Thirteen Primary 4 pupils from Teck Whye Primary School can now call themselves children's book authors - with their work read by kindergarten children.
The group took part in an intensive three-day workshop run by their school during the March school holidays. During the sessions, they came up with stories inspired by The Intan, the private Peranakan house museum in Joo Chiat.
The result: two books which interweaved the children's imagination with Peranakan culture. About 900 copies of each of the books, to be launched this Friday, will be given to kindergartens near the school.
The stories, for readers aged six to 10, were published as part of the school's I Lead I Serve learning-for- life programme, which focuses on leadership through service.
The idea arose from the school's cultural exchange partnerships with overseas schools, such as those in Malacca and Kuching in Malaysia and Nanjing, China, where Teck Whye's pupils would share nuggets about Singapore's culture with their peers there
The school's vice-principal, Mrs Ong Lay Khim, 52, said it wanted to create materials beyond PowerPoint slides for these sessions.
MIXING THE IDEAS
We just mixed the ideas together.
SIA HAO RUI, nine, on the many ideas that his team came up with.
FUN IN WRITING
It was fun writing with our friends.
SATHIS KUMAR DHAARANI, nine, a teammate, on his experience.
WOWING THE CHILDREN
I hope the children can be like, 'Wow, what a great book!' "
KAILASOM ADITYA SURESH, 10, who worked on the "Secrets" book
She said: "We thought, why not get the pupils to write a story? At the same time, it provides a platform for children who are creative and who like to write to do something."
The seed for the project was sowed last year with a separate group of pupils writing a book about the environment for a trip to a village school in Surabaya, Indonesia.
This year, Primary 4 pupils were encouraged to send in writing samples to be selected for a new book project.
In March, the shortlisted pupils learnt about crafting a story and visited The Intan, where Mr Alvin Yapp, 46, lives and runs a private museum filled with his collection of Peranakan items such as enamel spittoons, rosewood altars and beaded slippers.
Following the visit, in two teams, the pupils conceptualised storylines based on their experiences.
The pupils interviewed said they learnt how to work through their differences during the process.
Sia Hao Rui, nine, said of the many ideas that his team came up with: "We just mixed the ideas together."
His teammate, Sathis Kumar Dhaarani, nine, said: "It was fun writing with our friends."
Their team of seven penned Battle In The Peranakan House Museum, which imagines the museum's Chinese porcelain teapots and European enamel spittoons as animated characters embroiled in a fight.
The other team of six pupils wrote Secrets In The House Museum, imagining that The Intan's storeroom contained a mystery. They were fascinated as to what was in the storeroom since they were not allowed inside.
Writing consultant Su-Ann Mae Phillips, 39, who runs a writing and coaching business, facilitated the pupils' brainstorming and writing processes, while Mr Yapp vetted the drafts to ensure that aspects of Peranakan culture were accurately portrayed. For instance, to make the content more authentic, the school took on Mr Yapp's suggestions to change the names of some characters and to incorporate some Baba Malay into the dialogue.
Mr Yapp said the children's perspective came through and added: "I thought both stories were very refreshing." For each book, 1,750 copies will be printed, with production costs partly covered by a grant from the National Heritage Board.
About 900 copies of each book will be distributed to K1 and K2 children in 24 kindergartens in the vicinity of the school. The remaining copies will be given to Primary 1 to 5 Teck Whye Primary pupils, as well as to its overseas partner schools for cultural exchanges.
The pupil-authors said they hoped their works would cultivate a love for reading and learning about local culture and inspire children to write their own books.
Said Kailasom Aditya Suresh, 10, who worked on the "Secrets" book: "I hope the children can be like, 'Wow, what a great book!' "
The school also plans to upload the soft copy of the books to its Facebook page for the public.
The school's principal, Mr Suraj Nair, 42, said the writing project was in line with the school's ethos of pupils learning and contributing to the community. He said: "When you acquire a skill, you find some way to give back."