Singapore, 16 November 2021— Cultural picture books developed by youths, for children? A set of 10 new cultural picture books are ready to hit the streets, as part of a special collaboration between the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic Chinese Studies (NPCHS).
The books seek to educate children from ages 4 to 12 years, based on the four main themes from the popular SINGAPO人 exhibition at SCCC –Chinese festival rituals, local food, stories about early migrants and cultural values.
The book series was a culmination of the efforts of the Year 2 (in 2019) NP Chinese Studies students and guidance of their lecturers Ms Grace Huang Chih-Yun and Mr Lee Kow Fong, adjunct lecturer at NPCHS. The latter is also the well-known local illustrator Ah Guo.
Each book features a lesson plan and suggested activities to guide the learner on various aspects of our local culture. Some examples are:
● Where Did They Come From tells a story of a little girl learning about her grandfather’s hardships when he left his hometown to settle down in an unfamiliar country, Singapore.
● Let’s Lohei, The Heaven God Loves Eating Sugar Cane, New Year, New Customs, and Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival on the Moon touched on cultural practices and stories of our local Chinese festivals.
● Go Makan, The Magical Bak Kut Teh, and I Want A Cup Of Dinosaur touch on our local food and drink culture.
● Grandma’s Hand Is Injured spotlights on filial piety, a value cherished by the Chinese, while Samsui Women Under The Sun shares a key part of our history and the contributions of samsui women.
Most of the students are aspiring primary school teachers or early childhood educators, who aim to specialise in Chinese. Notably, Vanassa Ang, author of I Want A Cup Of Dinosaur, has an interest in founding a start-up to alleviate the struggles of learning Chinese and connect to Chinese culture and the community through her creative ideas.
Dr Kang Ger-Wen, Course Chair of NPCHS said, “The two Education Specialisations from Chinese Studies of Ngee Ann Polytechnic aim to develop future Chinese Language teachers for both local primary schools and preschools. With the support from SCCC, students from Diploma in Chinese Studies are honoured to publish their illustration books together with the teaching plans so that their works could become supplementary teaching materials for Chinese teachers, and also enable more people to understand the precious local Chinese history and unique Chinese Singaporean culture.”
Primary school and preschool educators may download e-copies of these picture books and use them as part of their learning and teaching resource, prior to or after their visit to the SINGAPO人 exhibition. One set of the physical books is also available for loaning, interested educators may send their request to [email protected]
This series of picture books arose from collaborations between SCCC and educational institutions to use innovative ways to engage students and increase their interest in local Chinese culture.
Prior to this, there were other collaborations with various secondary schools and institutions. One of them included partnering with Maris Stella High School for the Junior Guide Training Programme in 2019. The programme trained 26 students to guide their peers from both Maris Stella and China’s Xi’an Gaoxin No.1 High School on a trail from SCCC to Singapore Conference Hall. Many of the students gained a better understanding of Chinese Singaporean culture after the tour.
Together with Year 2 Art Teaching students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), SCCC also conceptualised and designed activity booklets for the artworks on display in the 2019 Sculpture Walk @ SCCC. These booklets were written especially for visitors ages 13 to 14 years old, and they serve as a self-guiding tool for younger visitors to better appreciate the artworks in the Centre.
Mr Low Sze Wee, CEO of SCCC said, “SCCC places great importance on our partnerships with local educational institutions such as Ngee Ann Polytechnic. We believe that students have a keen curiosity to find out more about their identities and cultures. Using the Centre’s resources
such as our SINGAPO人 exhibition and other programmes, there are many opportunities for creative partnerships. We are excited to see yet another fun and innovative project with Ngee Ann Polytechnic in the form of these cultural picture books. I hope that it will be a useful resource for all learners in Singapore.”
About The Collaboration
In collaboration with Year 2 Ngee Ann Polytechnic Chinese Studies students back in 2019, Singapore ChineseCultural Centre (SCCC)’s Education and Outreach Team developed Mandarin picture books and lesson plans for children from ages 4 to 12 years to promote the learning of Chinese Singaporean culture.
Selecting one of the four themes from SCCC’s inaugural “SINGAPO人” permanent exhibition, namely Chinesefestivals and rituals, local food, stories about early migrants, and cultural values cherished by the Chinese, these students unleashed their creativity to create picture books and lesson plans for preschool and primary school students. These were created under the guidance of their lecturers, as well as advice on proofreading, layout, anddesign editing by the SCCC Outreach and Education Team.
Each of the 10 books is accompanied by a lesson plan. Primary school and preschool educators may download e-copies of these picture books and use them as part of their learning and teaching resource, prior to or after their visitto the SINGAPO人 exhibition. One set of the physical books are also available for loaning, interested educators maysend their request to [email protected].
Details of Book & Author
One day, a teacher took her students on a learning journey to the National Museum of Singapore.
Suddenly, one of the little girls saw a middle-aged lady wearing a red headscarf and this made her curious.
After an explanation byher teacher, the young girllearnt that the middle-aged lady with a red headscarf was known as a Samsui woman, who played an important part in the history of Singapore, especially in the construction of many famous buildings and monuments in Singapore.
Charmaine Lim graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Diploma in Chinese Studies in 2021 and currently studies at the National Institute of Education, specialising in Chinese Language, where she receives training to be a Chinese Language Primary School teacher.
Though Samsui women are iconic ﬁgures in Singapore’s history, the younger generations do not seem to be familiar with them. Thus, Charmaine wanted to share this with the younger children.
While working on the picture book, Charmaine conducted research to gain a better understanding of Samsui Women and the hardships they faced.
Understanding that the book is meant for young children, Charmaine had to balance between making the character appealing to children while not veering too far from their actual appearance. She included illustrations that can captivate their attention and designed activities that are suitable for their age, yet bearing in mind that it should teach them certain values at the same time.
|Title||Synopsis||About The Author||Conceptualisation Process|
|Go Makan||A young boy from abroadvisited a hawker centre to try Singapore’s famous food. He ordered 5 different dishes with their own unique local characteristics. Suddenly,something strange happened. His body started to grow uncontrollably every time he took a bite. It turns out everything was just a dream!||A graduate from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a Diploma in Chinese Studies in 2021, Agnes Pang always had an interest in Chinese storybooks because there’s unlimited imagination in each story. She was happy and excited to know that she could participate in the creation of a children’s book.||When Agnes heard about this project, she set her mind to introduce Singapore’s cuisine and create stories about our local culture inside the book. Apart from the interesting storyline, the book also has interesting facts for students to learn while having fun. After guidance from her lecturers, she ﬁnally published her picture book called Go Makan!|
|Grandma’s Hand Is Injured||Xiao Cheng’s Grandma hand was injured and Xiao Cheng did his best to help her during this inconvenient period. He tried blowing on Grandma’s wound every night, helping to wash her dishes and clothes, and buying a new pair of gloves for her.
While her wound did not heal, Grandma was moved by Xiao Cheng’s considerate and heart-warming behaviour.
|Clarisa Chng is a graduate from NgeeAnn Polytechnic with a Diploma in Chinese Studies specialising in Early Childhood Education and an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University. She aspires to educate people on the importance of learning Chinese and preserving Chinese culture through inﬂuential platforms, by pursuing a career in the media industry. She also hopes to instil good values in others and help shape a society with good morals.||Inspired by her grandmother who played a signiﬁcant role in her childhood, Clarisa created this picture book to express her gratitude and teach children one of the most important traditional Chinese moral values, ﬁlial piety. She hopes to educate children on the importance of honouring their elders, cultivate their character, and instil good values in them through this book.|
|The Magical Bak Kut Teh||Little Mouse Le Le went to the city in search of a mouth-watering bowl ofBak Kut Teh, in order to nourish Grandpa Mouse’s thinning body.
When Le Le found the Bak Kut Teh, she attempted to take it away secretly, but was caught red-handed by the boss of the shop. After Le Le’s remorseful pleading and explanation, the boss was moved by his ﬁlial piety and decided to pass down his secret Bak Kut Teh family recipe to her.
As he was teaching Le Le,the boss also explained the history and development of the dish. Armed with the knowledge of Bak Kut Teh, Le Le hurried back to Mouse City to cook the dish for her grandfather. A few weeks later, Grandpa Mouse slowly recuperated and recovered.
|After graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic Chinese Studies specialising in education, Li Si Min is currently pursuing a degree in National Technological University’s Chinese Studies.
She aspires to be a Chinese language teacher and aims to nurture students to become passionate learners of Mandarin.Apart from teaching, she also loves travelling to other countries, as she can broaden her knowledge of different cultures, practices, and beliefs.The creation of the book helped extend her horizons and planning skills in designing a Chinese language lesson.
|Si Min’s love for food led to the creation of this book.
She started by conducting her own research on Bak Kut Teh’s origins, history, and developments of the delicacy.
She then started working on the book, where she had to note the different strategies and speciﬁcs of creating a picture book.For instance, she needed to be more intentional with her choice of words to accommodate the target audience.
Lastly, while working on the lesson plan, she tried applying what she learnt from her diploma modules, like designing lesson activities that cultivate students’ curiosity and incorporating various engaging teaching methods.
|The HeavenGod LovesEating Sugar Cane||On the ninth day of theﬁrst lunar month, a littleboy and his family werespring cleaning andpreparing the offerings incelebration of theHeaven God’s birthday.
He was intrigued by one of the offerings, a sugarcane. His father took the chance to tell him about the tales and traditions of the Heaven God’s birthday, including the worship rituals and offerings involved in the celebration. Eventually, the boy understood more about this traditional practice.
|Mavis Lim Zhi Yan is a graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic,Diploma in ChineseStudies.||Having grown up in a family that practices various traditional Chinese customs and rituals, Mavis grew to have a passion for the Chinese language and culture and hopes to share this lesser-known ritual “Bai Tian Gong” with the children.
She even visited her friend’s place and a temple so she can plan the layout of her illustration. Not only was she able to gain new knowledge about the “Bai Tian Gong” ritual, but she also got closer with her family and friends, whom she consulted during her research process.
|I Want ACup Of Dinosaur||On Le Le’s 7th birthday, he wanted to do something special for his parents, so he volunteered to order drinks for his family at the coffee shop. When Le Le was queueing in line to get his drinks, he overheard other customers using special drink names that he has never heard of. Le Le,who was perplexed by these ‘strange’ drink names, ran back to his seat to ask Dad what these names meant.
Dad explained the origins of these special drink names and terms to Le Le. After listening, he found these names very amusing. That day,Le Le became not only a year older, but also a year wiser.
|Vanassa Ang Zhu Er is an effectively bilingual and highly motivated learner. She aspires to build a
start-up that alleviates the younger generations’ struggle to learn Chinese and connects Chinese culture and the community by presenting creative content ideas.
|Vanassa wrote this book based on her personal childhood experience, when she was asking a lot of questions about the coffee shop drink lingos. Similar to Le Le in the book, Vanassa also offered to order drinks so that she could try using these terms and lingos as well.|
|Where Did They Come From||Wei Wei commented on the sloppy attire of foreign workers when she was on a train with herfather one day. Her father then took this opportunity to share with her grandfather’s experience as a Nanyang Chinese immigrant.
Wei Wei learnt of the hardships her grandfather went through when he left his hometown, and realised how the foreign workers were in the same predicament as her grandfather in the past.
She developed a deep respect for the hard work and perseverance of her grandfather and had a new found understanding and appreciation of foreign workers. She would even greet them kindly to show her respect for them.
|An aspiring Chinese teacher that hopes to inculcate good values to her students and shape the future ofour society, Cheryl Ong Shi Ni is a graduate from NgeeAnn Polytechnic, Chinese Studies specialising in Education.||Taking inspiration from her research on migrant workers in a Behavioral Science module at NgeeAnn Polytechnic, she discovered that many Singaporeans had some form of prejudice against migrant workers. She drew parallels between our ancestors coming from China and the foreign workers in Singapore, which may seem abstract and unrelatable to a child.
Through this book and lesson plan, she hopes to develop a greater sense of compassion and understanding for our ancestors, and apply the same lessons to the present-day migrant workers.
|New Year, New Customs||During a young boy’s ﬁrst experience celebrating Chinese New Year, he accompanied his cousin to visit their grandmother.They offered her mandarin oranges, ate a variety of uniquely Singaporean Chinese New Year snacks and dishes, and recite auspicious phrases while tossing the yusheng. This made his ﬁrst Chinese New Year experience in Singapore meaningful and memorable.||Tobias Tan Xin Hong graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a Diploma in Chinese Studies, and is currently serving National Service.||Through this book, Tobias hopes to help children understand Singapore’s Chinese New Year customs and get them interested in Chinese culture. He even incorporated word games inside his lesson plans to bring more fun to learning.
During the process, he also learnt much about Chinese New Year customs, making it a fruitful experience for him.
|CelebratingMid-AutumnFestival||While the Chinese celebrated the
Mid-Autumn Festival on Earth, the Jade Rabbit and his family were also celebrating it on the moon! Since they were on
the moon itself and cannot admire the moon in the sky, they decided to ‘admire’ the humans who were celebrating the
Mid-Autumn Festivalon Earth instead.
They prepared riddles, carrot tea, carrot mooncakes, and carrot-shaped lanterns for the occasion. During the celebration, Jade Rabbit and his family suddenly recalled the task Chang’e had askedthem to do.
Read the story to ﬁndout more!
|Cedrick Tan Wei Chong, a graduate of Ngee AnnPolytechnic’s Diploma in Chinese Studies, is the author of the picture book “The Mid-Autumn Festival of the Jade Hare Family” and the teaching plan “The Jade Hares Celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival”.||Going with the cute cartoon illustration style, Cedrick started working on his picture book and designing engaging teaching activities for thechildren.
He encountered several challenges during the creation process. One of which is how he can improve on the content of the lesson plan and the pacing of the story. Despite the odds, he overcame all of them and completed the book.
|Let’s Lohei||According to Singaporean Chinese New Year customs, relatives and friends would gather to toss yusheng on the seventh day of the ﬁrst lunar month. The young boy did not understand the tradition and mistook the shredded vegetables for noodles, almost ﬁnishing all the raw ﬁsh before the elders could toss the yusheng.
Fortunately, the elders inthe family patiently explained the tradition to the young boy and answered his questions.He ﬁnally learnt about the lohei tradition.
|A graduate from NgeeAnn Polytechnic holding a diploma in Chinese Studies specialising in Education, Lee MayYee has a great interest in the local Chinese New Year culture.||Having an interest in the Chinese New Year culture in Singapore, May Yee chose yusheng as the subject matter for her picture book.
After obtaining valuable information about yusheng from her research, she started working on the educational story. Readers can relate to the story from their personal experience, and also expand and revisit the vocabulary words that they have learnt in class.
To stimulate the children’s interest, the lesson plan starts off by asking students to share their experiences. The lesson plan is designed to allow students to understand the story and the learning points through the picture book and the teacher’s explanation, together with various interactive activities. The teacher can use the question and answer format to examine the students’ understanding of the points.
SCCC’s Past Collaborations With Other Educational Institutions
|Nanyang Academy of FineArts (NAFA)||August to November 2019||Designed activity booklets for 2019 Sculpture Walk @ SCCC
Collaborating with Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Year 2 Art Teaching students from August to November 2019, we conceptualised and designed activity booklets based on the artworks on display in the 2019 Sculpture Walk @ SCCC.
We ﬁrst brought the 11 students on a guided tour of the artworks, followed by a presentation on visual thinking strategies and tips on designing their own booklets.
Students were then guided by their school lecturers, Ms Sharon Choo Hui Min and Ms Tan Choong Kheng, to conceptualise and design the booklets before a presentation to SCCC.
These booklets were written especially for visitorsfrom ages 13 to 14 years, and they serve as a self-guiding tool for younger visitors to better appreciate the artworks in the Centre. The booklets created include:
● “En Route” by Juliana Woo
● “appreciART: Uncover local treasures” byNuraishah Rashid
● “Art from Within” by Siti Nursyazana
● “Seeing the Unseen” by Sim Jia Ning
● “Seek! An Art Scavenger Hunt in SCCC” by Lee Shi Ting
|Maris Stella High School||April toMay 2019||Junior Guide Training Programme for Students
From April to May 2019, SCCC collaborated with Maris Stella High School and trained 26 students to guide their peers in the Junior Guide Training Programme.
Students learnt about the establishment of SCCC, the architectural features of our Centre, artworks on display, as well as guiding tips from our experienced docent, Madam Long Chin Peng. After two days of training, these student ambassadors guided 311 Maris Stella High School Secondary Two students on a trail that started from SCCC’s premises and ended at the Singapore Conference Hall from 28 to 30 May 2019.
As part of a cultural exchange school programme, the trained student ambassadors also brought their friends from Xi’an Gaoxin No.1 High School, China, on this guided tour in July 2019. It was heartening to know that most students gained a better appreciation of Singapore’s Chinese arts and culture after the guided tour.
|Ngee Ann Polytechnic
● Chinese Media & Communication
● Chinese Studies
|November 2018||Student guide training for Mid-Autumn CBD Trails
A total of 13 students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Diploma in Chinese Media & Communication and Diploma in Chinese Studies were trained to be student guides for the Mid-Autumn CBD Trails on 3 Nov 2018.
This trail was open to the public, and 36 participants attended the trail to explore the CBD trail at night as part of Mid-Autumn Festival activities.
A video was recorded and uploaded onto SCCC’s Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/singaporechineseculturalcentre/videos/530321617432036/
|January to June2019||The Learning Kid (Bilingual)
As part of their Final Year Project, Ngee AnnPolytechnic Chinese Media & Communication Year 3students developed a set of learning resources forpreschoolers with SCCC, titled “The Learning Kid”.
We met the student teams Ler Si Xian, Lau Mei Yue, Wei Xinyu, Quek Xin Hui Amelia, and Adrian Tay QiYuan in January 2019, and gave a presentation of theSINGAPO 人exhibition. The students also sought advice from their early childhood lecturer, Ms Sharon Toong, and created accompanying lesson plans for topics such as the Chinese legend Nian, ChineseNew Year delicacies, lohei, Chinese zodiacs, and multicultural festive greetings. After many iterationsunder the supervision of their lecturers, Ms Kelley Liaw and Ms Angel Chan, this prototype was piloted with seven preschool centres over multiple sessionsfrom May to June 2019.
The Learning Kid was ﬁnally created and this bilingualkit contains sensory materials, such as handmadepuppets, story-telling cards, and yusheng“ingredients”. Primary school and preschool educators could download the e-copies of the books or use TheLearning Kid prior to/after their visits to the SINGAPO人exhibition.
|May to August 2019|| SCCC Self-guided Tour
As part of SCCC’s initiative to deepen outreach to students, grow audience participation and attendance to SCCC, SCCC partnered with Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Chinese Media & Communication department to support their students’ ﬁnal-year projects.
The “SCCC self-guided tour” was one of the two projects under the mentorship of SCCC staff to conceptualise, design, develop, and implement themes relevant to SCCC and Chinese culture in 2019.
The tours attracted 466 participants, 6760 views, and 989 ‘likes’ for the videos.
Besides targeting the public, the students coordinatedwith 80 students from Bukit Batok Secondary School and 40 senior citizens from Lion Befrienders to visit SCCC and try out the self-guided tours.
|Ngee AnnPolytechnic||28 May 2019||SG:SW I Write the Songs Sharing bylocal singer-songwriter Derrick Hoh
“SG:SW I Write The Songs” is an annual nationwide Mandarin-pop songwriting festival jointly organised by Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC), Ocean Butterﬂies Music Pte Ltd (OB) and Composers and Authors Society of Singapore Ltd (COMPASS). The festival provides a platform to uncover local music talents and cultivate the next generation of original music talents. It creates opportunities for new and emerging songwriters to showcase their original works and network with fellow songwriters and industry professionals.
As part of the festival’s aim to reach out to a younger audience, a sharing session was held in Ngee Ann Polytechnic Auditorium on 28 May 2019 by local singer-songwriter Derrick Hoh. He shared his inspirations and experiences in songwriting with 100 students. The students were mainly from Diploma in Chinese Media & Communication and Diploma in Chinese Studies departments.
|TheatrePractice (实践剧场)||March 2021 to
We collaborated with The Theatre Practice to co-present the hybrid production, “Poppy” from March 2021 to March 2023. Responding to the theatre doyen Kuo Pao Kun’s “Silly Little Girl and the Funny OldTree”, Poppy follows the story of a teenage environmentalist in present-day Singapore. It combines interactive elements, social media, camera wizardry and live performance to tell a re-imagined tale about loss and the ﬁght to protect what you love.
This digital production, available in English and Mandarin to schools, is the ﬁrst of a long-running advocacy project that hopes to engage young people in climate-focused narratives. Using “trees” as an element observed in our daily environment, the youths are challenged to think about the environmental costs of urban growth in the context of Singapore.
As the performance is hosted over Zoom, viewers can also participate by sharing their thoughts in the Telegram chat. Their responses reveal varied perspectives towards environmental activism and how their actions could make an impact on the environment. Through independent thinking and interpretation, the youths deepen their understanding of their actions in the world they live in.
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