7 March 2022, by Marian Nathan
The March school holidays is around the corner. This year, I have 2 kids in primary school to plan activities for, my P1 and P2 boys. Expensive camps and courses abound to entertain and educate children during this week-long break, but wallet-friendly options are just as plentiful. In fact, many interesting choices are even free!
1. STEM courses – Young Engineers (multiple venues)
My boys have reached that stage where they are obsessed with building things, so much so that my house has a plethora of Lego blocks and magnetic tiles. What better way to engage and fuel their interest than a course that teaches children robotics through Lego! Young Engineers has just that course for the March holidays, over and above their own ongoing courses.
Being an East-sider, I prefer their Tampines branch, but they have other branches as well at Hougang, Katong, Novena and Jurong East. Robotics & coding is more than a fad but is vying to be an essential skill for our young ones to navigate the future.
2. See dinosaur bones – Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
We have previously visited this place last year, and my kids were very fascinated and wowed by the dinosaur bones on display. The museum also showcases many other animal bones and taxidermy mounts, along with other curious artefacts. What’s more, their current exhibition is on “Body Snatchers – Nature’s Zombies and Vampires” sound like they would be a big hit with my boys. What better reason to bring the family back for another visit.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Venue: National University of Singapore, 2 Conservatory Drive, Singapore 117377
Dates: Cost: $16/adult, $9/child (rates for Singaporeans – different charges apply for non-citizens)
Opening hours: Tuesdays – Sundays, 10am-6pm (last admission 4.30pm)
3. Neighbourhood courses – People’s Association
I love learning and like to inculcate that love into my children too. A favourite place I usually scour is the neighbourhood community centres (CCs). Many of these CCs offer ad-hoc courses during the school holidays, with an array of interesting courses for children, both online and on-site. Stay updated with fresh offerings by following their Facebook page, or simply head over to https://www.onepa.gov.sg/ and search “SHS” which stands for School Holiday Series, to find the many school holiday offerings available!
This online zoom class teaches young kids (aged 4-8) about the difference between a want and a need, and basic money skills. Best of all, it’s free! Spearheaded by POSB, this one hour class is especially perfect for parents who are working from home (WFH) to continue their work whilst children learn financial literacy in the safety of home. In my case, a one-time sign up is sufficient for both my boys to attend the class at the same time. Materials are also provided, which parents can print out beforehand.
Like many children, my kids too love animals. I tend to avoid typical attractions like the Singapore Zoo and River Wonders (previously River Safari) as I find them usually quite crowded during any of the School Holidays. I like to take the road less travelled and have opted instead for these animal enclaves instead.
5. Mainland Tropical Fish Farm (Pasir Ris)
Pasir Ris is well-known for mini animal farms, and I plan to hit up the Mainland Tropical Fish Farm. Entry is free, but you can choose to buy some nominally-priced fish feed, or engage in some “longkang fishing,” where children catch fish with fishnets while standing in shallow water.
Mainland Fish Farm
Cost: Entry is free, fees applicable for activities
Venue: 1 Pasir Ris Farmway 1, Singapore 519352
6. Hay Dairies Goat Farm
Yet another farm with free entry, this is a venue we have visited before. The children loved watching the goats and feeding them. I love that it was very interactive that way and you could get up close to see the goats.
The farm also sells goat milk, and you can’t get it fresher than this! Goat milk is supposedly easier to digest than cow’s milk, and many children who suffer from allergies or other medical problems consume goat milk to help get the nutritional goodness of milk.
Hay Dairies Goat Farm
Cost: Entry is free, fees applicable for activities
Venue: 3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
7. Family Hobbies
Sometimes it’s not about where you bring them, or what you experience you can buy for them. My boys are avid skaters and love to skate at my nearby park. I send them for weekly skating lessons, and they absolutely love the sport. What I love about this sport, like picking up any new skill, is that it teaches them proficiency comes from practice. Occasionally one of them may feel down that they were not able to master a certain manoeuvre taught during the course of that particular lesson, so I take the opportunity to remind them at one point they were not even able to stand up from the ground with skates on, and now it comes second nature to them.
What they especially love, is me watching them and cheering them on as they try and successfully accomplish difficult manoeuvres. Sometimes it is just about being present. Along with my boys, I too look forward to their school holidays, as we get to spend more time with each other.