Review: Baking with Spurbox

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Last Christmas we attended Spurbox’s workshop and learnt how to bake swissroll. 

I really loved how Big K and I were able to learn something new together. This Christmas we were back for some baking fun! 

Located in the heart of the city, just a stone’s throw away from City Hall Mrt station, Spurbox’s new location is a welcome. The facade is also nice and bright. I was half expecting the place to be a cramped office space as many years back, i worked in the same building. But the moment the doors of the lift opened, I was greeted by whitewashed walls and a big cake! The kids were immediately lured towards the pushcart that was festooned with Christmas decorations and the cart doubled up as an information counter. How creative!

The holiday workshops were catered for kids between 4 to 12yo. Nice! Because both kids can attend! Ideally i can just sit one corner and relax because they have great trainers helping the little ones. But it was probably a better idea for me to accompany Small K as he wasn’t as meticulous in the kitchen as his big sister. I was a tad concerned that Big sister might feel left out. She is, afterall, the emotional one. So i managed to shuttle between two classrooms which were adjacent to each other. 

Truthbetold, i was a little apprehensive about the baking bit. I mean 4year old baking a cake? Seriously? Well, the easy bit was that the batter was pre-prepared and whisked. It would be great if they could try their hands at it but the cakes would probably all turned out a flop, not to mention the mess these little ones would make! But the great bit was that the trainer did let everyone have a go at whisking his batter. It was really a great opportunity for Small K to handle the knife on his own and to decorate his own cake. The ocd side of me did try to hold back when I saw how untidy his dots were or how unsymmetrical his shapes were. But I knew better than to interfere. When I wasn't with him, he did ask the trainer for help. I was so proud of this boy!

Baking can give children an opportunity to develop several coordination skills. Besides making memories together with your child, one can also develop bilateral coordination through kneading or flattening the dough; eye-hand coordination through slicing up the fondant, hand strengthening through squeezing the dough into balls, spatial perception and math through measuring various ingredients. There really are many benefits and i would love to do it more often at home but i hate the mess! So it’s perfect that I can outsource.

Apart from baking, while the cakes are popped into the oven, the kids were ushered to another room for craft work. In line with the theme, Small K made a PJ mask pencil holder while Big K made her favourite unicorn hairband. This was the section when i stepped out completely and sat at the lounge area. The adults really didn’t need to be there. Nice.

Smelt so yummy I wanted to eat them there and then!

yeah taste your sweets as you bake! Why not? Yumz!

I was pleasantly pleased at how the final product turned out. In particular, how Big K managed to do 99% of the My Little Pony Popsicle cakes herself. Looks like my worries were unfounded. Her deft little fingers were able to work through those little ears and hair. I was impressed. 

Apart from the holiday workshops, Spurbox has several other ongoing workshops: 
Junior Gourmet
A 3-in-1 thematic programme that comprises of baking, storytime and crafting. Recommended for 2 - 10 years old

Junior Baker: 
A hands-on experience where each lesson is planned based on specific skill sets. Recommended for 5-12 years old

For the budding artist to develop new skills and talents while designing unique creations.  
Recommended for 4 - 10 years old

Art Discovery: 
Focuses on many artisan crafts from clay sculpting to bag making. 
Recommended for 4-12 years old

More recently, they've also launched their party packages. They've got a party room for rent so you don't have to worry about venue. Packages starts from $588 and you can customise your party with 3 programs: 
1) Baking 
90 mins of themed baking, craft and story time

2) Art & Craft
90 mins of artisan work ranging from clay to canvas.

3) Fantasy
90 mins of dress up, face painting, puppet show and make believe!

Planning a party seems to be a piece of cake over at Spurbox! 

Judging by their smiles, I'm pretty sure we would be back for more!


Quote Janice10 to get a 10% off everything on their web! Offer valid till 15 December so what are you waiting for!

You can connect with them over on 

 Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. We were invited to their workshop for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services. 

Celine, our first Hado Reader from Singapore

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The first Hado reader was born in Heguru Singapore at CitySquare mall in May 2018! The first in Singapore! And read this: she is only 9years old this year! Mindblown!

In order to qualify, you will need to read 10,000 books in a month! I don’t know about you but reading one book a month is challenging enough for me! With 10,000 books a month, you will be able to join the Ichimankai Club in Japan, which has trained many who have topped their classes and passed the entrance test for Tokyo University. 

Celine Ong is only 9 and has achieved this feat! I am so impressed! 


It is a form of right brain function where individuals with that ability are able to rapidly absorb information from any book.

Hado reading is developed by Heguru CEO Ruiko Henmi. In 1997, Mrs Henmi invented the epoch-making technique, the first in the world, of how to read a book and understand its contents, just by turning over its pages. It is claimed that Hado reading surpasses even speed reading. This concept seems preposterous but it is really true that one may be able to understand the contents of a book within a single second. To achieve this, one has to commence their training with the Heguru programme at an early age. Guess I might be too old for that!

Hado reading is not to be confused with speed reading. Hado does not read words in the book. It is the catching of information written in the book with the right brain. In other words, the brain is picturing things. Speed reading is the ability to read written words with speed. You may be reading but you may not be comprehending. 

Every child has a sleeping talent and at Heguru, they feel it is their mission to draw out that talent! The talent to hado read is so useful for a child as he will be able to study in an extremely short time. As a result of parallel processing skills, children can learn arithmetic, reading and Social Science simultaneously. The Hado reading segment is part of Heguru’s Primary Programme. I can’t wait for Big K to experience that! Yes she is 7 this year and technically she should be in the Primary class. However, due to her long hiatus in right brain training, the trainers and I felt that given her character, it is better to warm her up at a preschool 2 level. This is the level where most kids are 6years old. There is no shame in it as Heguru and I both share the same vision and that is for them to learn at their pace, in a happy environment.

The below vid further validates my decision.

So scary is the pace of the class! Big K takes a lot of time to warm so such a setting may be intimidating. In fact, during her first few weeks, she was a little taken aback. She couldn’t really catch up and was very disheartened. However, the environment was really nurturing and encouraging and within a month, she was asking for more! She was constantly rushing me to be early for class! That’s genuine enthusiasm if you ask me. In terms of work, she caught on really quickly and has progressed by leaps and bounds. 

The feedback i was given at the start was that she was adapting well and 95% of her work was accurate. At the most recent parent chat session, her trainer was proud to announce that Big K has opened up and shouts out the answers in class. She is also able to able to remember more numbers under the number memory activity and the lyrics to a song that was taught last month. The fact that she was shouting out the answers with gusto reassures me that Heguru not only has trained her right brain but it has also trained her in terms of confidence. Back at home, she would badger for her Heguru homework. She doesn’t mind doing 10 pages at one shot! THIS is true love which has been instilled by Heguru.

People often ask me if this will really make their kid smarter. Well honestly I don’t know but i am seeing results. Seeing my child pick up skills which will help her go a long way in life is good enough for me. Anything else will be a bonus. I will be sharing with you more on her progress progressively, so stay tuned!

Review:: Artistic Strategies Academy where Art and language marry

Monday, October 1, 2018

Everyone who knows us, would know how involved we are in Art. Most young children are excited about doing a creative activity. My children are no different. You should look at the awesome creation mess they make each day! The right side of the brain is in charge of creativity and visual skills amongst others whilst the left side takes over sequencing, language, and Math. If one is able to marry the two together, I believe it will provide a gateway for students to write more creatively. 

Hence when we were invited to Artistic Strategies, a writing academy founded by Ms Claudine Fernandez, we were ecstatic! Ms Claudine had been an ex teacher with extensive teaching experience. She completed her Masters in Education in Harvard and went on to set up Artistic Strategies Academy, with the mission to bring more creativity to children's writings. 

"I founded Artistic Strategies because I had seen too many children feeling disenchanted or disinterested with writing. This was mostly due to the fact that they associated writing with boring memorisation and rote learning techniques and felt disconnected from the stories they were made to write. Such a shame, given that writing is such an important lifeskill!
Something had to change. After graduating from Harvard University with a Master Degree in Arts in Education, I found the solution in marrying arts and writing, giving rise to our signature Artistic Writing™ program. I'm proud to say that we are the pioneers in Singapore. Many children love experimenting with different art forms as they are particularly enticed by the dynamic nature of the arts, which allows them to engage in hands-on, interactive and creative activities- instead of sitting behind their desks all the time."
~ Ms Claudine Fernandez, founder


We first attended the Open House where they set up stations for children to have bite size experiences of the things they do in class. Big K was introduced to the first station where she had to create a clay character with plasticine. Wonderful to have gross motor skills incorporated into the activity. Children instinctively connect thoughts, words, and images long before they master the skill of writing. Big K hasn't been introduced to composition writing, hence I didn't really want her to be put off. My fears were cast aside when I saw her creating her masterpiece. 

At the second yummy station, children are given marshmallows as props. They were tasked to create they own kingdom. Engaging their sense, how clever! This is what a good composition should incorporate!

The writing activity then follows. The worksheet Big K received had lots of scaffolding as I thought it would be a good way to introduce creative writing to her. The teachers will access your writing ability and cater to your needs. It isn't always a one sizes fits all worksheet. They do provide you with activity books and a customised writing kit used in their classes so that you can continue developing your child's writing skills at home.

At the third station, Big K had to yup, you guessed it, invent something! Handson activities immediately include a student, no matter if they are advanced learners or an amateur. Big K didn't know, but we were secretly weaving in knowledge as she crafted. The activity provides a prosthetic, addressing the areas where she needed support. 

Look at her invention! Can you guess what it was? 
It's a rice machine! She probably knew that to get every grain of rice takes a lot of effort, hence, it would be wonderful if there were a rice machine in this world to provide us with endless supply of rice! After crafting, she had to describe her invention. Don't worry, if your child can't form sentences or she has issues with spelling, the instructor is always there to help!

The last station she tried was the Origami & Haiku station. We all know that origami is the art of paper folding and has applications in modern-day classroom for teaching things like fractions, geometry, thinking skills and problem solving. So where is the language bit? Origami excites other modalities of learning. Research has shown that it improves spatial visualization skills using hands-on learning. Such skills allow a child to comprehend and construct their own vernacular for the world around them.

This was a bit of a challenge for Big K as she chose to fold a crane! We had been folding chairs and tables but crane? Wow! that was another level altogether. I sat back and observed. She was following the instructions well and when met with an obstacle, the instructor would once again come by to guide her. Now the interesting part of this activity was that the child had to create a Haiku based on what she had folded. A haiku for your information, is a 3-line poem. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllabus and the third line has 5 syllables. This is literature but Big K was happy to attempt!


When I told Big K that we were going back a second time, she was over the moon. She deemed it as fun. For the purpose to class, the ipad was whipped out. Now, I am usually not a screen-time kindof mom, but I do understand that given the rise in technological advancement, it comes as no surprise that the ipad and shows have become a dime a dozen. Teacher Claudine cleverly used the show Mona to entice Big K and a few questions were asked after a short snippet of the show. This builds comprehension and listening skills. 

Besides technology, we did say that the child was able to do some Art during the lesson right? Well, that was exactly what Big K did! She painted on a small canvas! You should have seen the sparkle in her eyes. Painting -- a love hate relationship which I have. Love because I myself am a rather creative person. Hate, well, the cleanup is a pain. So when she was able to quench her thirst for painting during class, I was thrilled. 

After all the art and technology, Big K was invited to another room where another instructor guided the children in writing and building up their repertoire of words. Of course all work and no play would make Jane a dull girl, hence, the instructor cleverly incorporated hangman (with a twist) into this segment, thereby introducing the new words to the children in a fun way. I really love how dynamic the lessons are. As a teacher, one should optimize the learning process and not simply using the static approach of drilling and that's exactly what they are doing over at Artistic Strategies Academy.


Discovering Enchantia was written by an 11yo whilst Dinobuster was written by a 9 year old!

Artistic Strategies has a highly sought after class during the June and December period. It is the Young Authors Programme. This is a holiday program where children can publish their own book and at the end of the day, proceeds go to charity. What a wonderful way to entice the child to write and not forgetting to show a little gratitude to life around. Can you imagine a young child publishing a book complete with illustration? I was excited to see and hear that! In order to maintain the standard of the books published, the number of students is kept low -- 5 per class. You are only able to join if you are selected! Extremely exclusive! Reason being, the process of writing a book is very tedious and the academy does not want to compromise the quality by doing a bigger class. 

Look at this! So meaningful! Written by a child!

Written by a 9year old. 

Our president Halimah Yacob actually came to know about this particular mention in the book on Dinos and wrote back to the 9 year-old author! WOW!

Apart from the Young Authors Programme, they also have a host of other workshops on top of their regular weekly classes. Visual Storytelling (A photography and writing workshop); Speak up, Speak well workshop (one that helps build confidence for introverted children) and the Young Inventors Programme which is perfect for the budding entrepreneur. You may find more information on their website here

The concept of marrying art and creative writing is really a valuable idea. Particularly for these little ones who have bountiful imagination. It is wonderful to see how Artistic Strategies Academy is able to develop tasks to harness the power of observation, analysis and writing. Unlike several other tuition centres where they spam the child with bombastic words and standard plots, Artistic Strategy believes in creativity. In this century, where rote learning is frowned upon, being unique in plot is the thing which is going to get you far in grades. In fact, I have even heard of schools marking the child down due to obsessive usage of flowery phrases. Some teachers are even able to tell which centre the child attends, from the same style of writing. Needless to say, these scripts do not garner high grades. So how can we instill more creativity in their writing? It is to allow them time to explore and making learning fun through the use of various mediums. 

With the recent changes in the education scene, we can see that the government is recognising that life skills and holistic learning are also just as important, hence, the focus on exams is slowly put to the backseat. There are pros and cons, in my opinion, but we definitely should impart skills to young children which will give them a head start in both their academic pursuits and their future careers. Skills like creativity and confidence will exude under the right guidance and environment. Throughout the sessions, I have seen how caring and encouraging the instructors were. Only under a comfortable environment will the child's creative juices be unleashed. So Give them a call today at 86926522 or

Connect with them on social media: 

Disclosure: We were invited to their open house and given a trial lesson for purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services

Review: Smartick. Math, one click away

Friday, September 21, 2018

Technology has penetrated nearly every aspect of modern human life. From large-scale bullet trains to little gadgets such as the iphoneXsMax, technological inventions have been considered the pinnacle of human achievement, combining intelligence with ingenuity to solve many of society's problems. 

With regards to exposing my little ones to technology, I however, have my reservations and am very cautious during selection. I don't deny that throwing them the ipad or turning on netflix does give me a breather, but things have to be in moderation.

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, as well as the development of a buffet spread of social media platforms, schools are also embracing technology in a big way. Some schools provide students with an ipad each for their studies while most will have e-learning once every term. It is unavoidable. And this reality has finally dawned upon us. Big K has entered Primary school this year and while I have always knew that students would need to use the computer for their work, I didn't expect it to be this soon. Big K frequently has homework from Koobits, a portal where Mathematics homework is set by the teachers. As much as I resent that, I have to embrace and adapt. 

When Smartick contacted us for a review, I was excited. Reason being, Big K was bored of Koobits and to be honest, a little scared. I had only myself to blame as there was once an avalanche of homework and we had to work on our online homework as well. The questions were rather repetitive and when Big K did not know her work, I snapped. Since then, she had a phobia and I was hoping to find another programme to redeem myself! Afterall, which kid doesn't like to deal with the computer? Kindof weird in this technological era right?

After a 3-month trial, I'm proud to announce that Big K loves the programme. Let me bring you through the programme.

What is Smartick?
It is Singapore’s first truly artificial intelligence (AI) driven online enrichment platform. Fronted by its award-winning AI mechanism, Smartick adapts to your child’s level of understanding and learning in math accordingly with a variation of approaches and exercises – including mental calculation, arithmetic, logic, and word problems. It is ideal for children aged between 4 to 14 years old 

Features include:
  • AI mechanism which allows Smartick to adapt to your child’s level of understanding and learning in math 
  • Daily bite-sized 15-minute online session 
  • A dashboard for parents to keep track of the child's progress
  • Email reminders should your child not complete the assignment
  • Virtual games
Awards and recognition:

Smartick is recognized by the MIT G-Lab (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), published by the Harvard Business Review and featured by Apple as a smart educational learning platform, and is currently used by thousands of children in over 100 countries
" By incorporating the AI algorithm formulated by our team of engineers and math experts, it enables us to serve children who can go further than the average student at school and, at the same time, help the ones who are falling behind,” said Daniel De Vega, Co-founder of Smartick 
We were given the opportunity to review both at a Primary 1 and 4 level. Here's our take:


Before you commence, the child is able to create an avatar of their choice. This was a great way to entice a young child. 

Initially, while testing out the system, I was appalled. The first few questions were so easy! I mean 2+1? Seriously? You will never find that in a Primary 1 test paper. However, it does progressively get more difficult and if you notice, the vibrant interface and the use of various ways like the rekenrek allow the child to visualise better. Children this age are very visual, hence having little ducks or beads, will help them in having a deeper conceptual understanding. In anycase, the level of difficulty does increase.

If the child is tired, she can also opt to take a break and continue later. 

It isn't all about addition and subtraction. There are also logic questions which help develop critical thinking skills. This is sadly lacking in many students these days. 

Upon completion, you will receive your results. Stars are accumulated and awarded as a form of reward. And here's the fun part! After completing the day's challenge, the child is able to enter the Virtual World and have some fun! This is the reason why Big K was motivated! It was such a game changer! Before you start thinking that gaming is a vice, I'll let you in on a little secret -- I personally like these games too! They aren't your typical Beat Saber or Rober Recall or Counterstrike, these are intellectual games we are talking about!

They are categorised accounting to various genres: Memory, reasoning, attention and perception. Under each section, there are several games and levels to choose from.


Even for the games, things get progressively difficult. Starting with just a few squares for the memory game, the intensity heightens with more grids after a while. 


Tic Tac Toe. This must be one of Big K's favourite! She is familiar with this game but the cute animation made it a novelty for her. 


There are 3 level of difficulties: Easy, Medium and Hard. For Big K, she was sufficiently challenged at level 1. For some of these attention games, one has to work on not only attention but cognitive flexibility -- A skill which is quite difficult to train should you simply plough through tons of assessment books.


Big K particularly love this section. Perhaps it has to do with her good visualisation skills which is tested in the game Entangled. Bubble Pop was another favourite of Big K's. In this game, you work on perception and spatial reasoning.

Bubble pop


The game will become more difficult. Higher levels will test your memory capacity as figures become more complex. To make things a little more challenging, the child is also timed. This further enhances the child's ability to process quickly. A skill essential for the Math papers as time is always not enough particularly for the upper levels. 

These games are fun for the younger ones but I can envision that a 12 or 14year old may not find joy in such games. Due to the lack of time, we were not able to do the questions on a daily basis. It is however a system which allows independent learning should your child have access to the computer even when you aren't around.


We also had the opportunity to review the system with a Primary 4 child. The content is in line with the Singapore's Math Syllabus. However, one thing to note is that we aren't able to zoom into a particular topic and work more on it. Hence if you are looking at reinforcement of certain concepts, this programme won't do the job. 

Using the computer to drag those dots for a symmetry question beats using a pencil to draw. 

Once again, the programme started out really easy for the child. 

Things do get increasingly challenging with new concepts like exponential being introduced. This isn't something which a typical primary school would be teaching, however, having such knowledge aids your ability to solve questions for topics such as Area and Perimeter. For this purpose, I had to give a bit of explanation to the child for her to understand. Don't fret if you don't know how to explain. There is a "I don't know" button where you can seek assistance. 

Little nugget of reward is injected. 

As before, after completing the questions, the child is able to proceed to the Virtual World for some fun! I was particularly delighted when I spotted a Tangram game. You would probably already know that I am quite big on right brain and visual training. Skills are subtly imparted through such games.

Over and above, I do think that it is a good system to supplement should you have the time to spare. Afterall, 15minutes isn't a lot isn't it?

Psst: look what I have discovered! Should you wish to give it a try, key in the above code and receive 25% off your first subscription!

For more information, check out their website here or like their page on Facebook.

Technology never stands still; it is always on the move. When utilised wisely, benefits can be reaped. 
Smartick is indeed a new way to engage and educate!

Disclosure: We were given a 3-month trial to review their programme. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.