Saturday, August 6, 2011

Field Trip: Singapore Philatelic Museum

Our field trip this morning was not very Peru-related, but it was travel-related and it was a blast.

We went to the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Philatelic - as I learned - means stamp, as in postal stamp. I had heard from friends that it was a great place to take preschoolers and it did not disappoint. It was our best museum experience yet in Singapore, and there are generally some pretty great things happening here for kids at museums.

And a good lesson for me, to keep looking off the beaten track. There are hidden treasures in unexpected places.

Why was it so great?

1. It was totally hands-on.

There were doors to open, at the right height for a preschooler, with interesting things inside. This exhibit was on Singapore's different cultures. Some doors had clothings/shoes inside, others had wedding photographs, food-related items, or religious artifacts.

2. It engaged multiple senses.
Here's The Whirl Girl sniffing star anise, from an area on Indian spices. There were also Chinese clogs to try on and various drums to play.

3. It featured a creative use of technology.

Some of The Whirl Girl's favorite activities - surprise, surprise - were computer-related. There was a computer she could type on, a responsive quiz game, and this "type your name in hieroglyphics."

4. It was engaging and playful.

There was an exhibit on rabbits (this year is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit) that was particularly kid-oriented. There were underground rabbit houses to peek into, an easter egg hunt in the paintings on the wall, and feed-the-rabbits computer screen table.

5. It was just the right size.

The exhibits were in rooms that were big enough to house a couple of dozen activities, but small enough for the often short-lived attention span of a preschooler. It felt cozy and intimate, but not crowded. And kids could explore a room on their own without getting lost in the museum, with a parent near by but not hovering.

6. It was international.

There was a section of stamps from all of the countries, with a bit of information about each place. And throughout the museum, lots of countries and cultures were represented.
Look! Peru!

How great was it? I may just be inspired to start collecting stamps. The combination of travel and art and culture and communication: Awesome. If only I still got letters in the mail...

What places have you discovered in your own cities (or in your travels) that have surprised you?

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