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Archive for October, 2015

Ahoy there! Somethin’ excitin’ is comin’ o’er yer way come the end of October! Better be on the lookout for it, me hearties!

Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) The Little Company (TLC) will be staging the exciting and swashbuckling story of Treasure Island from 30 Oct 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.

A new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular novel of the same name, Treasure Island follows the adventure of Jim Hawkins, who receives a treasure map from a kooky old seaman. Jim is tasked to help find the hidden treasure, but the road to riches is never smooth sailing. In this version of the Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is cast as a lion-hearted 13-year-old girl rather than a boy, possibly to appeal to the girls, though I think the story itself should be compelling enough.

Look out for other colourful characters like Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney, and of course, Long John Silver!

Treasure Island promises to be a hilarious and action-packed musical about friendship and trust, and is suitable for the whole family! It’s a great way to welcome the year-end holidays, and reward the kids for working so hard throughout the school year.

My boys have read Treasure Island the book and really enjoy the story. So much so that when Ellery saw a children’s illustrated version of the book at the Book Swop at the recent Octoburst Festival, he exchanged a book for it even though we already have the longer version at home.

We sure are looking forward to joining those buccaneers on an adventure to find gold! Argghh!!

Treasure Island is being staged from 30 Oct – 13 Dec, 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.
Tickets are available through the SISTIC website or via their hotline (6348 5555).

***Giveaway***

SRT has generously sponsored 1 Family Package (4 tickets) worth $153 for Treasure Island on 7 November, 11am, to be given away to one lucky reader! Please make sure you are available to watch the show at the stated date and time before joining this giveaway. To qualify for the giveaway, please do the following by 28 Oct, 2359H:

  1. Answer the question below by leaving a comment at the end of this post. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win.
    “In The Little Company’s stage adaptation of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is a girl. True or False?”
  2. Share this post with three friends, and let me know your FB name so that I can verify your entry.

Good luck me hearties! May ya get yer hands on that ticket treasure!

UPDATE (22 Oct 2015)
Instead of just 1 Family Package (4 tickets), SRT will be sponsoring 2 Family Packages to 2 readers! What are you waiting for? Take part in the giveaway now!

Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue. 

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I’ve always loved playing boardgames, though after the kids came along I didn’t have much opportunity to play them anymore. I have fond memories of playing boardgames with my family when I was growing up. My parents were very into Monopoly and there used to be regular Monopoly sessions among my parents, uncles, and aunties that lasted way past our bedtime. It was always lovely to hear the adults bantering, jibing, and joking with one another while they played.

When we were older, there were monopoly sessions among our neighbours and cousins, especially during the school holidays. I also remember playing boardgames with my cousins when I went to stay at my grandmother’s house during school breaks.

And then there were the word games like Scrabble and Boggle that I still adore to this day largely due to the influence of my Mum, whom I’m sure can still easily trash us at them! She’s a real master at word games.

My school friends and I also used to gather at each other’s houses to play various boardgames late into the night, and I had one friend in particular who came up with the funniest extra rules just to keep things exciting!

So, when I think of boardgames I think of family and friends, of happy times, and of good memories. And it is for this reason that I very much wanted my kids to discover the joy of playing boardgames. I have long wished to revive the tradition of ”boardgame nights” at our house  to create special memories for the kids too.

To get my children interested in playing boardgames, I started to look for children’s games that were attractive, and simple, but yet not so simple as to make them lose interest quickly. When I heard about My First Games, I was really excited to see the wide range of children’s games available. Most of them I had never even heard of! There were so many fun and interesting games, I didn’t know where to start.

Thank goodness for Pamela, a boardgames enthusiast and the founder of My First Games, who gave me some recommendations. One of them was Quoridor Kids, which I chose to go with in the end.

Quoridor Kids is a game of mice and mazes that has children scurrying their mice to the opposite side of the playing board. The first mouse to reach the other side wins. It is not a simple task though, as each player may move their mouse 1 space at a time or decide to block their opponent with a wall. Yet the maze that is built may cause delays for every mouse, including their own, as it approaches the finish line.

The kids love the game and it has proven to be something they pull out to play repeatedly. Here are some reasons why we love Quoridor Kids.

Attractive & Well Made

It may seem a bit shallow to pick a game because of how it looks, but I think for kids half the battle is won when the game looks like it’s going to be fun, even before they know what it’s about. With a cheery yellow board, cute little mice, matching pieces of cheese, and a handful of little green walls, the kids couldn’t help fingering the pieces, asking what the different parts were for and how to play the game.

Everything is made from wood, and it’s so sturdy I can see it withstanding years of play. I’ll probably be able to pass this on to my grandchildren, if there are any!

Little mice trying to get their cheese

Cute little mice trying to get their cheese

Simple Rules

With an attractive game set, all that children want to do is start playing immediately. It’s a good thing that there aren’t that many rules, and most of them you can learn as you go along. The rules are also simple, making it easy for young children to understand.

Basically, try to be the first to get from one end to the other. Always leave the other player at least one way to get to the other side. You cannot move diagonally. When it’s your turn you can either move or block, not both. Easy peasy!

Playing the game

Playing a couple of rounds before bed

Strategy

It is fascinating to see how the kids discover more strategic play as they gain experience with the game. The very first time, they tried to rush across only attempting to do some blocking at the end when it looked like they were going to lose. Then slowly, slowly, they started to think ahead. Being older, Asher is more able to catch on to the strategy aspect and carry out his plan, adjusting it as the game proceeds. There have been a few times where I was completely blind-sided by him, and he was extremely gleeful about his successful surprise attacks that helped him win. Ellery tends to play more for the moment, but he often has an idea of what he hopes to do during the game (like whether to block first, or start moving first).

Trying

They love playing this game with their grandfather

Adult & Kids Version Essentially the Same

Quoridor Kids is actually the kids version of Quoridor, which is targeted at adults. However, the rules are exactly the same! The only difference is the size of the board. Quoridor Kids has a smaller 7 x 7 board, as opposed to Quoridor’s 9 x 9 board. The smaller board means game play is shorter and better suited to the attention spans of young children. I think it is amazing that the kids version and adults version are virtually the same. Quoridor Kids is not simplified just because the game is targeted at children. What that means is when you play with your kids, you’re going to enjoy the game too! It’s one of the rare games that my husband has actually sat down to play with the kids. And that says a lot!

Always Different

No two games are the same because the maze is built up by the players as the game proceeds. However, it is possible to devise your own version of the game because of the opened-ended nature of the board and it’s pieces. On their own, the boys came up with variations like having to reach the exact square where the cheese is at; pre-building part of the maze and hiding the cheese inside then seeing who would reach their cheese first; allowing players to slide the walls, instead of just building them up, etc. It’s interesting to see what they come up with when left to their own devices.

No two games are the same

No two games are the same

A new

Devising a new way to play the game

Opportunity to Teach Values

Well, this applies to all competitive games really. Things like following the rules, not cheating, taking turns, being a good loser, and being a gracious winner. All these things can be learnt while playing Quoridor Kids. There were more than a few instances of “Hey! You already put that piece there you cannot take it away!”, “Mummy, he is cheating!”, and “AHAHAHA! I WIN!” accompanied by  “Wahhhh! I don’t want to lose!”

Yes, many teachable moments.

There is much less drama now when they play Quoridor Kids. Learning to say “good game” comes more naturally to one boy than the other, but both are learning and improving.

Bonding over Quoridor Kids

Bonding over Quoridor Kids

Quick Game Play

I like playing with the kids, but sometimes I really just want to move on to other things. Each round of Quoridor Kids lasts no more than a few minutes so I can easily play a few rounds before doing other things. It’s especially good when Alyssa is fussy and wants my attention but the boys want some of my time as well. I can play a few games and move on to play with Alyssa, and they feel like they’ve had some time with me. Better yet, when I’m distracted by Alyssa I often make bad moves, so the boys are more likely to win. They are happy, I am happy. Win-win!

Playing with Por Por

Playing with Por Por

It is no wonder that Quoridor Kids has won Game of the Year before. With simple rules but so many variations in the outcome, it’s beautiful, really. Beauty in simplicity. It’s a game that will be a pleasure for adults of all ages to play with kids.

You can purchase Quoridor Kids from My First Games. It makes a nice addition to your home collection of games, and also makes a good gift (Christmas is coming!) You can check out the store for many other children’s games as well.

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We received a discount on Quoridor Kids, but I would have bought and reviewed it even without a discount because the game looked, and is, so good!

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It’s Octoburst time!

Last year’s activities were so engaging that we went back again and again and again. The boys loved the hands on activities, the performances, and the book swop. Each time we went, we spent hours at the Esplanade, and even then I had to drag them away when it was time to go home. This year’s Octoburst promises another fun-filled, activity-packed programme to treat your kids this Children’s Day.

Held annually at the Esplanade, Octoburst provides a host of activities – free and ticketed – for children to explore a world of endless possibilities through the arts. This year there’s also a cute new, colourful mascot called PIP that will make its appearance at Octoburst.

PIP! Looks like a cuddly, colourful merlion to me (Image taken from here.)

Among the ticketed events, there’s a Sensory Walkabout where children will be guided to notice the textures around the Esplanade and use these as inspiration to create a whole new city.

Go on a sensory walkabout (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s My Bright-Light Idea workshop where you and your child will transform a piece of cardboard into a brand new night-light that you can bring home.

An upcycled lamp (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

And if crafting is not your thing, join a ukelele workshop with your child and learn to play an instrument together. There are also several shows, including Casa by La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, which tells the story of a grown-up and a child who meet, get to know each other and start to build. Building turns into play, and little by little, they build a story, a structure, a roof, a house. Sometimes the little one pretends to be the grown-up, while the grown-up pretends to be the little one.

Building with pipes (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

The one I’m definitely not missing is the Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Swan Lake by the Singapore Dance Theatre. I like this series of performances and think it’s great they present ballet in an accessible way to children. We’ve gone for Nutcracker, and the Introduction to Ballet Classics, but the boys’ favourite so far has got to be Romeo & Juliet! I’m hoping Swan Lake will be as good and they boys will thoroughly enjoy the show. It’ll also be Alyssa’s first ballet related show, so I really can’t wait!

Swan Lake (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s actually one more show called Spot that plays with light and challenges your children to notice things they normally wouldn’t have, but’s sold out already. If you are interested in the other ticketed events, you should book your tickets quick.

Besides these, there are plenty of free activities! So many that you better take a look at the line up and plan your time if you hope to catch all the ones you are interested in! You can print out this festival guide to help you along. Some of the highlights include A Pipe-ful Play Garden by Playeum where you can grow your own little pocket garden and together with other kids, build a living and ever-growing pipe-maze! I think the kids will love this, and I’m hoping the haze will go away this weekend so we can head outdoors to try this activity.

There’s also Doodle City where the kids can add their own touches to doodles by the Band of Doolers, Book Stop where you can bring along a pre-loved children’s book to exchange for another book, Happy Stamping activity with over 200 stamps to choose from (and which kid doesn’t love stamping??), storytelling sessions, and the chance to let your kids watch an angklung performance by Sri Warisan Angklung Ensemble.

Stamps galore! (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s lots going on, and there’s no better place to spend the Children’s Day weekend with your kids! See you there!

Octoburst is on from 9 to 11 Oct at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay. The activities take place at various locations around the Esplanade.

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