Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Ant and the Grasshopper Giveaway by I Theatre!

Returning after a sell-out run in 2014 which Dumpling and I thoroughly enjoyed, The Ant and the Grasshopper returns this year with the same catchy songs BUT with bigger and more spectacular set and props! A fast-paced and interactive production full of fun, specially created with the younger – Primary and Pre-Primary audience in mind, but with unexpected twists and turns to keep even the grownups engaged, involved and on their toes!

The 50-minute run time is great for young children while the values touched on, in all I Theatre’s productions, will resonate well by the older children.  Previously portrayed as a puppet, the key character Nessa, returns as a “live actor” in this production where the transformation into a butterfly is more spectacular!    

:: The synopsis
Once there lived an Ant - a hard-working and ever-busy Ant who never seemed to have time for play or relaxation. And then there was Grasshopper, with time on his hands and nothing much to do all day.

And visiting from time to time, there is Caterpillar!

Somehow they were friends. All day long Ant would work hard, without stop or rest, collecting grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her larder.
And Grasshopper would laugh, and say. 'Why do you work so hard, dear Ant? Come, and rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here; the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?'

Whilst Caterpillar calmly carried on, doing what caterpillars do best…
But Summer does not last long – and soon Winter and the frozen cold will come…
What will happen to Grasshopper then?
What exactly will Ant do?
And where will Caterpillar go?

:: A Note from the Artistic Director/Producer – Brian Seward
This is one of those stories you really think you know – until you examine it a little closer. In the original Fable by Aesop, the ants work all day, never taking time to appreciate the world around them. Whilst the Grasshopper does not see the value in working…

In Singapore we like to think that the Ants are the perfect example of what we should be like. But is the Grasshopper completely wrong in his point of view? And are the ants really following the best path in life? There could be something valuable to learn from the Grasshopper, and the other insects you will meet on the way. In our tiny Island nation I am sure we can learn something from this tiny insect world!

I am pleased to share that I have 2 sets x family package (4 tickets each package) to give away!

:: Terms and Conditions
  1. These tickets will be to the 11am show on Sunday 19 February
  2. Winner is to collect the tickets directly from I Theatre office @ 27 Kerbau Road by 15 February (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 "What is your favorite Aesop Fable 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, 18 Feb - Sun, 19 Mar 2017
18 Feb - 10 Mar 2017,  Thu - Fri: 10.30am
14 Mar - 17 Mar 2017, Tue - Fri: 10.30am & 2.00pm
Sat & Sun: 11am & 2.30pm

:: Venue

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

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Making Connections to the Real World - STEM Health Technology Workshop

One of the things which I feel Dumpling benefited a lot on from our early years homeschooling is that she was supported in her interest in the world around her. We made the decision to homeschool her because of her inquisitiveness and this was evident in the way she used to (and still does) question about things around us and how things work.

With the formal education system, to be honest, I feel that there's only so much that the school and teachers can do in extending on the topic of inquiry due to limitations on time and resources. At the start of last year, I organised a private STEM workshop where the children learnt about Aviation. Through the hands on team project, the kiddo understood about "thrust" and "drag" but in a really engaging manner.

In December last year, I helped coordinate another STEM workshop which is on Health Technology. The session was conducted by Yen Siow from Discovering without Borders where she is also the founder of the organisation. The objective of the workshop was to educate the children about the functions of our hearts, the biology behind it and the health technology that supports doctors. 

Yen started off with the introduction and leading the discussion with the children on the functions of the heart.

Yen, during her introduction 

A close look at the chambers of the heart. Can you spot the holes along the walls? 

 One of the workshop participants holding an occluder
(this wire mesh helps to close up holes in heart)

 Dumpling, together with her cousins, listening intently to Yen

Besides discussing closing holes in the heart, the children also learnt about heart rate, the clogging of arteries, diet, etc. Having 3 boys of her own, Yen is no stranger to engaging young children. In the workshop, Yen got the children to do a series of exercises to measure and chart their heart rate, something which they thoroughly enjoyed! 

Children holding on to "plank" for a minute to get their heart rate up

Documentation: an important part of Science. Here a participant documented her heart rate after each activity

The authenticity of the workshop shows in the sharing by Yen. Through creating their own ballooning "procedure" the concepts are made meaningful to these young participants. 

Understanding blockage in the arteries and the ballooning procedure

One thing that I learnt from Yen's workshop is that it always consists of a STEM challenge where the participants engage in a group project in building a "device" / an invention. What I personally appreciate is that Yen provides mainly recycled materials for the children to build their projects with. From a parenting perspective, I find this a good approach as I believe that children should also understand that they can have fun and build their own toys too, as opposed to parents buying them toys all the time. 


In the STEM design challenge that morning, the children were given a case study. From there, they are told to look into the "issues" of the person and to think up a device which will help the person.

The children broke out in teams where they then collaborated on the drawing and the planning of their devices to help the patients

Clearly someone had too much junk food!

Science, to me, is beautiful that way as it encourages children to question, think critically and to explore. So, when it comes to such workshops where there's group collaboration, projects and presentation, I usually take a backseat to listen and observe instead of stepping in.

The children were all given chances to speak up, explain and present their devices to their peers.

R demonstrating how the device works like a timer

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A really cute device from another group

The device Dumpling's group came up with is a robotic dog which is able to scan and measure BP and Heart Rate, as well as dispense medication. The robotic dog (code name Alex LOL) has an inbuilt voice activated phone which the patient is able to make emergency calls too. (Seems like they watched Baymax too many times)

What I really like is that Yen's workshop goes beyond the school syllabus as the children are exposed to a larger spectrum of things and unit of inquiries. The topics are about the real world and it is about equipping our children with an understanding about the world and how they can contribute to it using STEM. I am amazed at how she was able to bring topics like Health to a level that these children not only understand but show interest in. 

The hands-on activities are of course a winner in my books. It is through the "doing" and the "tinkering" that give these children time to process and internalise, something which I find lacking in many of the instructional classes children attend these days. The STEM challenge is of course the cherry on top as it serves to tie in all the discussions they had where they now put their understanding to the "test".

The challenge encourages creativity which is clearly something Yen advocates. As she made her rounds to talk to the participants, she also probed them to think deeper with her line of questioning. She was both encouraging and enthusiastic, something which the children caught on as they happily shared and bounced their challenge ideas with her.

After attending 2 of her workshops and witnessing how the children enjoy the activities, I intend to make this a regular thing (once every 2 - 3 months) for Dumpling and her friends. If you like to join our private workshop, please drop me a line at beanienus(at)gmail.com :)

Discovering Without Borders

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