When they grow up
Before KidZania, there was The City. Established in 2012, the interactive learning playground ($18-$22) allows children aged between 18 months to eight years old to take on different adult roles and professions in a well-equipped kid-sized city.
The playground is separated into zones: there’s a police station, fire station, clinic, hair salon, post office and café. Children can dress up in uniforms and play cook, doctor, cashier and policemen, and even ‘drive’ on miniature streets complete with traffic signs and lights. The largest area is dedicated to the supermarket, which stocks items you can find in an actual Cold Storage or FairPrice. The goal of these role-playing exercises is to hone children’s life skills, such as counting money and learning about nutrition, health, safety and hygiene.
Pronounced ‘moshi’, this digital multimedia theme park (from $22) is said to be the first of its kind in Singapore. There are no slides or rides in this digital playground, just five zones that offer interactive activities imported from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Pass completed coloured sheets through a machine and spot your ‘Mosh!cot’ – it’s the centre’s mascot – bounce around the big screen at the World of Wonder. If your children love underwater creatures, head to the Doodle Aquarium, where they can scan their illustrations – they’ll end up ‘swimming’ onto a big aquarium screen. At the Paper Plane Adventure, children fold their own paper plane and throw it against an interactive big screen – an animation of a jet flying through different landscapes will magically appear on it.
Located right smack in the arts enclave of Gillman Barracks, this centre ($20/children below 12) is all about flexing the creative muscle though participative activities. Helmed by not-for-profit charity Playeum, its current hands-on exhibition, Hideaways – Creating with Nature, has seven installations centred around the environment.
Whether it’s getting up-close with creepy-crawlies in their natural habitats in Knock, Knock! Who Lives There? or crafting musical instruments from bamboos in Sounds of the Earth: Nature’s Ensemble, there’s something to do and see in every nook and cranny. The next exhibition, A World Full of Stories, opens on November 12 and runs until April 30, 2017.
Giggles (from $18) is separated into two play areas, the first of which is a jungle gym where children can swing, slide and balance. However, what separates Giggles from other indoor playgrounds is the PlayHouse: a sensory room, soft gym playroom and water play area combined.
While adult supervision is necessary at all times, there are drop-off, 2-hour sessions at PlayHouse for toddlers between 13 to 36 months, where a trained play guide runs Reggio Emilia-inspired programmes according to the tots’ (maximum of four) interests. Giggles also runs a programme tailored to children with special needs ($90/hour) to encourage communication and develop social skills, with both the play guide and during playtime with another child.
Keppel Centre for Art Education is proof that you’re never too young to be in an art gallery. It aims to inculcate in children an appreciation and love for the visual arts in four zones.
The younger ones can create a visual postcard with craft materials ($2/kit) at the children’s museum and navigate a large puzzle by moving colourful chips along different parts of the art corridor. Let children above five – and less than a metre tall – roam a fantastical painting titled The Enchanted Tree House to explore a magical forest and cross a dangerous river in the art playscape. Those above seven can build their own imaginary future abodes in the project gallery. Entry is free for citizens and PRs – just get an admission sticker at the counter.
For excavator enthusiasts
Here’s one to get fans of Bob the Builder excited. Diggersite allows children to step into the steel-toed boots of construction workers by letting them operate kid-sized construction machinery like excavators and cranes. To complete the experience, the entire compound is littered with bright yellow signs on which the mandatory ‘caution’ warning is printed, and safety helmets are provided for all children.
While seated in an excavator complete with hydraulic ‘arms’, children – and, if they’re so inclined, adults – attempt to pick up colourful plastic balls, bottles, logs and bricks and move them around an enclosed sandpit. Developing fine motor skills is the goal here, although we’re guessing ‘having fun’ is more like it. The excavators operate on a token system: a 5-minute ride costs $7, and children below the age of six must be supervised by an adult.
More playgrounds to take the kids to
They say that we never actually grow up. We just become good at pretending. And at KidZania Singapore, your children will be really good at faking it (hopefully ’til they make it). This edutainment centre is literally a city within a city. And spread across the massive facility are dozens of ‘real-world’ venues – scaled down, of course – where little ones can learn about being a firefighter, policeman, actor… you get the drift.