singapore and offers detailed information and choice trivia on each.
The best part? The models are all made of LEGO! On till the end of the year, the exhibition will travel to all Singapore’s Public libraries, so check its schedule first with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Ford factory
This former Southeast Asian headquarters for the assembly of iconic American car model Ford, has seen more than car auto-parts in his history. It was once used by the Malayan Royal Air Force and then the Japanese and British to assemble war planes, military vehicles and more.
While war history may not be on every parent’s agenda for their children, the history within the walls of this structure is an important part of Singapore’s heritage and a legacy every child should know about – including their country’s former name given by the Japanese. Its permanent exhibition “Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies” features interactive elements and oral interviews, and a walk along the path taken by the surrendering troops will pique their interest. Click here for details.
Do you hit a bakery at least once a week because your children love to gorge on cakes, croissants and puffs?
The younger generation have probably little or no idea of traditional Singapore bread, and even less what the bakeries look like, because there are, unfortunately, very few of them around today. A tour of Disappearing Trades by Tribe Tours could then be enlightening as much as entertaining. These are private guided tours organised by a “tribe” of locals who are passionate about Singapore’s culture.
Not just bread, the tour will take you to paper doll- making houses, coffee- roasting companies (pictured here), and more. Children will learn first-hand from local experts how traditional bread is made (how they taste as well!) and how much, or less, the coffee grounds need to be roasted for that perfect cup of kopi O. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack lots of water. Click here for details.
To know a country’s heritage and culture is to know its cuisine – rather savour it. We foodie Singaporeans know that only too well. At cooking school Food Playground children aged seven years and above can learn to cook some of Singapore’s culinary favourites – such as nasi lemak, Nyonya laksa, char kway teow and more – under the guidance of their expert resident chefs.
They hold classes on weekday mornings – and you will learn to cook three dishes each day. Most of us have fond memories of cooking and baking with our mothers as a child. This is a surefire way to bond while adding some authentic Singapore flavour to the outing – plus, the classes are held in a pre-war shophouse in Chinatown. Not just that you will walk away with some interesting trivia on hawker food centres in Singapore. Click here for details.
We live in a time when complete movies are shot on smartphones, and while you may have a recollection of your dad’s box camera, your children have probably never seen one. Then there’s the concept of Black & White photography!
Take your children on a trip down your memory lane with the “Amek Gambar (Taking Pictures): Peranakans and Photography” at the Peranakan Museum, on till February 2019. Not just the history of photography in Southeast Asia and the type of cameras and film developing techniques used, it gives very interesting insight into Peranakan culture, who are said to be the pioneers in using photography technology in Singapore.
Other programmes running concurrently involve a DIY Photo Frame Kit where you can make your own studio portrait using the props stickers and decorative borders. Click here for details.
National Museum of Singapore
Children today are either buried in their smart gadgets or have really high tech play options. With traditional playgrounds, few and far between, a trip down your play memory lane would be just what the weekend calls for.
For the first time ever, the National Museum of Singapore and the Housing & Development Board are collaborating to present “The More We Get Together: Singapore’s Playgrounds 1930 – 2030”, an all-encompassing exhibition about the development of Singapore’s playgrounds in the past, present and future.
The exhibitions is a lead up to the conceptualisation of the National Museum’s first-ever permanent playground in 2019.
On until September 30 at Stamford Gallery, it’s a great way for parents to find out the history behind their favourite playgrounds too. Click here for more details.
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Photos: 123rf.com / respective organisations
This article first appeared in the August 2018 issue of The Singapore Women’s Weekly