Book Series that we love (Chapter books): My Blade Quest

We’ve recently been introduced to yet another homegrown Singaporean author, Don Bosco, and his Super Cool chapter book series – My Blade Quest!

These adventure books are definitely good for readers who need to gain confidence in moving away from picture books, and are looking to slowly expand their vocabulary. Each chapter is only 3-4 pages long, and will not appear intimidating even though the illustrations are few and far between. This makes them perfect for primary schoolers who are not yet confident readers, but don’t want to be caught reading ‘kiddy books’ during the silent reading time in class!

The stories are funny and exciting, with a smattering of pop culture elements to capture the attention of our technology and media savvy kids. The main characters Jay and Shu, heirs to the Blade Quest card game empire, are intrepid and intelligent…and I really like the fact that they have a loving sibling relationship!

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A quick read before bedtime

I introduced this series to 9 year old J, and he was glad to have something fun to read to unwind during the hectic end-of-year exam period. The series has 9 year old J’s stamp of approval and he has since re-read the books several times.

J says – If you are looking for an in-between mystery and adventure book series that is more challenging than Geronimo Stilton and less silly than Captain Underpants, then these books are good for you. I enjoy imagining Jay and Shu going all over the world to find treasures and meet new friends. And I wish I had a Blade Quest Card Game!

Little E is just beginning to start reading chapter books, so I’ll be reading My Blade Quest with her during school holidays and hopefully this will help her to read more independently!

Bonus For Owls Well Readers: If you are looking for a great gift idea for a special little person in your life, the fine folk over at Armour Publishing have kindly offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Hooray!  Just enter the code OWLS17 at checkout to enjoy 20% off any purchase of My Blade Quest Series (Books 1 – 4). (Discount code is valid from 17 Nov to 8 Dec 2017).

Buyer’s note: I received a set of My Blade Quest books from Armour Publishing for this review. If you would like to get the books for a little adventurer in your life, you can find My Blade Quest and other books by local authors here. Don’t forget to use the discount code!

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June Holiday Excursions: Muse Arts Holiday Camp (and some grownup me-time)

A fortnight ago, J and Little E were invited to attend a holiday camp called ‘My Amazing Body’ run by Muse Arts Singapore at Natasha Studio in City Square Mall.

When Jacintha (the director of Muse Arts Singapore) contacted me to invite us to join the camp, I was a little bit skeptical about what it was all about. The camp would be 2 hours long, during which the kids would take part in an adventure story about the human body through music, dancing, drama and arts-and-craft. What an impressive range of activities crammed into a short space of time! I thought to myself. How is this possible?

I asked the kids if they would be interested in attending a holiday camp where they would learn about the human body and they seemed pretty keen, so I signed them up.

I figured that it would give me 2 hours to wander around City Square Mall, maybe even take advantage of the Great Singapore Sale! Heehee!

J and Little E at the Muse Arts Holiday Camp

J and Little E at the Muse Arts Holiday Camp

The camp focussed mainly on the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene through the use of soap, proper hand washing and dental care (Little E and J are already very familiar with this as they are raised by two medical doctors). During the camp, the children were taught a little song and dance, which they repeated several times after each activity and performed for the mums at the end.

Although the camp is aimed at children from 4-7 years old, I felt that the activities were more appropriate for a younger age group, perhaps just preschoolers. J, being 7 years old and already in Primary 1, definitely did not take away anything new from the camp, but he did enjoy clowning around with the instructors and grooving along to the music with the other kids. Little E, however, became a little bit tired of the repetitive nature of the dancing and decided to rest at the side of the room, just watching the other kids who seemed very engaged, laughing and prancing about. She revived a little by the end of the camp, just long enough to take part in the end of class showcase!

As for myself, I thoughtfully spent my two hours sitting in a plush sofa, observing the camp whilst discreetly breastfeeding Thumper, checking out the shops in City Square Mall (specifically Uniqlo, Daiso and a surprisingly well-stocked, reasonably priced bookshop in the basement called ‘My Greatest Child’), before settling down for a foot reflexology massage.

My foot being kneaded into putty by a nice young man.

My foot being kneaded into putty by a nice young man.

I’ve never had a foot reflexology massage before, but it is both excruciatingly painful and incredibly relaxing at the same time. You can’t see it from the picture, but I was so relaxed that I was falling asleep.  I nearly dropped my camera on Thumper’s head (he was asleep on my chest in his little baby sling).  At the end, my feet were pink and happy, and everything was just roses and sunshine.

So, if you are feeling like you desperately need a break away from your preschooler for some grown-up me-time (or so that you can browse Daiso without having to say to the phrase “please stop touching EVERYTHING”), then the Muse Arts camp is a good way to keep the kids gainfully occupied for a few hours.

If you’re interested, here’s a copy of the flyer for the next holiday camp which is on the 22nd of June!

Muse Arts has also agreed to give 10% off registration fees for Owls Well readers who quote “owlswell” when registering their child/children for Jungle Rumble by this coming Friday, 19th June 2015. 1525735_329503693840698_2796245716670959919_n

Online Shopping with Paley & Love (plus a giveaway and discount code!)

When I was growing up, I had a large collection of Barbies that were either given to me as presents or handed down from my older cousins, but I never really understood how to play with them. My friends who came over on play dates had much more fun with them than I did, and I would watch them uncomprehendingly as they dressed the dolls up and fussed with their hair. I was much more interested in pulling off the dolls’ heads to see what was inside. [1]

Now, however, I have TWO LIVING DOLLS of my own and I love dressing the both of them up! Every piece that I purchase for J and Little E has to be extra-special in one way or another – mostly because I look for heirloom quality clothes that will last more than one generation.

However, I hardly ever shop at the local brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore because I don’t really have the time or the inclination to drag the kids round the malls, or the budget to afford some of the really classy clothes in the shop windows. Additionally, I want my children to stand out and not be wearing the same clothes as everyone else.

This is why I tend to buy most of the children’s clothes overseas (usually from the UK) during sale season or from online retailers who carry a carefully curated selection.

Like myself, May (one of the two homegrown mum-preneurs behind the new online children’s clothing store, Paley & Love) is also very particular about the clothes she buys for her kids, looking for high quality materials and cool designs, but she also does not want to spend a bomb on clothes that will soon be outgrown. Between working long hours in the office and trying to be there for her two boys, the only time that May had a chance to do any shopping was from blogshops during the morning commute. This is why she decided to start her own online retail store, carrying only stylish yet affordable children’s clothes that she would be proud to dress her kids in!

I was really excited when May contacted me and gave me the opportunity to choose some gorgeous togs for J and Little E from Paley & Love! The shop updates once a fortnight, so there were so many lovely pieces to choose from. Here’s what we ended up with:

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On J: Dark Blue with White Polka Dots Long/Roll Up shirt (SGD$29.90). On Little E: Tri-colour Shift Dress (SGD$32.90).

J really likes his polka dot shirt, which I think will also be a great piece for Little E in the future! I really like the contrasting pocket and the mandarin collar. The sleeves can also be worn long which is great for J because he often gets cold in air-conditioned places. This shirt really does wash well and it is very easy to iron!

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Box-pleats and embroidery!

Little E’s Tri-colour shift dress is really gorgeous – the style of the dress with bolts of colour hidden within the pleats as well as the embroidery along the hem, reminded me of the rosemaling and pleating of the Norweigan style garments in Disney’s Frozen. It’s very versatile too – I think it would look cute with a long sleeved teeshirt underneath and tights!

I would recommend that this dress be pre-washed separately as the colour does bleed a little bit on the first few washes.

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Silver Plane Tee (SGD$19.90)

J chose this cool tee-shirt by himself! The silver foil plane is very shiny and stands up well to repeated washes. The tee-shirt itself is a very soft cotton, which is light and thin – very nice for our summer weather. I personally prefer a thicker cotton which I feel will hold its shape, but my son really likes the airiness of this tee-shirt.

Little E also chose a dress for herself – the Calliart Ink dress that you can see in the picture below.

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Calliart Ink dress (SGD$32.90)

This is a very pretty cream coloured dress, with a lovely print of flowers and butterflies all over it. I especially like the tie at the back which can be adjusted to give a more customised fit or loosened so that the dress can be worn pinafore-style.

Paley & Love ships both locally and internationally, and there is free local shipping for orders above SGD $80! May’s fussiness when it comes to clothes is definitely in your favour, as she scrutinises every piece that enters and leaves her hands, making sure that there are no stains or marks on them. This means that your order is sure to reach you in great condition.

Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Paley & Love has offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Just enter the code PaleyMA at checkout to enjoy 10% off anything in store. (Promotion code is valid until 30th April 2014)

Paley & Love is also generously sponsoring a giveaway of $20 worth of shopping vouchers for FIVE Owls Well Readers! Hurrah!

To take part in the Giveaway just:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Be a fan of the Paley & Love Facebook page
  3. Like and share this Facebook photo and tag a friend – make sure your post is public!
  4. Leave a comment below telling me what you look for in choosing clothes for your kids and the name of your Facebook account that you used to like the page. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open worldwide and will end on 30th April. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 4 easy steps!)

Good luck!

 (edit: The winners have been emailed! Thanks for playing!)


1. Conclusion: Barbie is an airhead.

Three Awesome Children’s Books (and an exclusive discount code!)

We’ve been discovering a whole bunch of lovely new books that are fast becoming highly requested favourites from the Owls Well library which I just cannot wait to share with you!

Here are three of our most recent additions to the Owls Well bedside table:

1. Moon Rabbit by Natalie RussellSGD$8.90 (RRP$12.60)

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This sweet story about Little Rabbit who makes a wish on the moon for companionship is beautifully illustrated by author (and artist) Natalie Russell. Little E loves this book so much that she will quite often sit quietly and look at the pictures by the hour!

Natalie Russell also has some free printable activities pages available on her website (which has some very lovely pictures!) that will help kids to think about the story in greater detail.

Fox-in-socks

2. Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss – SGD$8.90 (RRP$20.00)

This is a completely hilarious book that has us all in stitches. It starts off simple, and then gets really zany as the Fox in Socks challenges his friend Knox to a battle of tongue twisters! Now that J is starting to read on his own, this book is really great for getting him to practice.

We take turns to read and try to see who can complete each section without making mistakes – although it is really hard because we all start getting the giggles!

There’s also a Fox in Socks activity sheet that you can download from the Dr Seuss official website here.

3. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle: SGD$16.90 (RRP$22.40)

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Here’s a nice little board book with plenty of rhyme and repetition, illustrated with Eric Carle’s signature collages. I really like reading this one to the kids and making up all the different animal noises as we go along! It also comes with an audio CD so that you can play it in the car – makes for a nice and sedate car journey.

Afterwards, it may be worth trying to make some painted tissue papers with your preschoolers in order to create some colourful collage illustrations together – just follow these simple instructions from the Eric Carle Official Website.

By the way, all the books are available at our favourite online bookstore, The Groovy Giraffe (You can find out more about The Groovy Giraffe here) which is currently celebrating their milestone of 1000 Facebook Likes! Congratulations, guys!

A Bonus for All Owls Well Readers:  Just enter the coupon code ‘owls15’ at checkout to enjoy a hefty 15% off all the books in the Children’s category (on top of the already heavily discounted prices!). Coupon code is valid until 18th March 2014!

(All prices printed are correct at the time of this post. We are proud to be part of The Groovy Giraffe’s affiliate programme. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Owls Well possible!)

A Groovy Return to School (and an exclusive discount code!)

It has been really busy for me this week! Little E started school for the very first time and it has been a challenging time for her as she adjusts to a more structured morning routine.

I always try my best to encourage and support my kids by doing plenty of education-based activities with them at home using learning aids. I hope that by doing this, I will be able to avoid having to send the kids for after-school tuition classes in the future.

Here are a couple of really brilliant (and affordable) learning aids for preschoolers from our favourite online bookstore The Groovy Giraffe:

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1. Fisher-Price: Fun with Alphabets Flash Cards – SGD$6.90 (RRP: SGD$9.50)

These alphabet flashcards are great for teaching children how to recognise letters and associate the letters with the phonetic sounds. A good grounding in phonics is one of the keys to learning how to read! These cards are sturdy and small enough to be carried around in your bag so they are great for whipping out at a moment’s notice if you want to keep your kids gainfully occupied during long bus rides (or at wedding dinners). The bright and vibrant illustrations are super-cute too, and would look great on the wall of the nursery!

There’s also a Fisher-Price flash card set of Numbers as well as a set of colours and shapes

2. Sesame Street Colors, Shapes & Opposites Flash Cards – SGD$4.50 (RRP: SGD$0.73)

If your kids are Sesame Street fans, this set of cards would be right up your alley! This set of cards comes with a ton of suggestions for card games and activities that you can play with your kids. What a fun way to reinforce the different colours and shapes with your preschooler. Little E is currently into matching memory games, so this set would be great for her! When they outgrow the cards, you can still pick out your favourites and have them framed – they would be awesome for brightening up a room!

3. Shapes – Photographic Learning Lacing Cards – SGD $16.50 (RRP: SGD$12.90)

I like lacing cards for encouraging kids to develop their fine motor skills, and these cards have lovely pictures of toys that form different basic shapes . Lacing cards can really keep my kids occupied for ages. Since the cards are flat and take up very little room, they are brilliant to take along for long journeys (especially aeroplane rides, for when you really need them to sit quietly in one place!).

4. Read & Write Inc. Phonics & Flashcards In A Bag – SGD $46.90 (RRP: SGD $85.80)

This set of nine storybooks are part of Read & Write Inc, a hugely successful literacy programme in the UK developed by Ruth Miskin, who is one of the leading authorities in the UK on teaching children to read. The beautifully illustrated storybooks help to reinforce and develop the learning of phonics, and this set includes 64 sound picture flashcards as well as a helpful manual for parents to help their kids to learn to read. At less than fifty bucks, this set is a real bargain!

5. DK First Reference: Science Encyclopedia – SGD $13.90 (RRP S$21.98)

Most preschoolers love to ask questions about the world and this is a brilliant book that will help you to answer all their millions of questions! The book covers earth and space science, physical science as well as life science. The gorgeous close-up photographs and full colour illustrations will really guide your budding young scientist on their journey of discovery and inspire them to think and make observations about our amazing world. You can also get the DK First Atlas if you want to help your kids find out more about other countries and cultures!

*****

By the way, The Groovy Giraffe also has a massive selection of assessment books for both primary and secondary school students, and some of these are currently available at the ridiculously low price of SGD$2.90 at their Back to School Sale! THAT IS CHEAP AS FREE!!!

A Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Use our exclusive promotion code ‘owlsb2sch‘ for an additional 20% discount on any book or item in the Education category with a minimum storewide spend of SGD$30 (valid from now until 31st January 2014). Local shipping within Singapore is free for orders above SGD$60.

(All prices printed are correct at the time of this post. We are proud to be part of The Groovy Giraffe’s affiliate programme. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Owls Well possible!)