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Hi, and welcome to Popsicles and Play!

I’m Wanyun, the creator and messy hands behind Popsicles and Play! I live in Singapore with my husband and this little boy here named Travis. 

What do you do?

I graduated from National University of Singapore with a Chemical Engineering degree. Engineering was never my cup of tea though, so I joined the corporate world in Finance upon graduation.

I’m currently a full time working mother, and juggling multiple responsibilities (motherhood, full time job, and now Popsicles and Play) is not easy. It meant I have to be extremely disciplined with my days to get things done, and I need to be very clear with my priorities, but I’m truly enjoying every bit of this busy busy journey! 

What do you enjoy most about life?

I think life, in general, is truly amazing. 

There are so many things in life that I really enjoy and love, I wish I could pack every one of them into a small little bag, and carry them everywhere I go!

- Watching the occasional sunsets with my husband 

- A cup of hot aromatic latte

- Lying on the beach, with the smell and sounds of ocean around me

- Hiking through nature, or just being with nature

- Exercise and all kinds of outdoor sports

- Travel, I can’t do without this in my life.

- Good music, and some dancing to go with!

- A good book on a rainy cold day

- Picnics with cheese boards and moscato

- Interacting with children. Their innocence and simplicity makes me happy all the time.

- My friends! Sometimes they are the only sanity in my crazy life, and sometimes they are the crazy in my boring life.

- Family. Always #1 at any point of time in my life.

- Motherhood

Let’s just talk a little about Motherhood.

When Travis first came into our life in 2015, I thought I hated Motherhood. I love him more than life itself, but I really struggled in the first 3-4 months. It was the toughest thing I had ever done. I was really lost for awhile, but I slowly found my footing through emotional support from loved ones, my other mummy friends, and parenting forums and facebook groups.

Now, I’ve learnt to love and embrace Motherhood. It is truly the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t think words can describe how Motherhood feels like, you got to experience it to know it.

What inspired you to start Popsicles and Play?

Travis was my inspiration for this initiative, and he still remains as my everyday inspiration in life.

I remember very clearly the day when I realized PLAY for young children is not as simple as it is.

That day, T was sitting in front of an electronic toy (the kind that emits lights and sounds which I’ve spent $50 on). He was 11 months old then and he was supposedly “playing” but all he did was push a few buttons and stare dazedly at the toy, waiting for it to “entertain” him. Sounds like TV, isn’t it?

I remember standing there for at least 15 mins, just observing him. He wasn’t playing. He wasn’t engaged. He was just a bystander, watching the toy “perform” for him. So I removed that toy from him, and I took out items which I had loved playing with when I was young (much to my mom’s chagrin at that time). I took out our pots and pans, our ladles, some spoons, a whisk and colourful pom poms. I laid these in front of him, and then I stepped back and observed.

And the most amazing thing unfolded in front of me.

He started using the spoons to bang against the pots and pans, and I could see his expressions changing. He had realized that he could make different sounds. He threw the pom poms into the pot, and moved them around with the ladle. Then he stuffed the pom poms into the whisk. Yes, he was the inspiration behind this very first activity I developed (color sorting using colored pom poms and whisk).

He was finally playing. I could see it. His hands were busy, he was using his senses and he was fully engaged. 

That was when I started to read up and research on play. It’s an amazing topic with so many layers and so much depth to it. What really intrigued me was the concept of “learning through play”.

“You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play, a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play.” - Erik Erikson

So I started developing activities for T - activities that enabled him to play and learn at the same time, activities that encouraged creativity and innovative thinking. These activities were all carried out at his own pace and preferences. We changed his play space to be in line with Montessori principles. I removed all his electronic toys, and I started giving him household items and recycled materials to tinker with.

Fast forward to May 2018, upon the encouragement and support from my loved ones, I launched Popsicles and Play.

It’s an initiative that I’m highly passionate about. With the various books, articles and seminars I’ve read and attended, I’ve garnered a humble amount of knowledge that I would love to share with like-minded parents.

Advocating for learning through play is not about pushing as much information as you can onto your child and being a “tiger mom”. It’s the exact opposite. It’s about experiential learning - allowing your child to play but in a more meaningful way, fulfilling that innate curiosity in your child, and of course a much better entertainment for the child vs screen time or electronic toys.

 

I’ve seen Travis grow and thrive through these activities, and now I’m hearing feedback from parents who used my activities on how much their kids love them. And this, to me, is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

What do you hope to achieve with Popsicles and Play?

I hope I could reach out to more parents and young children with this initiative, to inspire parents to incorporate play-based learning, and to change how children are playing today to make play more beneficial for them.

I want to continue keeping Popsicles and Play a humble initiative, and continue inspiring and learning from other like-minded parents!