Back during the September holidays, Asher had the privilege of attending a 3-day Astronaut Training Camp conducted by The Little Executive. I had let him decide if he wanted to attend the course, and upon hearing the words “astronaunt”, “space”, and “mission”, he was sold.
It was four days of space adventure and exploration for the kids. There were several missions to complete each day. Among the many missions, they had to identify and communicate with aliens, help lost aliens find each other, make astronaut food, make slime, and for the grand finale, plan, create and unveil their spaceship!
The learning goals for this camp were for the kids learn and practice communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, sharpen their sensory systems, and delve into their imagination, all while having fun!
Asher is generally the one-word-response kind of boy.
“How was your day?”
And even if I posed a more open ended questions on how his day went, his responses are usually quite brief. But at the end of each day at this camp, he would go on and on about what he did, what they were planning for the spaceship, how much fun he had, and that he couldn’t wait to come back again the next day. Definitely a score!
Each child had a Space Traveller Passport, and I liked how The Little Executive linked each day’s goals back to the theme. It made what they were doing relevant to their astronaut personas. So if one of the aims was to work on hand-eye coordination, the application was that astronauts depended heavily on such skills for repairing sensitive equipment, landing spacecraft and even seemingly simple tasks like treating wounds in a zero gravity environment. If there was an activity that worked on precision and accuracy, they linked it back to how astronauts needed to be extremely observant and make detailed, accurate reports about their missions because others depended on their reports to learn about the universe.
Asher’s Space Traveller Passport
Every passport needs a passport photo!
One of the activities was a constellation track, which Asher really enjoyed. He had to guide his friends through a constellation of stars (the kids walked among silver cups) according to a pre-determined path, much like how mission control guides a team remotely. It’s fun for the kids, but really tests their ability to observe, translate from 2D to 3D space, and communicate their instructions clearly to others. Slime-making was a big hit too as you can imagine.
The constellation walk
Slimmmyyy. Look at the expressions on the boys faces! Disgust of delight? :) (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
Making astronaut food (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
There was a special machine for dehydrating the bananas! (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
Exploring sensory bins with and without gloves to discover the differences
However, the activity he talked about the most was the building of the spaceship. Asher has built things from cardboard and scrap materials at home before, but it’s usually individual work, and anything he wants, goes. For the camp spaceship building activity, I really liked hearing him say things like, “we discussed…”, “we agreed…”, “we voted…”, “we compromised…” And also, “so-and-so came up with this cool idea!”
I liked that building the spacecraft was a team activity. Every kid had his or her own ideas on what could be done, but it was clear from what Asher told me that the kids shared their ideas, and the rest of the crew (the kids) had a chance to chime in whether they thought it was good or not, and together they decided whether to adopt the idea in the end. He even told me what they would do if the decision wasn’t unanimous (which happens of course!) They also devised a way to divide the work, with each kid responsible for building a different part of the spacecraft, but with a common end-goal in mind. Kids sorting things out on their own, even if they only just met. I think that’s a great life skill to learn.
Working together to implement their ideas (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
It’s hard work building a spaceship (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
So at the unveiling of the spaceship, even though it was not a professional looking, slick kind of spacecraft, there was a lot of effort and teamwork put into it. And most importantly, if you asked the kids to tell you more, they could supply you with so many details about what each part was, what it was really made of (that’s not really cardboard, I mean, c’mon!), what it does, why they added it to the spaceship, etc. They definitely knew what they were doing when they added each and every part of the spaceship. I especially loved how they even made things that were on the inside of the spacecraft that couldn’t be seen from the outside. They did it not for show, but because it needed to be there. There was a purpose. You could also feel the kids’ sense of collective ownership. They knew who contributed ideas for which part, but it was their spaceship, because they decided on what went into it together, and worked together to build it.
Adding fuel to the engines – one of the unseen details the kids included
To infinity and beyond! Part the of the spaceship the kids crafted.
From the activity sheets that Asher brought home at the end of the camp, I thought the activities were very novel and fun for the kids. The kids probably didn’t realise how much they were learning. It’s a case of more-than-meets-the-eye. For some of the activities, I can’t put my finger on it, on how it works, but it’s almost like it’s a process the kids have to go through in order to unlock something inside. Then something clicks, and they have it. I don’t know how. You gotta ask Michelle about it.
Doing some mission activities (Photo credit: The Little Executive)
Actually, there are two Michelles at The Little Executive. Michelle Choy and Michelle Tham are co-founders of The Little Executive. Not only do they share the same first name, they share the same vision to better prepare children for life, not just school, in an arguably more uncertain future. They believe that children need three key things:
- Essential skills, in particular executive functioning skills which are like the “command and control” of the brain;
- Healthy learning habits that enable kids to think before they act
- A growth mindset that allows insight to emerge from failure, and resilience to be built from mistakes
These were really the reasons why I was interested to find out more about the holidays camps and courses at The Little Executive. I think it’s good for the kids to develop the three aspects of essential skills, healthy learning habits, and a growth mindset, from as early as possible. Not for any other reason than it’s just good for them. For living. For life.
In my own kids, I’ve seen how challenging things can be when there are gaps in these areas. I like how The Little Executives focuses not on imparting content knowledge, but really nurturing the process part of things. And it is a partnership with the parents, of course, as these things cannot be left to a class to solve alone.
So if you like the notion of your kids developing their essential skills and executive functioning, learning habits, and building a growth mindset, you will probably find the holiday camps at The Little Executive right up your alley. Not only is it a fun camp for the kids with many interesting activities, the camp equips them with skills that are transferable to other areas of their lives.
The Little Executives will be holding three holiday camps during the year-end holidays. One of them is an expanded version of the Astronaut Camp that Asher went for. It’s is now a 4-day camp, instead of just 3 days. Details of the three camps are listed below.
Slots are filling up fast, so if you are keen, you should sign up soon!
The Little Executives have generously offered readers of this blog a 15% discount on camp fees. Just quote “leisure15” when you sign up.
Calling all little astronauts! This December holidays, let us take your child on a mission to Outer Space. Through this unique 4-day camp, aspiring astronauts will hone their problem solving skills to complete Space Missions, enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew, and sharpen their sensory systems while exploring new territories.
Your mini paleontologist will embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! They will trace how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while learning about evolution. The kids will need to harness their acute powers of observation to identify each bone and work collaboratively to put the pieces together. This project highlights inductive and deductive reasoning skills, sequencing and problem-solving abilities.
Get your little one all set for Primary school with our 4-day prep camp aimed at honing essential skills used daily in the classroom. Through a series of fun and engaging activities, your child will enhance his ability to listen and remember, pay attention in class, think and ask questions and communicate effectively.Join us for a P1 prep camp that will help your child grow to become an independent and confident learner!
The Little Executive also conducts regular classes using their research-based specialist-designed programme that aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The Little Executive is running free trial classes every Saturday for their regular classes until 26 Nov 2016 for N2 to P1 kids.
Obtaining his astronaut certificate!
Reach for the stars
Contact details are listed here:
The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Disclaimer: The Little Executive sponsored the Astronaut Training Camp for my son for the purpose of a review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.