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How Families can Celebrate National Day with 9 Cultural Activities

Students at David & Goliath Preschool celebrated Racial Harmony Day on 21 August by engaging in a myriad of cross cultural activities and games. We compile some of the more fun traditional past times you can also host at home with the family.

1) Spinning Top (Game)

Spinning tops like gasing are fun for kids to compete with.

It's a weight with low centre-of-gravity on a sharp point. And if you use a heavier one with a metal needle point, it requires twine string to propel it on the ground. "Gasing" is the Malay term for the spinning top. Here the kids can compete to see who has the best strategy to keep it spinning longest.

2) Origami Paper Ball (Game)

Paper ball inflated through our breath is a classic game.

Remember the thin paper ball you can inflate with your breath into a round shape, and then bounce in the air until it deflates? Our teachers turned it into an origami practice so the kids could use regular A4 paper and create their own origami (after following some instructions). Plus the ball is more solid and won't be squashed too quickly.

3) Pickup Sticks (Game)

Pickup Sticks are suitable for any number of people to play, even solo.

You can purchase thin plastic sticks, but chopsticks work just as well (you can use coloured tape to label them if you want). You gather them in the centre and let them fall randomly in a pile. Each player takes turns to extract 1 stick at a time without moving the others, in a bid to retrieve as many as possible. Originally the different colours symbolise different points, so that turns it into a math game too.

4) Hopscotch (Game)

Hopscotch is a rather simple game, but you can always make it challenging creatively.

You may not need to draw it on an exercise mat as there are some hopscotch markings in some HDB void decks. Or use chalk on the ground if there isn't. You can go forwards, backwards or use 1 leg throughout the course. You can also up the ante by throwing an obstacle at random (like a beanbag) to block a tile space, and keep adding on more obstacles so it becomes a proper challenge.

5) Five Stones (Game)

Five stones are not as easy as they look. Give it a go yourself!

More likely than not, our parents are more adept at this game than we are. You throw a stone in the air, pick up 1 more stone and then catch the airborne one before it drops. You add on 1 more stone to pick up after each successful catch. If you manage it, you could consider a side gig in juggling.

6) Capteh (Game)

Capteh is like a whole new level of fancy footwork and cardio workout.

This tests your dexterity and reflex. And capteh seems to be a prelude to the more intense sepak takraw and soccer. A game for the fleet-footed, it's a good practice for nimbleness. Your family can try to see who can keep it in the air longest.

7) Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy does take patience and practice.

All you need is a Chinese calligraphy brush, black ink and normal paper if you can't find parchment. The strokes are something that cannot be rushed; it helps to watch a tutorial on taking time to write each stroke. With enough practice, you might be able to write as well as ex-Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

8) Traditional Costume

National Day is the perfect time to wear your ethnic costumes.

Get dressed! Break out the long-unworn traditional silks that sit forlorn in your cupboard. The qipao, baju melayu, dhoti and shirt for men; cheongsam, baju kurung and saree for women. National Day is the perfect excuse to wear a different attire to work for a change.

9) Traditional Foods

Singapore is a rojak nation, why not embrace the globalisation of our foods too?

Hawker fare has no lack of international cuisine now. Chinese, Malay, Indian stir fries to Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Vietnamese foods, pick something international and varied from your culture (preferably something more exotic than western). Who knows, the pad thai stall down the road might become your family's regular dinner outing?

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