Wednesday, 29 October 2008

NSS Kids' Fun with Asian Elephants @ Orchidville

By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson

Jin Pyn, the talented author-cum-illustrator of the children’s book ‘The Elephant and The Tree’ read aloud this endearing story, peppering her recitation with lots of captivating Ele facts and figures. This 27 September 2008 event was hosted by Nature’s Niche, the nature bookstore formerly at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, at its new location in Orchidville off Mandai Road.

Author Jin Pyn’s animated story telling brought home the message that Asian Elephants need Trees (the jungle) for their continued survival.

The laid-back ambience of Orchidville (Singapore’s largest orchid farm) proved an apt venue as kids could also browse at Ele-related books and paraphernalia sold at Nature’s Niche. After an invigorating story telling session, kids were treated to two videos filmed at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, north Thailand. These videos showed how Asian elephants lived and played alongside locals and tourists in a conservation-oriented elephant camp. Here, jumbos were portrayed as sensitive, fun-loving giants, co-existing peacefully with mankind in their natural habitat of lush jungles and meandering rivers.

8-year old Faith Wong captured the essence of the session with her cute conservation-themed drawing.

Kids were later asked to draw on ‘trees’ (at the back of recycled paper), to illustrate their thoughts and wishes for elephants. They were particularly energized as Jin Pyn revealed that good drawings would be animated by her and featured on her website at

NSS Kids’ Fun with Beverage Plants

By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson

That cup of coffee, tea or cocoa that most of us cannot do without to start off our day was given prominence at the NSS Kids’ Fun with Beverage Plants session held at the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden on 23 August 2008.

Kids gathered around the cocoa tree at the Children’s Garden, the source of their favourite drink Milo.

Auntie Angie led the session, bringing the kids to view the three beverage plants at the Children’s Garden, and talked about the various caffeine-based properties that made these beverages so popular. The best part was that kids got to touch for themselves live coffee cherries from Auntie Angie’s own tree, ripping apart the skin of these cherries to see the two coffee beans encased within. Uncle Timothy then told stories of how these plants were discovered, harking back to mystical legends and whimsical tales. For example, coffee was discovered by a shepherd boy who noticed that his goats became more frisky after eating the plant!

Auntie Angie and Uncle Timothy hold up cocoa pods.
Kids jostled to help pour the beverages out from a Middle-Eastern coffee pot.

Auntie Gloria then continued the session by explaining how the three plants were processed from their raw forms into the delicious cuppa that wakes us up. Kids then tried their hand at brewing their own tea, coffee and cocoa, and had fun pouring out and sipping the hot beverages in tiny take-home souvenir tea cups. Uncle Si Guim was the kind soul who helped rinsed the cups after each beverage was downed with delight. Finally, kids were asked to illustrate the total number of cups consumed by their family members each day, using the powder of each of the beverages to paste onto their drawings, a messy but enjoyable piece of art!

Some of the kids with their pieces of beverage art.

Beverage Art with Raw (green colour) and Roasted (black colour) Coffee beans mixed with a Coffee Cherry (red colour) on a Coffee Leaf.