It's Singapore National Day week!
While my husband and I have been living in the States for a few years, we are still very Singaporean at heart. He makes 'teh' and 'kopi' (Singapore version milk tea and coffee) every other day, and our favourite breakfast is kaya toast (we were thrilled to find great tasting kaya from Reunion Malaysian Cafe + Kitchen in Kirkland).
It is important to us that our toddler doesn't forget her Singaporean roots. We will return to Singapore in the near future and I hope she doesn't feel foreign in the country my husband and I call home.
With that intent, I created these 10+ Montessori-inspired indoor crafts and activities for my toddler to learn about Singapore while having lots of patriotic fun.
10+ Montessori-Inspired Singapore Themed Toddler Activities
Watch the video of my toddler carrying out the activities!
1. Singapore Island Outline Cutting
This activity taps on my toddler's current interest in mastering scissors skills.
I illustrated a rough outline of Singapore, indicated the cutting zone in dots, and invited my toddler to cut the island shape out.
During the play conversation, I shared with her that Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. The main island shape is diamond-shaped and there are many surrounding smaller islands in the Singapore territory.
2. Letter Treasure Hunt & Matching
Uppercase and lowercase alphabet letter matching is a focal area for the learning activities I plan for my toddler currently. This is because my toddler has taken a keen interest in letter recognition and recall, often pointing out letters in books, naming their letter sounds and asking for affirmation.
To follow this interest, I created this treasure hunt activity for my toddler to dig through the sensory rice to locate embedded 'SINGAPORE' wooden letters in uppercase. For photography reason, I placed the letters on top of the sensory rice. To commence the activity, conceal them well in the sensory rice!
On the side, I provided a piece of paper with lowercase 'singapore' written on it. I invited my toddler to place each uppercase letter above the lowercase letter to construct the word 'SINGAPORE'.
This activity can be tailored for different developmental ages.
For younger toddlers or babies, it could be a pure treasure hunt to dig out hidden letters, a great sensorial experience with fine motor practice.
For older preschoolers and children who can read or spell, 'omit' a few letters from the word and challenge them to remember what the missing letters are and locate them.
3. Red Dot Stickering
This activity is inspired by how Singapore is depicted on the world map as a 'little red dot'. Singapore's land size is significantly smaller than its Southeast Asian neighbours yet its economic development is anything but small.
Through our space unit study, my toddler is familiar with how the Earth looks like, and knows the blue areas designate the oceans while the green areas represent the land. Building on this knowledge, I shared the perspective of how the green lands are split into countries, and our home country Singapore is a really tiny land.
I marked out the location of Singapore on the world map with a 'x' and invited my toddler to peel off a red dot sticker and stick over the 'x'. I also used this opportunity to explain to my toddler what a map legend is -- it's a visual explanation of symbols used on the map.
4. Happy Birthday Cake Craft
This year, Singapore is 55 years old, having gained independence on 9 August 1965 and National Day is a celebration of our country's independence.
To explain national day in a simple and visual manner, I created this happy birthday cake craft activity incorporating favourite fine motor activities of my toddler -- dot stickering and play dough manipulation.
As my toddler taped the dot stickers onto the birthday candles, I counted aloud -- this facilitates one-to-one correspondence learning beyond rote number counting.
5. Singapore Flag Craft
This craft activity is to familiar my toddler with the design of the Singapore flag, as well as share with her the meaning behind it.
The crescent moon represents a young nation on the rise while the five stars represent Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
I showed my toddler an image of the Singapore flag on my phone as she applied glue to the different components of the flag and attempted to replicate the design on paper. I provided guidance to help her position the stars in a circle next to the crescent moon.
6. Merlion Craft
This activity is inspired by Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion which has the head of a lion but the body of a fish.
I illustrated the merlion on white cardboard but did not detail the fish body.
I cut out many fish scales on a separate sheet of paper (recycling the fringed edges of a paper plate would be great to add a 3D effect) and invited my toddler to glue the fish scales onto the fish body.
7. Lion Mane Cutting
In one of the homemade scissors activities I've previously tried with, my toddler enjoyed giving a paper lion a hair makeover.
She was excited to repeat this familiar activity.
During the play conversation, I shared with her that Singapore was called Singapura, which translates to "Lion City" in Sanskrit. Myth has it that Sang Nila Utama, a Sumatran Prince, thought he saw a lion on the island and named the island after the lion sighting.
The interesting fact is that lions have never lived in Singapore (not even Asiatic lions) so the animal sighted by Sang Nila Utama could very well be a tiger instead, possibly the Malayan tiger.
8. Milo Making Sensorial Activity
Milo has been Singapore's favourite energy drink since 1950. It was in the limelight not too long ago when local singer Nathan Hartono professed his love for Milo on Sing! China.
I've been reading My Five Senses with my toddler and this was a good opportunity for her to utilise her sense of sight, taste and touch to appreciate this popular Singapore drink. It's her first time tasting Milo! I usually don't provide sweetened drinks for her consumption.
I included rich vocabulary in my activity conversation with her, such as, "The water is warmed so it's easier to dissolve the Milo powder" and "Does it taste sweet and chocolatey?" Rich vocabulary during play boosts language development.
My toddler enjoyed making her own beverage from scratch -- scooping the Milo powder from the jar on her own into a cup, pouring warm water into the cup from a pitcher and stirring the beverage with a spoon.
9. Pandan Leaf Cutting
Pandan leaves are a tropical plant, which is known for its naturally sweet taste and aroma. I love using it to flavour rice as well as make confectionery such as pandan cake, and my favourite kueh dada.
This makes for a great practical life activity (helping in the kitchen) as I invited my toddler to help place the frozen pandan leaves (the only kind we get here!) in water to bring them to room temperature and cut pandan leaves into smaller segments before I steamed them to use in my cooking. Cutting the pandan leaves released strong aroma, making it a highly sensorial activity for my toddler.
Here's a picture of the kueh dada (the green colour comes from pandan juice extracted from steamed pandan leaves) my toddler and I co-created, she helped to add the filling while I did the rolling. I like to substitute the sweet grated coconut in kueh dada with toasted almond flour to add nutritional value to this snack for my toddler.
10. 新加坡 Chinese Character Colouring
This activity is to familiarise my toddler with the Chinese characters for Singapore, 新加坡.
By making it a hands-on colouring activity, it's a tactile and visual way to remember the characters better and commit them to memory.
11. Playing Patriotic Songs
In place of the usual nursery rhymes we play at home, I've been putting a couple of patriotic songs on repeat, such as "Home", the Singapore national anthem and "We are Singapore". I've also recited the Singapore pledge a few times as she repeated the words after me and I took the opportunity to explain to her what they mean.
Music exposure helps children learn the sounds and meanings of words more easily and helps strengthen memory skills.
Happy National Day, Singapore! I hope your child enjoys these fun and hands-on Singapore themed activities!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.