Review: Little Artists for Virtual Reality

Earlier this year, we brought the boys to check out the Avengers STATION exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre. While we weren’t particularly enamored by the exhibition itself, the boys did fall in love with the virtual reality exhibition within the Science Centre. They put on the glasses and were immediately transported to a fascinating world of roller coaster. And we had so much fun that I decided to purchase a pair of Discovery VR glasses – which completely sucked because the mechanism that allowed us to adjust the width of the lenses was spoilt!

When the opportunity to try out the two-hour “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop, conducted by Presence Pictures in PIXEL Labs@NLB, came, I jumped. I figured that it was a great way to combine two of Aidan’s interests: art and VR.

Essentially, this programme is targeted at kids aged four to seven. The kids are first taught about perspective – foreground, background etc. – and then encouraged to design and decorate in a VR template on paper. They get to draw and colour, and think about where and how to meaningfully place their objects/characters. This hand-drawn artwork will eventually form their very own virtual world.
Once they are done with their handiwork, the facilitators from Presence Pictures will then use their proprietary VR software to publish it into the VR form.

Okay look, I am not somebody who excelled in Physics so that’s as best an explanation as it gets.

Aidan was thoroughly excited by the process because he already had an idea of what VR is all about. He started showing an interest in art recently and when I explained that he would be able to design his own VR world, he was even more thrilled.

We spent some time with the creative process: first, he had to think about what characters or objects he wanted to inhabit this VR world of his. Then, he was encouraged to sketch them out. Once that was done, he incorporated his characters onto the template provided. Subsequently, he had to fill his world with colours using the pencils provided and embellish it with the stickers provided.

When he completed designing his world, Edmund, one of the facilitators (and the company’s CEO!), took a photo of it using the app on the iPhone and it was immediately projected onto the screen. Aidan was super chuffed to see his work up on display. And then finally, he strapped on the oculus lens and saw his own world in VR form. He could not stop smiling!

What I loved about the workshop was that the facilitators Edmund and Eunice were extremely patient with him. My son can be easily distracted but they managed to coax him through the process, step by step, until it was completed. Eunice also allowed him imagination in portraying his virtual world, telling him to go with whatever colours he had in mind and not be limited to the norm (ie. His sky could be purple, if he liked).

Also, as someone who lacks basic spatial sense (my husband will testify to it), I was impressed that this workshop allowed my five-year-old to think in 3D space. He was given free rein to design his world and the immediate outcome of seeing his work come to life in front of his eyes was most impressive.

Eunice also explained to me that the company runs a longer bootcamp version of the workshop, which I am highly tempted to sign Aidan up for. I think it’s a great, experiential way for kids to learn about virtual reality and spatiality. He’s already an avid Lego builder and this would definitely enhance his ability to see things in 3D.

If you are keen to check out the “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop, it is part of Tech Saturday (Upsized!) 2017, the tech carnival organised by IMDA. Admission is free and so are the workshops! There are many techie workshops (or what Tech Saturday calls “worksheds”) available, ranging from coding to robotics Lego, that cater to different age groups from 7 to 50 and above. There are also Tinker Spaces, which allow you a hands-on experience with 3D printing, VR and robotics, as well as purchase your own electronics project home and DIY a mood lamp, Interactive Showcases which demonstrate the convergence of technology and media projects, as well as activities that you can enjoy with your family like flying a drone or have a first person view on the buggy car.

(I would love to sign Aidan up for the coding one, except he is too young for it. And I would love to attend the transmedia disruptive storytelling techniques one myself.)

So if you have nothing on that weekend, why not check out Tech Saturday? Do note that you have to sign up for the workshops in advance though.

What: Tech Saturday (Upsized!) 2017
When: April 29 to 30
Where: Hall C, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level 1
Admission: Free!

We were invited to participate in the “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop but all opinions are my own! Kiddo really liked it – I am definitely considering signing him up for the longer programme.

Review: The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice

The boys and I had a real treat last night when we caught The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice!

We hardly get out of the house during weekday nights so it was definitely a special one to remember. Plus, I have loved Disney all my life. I grew up at the cinema and the Disney animated films have always been a great source of entertainment and comfort to me as a kid. While my kids don’t really get to watch TV much, they know all about Mickey and Minnie and they loved our last trip to Disneyland in Hong Kong.

We got in right before the show started so it was perfect timing. Now, to be honest, I have no clue if there was some sort of storyline going on there – I think it was about Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy recollecting the different stories – but it doesn’t really matter. We were swiftly brought through tales such as The Lion King, Snow White & the Seven Dwarves, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, Finding Dory – a mix of the classics (which I, uhhmm, grew up with) and contemporary favourites.

And I loved it! It was really cool remembering these favourites of mine and singing loudly along with the music without fear of being judged (HAHA) and the ice-skating, backdrop, props and pyrotechnics were incredible.

Throughout the show, Aidan was quiet and did not show much expression. I was wondering he wasn’t enjoying the performance. Zac, on the other hand, wouldn’t sit still on his seat. It was a good thing, then, that there was ample legroom for him to roam around. Luckily, everytime he started to get restless, something else would come along to distract him.

I needn’t have worried. Aidan LOVED the show, except he was a wee bit scared at two different parts of the night: when the witch appeared in the Snow White segment, and when Prince Hans was attacking Elsa and Anna in Frozen.

Speaking of Frozen, the second half was mostly dedicated to it. Not surprising, seeing how it is the crowd favourite. There were so many little girls dressed in Elsa and Anna outfits! This segment also had the most effects, which was absolutely enchanting. Zac adored Olaf – he couldn’t get enough of Olaf’s singing and dancing.

In short: a truly magical experience for both adults (especially Disney lovers) and kids. I do think that it was probably more suited for kids aged four and above. And please bring along plenty of cash because you will be suckered into buying overpriced popcorn, slushies, hot dogs and merchandise, heh.

Oh, and the great thing was that the show started promptly at 630pm and ended on time at 830pm. It meant that bedtime wasn’t terribly disrupted – I had showered the littles before we left and packed along their jammies.

The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice runs from now till March 19 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. You can purchase your tickets here.

Disclaimer: I received four complimentary tickets to catch the performance. No other monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own. But seriously, dude, you can’t fake the magic that is Disney. It is AWESOME. All photos provided by Feld Entertainment. Video is my own.

We love…Pip’s Playbox

Earlier last month, my little man turned four. I’m not going to go into a spiel about how fast he has grown and just how short the years have been. I won’t, sniffs. But I’ll bet you already understand it anyway.

As husband had to travel out of town for a business trip on the day itself, we decided to celebrate it with Aidan a day earlier. Unfortunately, it coincided with a nasty bout of cough that the boys were suffering from and the morning was spent at the paediatrician’s clinic where we paid a mini fortune and emerged with a bag full of medicines.

Undeterred, we decided to go somewhere indoors to play. I had read on social media that Pip’s Playbox had recently opened at the Esplanade and thought it would be a good place to explore.

And I was so right.

It being a Friday, the place was not too crowded when we were there. I love everything about it – from the high ceilings to the ceiling-to-floor windows that let in copious of light to the craft table where kids could construct bunny nose and whiskers (in line with the PLAYtime! show of the moment).

Mostly, though, I loved the spaces that the Esplanade management had thoughtfully carved out within. There was a corner filled with train tracks, magnetic wooden blocks and large jigsaw puzzles for the kids to mess around with. There was a little nook with cushion seating that allowed kids to bring books in to read. And oh, the books – shelves and shelves of children’s literature written by local authors. It was amazing.

There was also an area with an old overhead projector – you know, the sort we had back in primary school – where the kids would indulge in shadow puppet play. That was really cool! There were animal cutouts provided and we showed the boys how to angle the mirror to let the light hit the wall, and they were gleefully projecting the shadows and having fun.

When they were done horsing around (heh heh), Aidan and I spent a quiet moment making bunny noses and colouring at the craft table. Meanwhile, Zac was busying himself by moving the stools around.

It was a very large and airy space, and we spent easily upwards of two hours there. We ended up dragging them off because they refused to leave. And you know what? I could totally see why. I would have been happy as a kid to spend my day there.

The icing on the cake? Entrance to the play area is completely free. Yes, FREE. Not a single cent. Shocking really, seeing how thoughtfully curated it was and how imaginative it allowed the kids to be.

I can foresee the place being crazy crowded during the weekends so I am guessing we won’t be back so soon. But we will definitely be back again.

Toys we love…The Twig Co.’s Pixie Camera

I’ll confess: I usually do not buy toys for my littles.

I know, I know, it makes me sound like a nazi mother but the truth is, I know that they will receive heaps of toys during festive seasons and their birthdays. And the last thing I want is for the house to turn into a toy factory. That’s why I choose not to buy toys for them.

(I’ve already packed away most of the toys that they had received during Christmas!)

But if there is one weakness of mine when it comes to toys, it is this: IMAGINATION. I love toys that help them to be imaginative, allowing them to creatively make up their own worlds and scenarios. And one toy that I bought – and which checks all those items – is the Pixie wooden toy camera from The Twig Co.

Photo taken from The Twig Co.

Photo taken from The Twig Co.


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GIVEAWAY! Fun with Fabricate’s Tangram Tee

Guys. Christmas is almost here! I can’t believe that it’s going to be here in less than a week…I’ve been so busy with work and a teeny tiny home renovation (we are redoing our kitchen!) that I haven’t had the chance to sit back and chill. And buy presents, let alone WRAP them. Oh, the horrors.

If you are like me, so fashionably late to this Christmas present-buying game, have no fear. I have something to recommend: the Tangram tee from local online retailer, Fabricate.

Each of the tees that you receive will come with a set of reusable shapes in a handy ziplock bag, allowing you to create over 65,000 patterns on the velcro strips at the front of the shirts. Essentially, it means that you get a new teeshirt every time you wear it, as long as you change up the designs! Add on an optional pack of alphabets and you’ll get to customise your tee’s slogan too.

We’ve been testing our Tangram tee for a few weeks now and I have to say that I really like it. It allows the kiddo (or his mum, mmm) to be creative and I’ve been using it to help him recognise his alphabets as well. The tee is pretty soft and comfortable, and I love the pretty shade of blue that it comes in. Just remember to remove the shapes and alphabets BEFORE you throw it into the washing machine!

The only thing we didn’t like was how the shapes and alphabets bunch up in the ziplock bag. The husband tried grouping the same letters together but he gave up after a while. Heh. But other than this tiny gripe, this teeshirt ticks all the boxes. Perfect as a Christmas present for a little person! I mean, my little man pretty much likes it AND he is such a cutie in the tee. (He’s wearing a size S here.)

GUESS WHAT. We are giving away three of these tees, which comes with a pack of the tangram shapes PLUS a pack of alphabets. All you need to do is to complete the following steps:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s not all! If you key in the code SECRET12, you will get a free set of alphabets with every purchase of a Tangram tee. Yay!

Terms and conditions
Giveaways are open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw (email address as requested) and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn.

All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Giveaways are in no way directly linked to Facebook.

Disclaimer: We were given a set of tee and alphabets for purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Review + Giveaway: How To Count Busy Book

We recently returned from 10 glorious days in Sydney. It was Elliott’s very first flight and our first “proper” holiday as a family of 3. I applied for one day’s leave before the trip so that I can pack Elliott’s luggage. I was deathly afraid of missing out something important so I threw in many packs of diapers, milk powder, wet wipes, clothes, extra pair of shoes, etc.

I was also mindful to pack in a few of his favourite toys, like his “choo choo tain” and “air pane” so that when required, I can whip them out to distract him for a bit. Another item I placed inside the diaper bag (which really was a backpack that the boy stuffed to the brim with his son’s stuff and lugged it around the entire holiday – MY HERO) was this cloth book called “How To Count Busy Book“.

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I told Cecilia from The Royal Rae that we were going on holiday and the true test of the book would be during the plane rides, car rides (we did a road trip to Hunter Valley) as well as sit-down adult dinners. She very kindly ensured that the book arrived in my mailbox before the trip and I made sure that it went into an easy-to-reach spot in that backpack-that-became-a-diaper-bag.

He likes the “balls” page and would remove all 6 balls (velcro pieces at the back) before putting them all back again. This photo was taken when we were having an “adult” lunch at a rather fancy winery.

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As it turned out, this little cloth book was a lifesaver. It looks like a little bag with 2 handles and has a zip that goes around the entire book. This zip is crucial as it keeps all of the little pieces within.

We stayed with friends over in Sydney and when the adults were busy chugging back wine and chatting, the book kept him busy for a bit. Sydney

He enjoys removing the 10 apples (loose pieces) and then pretending to eat them by going “arhm“. Sometimes, I will count along with him as we place the apples back into the pocket, usually with him ending it with a rousing “TEN!

We also used the bold-coloured book on the 3-hour drive to and from Hunter’s Valley.

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As you can tell from the pictures, he would always turn to the page with the “balls” and get busy with them. And yes, his “choo choo tain” is never too far away. Removing the velcro-ed items repeatedly also allows Elliott to practise his pincer grip and hone his motor skills.

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Sometimes, we’d play along with him and pretend to take the ducks “for a walk” and he would mimic us by doing the same. He also enjoyed taking out the cat (1) and bunnies (3) for a walk, and placing the cat back into the pocket again. When we first got the book, he was fascinated with the tails of the kite (8). We also try and teach him how to count, as well as to identify the various animals and objects along the way.

I also like that it is light and flat so it’s easy to stuff it into the bulging diaper bag. Also, despite Elliott peeling out and putting back the balls repeatedly, they haven’t come undone yet. The stitching of the book is pretty sturdy which is important when placed in little hands.

The only downside? There is a real chance for the loose items, i.e. the apples, ladybug, cat and bunnies to get lost. I have lost count of the number of times where I had to crawl under tables and random corners to retrieve one of these items because Elliott decided to fling them all onto the floor. As such, close supervision of the child is required if you don’t want to end up losing any piece.

Overall, I was very thankful that we had this book to occupy Elliott during his first overseas trip and foresee us taking it along for future ones! I just noticed on their website that there is a similar book called “Air Land Sea Transportation“. Boy oh boy, I think my little boy would like that very much!

GIVEAWAY

My Royal Rae is kindly giving away the same “How To Count Busy Book” (blue) book worth S$37 to one lucky reader of Bubsicles. All you need to do is to follow the steps below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends on 19 October, 11:59pm and is open only to Singapore residents. Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Giveaway is over. The winner is Chengling Tan. Congratulations!

Disclaimer: I was given a How To Count Busy Book for the purpose of a review. All opinions are mine.