Little Cookhouse – Kids Baking Studio

About

Little Cookhouse is a baking studio for children that’s not just a baking studio. It’s a Montessori-based bake-and-cook enrichment program designed for children between 3 to 12 years old to learn values and life skills. Children are grouped according to age groups, with age-appropriate tools that they can handle. Each 1.5 to 2 hour lesson has a maximum class size of 8. 

Started by parents Yock Song and Jean, Little Cookhouse aims to provide an exciting and fun learning environment while letting the child develop essential life skills. Prior to opening the studio, they conducted cooking classes for children from home. 

The studio is bright, with full length windows that allow natural sunlight to illuminate the area. Right in front of the door is a stand that resembles a popcorn booth. There are long stools for the younger children to reach the sink area themselves to wash their hands. 

Baking session

Before the start of the session, the children will gather at the table, where instructor Jean will introduce the country related to the creation of the day. As we were making sushi cakes, Jean taught them some simple Japanese greeting phrases, the main regions of Japan and some Japanese food.  

The kids for our session were aged 3 to 6 years old and the ingredients were already measured and laid out in IKEA children’s cups. Emmett tagged along and Jean allowed him to use her demonstration set to practise pouring and mixing! Look at their serious faces. Each step was clearly demonstrated and explained before the kids got to work. Both Yock Song and Jean went around to facilitate children who required help but it was mostly all done by the children themselves. 

Emmett loved being part of the process and he took his tasks seriously! Elise has somewhat of a competitive streak and powered through most of the tasks herself. 

“Break” time

After pouring the batter into moulds and popping them into the oven, it was time to wait. Instead of whiling away, the children were taught how to create simple origami crowns which they could wear on their heads. By the way, edible pencils were used to label each child’s cakes! This shows how much importance they place on safety.  

Back to work!

Cutting out shapes from the cakes without them breaking into bits proved to be a bit challenging for Elise and she required assistance, which Yock Song promptly provided. The next few steps were to spread buttercream, arrange the chocolate pieces on top of the cakes, wrap cocoa crepes around the edges, pipe gel onto the “sushi” and put jelly bits on top of the gunkan maki sushi. 

Anddddd we’re done!

Not too shabby for a first timer, right? I was expecting it to be overwhelmingly sweet, but the sushi cakes were surprisingly palatable! Only two pieces of sushi made it out of the baking studio intact.

Little Cookhouse

Private Classes held through appointment basis only.

Book Review: Boo Who? by Ben Clanton

Boo Who? by Ben Clanton is a story of a ghost who is new to a group and tries terribly hard to fit in. Since Boo is a ghost, it cannot hold tangible objects and is often unable to participate in games with his friends. Is there any way he can fit in? Eventually, Boo finds a game that he excels at. Boo Who? has simple and endearing characters which are easily identifiable by children like a robot, rabbit/unicorn hybrid, yellow fluffy monster and dinosaur. The sentences are kept to one or two per page, making it an easy bedtime story for parents to read out. 

This book is a lighthearted way to introduce to children who are starting or transferring schools and may be shy. Elise took to the story well as she recently started attending kindergarten with a new set of classmates, teachers and routine. 

To make the book more memorable for her, I decided to include a play element for her. Recalling a trick from eons ago during art class, I used white oil pastel to draw out Boo on a drawing block. Then, I took out an ice cube paint stick (frozen food colouring and water) for her to make Boo reappear. She shrieked out “Boo!” when she saw it. At least it was somewhat recognisable for her.

Distributed by Pansing, Boo Who? by Ben Clanton is available at all good bookstores. 

Nuts & Bolts

About

Nuts & Bolts is a curation of open ended toys which can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the child’s creativity and imagination. For example, a curved wooden board can be a rocker or flipped over to become a tunnel. It can be propped up against a sofa and used as a slide. Open ended toys are kept simple and as natural looking as possible.

The owner of Nuts & Bolts is Wei Xuan, a lovely homeschooling mama of two. Her children are her main priority and the opening hours of the store actually revolves around their schedule. As such, the store is not open daily but about twice a week. To maintain a comfortable experience for visitors, the store runs on an appointment-only basis.

Her children came up with the name Nuts and Bolts, as they used this term instead of “pins and needles”. Both children helped to set up the store by painting signs, fixing shelves, cleaning up… the entire store is a product of love by their family.

We had the pleasure of visiting the store twice and it was such fun for the children! The store has large glass windows to let natural sunlight shine through. The store itself is not large by any account, but it is well-designed and doesn’t feel claustrophobic. There are various corners where children can play at indoors. Behind the store is a grassy slope where children can run up and down and outside the store are climbing frames, large hollow blocks and a sand corner. These activities will be changed from time to time.

The first time we went there, the kids got to paint on seashells and spray coloured water on a piece of paper using a spray bottle while they painted on a mirror the next visit. 

Most of the products which are on sale are available for children to test out. Although there is no obligation to purchase, it is close to impossible to leave empty handed. The products are decently priced, taking into consideration the overheads required to maintain such a place. Play objects which promote gross motor skills such as the Wobbel board, Confidence Triangle, Large Hollow Blocks and the Step-up-step-down Rocking Boat can be placed in the home in place of electronic toys. 

A multitude of smaller toys promoting sensory development and creativity line the walls of the store. There are treasure blocks, which are wooden hollow blocks with acrylic centres that can be filled with anything from beads to feathers and buttons. Baby percussion instruments, mirrors, light pads with colourful acrylic paddles and geometric shapes… there are simply too many to list. 

Mirrors are an integral part of the Reggio Emilia approach because it adds depth and structure to a child’s learning when he is able to see the object from all angles. The mirrors sold are child safe and do not contain glass.

Wei Xuan mentioned that she likes observing how each child uses the play objects and behaves. Some are confident, some are shy, some need help while others don’t.

The children couldn’t keep themselves away from the sand area. Didi loved it so much, he put it in his mouth. Pro-tip: bring a bottle of powder if you’re intending to let your children play with sand so you can dust the sand off easily. There are no washrooms in the store so it may be wise to bring some water for washing hands too. 

It is a unique concept where children are allowed and encouraged to do what they want with the toys. There is no stress unlike in some stores where you feel like the salesperson is trailing you and guilt-tripping you into buying the products.

Over at Nuts & Bolts, it feels more like a playdate at a friend’s house. That said, it is still a store so please don’t bring your children there to play for hours without at least making a purchase to show your support!


Shop at Nuts & Bolts

*** This is not a sponsored review and no compensation was received in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.