Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Poultry Tales by i Theatre

Dumpling and I took a much needed break from the SA revisions and caught Poultry Tales by I Theatre. To commemorate the year of Rooster, this play features the 3 famous feathered friends from well-known classics that I Theatre has put up before: Little Red Hen, The Goose that laid Golden Eggs and Chicken-Licken. 

More interestingly, the play weaves in how it is like, in a theatre with “behind the scenes” as part of the story. The story (stories?!?) comes to life with these 4 actors – Isabella Chiam, Elizabeth Toh, Daphne Ong and Darren Guo. Isabella played the role of a stage manager with Elizabeth and Darren as interns who tries to learn what goes on backstage. 

Stage terms like “Legs”, “Fly Bar”, “Cyclorama” and how the backstage crew support the plays were explained to the interns (and “in turn”, us the audience). Along the way, the interns convinced Isabelle and Daphne to act out the famous tales…

The usage of props like masks was elaborated through the story of Chicken-Licken. Though there were only 4 actors, they took 6 roles in total, where the actors slip into the various roles comfortably with just by using different accent and masks. :) Audience who have watched Chicken Licken previously will find the "re-enacted" scene familiar; the scene also had the younger audience giggling merrily when Chicken Licken shook his tail. :D

In the story of The Goose that Laid Golden Eggs, the lesson on "greed" was well explained. For parents who worry that it may be a tad "dark", you will be happy to know that the goose demise was acted out with some "physical comedy" where ribbons were used to depict the "insides" of the goose.

With just a change of props, the popular Little Red Hen came to "live". The theme song from the play was performed by the cast "little red hen, little red heeeen, little red hen, little red hen" and as we have the CD at home, Dumpling and I joined in the singing and sang along to it too. Of course the importance of friendship and keeping promises were highlighted in this story. Isabella played the role of Little Red Hen well as she was both engaging and likeable, making her very popular with the young audiences.

Comparatively, this story is also the most interactive as the various characters sought out advice and comments from the audience.

For me, I personally also like that the Little Red Hen did not share the bread with the rest of her friends. To me, I feel that she's justified in not wanting to share as the friends did not help in any way, despite having many opportunities to do so. I like that the story respected her choice. :p

With the end of this play, it also sadly marks the end of I Theatre's 2017 season as there has been a cut in funding for a few organisations. I am a tad wistful thinking about this as Dumpling basically grew up on I Theatre's play which includes Rainbow Fish (showcasing the beautiful black light theatre) to The Ant and the Grasshopper where it gave me a chance to talk to her about the value of hard work. 

In an poignant way, this play also serves to remind us that when we support the local arts scene, we do not just support the actors we see on stage but also the cost of the production of props, rental of venue and the hiring of backstage crew, etc; of which any theatrical production could not have happen without these unsung heroes, as clearly depicted by this play. 

Poultry Tales is a clever, informative and engaging play, weaving in 3 stories yet serves to educate us on what goes on backstage. It is suitable for preschoolers and even for Primary school children. Dumpling enjoyed the songs and appreciated the backstage scenes. Poultry Tales into its last week of performances. Do catch these last few performances before we bid them farewell for the rest of the year!

:: Event Date
Sat, 29 Apr - Sun, 14 May 2017
10.30am & 2pm

:: TICKET PRICES (Not including SISTIC Fees):                                                      

Standard Ticket
Family Package (4 Persons)
Big Family Package (5 Persons)
Corporate Groups (min 20 persons)

:: Venue
Disclaimer: We were invited to watch the play I Theatre so that we can give our opinions of it.We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Giveaway! ITheatre's Poultry Tales!

Comes end of April, it will be a farmyard tale of the best (poultry) kind!

I Theatre

A brand new and interactive musical performance incorporating three famous feathered friends – the stars of three classic tales:

~ The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, and her greedy owner;
~ The Little Red Hen, with bread to bake, but lazy friends;
~ and Chicken-Licken - with that scary acorn!

This talkative trio of feathered friends will sing, dance, show and tell you their tales and give you a peek into the world of Theatre Stage from the inside out.  

The wild and wacky characters and well-known folk tales are presented in fun ways that help us to understand both the themes and morals, but along the way also reveal valuable secrets of how a Musical is made!

The play will explore key themes of: 
  • Cooperation,
  • Rewards for hard work,
  • Knowing who to trust,
  • Disbelieving rumours,
  • The Dangers of Avarice
  • The dangers of judging others
  • How a theatre play is staged and the roles of backstage crew

I am pleased to share that I have 2 x family set of tickets to give away!

:: Terms and Conditions
1.                   These tickets will be to the 30 April 10.30am show
2.                   Winner is to collect the tickets directly from I Theatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road by 27 April (no onsite collection is allowed) during office hours.
3.                   Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other dates.
4.                   Please remember to leave a comment below on "Which Poultry character you like best and why?"
5.                  The giveaway is not endorsed, associated with administrated by Facebook.                  
6.          As the play takes place in Singapore, this giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. GOOD LUCK! 

Can't wait for the giveaway results? You can purchase tickets here!

:: Event Date
Sat, 29 Apr - Sun, 14 May 2017
10.30am & 2pm

:: TICKET PRICES (Not including SISTIC Fees):                                                     

Standard Ticket
Family Package (4 Persons)
Big Family Package (5 Persons)
Corporate Groups (min 20 persons)

:: Venue
Disclaimer: The giveaway is kindly sponsored by I Theatre. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Art of Creative Writing

The art of creative writing in Primary school is totally different from what I expected when Dumpling was in Primary 1. Most of my friends’ children, like Dumpling, started on creative writing / composition in school in Term 3 of Primary 1.

Being a voracious reader from a young age, I had the expectations that writing would come easily to Dumpling. Though the flow was easy for her, I later realized that there is a difference in writing for pleasure versus writing for exams. The latter can get very technical in how (teachers / schools) they grade the children and what they look out for.

The kiddo previously trialed on online writing class which I have shared here. This course is great for parents who are stretched for time (no need to worry about transportation and parking) as the composition elements are watched online and the child (P3 onwards) attempts the homework piece and scans it over for the Teacher Hui Ing to mark.

If, however, you are looking at initial assistance for your child, here are some quick tips to share:

:: Time management and planning
This, for me, is one of the most important elements in taking any exams / tests. If the piece is not completed, it usually does not warrant a passing grade.

So sit down and work on time planning with your child. If your child is given for e.g 45 mins, then you can recommend 5 mins to read and plan, and the remaining 30 -35 minutes to write before the last few minutes to read through and check.

:: Format
As a general rule of thumb, I told Dumpling when she was younger that if there are 3 pictures in the composition, then write 3 paragraphs. If there are 4, then it will be 4. Unless your child is able to write quickly and plans his / her flow well, I would encourage such a format so as not to “underwrite”.

Additionally, it is not uncommon for children to only write perhaps 1 – 2 sentences per picture so this is where you can also give clear guidelines. E.g. Picture 1 ~ introduction: to write 2 sentences.

If it were to be a 4 picture composition, then the body needs to be longer to build up the story and this is where it will be for e.g. 3 sentences for each picture with conclusion back to 2 sentences. With such a format, it usually will fall within the minimum word count required.

Usually for P1 and P2, schools will use picture compositions and this can be 1, 3 or 4 pictures. Depending on level and schools, the word count can differ.

:: Technique
This is where it gets a bit more technical. Compositions are usually graded based on Content and Language at the lower level. Hence besides having a strong logical story flow, students need to be able to display their pen welding prowess and showcase a variety of skill sets.

Story starter
Instead of the usual “One afternoon” / "One day", work with your child to start a story differently. I personally prefer to start with a sound effect or dialogue but I do know many start with description of settings. 

I am wary of the last option because I have come across many compositions where the child starts with superfluous descriptions such as “fluffy white clouds dotted across the cerulean blue sky” and how “dragonflies with their iridescent wings were darting around the pond” only to realize that the story is about a trip to the Science Centre where it is not even related to the story. (I have shared my thoughts on this in a previous post.)

Sentence starter
Children have a tendency to start sentences in a similar manner.

Start with a continuous verb
Instead of always starting with “I” – e.g. I ran after the bus as it looked like it was about to pour”, consider starting with a continuous verb “Looking up, I saw dark clouds gather and realized that it was about to pour.”

Start with an adverb
Other sentence starters can start with an adverb (-ly).
E.g. Angrily, I stuffed my book into my school bag and stormed off.
Hungrily, I stared at the mouth-watering spread in front of me. 

Metaphors and Similes
Besides being mindful of technique, I have also learnt that teachers look out for strong vocabulary and good descriptive phrases. So you can remind your child to be more intentional.

Here’s a good poster to make reference to – words to replace “said”.

Additionally, you can also introduce similes or metaphors to your child so that they can describe the “moments” better.

So what are metaphors and similes and how are they different from each other? 

Here are some more examples of Metaphors

And some simple Similes here


You do not necessarily need to stick to these similes or metaphors; you can also encourage your child to create their own. I have to add on to say that it is not necessary to pepper the composition throughout with these similes and metaphors, otherwise it can be an "overkill". 

 :: Practise practise practise
Above and beyond all these tips, do note that regular practice matters. It matters because even in the "strongest" of children (in this area), regular practice allows them to hone this craft. They learn to plan better and write faster with more intentional use of such techniques.

What we also do regularly is to listen to audio CDs and when I hear good phrases, I'd usually pause and highlight that to the kiddo. :) 

If you like to consider reference guides, Susan from A Juggling Mom has shared some resources in this post

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Singapore Repertory Theatre's Peter Rabbit

Being a bookworm, the kiddo grew up with lots of wonderful classic titles. It is from these wonderful tales that she was carried away to different places on different adventures. Beatrix Potter's  Peter Rabbit was one of the stories that she grew up with where she progressed on to read the rest of the stories in the series on her own.

Perhaps it is because of Peter's cheekiness or that rabbits are just plain cute, the kiddo was very taken with this story from young (our late bunny was named Flopsy!) and was really excited to catch this play in action, presented by Singapore Repertory Theatre.

:: The plot
Peter Rabbit is the only boy in the family to a pair of sisters. Being the only boy (and to the sisters' chagrin) he hardly helped out with the chores at home and the sisters were forever picking up after him.

One afternoon, after their mother left home, the siblings got into an argument and in a fit of anger, Peter decided that he would be better looking for another home.

Or so he thought...

The Little Company

Straight from the "get-go", Peter's adventure seems to have had a bumpy start when he bumped into his cousin Benjamin rabbit. They were both caught stealing from Mr McGregor's garden. (At this juncture, I must say that Mr McGregor had the most outrageous "mask" ever which had the kiddo laughing hysterically when he entered onto the stage).

Peter managed to have a narrow escape and wondered off into the woods where he bumped into his first friends - Squirrels. The Squirrels were friendly and all but he soon learnt that they are too different especially with his near "mis-adventure" with the forest Owl!

The Little Company

The Little Company

So off Peter Rabbit went, hippity hop where the Mice family who sews for a living.  Unfortunately Peter lacks the sewing skills and (without revealing too much) met a furry roadblock, ending his stay with the Mice family earlier than expected.

The Little Company

The Little Company

The third animal he met was the Hedgehog, who was also my favorite. The actress totally "rock" the persona and her song performance was impressive. The kiddo and I were both clapping and cheering her on! (Just check out the photo below! LOL)

The Little Company

More than that (and with her rock star image aside), she was quite the voice of conscience who dished out motherly advice to Peter who came to realise that there's no place quite like home, and reflected upon his relationship with his sisters.

The Little Company

A lively and fun play which brings across the message of the importance of family (and forgiveness too!) suitable for even preschoolers. Though Dumpling is in Primary 3 now, I too found myself, riding on this opportunity, whispering to her that all of us do make mistakes and that as a family, we will always love her despite any bad decisions. Because, that's what families are for. 

The Little Company

:: Event Dates
Friday, 24th Feb to Fri, 14 April
Weekends & Public Holidays: 11am and 2pm 
Weekdays: 10am 

Click here to book your tickets! 

:: Venue

Disclaimer: We were invited by Singapore Repertory Theatre to watch the play and share our opinions and thoughts about it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Parenting with Love: Enrichment Classes, are they necessary?

As part of my day job, I liaise with parents of pre-schoolers almost daily. One question which comes up inevitably is always on "primary school readiness". From a strictly "local" sense of the word - almost 95% of the parents that I meet are worried if their children will be able to cope with Primary School.

:: So what does Primary School readiness mean?
From a holistic standpoint, there are of course many facets which include social-emotional readiness and skills. While most of the parents that I have met are concerned about academic readiness, there are some who do look beyond that and value skills and traits such as collaboration/teamwork, independence, resilience, etc.

But academic readiness is almost always at the top of their minds when it comes to these parents who will be enrolling their children into the local primary school system. They worry if their kids can cope with the rigorous local primary school system, if the foundation laid is enough for their children and if they should send their children for extra classes - i.e. enrichment classes / after school care programme.
Image result for enrichment class clipart

Incidentally, I recently had a chat with an "ang mo" colleague and being in the education industry, it is not uncommon for us to delve into the latest trends, hot buzzwords, our kids, classes, etc. He was quite shocked to learn that Dumpling attends quite a number of classes and even ended his views with "does she even get a chance to play?"

That's pretty strong words and comment for someone who does not know my kid I'd say. LOL! The kiddo fortunately/unfortunately (depending on which "camp" you are in), likes activities and to keep herself busy. This was evident even when she was in Primary 1 and 2; where she'd spent her unstructured time in the afternoon doing what she likes which primarily would either be crafting, reading or doing some online learning stuff.

Being an only child, she has learnt to channel her energy into what amuses her in the afternoon until I am back from work where we will do some activities which she likes such as science and card games. For as long as I can remember, the kiddo has always been the one who asked me for classes (all except Swimming and Chinese class I must add) and feeding her voracious appetite for whatever she's keen on. From writing workshops to ice skating, and from STEM to Chinese Speech and Drama, with God's grace we have been blessed to have been able to support her interests.

:: So are enrichment classes a bad thing? And are we doing the wrong thing if we were to sign our children up for classes? I'd say no.

It really depends on your family dynamics, objectives and your child's personality and interest. I truly dislike sweeping statements like "oh, why are we doing this to the children" or "why can't we let them enjoy their childhood". Why is it that "classes" are perceived as always bad? True, there are KS parents whose objectives are to pepper their kids' schedules daily with classes but there are also other families with different dynamics and concerns.

Take for instance a mum that I know who has a child from her first marriage. As it was an inter-racial marriage, her daughter took Mandarin as my girlfriend thought that she would be able to assist her daughter in it. Though she had the best intentions, as environment and circumstance play an important part, the support was not as strong as intended. Her child's standard started dropping from Primary 2 to an alarming low in Primary 3 before she started failing in Primary 4. All that while, my friend was still adamant about not sending her child for tuition classes because she does not wish to give her child any pressure and wants her child to enjoy school. When she eventually agreed to employ a tutor, the tutor shared openly that the gap by then is really quite big and they have a lot of work for they have a lot of catching up to do; resulting in further pressure. The child has also displayed resistance to the language by then as it is just "too hard" for her.

To me "letting my child enjoy school / her childhood" also means supporting her interests and empowering her with the skills / concepts / knowledge to succeed at her tasks. As human beings, we often are spurred on and motivated to do more and to do better, with each taste of success. Similarly, for children, if he/she were to struggle with a subject and does not have access to the help / support which he / she may need, the child would most likely lose interest and motivation. It then becomes a vicious cycle of doing badly because of disinterest and a lack of knowledge and confidence.

(Dumpling with her cousins attending a STEM workshop)

So doing the right thing for the child will mean different thing to different families because of dynamics. For some, like my girlfriend's experience shared above, that help is necessary since the environment does not provide the Chinese exposure for her child. Now, for my case, Dumpling has been asking for classes out of interest as she wanted to learn a bit more than what the school teachers are able to teach, within the hours in school. Though she has CCA before her enrichment class, she still looks very much forward to them and I can see it in the effort she takes when applying new techniques learnt during the enrichment classes, to her homework.

It is a delicate balance of providing support versus maintaining / encouraging interest. Personally, I feel that when assistance is needed, it is better to start earlier than later, so that the gaps to be bridged are smaller and before the child has shown resistance to that subject. Different centres also have different pedagogical approaches and there likely will be some who are able to engage your child in an enjoyable manner whilst building up the level of competence. Good luck!
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