Let’s celebrate play! Exclusive Interview with Nur Waheeda of ODN (Of Dear Nature)

In Singapore, Children’s Day is observed annually on the first Friday of October. Over the long weekend, we take the time to honour and celebrate the joys of childhood, with various activities and events catered for children 0 – 12 years old. There are no lack of activities available for children in Singapore, and with parenting forums such as BYKidO, KiasuParents, and The AsianParent, you can have all your weekends fully planned; you may even be spoilt for choice!

While I like to indulge in the occasional big-ticket outings to these children-focused events, most weekends I prefer to have my children home, deciding their own activities, and creating their own play.
As a family, we enjoy dart blaster games, and gaming together on Call of Duty Mobile. So we decided to combine the two, and create our own fun!

🔫 We would select our loadout (the equipment carried into battle by a soldier)

🔫 Each of us takes turns to be the Commander

🔫 The Commander selects the Map (a place around our neighbourhood), and the game mode (instructions on how to play a specific game)

🔫 And then we have a shoot-out!

🔫 Most importantly, we do a Dart Sweep after our games, and ensure the Map is clean and litter-free

My little soldiers

These dart blasters may cost quite a bit in the beginning, but I view it as an investment because there are so many benefits:

  1. sportsmanship, being fair and ethical to those you are playing with
    • Dart blaster games rely on an honour system, so my kids learn to be honest, and own up to getting shot. They also learn that while we can be competitive, it is okay to lose, and we will take it in our stride. Depending on the game mode, some games require teamwork, so my kids have to learn to work together to achieve wins.
  2. problem-solving skills
    • Losing a game means needing to work out what went wrong, and needing to rethink strategies. Open communication helps us to find out the problems, and work our way through them.
  3. fine and gross motor skills development
    • Dart blaster games test our agility and aim, and involves a lot of eye-hand coordination. If we play at playgrounds, we need to be extra vigilant so as not to trip on stairs or knock into play components. Also, reloading our blasters will need deft hands, so we can get right back into the game.
  4. social skills
    • Sometimes during our games, we get an audience of curious children, who ask if they can join in. My kids get to decide if they would like to invite the on-lookers (we typically bring extra blasters and goggles). As the kids need to explain game rules, this is also a good opportunity for them to practise their presentation, and negotiation skills.

These dart blasters are cost-saving in the long run (you only need a few, and they can be reused for different scenarios, stories, settings), and as you get older, you can learn to modify the blasters for more advanced games (modified blasters shoot darts at a higher feet-per-second level as compared to stock—unmodified—blasters). You can even join NERF-ing communities in Singapore, such as Urban Tactical, and play with or against other players in friendly games! Belonging to a community as such can help develop interest, and is a modest way of meeting new kaki (buddies), and sharing tips and tricks for the next game, or for blaster modification.

Loose Parts Play

Similar to Legoᵀᴹ, these dart-blasters are enjoyed like open-ended play resources—play materials which provide children the freedom, and endless opportunities to make, create, explore, take risks, and make their own decisions when leading their own play. Some other examples of open-ended play resources include magnet tiles, art supplies, dolls, car and train sets, objects from nature, and loose parts. Here are some other benefits of open-ended play:

  • Freedom and space for creativity and imagination – Children can create their own ideas of how to play with open-ended play resources. There are endless ways to interact with them.
  • No rules – Especially after a period of structure, such as school, open-ended play resources can offer calm and respite for children who wish to play without rules and expectations.
  • Processing events and stories – Sometimes used in play therapy, open-ended play resources encourage pretend play, and is a great way for children to work through difficult events, friendships, and new situations. It is also a good way to retell stories, or make up new ones.
  • Independent play – With room for individuality, mess, and expressive play, children can get lost in their own imagination with open-ended play, giving caregivers time to get tasks done.


To share with us more about open-ended play, and the benefits of play, I am very excited to feature Nur Waheeda (affectionately known as Yda) of OfDearNature™️!
Trained as an Early Childhood Educator, Yda sees children as competent and capable learners, who can be trusted with their own direction of learning, play, exploration, and discovery. Motivated by her love of nature, she commits to making a conscious effort in curating sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and ethically-made resources that can be passed down through generations, and which will not only support children’s imaginative and organic play, but also encourage their positive developmental growth.
Once again, I present, Yda (email interview has been edited for clarity and continuity):

Nur Yda and her family

What is the story behind Of Dear Nature?

OfDearNature™️ (ODN), was set up in October 2020. We were initially under a different name back in May 2020. We decided to realign our thoughts for the future of the business, and re-brand, so that was when ODN was named. 

As a parent and a former Early Childhood Educator, I envision to provide and curate resources that will be meaningful in children’s early childhood development. 

In their precious early childhood years, let’s make the most out of it! 

Given that we are a nature-loving family, we truly hold nature dear. We love hikes & outdoor adventures, and we do them as a family. It allows not only our child to wonder at the beauty and complexity of the environment, but also us as parents—we are learning too! 

And because of our love for the natural environment. we are making a conscious effort to curate sustainably-made resources for ODN as well. For example, the Woodieboard, made from sustainable Meranti wood which is very sturdy, is a long-lasting product. We also curated the Hinoki Tinker boxes, made of sustainable Hinoki wood from Japan, to contain our loose parts.


What is your definition of play? What are the different types of play?

As a former educator, I’m often questioned, “What did my child learn today? Play only?”

But let us not forget that PLAY is LEARNING. Different skills are developed when children play, such as eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, enhanced finger and palm dexterity, problem-solving skills, social skills, resilience, which are crucial to help them in school and in life. 

For instance, through physical play or by being outdoors, children can develop their large motor skills. Movement in children is important. When children are engaged in constructive play, it allows them to build and construct, hence enhancing their problem-solving skills should they meet with a challenge during the play.

What does “learning through play” mean? Why is play important for children?

To me, “learning through play” means engaging in play that is not directed by an adult. Children lead their play. As adults, we have to trust that children are competent, capable and resourceful learners in making their own connections through play.

How can parents/caregivers support children’s play?

Parents and caregivers can support their children by giving them an environment that allows them to express themselves, explore, think and reflect, and also be engaged in play.

Can parents/caregivers be their children’s play partners? If so, how?

Emotionally, children need strong and secure attachments, with their parents/caregivers caring for them. Playing with children means connecting without instructing the play; this is also a way to really deepen this special bond as parents/caregivers. I feel even a small amount of quality time spent with our children will have a big impact on their learning, behaviour, and emotional development.

What else is ODN up to?

We are looking into curating loose parts/heuristic play for our babies and infants, which are sensorial as well. Come this Children’s Day, we will be collaborating with @thebambinisg & @anakanakreggio for a Children’s Day programme.

A storytelling session about the conservation of Earth will be done by @thebambinisg, followed by a marine conservation sharing by Mr Arfian, from ActiveSG Canberra. Teacher Aminah from @anakanakreggio will also be including Mindful Movement for the registered children.

Children will also be encouraged to create something out of recycled materials for a Show & Tell during the session.

What message would you like to send parents and caregivers, to embrace their child at heart, and who are learning to play again?

In the fleeting and precious years of early childhood, always trust that children can come up with good ideas in their play, and always celebrate little successes as they play. If I can reiterate, play is indeed learning.


As Yda shared earlier, playing with your children can have an impact on their learning, behaviour, and emotional development. The founders of Musikgarten, Dr. Lorna Heyge and Audrey Sillick, also believe that positive contact and interaction with a caring adult is the most important ingredient for a child’s healthy development. Research has timelessly showed us that music makes a significant difference in children’s lives (improving overall development, enhancing brain functioning, and decreasing learning problems). When families make music actively together at home, and especially when other family members participate, children find their own unique ways to make music in that immersive musical environment.

The best time to start experiencing music is in early childhood; the earlier a child is in an environment of active music-making, the more likely the child’s inborn musicality will be awakened and developed. Bloom School of Music & Arts is one of the few schools in Singapore offering Musikgarten, the acclaimed Early Childhood Music Programme, for children aged 0-3 years old. After completing Musikgarten, your child can continue with individual music courses, such as our Tutti Tots and Tutti Keyboard. To find out more about Musikgarten and Tutti, or to find out our schedules for these classes, fill in this Online Enquiry Form, and our friendly staff will get back to you!
This generation of tech-savvy parents have no lack of music resources! YouTube channels such as Super Simple Songs, Barefoot Books, and The Learning Station, to name a few, churn out classic nursery rhymes, to brand new, original songs that are catchy, addictive, and ‘boogielicious’. It is a simple way to bond with our children, either by singing or dancing along with them. You can also play along with instruments, tapping in beat or rhythm. This #Sing-alongSong I want to share not only introduces the various types of instruments, but also the sounds of these instruments. This video also includes animated people moving according to the music, which is awesome and easy for children to follow. So, why not teach your children this song for some extra bonding, and your children can learn new musical knowledge at the same time?


We Can Play on The Big Bass Drum


Oh, we can play on the big bass drum

And this is the way we do it

Boom, boom, boom, goes the big bass drum

Boom, boom, boom

And that’s the way we do it


Oh, we can play on the violin

And this is the way we do it

Fiddle-diddle-dee, goes the violin


And that’s the way we do it


Oh, we can play the flute

And this is the way we do it

Toot, toot, toot, goes the flute

Toot, toot, toot

And that’s the way we do it


Oh, we can play the xylophone

And this is the way we do it

Chink, chink, chink, goes the xylophone

Chink, chink, chink

And that’s the way we do it


Oh, we can play the piano

And this is the way we do it

Dong, dong, dong, goes the piano

Dong, dong, dong

And that’s the way we do it


Oh, we can play the triangle

And this is the way we do it

Ding, ding, ding, goes the triangle

Ding, ding, ding

And that’s the way we do it