There is a child within me. A feisty, mischievous child. He visits me out of the blue. He doesn’t knock. He barges in as he knows he’s always welcome. I would (almost) never tell him: “Sorry buddy, I’m in the middle of something serious right now…” or “I don’t want anyone to know you exist…”
He helps me create activities for children at Imagin8ors. He loves to play with them when they are around. He brings that brilliance in me, a spontaneity, and a capacity to be amazed by anything and everything. To soak in the joy of learning.
I consciously nurture that relationship with my inner child. Everyday. Even within the stressful environment of a start-up. Would you like to know the secret behind it? The Mantra lies in a single sentence: “Live this day as your first”.
“Live this day as your first!” Not as your last, but as your first! All the powers of a child come from this statement. They are constantly exploring the world around them. Always looking for the fun part. For, those who have watched the movie Inside Out will know, Joy is the key to open all doors. Let your inner child take control once in a while!
The beauty of the formula is that, if this day is your first, you carry no burden from the past. You start over with a clean slate. All the walls that you – and others, including society – build around you vanish. You can jump in a puddle. You can laugh over nothing and walk upside down. You can sing aloud in the streets or stare at a tree wondering who lives inside the trunk.
I suggest you do this very simple exercise. During the day, stop walking, working or playing with your phone. Look around you, look at every detail you have never noticed before: the colours, the shapes, the light, the smell, the movements, the sounds, the people… Spend 5 minutes taking in the things your surroundings are made of. Look at how beautiful or funny they are. Soon you’ll hear someone knocking at your door. Be nice, let that little one come in. Hear his or her explanations about all those things. Listen to all the stories that he or she tells you. Listen patiently rather than thinking “I don’t have time for these fables.” The more often you open the door, the easier it will be for your inner child to find his or her way in.
Everyone needs help in preserving the unique sense of wonderment that children have. And the right person for the job is in you!!!
Mathieu Penot is one of the creative engines propelling the Imagin8ors team. He is constantly cooking up new activities for children that stretches the boundaries of their imagination, and helps them learn at deeper level. Always game for a joke, a challenge, downright silliness, a nap or a day dream, Mathieu is a super hit with children! Now you know why…
By Mathieu Penot
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…
Balaji is the Co-Founder of Imagin8ors and a parent of two boys, Sid (five and a half) and Ved (three months). Here he kicks off our blog sharing his personal journey with Imagin8ors, and talks about the need for parents to be active custodians of their child’s creative development.
As a parent, I am sure, you would have revelled in the wonder of the “Terrific Threes!” That exciting stage and age in a child’s development when they are propelled by a boundless energy to understand the world around them.
When every moment is a time for exploration. When you are bombarded with those incessant, tough-to-answer questions “Why?” “How?” “What?”
When they have no fear of making mistakes, of stumbling, of falling, of getting hands deep in dirt. When learning is all about play, a sense of wonder, just pure un-adulterated joy!
My journey with Imagin8ors has its origin in the ‘Terrific Threes” that our son Sid and I enjoyed together.
I marvelled at his fluid imagination, at his drive to create, and the zest with which he approached every new twist and turn.
I googled, talked to experts and parents, sought out answers to what I could do to fuel this spark. To understand at a deeper level what he is really learning and to provide the right environment and experiences for him.
As I fell deeper into the rabbit hole, a few things became really clear:
1. Children are born creative geniuses and natural self-directed learners, but our education systems, in-spite of their best intentions, end up stifling creative development. There is a punchy TED talk (“Do Schools Kill Creativity?”) by Sir Ken Robinson, a world renowned education reformer that brings this to life with substance and wit. Our society chases standardised test outcomes over deeper, more meaningful learning. The bulk of teaching emphasises instruction and rote. Children are caught in an arms race of building more impressive resumes to filter through to the top universities. Free, creative, play time is weeded out systematically. There is much to change … and very little time to do it in.
2. The irony is that Imagination and Creativity are potentially the attributes most critical to our childrens’ success in a rapidly-changing, technology amplified world. Content knowledge has become a commodity. What you can do with what you know, already matters more than the knowledge per se. The increasing automation of jobs, puts additional pressure to apply the knowledge in original, novel ways.
3. Parents have a critical role to play in being the custodians of their child’s creativity. Schools are not structured to take charge of developing each child’s creative potential. Parents, the first teachers at an age when the child is at their most creative, are uniquely placed to assume this responsibility. Research shows that regular active engagement with the child like reading together, playing together, supporting their interests, encouraging them to question, etc. actually helps with deeper learning and creative development.
My childhood and their attendant dreams came back to me. I had always wanted to study English Literature, to be a journalist and a writer; but I ended up studying Computer Science and Business. I struggled to stay in touch with my creativity in spite of going to the best colleges and working for Fortune 100 companies. The conviction grew that I did not want this cycle to repeat with Sid, and if it could be helped, with children in general.
A compelling catalyst for me to take the plunge together with Sampath Pudhukottai, a fellow parent of young children and a dear friend from college days, to begin the journey that has today become Imagin8ors.
Along the way, we have been fortunate to get together a team of innovators, educators, technologists, makers, artists who passionately believe in the cause of nurturing the inherent creativity in each child.
Our team is not alone, we have been inspired by countless parents, like yourselves, who echo similar sentiments and are doing all in your power to help children enjoy learning, to stay creative, to find their passions.
We are kicking off this blog to serve as a space for all of us to connect and share knowledge, ideas, anecdotes, and support. We hope that this space can foster a dialogue, one that deserves to be amplified, and followed through to positively impact the most important resource the world has – our next generation; and to prepare them to be successful and happy in a world we cannot even fathom today.
And we hope to do this together with you, exactly like a “Terrific Three” year old would approach it. With optimism, zest, insatiable curiosity, mischief, fearlessness and joy!
Come! Let’s play! 🙂
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.
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.Looking 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 tomorrow. The 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.After 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.” At 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.While 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.
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.
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…
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.
Tinker Fest, organized by Imagin8ors and Tinkering Studio, Science Center, Singapore connects children, parents, educators and makers in a week-long celebration of the joy of learning’ through play, exploration and experimentation. As a part of festival we got an opportunity to have a dialogue with parents on “Raising Joyful Learners“.
The insightful questions thrown into the arena made us pause and think. How do we, as parents, raise motivated, engaged learners who are prepared to conquer unforeseen challenges of tomorrow? How do we make learning joyful and fun for our children? What are the ways to build early foundation for joyful learning?
Our esteemed panelist included-
Joanna Catalano (Head of Agency Relations for Asia Pacific, Google and Board Member of Female Founders) a mother of two who believes thateducation and technology combined will deliver sustained creativity and adaptive problem solving abilities to our children.
Anna Salaman (Executive Director, Playeum) an active champion for creativity in the lives of children. With an extensive background in arts and cultural programming, she has put her passion into practice at ArtScience Museum (Singapore), the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) and the Discover Story Centre (UK).
Charlie Ang (Venture Investor, Business Futurist, Start Up Promoter) is a “Future Parent” – he raises his two children to be future innovators and entrepreneurs and plans to help other parents do the same.
Ei-Leen Tan (Deputy Director, Physical Sciences Department, Education Programmes Division, Science Centre Singapore) is one half of a pair o’ docs attempting to apply Piagetian principles to a 4 year old child with ideas of her own.
Daniel Tan (Senior Director of Projects & Exhibition Division in the Science Centre Singapore) father of 4 teenage children who encourages hands-on exploration for discovery and learning. He is also instrumental in initiating the development of the Tinkering Studio at the Science Centre.
The session took off with parents tinkering with their children at the various stations set up inside the Tinkering Studio. It was so precious to see the children take the lead with first-time -tinkerer parents.
The session moderator Balaji Ramanujan (President and Co-Founder Imagin8ors), then set the context about the new learning needs driven by a rapidly changing tech enabled world.
Anna Salaman brought forward the power of nurturing “intrinsic motivation” in children. Simple things like using less instructional language when we communicate with child, creating an environment that encourages self-directed exploration (e.g.. having varied types of materials lying around that the child can use), and providing more freedom to the child to set their own learning agenda helps with building the child’s intrinsic motivation.
Joanna Catalano talked about 21 Century skills like curiosity, diversity in approach and perspective, collaboration and motivation which would pave the path for the joyful learners. She believes that technology will play a big role in their lives and there was no separating them from it. It is up to parents to make technology work for us in an active way.
Daniel Tan felt that children should learn because the process brings joy not because of the result or awards that follow. That was the whole idea behind setting up the Tinkering Studio. He strongly emphasised that the knowledge the children gather by themselves, understanding through exploration shall stay with them forever. Maybe they may not understand the science behind it immediately but soon they will be able to connect the dots. Ergo relating better to the principles taught in the classrooms.
Ei-Leen Tan underlined how computers gave children a safe environment to learn new things in novel, interactive ways. But she felt that parents should watch out for – “Is the child programming the computer or is the computer programming the child?” She also shared how letting children create a mess is a necessary part of helping children explore and learn, and touched a chord with the audience when she spoke of the busy lifestyles we parents lead and how it is difficult to put all these principles into action.
Charlie Ang spoke about preparing our children for the future and developing the required skill-sets in them. The skill-sets of an successful individual today will not be relevant in 2030. Our children will be the entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow and will use technology to solve problems. He shared how he converts even mundane tasks like shopping trips together into fun challenges and games his daughters and he play, that helps them learn something deeper.
As the talk progressed it became more interactive and parents in the audience chimed in with their views. Lup Wai a homemaker, blogger and mother to two adorable, creative children shared how she bonded with them over housework. While daily chores need to be finished, it need not be just a chore but an opportunity for parent and child to co-work and co-create. Children would find their ways to solve problems they faced, collaborate and develop empathy for their caregivers.
Ajay Sharma shared how he was productively using screen and digital media to learn and bond with his daughter while he traveled. He shared a delightful story of seeing a sunflower plant grow from seed to flower and how his daughter clicked pictures and send it across to him, just so that daddy would know about how their plant was doing.
Susanna Hasenoerhl, mom and founder of the joiceofcooking, spoke how she used sports as a fantastic and joyful medium of learning. She also made an insightful comment on the disconnect between the need to inspire joy in learning, and the rote learning still prevalent across many parts of the education system. The panel spoke of how we parents need to add our voices to this debate and help accelerate change in education.
So many enriching thoughts, ideas and suggestions! As expected if you bring a few parents together you can find solutions for just about anything. Each of our participants had their own strong value systems, perspectives and methodology. But all came together in agreeing on the critical role parents play in nurturing the spark of lifelong learning in children, of inspiring them to find joy in it!
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!!!