10 Free Activities To Do In The Holidays

This is the holiday season and it is time for gifts, or is it? My children get plenty of gifts round the year from us and grandparents, so there is no real reason to get them more presents. What they really need from me is time. The gift of time is something that a busy working parent like me would really want to give them. They grow up too quickly!

Throughout the year, I am busy with work. As a teacher, I start work by 7 plus in the morning, and I typically leave the school 11 hours later. By the time I reach home, I have only two hours left with my children. I spend it on dinner, and I do not get to interact with them much as I am usually too tired.

During weekends, the situation is only marginally better. I spend my time taking them to enrichment lessons and visiting grandparents, and that is about it. Going to musicals, zoo, parks and playgrounds do not happen as much as I would like. Whenever my children ask me to do certain activities with them, I keep giving them excuses why I could not carry them out. I feel like a rotten part time mother.

The good news is, the school holidays are finally here. My goal is to make every day of December count.

Here are ten free activities I will take my children to do during this holiday season.

1. My five-year-old, El, likes to bake. Unfortunately I had only done that once with him on New Year’s Day. I will bake at least once with him this holiday.
el baking cake

2. El has an encyclopaedic knowledge of animals, so he wants to go to the zoo and the bird park. I have booked free corporate passes to the Jurong bird park, so we will be going as a family. We have also booked free zoo tickets, so we are going to the zoo too!
singapore zoo

3. We plan to catch free performances of cartoon characters at shopping malls. He asked to watch Dora the explorer, and we had just caught it a few days ago. There are other characters, such as Fireman Sam, which we will be watching.
dora the explorer

4. He wants to build sand castles, so we will go to the beach. East Coast Park is a place that many families like to go to. A few other parks with sand pits and playgrounds would be good too.
playground

5. It is free for children to take public transport, but I do need to sign up for their free passes. Gar loves spotting trains and buses. I think it is time to go on rides.

6. El had been asking to go overseas, but my husband is overwhelmed by that idea. One way is to go to the parks in the north where we can see Malaysia. There are playgrounds there where they could play, and Sembawang Park is full of historical significance. A naval base was built there by the British to protect Singapore, but it was not very effective during WWII.
beaulieu house

sembawang park

7. Some museums are also free for locals. The National History Museum is undergoing renovations for some of the exhibits, so I think I will take them to the Singapore Art Museum instead. El loves to draw, so it would be a good opportunity to see works by local and other Asian artists.

8. Living in the concrete jungle can make one stressed. There are a few farms in Kranji and I think Bollywood Veggies is free for children. El prides himself as a nature explorer, so it would be a good chance for him to see plants.

9. There are free music performances at the Esplanade. It would be good to expose the children to music.

10. Christmas is a time where the shopping malls decorate the buildings with special lighting. Orchard Road will be a great place to drive through.
Christmas lighting

With many free activities lined up, I hope to enjoy the holidays with my children without all the buy-buy-buy! It is really a nightmare buying Christmas presents for any parties we might be invited to!

This post is part of a blog hop from Hoagies’ Gifted.
holiday gifts

Mixed Up Upper And Lower Case Letters

With El having pen pals, I observed closely in ages how he wrote. When he was very young in N1, he would write gibberish, or sometimes nonsense words with random letters put together. As he became older, he wrote words, sometimes with the right spelling, but sometimes with errors in his spelling.

I gave him a piece of blank paper. I had first noticed that some of his words had a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters. He had no punctuation. Some of the words had no spacing in between them. His lines also leaned down. Some words he had no problems with were spelled wrongly, with some letters mixed up.

I did not think this was much of a concern, until I saw his school work, which had the same issues. His teacher corrected him, writing the words in the lower cases below the words.

Is this an area of concern? Do they outgrow them. Being the anxious mother, I went to google the problem. Some websites said that it could be dysgraphia. One suggested getting raised lines so that it would keep the children writing inside the lines.

Another said they would grow out of this issue. My forum friends told me their children were having the same problem, and one said her older child outgrew this.

When I told my mother about this, she said I had problems with ‘b’ and ‘d’ in Primary One. I do not really remember that since I tend to get full marks for weekly spelling tests. I do remember once when I was marked wrong for writing ‘gray’ instead of ‘grey’, since we use British spelling.

I do not have major problems with reading in general. I am a speed reader, in fact. However, there are occasions when a simple word looks strange to me and I have problems understanding it. It does not happen frequently to me but it gives me a strange sense of displacement. Occasionally, I would look at a word and think it looks strange. That occurs with some words, and happens in the classroom when I am writing on the whiteboard. I cannot imagine if I have to face this problem on a regular basis. The alternative worlds that books provide would be lost to me.

The Artists Who Painted

After buying art supplies, we had a few painting sessions. They love to paint!
gar and el painting

Gar loves to dip his paintbrushes into the water, so he ends up with very wet paper.
the artist who painted

El uses more vivid colours and he painted a few pieces.
el painting a rainbow

This mother let them use recycled paper. El complained that some of the papers were filled up on both sides, but I pointed out that there was still some space left. Gar does not care much, and he just paints.

While poster colours might have more vivid colours, I think watercolours suit toddlers and pre-schoolers as all they have to do is to dip their wet paintbrushes on the water colours and they get all the colours instantly. Parents do not have to squeeze the tube of pain for them, and then have to wash up. For water colours, I just dab the colours dry, rinse the containers and paint brushes.

All these abstract art pieces are done by Gar.
abstract art 2

abstract art 3

abstract art

sunrise abstract art

green field abstract art

These paintings with more vivid colours and pictures are done by El.
rainbow colours
Rainbow colours

octopus in the sea
Octopus in the Sea

wild kratts
These two guys are supposed to be Chris and Marten, wildlife explorers from Wild Kratts.

This is a great activity to keep them busy and interested. Just a few days ago, Gar asked for them and the children started painting again.

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