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Playeum Singapore: Creating with Nature

MEDIA INVITE

I’ve been meaning to bring Noah to Playeum Singapore for quite some time, but somehow never quite got the chance to do so, until recently, when we were invited to check out Playeum’s second hands-on exhibition, Hideaways – Creating with Nature.

Since Noah didn’t have school that day, we were able to have a playdate at Playeum with his friend Faith, with whom we used to have homeschooling playgroups previously. The kids don’t really meet up very often, but I think they can still recognise each other, and played together for a bit. The mums had a good time catching up though, especially since we were the only ones there at that time, and the staff there kept the two preschoolers so well-entertained that we didn’t have to do a thing!

According to the staff, mornings at Playeum are usually more crowded, with schools having excursions there, but our timing, ie from 1230-3pm, was perfect, and we did notice more people streaming in after 3pm. If you’re planning a trip down, do try to visit on a weekday, from about 12-3pm, so that you’ll have more space and time to explore all the different exhibits properly. There are six exhibits in total, and I thought Noah would cover them really quickly, but he spent quite a bit of time at each exhibit, and even revisited most of them, whenever they caught his eye as he ran around.

Noah was really excited to start exploring the exhibits, and immediately went to the ‘Welcome to my World’ exhibit by The People’s Atelier, located in the middle of Playeum. There are plenty of sticks, bamboo poles, wood pieces, and various types of string/fabric, for children to construct their own structures. This exhibit is probably more suitable for older children, who have better motor skills, and can work independently to tie the sticks and poles together. One of the staff members also told us that the older kids spend a lot of time at this exhibit, building and creating on their own.

Younger children like Noah can crawl around and explore the existing structures, or try building their own of course. Noah needed help in tying the sticks together, but he also spent some time stacking the wood pieces to “make a house for the insects”.

Welcome to my World


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Crawling around


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He made a fishing rod apparently


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While playing at the ‘Welcome to my World’ exhibit, Noah spied the ‘Creature Cave’ exhibit by Bartholomew Ting, which is a multi-sensory cave built entirely out of cardboard. This exhibit is most suited for babies and toddlers, because it features animal sound pads, and a range of textures for the little ones to explore. Noah also liked the cardboard boxes and “stones” inside the cave, which he used to stack and build more homes for the insects.

Creature Cave


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Playing inside the cave


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‘Dark Space’ by Richard Kearns was a hit with Noah, and he spent ages inside, creating a large “web” with the materials provided. To be honest, I thought he wouldn’t dare to enter this exhibit, as it is pitch-dark, and any movement inside would trigger some insect/bird sounds. Surprisingly, he wasn’t afraid, perhaps because he was accompanied by one of the staff members, who patiently lifted him up to reach the higher parts of the wall, so that he could stick the white strips there. He really enjoyed this exhibit, and still talks about it two weeks later!

The “web”


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‘Make-Believe Hideaway’ by Madhvi Subrahmanian allows children to play with clay, and to create miniature habitats for insects. The children are encouraged to mould the clay in whatever way they like, before placing them onto a larger “habitat” that resembles a bee hive, referred to by the staff as an HDB block. The concept is interesting, as it allows children to see that the homes of small insects can come together to form a larger “community”, and that it doesn’t really matter if they have different ways of building their homes.

Noah was a tad hesitant about this station, because he found the clay too sticky, unlike the usual play dough that he’s used to. The staff gently encouraged him to observe the large “bee hive” first, then demonstrated how to roll and flatten out the clay. Noah had a bit of difficulty doing both, as the clay is harder than play dough in general, and the staff had to help him quite a bit. He had no qualms about poking holes in the clay after that though, and was most amused when the staff showed him how to roll the clay to make a snail.

Observing


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Rolling the clay


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Trying to make a snail


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‘Sounds of Earth: Nature’s Ensemble’ by Shogun Creatives is located at the far end of the Playeum space, and you can also get to the ‘Tunnel of Sound’ via the glass door there. Here, children can create and make their own musical instruments with the wide variety of natural materials provided. They can then add their instruments to the skeletal structure next to the ‘Welcome to my World’ exhibit, or opt to bring them home.

Noah made a bee’s nest and a moth’s cocoon with the help of the staff, and picked out sticks to create a teepee-like structure at the hot glue station. He didn’t get to use the hot glue of course, as it is meant for adults or much older children, and watched patiently as the staff helped him to glue the sticks together. He seemed to enjoy the process of selecting the natural materials, such as leaves, flowers, seeds, and sticks, for the nest and cocoon, and I think many of the younger children will spend quite a bit of time at this station too.

Make a bee’s nest


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Make a moth’s cocoon


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Some of the natural materials available


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Some of the musical instruments and larger natural materials


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‘Sounds of Earth’ structure


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Tunnel of Sound


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Selecting his natural materials


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Gluing them onto the egg carton


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Choosing the sticks for his teepee


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Watching carefully


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My personal favourite exhibit was ‘Knock, Knock! Who Lives There’ by Isabelle Desjeux. We were fortunate enough to actually meet her that day, as she was there adding on to her exhibit. She showed us around, and we were all fascinated by the different insect “hotels” that she created. There are special surveillance cameras that provide us with clearer views of the insects at work, and Noah was particularly captivated by the busy ants. Children can also play with the sensory bug hotel after they’ve checked out the different surveillance videos.

Knock, knock! Who lives there?


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Did you notice this giant spider in the previous photo?


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Surveillance video of the busy ants


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Bug hotel


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Sensory bug hotel


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On the large work table in the middle of this exhibit, children can take a closer look at some of the insects, by using the magnifying glasses provided, or try out the “microscope” that projects the enlarged view of the insect onto the wall. I thought that was a really brilliant idea, and Noah was very eager to try it out too. He gasped when he saw the enlarged image of the spider and dragonfly on the wall, and I thought it was a really great learning experience for him, because I wouldn’t be able to do that at home with him for sure!

Close-up look at an ant


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Look at the spider!


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Learning about insects from the artist herself


Photo courtesy of Raising Faith

There are also drawing/writing materials available on the large table, so that the children can write to the insect(s) of their choice, or simply draw a picture for them. They could then drop their letters/drawings into the respective letterboxes for the insects, which Noah thought was very fun, and I think he drew about three pictures before we left.

Posting his letter to the spider


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I liked that the space isn’t so big that you would easily lose sight of your child, and that it doesn’t restrict children to completing the stations in a fixed order. After all, kids should be allowed to explore and try out things that interest them, right? Noah flitted like a butterfly from one station to another, then went back to some of the stations to work on them again, because he particularly liked them. He has already asked me when we can return to play there, so I think he really enjoyed our visit!

PS. If you’re thinking of bringing your children down to check out the new Creating with Nature exhibit, do check the Playeum website before heading down, in case they are fully booked for the date/timing that you’re planning to visit.

Playeum: Children’s Centre for Creativity Blk 47, Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, #01-23, Singapore 109444 Tel: +65 6262 0750 Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00am to 6:00pm Child (aged 1 to 12): $20 / Accompanying adult: Free / Additional accompanying adult: $10 More details available on their website HERE

Disclaimer: We were invited to visit the Playeum for the purpose of this post. All photos and opinions are, as always, our own, unless otherwise stated.

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