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Friday, February 22, 2019

Playing Games vs Gamification

This post is brought to you by KidoCode, a community that provides computer programming, math, and digital art courses for students of all ages.

Playing Games and Games Addiction

One of the worries faced by parents today are kids on computer games. The challenge is how to get kids off computer games to focus on learning. When smart phones came into the scene, this issue became amplified as kids could easily get their hands on games on this portable, affordable device.

Traditional Education System

Part of the problem of not being able to get kids to focus on learning is the boredom they feel when studying. In the traditional education system, there is a lot of rote learning, memorizing and very little interaction. 

In the traditional education system, the teacher tries to get kids to listen as they talk. Kids go home to do their homework for the day's lessons and then they are tested by doing assessments or exams on chapters taught in school. There is very little interaction or input from the kids.

Obviously creative solutions are required to improve the learning system and that is where gamification in education helps.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the application of gaming elements and mechanics to increase participation and engagement. Gamification can be used to enhance learning and inspire self-learning. It encourages the learner to be self-motivated to "level up" and "compete" as they learn.

Gamification in 21st Century Learning

KidoCode uses gamification to teach young kids to build programs and games instead of playing them. Kids are naturally eager to learn about something that interests them. As they learn to code and develop games, they also learn other subjects like physics and maths as a matter of course. In fact they become curious about these subjects as it helps them with their coding tasks.

Learning is task oriented, interactive and engrossing. Even advanced languages like Python are understood by kids when learning is gamified. By using rewards and recognition, kids are motivated to learn more.

Playing Games vs Gamification

Gaming is not all bad. They do allow kids to unleash their imaginations. When kids play games, you may be surprised that they use strategic and logical thinking skills to solve problems or goals set by the game. However, it can also easily lead to game addition as most games are designed in such a way to challenge the gamer to achieve more and more to get to a higher level. Excessive and unmonitored gaming can lead to addiction, isolation and withdrawal of interest from education.

Gamification in education taps on this desire to achieve by applying it to a learning environment. Goals, tasks, rewards and recognition helps kids learn better. It brings out the creativity in them and makes them curious to learn more.

Which do you think is better? Kids addicted to games or kids addicted to learn how to build games?

To find out more about how KidoCode uses gamification to  coach and guide kids to code and build games and apps, you can register your child up for a 3-hour trial class here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

How to Speak and Write Like a Pro March 2019 School Holiday Programme

Did you know that the school holidays are coming around again? Yes, the festive holidays may have just ended but if you have not had enough of the holidays, don't worry for it is in about a month's time.

This year, the first term school holidays is from 23rd to 31st March 2019 for schools in Group B (Schools in Perlis, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya) or a day earlier for schools in Group A (Schools in Kedah, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu)

For those of you searching for school holiday programmes, now is the time to start planning. Here's one in Kuala Lumpur, The Curve and Penang.

Speak and Write Like a Pro March Holiday Programme by British Council Malaysia

To be able to communicate effectively whether in your speech or in writing is very important skill for a student. The ability to express oneself better and put thoughts into words will help students in team projects and school assessments especially in subjective questions requiring High Order Thinking Skills.

These days many parents send their kids to DLP (Dual Language Programme) schools. As more and more subjects are taught in English, the need to be able to speak and write well in English becomes increasingly important. For example, in Secondary school, a science stream student will be doing 6 subjects in English. They are English, General Maths, Add Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Students are required to write well and speak well in English to do well in these subjects. So, it is a good idea to provide our children with any extra help to help them master English and be able to speak and write like a pro.

This school holidays the course by British Council Malaysia is designed to do just that. The course is available to students from age 10 to 17. Below are details of the course.

Speak and Write Like a Pro (for children aged 10-12)

In this school holiday programme, upper primary school children will explore and use the expert tricks and techniques used by famous authors including Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. They will learn how to put their own twist to classic fairy tales such as Cinderella and learn to write creatively on the exciting theme of "Adventures in Space". In addition, they will be coached on how to wow and capture the audience with confidence when they present their stories.

Parents will get to see their children present to a live audience at the end of the course.

Speak and Write Like a Pro (for students aged 13-17)

The older secondary school kids will learn formal essay writing skills and be taught to craft a discursive essay based on popular films and the role of modern technology in our future. A discursive essay presents an argument related to a given topic by either writing persuasively on arguments for one side only or examining both sides of the issue in a balanced way. This is very useful for school writing on any topic. They will learn to communicate in groups with emphasis on creating an impactful presentation.

At the end of the course, parents can see their children in action when they present their topics.
Course Details

Course Title: Speak and Write Like a Pro
Contact/Registration: British Council Malaysia
Contact information:

KL / the Curve
03 7661 6235

04 202 0014

Date/Time/Location/Fees as shown below:

LocationPriceAge GroupsDateDuration
Kuala Lumpur (Wisma Golden Eagle Realty)

- formerly known as Wisma Selangor Dredging
10 to 12 years old (Creative Writing)
13 to 15 years old (Essay Writing)
16 to 17 years old (Essay Writing)
27-29 Mac9.00am − 4.15pm
Mutiara Damansara 
(The Curve)
10 to 12 years old (Creative Writing)
13 to 15 years old (Essay Writing)
16 to 17 years old (Essay Writing)
27-29 Mac10.00am − 5.15pm
Penang (Wisma Great Eastern)
10 to 12 years old (Sharpen your Essay Skills)
13 to 15 years old (Sharpen your Essay Skills)
28-29 Mac10.00am − 5.00pm

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2-day trip to Singapore with older kids - Day 2 Marina Bay by night

Marina Bay looks so magical at night with all the colourful lights

We found out from the Singapore Visitor Centre next to Orchard Gateway #iLightSingapore and the River Hong Bao 2019 Festival so off we went after an afternoon nap to recover from our nature walk during the day. So we took the MRT from Orchard to Raffles Place and with the help of Mr Google Map, we first walked to Lau Pa Sat to have Satay.

At Lau Pa Sat entrance

Our timing was not too bad. We had heard that it starts at 7pm. So we were in time to watch the street transform from a motor vehicle road to a food street within minutes from 7pm sharp.

Right on the dot at 7 pm, stalls and tables were set up

The stalls and tables are pushed into place within minutes.

The Satay stalls at Lau Pa Sat
Within minutes after it was set up, the tables begin to fill up. There's quite a bit of competition among the sellers and you can't just sit anywhere you like. You must sit only on the tables allocated for the particular satay stall you ordered from. Being noobs we just ordered from the first person who approached us. We later read that the best stalls are stall no. 7 & 8. We didn't have a chance to try because we had ordered from stall no 3 & 4. The satay was only just so so and nothing to shout about but the whole experience was quite fun.

It was nice to sit in the cool evening air and watch the day change to night and the buildings light up.

Satay at Lau Pa Sat

The buildings lighted up as we ate

Panorama of the satay stalls at Lau Pa Sat
After dinner, we walked to Marina Bay with the help of Mr Google Map. Everything looked so beautiful and magical with lights everywhere. Marina Bay Sands looked very grand in the backdrop.

Even the Singapore Merlion was given a makeover with a light show on it while colourful flags line up the Jubilee Bridge.

Marina Bay Sands

Singapore Merlion
Singapore Merlion Light Show

The Jubilee Bridge

Colourful flags light up the jubilee bridge

View of Jubilee Bridge

Entrance to the River Hong Bao Festival.

Visitors are greeted by a dragon shaped like the number 200. Besides a stage show which are brought to life by 3 gigantic screens to the many visitors of the festival, you can walk around and admire the many lighted lanterns showcasing the history of Singapore. The 12 zodiac animal lanterns were placed all round the festival grounds too. There were so many pretty lanterns, I didn't managed to take pictures of all of them. Below are some of the nice looking lanterns featured at the festival.

The display include a giant God of Fortune lantern with showers of fortune (golden confetti) on at certain times.

Red Dragon shaped like the number 200

Entrance to the River Hong Bao Festival

Modern Singapore Lantern Display

Dragon Lantern

Peacock Lantern

Lucky Cat Lantern

Fish Lantern

Giant God of Fortune Lantern

The climax is the fireworks display at 10 pm, so beautiful.

After the fireworks, we went back to the hotel, again with google map leading the way to the nearest MRT station.

The next day was basically packing, checking out and finding our way to the bus for our journey home.

We managed to squeeze in quite a lot of activities for the short time we were there and for those we missed, maybe another time.....

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2-day trip to Singapore with older kids - Day 2 Southern Ridges (Daytime)

Southern Ridges

"Let's go hiking" said the man.

"What, you came to Singapore to go Hiking?" said the woman

The man won over the woman and so that's how the man, the woman and the kids ended up at the Southern Ridges and the Henderson Waves.

Southern Ridges, Singapore is 10 km of open space connecting Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.

We started by taking an MRT from Orchard to Dhoby Ghaut and changed lines to Harbour Front MRT Station.

The Marang Trail is a few minutes walk from the Harbour Front MRT Station. Some footprints on the trail assured us that we were on the right track.

Follow the footprints and the signs and there's always good old google map to help out.

Printed footprints along the way serve as a guide

Signage helped too

Walk among the trees

The start of the Marang Trail

We did not go all the way as our target was Henderson Waves bridge. So we walked about 3.5km from the start of Marang Trail to HortPark. Too bad, we did not have time to look around HortPark. At Hortpark, we took bus no 100 to Raffle's Place MRT station and walked to Golden Mile complex to try to purchase bus tickets home but decided against it. Eventually, we took the MRT to Novena station to purchase tickets from there.

We saw many tourist buses which stopped along the peaks for photo sessions. Below are some images of our walk.

Mount Faber Park

To Henderson Waves

Spotted: Cable cars leading to Sentosa Island

Hilltop View

Henderson Waves

Attractions to visit

At certain points, you can choose to walk the Earth Walk or Tree Top Walk. We went for the tree top walk which was more like a nature walk rather than a hike. It can be rather high too, among the trees but you don't really feel so unless you look down.

Our trail for the day:

1. Orchard to Harbour Front by MRT
2. Harbour Front to Marang Trail on foot
3. Marang Trail to HortPark on foot
4. HortPark to Golden Mile Complex by bus
5. Golden Mile Complex to Novena by MRT
6. Novena back to Orchard by MRT

Next up: Day 2 Marina Bay at night
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