Visit the president’s house
5 Aug. Take your young’uns to experience a different kind of presidential address: The Istana, the official residence and office of Singapore’s president. The gorgeous Istana grounds are open for a rare public peek on the Sunday before National Day (5 August), during which the sprawling 40ha compound will also host the Istana Art Event. The event sees the setting up of the child-friendly Arts and Heritage Village, where the whole family can soak up some culture and get creative. Kids can express their patriotic love for Singapore by entering the On-the-Spot Art Competition. There are prizes to be won and, just by taking part, they might earn a free tour of the Istana building (regular entry $2). Istana, Orchard Rd (www.istana.gov.sg, www.singaporeartmuseum.sg). 8am-5pm. $1; free entry for Singaporeans and PRs.
See a shadow puppet show at the Night Festival
24 & 25 Aug. After the eye-popping spectacle of National Day, kids might appreciate a simpler, sweeter approach to showing off local culture. As part of the kid-targeted portion of the programming for the Singapore Night Festival 2012, organised by the National Museum of Singapore, they can watch One Fine Day, a charming, night-time shadow-puppet show. Each performance lasts about ten minutes and captures a day in the life of four Singaporeans. The shows are presented by Paper Monkey Theatre, one of Singapore’s leading puppet theatre companies, using nothing but old-school overhead projectors, sound effects and shadow puppets. Shadow puppetry workshops for kids will be held from 8-10pm at The Platform, Level 2 of the museum. National Museum of Singapore, Glass Atrium, 93 Stamford Rd (6332 3659, www.brasbasahbugis.sg/nightfestival). 8pm, 9pm, 9.30pm & 10pm. Free.
Discover local legends by taking part in Project Mending Sky
31 Aug-29 Sep. Young Singaporeans in need of a reminder that there’s more to their homeland than high-rise buildings and high-tech displays will get just that courtesy of the environmental performance piece, Project Mending Sky. It’s a guided walkabout through the now-defunct Bukit Timah Railway Station, which was once a Malaysian rail hub. From the station, tour participants are led into the forest in search of Singapore’s legendary Bukit Timah Monkey-Man, a half-simian, half-human creature that was first sighted in 1805 – and reportedly last seen as recently as 2007! Whether you find him or not, along the way you’ll be treated to a range of exhibitions, installations, choreographed pieces and puppetry performances specially designed by a diverse group of award-winning artists. This art-centric nature walk is meant to instil in participants a closer connection with and sense of ownership of Singaporean soil. Bukit Timah Railway Station (6324 5434). Tue-Sat 6.45pm. S$20. For ages 5 and above.
Learn about Peranakan culture at the ‘Emily of Emerald Hill’ exhibition
Until 17 Feb 2013. Skip the Merlion in favour of another local icon – while also giving kids an early introduction to a school-syllabus literature text – by touring the Peranakan Museum’s exhibition based on ‘Emily of Emerald Hill’, an internationally acclaimed local play about a poor Peranakan girl’s ascent to the status of rich, if not necessarily happy, Peranakan matriarch. The displays bring literature to life for kids as they explore a special stage-like gallery incorporating authentic Peranakan works, film themselves performing Emily’s lines (which they can watch along with videos by past participants) and design their own stage set for the play using rubber-stamp versions of costumes and props with activity cards. On certain days, visitors can also try their hand at Peranakan crafts, wear traditional garb and even meet actors who’ve played Emily. Also, view paraphernalia drawn from three decades of stagings. Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian St (6332 7591, www.peranakanmuseum.sg). Mon 1-7pm, Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun 9am-7pm, Fri 9am-9pm. $6, free for Singaporean students and seniors.