Friday, May 20, 2016

13 non-academic June holiday programmes

Oh holidays oh holidays!
How I yearn for your coming!

Can’t wait! The holidays are in two weeks’ time, and I really really really really want to go out and have fun with the kids! Let the kids go crazy!!! 

Besides adventures out as a family, I think the kids do need some me-time for themselves to do what they like - read, write, draw, paint, whatever. I admit, I’m rather tempted to look for more academic programmes, especially since EV is heading to Primary 1, and I want to make sure that her transition to her next milestone of education is as smooth as possible.

However, I stop myself. EV is just 6 years old after all. She has a lifetime before her to engage in the paper chase; why should I subject her to that now?

So I’m looking for alternative holiday programmes that can engage her differently, that can stretch her mind in more ways than one - creatively, logically, physically. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be many such programmes that are catered to younger kids; most are for the ages of 5 or 6, which means that AA will be mostly left out from the experiences.

Here are some programmes that caught my attention.

Logical - STEM / Coding / Robotics
STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics involves the teaching of concepts like energy, forces, programming, gears, mechanics, distance, acceleration and angles. Classes and workshops offered by different schools will vary depending on how much of the concepts they teach. Some may be included more towards robotics, while others will focus on coding. Some have themes based on popular characters while others prefer to go the practical way.

Lego Robotics/Engineering workshop @ Bricks4Kidz

Playing with Lego is never fails to catch kids’ attention. Now let them see their creation move! That’ll be something! Bricks4Kidz even has a theme that will entice Frozen fans aged between 5 and 7 years old, as well as a Star Wars themed camp for kids 6 and above. There’s also a Stop-Motion Animation workshop for those above 7.

There are several runs for each 3-hour workshop throughout the month of June, and only at the SAFRA Toa Payoh branch. Prices are one of the more cost effective ones. A 2-day camp costs around $190, while a 4-day camp costs $380. The animation workshop costs $480. Find out more at Bricks4Kidz

Lego Robotics @ Worklab

So far, this is the only place that seems to have robotics classes for as young as four. Classes span over 5 days for about 2.5 hours. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious themes for the younger My Camp Junior group. However, for the older RoboCamp Apprentice group, themes are more related to real-life issues, such as ‘Earth’s Little Heroes’, ‘propeller’ and ‘Oceanic Adventures’. The price is quite reasonable, at $449 per child per camp. 5-day classes for kids 7 and above is $499 per child per camp. Drop off the kids and then chill out around Forum the Shopping Mall. Find out more at Worklab.

Coding camps at First Code Academy
What…. Coding? Basically it means programming. There’s recently been a surge in the emphasis on learning coding and programming language. It’s the latest buzz word in the education of the future generation. Being the digital natives of the future, the rationale is that it is crucial for the younger generation of today to learn coding in order to face the challenging digital future that they will inherit.

Alright, quite a mouthful. Basically, the idea is that if you want your kid to be ready for the future, coding is one of the languages they need to learn. Or so some people say. 

To me, whether it’s good for my kids’ future or not, learning a new language that teaches them logical thinking is always good exposure. 

There are a lot of schools now offering regular classes in programming. However, they don’t come cheap. So the alternative is holiday coding classes. Only a few offer classes for kids from 6 onwards though, and First Code Academy is one of them. The cost of these 5-day classes depends on the age group your child is in: for the younger group, the 2-hour workshops costs $450, while for those aged 9 and above, the 3-hour workshops cost between $690 and $750.

Do a little bit of research and you will find out that the courses for younger kids aged 6 to 8 years at First Code are based on coding apps that you can download for free, such as Scratch and Hopscotch. This means that potentially, you can save the money, download the apps, and teach the kids in the comfort of your home. Still, if you want to outsource the teaching and let the kids get their time to socialise with their peers, and give yourselves a little bit of me-time during the busy holidays (busy because of entertaining the kids), then perhaps the classes are a good idea.

The ones for older kids are longer, lasting about 3 hours, during which they can develop their own Android app or learn Javascript language. Find out more at First Code Academy.  

Parent-child programming workshops at The Keys Edge 
As a parent, you’re a ‘sotong’ (read: blur) at coding and programming as well? Then I think the parent-child workshops at The Keys Edge is a good idea. The equally good thing is that the workshops are held regularly on the weekends, not just during the holidays, so you can really go whenever you are free, throughout the year. Some workshops here are based on more life practical themes, such as ‘designing a video game’ and ‘running a restaurant’. Of course, these 2-hour workshops are age specific, and it’s always good to check before signing up. The best news is possibly the price, just $40 per workshop. Find out more at The Keys Edge

Coding workshop @ in3labs
This is another one that offers STEM-related workshops for kids as young as 5, and what’s more, you have a choice of 2-day, 3-day or 5-day camps that last 3 hours each day. Cost ranges between $170 to $395, and there’s an option to buy Arduino coding sets for further learning beyond the workshops. Arduino is an open-source software for coding and creating electronic objects. Besides Arduino, participants are also introduced to coding with Scratch, Android and Lego. Find out more at In3Labs

Robotics workshop @ Wonderswork

The astronaut themed workshop sounds interesting, and it’s for kids 7 years and above. This ‘AIR Space Camp’ is quite fun in that the price includes a flight suit, badges and astronaut ice cream, whatever that is. This camp spans over 3 days, 4.5 hours per day, and costs $468. For younger kids, robotics pits the powers of superheroes against minecraft. This Lego camp runs for 2 days, for 4.5 hours each day, and costs $368. Comparing with some of the other workshops, the price is a bit on the high side. However, the location is at Liang Court, along River Valley Road, so perhaps convenience could be the reason for this steeper price. Find out more at WondersWork

Science & Nature
Nature learning @ Singapore Botanic Gardens

This has to be one of the best well-kept secret. I chanced upon this last year, and since then, EV has been attending the 4-hour ‘Celebrating Wildlife’ workshops for the past two holidays. Since we live quite far from Singapore Botanic Gardens, it makes more sense to go for something that lasts a little longer, while fitting in some picnic and swan watching at the same time.

There are also shorter 1-hour workshops or tours, and even craft and drama sessions. Singapore Botanic Gardens runs these regularly during the holidays, and I love how friendly these sessions are to the wallet. A 4-hour workshop costs just $50, and the kids get to bring back a plant. 

For the upcoming June holidays, the ‘Celebrating Wildlife’ series visits reptiles, frogs, toads and birds. If they are similar to previous workshops, which included nature exploration, then expect to get up close to nature. There’s even a Father’s Day planting workshop on 18 June, Saturday. Find out more at Singapore Botanic Gardens

Science learning @ Lollipops
Convenience is not at issue, as these workshops are held all over Singapore, in various community centres. Kids can learn about cells, human digestive system, human skeletal system, winds, airplanes, and more. Each workshop lasts about 3 hours, and the cost is about $30. Awesome! The only gripe we have is that since these workshops are held at community centres, registration is done through the People’s Association OnePA website, which isn’t exactly the most user friendly and can be a hassle at times. Find out more at Lollipops

Explore science @ Explorer Junior

This is yet another opportunity to learn about nature and science. Explorer Junior is an enterprise that is supported by the National University of Singapore. And this holidays, it has four workshops that explore a variety of science and nature, such as architecture and bugs. The Environment and Architecture workshops are for kids between 6 to 10 years of age, while the Innovators workshop is for those aged 7 and above. The Bug’s Life workshop is for kids aged between 4 and 7 years old. The Environment workshop teaches about sustainability and environmental science, while the Architecture workshop exposes attendees to concepts of urban planning and building. The Innovators workshop is about design thinking, prototyping and tech development, while the Bug’s Life workshop teaches about the anatomy of insects, their life cycles, habitats and pollination. 

Other than the 1.5-hour Bug’s Life workshop, which is held at the Trehaus Cowork at Claymore Connect over four Saturdays in June, the other workshops are 3.5 hours long and are held at Hort Park. Prices range between $180 and $280. Find out more at Explorer Junior

Design Innovation camp at The Keys Edge
Design innovation is currently the buzzword in creating products. Basically, it calls for a different approach to designing, using the design thinking process, where the creator has to empthatise with the end users first and understand their needs, before coming up with an innovation solution that effectively tackles the users’ needs. 

Sounds complicated, but really, it’s about thinking creatively out of the box, and making sure that you don’t just design something for the sake of designing, but design something that is relevant and useful, effective and innovative.

It’s interesting that The Keys Edge has this camp for kids between the ages of 6 and 8. Looking at the curriculum for the 5-days, it definitely looks eye opening. You can see that there is a clear introduction of the design thinking process and a challenge for the whole week - to think of creating playground or learning activities for underprivileged children. Throughout the week, the kids learn about pulleys, levers, and automation that might help them make a prototype for their ideas. There’s an excursion to the IDA Labs and also a guest speaker.

This camp doesn’t come cheap though. For a 5-day course that lasts from 830am to 2pm, including lunch, the price is $690. Still, it is one of the most unique holiday camps that I’ve come across and exposes kids to a different thought process. To find out more, go to The Key Edge Design Innovation camp.  

Art classes @ Heart Studio

This is one of our favourite places for holiday programmes. EV and AA love the teachers there, and look forward to the classes every holiday. Since they love it so much, why don’t I sign them up for the regular classes? Well, because Heart Studio is not near to where we stay, so commuting there every week can be a challenge, especially if DaddySay or myself have to work late. 

That’s why we opt for the holiday programmes, almost every holiday! There are different themes to choose from for different age groups, and the 3-hour workshops cost $75 each. For this round of holiday programmes, there are 2-day camps as well as workshops conducted in Mandarin. Find out more at Heart Studio

Sewing classes @ Sew Into It

I can still remember sewing in school, using the old traditional sewing machine that needed much coordination of the hands and feet. Then I remember hand sewing a pencil case using my old jeans. Yup, I was already repurposing my old clothes way before. Somehow, that spark for sewing fizzled, and here I am, trying to rekindle it again. Maybe my kids will do a better job?

Sew Into It has a number of workshops for adults and kids aged 6 and above. During the upcoming holidays, they are having a Kids Love Sewing series of workshops, that lasts between 2 and four hours and costs between $40 and $70 each. The longer workshops are considered to be Level 2 and require the use of a sewing machine, so completion of at least one Level 1 workshop is required. If your child is a novice, then one of the two Level 1 workshops would be ideal - learning how to sew a Reversible Book Cover or a Drawstring Backpack.

There are also Softie Sewing workshops to learn how to sew soft animals such as Ollie the Owl, Pat the Pigeon and Ellie the Elephant. These workshops are about 2.5 to 3 hours long, and costs range between $60 and $70. The good thing about these Level 1 workshops is that it is not limited to kids; adults can join too.

Want to learn something that’s a bit more practical, like how to sew a pencil case or a water bottle holder? Again, these kids sewing workshops are categorised into Level 1 and Level 2 workshops, and some, like the Groovy Cross Body Bag, are suitable for kids 9 and above. They cost between $50 and $70 and lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours.

Several workshop dates are available in June. Find out more at Sew Into It.

Rock wall climbing @ Climb Central

Holidays are also time to get physical, and why not try something a little different? Extremely convenient is Climb Central at Kallang Wave. You can drop off the kids at the holiday classes, and then head off to chill out at the mall. Last December, we enrolled EV at the 1.5 hour Intro for Kids drop-off class for kids aged 5 to 12, which cost $42 per child. She had loads of fun, and has been asking to return ever since. This time, we’re eyeing the Beta Kids Club (Starter) programme, which requires a commitment of four lessons held over two weeks (Tuesday and Thursday). This is also a 1.5 hour drop-off programme that costs $180 per child (for four lessons) for kids aged 5 to 12. 

Want to drop the kids off for the whole day? There’s the full day Awesome Beta Climbing workshop for kids 7 to 12 which costs $135 per participant. Probably something we might consider when EV comes of age. There also 2-hour parent-child climbing workshop which costs $42 per child and adult pair. Find out more at Climb Central


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

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