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Family news in Singapore: Kids’ activities, great charities, schools update and more

Looking for something awesome to do while the kids are off school (aside from sending them off to a fun summer camp)? Here’s EL’s round-up of cool things to do around Singapore in July, plus the latest family news from around town.


There’s a lot going on at the Science Centre, with three new exhibitions just opened. Exploring Nature’s Design runs until 24 August and includes a robot zoo of giant mechanical animals and a make-your-own-creations tinkering space. The Human Body Experience is a journey through the five main body systems, complete with special effects, that starts with a climb into the mouth of a six-metre-high face. And for littlies aged up to eight years, KidSTOP opened last month with custom-designed science perfect for enquiring minds. Over at Snow City, a new 290-square-metre wall known as The Cliff will challenge climbing and abseiling enthusiasts.



Even if you don’t have a green thumb, the Singapore Garden Festival is a great day out, with tropical garden and floral displays created by more than 30 internationally acclaimed designers. See balcony, landscape, miniature and fantasy gardens, floral table displays, plus the Gardeners’ Cup display that showcases the work of keen community gardeners. The outdoor venue is perfect for kids, too. 16 to 24 August. Gardens by the Bay.



A new play area at the National Museum is dedicated to little visitors aged three to seven years, and features some engaging, larger-than-life play areas. The whopping 700 square metres of space allows kids to discover Singapore’s heritage, history and culture in a fun and age-appropriate way. Check the website regularly for an updated activity programme. National Museum of Singapore. Free.



Raise your hands all those dynamic mumpreneurs who run businesses, raise children, and pursue your passions? The inaugural Mumpreneur of the Year award celebrates the lives and achievements of the remarkable women who finely balance work and family, with spirit, style and spunk. Entries close 8 August.



Singapore might be expensive, but there are plenty of free things to keep you entertained. Following on from our last issue, here are some more suggested activities around town that won’t plunder the purse.

1. Adults: Outdoor Theatre at the Esplanade
Fronting the waterfront along Marina Bay, the Esplanade’s outdoor theatre hosts regular performances, from music to dance and theatre, all of which can be enjoyed by hundreds of people under the starlit sky. Search “outdoor theatre” here to find weekly events.

2. Kids: Marina Barrage
Fly kites (or just watch), check out the Sustainable Singapore Gallery or the Arts Trail, or get wet in the fun water features. Take snacks to eat on the roof at sunset and watch the lights of the city go on. Many people ride bikes to the Barrage, but it’s also easy to drive, taxi or walk there from Gardens by the Bay.

3. Almost free: With a wave pool, a lazy river, three big slides and a water play area for little kids, the Jurong East Swimming Complex is lots of cheap fun. Before you go, check for lightning updates and closures. 21 Jurong East Street 31. Admission is $1 for kids and $2 for adults. 6563 5052.



Expats can often feel out of the loop when looking at schooling options in the UK. If you don’t know where to start, check out Independent Education Consultants who offer unbiased advice on UK education from nursery to university, as well as a mentoring or guardianship service for children once they reach the UK. Head to the website for free advice and one-to-one service for choosing schools, applying, interviewing and getting through the entrance exams.



Open again after a total makeover, the popular Rochester Play Café retains its reputation as the go-to place for fun, games and learning experiences. At weekly classes, mums can put their feet up (or get hands-on) as kids get stuck into puppet-making, yoga, balloon sculpting and terrarium-making. There are five themed indoor and outdoor play areas and a bistro serving top food, coffee and weekend brunch. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm. 7 Rochester Park. Call 6773 1312.


Cambodia travel: Quick cycling guide to the Roluos Temples 

Want to see the real Cambodia, and make a contribution along the way? With seven riders already signed up, the Nokor Tep Foundation is seeking another 18 from around the world, along with their mountain bikes, to raise funds for the construction of the Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital. As the first women’s hospital in Cambodia, where women have an average life expectancy of 49, it will provide free healthcare for the underprivileged. The seven-day course covers 1,070km and will provide safety and logistical support to riders. It starts in Siem Reap on 10 August, and joins up with those who’ve opted for the three-day ride that covers the last 380km into Phnom Penh. Sign up here.



Donate used and new children’s books and dictionaries to help needy kids improve their reading and literacy. Project BookMATTERS is a non-profit initiative aiming to collect 3,000 books in three months to help underprivileged children in Singapore and neighbouring countries by putting books in their hands. Drop books off at Plain Vanilla Bakery outlets at 1D Yong Siak Street and Holland Village until 8 September, International Literacy Day.



More than 650,000 unwanted bras have found their way to the chests of needy women through the efforts of Uplift Project. This volunteer group, founded in Australia, collects and ships secondhand and new bras to underprivileged women across Asia-Pacific. Uplift works with NGOs and women’s organisations in recipient countries, ensuring culturally appropriate distribution and fitting services. Now there’s a chapter in Singapore, and Uplift is looking for donations at a giant swap-meet event; they’re also on the hunt for corporate shipping sponsors. 26 July. *Scape, The Ground Theatre, 2 Orchard Link, 11am to 4pm.



The numbers say it all. In one eight-week period earlier this year, the John Fawcett Foundation, a Bali-based charity dedicated to restoring sight, including children’s corrective surgery, improved the lives of thousands. The happy facts: it restored sight to 141 blind adults and children, provided 5,023 pairs of glasses, and carried out nearly 400 cataract surgeries in Bali, while at outreach centres and mobile clinics on Lombok, 4,911 people were screened and 229 sight-restoring cataract surgeries performed. Donations are always appreciated, including ophthalmic equipment.



The humble bamboo plant has had many uses over the centuries, but its reincarnation as a balance bike is ingenious. Weighing just 3.5kg and designed for children from 18 months to five years, the bike has a bamboo frame that is infused with honey to prevent cracking and treated with bamboo wax for weatherproofing. Local villagers in Guangzhou, China, are employed to select the best bamboo, guaranteeing a stronger-than-steel frame. US$165.



If a car is financially out of reach, this might just be the answer to your transport needs. With a top speed of 25kph, the Zoom Scooter is a big time-saver. It’s easy to operate, light enough to carry on and off the MRT train, takes a load of up to 100kg, is allowed on footpaths but not on roads, and travels up to 20km on a full charge. From $1,199.



Riding a new wave of instant photography development is the Lomo’Instant camera. Not only does it come with a wide-angle lens that allows for shooting as close as 40cm, there are portrait and fish-eye lenses and adjustable exposure settings too.



When did stationery become so cool? The kids have Smiggle, but the adults are not forgotten, with Kikki K’s new collection of stationery and journals, technology cases and accessories. In stores and online.



Hands up those parents who despaired when their kids outgrew Cotton On’s kids’ range? Now the Australian company has designed an affordable, age-appropriate range for nine-to-14-year-olds who are too big for children’s clothes but too small for adults’. Available at Wisma Atria and online.