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Archive for the ‘playground’ Category

When I heard about Kaboodle Kids, I was intrigued by the concept – a room full of supersized foam blocks where kids are free to build whatever they want. It sounded like something my boys would like as they love building with Duplo/Lego.

I believe kids need unstructured and imaginative play. Playing with old cardboard boxes and pretending they are in anything from a house to a spaceship; improvising with Daddy’s old shirts and transforming into a doctor, an astronaut, or a diver. These are activities I enjoy seeing my kids engage in. The blue foam blocks that Kaboodle uses are Imagination Playground blocks which are meant to provide children with an environment that encourages free, creative, and unstructured play. The parts are loose, but can be joined together; and there is no right or wrong way to play with them.

Imagination Playground blocks

Imagination Playground blocks

When I first stepped into Kaboodle Kids, I must admit I was a little underwhelmed by the space. I had imagined it would be closer to the size of other indoor playgrounds that have climbing structures, but Kaboodle was just one large room filled with blue foam blocks scattered about. A thought flitted through my mind, “That’s all?” However, it quickly became clear that the space was sufficient, and maybe even ideal.

Inside Kaboodle Kids

Inside Kaboodle Kids

Why ideal? As the room isn’t too large, and one side is lined with a long sofa, parents can sit comfortably at the side while watching over their kids. My husband happily sat there and read his newspapers while the kids played. I cannot tell you how pleased he was to not have to move in order to watch over them. Many other parents read books, checked their phones, or just zoned out. I’m not the kind to sit still, but I can see how comfortable it can be for parents who prefer to sit it out.

The space is also sufficient because once the kids get lost in creating something, it really doesn’t matter how much space is around them. All they are focusing on are the blocks. And in fact, with a smaller space, they don’t have to walk so much to search for specific pieces they are looking for.

The boys embarked on several projects. First, a ball run. They then started to build a multistorey fort with battlements. Ellery ventured out to build a slide for Alyssa, then a tunnel to crawl through, while Asher and some other boys continued on the fort. Ellery then moved on to make a helicopter, while Asher used some pieces to make a spider costume. Finally they built another multistorey castle before I had to drag them away because our time was up.

Time really flies when you are having fun! It didn’t feel like two hours at all!

Working together on the ball run

Working together on the ball run

Testing it out

Testing it out

Alyssa inspecting the balls rolling by

Alyssa inspecting the balls rolling by

Busy gathering supplies

Busy gathering supplies

A bit too big for the slide Ellery made :)

Stuck! She’s a bit too big for the slide Ellery made :)

An octopus like structure

An octopus like structure to crawl under

Childhood experts claim that there are many benefits of playing with blocks, and at Kaboodle Kids your kids have the chance to make their usual creations life-sized! There were kids making houses, tanks, motorbikes, cars, and getting to play in and on their new toys. You can see some other creations that people have made at Kaboodle Kids here. There’s a file at Kaboodle Kids which shows a range of designs that you can follow to get the creative juices flowing. One of the most amazing, to me, was a building that some adults made that reached right up to the ceiling!

A tank

A tank

Simple rocking chair

Simple rocking chair

Unlike a regular indoor playground, I felt that playing at Kaboodle Kids gave the children the chance to learn many valuable little lessons. I liked how the children could come together and collaborate on a building project. It was good for the children to learn how to negotiate with other kids to incorporate this or that element into their design, or justify why they put or removed a particular block. Sometimes things got a bit testy, but we tried to stay out of it to let the kids settle their own problems.

Working together with other kids

Working together with other kids

Collaborating with other families to build a fort

Collaborating to build the fort

Pillars for the stairs

Pillars for the stairs

That being said, I do think that parents who bring their kids to Kaboodle should tell their children not to deliberately break other children’s structures without first asking. The boys and their new friend were very disappointed when some other kids came by and tore everything apart! So much time and effort had gone into making it! Their mum just sat by the side and did nothing. She saw, and went back to her phone. But we told him that’s just how life is, and to move on and build something else. It took quite a lot of convincing, but finally he deciding to make a spider costume. I thought it was really creative of him to wear the blocks, and he inspired a few other people to do the same.

Ellery moving on to make a helicopter, and Asher a spider costume

Ellery moving on to make a helicopter, and Asher a spider costume

The best time to go Kaboodle Kids would be when it’s quieter so that you have access to more blocks, and Mui Jin (the owner) sometimes chips in to help with the children’s large projects (e.g., she mentioned one project that used up all the blocks in the room and stretched from one end to the other!)

Party packages are available if you want to book Kaboodle Kids to celebrate a birthday. Mui Jin told me about a Nerf gun party that was held there. The kids could build their own defences before the fighting started. Sounds really cool to me!

As we left the boys were already asking when they could come back again. And they haven’t let up on their requests, so I think we’ll be heading there again!

Kaboodle Kids is located at
902 East Coast Parkway (Big Splash),
Block B, #02-05B
(above Mr Teh Tarik, next to Alpha Gymnastics)

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Our children were offered free entry to Kaboodle Kids in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. 

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It was the end of the March school holidays, the weather wasn’t too hot, and we had been cooped up in the house all day, so we decided to head outdoors. We wanted to go somewhere far that we wouldn’t normally go to, as if we were having a mini road trip in Singapore. We ended up checking out the newish extension at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Unforunately there were some trails that were undergoing upgrading works, but we did manage to play at the Junior Adventure Trail for a bit. I had read up on this prior to going and had expected a bigger play area, but the kids had fun nonetheless.

At the Junior Adventure Trail you can pretend to cross a mangrove swamp using a pulley boat, play among pencil roots, and climb about some prop roots. If I didn’t drag the kids away, they could have stayed here to play for an even longer time than they did. They liked racing from one end of the trail to the other.

On the pulley boat. They were competing with another pair of kids

On the pulley boat. They were competing with another pair of kids

Hop hop hop!

Hop hop hop through the pencil roots!

Climb climb climb up the prop roots!

Climb climb climb up the prop roots!

Fishes? Insects?

Hang on tight!

Jumping on giant mudskippers

Jumping on giant mudskippers

We did a short walk to one of the lookout points that had a good view of Johor Bahru.

Look out point. From the road, this structure really blends into the surroundings.

Look out point. From the road, this structure really blends into the surroundings.

JB in the distance

JB in the distance

The one thing that we all really wanted to experience were the mudflats that you could walk through. I thought the boys might not be too keen on the idea because they’d get their feet dirty, but they surprised me by being very excited at the prospect. It was located at the other end of Sungei Buloh, so we decided to drive to the other side instead of walking since the connecting path was closed.

Unfortunately, when we got to the other side the weather took a turn for the worse. There was thunder and lightening, and the sky turned black very quickly. The rain started pelting down and we had to postpone our exploration of the mudflats. But we’ll be back!

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Brought the boys to Westgate after school as we’ve been telling Asher so much about the playground since the last time we went.  They were both quite excited, and I had to bargain with them to have dinner before playing.

Asher chose to eat at Pho Street at level B2, just inside from the carpark.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the place serves up very decent fare.  The bowls of noodles are huge, and the boys could share one portion between them.  Greedy me ate an entire bowl by myself.  Besides beef pho, they also sell other types of Vietnamese dishes.  I had the spicy pork noodles, which was very good.  I loved how there were lots of crunchy cucumbers, red and green sliced chillis, and even starfruit to give the dish that extra kick.  I would definitely have that again.  The portion of meat in each bowl of noodles was also quite generous.  In addition to the noodles, we ordered the crabcakes, which were disappointingly small in size though okay in terms of taste, and fried springrolls which were alright.  Rounded off with a lemongrass drink, the meal was very satisfying.  I was so hungry I tucked right in and polished off my food before I remembered to take any pictures, but here’re a couple of the boys :)

Big bowl of noodles for Ellery, and this is not even half of the actual serving!

Big bowl of noodles for Ellery, and this is not even half of the actual serving!

Funny boy

Funny boy

As a treat we wandered the basement level to look for dessert.  They were so attracted to the display at Milkissimo, they decided to have hokkaido gelato for dessert.  Milkissimo is located inside Isetan on level B2 and is a Japanese stall selling Italian style gelato made from premium ingredients from Hokkaido.  There are many interesting flavours, and I particularly liked Northern Hascup (a type of honeysuckle berry) for it’s tangy, sorbet like flavour.  The boys gravitated to the usual suspects like dark chocolate (so thick and gooey it’s almost like eating a soft brownie!), and white chocolate (like vanilla).  I was extremely happy with the staff’s flexibility.  The boys wanted their own flavours, but I didn’t want to get them each a cup because that would just be too much gelato for each of them.  The staff let me choose the 3 flavour option, but spread out each flavour into a separate cup.  It was possible because they measure the gelato by weight.  So we each got the flavour we wanted, without having too much of it.

Dark chocolate, white chocolate, and northern hascup

Dark chocolate, white chocolate, and northern hascup

Stuffed with dinner and dessert, we were all set for playtime in Wonderland.  We explored the toddler’s area, and surprisingly the boys enjoyed just climbing and sitting on the giant insects.  I actually had to coax them to move on!  When Asher saw the playground he was really excited, and they both proceeded to head up the treehouse together.  I was very pleased with Asher when he said he would take care of Ellery, and for me not to worry.  What a good big brother!  He encouraged Ellery, and when he was quite a bit ahead, told Ellery, “I’m here!”  Times like this, I’m just so happy to see the boys are very close brothers.

On the dragonfly

On the dragonfly

The 'hiccupping' frog they called it

The ‘hiccupping’ frog they called it

Chilling on the ladybird

Chilling on the ladybird

Orange boys

Orange boys

Playing with musical flowers

Playing with musical flowers

Climbing away

Climbing away

Up and down, here and there and everywhere.  They just played and played, until heavy rain forced them out.  Well, actually, the security guard forced them out.  They were quite happy to play in the rain haha.

So a change of clothes, and off for supper!  What a lot of treats today.  We went to Toastbox for cake and hot milo before heading home.

Wonderland indeed!

 

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We attended Jacob’s 3rd birthday at Amazonia.  His 2nd birthday was also held there, and the boys still remember having a great time playing, so they were really looking forward to the party.  On a random note, last year Ellery couldn’t pronounce Amazonia properly, and kept calling it “Ama-no-zia” instead :)

The most wonderful thing about this party was that the boys overcame their fear of the big slide at Amazonia!  They aren’t exactly the bravest when it comes to big slides.  But with Ellery’s newfound fearlessness from Westgate Wonderland, and my psych-ing Asher up with stories of how he went sliding down the big slide in Penang during our holiday last year (leaving out the fact that I went down with them), they both went down and there was no stopping them after that!

Once they realised it wasn’t that scary, they just kept going down over and over.  In fact, I was really pleased with Asher cos he was trying to make himself go down faster by pushing as he went down.  Then he and Ellery raced one another.  Even when it was time to go, the ‘last slide’ became another 10 slides down.

Yay!
Jacob's Amazonia 1

As for the party itself, Jacob chose a whale cake, so the whole theme was fish and sea creatures.  The kids had fun decorating little fish tanks with stickers.  And later on, we were surprised that we were given goldfish to bring home as the party gift!  The boys were very excited and thought hard about what names to give them.  In the end Ellery chose “Dino-llery”, and Asher chose “Raspberry” because his fish had a reddish tail, and the head had the bumpy look of a raspberry.
Jacob's Amazonia 2

Sadly though, the fishes didn’t last very long.  I woke up the next morning to a crying Asher.  He was so sad that Raspberry had died during the night.  He really needed a lot of consoling.  Poor boy.

The next night I saw that Dino-llery was struggling to breathe and decided I needed to get an air pump the next day.  But that was one day too late.  When we woke in the morning we found Dino-llery upside down.

We are really not very good fish-people.  The fishes that come home from the kampung fishing excursions don’t last very long either.  I think the next time, I’ll go straight out and get a pump!

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Asher went for a sleepover with Aidan at my parent’s place again, so it was just me and Ellery who happily said we were going for a date, our second in two weeks.

By the time I dropped Asher off at my parent’s house after watching Rapunzel it was 4pm.  By then Ellery had fallen asleep in the car and I was quite sleepy too, so decided to drive home for a nap.  We ended up napping for a really really long time, and only woke up at 730pm!

Ellery was still keen on going out for a date.  Given the time of the night I could only think of two options – the Night Safari or the newly opened Westgate Wonderland.  Since I’ve heard such good things about the new playground at Westgate, and since there would be plenty of food options for dinner, I decided that would be our date night outing.

What a fun night!

We had dinner at Hot Tomato, a restaurant selling grills, seafood and pastas.  I still hadn’t had my red meat portion for the day so we chose from the steak selection, and Ellery decided on steak and prawns.  We was more than happy that it came with pasta too.  It was very cute to see Ellery eagerly awaiting his steak.  “Is the steak ready, Mummy?”, “Yay!  Our steak is here!”

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Our steak and prawns

Our steak and prawns

The steak was decent, not too dry considering I asked for it to be well done.  The prawns were fresh and juicy, and the pasta was quite comforting.

We then headed to the playground, by which time it was already 9pm – bedtime.  Oh what the heck!

Ellery had such a good time.  He absolutely loved the playground inside the giant flowerpot, and kept going up and sliding down, climbing up, and sliding down again.  Over and over and over.  Actually, that’s what most of the kids were doing.  It was that fun.  I was especially proud of Ellery because he usually shows some hesitation about going into tunnel slides, and often avoids them altogether.  But here, perhaps because all the other kids were just jumping into it, he went down the double story spiral tunnel slide, no sweat!  I was so happy!  When he had first gone up there I literally prayed for him, that he’ll have the courage to go down.  So happy for answered prayer :)

There's a playground enclosed in there!

There’s a playground enclosed in there!

Wheeeeeeee

Wheeeeeeee

Clinging on like a koala

Clinging on like a koala

The treehouse looked like it would be a lot of fun for kids, but for parents who can’t really follow them up (like preggers me), it got a little worrisome after a while because once the kids climb beyond a certain point, you can’t see them at all!  So for a long while I had no idea where Ellery was.  I went around checking if there were other exits in case he had come down another way.  Thankfully there was only one way up and down from the treehouse, and two exits which came out at the same side.  Eventually it was time for the playground to close, so the kids were chased out of the playground, and that was when I finally saw Ellery emerge again.  He said he had gotten lost.

Treehouse playground

Treehouse playground

 

He then ran to the flowerpot for a couple more rounds of climbing and sliding before we left :)  By the time we got home it was 10.30pm!  What a treat!

We’ll definitely head back again with Asher and explore the waterplay area too.  Hopefully Asher will likewise be brave about the spiral tunnel slide!

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Headed to the Botanic Gardens with the girls for a picnic and was surprised to see how much water has evaporated from the lake!  Along with the brown grass and yellowing leaves, this dry spell is really taking it’s toll on the environment.

It’s been a long time since we gathered for a picnic.  The last time there was only 1 kid, some of Shan wasn’t even married yet.  This time around, we had three kids running around, and Obi was a lot bigger.  Janine couldn’t make it because she had just delivered Joseth a few days before, so we were missing her, Desmond and Jovinia.

Pot lucked it, and we were impressed that Alex had gotten up early to cook bee hoon complete with veg and meat.  Though some of us were initially skeptical, her bee hoon was really quite good :)

Had a nice morning chatting, eating, and just chilling.  I was grateful that my friends helped to run after the boys a little so that I could just relax :)

The picnic party

The picnic party

Obi had his own little space in the middle

Obi had his own little space in the middle

Ellery playing soccer with Daokai

Ellery playing soccer with Daokai

Trying to crawl up my back

Trying to crawl up my back

Enjoying Alex's noodles

Enjoying Alex’s noodles

You can see his dead tooth getting darker

You can see his dead tooth getting darker

That same day we met the Cais and Sngs at District 10 for lunch where the kids just played non-stop for almost three hours while we hung out.

Bouncy castles - what a great invention

Bouncy castles – what a great invention

Then immediately after we met my parents for a swim at Temasek Club.  We swam for two hours before adjourning for dinner.

I had assumed the boys would be completely worn out, but they still slept fairly late.  Too much stamina!

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We happened to be around the area so Jon suggested that we go look for one of the old school playgrounds in Toa Payoh.  We managed to find the one at Blk 28, Toa Payoh Lorong 6.  If I’m not wrong it’s the only remaining dragon playground with sand.  The rest have rubber mats installed instead.  There is some construction going on next to it and which blocks your way from the public carpark, but you can walk around the construction area quite easily via the makeshift pedestrian walkway.

It’s so different from playgrounds nowadays.  Simple yet fun, there’s just a charm about it.  But that could just be us since we know it’s old and can feel the sense of nostalgia since these playgrounds are from our time.  In any case, the kids had fun as it was their first time playing at this type of playground.

One of several dragon playgrounds

One of several dragon playgrounds

In the belly of the dragon

In the belly of the dragon

Having fun going up and down

Having fun going up and down

Ellery, the eye

Ellery, the eye

fff

My boys :)

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