Like the music he creates there is a beautiful symphony in all that he does. Father, musician, writer, maker and a fantastic mind, he reminds you of all that is good and pure in life. A curious and adventurous child Ragavan Manian, from Team Imagin8ors, explores and seeks new things with an infectious enthusiasm and zest.
My two little boys Karun (8 years) and Sunaad (5 years) play board games, whenever they are, well, bored! There are a host of games to choose from, with their interest area ranging from Myth and Mythology to Mickey Mouse! But the one game that has found a lot of favour recently is Battleships.
According to Wikipedia, the Battleships board game has World War I origins, starting out as a paper and pencil game.
To me and a host of adults out there who grew up on a steady diet of Herge’s famous characters, a more apt reference would be the Tintin comic, Flight 714. If you haven’t read the pages where the sullen, stingy and scruple-free multi-billionaire Carreidas repeatedly flummoxes Capt. Haddock, then you’re missing something hilarious!
But even as I enjoyed the comic and was intrigued by Battleships, I never got a chance to actually play the game, and it faded from my memory – that is, until it made a grand appearance in our household in the guise of my son’s birthday gift. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly both my little boys picked up this game. They are nearly three years apart, and in the early years, “three” represents a significant cognitive gap, separated by numerous cognitive milestones. Some examples:
Their board games therefore tend to be divided into two neat piles. In line with his age and interests, the younger one prefers the motto of “have dice, will play”. He loves rolling the dice, driven by the sincere belief that he’s the “luckiest person in the family”. His cries of elation when he leads the board on the perennial family favourite “Snakes and Ladders”, or his shrieks of despair when he falls behind, have earned him the nickname of “Mr. Noisy” in our neighbourhood. The older one prefers intrigue (Scotland Yard, anyone?). He feels let down when “dumb luck” plays a significant part in a game, where he cannot ‘outsmart’ his opponent.
Like many great board games “Battleships” tends to straddle the space between luck and logic. Yes there is a good deal of chance in the game, but it also requires strategic thinking. Children delight in shouting out the words, “a miss!”, “a hit!” and “a sink!”. There is implicit confrontation in those words; however no actual violence is inflicted. The vessels on the board don’t even sink when they’re sunk – they just end up looking more dressed up! The power of their thought processes in affecting the opponent’s fleet is a revelation – almost like a spooky action-at-a-distance effect. Abstraction and Generalization – Computational Thinking concepts that even adults have difficulty wrapping their heads around, form part and parcel of this game. The moments of silence and strategic thinking add to its old-world charm.
Above all, this game demands that the players be principled – a facet of the Collaboration, that we need in dollops in the global citizens of a brave new world, in a time when the planet is ridden by the damage done by the collective greed of the past generations. The temptation to gain strategic advantage surreptitiously (a.k.a. Through peeking!) was initially so strong in the children that, during the first few rounds I had to step in and act as the Captain of the boys, to enforce ground rules and stringent penalties against ‘cheating’. But eventually they understand that it is a lot more fun and engaging to follow the rules. A fair game of Battleships seems to teach long-term lessons that stick in more ways than one.
Carreidas in Flight 714 was driven by the desire to win the game of Battleships at all costs against his opponent, the poor, sincere Captain Haddock. This may have helped the former win the game, but in the end his guile was exposed and the Captain’s Boys won the day!
What board games rule your household? What life lessons have you been able to share through them? We would love to hear from you…
Sometimes, I think change has been the one constant in our lives. By the time our younger fella was three, we’d moved across continents, homes and switched careers at least as many times. We were living out of suitcases. Family and friends floated in and out of the kids’ lives, depending on where we were. “Routine is important for kids”, people pointed out. I looked at two mopey little faces seeing their dad off, as he went away on yet another work trip and I worried. We had to get better at coping with change and fast.
Put a date on it: We made count down calendars. As neither kid could read at the time, we made a poster that showed them what mum and dad were doing and how long they would be gone. I drew pictures of who would be around and of all the fun stuff they could do together. When it was time for me to move back home with them, I made another calendar- “In how many days is mum coming back? Isn’t that going to be fun?”
List everything: We had schedules of tasks for the nanny to supervise, lists of medicines and dosages that we updated as the kids grew, emergency numbers and, finally, instructions for grandparents to keep in mind as they kindly and generously took care of the kids. Breaking a big undertaking into bite-sized lists of tasks to accomplish, made it less daunting.
Acknowledge emotions: For our last big move, the kids were old enough to worry. Our four-year-old later confided in me, that at the time he had been convinced, his grandma would die if he moved away. “It’s been a year now and she is OK. So nothing bad happened when we left, right?” he asked. So we talked about feelings and that it’s okay to be anxious or sad or even angry.
Take control: We prepared for our big move to Singapore with reconnaissance visits. The kids picked out stuff for the new house and more importantly, their room. On one such short visit, our older guy decided of his own volition to map out all the bridges on the Singapore river and walk across them. The younger one declared the evening we flew out, “Tonight is going to be Singapore night.” That became our mantra.
Stretch yourself and commit: Raising kids takes a village and we needed to build one for ourselves each time we moved to a new place. It takes effort and time. We try to volunteer, give time and effort towards various causes and community events. It is rewarding to contribute and help others. It also helps forge genuine connections with like-minded people. So go ahead and participate in that neighborhood event, join that runners group, enroll your children in that Imagin8ors workshop or a football camp.
Face your anxieties: Along the way, we have made it a practice to talk to the kids in detail about upcoming changes- big or small and involve them as much as possible so that they feel in control.
Mom/Dad have to travel for work- let’s look at the map and see where they are going. How many days till they return? Let’s learn the names and phone numbers to contact in case of emergencies. Let’s learn our address so that we always know how to get back home, if we are lost. Let’s have a family emergency plan. What time each day shall we facetime/skype? Best friend at school is relocating to another country- travails of being part of an expat community. Where are they moving to- what language do they speak in that country? Let’s learn a few words so we can use them with the friend. Do we have their email address so we can stay in touch? Let’s have play dates with new classmates.
Start new traditions: We miss how grandma would feed us at mealtimes or tell stories at bedtime. Let us begin new traditions. Xmas tree! Bedtime music and reading! How about Friday night family cuddles? Movie nights and popcorn!
It has been a learning curve but seeing happy little faces tucked up in their beds safe at night, gives us a measure of peace. The munchkins now aged eight and six, make friends easily. They have happy memories and great friends from different countries. They are curious about the world and are confident in new settings. An on-going dialogue with our children and robust preparation helped us manage change. Learning from fellow expats and working parents has been invaluable. Have you had to handle big changes with your kids? Do you have any tips on how to help them cope?
Kaumudi Goda is a mum, former attorney, current corp desk jockey, full time bookworm and pop-culture enthusiast. She has been a fan and supporter of Imagin8ors from inception. With her crew of three goofy boys (two munchkins and one overgrown football fanatic), KG has traveled extensively and lived in several places. She is happy to share her family’s hilarious adventures with the Imagin8ors community.
Children absorb a lot of things and bring out this knowledge in the most remarkable ways.
Here is the story of Nirmay and his amazing learning from nature, telling his mother “Mama See How I Grow!”
As Bharti was watering the plants she noticed her four-year- old son Nirmay crouch down next to the flower pots. “Mom, I am a plant too, water me too”, he cooed. In an indulgent mood Bharti gently sprinkled some water on Nirmay. As the water fell on him, he slowly started straightening up “Mom see I am growing too”.
Stories my dear friend Bharti shares about Nirmay always make me smile. But after the initial laugh, I am quite intrigued by the boy’s ability to apply his knowledge to his endearing antics. This is the concept of growth demonstrated in the simplest and most effective way.
Has your child ever demonstrated a science concept or principle like this? Do share…
Imagin8ors were on the go again this weekend and we had the delightful opportunity to meet some bright young tinkerers at Monsters Under the Bed. It was a perfect collaboration, where the creative journey of the children did not just end with writing a story. The stories traveled a few more miles and evolved into a Puppet Theater. The art of puppeteering has fascinated all through the ages. The artistry of creating characters, merging them with music and crafting an interesting narrative – the very idea gets creative juices flowing.
This fantastic art not just stimulates imagination and creativity in young minds but also sparks curiosity, collaboration and courage to bring their ideas to light. As they skillfully weave the threads of their narratives, even computational thinking concepts like ‘forming associations’ and ‘sequential thinking’ get honed. All these contribute to a stronger foundation of ’21 Century Capabilities’ that our children need to thrive in todays world.
The children had their markers poised ready to capture their narratives on paper. What came out was not the vanilla “once upon a time” variety but interesting plots with gripping storylines.
Once the story was ready it was time to bring it to life with puppets and props. Some intricate designs and ambitious plans were in motion as the children worked happily to bring it all together.
It was gratifying to see the enthusiasm and focus was not just flowing from the children but also from some very hands-on parents. They worked energetically with their children co-creating and riding on the imagination bus together.
It was inspiring to see the children in action- observing, suggesting, discussing and creating together. There was a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork, as they had a shared experience of the joy of learning.
Full of glee as they covered the distance with their idea from the time it germinated in their head to tangible expressions of it. Now they had the puppets, props, narration in hand and they were raring to put up a show – their very own puppet theater production !!!
And what a production it was as the puppets came alive in their tiny little hands – singing, jumping, talking in the Puppet Theater Land. Many interesting tales slowly enfolded mesmerizing us, entertaining us as the children took the arena.
Like a rocket that takes off to outer space, the children took us to the moon and back. What lay as materials on the table took such unique shapes, wriggled, jumped and danced their way into our hearts. We were captivated by the children and their imagination.
Would you also like to collaborate with your friends and children and create another magical journey? Imagin8ors are on the go and the next stop can be your doorstep!
Our Open House, is an invigorating time for Team Imagin8ors, filled with anticipation of meeting some new tinkerers and welcoming back the older ones. For animated conversations, stimulating idea exchanges, some fearless tinkering and learning simply for the joy of it.
We were ready to lay down the canvases, for the children to pour a little bit of themselves on. The loaded materials table beckoned the maker in all. Softly it whispered:”Come lets tinker!!” This month our treasure trove consisted of three exciting experiences for the children to explore- paper speaker, wind table and dream catching lamp.
Children created paper speakers and activated it using copper tape loops and Neodymium magnets. Lo and behold!! they could send audio signals through them! The more the number of loops, the louder the speaker! The children were exhilarated manipulating the sound levels, always preferring the rather higher notes.
The children got a crash course in basic Physics as they built a table that could launch objects when placed on it. They learned how to harness the kinetic wind energy using various materials. Their eyes lit up with delight as they wielded the power to swish, sway or float with the wind.
The children and parents got messy together with clay, paper, neon paint, and glow in the dark glitter. Creativity flowed seamlessly as they dabbled with different materials to create their own unique lamp
Oh! The energy levels were through the roof. It sure has got us charged and our creative juices flowing. How about you? Was it just as stimulating? We hope the journey you embarked on with us will continue back home. Do come back again to inspire us with your energy and bright ideas. See you next month.
It was indeed a light bulb moment when we thought of Imagin8ors On The Go. What an opportunity for us to bring the Joy of Learning to your very doorstep! To meet wonderful children and parents and together create an environment where we could children could tinker, have fun and learn hands-on. Where we could have a conversation with parents on on why this is important.
In today’s fast changing, tech-driven world, it’s become even more critical to nurture imagination and creativity in our children, so that they could apply the knowledge they learn in original, novel ways that machines cannot replicate easily. We need to build a strong foundation of character traits like curiosity – always asking questions, seeking to understand etc.; critical thinking – to help them analyse and solve unstructured problems , courage – embracing failure as a necessary part of the creative process, and collaboration – sharing and learning from others. These are part of what is talked of as 21st Century skills or capabilities.
With this in our hearts Imagin8ors visited Costa Del Sol and Costa Rhu and we spent a happy day transforming old toys – a great way to put to practice the very same 21 century capabilities. The output from children and parents was simply amazing… Fisher-Price should be taking notes.
Children landed at the event and set about sketching what they were planning to transform their toy into. Their imagination ran wild with no boundaries or rules to stifle them.
Parents and children collaborated together and it was heartening to see them equally involved as they sketched and planned for a toy of their own.
Once everyone had a plan on paper it was time for some action. Out came the screwdrivers and the dismantling began. We witnessed a lot of focus as the children went about systematically taking toys apart. Curious little beings showed so much delight to get a peek into how their toys worked.
Once the toy was taken apart they had all the ingredients to make magic. The raw material from the toy, additional stuff from our materials table and their creativity – when these three met sparks did fly!
The children spent the time discussing, tinkering and modifying their toys. They would also go around looking at others’ creations-in-the-making to get ideas and inspiration.
Parents rolled up their sleeves, got messy and helped their children through the transformation process.
In the end we had some very happy children who had actually built something guided by their fluid imagination. As the journey was made with their toys and parents, the euphoria at the end result was so much more.
It was a happy moment to see the parents and children rejoice, having created something new and unique to take home. When it is all about the journey the destination always comes as a pleasant surprise.
What are your views on nurturing 21st Century Capabilities in children? Would you like us to come to your doorstep too? Join the conversation…
If you haven’t made plans to head to the Maker Faire Singapore 2016 this weekend, you should!
At this family friendly event, your child and you can meet an army of crafters, techies, artists, engineers, scientists and tinkerers and participate in fun interactive learning and play-based workshops. Immerse yourselves in hands-on activities and discover the inner maker and the curious kid who just like to build things.
The Maker Faire offers many opportunities for parents to expose children to the staggering breadth of creativity (arts, music, technology, electronics, robotics, building, handicrafts, you name it) and the increasing interconnection between disciplines.
Participating in non-instructional, hands-on tinkering activities could offer you and your child to experience and work with ambiguity, to teach them that many times there are no right or wrong answers, and to learn on how to take failure in your stride to iterate and create something of meaning.
So what are you waiting for? See you there!
When: 25 th June 2016 – 26 th June 2016
Where: Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD); 8 Somapah Rd, 487372
About the Maker Faire : The Maker faire is a showcase of the Maker Movement. The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2015 celebrated its tenth annual show with some 1100+ makers and 145,000 people in attendance. In these 10 years, it spread across the world, with Maker Faire Singapore becoming one of the most prominent in Asia.
Maker Faire Singapore is organised by the Singapore Science Center, and attracts thousands of attendees. Click on Maker Faire Singapore 2015 Highlights to view a video to give you a feel for the excitement in store!
How about a spoonful of nostalgia this weekend? There is something for everyone – children, parents and
together as you explore six stunning installations which will remind you of the exciting
games of a bygone era. Discover engaging activities for the children put together by local
and international artists. Work with the artists to get a crash course in creating your own art
University of Singapore Division of Industrial Design showcase some amazing artwork.
The games do not end here. How about designing your own board game? Or a bike? BIKES
4 FUN gives you an opportunity to build your own bike and ride it around the corner. The
event is on till 31 July 2016. So why wait till the last day? Head there now!
Have radios intrigued you? How about a blast from the past this weekend? Head to the
National Museum with your children and learn a little more about radios as you explore their
“Celebrating Radio: Sounds from the Past” exhibit. Your child can be a radio DJ for the
day as he/she learns about the children radio shows of the past. The exhibit is for all maker
kids! Come and design a personalised vinyl record album cover or create a vintage radio
box. Take the 30-minute interactive tour with your child and learn a bit more about this
medium. Get a crash course in Singapore’s broadcasting history starting from 1930s in the
specially designed children’s activity area. The exhibit is on till 17 July 2016.
Last week Nia and I found ourselves at Playeum. After weeks of hearing about the Hideaways- Creating With Nature” exhibit we finally had a chance to experience it first-hand. As we walked past the pink elephant figurine, we were greeted with peals of laughter from some very happy tots. We saw a few Playeum facilitators handling a big group of school children. “Ok children, I want you all to move four bums back!!!” Well that kind of sums it up – Playeum speaks a kid’s language.
Getting just as excited as the young visitors we moved from section to section with our guide Vanessa. For each section the artist had a specific intention or thought in mind yet the whole exhibit flowed from one onto another. We moved around freely touching, experiencing, learning and getting to be one with nature. We saw many things that puzzled, intrigued and wowed us. Armed with questions and compliments we had a sit down with Jeremy Chu the Creative Director of the Hideaway exhibit.
The setting felt so apt, as we sat under the trees discussing the various themes of nature, while Jeremy and Nia untied the knots from the drawstrings used by the kids to tie rattan. Jeremy shared that the location of Playeum played a big role in the “Creating With Nature” theme. Playeum in Gillman Barracks is surrounded by Hort Park, Southern Ridges and Labrador Park. Thus the inspiration, to develop some interesting and engaging narratives with children, around nature. The idea was to encourage them to cultivate a bond with the eco-system and get a better understanding of how their actions were impacting nature.
Interestingly, Playeum has a Children Consultancy Board that has a big role in decisions regarding the exhibits. Who better than kids to tell us what kids love and enjoy!!! After many sessions of brainstorming a call was made to a group of extremely talented artists, and the hideaway exhibit slowly took shape.
The exhibit demonstrates conceptual layering. There is a constant sensation of hidden truths and you are the explorer seeking the answers. This is a sensory journey with the constant message of recycling. For example the clay city built as a part of “Make Believe Hideaway” shall be the backdrop of a future stop motion animation workshop planned at Playeum.
The behaviour of insects to stack and weave has always intrigued us and the same can be explored in “Welcome To My World”. Like a moth that uses leaves and petals children can add to the structure and create a giant insect habitat. Beautiful flowers donated every week by Floral Magic are used by children to build nests and decorate the structures.
“Knock Knock! Who Lives There” gives the children an opportunity to look at insect specimens through microscopic lenses. There is also a live feed of insects’ habitats set up on Playeum grounds playing on multiple screens. The entire set up is non-instructional where children are encouraged to translate the process into line drawings. Not just this children can drop small messages, questions or letters to the insects of their choice. As a part of the exhibit the artist does reply to the letters and queries put forth by the children. Making it as interactive as it can be.
Jeremy shared a beautiful story about a child who had visited the exhibit. She wrote a letter and instead of just posting it she created a diorama out of it. She merged the pictures of the insects, sound instruments she created and the letter to give it all her own voice. It was a cross pollination inspired by the exhibit, just the kind they were looking for.
As we bade goodbye to Jeremy and Vanessa and stepped out of this enchanted world, there was only one thing I knew for sure. I was going to return pretty soon!!!
Has the wobbly walk of a caterpillar ever caught your eye? Did you notice how its whole body twists like an acrobat? Would you like to view a butterfly under a microscope? Does it still look just as pretty? Come find the answers to all your queries while playing some fun interactive games. Science Centre Singapore and Butterfly Park, Sentosa brings you Butterflies Up-Close at the Science Centre Singapore.
This summer learn about all that and many other phenomena associated with butterflies and their life cycle. Come and have a unique sensory experience with your children this weekend. The exhibit has been on since 30th April 2016 and is designed for children of ages 3 years and above. The whole family can step into the indoor butterfly enclosure and get familiar with over 16 different butterfly species. So what are you waiting for over 500 beautiful butterflies await you!!
It’s the first Saturday of the month and Team Imagin8ors welcomes you to their monthly Open House. A space to spark imagination for children (ages 3-10) and parents, to tinker with technology, and indulge in some free unstructured play. Meet like-minded parents, make new friends, and swap views on the fascinating learning needs for today’s children! The experience is absolutely free only registration required.
This month, we have three exciting experiences for you to explore:
Using USB Microscopes capable of 200x magnification, your child enters a whole new world of micro objects, such as plants and animal cells! After taking the pictures your child will learn how to prepare slides. The snapshots of microscopic objects and life forms, will be then incorporated into Scratch™ animation. Their fantastic interpretations of the MicroWorld will fuel their imagination. So come to have a closer look at the micro-organisms and use coding to spin out some great stories!!
Never heard of PlayDough conducting electricity before? Come to the Imagin8ors Open House and you can see it happen! Join us, use our recipes to create your own conductive Playdough, in your favourite colour! Light it up with LED lights, and get as far as you imagination takes you!
Do you like playing Arcade Games? It sure will be fun to have one of our own. Why don’t you create one with us? Design the rules, build it with our wide array of fun and colourful materials, and play!
This is a community event and we would like to spread the joy of learning, a maker mind-set, and an appreciation for technology to as many people as possible! Join us in this cause and invite your friend to join too. It will be fun!
When: Saturday, June 4, 2016
1030am – 1230pm
Where: The Meeting Point @ JTC Launchpad,
73 Ayer Rajah Crescent
Near One-North mrt
Sia Mitra blogger, painter, needlework artist, mother – a woman with fingers in many pies. Living a busy life juggling numerous interests and responsibilities, but her daughter always comes first. Doing many projects together is how this mother-daughter duo bond and have fun together. Hear this Delhi based powerhouse speak about one such holiday project.
Rummaging through some old documents, one manic Sunday, I stumbled upon some old maps. They were detailed, familiar and drawn with exclusively me in mind, by my husband. Gazing at the yellowing paper, I wistfully recalled, how they used to be my sole guide before the smart phone. Peeping over my shoulder my seven–year-old daughter was intrigued, “What is that?”
“It is a map, dear. “ As Darling Daughter ogled it, a fabulous idea germinated in my mind.
“Would you like to make some maps?” My query was met with an enthusiastic affirmative.
Cartography, the art of charting maps, initiated by the Greeks and Arabs, has been around for centuries and now it was time for the mother-daughter duo to get busy too. But first a quick lesson before we ventured into unchartered territories.
“Listen,” I explained “A map is a pictorial representation of an area, with certain predefined symbols used to show the various objects. For example a box with a red cross depicts a hospital. Most of the symbols used in the map are defined and are called legend. Another important aspect of a map is the direction.”
Next morning to understand directions better we stepped out in the garden.
“Now which side is the sun?” I queried.
Darling Daughter dutifully pointed towards the East.
“Let us stand facing the sun. The direction you are facing now is East. Your back is towards the West. Your left hand depicts North and the Right depicts South.”
This is the simplest way to get the hang of directions. Of course you can use an instrument called the compass to know the directions. The needle of the compass always points towards the North. In a map, it is customary to depict the orientation with the help of a North arrow.
Armed with this knowledge we set off for a short stroll from Darling Daughter’s school (My School) to a nearby school (ABC School).
As we walked, I asked her to make a note of the major landmarks we passed. After a leisurely stroll, we sat down on a park bench and drew a picture of the route, marking the landmarks. I encouraged her to draw as many items as she could. At this juncture we were not making maps to scale.
After she finished, the following picture emerged.
This was still a drawing and not a map. To achieve that we had to replace objects with symbols. I introduced her to some of the standard symbols used for map making. She designed the rest of the symbols herself. After some hectic designing these are the symbols we settled on.
Now we inserted the symbols in our original picture. The general paths remaining the same. Now it looked more like a representative map :-
We both grinned ear to ear as we marched back clutching the map like a trophy. Definitely a fun fruitful morning. Sadly before I could bask for two minutes in the glory of it all, I was bombarded with questions about distances and shortest route. Well what can I say, parenting and learning go hand in hand, so the lessons continue.
Have you ever gotten your child to create a map? What was your experience like? Do share…
The Tech-Artists Holiday Camp is designed for our young artists to imagine, create, and bring their ideas to life with technology! They will be adding a technical twist to their creations made from a range of arts and craft materials. Children will be placed in groups with similar aged buddies to guarantee optimal learning and collaboration with their peers. There are 4 workshops for this Tech Artists Camp. ElectriCity (June 7), Colors Osmosis (June 8), Build Your Own Instrument (June 9), and Puppet Theatre (June 10) .
After a very exciting Tech-Artists Camp last December one of the parents shared ,” What I like the most about this programme is the exposure to the concept/environment for the child to express his creativity.”
How about exploring some artistic creativity with your child these holidays? You can choose to either sign up for individual workshops or the complete Tech Artists Holiday Camp. See you there!
Camp Dates: 7th June 2016-10th June 2016
Time: : 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Venue: The Meeting Point @ JTC Launchpad
73 Ayer Rajah Crescent,