31 of the best (FREE) online learning resources for preschoolers

Over here in Singapore, there is tremendous pressure on children to excel academically, and many of Little E and J’s preschool classmates are enrolled in various expensive enrichment classes.

Although I am trying my best to avoid hot-housing my children, both J and Little E have a innate love of learning and I like to find ways to nurture and encourage them in their educational journey. Now with the June school holidays on the horizon, I find myself actively looking for meaningful home activities to keep them gainfully occupied during the day!

Here is a list of 30 of my favourite (free!) online learning resources that I find myself returning to again and again!

Phonics and Early Reading

With most schools returning to phonics to help children to learn how to read, these are some brilliant websites which will help you to reinforce what your preschooler is learning!

  1. Reading Bear – there are some very lovely videos to help capture your kid’s interest
  2. Progressive Phonics – this has some great e-books and worksheets too
  3. Starfall Phonics – the animations may be rather crude, but the songs are pretty catchy!
  4. Phonics4free – this is a series of videos and guides for empowering parents to teach phonics
  5. ABC Fast Phonics – A very simple no-frills guide to the basics which is good for parents who want to help their kids at home


Bilingualism is very important in Singapore with Mandarin chinese offered as a second language in most preschools. We speak very little Mandarin at home, so I have to find creative ways to expose my children to the nuances in both the spoken and written word. These websites have really helped me to keep my kids interested and engaged!

  1. Chineasy – This is a beautiful website which focusses on the pictorial nature of the chinese written script and helps kids (and adults) to remember chinese characters using gorgeous illustrations and beautifully animated teaching videos.
  2. CCTV Learn Chinese – This is an extensive library of videos aimed at teaching conversational chinese and touches on aspects of chinese culture and daily living as well.
  3. Fun Fun Elmo – Sesame Street has most recently developed a preschool mandarin programme featuring the ever-popular Elmo in a series of 10 minute vignettes! This first season is available on Youtube – and hopefully Sesame Street will release their subsequent episodes online too.
  4. Semanda  – These are some free printable flashcards which cover some basic concepts (such as colours, fruits, animals, vehicles etc) as well as some multiple choice style quizzes
  5. Hanlexon Chinese – This is a useful website for printing out writing practice worksheets. You can alter the worksheet to show the stroke order or allow tracing of the characters


  1. Khan Academy – This site is brilliant for kids who already know how to count. J loves this because he can unlock achievement badges and trophies when he has achieved mastery of a new concept!
  2. Math Worksheet Wizard – Here is a simple worksheet generator to help reinforce simple counting, addition as well as subtraction.
  3. ScootPad – This has a basic free system for individuals as well as a subscription service for classrooms. The basic free system has both Math as well as Reading practice pages (but the Math pages are prettier), as well as some really fun math games!
  4. Math Game Time – this is self explanatory, but helps kids to reinforce their rote counting and number recognition skills
  5. Soft Schools – Here you can find some great free printable worksheets and online games to help grow little mathletes.


These art sites are more for parents who are looking for simple, foolproof art projects for preschoolers as well as lesson plans to introduce kids to art history!

  1. Mrs Brown’s Art Class
  2. Teach Kids Art
  3. Art Projects for Kids
  4. KinderArt
  5. Museum of Modern Art NY


These are a collection of brilliant websites that include some very impressive science demonstration videos as well as projects and simple experiments that you can set up at home!

  1. Science For Preschoolers
  2. Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop
  3. The Kid Should See This
  4. BrainPOP
  5. SESL Writing Wizard

Other Useful Resources

There are plenty of awesome sites out there that will inspire your kids to learn more about the world around them! Here are our current favourites that include everything from World History to Astrophysics :

  1. Typing Club
  2. Learning with Fun
  3. Crash Course World History
  4. NASA Kids Club
  5. The Good Stuff
  6. Smarter Every Day

Playing With Food: It’s Cupcake Time! (Part 2)

In which J and Little E decorate cupcakes using colourful (and tasty) fondant icing!

P.S. This was filmed during a parent-child cupcake making and decorating class at Artzbake. They have loads of awesome holiday classes coming up this June for both adults and kids, which will definitely be both fun and delicious!

P.P.S. Check out It’s Cupcake Time! (Part 1) here.


Writing Process Blog Tour: Debs G

owls well blog _logo_2

Hello there Blog Tourists! Thanks for stopping by Owls Well Blogs this week on the Writing Process Blog Tour, where writers answer four questions about themselves, their writing process and their motivations and their current work.

Mel looking awesome (Picture credit: Darren Soh)

Mel looking awesome
(Picture credit: Darren Soh)

My old friend, Melanie Lee, invited me to take part in this blog hop (thanks, Mel!). I’ve written about Mel before on Owls Well when I reviewed her e-book, Imaginary Friends, which has since been published in a handheld paper format (P.S. I’ll be hosting a giveaway of her awesome book soon, so watch this space)!

Mel and I have known each other since Primary School, where she and I were always grouped together on account of being next to each other on the class register. Click through to Mel’s blog at Mental Indigestion.

So, onto the Writing Process Blog Tour!

What am I working on?

Apart from working on Owls Well and my travel blog at Owl Fly Away, I am currently working on a collection of stories for my children. These are stories about my grandparents and my uncles and aunties that have been told to me over the years by my own mother, and I’ve been telling them to my children. It’s a very personal project, and I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with it once it is competed, but right now, I just feel compelled to write the stories down.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hm, I guess I am supposed to be classed as a ‘Mummy Blogger’ but I don’t think that being a mother is my defining characteristic as a writer. I think that I am a letter writer. And letters need to be read. I have been told by my friends that the way that I write is the same as the way that I talk, which is exactly what my blogging is all about. On Owls Well, I’m writing letters to my sister in Australia. On Owl Fly Away, I’m writing letters about my travelling experiences.

Why do I write what I do? 

This is a tough one. I have thoughts in my head that I need to get out and I think best when I’m talking things through with another person. Writing helps me organise my thoughts.

How does my writing process work?

Well, I always have a vague outline of each article that I’m intending to write all mapped out, and this is acts as a blueprint around which I construct my articles. For now, I keep all these outlines in my head. I do most of my editing in my head too, and I spend several days thinking of what I want to say and how I want to say it, which words and phrases I will be using, before I actually sit down to type it out. This means that before I even start typing, I have already written and revised my articles several times in my head.

I do realise that this is not an efficient or sustainable way of doing things, as I rely very heavily on my memory actually being in working order, but it does mean that I can write without having to take the time to physically sit down in front of my computer, which is a luxury that I currently cannot afford.


So, there are some other cool people on the writing process blog tour TODAY, so do take some time do visit with Lyn Lee, Dorothea Chow and Grace Ma!

Next week, the tour continues on MondayJune 2, 2014, right here on Owls Well, where my little sister, The Becky Lee (aka the Burrowing Owl), will be sharing a little bit more about herself and her writing process! You can also hop over to visit my pal, Pamela Tan, who is a lovely and thoughtful writer over at the Tan Family Chronicles!

If you’ve just started the blog tour, head backwards starting with Melanie’s post and encounter some really awesome book authors!

The Daily Playlist (Debs Edition)

Hey Meimei,

So, I too rely on music to get me through the day.

However, my playlist of songs exists only in my head, as the sound system in my house (and the one in the car) is generally used to play music for the children. The kids are currently listening to a mix of Psalty, DisneyColin Buchanan and the Star Wars Episode IV Soundtrack, but my mental radio is playing rather a different mix of tunes altogether.

The endless internal soundtrack is not anything new, by the way. My housemates at University have all observed at one point or another that I will sing or hum tunes to myself as I go through my day, and that the songs are usually related to what I’m doing at the time. I have thousands of songs on my playlist, but most of them have lyrics, and I do realise that I return to some songs more than others. By the way, although I enjoy listening to classical and jazz, I don’t seem to have purely instrumental music in my head when I go through the day.

(Here’s a link to my complete playlist so you can follow along if you like. or scroll down to the bottom for the embedded playlist)

Getting up in the morning: To the Sky by Owl City

This is a lovely, upbeat song which never fails to get me going in the morning. Each day is an adventure, and it doesn’t matter where you are or what circumstances you are in, it’s time to wake up and BE AWESOME!

Getting up in the morning (grumpy version): This Year by The Mountain Goats

I do have days where I just feel tired and uninspired, and I need an extra boost to get me going. I don’t have the luxury of calling in sick from work – so I just have to push through my own natural desire to hide in a dark place and just get on with it.

Getting the kids ready for school: In Your Arms by Kina Grannis or Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac

I like happy, hopeful songs for the morning which keep my mood and energy up. These songs have a great positive vibe and make me feel happy about being with my family.

Getting the kids ready for school (and we’re late)The History of Everything by Barenaked Ladies or Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

These are pretty self-explanatory but really, when we’re late, we need to keep going at the speed of light and I find myself in conveyor belt mode, pushing the kids along and out of the door.

Running the morning household errands:

– On a Rainy Day: Carolina on my Mind by James Taylor or Fields Of Gold by Sting or Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

I often feel more dreamy and thoughtful on rainy days. This is the time where I am the most introspective. These are sedate and quiet songs which tend to fill my mind when I’m busy with housework and general errands.

– On a Sunny Day: Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America or Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

Sunny days are good days for planning ahead with positivity and getting things organised!

– When I’m Stuck in Traffic: Going Down To Liverpool by The Bangles or Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash

This is one of the worst things that can happen to me during the day, because it seriously screws up my momentum. In this situation, I tend towards songs with a steady rhythm which takes me away from the monotony of crawling along the motorway. (Small digression: The Bangles music video is hilarious and you may recognise a Significant Actor who exactly mirrors my feelings of being in a traffic jam, with a small arch of his eyebrow.)

Wrangling the kidsI Know (A Song in Ten Words) by Hank Green or Closer To Fine by Indigo Girls or True Colours by Cyndi Lauper

These songs kinda summarise what goes through my head when I’m talking to J and Little E and handling their various moods. I am a rather quick-tempered person and keeping these songs running in my head helps me to remember the bigger picture, so that I can deal with my children with wisdom, good humour and sensitivity.

Winding down at the end of the day: Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

Well, it only stands to reason that Owl City both starts and ends my day. I always find his music makes me feel hopeful about things to come. This song is one of my favourites.

P.S. Have embedded the whole playlist below the cut!
Continue reading

The Playlist

This, this right here is exactly how I get out of bed and get to work every morning.

Admittedly, I’m not really into heavy dance music like Vinyl Scratch is, but I do try to ensure that I have music playing throughout the day, particularly when I’m alone in the filing room, which has great soundproofing and wonderful internal acoustics.  I’ve often found that having music playing helps the work day go faster and keeps a sort of tempo to which the rest of my tasks sort of flow easier.

So, here are the songs I tend to listen to and the actions that they’re mapped to (you can also access this entire playlist of songs here.:

Waking up:  Digital Love by Daft Punk (from the Discovery Album)

This song automatically cues up on my phone at bout 6.30 in the morning.  It’s great to wake up to and the lyrics are kind of sweet.  Plus, I like the way it starts with that soft buzzing – much less jarring than an alarm clock.

Getting ready for work:  Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk (from the Discovery Album again)

This song is another of those daily automatic cues, which starts up at about 7.45.  Why?  Because the length of the song is exactly how long I need to style and brush my hair, pick up my work pass, get dressed in a full business suit, check my phone, wallet and keys and head out the door if I’m in a hurry.  As an added bonus, having it play at 7.45 means that I’m out the door in time for a leisurely stroll to the bus stop to catch my bus.  It never fails to get me there on time.  As an added bonus, the song comes straight after Digital Love on the Discovery album AND the lyrics remind me to do my best at work.

Getting to the Bus Stop:

(Gettin’ my strut on) Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics  or Battle without Honor or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei

There’s nothing like these classic songs to get my strut on, so to speak.  If I’m needing that little bit of a confidence booster or just want to feel like I look good and am going to kick butt in general at work, these are the songs to get me there.

(Dance to work) Tank! by The Seatbelts or In the Mood by Glenn Miller

If it’s a nice morning and the street is relatively clear to the bus stop and I don’t have any pressing urge to get there in a hurry, then I cue these on my soundtrack and boogie down to the bus stop.  Mind you, I only do this if the street is empty of pedestrians and if I’m particularly early to the stop so that nobody can see my awful dancing and so I don’t put anyone’s eye out with my randomised flailing.

(It’s a beautiful morning!) For the First time in Forever from Frozen, Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Buble or Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Iz Kamakawiwo`Ole

Now, if it’s a particularly nice morning and I just want to enjoy it, I listen to these three songs, or something similar.  Michael Buble’s song is pretty cheery sounding if I ignore the words.  The frantic pace of For the First Time in Forever really helps me to get excited about being outdoors, but the mix of Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World by the late Mr Kamakawiwo`Ole is just the most relaxing, a love letter to good mornings everywhere.

You’ll note that I’ve not listed anything if I’m actually late for the bus.  This is because I don’t usually have time to change the music on my iPhone when I’m sprint-chasing down a bus.  However, I imagine that if I was running for the bus, I’d like to have the Gunsmith Cats OP playing.

Filing:  Rescue Me by Fontella Bass, King of Anything by Sara Barellies, 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford or any song by Tom Lehrer (but particularly The Masochism Tango)

Anyone reading this list probably has a good idea of how I feel about filing.  Still, the filing room at the office has fantastic sound proofing and really great acoustics, so they lend themselves really well to soul music and allow me to sing along to all my favourite soul songs, of which Rescue Me is my absolute favourite.  King of Anything is a good one to sing and file to and is often particularly relevant on some days.  For bonus points, open and close the clips on the lever hinge binder to the time of the beats in the music.  On particularly bad days, however, Tom Lehrer music never fails to cheer me up.

End of Day, Close of Business: King of Spain by Moxy Fruvous or Another Irish Drinking Song by Da Vinci’s Notebook

Well, at the end of the day, I love listening to happy, cheerful and completely pointless music.  It’s a great way to end the day.

What’s your playlist like, Debs?

Playing With Food: It’s Cupcake Time! (Part 1)

Classtime at Artzbake

Classtime at Artzbake

A few weeks back, I brought J and Little E to Artzbake at 500 Guillemard Road for a cupcake making class.

The folk behind Artzbake used to run a cafe and bakery, but they have decided to share their craft through baking workshops and cake decoration classes for both children and adults, and it is clear from their enthusiasm that they have a real love for baking and making it fun for everyone!

I have to say that the staff at Artzbake were great with the kids, finding ways to keep each one engaged and involved during the cupcake-making process and maintained a fun, yet orderly (and hygienic) environment. I learned so much by watching the baking instructors at work and was inspired to make another episode of Playing With Food!

So…here’s a new episode called ‘It’s Cupcake Time! (Part 1)’, in which J and Little E make (and eat) deliciously  fluffy chocolate cupcakes, using SCIENCE.

Tune in next week for ‘It’s Cupcake Time! (Part 2)’ in which there will be some cupcake decorating shenanigans!

P.S. Check out our eggless, dairy free (and possibly gluten free) cupcakes!

P.P.S. Watch our other episodes of Playing With Food here.

Sunday Special: The MINDS-craft Project Conclusion

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

So the MINDS-craft Project concluded last Sunday, on Mother’s Day 2014, and I’ve been working hard this week making sure all the accounts were in order before submitting the money to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)!

We raised a grand total of SGD$1385 across all the blogs involved in this fundraising project, of which SGD$490 was from Owls Well alone!

I met with Jeannie (the Director of Corporate Development & Outreach at MINDS) this week to pass her the cheque and she said that the money would go directly towards covering the transport fees for particularly needy students who attend MINDS Special Education Schools (who otherwise would not go to school as their families cannot afford to pay for public transport).

Little E, J and I also had a brief tour of the Lee Kong Chian Gardens School at Margaret Drive this week, and I gotta say that I am really impressed with their facilities and their curriculum, which aims to empower and train intellectually disabled pupils to have a productive and purposeful life.

Apart from the usual curriculum (English, Math, Science, Art, Music, Sports and 2nd Language) that you would normally find in a regular school, each child has the opportunity to take part in co-curricular activities like Scouts, Performing Arts and Gardening Club as well as sports teams that have represented Singapore in the Special Olympics! Additionally, there is not only an emphasis on equipping students with necessary skills for daily living but also roleplaying using technical equipment that will help them to be more confident and independent in the future.

I’m so glad that we are helping kids go to school!

Thank you to all the RAWKmums who took part – Mama JSusanPamelaCorsageJuneMummy Wee and V – all of you worked so hard and made some beautiful things. It was wonderful working with such a fun bunch of people! We had so much fun chatting and laughing during our cardmaking meetings – I am so glad for the opportunity to get to know you all, and I have learned so much about the tricks and tools of the scrapbooking trend!

I am also so impressed by the generosity of scrappers who heard about our project and lovingly donated scrapbooking materials or volunteered their own services in cardmaking! The MINDS-craft Project would like to thank Claudia, Dorcas, Huayi, JoannaLyn LeeMichelle, Rosalind and Yenni for contributing, as well as Xavvy, Dotz and Felicia for donating handmade cards!

A very, very special Owls Well Readers for your support of the MINDS-craft Project, and also for all your encouragement, especially those of you who ordered cards and shared this project with your friends on social media! You guys are awesome! 

The Joye of Work

Yesterday, I didn’t go to work because I was too sick to go to work. When I say too sick to go to work, I really mean dribbling from the nose and mouth, coughing and wheezing, fevers so high I’m hallucinating too sick to go to work.

“Why did you let your sickness get so bad?!”,  I hear your doctor-self cry.

Well, like many other University graduates my age, I’m a contractor.  Instead of being employed directly by the company I work for, I’m technically working for an employment agency.  This means that I don’t have a direct contract with the company I’m working with and am as expendable, if not more expendable than your average red shirt.

Redshirts going to die.  Taken from Roberts Space Industries forums.

Redshirts going to die. Taken from Roberts Space Industries forums.

Working for an employment agency does have its perks.  The hours are more flexible because most agencies that handle accountants and personal assistants also specialise in hiring temps, meaning more part-time jobs than you can shake a stick at.  Plus, a lot of entry level jobs in Australia go straight to agencies and unions rather than to the papers or the online job searches.

That being said, there are downsides to working for an employment agency.  Most employment agencies skim off the top of the hourly rate of my pay, which means that my paycheque is a lot lower than it should be.  Also, I don’t get annual or sick leave; or any overtime pay.  So, if I don’t work, I don’t get to eat.  Plus, I’m required to provide a medical certificate for every time I’m actually sick in order to keep my job.

Too tired for you.  Go away and leave me alone!  Taken from Seanan McGuire's Tumblr.

Too tired for you. Go away and leave me alone! Taken from Seanan McGuire’s Tumblr.

Keeping my job is, incidentally, is both the carrot AND the stick where it comes to my work.  A permanent part-time or full-time position is often the carrot dangled in front of me to keep working.  However, a lot of the companies that I’ve worked for also emphasize the fact that they’re more than willing to cut me loose if I don’t pull my weight. So, there’s a lot of pressure for me to work longer hours, take shorter lunch breaks and generally not take sick leave if I can help it.  Going to the doctor costs money, which I don’t have in a lot of abundance.

So, anyway, there you have it, the reason why I’m in bed today, instead of at work.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m gonna go take these two panadol and go sleep.

Singing the body electric (with Bodytec Singapore)

So, now that both J and Little E are in school, I have around some time in the morning to run errands and do the chores, which leaves me with about an hour to Do My Own Thing, which in RAWKmum terms is the equivalent of striking gold.

I normally use this golden hour to catch up on correspondence, write, read a book and basically do anything that I want, alone and entirely uninterrupted.

The Barn Owl has been trying his best to encourage me to get back into exercising more regularly, which is something that I have wanted to do since Little E was born, but here we are, three years on, and this exercising malarky hasn’t materialised yet. Additionally, despite being a RAWKmum, I have not been able to lose the last of my post-pregnancy…um…bounce. And it is beginning to bother me.

However, here’s what usually happens whenever I attempt to start exercising:

Day 1: Walk down to the local gym. Wander around examining all the various implements of torture. Feel intimidated. Watch other people sweating it out on the treadmill. Wow, that looks intense. Decide to have a go on the exercise bike for 20 minutes. Actually cycle for 5 minutes before getting bored. Okay fine, I’ll do another 5 minutes of cycling. Bored now. Leave.

Day 2: Walk down to the local gym. Consider the implements of torture. Nope, still too intimidated. Watch other people sweating it out on the treadmill. I don’t think they’ve gotten off the treadmill since yesterday. Decide to have a go on the exercise bike for 15 minutes next to Lady Spandex who appears to be training for the Tour de France. Feel like a loser after 10 minutes. Leave.

Day 3: Walk down to the local gym. Feel tired just watching other people sweating it out on the treadmill. Leave.

This is why when I won 12 sessions with Bodytec Singapore at a recent giveaway by Honeycombers Singapore, I was really really excited! Thank you, Honeycombers!

Last week, I headed down for a trial session at Bodytec’s brand spanking new fitness studio at Turf City.


Bodytec in the early morning light

Bodytec Studios specialises in fitness training using Electro-Muscular Stimulation (EMS). This is a fitness technique that is already widely used across Europe and in the USA and works on the basis that muscle fibres in the body react by contracting when stimulated by an electrical current, whether the stimuli is from an external source such as an electrode, or from internal bioelectric impulses travelling along the central nervous system.

I know that EMS-training is often used (in other countries) in conjunction with occupational therapy and physiotherapy for patients undergoing rehabilitation as it is both impact-free and joint friendly. In fact, one of my good friends in the UK was loaned a home EMS-machine by her physiotherapist during her post-partum recovery period, to help to passively tone up her abdominal muscles whilst she watched TV for 20 minutes every day!

When I got to Bodytec Studios, I met Stanley, the manager and personal trainer, who gave me a set of comfortable training clothes – a basic black tee and tights – to wear. Shoes are optional, so I decided to go barefoot. I was then helped into the full Bodytec training suit, which had been dampened with water (which is why disposable undergarments are also provided).

All wired up

All wired up and ready to go

I was really glad that there is a maximum capacity of two people training in the studio at any one time, so there was no one around to laugh at me being lame and uncoordinated. Except Stanley, and he was extremely non-judgemental and patient.

Stanley turned on the EMS-machine (I shut my eyes at this point, waiting to be zapped with a bolt of lightning), and to be perfectly honest, it actually was all very pleasant, very much like sitting in a massage chair. Then came the exercise – 20 minutes of simple movements like squats and bicep curls, nothing particularly strenuous, with Stanley on hand to correct posture and provide support. I can see why this is a great workout for people with joint problems and injuries and the elderly.

At the end of it, I felt tired all over, just as if I’d been doing aerobics for 20 minutes, but without the shortness of breath that comes with exertion. After a good hot shower, a quick rub down with some fluffy white towels, and a cool drink of water, I felt completely refreshed and energised!

What a great start to the day!

I enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to go ahead with the full 12 sessions that Bodytec Singapore offered me – and I’ll be keeping you posted as to how things go!

If you would like to give EMS fitness training at BodyTec a go, you can sign yourself up for a free trial session at the new Turf City fitness centre anytime from now until the 22nd May 2014 – and you can even bring a friend along and enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee in the studio afterwards!

Bodytec Studios (click here to go to the website)
200 Turf Club Road
#01-34C The Grandstand
Singapore 287994
Tel: 6466 0638

Fine Arts Appreciation for kids

Recently, I brought J and Little E to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, to watch the Conservatory Chamber Singers.

I used to sing in a choir myself when I was at school, so I really do enjoy choral music and it is something that I would like to share with my kids.

When I was university, the Glee club that I joined went on tour around a few states in the US, performing at schools in small towns. Each night we sang inside a town hall which would be packed to the very edges, with people even standing outside the doors, just to have a chance to listen to the music. Families came in droves, from the very tiny week-old infants, to the very elderly in wheelchairs.

After the concert, we had a chance to mingle with the townsfolk and I found out that many of these suburban families have very little access to art and culture outside their community. They looked forward to our university Glee club’s annual visit as one of the highlights of the year as it gave them the chance to see a ‘live’ performance and listen to different forms of beautiful music. Some of them were moved to tears by our songs, which encouraged us to work even harder at making sure we put up a good show.

Visiting these suburban and rural areas during the Glee Club tour made me realise how fortunate I was to grow up in a city that is a melting pot of different cultures.

Singapore may be a very tiny little city, but like all other cities, the arts scene here continues to grow and flourish and it provides ample opportunities for me to introduce my kids to the wonders of music.

Our little city has several tertiary-level institutions that train budding artistes from around the world, preparing them for the world of performing arts. These are the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, the LASALLE College of the Arts and the Nanyang School of Fine Arts, just to name a few.

This means that there are plenty of recitals by students who are required to showcase their talents as well as masterclasses and concerts by visiting artists and music professors happening nearly every day, every single week of the year…and all of these are open to the public entirely free of charge!

These (highly undersubscribed) concerts are wonderful for kids because its a great way to expose them to a wide range of musical genres in a formal setting, and I can leave at any time without feeling bad about wasting a ticket!


Listening to the Conservatory Chamber Singers

It is so different, listening to madrigals through the tinny speakers in car during the morning school run, and sitting down to watch a live performance in a concert hall. Little E was at times very moved by the music, swaying and putting her arms out to imitate the conductor. At a few points, J stopped wiggling around in his seat and closed his eyes, then leaned way back to listen.

We sat right at the back of the hall, in case a quick exit was required, but I was pleasantly surprised when both my kids remained quiet (but not still – we’re working on that) during the whole concert, which consisted mainly of medieval songs or Renaissance-inspired music in sung in latin or german.

If an afternoon of classical music is not your thing, there are plenty other forms of artistic expression that is worth looking at.

Last week in fact, I took J and Little E to the Lasalle College of the Arts to attend an original puppet theatre performance called ‘Bully & the Beast‘ put up by the Diploma in Performance Level Two class – and it was aimed specifically at a young audience!


With the puppets from ‘Bully & the Beast’

J and Little E had a real blast and enjoyed themselves so much during the performance, which was interactive in nature… and afterwards they had a chance to talk to the performers and examine the puppets and props! The Lasalle students were all so welcoming and friendly towards the kids and the stage manager even spent some time chatting with me and gave me some tips on how to make puppets with the kids at home using papier mache.

I really do hope that I can continue to introduce the kids to the various aesthetic forms – like ballet, contemporary dance and maybe even some classical asian theatre like Chinese Opera and Wayang Kulit!