Sakura Featuring Tokidoki at Gardens by the Bay

The girls always welcome a trip to Gardens by the Bay because of the cooled conservatories and there is always something new to explore and learn. The sakura floral display is currently ongoing at the Flower Dome conservatory until 3 April 2022. Soaking in some Japanese fanfare and educating myself on the differences between peach blossoms and cherry blossoms!

How can I forget to include a literature element to our Japanese fanfare?

Haiku is a poetic form originated in Japan. Written using three short unrhymed lines with a five-seven-five syllable pattern. Such poetry often highlights nature.

Haiku has evolved over time and modern poets no longer adhere to the original form.

In this book “Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons”, the author brings us through the four seasons in an alphabetical path coupled with gentle and soft illustrations.

Younger Gem did enjoy the book, especially with Koo as her favourite animal; a panda!

Interactive Displays at the Cloud Forest Conservatory

The usual hype of the Cloud Forest conservatory for the girls is the indoor waterfall and the periodic misting. This time, we were greeted with a little exhibition by National Geographic at the Crystal Mountain arena. We did spend a considerable amount of time with the educational interactive displays.

Embarked on “The AR-mazing Tiger Trail”

The AR-mazing Tiger Trail by the WWF aims to educate the public on tiger conservation. There are 8 sculptures, commissioned by various artists, scattered around Gardens by the Bay. The girls had a good run hunting for the sculptures, collecting the emboss stamps on their “Tiger Passport” at each station.

And topping off GBTB with a walk on the sky bridge! It was a good day!

Books, Picture Books

FIAR – Hello Lighthouse

Your word is lamp on my feet a light on my path. Psalms 119:105

祢 的 话 是 我 脚 前 的 灯 , 是 我 路 上 的 光 。诗篇 119:105

Hello Lighthouse – Winner of the Caldecott Medal in 2019, Sophie Blackall, author and illustrator, painted a beautiful story of the life of a lighthouse keeper. The story evolved along with his life as he got married and became a dad while fulfilling his duties as a lighthouse keeper on the highest rock of a tiny island. Regardless of seasons and weather conditions, the lighthouse and the keeper remained as a beacon.

We were crawling through this book from Christmas to New Year and through CNY! A wonderful way to end and start the year by reminding ourselves that God is our lighthouse; with scripture verse from Psalms 119:105.

"Your word is lamp on my feet a light on my path."
Love it that I found the mandarin translated version from the library

Here are some of our go-along activities…

Experimenting with Light – How light travels; through different objects such as mirror, opaque box, translucent paper.

White Light: Why spinning a wheel of rainbow colours produce white light?

Tape resist canvas painting

And how can we forget our lovely lap book to document her “Hello Lighthouse” learning journey.

Art & Craft

How to Make a Mandarin Orange Craft

Few more days to CNY and decided to get the girls to make a mandarin orange craft!

Check out the YouTube video of older Gem in action!

Instructions and template below. Time to practice patience and fine motor skills! Have a Blessed Lunar New Year and show me your mandarin orange craft!

Materials and Tools:

  • Orange paper
  • Green paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hot glue gun (optional)


1. Print template on orange paper.

2. Cut the circles. 20 circles required for each mandarin orange.

3. Fold each of the circles along the lines of the triangles with the triangles faced down.

4. Each mandarin orange is made of 3 levels. The first and third level require 5 circles each. The middle level requires 10 circles.

5. We begin from the first level. Take a circle and apply glue on one of the folds and join the next circle. Repeat to form a dome with the 5 circles.

6. Middle level (10 circles). Paste 5 circles to the folds of the dome from step 5 (see arrows on bottom left picture). Paste another 5 circles to fill the gaps between (see bottom middle picture).

7. Third level (5 circles). Create a dome similar to step 5 and attach it to the product of step 6.

8. Create the stalk using a green paper (12cm by 5cm) and roll it into a tube really tightly.

9. Create the leaf by folding the green paper in half and cutting a dome over the fold. Fan fold the leaf to create “vein lines”. Cut a small hole at the upper tip of the leaf for the stalk to side through.

10. Assemble the orange, stalk and leaf using a hot glue gun.

Learning Through Play

Project: Terrarium

We spent the first day of 2022 at a nursery picking up supplies for terrarium making.

A few weeks ago at the same nursery, the girls went crazy upon seeing those cute mini pots of succulents and wanted them so badly. So I got older Gem on a research project; open and close terrariums.

She did her research (mostly watching videos on youtube), selected her jars from my stash of unused vases (yes, I do have a lot of vases!) and wrote her shopping list.

Shopping List (in order of terrarium layers from the base)

  • Gravel Rocks
  • Sphagnum Moss
  • Organic Potting Soil
  • Plants (For both open and close terrariums)
  • Coloured Rocks and Sand for decorations

The girls selected all the materials on their own at the nursery. And now the fun and mess begin… They did the close terrarium entirely on their own, while I helped with the open since the succulents are delicate plants.

Close Terrarium

Working on the Open Terrarium

For the close terrarium, the girls chose blue sand to represent a lake and a sea shell as a raft to house their LEGO figurines.

The process was messy but they had a great time and delighted with the results! It was an activity to practise patience as the narrow opening of the close terrarium and the delicate succulents can be challenging.    

BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play, Picture Books

The Story of Ferdinand

A gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4

温柔,安静的心,这在神面前是极宝贵的。彼得前书 3:4

A story of a bull (Ferdinand) with a gentle spirit, which was banned in Germany and Spain, when it was first published in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

But not like Ferdinand; he still liked to sit just quietly under the cork tree and smell the flowers.

The Story of Ferdinand

This story reminded me of another book we rowed previously, “Play With Me” by Marie Hall Ets. A girl approaching various animals to play but all retreated until she sat just quietly and all the animals came back to her. Both stories revolving around the theme of a gentle and quiet spirit which I highly instil on both of girls who are loud and feisty!

So here’s how we row The Story of Ferdinand!

  • Creating our lap book
  • Bible verse 1 Peter 3:4
  • Watch animation of the same title on Disney+
  • Brief intro of Spain and Madrid
  • Discuss issues on bull fighting
  • Learning letters B and H (Link to printouts at the end of blog post)
  • Learning about bees and making a bee craft with pegs
  • Rhyming words ending with “ell” (Link to printouts at the end of blog post)

A visual treat for younger Gem as she watched the 7 minute animation of The Story of Ferdinand on Disney+.

Madrid, Spain

Older Gem had the privilege of visiting Madrid with daddy in 2018 when she was 6 and these were some books she bought from the trip. While she is not rowing The Story of Ferdinand, she shared some of her favourite moments from the trip with younger Gem as she relished her memories through photos from the trip.

Learning about Letter B, Bees and Making a Bee Craft

B is for bee, beautiful and brilliant! “B is for bee” is a simple and brilliant go-along book. Made a bee craft using pegs, tulle and pipe cleaner.

Experiencing God

Thanksgiving Jar

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

In the first quarter of 2021, I started a “Give Thanks Jar” at home where you can write a little note of thanksgiving any time and drop it in. No one was allowed to read any of the notes till the last day of the year. A great idea to instill thankfulness, especially in a day and age where my kids can be so self entitled at times. Myself included!

I got a plain jar from the AS-IS section at Ikea and customised it little with my trusted Sharpie markers. The thanksgiving corner includes the customised jar, stacked of plain coloured paper and a pen.

We finally unveiled the jar just before the girls’ bedtime yesterday. Taking turns drawing out a note and reading them aloud. Much to be thankful for as we review the notes and recalling events.

Ending the year with an awesome gift of God‘s opened door; I passed my RES exam!

Books, Learning Through Play, Picture Books

The Story About Ping

Honour the Lord your God. Obey all his rules and commands. If you do, you will enjoy long life. Deuteronomy 6:2

敬畏耶和华你的神,谨守祂的一切律例诫命。申命记 6:2

From the same author of “Angus Lost”, Marjorie Flack, wrote of another animal who kind of got lost. Ping, a duck, who lives on a houseboat by the Yangtze River was late and decided not to go back to avoid being punished. After a series of encounters, one of which almost landed him as dinner for a family, Ping decided to face the consequence of being punished.

“Promoting” younger Gem to rowing FIAR series, this is a story of being accountable for our own actions. We went through a series of activities and had them documented in a lap book.

  • Memory verse; Deuteronomy 6:2
  • Identifying wildlife on along the Yangtze River by visiting River Wonders at Mandai Wildlife Reserve
  • Exploring Chinese cultures through making snow skin mooncakes, Chinese calligraphy, etc.
  • Differentiating male and female mallards
  • Building a LEGO wise eyed boathouse
  • Rational counting using stickers
  • Buoyancy experiment
Younger Gem drew a picture of a boy messing up his play area while his mummy was busy at the kitchen.

China and the Yangtze River

Since story was set in China, we explored China through traditional costumes, food, calligraphy, etc.

While we can’t physically visit the Yangtze River, we headed to the River Safari’s (now known as River Wonders) section of the Yangtze River where they house wildlife which depend on the river for their survival. Younger Gem’s task was to identify three animals whose survival depends on the Yangtze River. Older Gem’s was to elaborate on the three selected animals.

Mallards, Male vs Female

Mallards are similar to peafowls, where the males (peacocks) are more colourful and attractive than their female counterparts, the peahens.

Building the “Wise Eyed Boat” with LEGO

Daddy and younger Gem spent some time building a LEGO wise eyed houseboat.

Books, Travel

NY is for New York

Picture book by Paul Thurlby

September reminds me of New York. A decade ago, hubby and I made a trip to “The Big Apple” to attend a dear friend’s wedding, celebrated his birthday and caught the US Tennis Championship.

I found Paul Thurlby’s NY is for New York while browsing in the library and flipping through the illustrations brought back so much fond memories. Here are my top five from the book!

A is for American Museum of Natural History

One of the many museums we visited in NY and this place is huge! We tried to explore as much as we could. I cannot wait to bring older Gem here since science is her favourite subject!

The iconic blue whale model gets it annual clean up and we were lucky to witness it!

Click here to read more on the blue whale model.

Check out this link ; a science website for kids by AMNH, which has games, videos and other activities to keep your curious kids busy!

B is for Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan was our base for most part of the trip although we made multiple trips to Brooklyn since our friend lives there. Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of the wonderful time spent there. From dollar cab rides to the purpose of the trip; the wedding!

M is for The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of my favourite museums on planet earth. Yes, I love museums, especially art museums!

The Edgar Degas collection at the Havemeyer Gallery was quite a sight to behold; “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” sculpture surrounded by paintings such as “The Dance Class” and “Dancers Practicing at the Barre”.

“The Little Dancer” got herself a new tutu in 2018.

Q is for Queens

We took a long subway ride to Flushing Meadows Park for the US Open Tennis Championships. Caught a few matches with the most memorable between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer. Arthur Ashe for some matches of top seed like Nadal and Djokovic. Was a pity we could not catch Federer in action in the night sessions since we could not fit them into our schedule.

U is for Uptown

We spent a lovely day at Uptown Manhattan covering Central Park and The Guggenheim Museum.

Till the next time!

Artists' Inspired

Dale Chihuly Inspired Lanterns

We visited Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom exhibition at Gardens by the Bay and loved it so much (check out the blog post on the exhibition here), we decided to diy our lanterns for mid-autumn festival as inspired by some of our favourite installations from the exhibition.

Lantern Inspired by Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall

Older Gem picked Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall as her lantern inspiration. We used coffee filters of two different sizes to form the shapes and assembled them over fairy lights.

Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall at Bayfront Pavillon

Lantern Inspired by The Setting Sun

The Setting Sun was younger Gem’s choice. We used straws, cellophane paper and coffee filters and attached them onto a store bought lantern.

My Gems by the Setting Sun

Although we did not manage to catch the moon since it was a cloudy night, we enjoyed our walk around the estate slightly past their regular bedtime!

Art & Craft, Travel

Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom

Gardens by the Bay

The family spent two consecutive days at Gardens by the Bay during the September school holidays; covering the two conservatories (Flower Dome and Cloud Forest) on day one and the outdoors on day two. We embarked on a journey to spot all the installations of Dale Chihuly’s masterpieces as part of the Glass in Bloom exhibition. I was first introduced to the art of blown glass in Venice and it was fascinating to watch the craftsmen moulding the glass masterpieces under intense heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the well curated exhibition throughout Gardens by the Bay. Where art meets and nature… In the outdoors where the art pieces are exposed to the weather effects such as sun and rain, reflections in the waters, at the Cloud Forest with the misting; the same masterpiece but gives off a different vibe each time the surrounding atmosphere changes.

Check out our Mid-autumn lanterns inspired by some of Dale Chihuly’s art here.

The Setting Sun Meets The Moon at The Meadow

Entering from The Meadow, we were greeted by the majestic Setting Sun. This version of The Setting Sun was created for Singapore. Backdropped by The Moon from an angle and MBS from another.

The Moon was created for an exhibition; Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000 and was displayed on the Tower of David Museum. Here, we have The Moon on display in Singapore after its debut more than two decades ago.

This is also the first time The Setting Sun and The Moon are exhibited in the same setting.

Brilliant Boats

Tremendous Towers

Resplendent Reeds

The Reeds are scattered throughout the exhibition, either standalone or in variety of forms. The rich red Reeds in the Serene Garden is my favourite amongst the Reeds exhibits as the red contrast against the greenery makes it outstanding and not overly busy. As for Older Gem, her favourite was the shiny violet ones found in the Flower Dome; installed with Tower and surrounded by Trumpet Flowers and Reeds. The Reeds were created in Finland and older Gem’s favourite was made of rare mineral neodymium, which gives the shiny purplish effect.


Nesting Persians of different sizes in a variety of compositions. The effects of light on the Persian series made the installations even more brilliant!

Gallery at Bayfront Pavilion

The Glass on Glass Paintings were my favourite from the Gallery. Using light to transmit through layers of glass that were painted with vitreous-glass enamel. Stand at different angels to view the depths of each painting.

Fiori Verde; Free Flowing, Playful Forms

Fringe Activities

Art Zoo was on exhibition at the same time and the girls had fun working on the activity sheet to earn their stickers!

I guess we will be visiting Gardens by the Bay more often since we have gotten the annual pass!