Creativity 521 #112 - Fun toddler activities {Review & Giveaway of Fiddle & Doodle}

Posted by ~Summer~ on 21.6.17
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With a toddler that sticks to me nearly every second of the day, it's been really tough trying to find time to sit down for a nice art and craft session with the kids. He tends to destroy, or eats, everything he sees so it's a challenge trying to stop him from ruining our moment or getting all the toxic in his tummy. That also means I'm guilty as charged and haven't really exposed this little one to as much art and craft as his sisters did when they were his age.

So, I really needed a surge of motivation this month and was on the lookout for new materials and activities to enthrall the kids and was very excited when Fiddle & Doodle sent over their products - the Dabber Dot Markers starter kit and the Match & earn Puzzles.

In today's Creativity 521, I'll be sharing more about how they have provided us with hours of fun and for those who are interested to win a set, there will be a giveaway at the end of the post too!

See how colourful and vibrant everything looks? The kids were thrilled even once they laid their eyes on these new materials and couldn't wait to start exploring more!

Dabber Dot Markers Starter Kit

If you are wondering what dot markers are, they are basically markers with big, round sponge tip applicators that make perfect dots. You can dab, dot, mix, blend or layer them to create your very own masterpiece and the best thing is dot markers can provide lots of colourful fun but are generally easy to clean up.

The Dabber Dot Markers come in a box of 8 vibrant colours - Red, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Green, Brown, Purple. They are ergonomically designed for little hands and are easy to hold, paint and draw. Even though it is stated that the markers are suitable for children aged 3 and above, the 18-month-old toddler can also grip them really well and he is very excited that he can make colourful dots so easily! Well, we just have to make sure that he doesn't swallow them, right? Anyway, parents with curious little ones will feel more assured knowing that Dabber Dot Markers have been lab-tested and certified toxic free by a toxicologist.

Inside the starter kit, besides the markers, you can also find an activity pad with over 30 activity sheets including alphabets, numbers and colouring fun. The 4-year-old was delighted with the pad because not only was she able to use the dot markers to form letters, she could also practise her letter recognition, phonics and learn to spell new words too.

So while the toddler was happy to be just dotting away on a piece of blank paper, it was the little sister who enjoyed the activity sheets most and had fun making her own rainbow coloured alphabets. While they both had lots of fun, we also realised that they eventually stained their hands pretty much with the markers and this took a while to wash off too. Oh well, it was still very worthwhile for the much needed and long awaited art session for the kids.

Match & Learn Puzzles

Even though puzzles might be far too challenging for the 1-year-old now, the two sisters definitely enjoy trying to solve all kinds of puzzles. The Match & Learn Puzzles consist of the 26 alphabets and each puzzle set has the uppercase alphabet, matching lowercase alphabet and the picture of an object/animal that begins with the corresponding letter.

For the preschooler who is learning her alphabet, has difficulty differentiating her 'b's from 'd's and is keen to try to spell new words, these puzzles intrigue her and is a good way for her to strengthen her foundation while playing and having fun at the same time. For the primary preschooler, while the puzzles are way too easy for her, she still enjoys fishing for the right piece from the sea of puzzles and have a nice, bonding session with her littler sister.

I believe it's always best to learn through fun, don't you think so? I'm glad that both the dot markers and puzzles are providing the kids with lots of educational fun, teaching them about spelling and alphabets while helping to improve their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Hopefully, this will spur us on to keep our creative sessions going because as tough as it is getting to be, I really hope to keep up with the Creativity 521 series.


Good news, for those of you who are keen to own a set of the Dabber Dot Markers starter kit and the Match & Learn Puzzles, here's a giveaway!

To join in this giveaway, leave a comment in this post with your name and email address. Indicate in the Rafflecopter widget that you have done so and to increase your chances of winning, you can choose to carry out the rest of the options. Best of luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: We received the Dabber Dot Markers starter kit and Match & Learn Puzzles from Fiddle & Doodle for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

Our right brain training experience one year on {Review of Heguru Education Centre Part II}

Posted by ~Summer~ on 20.6.17

It's hard for me to believe it but it's been over a year since we embarked on our learning journey at Heguru Education Centre. Yes, besides art, this is the only enrichment class we attend and the fact that the kids look forward to it every week forms my biggest motivation to carry on. Both of the girls have been faithfully attending the weekly classes at the Waterway Point outlet and at the end of last year, Angel has moved on to the Primary Schooler Course (for 7 to 12 years old) while Ariel is now in the Preschooler I Course (for 5 years old).

It's been a year since we began our journey with Heguru and the girls love coming here more than ever

In my previous post, (yes, the long and detailed one that tells you all about right brain training and shows you the contents of a typical Heguru lesson), I talked about

  • the difference between the left and right brains
  • an introduction to right brain education and how it works
  • the need to start from young
  • program overview at Heguru Education Centre
  • activity highlights in 12 broad categories
  • our thoughts and feedback 

In this post, I will be sharing more in depth about how the girls have progressed so far and how we find the classes. I also wish to shed more light on the Primary Schooler Course because unlike the other courses which focus primarily on right brain training, this course seeks to bring out the best of both the left and right brains by strengthening, bridging and harnessing their abilities.


Primary Schooler Course

I vividly remember that Angel was not initially keen when I mentioned that she would be going for right brain training classes, which I think could be accounted to the fact that she knew she had to be there solo while I could accompany her sister for the toddler class. Thankfully, that changed after just one or two classes because she took to Teacher Shi Xian and developed a liking for all the fast-paced activities.

Halfway through the journey, she told me that one of her primary school classmates, who happened to be attending Heguru classes too, had decided to drop out for fear of it affecting schoolwork. It made me ponder, is this all getting too stressful for my kid? I mean, having to complete over 60 activities in one lesson isn't really a walk in the park. Does she really need to complete the revision? Well, on days when we really can't complete all the worksheets, the teachers are understanding and lenient about it too. This works hand in hand with mainstream education, doesn't it? As much as it can be hard to track actual progress, I like to think that instead of taking time away from her school work, this is supposed to help enhance her learning capabilities, let her perform better and be able to soar to greater heights.

But my one big question was: Is she happy? After all, this is the child who chose to stop learning the piano or go for swimming classes after trying them out for a few months. To continue or to stop, her choice will be my choice. So, when she voiced out that she likes going for Heguru classes and even enjoys it despite having to subject herself to trying to solve complicated puzzles, memorise strings of numbers, read faster than you can turn the pages, analyse problems that even adults might not be able to solve - and do all of this within minutes, sometimes even seconds - I was surprised but relieved.

You can say I wish for her to find joy in everything she does and I'm glad this journey with Heguru has turned out to be an enjoyable and fulfilling one for her. Here's showing you some of the activities she does in her Primary Schooler course that helps to stimulate right brain training and learning as a whole.

Number memory requires the child needs to memorise a 7-digit sequence in 7 seconds, 10-digit in 10 seconds and 20-digits in 20 seconds. This is very challenging, even for adults, just try it! 

Reading techniques are taught so that the child learns to focus his/her line of sight, read and absorb swiftly. This is the viewpoint movement training where she has to read words located on the left and right side of the page to form a story
1-minute reading activities requires them to read passages in a minute and then write down as much as they can to help improve their memory and reading speed

Speed listening is a good way to learn to take in more while using less time. Kids are also exposed to general knowledge at the same time
Puzzles form a huge part of the lesson content and they help improve logic and thinking skills, analytical process, problem solving and dexterity. The one shown above is the Pelican puzzle where you have to find the correct square pieces to match the picture

Kamoshika puzzle consists of light/dark 3-dimenisional shapes which you can rotate or flip to fit the whole picture
For Iroita puzzle, you have to pick out magnetic pieces of assorted sizes, shapes and colours to form the given figure
The Himo Toshi, or string puzzle, is unique to the Primary Schooler course and it helps to train hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, processing and analytical skills

To incorporate MOE curriculum and also enhance the left brain capabilities, students are tasked to complete activities such as cloze passages, which have to be done in a very short time

The students are also exposed to mathematics activities and models are used to help them solve the problems. This year, she has been introduced to the concept of fractions which she has not learnt in school yet

Drawing symmetrical figures helps to work on their understanding of spatial relationships and teaches them to be detailed and rigorous


As for the little sister, I have to say I'm really proud of how far she has come. Unlike her previous class, The Preschooler I course is not parent accompanied and since Day 1, she has been adjusting to the pace, settling herself down with ease and getting used to the notion of having to handle everything on her own.

From that shy, reserved girl who first arrived in Heguru a year ago, she is now that vivacious, enthusiastic child who looks forward to every of her class with zest and anticipation. This energy of hers, it's contagious and it makes me happy knowing that she is happy. While the gist of the activity highlights remain the same as what I've outlined previously, here's a quick look at what she's been doing in the last few months of her right brain training journey.

She learns about numerals and is exposed to basic arithmetics such as addition and subtraction. Yes, she uses her fingers to count and does it slowly for now but she has definitely shown marked improvement

Patterns help to hone her analytical and problem solving skills, plus they're so fun to do! Ariel glides through these pattern related questions and seldom gets any of them wrong

Linking memory is her of our favourite activities, where the teacher and students make up a story together using the keywords. I was amazed at the number of words these kids could remember!

Image training takes place when the teacher acts out a story under dim lighting, aiding the child with his/her visualisation skills and allowing their imagination to flow. She gets really engrossed with this one and loves the creativity

Having fun during the 'break' before they start on the writing activites. The kids usually perform a simple physical activity such as crawling through the tunnel, balancing a bean bag, hitting a golf ball etc. It allows them to stretch themselves before they re-focus their attention back on the lesson


I have to admit, it can be a little hard trying to determine or quantify just how far the girls have progressed after a year of Heguru classes. After all, Ariel does go for 3.5hrs of preschool and Angel attends primary school so they do pick up knowledge and skills in their schools too. Also, we do a bit of homelearning here and there, and we keep up habits such as bedtime reading every night so as to teach these kids as best as we can in our capacity as parents. However, these are what I've observed about them recently and if you were to compare to a year ago, I dare say they have both made a marked improvement, especially in the below areas.

1) Attention span

It's very easy for young kids to have short attention spans. At Heguru, the class is conducted in a loud voice by the teacher and the activities are extremely fast paced, which in turns gives the child little opportunity to daydream and instead, he/she learns to concentrate on every task at hand. I remember seeing how Teacher Jocelyn asked the students in the Preschooler I class to remain quiet and not talk or move for one whole minute. Yes, one minute sounds short but you and I both know how hard it can be for a bubbly, active child to stay still even if for a minute. I was very surprised that while most of her peers had a tendency to fidget, Ariel was able to stay focused the whole time. As for the big sister, getting easily distracted as always been a problem for us and even though it still is, she has improved a lot and is now able to focus more on her task, especially when it comes to doing her homework or revising her spelling.

2) Memory

This is something that has amazed me and still does, in many ways. I was very surprised to realise that both of them have better memory abilities as compared to a year ago. Okay, it's not that they had poor memories to begin with (they are girls after all and I like to think they take after me in the memory aspect) but I have to say that it was evident they improved by leaps and bounds in the past year. How do I know that? Firstly, both of them can memorise the contact numbers of everyone in the household, including the grandparents. Secondly, they are able to remember most of the lyrics of a song after singing it for a few times. Thirdly, they can remember the spelling of new words. While Ariel has just learnt simple words like 'dog' and 'cow' and 'love', she is able to spell a handful of them. As for Angel, she has done amazingly well and gotten full marks in all her spelling tests in Primary One which says a lot, I think. I am particularly impressed by how they can remember details in our everyday life, such as where did we buy a toy from, how much did an item cost, what food did we have for dinner two days ago, where did we go last weekend and so on, which are things that I don't even remember on most days.

Ariel has made good progress in the number memory activity and on one occasion, she even obtained a perfect score which surprised me and the teachers too

3) Problem solving

I get frustrated when the kids answer me with a "I don't know" when presented with a problem. It's like more often than not, they don't even bother to try or they make a half-hearted effort in trying to reach the answer. Having to solve numerous puzzles, questions and problem sums in Heguru gives them a chance to be more independent, more analytical, more creative and very importantly, more determined when it comes to problem solving. They experience a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment which spurs them on to try again next time round. For instance, in her last class, Angel came out and told me "Mummy, today I got all my puzzles correct and I scored 12 points!" in that ecstatic tone that makes you feel her joy from within. Yes, they have a point system in place and if you manage to complete an activity within the given time limit (mind you, it is very challenging!), you get a point. You can accumulate your points and in turn use them to exchange for rewards such as notebooks and toys. It's really not about the tangibles; it's about empowering them to be more daring and not give up easily whenever they have to overcome an obstacle. They still have a long way to go, I know, and it's not like they have unwavering determination or that they don't ask for help every now and then. However, they have made good progress in the last few months, they now understand they need to put in their utmost effort and they try harder than before, which already heartens me to know.

Angel trying her best to solve the problem sums on her own within the given time limit. It forces you to think fast, be analytical and work efficiently when it comes to solving problems

4) Self-confidence

The fact that Heguru gives them the opportunity to excel and achieve what they thought they previously could not is a formula for boosting their self confidence. I like how the activities comprise of a wide range, including numeracy, language, puzzles and general knowledge, giving the students the opportunities to discover themselves, to learn more about their talents and allow their potential to be unleashed. From two girls who were rather unsure about themselves and their abilities when they go for lessons, they now walked into the classroom with a spring in their steps knowing that they are ready for any challenge that gets thrown into their way. The fact that they have same age peers in class and that the Heguru teachers are always so approachable and friendly make it easy for them to settle into the routine and have fun while learning too.

From someone who is scared to raise her hand or say out the answers in class, she now does it with poise and confidence

So, I'm thankful to share that we will be continuing our learning journey with Heguru and will be bringing you new updates along the way. I'm definitely interested to see how much more the girls can benefit from this experience and guess what? The baby boy has also embarked on his right brain training journey and I can't wait to see how that pans out for him!

What? You mean I get to go to class now and don't have to stay outside to wait for my sisters? Yippee! I'll tell you how it goes in a few months. Wish me luck!
If you have any questions on right brain training, feel free to talk to the Heguru staff or give me a buzz anytime too. Till the next post!

Heguru Education Centre outlets are located at Waterway Point, One KM, Tampines and Sengkang. To find out more about the courses offered and read up on right brain training, visit or their Facebook page.

Disclosure: We were invited by Heguru Education Centre to review their courses and the girls attended complimentary lessons in return. All photographs and opinions are our own.

Celebrating Cold Storage Kids Run's 10th anniversary

Posted by ~Summer~ on 16.6.17
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We were very much looking forward to Cold Storage Kids Run 2017, which was going to take place just a day before the hubby's birthday. Unlike the run we did earlier this year where we could run as a family, for the Cold Storage Kids Run, the hubby and I would each pair up with one of the girls for their respective runs - which were categorised by age so they fell in different categories. Yes, that also meant we didn't let the toddler join in this year since his was going to be a stroller run (which might as well be called parent-carrying-toddler run) and we thought we would shine the spotlight on the sisters instead.

On the day of the run, we rose early and everyone was in a chirpy mood and feeling thankful for the great, sunny weather.

Oh wait, so where was the baby boy? Yes, it was a great thing that our in-laws came with us so we could have celebration with the hubby at lunch later, but more importantly they helped us to jaga the littlest and allowed us to concentrate on running with the two elder ones. It's very rare for the baby to be away from me and honestly, it felt so long since we were a family of four and perhaps it was high time for me to spend some quality time with the girls without the presence of their super cute but super needy baby brother.

Held at Palawan Beach, the venue was very spacious this year and before the race started, everyone found a nice spot to wait while enjoying the bread and bananas which were being handed out to participants. Even when we gathered at the starting point for the flag off, it didn't feel so much of a squeeze as compared to previously and I was glad for the extra air and space we had around us. What was not so welcoming about the venue was the seriously long queue to enter the carpark and the seriously lack of parking lots! It was worsened by the fact that our runs were one of the latest to be flagged off so the carparks were all full by then.

Thanks to the father-in-law who took over the steering wheel to go park in a more remote place, the four of us jumped out of the car and made our way to the event venue on foot since all the cars on the roads appeared to be moving at snail's pace.

See the huge tentage set up for the participants? That was a very thoughtful gesture from the organisers and even though there were hundreds of fellow participants gathered together, we found a pretty nice grass patch to sit and gather for the rest of our morning.

Not only were our in-laws present, the brother-in-law was also there with his three kids so the little ones were all very happy to be running, playing and having fun together. Yup, my girls adore their cousins to bits and it's nice that we meet up often because this always excites and makes them look forward to it.

Before the run began, we asked the kids to pen down their wishes on the big board and seeing the words "I love running" was a great reminder to me on how taking part in these runs meant a great deal to the kids and the memories that we created with every run would last us for a long, long time.

Our runs might not be competitive yet and while I know soon the girls will be running on their own without the need for parents to accompany, I actually think I will miss this feeling of running alongside my child and feeling how we bond, laugh, cheer and encourage each other to reach the finishing line.

First up was Ariel's AIA Vitality Family Fun run (for 5 and 6 yos)! She was elated that she was going to run in the same race as her cousin and either though we lost sight of each other almost once the run began, at least they had lots of fun talking and taking photos at the starting line.

So how far were we going to run? Well, 800m! I wanted to say just 800m but I reckoned what felt short to me might not necessarily be so to my kid. Still, it wasn't the kind of long distance run that we had done before and I wanted to spur her on in the hope that she would run from the start to the end on her own without stopping.

Thanks to the wide running route, it was easy for us to overtake others without needing to stop or slow down our pace. The only thing was my darling decided to dash and then slow down, dash and then slow down, which in my view wasn't the best way to run and so I suggested for her to run at a consistent pace and keep it up all the way instead.

This was met by half a minute of protests and whines but luckily, she did listen to me and even though I had to hold her hand for a while to set the pace, she was soon able to do it on her own and we ran side by side, just me and my little girl. She kept turning her head back to see if she could spot her cousin but alas she couldn't and we just had to move on. She also saw a handful of kids who asked their daddies and mummies to carry them but never once did she ask me if she could have that. Awww, you did well, baby girl.

As usual, I did a lot of chanting and kept repeating words like "You can do it!", "Come on", "Let's go, baby, let's go", "Jia you jia you", "Almost there, keep it up!" and so on and so forth. Basically, I think I never stopped talking. Haha. But how long do we need to run 800m, right? Thankfully, not long and once we passed the halfway mark, the second half seemed easier and we were attuned to the pace.

The girl was very excited to pass by landmarks such as her favourite Kidzania and I must say running in Sentosa was really a welcome change of venue. In fact, I hope they hold it here every year (we will remember to park our car in VivoCity and take the monorail over instead)! Anyway, as usual, I wanted to focus on the run instead of being distracted by the camera so other than the one picture of her running above, we didn't take anymore until we crossed the finishing line. A job well done and a medal well deserved, my girl!

She was very happy to put on the medal and she knew that she worked hard to earn it. At that moment, it felt like she wasn't my baby girl anymore and I was proud of her grit and determination.

As for the big girl who ran in the Happy Grapes Family Fun run (for 7 and 8yos) with the daddy, I was surprised to see her back so soon and was told by the two of them that they ran fast, didn't stop, and completed the 800m run in what felt like under 5 minutes. See the pic they took above? Yar, that was taken at the finishing line but how come it didn't seem like they got put in sweat and effort one (like I did)? Haha.

Oh well, I've no doubt of this girl's stamina over the years and she's definitely a great runner than I ever was. Congratulations, my dear! You did so well too! Next year you will be on your own, okay? I promise to wait for you at the finishing line and capture that proud moment when you cross it.

Yay! Two more medals to add to our growing collection! I hope we get to participate in many, many more kids and family runs in the future!

So I was asking the girls to take some pictures with the adorable mascots who were walking by to interact and while the little sister was very excited to, the big girl seemed somewhat reluctant and only did so because we asked her to. It's another sign that she's growing up so fast and very soon, I gotta remind myself not to treat her like a young kid like I would towards her siblings, you know what I mean?

Anyway, we went off to check out the rest of the activities and were happily surprised to see the Transformers truck! What pleased the kids even more was that once I uploaded a picture of them with the truck onto social media, they could each receive a Transformers toy as a prize. How lucky of all these kids!

While all the older cousins were not keen on bouncy castles, which was the highlight of the kids carnival, both Angel and Ariel were very much looking forward to that and they had a great time sliding, climbing, jumping and playing whatever they wanted to play.

These inflatables look quite awesome, don't they? I would have loved to play on these tall, steep slides too if I had the chance to! I hope the girls will never grow out of loving to bounce, and even if they one day really do, I hope they will still go on it just so they can look after the baby brother who wants to play. Fingers crossed!

Besides the bouncy castles, there was also a mini obstacle game where the kids had to skip, crawl, turn rounds, walk backwards and shoot hoops in order to complete. It was all very fun just that we were also right under the very strong sun. Too hot, too hot!

Usually, we would call it a day after completing the runs and playing some of the activities but this year was extra special. Why? Well, the sporty hubby decided to conduct a kid-friendly sports session which saw them doing shuttle runs, leopard crawls, push-ups and even planking! It was nice to see all of the kids coming together to laugh and have a good time while sweating it out.

Sports is definitely one of the best ways for a family to come together to bond and it will always be. I hope we will continue to find chances to work out with the kids and have fun while striving for good health! Till next year's Cold Storage Kids Run!

Disclosure: We received a media invite to participate in Cold Storage Kids Run 2017. All opinions are our own.

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