Book + Excursion = Stacey Goes to the National Museum by Lianne Ong (and a giveaway!)

One of the things that I like to do when I’m reading books together with my kids is find ways to put the subject matter of the book into a real world context by taking the children on an excursion. This works the other way round too – sometimes if I’m planning to take the kids on an excursion, I like to read them books with topics related to the places where I’ll be bringing them.

For example, if I’m taking the kids to the zoo, I might read them books about visiting the zoo, or books about certain animals at the zoo. This is a sure-fire way to get them excited about a trip to the zoo, especially when they recognise the creatures from the books they are reading! Reading around an excursion helps to reinforce their learning and gives them a chance to apply their knowledge.

This is why I was really excited about Lianne Ong’s new book, Stacey Goes to the National Museum.

I love taking J and Little E to our local museums. There’s plenty for them to see and do, and best of all, there’s no admission charge for Singapore residents!

In Lianne’s book, little Stacey visits the National Museum of Singapore and gets a special insider’s tour of the place (from a very unusual guide). The story is straightforward and simple to read, and shows off museum exhibits that may capture a child’s imagination and spark their interest in local history.

What makes this book really stand out for me are the beautiful illustrations by James Tan, which showcases the museum’s collection with just a little bit of distorted perspective that comes with looking at them through the eyes of a child.

J and Little E loved the book so much that they insisted on taking it with them to a recent visit to the National Museum and looking for all the various items described in the book. It was like a treasure hunt!

To complete our visit to the library, we decided to work together to make a book trailer for Stacey Goes to the National Museum! Little E was really excited about making a book trailer, especially after she watched the books trailers from our Summer Reading List 2014 post.

I think this book would make a great souvenir from a trip to the National Museum, and a great localised gift for your foreign friends who are still interested in Singapore after meeting you (heh heh heh).

If you haven’t visited the National Museum recently, why not pop down tomorrow on 9th August or next week on the 16th August 2014 – Lianne Ong will be conducting storytelling sessions at 2pm and 3:30pm, and this will be followed by a fun activity based on the book! (Click here for more information)

A Special Something for Owls Well Readers: Armour Publishing Pte Ltd is kindly sponsoring a giveaway of Stacey Goes to the National Museum by Lianne Ong for TWO lucky Owls Well Readers!  

To take part in this fantabulous giveaway just complete the following:

1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page

2. Be a fan of the Stacey Goes to the National Museum Facebook Page 

3. Leave a comment below and tell me about an exhibit at the National Museum that you find or have found particularly interesting! Don’t forget to leave your Facebook name and your email address so that I can contact you if you win – or if you’re really shy, you can email your details to me separately at

4. (Optional) To double your chances of winning, share or reblog this giveaway on any form of social media that you fancy and leave a comment below with the link!

(This giveaway is open to anyone who is able to redeem the book from the Armour Publishing HQ at Bukit Merah and ends on 15 August 2014. Winners will be picked via – just make sure you complete the 3 required steps!)

P.S. Check out my review of Lianne’s first book, Maxilla, here!

P.P.S. Check out another review and giveaway of Stacey Goes to the Museum here at Life is in the Small Things.

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been emailed! Thanks for playing!

Let’s Build a Newspaper Fort using Math!

There is no better way to spend a rainy afternoon than in constructing a fort!

Usually, I just drape a blanket over two chairs but we decided to go bigger this time and make a fort out of newspaper, using the POWER OF MATH!

Basically, I have been observing that the most stable and economical shape used in general construction is a triangle, and a triangulated structure (like the famous Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge) is able to withstand both compressive and stretching forces to maintain its shape.

This concept is quite a simple one to demonstrate in the playground, where many standing structures like swings, slides and climbing frames will consist of beams, ropes or cables fixed together in triangular patterns. Hence, I decided that the best way to demonstrate this principle of geometry and mechanics would be to build an fort using a space frame truss – that is, using triangular units to build a 3-D frame.

What you’ll need:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Tape (I used masking tape)
  3. Stapler

Step One: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

We started out by rolling up newspapers and stapling them together into triangles. (This is a great way to put idle little hands to good use.) Fold each newspaper sheet into half and roll it up into a stick starting from one corner, so that you only need a tiny piece of masking tape to hold the whole stick together.

To start out with, we made five triangles and taped them together like this:

Step 2: Make a roof

Step 2: Make a roof

If your kids are pretty small, you can stop there, but we wanted to go BIGGER and BOLDER! 

A full igloo!

So we made another 10 triangles and joined them together like this:


Step 3: Complete base of fort

The whole structure turned out to be pretty stable! I covered the whole fort with a flat sheet to give the kids some privacy and they played together quietly in their little igloo for the rest of the afternoon…giving me some time to lie down and have a well-deserved nap on the couch.



Sisterly Date! Wheee!

So, a couple of people have been wondering why I haven’t posted in the last few weeks[1], the reason is simple:

Success!  A diamond in hand is awesome and fun!

Success! A diamond in hand is awesome and fun!

I was on holiday visiting my awesome sister and we went on an awesome sister date!

We went to Roomraider, which I’ve wanted to go to ever since Debs reviewed it.  There, we challenged ourselves to a spot of amateur jewellry theft in the Dark Mansion.  Our foray was quite successful and I count it as a matter of pride that we only had to ask for help once[2]!

Our egos were so boosted, in fact, that we grew several inches after the encounter!

Debs: Previously 5'0", now 6'0". Becky: Previously 5'1" now 5'5"

Debs: Previously 5’0″, now 6’0″.
Becky: Previously 5’1″ now 5’5″ (Is also a genius)

And then we had a late dinner snack after at Dean and Deluca!

Tea for two with me and you

Tea for two with me and you

We got to Dean and Deluca towards the tail end of the evening, which meant that it was about to close.  The staff were still willing to serve us, but we had a very limited menu to choose from.

Debs ended up having a fruity iced tea and an earl grey muffin while I had a chilli con carne pie and a hot English breakfast tea.

It was a good evening.

[1]All one of you.

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Roomraider: A live-action escape game

Last weekend, one of my old school friends breezed into town and we were planning the usual meet up with the Usual Afternoon Tea and the Usual Chit-chat, when she suggested that we shake things up a bit and try a session at Roomraider!

Roomraider is one of the few escape games that have been popping up in Singapore in the last year or so, and is essentially a live-action puzzle game combining riddles and simple physical tasks, with the aim being to escape from a locked room (think Crystal Maze!). Teams of up to 8 people get 45 minutes to make a successful exit from the room (with the option of calling in hints from the Roomraider Game Masters if you get stuck!).

At the moment, there are four themed rooms, each with a different story and objective. Each room has been put together with painstaking detail by the Roomraider graphic designers, sound engineers and puzzle masters, in order to create a truly immersive experience. I talked to the Roomraider Dudes (who happened to be old schoolmates of mine! Small world!), and they intend to expand their collection to seven game rooms, and then rotate the games to keep it fun and exciting.

Roomraiders themed escape room game

I really liked the idea of being able to step into a different dimension for an hour and have a little adventure with my friends (and live out all my Lara Croft fantasies), so I was really excited about it. I mean, we could be part of a SWAT team or professional cat burglars! I made babysitting arrangements for J and Little E, then off I went to Orchard Central for funtimes and adventure.

When I got to Roomraiders, I found out that Hyperion (the game where you get to explore a space station) was already booked out by a family with two pre-teens in tow. We had the option of sharing the room with them, which would have been really fun in different circumstances, but since our primary objective was to have a fun girly afternoon out, we decided to be antisocial and try a different room.

The room that we went with in the end was ‘Where’s Cuddles?’. Where you get to enter the magical, magical world of teddy bears and find your favourite teddy who has gone missing.

Teddy bears? Really?

My initial reaction was to look at the Roomraider Dudes suspiciously (because I am a very suspicious person) and ask them pointedly, “Are you offering us this room because we are girls???” The Dudes just laughed in my face and told me not to underestimate the awesomeness that is Teddy Bear Land.

And yes, they were absolutely right.

It was awesome.

Working together and solving the puzzles as a team was so much fun, that at the end of the game we all wanted so much to head straight for another go in a different room. In fact, we were this close to ditching our poor pregnant friend who was waiting patiently in a cafe downstairs for our Usual Afternoon Tea and Usual Chit-chat! (Sorry for keeping you waiting, S!)

We successfully found Cuddles and escaped from Teddy Bear Land! Can you?

We successfully found Cuddles and escaped from Teddy Bear Land! Can you?

I really think that Roomraider is brilliant fun for groups, families with school-aged kids or teens and even for couples looking for something different to do on a date! I can imagine that the rooms are brilliant for parties or corporate team-building events.

I am now trying to convince my husband to take me to the moon or maybe steal a precious jewel with me for our anniversary this year. At SGD$22 a person (SGD$28 on weekends), I think that it’s worth every cent.


You can find Roomraider at their website or on Facebook.

Address: Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, #05-45, S(238896)

Opening Hours: Daily from 12:30pm – 10:30pm

A Christmas Video by J

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Here’s a video that J and I made last year as a rainy day advent activity when he was 4 years old.

The little paper figures used to form the nativity scene are free printables from the incredible Made by Joel, but I made a couple of extra little figures (the untidy looking ones) to add to the cast. This year, Made by Joel has a new and improved free printable nativity with many extra figures! It makes for a great colouring sheet and would be brilliant if you’ve got kids coming round for Christmas dinner and you want to keep them busy.

It’s one of the first videos that I’ve ever made, so it’s a little bit raw at the edges, but I love hearing J’s little boy voice in it! He built the sets out of Duplo blocks, did all the animating and the narration by himself. All I did was hold the camera in the same place.

I should probably think about getting a small tripod at some point.