A Trip to Playeum and Gillman Barracks

I am a guy. And it is a guy thing to not ask for directions even if we are completely lost. It just so happened that we weren’t very lost. Just a little bit lost because we were still just at the MRT station. While we had planned on going to Labrador Nature Reserve that day, it seems that fate had other plans. We never did find our way to Labrador Nature Reserve and actually headed in the opposite direction where the signage pointed to Gillman Barracks. I had no idea what Gillman Barracks was but it sounded cool and we didn’t really have a plan B for that outing. So we trotted along, Matthew and I, and found our way to a rather long covered walkway with the words Gillman Barracks tacked on the ceiling (of sorts).

Gillman Barracks
Gillman Barracks

Luckily we are now in the Internet age and information is easy enough to get as long as you are connected. A little bit of Googling told us that apart from food, we might find ourselves a little place called Playeum over at Gillman Barracks. Again, that sounded cool. So we went.

We didn’t really know what to expect since it was our first time at Playeum, so we asked. The theme for the month was Hideaways; Creating with Nature. The lady (and practically everyone) gave us a quick tour of the facilities and the exhibit which piqued Matthew’s curiosity and interest immediately. It was a no-brainer then that we were going in. It wasn’t such a bad idea since I couldn’t see much more that we could do in the area. They charged a reasonable amount for entry that included access to the exhibit for parent and child plus a discount on food and drinks at the nearby café. Not a bad deal at all.

Through the Looking Glass
Through the Looking Glass

At Playeum, play is encouraged and parent-child bonding is enforced. So if you do pay them a visit, please play-it-forward.

We had a go at the Creature Cave which turned out to be too kiddy for Matthew (who is ten by the way). Reading about its description, it was designed with younger kids in mind. So is the Dark Space which was right beside the cave. We had a good time inside a pitch black room that were littered with motion sensors that activated sounds and lights to show young ones the different animals that they might encounter in the dark. Matthew had me crawl across the floor just so I don’t trigger any of the sensors and keep things quiet. With my bulk and girth, it isn’t a wonder that I failed. Miserably. Not that he did much better.

The next exhibit featured a micro-projector. Okay, I made that one up, but it’s a cross between a microscope and a projector so I do make some sense. The exhibit was called “Knock, Knock; Who Lives There?”. It showcases some of the insects and their habitat that can be seen in and around Gillman Barracks if you were adventurous enough to wander through the foliage surrounding the area. We recognised most of the fossilised insects (Yey!) but not so much the flats that they lived in. So it was cool to learn about these. And you can even make your own habitat using recycled materials over at the crafting section of Playeum.

The other exhibits are more for expressing one’s creativity using natural materials and being inspired by natural habitats. The Welcome to My World exhibit gives kids a variety of materials that they can use to build their own habitats as if they were one of the insects that were presented cleverly in Knock Knock. There were bamboo shoots, bamboo sticks, string, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, flower petals, dried leaves and then some. While our tent-like contraption did not quite become habitable, it was a decent creation nonetheless. Our moth habitat was better decorated with flowers and leaves. There were better examples, but hey, we all have our good building days. This was Matthew’s first encounter with a glue gun by the way, and they bonded with each other like … err … glue. Which brings us to his masterpiece, a spiderweb. It was just cool to play around with the glue although you have to remember that melting glue from a glue gun is quite hot.

Hot Glue! Yipee!
Hot Glue! Yipee!

On the other side of the crafting area is Sounds of the Earth. Again prompting the use of natural recycled materials, one is expected to make a musical instrument of some sort. While not exactly orchestra material, Matthew and I managed to build up a few things that make music. Okay, maybe not so much music but they do make sound. Matthew made one he called The Snapper. It was basically a frame made of popsicle sticks with rubber bands that made a snapping sound when you flicked them. I made something similar that was made with cardboard instead. Then there’s the Tie-Fighter-esque seed shaker that was made out of egg cartons and bamboo sticks. The creme de la crop I would say was the bamboo pole that I filled with seeds and more bamboo and the ends were then covered with cloth. It was a decent instrument if I do say so myself.

On to the clay moulding area then. Make-Believe Hideaway they called it. One was meant to create a creature hideout with the clay. It would then be attached to the already growing nest of hideouts on the nearby table. It was like build-your-own apartment that would then be stuck onto a bigger apartment building. Matthew being free to create, he made an Onyx instead (yes, the rock Pokemon). Naturally, he made me create a matching creation which yielded a Geodude (yes, the other rock Pokemon). We then looked for suitable apartments in the habitat area to put our creations to be immortalised in clay.

It's Geodude!
It’s Geodude!

Through all the artsy fartsy stuff that we were doing, friendly staff were around helping, cleaning, creating and just being friendly. At the end of the day (quite a long day in fact) we left the place happy and stamped our own creations into the exhibit. We even found someone who watches One Punch Man and this made Matthew really happy. We took home his Saitama and Genos action figures that he made from toilet paper rolls. And we’re hoping to go back before the exhibit ends this October. You can still make it before it ends.

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