Temasek Foundation (TF) and Nexus, Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) are launching the enhanced Singapore, My Little Red Dot activity book and new companion adventure box to help pre-schoolers learn about emergency preparedness and staying prepared, as well as values such as unity, teamwork, vigilance and resilience. These are common values under TF’s Stay Prepared initiative and Singapore’s Total Defence concept. Written and developed by local actor, author and illustrator Edmund Chen, the Singapore, My Little Red Dot book and adventure box can be used separately or together as a values education resource in the classroom or at home. 89,000 copies of the book will be given to K1 and K2 children in pre-schools, while 9,500 adventure boxes will be distributed to 1,900 pre-schools by the end of October 2020.
The Singapore, My Little Red Dot story follows the adventure of a little fish who travels across the ocean with a little red ball and encounters different fish who teach values in a fun and engaging way. Through the story and accompanying hands-on activities, children will meet Resilient Mr Square, Prepared Mr Triangle and Vigilant Mr Round, and get to learn about the unity and teamwork of the fish in the neighbourhood. Parents and educators can use the book to spark conversations with their children about being prepared for the unexpected. At the end of the book, there are also tips for parents on what they can do to help their children cope with trauma that may accompany unexpected events, and where they can seek help.
On the partnership with TF, pre-schools and Mr Chen, SLTC Psalm Lew, Director (Community Engagement), Nexus said “It’s heartening to see more members of the community stepping forward to put Total Defence into action, take ownership of Total Defence and the values we stand for. In these trying COVID-19 times, we hope that the messages of resilience and unity in the book will help encourage young children and their families.”
Ms Woon Saet Nyoon, Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation, said, “We have to inculcate the importance of resilience in our young citizens and residents in Singapore. The foundational values like staying prepared, working together and playing our part in community efforts are important as shown by the current pandemic crisis. Temasek Foundation’s Stay Prepared initiative is about enabling and encouraging emergency readiness in the Singapore community. We are happy to partner Nexus to provide this enhanced book and the accompanying classroom resource kit to equip parents and educators to start this crucial conversation with pre-schoolers.”
Pre-school educator and English Lead Teacher from NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool at 505 Yung An Road, Ms Norafidah Binte Salim shared that her students were able to have a better understanding of the values like resilience and unity through the book and activities. “I realised the children were able to grasp the concept of resilience from the book. Somehow, that particular fish Mr Square (resilience) is the one thing that they remember the most. They would say, you cannot give up, you must keep trying.” Ms Fidah added that the book also helped students cope with changes from COVID-19. “There are changes in our school routines due to the additional precautionary measures. So I'll always tell the students why these changes are necessary and why we have to be strong. Now more than ever is the time to be strong, so we can take care of ourselves and others as well.”
Ms Karin Chua, parent of two pre-schoolers from the same My First Skool centre agreed and shared that her daughter had learnt more about being prepared and has been applying it by reminding her younger brother to wear his mask. She added, “Singapore, My Little Red Dot is a good book to introduce vocabulary like ‘resilience’, which we don't expose the kids to at a young age. So it's a good chance for me to teach my daughter this. From young, we already taught them about unity and teamwork, and the book brings out these values in a fun and engaging manner.”
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Temasek Foundation has been working with partners to support communities in Singapore and beyond. Besides sharing relevant messages using the Singapore, My Little Red Dot books and adventure boxes, earlier efforts such as the distribution of face shields and hand sanitisers helped school children stay safe. The recently concluded StayMasked project also saw the distribution of two reusable and antimicrobial masks to every Singapore resident, complementing measures of safe distancing, wearing of face shields and hand hygiene.