Monday, October 24, 2016

Benefits of Audio Books for Children

[Sponsored Review]

When I was young, my parents bought me a series of story books that come with cassette tapes. Oh yes, speaking of those good old days, when cassette recorder was still available! 

While reading aloud time is valued, I find benefits in audio books as well:

1. Improve fluency and pronunciation
I admit that I mispronounce words at time! When the children listen to the audio books, they learn to read aloud fluently with proper pronunciation.

2. Develop varied styles of reading
Different narrators have different style of reading, children can learn to be more expressive when they read aloud or when they speak.

3. Enhance the multi-sensory experience
In addition to the pictures, the audio helps to enhance the children's reading experience with music and sound effect.

Here are some Scholastic titles that come with CD, my children enjoy reading these books and listening to the CD that come with the books!

Fly Guy Fun Readers

Author: Tedd Arnold
IBSN: 9789810985011
Ages: 3 and above
About this set of books:
A humorous, easy-to-read series about a boy and his fly! Using hyperbole, puns, slapstick, and silly drawings, the book is fun to read!

My Daddy Ate An Apple 

Author: Craig Smith
ISBN: 9789810943516
Ages: 4 and above
About this book:
So what happens if you eat an apple with a green worm inside? Not just any worm, of course, but a fuzzy one, a buzzy one, a great big fat juicy one! Children will love this story about Daddy Zebra's trip to hospital - and the surprise ending!

Willbee the Bumblebee

Author: Craig Smith
ISBN: 9789810943509
Ages: 4 and above
About this book:
A catchy song with endearing illustrations that will have you buzzing! And as Willbee flew away, he did not stop, his jersey unraveled from the bottom to the top, and when he realised this, he lost his hum. He was showing the whole garden his bare bum! Well, with no jersey, and being late in the day, Willbee was so cold he couldn't fly away. Willbee the bumblebee is so embarrassed when he realizes his stripy jumper has caught on a rose thorn and completely unraveled...

Disclaimer: We received the books from Scholastic Asia for review purpose. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and photos are mine. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Okinawa (Japan): Yohena Ajisai Hydrangea Garden よへなあじさい園

Because of the rain, we had to cancel some of the outdoor activities. But also because of the rain, we get to see the sea of hydrangea! If you are visiting Japan in late May to June, which is the rainy season, you would be able to see blooms of hydrangea! We visited Yohena Ajisai Hydrangea Garden よへなあじさい園 in the northern part of Okinawa, it is about 20 minutes drive from Nago City.

The owner of this garden is a 99-year-old lady. Isn't it amazing? We went all the way up-slope and saw her through the door of her house. 

There is a small cafe near the entrance. The old gentleman who collected the entrance fee offered us some umbrellas as it was drizzling, so nice!

Be very careful when you are driving to the garden, the stretch of the road leading to the garden is so narrow that it only can accommodate one car, but there are cars travelling in both directions.

Yohena Ajisai Hydrangea Garden よへなあじさい園
Address: 1312 Aza-Izumi, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
Mapcode for GPS: 206 833 170*74
Admission fee: Adult - 400 yen, Elementary / Junior High / High School student - 200 yen

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Okinawa (Japan): Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium & Ocean Expo Park 沖縄美ら海水族館 & 海洋博公園

When I told others about our Okinawa trip, the first thing they usually said was "There is an aquarium with whale sharks!" So you can tell how famous Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium 沖縄美ら海水族館 is!

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is located inside Okinawa Ocean Expo Park 海洋博公園. Other than the aquarium, there are other areas like Okichan Theater (where the dolphin show takes place), Traditional Okinawa Village, Omoro Arboretum, and so on. In fact, Okinawa Ocean Expo Park is so big that you may have to spend one whole day to explore every part!

Other than the usual touch pool and other fish tanks that we can see in Singapore's S.E.A Aquarium (read our experiences here and here), what are the highlights at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park?

Whale Shark Feeding at Kuroshio Sea Tank (Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium) 

There are only two feedings in a day - 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

I didn't rotate the photo, the whale shark actually swam vertically during feeding!

There is narration in Japanese, and there is a screen showing the mouth of the whale shark viewed from the top of the tank.

Exploring the Kuroshio Sea Tank (Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium)

From 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and from 5.30 p.m. to closing time, you can get to explore the gigantic tank from the top! Take the lift from level 1 next to the Kuroshio Sea Tank.

Look out from the window to get a nice view of the sea!

Dolphin Show (Okichan Theater)

The dolphin show is absolutely free, and it is a fantastic performance! Be there at least 15 minutes before the show time to get a good seat!

The children had a close encounter with the dolphin.

Churaumi Plaza 

This is a rest place located at level 1 of the aquarium, and it is free entry! But we didn't get to rest because there were so many exhibits of sea creatures for us to see, for example, fossil of the sea creatures.

Mantee Pool and Sea Turtle Pool

These are also free entry! They are actually quite small so we only took a short while to walk around.


This is the "obstacle" as we walked from Car Park 7 towards the aquarium! If it was not raining that day, I believed that we would have spent quite a fair bit of time here.

Paid Souvenir 

The machines that sell souvenir coins are located at the exit of the aquarium. Guess which one we purchased?

Free Souvenir

There is photo taking service at the entrance. You can receive a free pocket size photo at the exit. Or you can purchase a bigger print with a nice folder at 1000+ yen.

While you are walking around inside the aquarium, collect all these cards to learn more about marine life. They are free!

At level 1, there is a station for souvenir stamps! Grab a brochure and turn to the last page to collect all 3 stamps!

Tips for Visiting Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park
  • Purchase your admission tickets to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium at at discounted rate with OTS Rent-a-Car or at  道の駅許田 (Michi no eki Kyoda)
  • Enter the aquarium after 4 p.m. for further discount! If you have purchased your tickets from OTS Rent-a-Car or at  道の駅許田, just approach the counter to get refund in cash.
  • If you are driving, park at the multi-storey car park no. 7, it is the nearest car park to the aquarium.
  • If you are visiting Ocean Expo Park on a rainy day, bring along raincoats. The wind from the sea is so strong that the umbrellas can be broken (based on our true story)!
  • There is an annual summer firework display, usually in mid-July.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park
Address: 905-0206 424 Ishikawa, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture
Website for Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium:
Website for Okinawa Ocean Expo Park:
Mapcode for GPS: 553075768*42 (Car Park 7, which is nearest to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium)

Schedule of activities:

Opening hours:
October to February 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. (last admission at 5.30 p.m.)
March to September 8.30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last admission at 7 p.m.)

Admission Fee:
Regular rate 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adult  - 1850 yen
High school student  - 1230 yen
Elementary / Junior high school student  - 610 yen
Under 6 years old - free

After 4 p.m. rate
Adult  - 1290 yen
High school student  - 860 yen
Elementary / Junior high school student  - 430 yen
Under 6 years old - free

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