SINGAPORE: Framed maps, artefacts placed in shining glass cases and a voice guiding you through the display halls.
These are physical elements of the National Heritage Board’s (NHB) An Old New World exhibition, now painstakingly replicated online for anyone to enjoy.
Located on NHB’s heritage portal Roots.sg, the virtual exhibition offers a 360-degree pan of the exhibition hall and a guided tour exploring Singapore’s story up to its founding in 1819.
It is one of many activities offered by NHB under the tagline #SGCultureAnywhere on Roots.sg, NHB’s heritage resource portal, which provides people with their “heritage fix from home”.
“Digitising our heritage content so that more people can have access to it has always been one of NHB’s priorities and the public has been very receptive to such digital measures so far,” said deputy director of organisation design and innovation Jervais Choo.
“Especially during these challenging times, we hope that the digital offerings we have lined up will provide a much needed ‘culture boost’ to uplift spirits for all of us at home and allow us to take the opportunity to learn something new about the world around us.”
These activities would also give children and families a chance to explore and discover Singapore’s heritage and culture together, he added.
With almost a month left to the end of the "circuit breaker", other family-friendly attractions including Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and KidZania Singapore have also rolled out activities for children to do at home.
“As a conservation-minded wildlife organisation, education is a key pillar for WRS and we see our zoological parks as living classrooms for early childhood and multi-disciplinary learning,” said director of education May Lok.
With its in-house education arm, WRS was able to quickly convert its resources into digital content for its online platforms.
“Our online resources include STEAM (Science, Technology, Environment, Arts, Maths) components so that children learn other disciplines while learning about wildlife,” said Ms Lok.
Some of these activities include the “Animals We Love” series, which offers online activity packs for pre-schoolers and primary school children to teach them about animals from River Safari and the Singapore Zoo.
For now, children will learn about orangutans, giant freshwater stingray and Komodo dragons, but the list will expand as WRS moves across its four zoological parks.
Children may also access ebooks on giraffes at the Singapore Zoo, with content on tigers, elephants and giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia coming up. The ebooks will have a voiceover feature.
Meanwhile, indoor family entertainment centre KidZania Singapore is introducing craft activities, science experiments, stretching and breathing exercises and kid-friendly recipes on their Facebook and Instagram pages for children.
This is part of a worldwide #KidZaniaAtHome initiative, said acting general manager Wayne Lim.
Members of the public seem to have have responded well to the initiatives so far.
“Feedback has been encouraging and parents have welcomed the idea of bringing the zoo right into their homes to vary the learning experience for their children,” said Ms Lok.
Mr Lim also reported an average organic engagement rate of 2 per cent and growing for its #KidZaniaAtHome initiatives, as it introduced more interactive elements such as quizzes and contests to encourage active participation.
“Our #KidZaniaAtHome content has been performing above industry average and we are confident that it will continue to perform better,” said Mr Lim.
While most of these initiatives will last only until the end of the circuit breaker, the attractions said that digital content could become a staple after that.
KidZania Singapore will move towards using more digital content, said Mr Lim, as they have “seen a shift” in how their target audience view and access content.
“We will continue to offer engaging digital content that complements our core belief of learning through role-play,” he said.
WRS too will use online resources as part of pre- and post-park engagement for parents to prepare their children for their experience in the parks and to continue even after the visit, said Ms Lok.
There will also be autism-friendly resources like sensory maps and social scripts to help families plan ahead and have a stress-free experience in their parks.
Here are some more online initiatives offered by other attractions:
GARDENS BY THE BAY
The #StayHomeWithGB initiative offers craft activities and e-books for children. Parents can also play videos that feature Gardens by the Bay’s horticulturalists showcasing parts of the Gardens. They may also email plant questions in to the Plant Doctor and the horticulturalists will answer them.
ESPLANADE – THEATRES ON THE BAY
The Esplanade Offstage offers free content for children, from comics and stories to videos, podcasts and quizzes. Children can sing along to songs from the Esplanade’s PLAYtime! Productions with karaoke sing-along videos. Esplanade Offstage also provides free online musical performances on their site.
Children can also access Esplanade Offstage’s “The Show Goes On…line” content, which includes dance along videos and stories, “inspired by the arts and culture of Singapore’s multicultural society”.