All it took was one due book and a simple pamphlet to whisk my toddler R with Grandma S to the newly renovated and furnished library at Bukit Panjang Plaza. A highly anticipated reopening of its swanky new doors on 1st July 2017 promises double the floor space along with a unique interactive storytelling room immersed in sounds and splashes of coloured lights.
Venue: Bukit Panjang Library
Address: 1 Jelebu Road, #04-16/17 Bukit Panjang Plaza, Singapore 677743
Operating Hours: Everyday from 11am-9pm; (till 5pm on Christmas Eve). Closed on Public Holidays, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year Eve and National Day.
Telephone: 6332 3255
Fax: 6767 1030
Toddler R was immediately drawn to the child-like clouds amongst calm blue hues.
One interesting thing to note of this library is the tech-savvy book-dropping system where kids and adults alike can gawk through and watch books being sorted out electronically. At this point, I swear Toddler R’s nose was practically plastered to the glass forming air bubbles and wide-eyed watching our returned book’s every move.
We had to shoo Toddler R off the glass after what seems like eternity so that she could fully enjoy the highlight of our trip which was an unstructured playgroup programme as detailed on this really cutesy pamphlet.
Event Name: Playtime@Library
Day (Time): Every Tuesday (3pm-6pm) and Sunday (2pm-5pm)
Age Group: 6 years old and below
Venue: Bukit Panjang Public Library, Stories Come Alive Room
Cost: Absolutely free and self-guided
Good to Bring: Library card (you never know what treasure trove of books your child might find), a pair of child socks (to maintain hygiene while playing on the carpeted floors) and child jacket (I found the general air-con temperature to be very strong as the library is newly renovated)
Note: All children must be accompanied by a parent or a caregiver. Maximum capacity of the room would be 30 people. Hence each child is encouraged to be accompanied by one adult only during peak hours.
As we ventured further into sparkling new grounds, we found the Stories Come Alive room door cleverly hidden amidst the blue hues.
A signboard with rules of play hangs explicitly outside the room.
As Toddler R toddled in further, she could not wait to line her shoes outside along with the rest.
Researcher Mildred Parten, in the 1930s, defined play as six stages which unlock and mould a child’s intellectual, social and physical development. Hence different categories of play (ie: physical, constructive, sensory, expressive, manipulative, dramatic, cooperative and more recently digital) in line with the above six stages are akin to why play is ironically such a serious business for our young minds!
So imagine our delight when we experienced for ourselves how this playgroup catered to three forms of play all in just one cosy setting. Having entered, we were invited to a bustling playgroup in an immersive environment where interactive nature backdrops were projected on all walls of the room.
Event Tip: Upon entering the room, you will spot a velvety black curtain on your left which cordons off to the Audio Visual (AV) room. A good place to place your diaper bags would be behind this curtain to prevent obstruction of space as yours and other children play along. Keep personal expensive belongings on you though. ?
“Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create investigate and explore”
Toddler R immediately lunged for the soft squishy toucan bird with joy. She was like in soft toy heaven. The excitement of the squeaks produced were evident.
This multi-sensory creative box caught her attention as well with its various functional play.
“Creative play involving drama, dance, art and/or visual art let children express how they see the world and their place in it. Children can use such play to communicate their feelings as well as develop their senses through exploration and discovery. The importance lies in the process and not the result.”
A perfect example of creative play at work where a traditional drawer becomes a comfortable abode for a cute baby girl.
Let’s weave some cool shoelaces into these threading templates!
Nah, maybe just forget about the complicated templates. Perhaps let’s just swing the shoelaces all around!
A look of victory and awe upon threading through a hole under the guidance and encouragement of lovely Grandma S!
“Dramatic play is play where children accept, assign roles and act them out. They dramatise situations and actions to go along with the roles as they break through the walls of reality and pretend to be someone else. It enhances perspective taking through empathy, visual discrimination as they practise hand-eye coordination during dress-up and linguistic skills through interesting conversations.”
For this part of play, interesting fantasy costumes are set aside neatly on a movable clothes liner. The costumes come in various sizes and it was wonderful to see how some children were totally immersed in role-playing as various characters! There are also a variety of adorable hand puppets for creative manipulation.
Here comes the bride and princess all set!
Such a long wedding veil indeed!
Despite Toddler R not trying out the costumes, she had a lot of opportunities to mingle with her new found friends which was completely heartening to see. Through the socialisation, we witnessed her simple gestures of learning to share and taking turns.
Alas, all fun must certainly come to an end, as the crowd seemed to automatically disperse about 15 minutes to 6pm, hence indicating that the playgroup was soon to be over! Since we were in no rush, we decided to help tidy up the room by placing all the toys back to their various categories of play. Cleaning up together with our children provides role modelling which instils responsibility, love for the environment and appreciation for the value of work. You will be amazed at how much kids can impress us with their perseverance and effort to help.
Watching Toddler R stack up the library books neatly was a cute treat.
Parenting Hack: Young children are generally more motivated to clean through narration (ie: showing, role-playing) rather than instruction (ie: telling). Instead of saying, “Please pack up now.”, you may say “May you please help Mummy to clean up the mess with some magic that you possess? (As baby cleans…) You are that magic! What a wonderful effort! The place is finally clean now!”
As a result of our efforts as a team, the room was organised in no time. We believe that Toddler R also felt good being appreciated when a staff came in to thank us for staying back to clean the place up.
The library staff subsequently handed us a very useful list of recommended readings suitable for Toddler R.
The library also provides a separate recommended reading list for kids between 3 to 6 years of age easily retrievable on the top shelf of the shoe rack at the entrance of the Stories Come Alive room.
Event Tip: Toys are rotated to ensure assortment and maintain engagement on the 2 different days of playgroups. Hence, never expect a dull moment when you visit each time!
As Toddler R exited the playgroup, she exuberantly plodded towards the attractive children’s section which comprises of picture books, magazines, non-fiction books, stories and AV materials. I also found informative books on parenting and family planning in this section.
The futuristic concentric circles on the library’s ceilings are accompanied by cool-looking alcoves for reading!
Event Tip: Need a site-map to the various genres? Just look up to the labelled ceiling circles or down to the floor to follow the various coloured lines which would lead you to your preferred class of reading.
The book shelves are suitably designed to allow toddlers to gain access to some of their favourite books easily without strain. A big shout-out to this kind child who plastered an avid reader sticker on Toddler’s R cardigan!
We could not resist to take an iconic photo in one of the reading alcoves as Toddler R gingerly rides on a mini tangerine bunny. This baby pink area is the library’s dedicated early literacy section which carries books for children below 6 years of age.
Event Tip: We spotted second language early literacy books here all neatly arranged according to its distinct Mandarin, Malay and Tamil language genre. The wide variety is certainly a draw to expose Toddler R to bilingualism or perhaps even trilingualism.
Just nearby, we spotted the play feature wall as well as an area where supposed costumes and puppets were placed for the eager young minds.
As Toddler R’s tummy let out a huge growl, we were reminded of dinner time! As such, we did not manage to explore the Tumblebook Station which is behind the Picture Books section that promote interactive digital screens.
The fresh crisp pristine environment along with kid-friendly activities are definite draws to make us return for more. Apparently, the Bukit Panjang Library is the first in Singapore to have two discrete wings for young and older readers! We cannot wait to visit the Adults’ and Teens’ sections manned by committed volunteers. Till then… It’s off to a delectable dinner!
A passionate educator turned zesty wife to my soulmate Mr. R before finally settling for now – an optimistic stay-at-home mum to a grand total of 1.5 kids (a life still growing fruitfully inside of me and an inquisitive toddler). Liken to the many who are hidden shower singers, I could secretly be a closet writer of my life reflections on one of the world’s greatest responsibility – motherhood.
In my world of parenting utopia, we will all be free from judgments or comparisons which may make us feel lesser than who we truly are. Come into my one-of-a-kind exploration, where I have a genuine heart to reach out to you with useful information and sincere sharing about the uniqueness of parenthood (*Grand cheers* to involved fathers!)
In time to come, I hope my writings can resonate with you as a parent, a spouse, a son/daughter or simply as a human who just needs kind support and a source of common space through this breathtaking journey.