Battleships & The Captain’s Boys – How Board Games can be a great way to impart Life Lessons.

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.

Picture courtesy Creative Commons/Wikipedia

Picture courtesy Creative Commons/Wikipedia

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:

Data source: www.understood.org

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.

Open Mic Imagin8ors

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.

Open Mic-imagin8ors

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…

TTCR (Think,Tinker,Create,Repeat)

Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  Nowadays everything is handed to us neatly packaged, with little room for imagination or growth. Quite a contrast from when I was a kid, my first “real” toy was a cardboard box. Sounds weird, but according to my dad, my brother and I would play with that box for hours. Why, because it was the gateway to the moon, a castle for a princess, or a submarine for an oceanographer. The box had no limits, no constraints, the only thing that could bind that cardboard box to the laws of reality was our own mind, and I was too imaginative to do that.Joy of LearningLooking back, I realize how monumental my cardboard box days really were. As I intern with Imagin8ors I often find myself face to face with my five-year-old self. When I am thinking of activities that would be fun, creative, and educational for the kids, I have the privilege of abandoning what is rational and functional in hopes of creating something new and exciting.

However, there is a journey I make in order to successfully create these activities. From the moment an idea pops in my head to its final execution, I go through the cycle of mistakes, reforms and most painfully making numerous versions of the product. But I enjoy every step of this process, no matter how tedious it gets. When I get a new assignment there are multiple ideas and possibilities flying around in my head. I have to physically force myself to slow down and write all my ideas, no matter how ridiculous or outrageous they seem at that time. You never know what is ridiculous today can be fantastic tomorrowJoy of LearningThe next thing is to get the opinions, ideas, perspective and critiques of the people who sit around me in the office. It’s impossible for anyone to think of everything, everyone is different and they bring their own creativity and experiences to the table. Brainstorming with the team helps.  After I settle on an idea my next task is to find a way to visually represent it, in other words lots of sketches. This step is really important as drawing each and every part sets the grooves in my head in motion.Joy of LearningAfter the first two steps comes the fun part, tinkering. When I am building something new I have no idea what materials or adhesives will work, I have to learn by trial and error. I usually make multiple variations of the same ideas to test which one is more functional and realistic. After I have designed the initial prototype I tear it apart, both mentally and physically. One of my professors would always say, “If you are satisfied with something on your first try, you eliminate all possibility of that thing becoming great.” Joy of Learning-Imagin8orsAt this stage I look for feedback from all. A critical eye, enables me to achieve a better end result. However, I do believe there is a balance between positive and negative critiquing. You should try not to stifle a person’s confidence, optimism, or the idea itself when criticizing someone’s work. After the much-needed feedback I go back to the drawing board and repeat the whole process. Throughout my life I have never had a project I’ve redone and it has turned out worse than the initial creation.Joy of Learning -Imagin8orsWhile the process may seem formal and well organized it’s not. The area around my desk usually looks like it has been hit by a tornado. But that is the fun of tinkering and creating. You get your hands messy, you get to be your own boss, and what you do may completely defy any rational and well organized process. That’s the beauty of it, the joy of teaching children that there are no bad or stupid ideas. Everything has potential if you allow yourself time to play with the idea. There is an unparalleled delight in seeing something that you imagined transform into a tangible object. That is the joy I love seeing on a child’s face. Joy of Learning

Leah Ferguson,  this beautiful, talented Architecture student from Lehigh University,  is currently in Singapore on the Iacocca Internship. Along with her internship at Imagin8ors  she skillfully balances her love to cook, travel, draw, tinker, write and back home she is part of the Division 1 track team. This extremely dedicated Chicago girl has a sense of humour that makes the lunch table conversations at the office fun and lively.

Learnings from the Kitchen Garden

open mic picture

 

Rachna Singh, a Singapore based mother of two daughters who are like chalk and cheese. A collector, a writer, a gardener,a mother and a terrific friend; she is indeed a force of nature. Picking up each new thing in life with such enthusiasm and energy she is a constant source of  inspiration to everyone around her.

MAAAA….. I am bored.

Oh dear Lord!!!….she is bored. AGAIN!!!

And thus began the holidays for my five-year-old Eesha. A sack full of untapped energy, who needed to be positively and constructively challenged every waking hour. Ignoring her, I went about tending to my plants lovingly.

“Can I do that please?” Eesha asked and I indulged her. This set the Sumerian wheel of gardening on the roll. In went the whole jug of water in a single plant and water spilled all over the place. It was time for her first lesson – “water conservation”. How to use water, a  scarce natural resource, without wasting it.

When Eesha accidentally plucked out few healthy saplings along with the weeds, I told her about deforestation and imbalances in our ecological system. She absorbed all this new information not deterred by the big words thrown at her.

An organic fertilizer made of egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels was our next project .She learnt about being cost effective and recycling. I did make a passing reference to soil pollution and how our fertilizer was more eco-friendly. She was struck by the term “eco-friendly”. “Ma, I think I‘ll call my next doll eco-friendly. Now that made me smile.

In some mason jars we put layers of coloured pebbles and compost mixed soil and planted cacti plants with tiny red and yellow flowers. Forever the artist Eesha wrapped a dainty little green ribbon around the bottle. And our lovely glass garden terrarium was born.

As I was snipping away some mint leaves, for my tea, I was tempted to start an herb garden and I shared this with Eesha. Jubilant at the idea we painted and decorated the cans. We personalised it with ladyfinger imprint patterns. Basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, alfalfa sprouts, cherry tomatoes and oriental capsicum all found a little can of their own. In the process, Eesha learnt the names and spellings of different herbs and understood the difference between herbs, fruits and vegetables. I also helped her understand the nutritional benefits of eating different coloured fresh produce.

But would she have the patience to wait? I was in for an unexpected surprise. For the next two months, Eesha meticulously and lovingly looked after her plants. Few times, I also caught her spray bottle in hand talking sweet nothings to her baby plants.

In August, my baby’s birthday month our herb garden was in full bloom, and what a sight. In a moment of pure genius Eesha suggested a gardening themed birthday party. I sure was impressed. Off we went to the market to collect our supplies.

At her birthday party each kid was handed a clean empty can to decorate and plant herbs of their choice. Once they were done it was time to make their own vegetable pizzas. Oh the excitement of trimming fresh herbs and scattering it over their pizzas. We further topped it with colourful cherry tomatoes and capsicums. Everything from the kitchen garden. The kids polished off the pizzas in minutes.

Amazed I mused, an activity meant to keep my kid busy in her holidays had reaped such rewards. I saw a more patient, knowledgeable, responsible and happy kid running around in the house.

That night, she hugged me and said that this was her best birthday ever, I couldn’t help beaming and hugging her back. I knew she really meant it.

Have you done something recently with your child which has reaped unexpected rewards? Do tell.

 

The Joy of Learning with Monsters Under The Bed!!!

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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. 

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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 !!!

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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.

Imagin8ors on the go -MUTB

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!

Get Nostalgic This Weekend

Weekend Wonders-imagin8ors

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

How about a spoonful of nostalgia this weekend? There is something for everyone – children, parents and

grandparents – at the third edition of Masak Masak at the National Museum. Get nostalgic

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

installation. For the art lovers, the students of School of the Arts and the National

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!

Weekend wonder-imagin8ors

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

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.

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

 

June Open House

Imagin8ors Events

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.

Imagin8ors Events

 

This month, we have three exciting experiences for you to explore:

  1. MicroWorld

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!!

 

Imagin8ors Events

  1. Conductive PlayDough

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!

 

Imagin8ors Events

  1. Build Your Own Arcade!

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!

Imagin8ors Events

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

Register Now!!!

Explore Technology this weekend in Singapore

Kids having a hands on fun experience with technology.

Explore technology with your kids

Daya from team Imagin8ors  just had a mind-blowing experience with his daughters at the Future World, ArtScience Museum. The exhibit has 15  interactive all immersive experiences designed to spark your child’s imagination. After our chat I am all geared to step into this digital interactive space with my son. How about you?

MOSH Sentosa, is a brilliant amalgam of technology and creativity where kids can experience imagination come to life in an innovative manner. MOSH! has  five technological experiences divided into– Air: Paper Plane Adventure; Space: Fireworks Party; Sea: Doodle Aquarium; Land: Hide-and-Seek Table; and Fantasy: World of Wonder.  A perfect place to unleash your creative juices and let technology take it forward. So how about giving the usual stuff on the island a miss and trying out some digital media edutainment?

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