Squeals of excitement would be the best way to describe the reaction from Alex when he discovered what was in the mysterious box of goodies that had arrived. We tore open the bubble wrap and packaging. He was delighted to see his name on the top of the box.
When we opened it, the first thing we saw was the ‘playbook’ with all the instructions of the activities in store. The booklet opens with a fun riddle. For each game, experiment or task, there is a quick visual reference about how long it takes to prep the task, how much adult involvement is required and how messy the activity will be. I definitely scanned through this quickly to decide which ones we could do there and then, and which ones we needed to save for later.
After that there are clear visuals of the materials needed and step-by-step guides on how to assemble the items. Because all of the props are separated in packages of various size, colour, label and material, it’s a bit like Christmas opening all these up!
The theme of Alex’s box was air, and so he learnt a lot about air pressure with a series of seemingly simple but nevertheless mind-blowing (eyes agog at the discovery!) experiments involving tubes, bottles, balloons, food colouring, plasticine and straws. His favourite prop by far was the dropper, because obviously, all scientists need to have their own droppers.
All in all?
Some activities took 20 minutes, while others were done in less than one. All in all, I would say there was a couple of hours’ worth of engagement here, with opportunities for expansion if you supplement this with Internet research, books or videos on the topic.
As a parent who isn’t very DIY when it comes to hands-on learning with my child, Atom & The Dot is a godsend, and I would’ve signed up immediately for a year’s subscription, except they don’t do international shipping at the moment.
For those of you in Malaysia, however, I highly recommend Atom & The Dot if you have a 5-8 year old that you want to give a present to, whether it’s your own child, or niece or for a birthday party you’re going to. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be a fun learning experience for everyone involved.
What we like: They even have a recycling programme for all the bits and bobs in the boxes – that’s what you want to see in any company working in the 21st century economy.
What could be improved? One suggestion I would make to Atom & The Dot is to include references to find out more about the topic.
Uma is a Malaysian mum who works in teacher education. She has a six-year-old son, Alex, and currently lives in Singapore.
Who doesn’t love Lego, those colourful bricks you can build up, pull apart and build up again? The appeal of playing with Lego transcends age barriers, so the Legoland theme park is a great place to go with the family during long weekends and school holidays.
Located in Johor, about 5 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, Legoland Malaysia consists of two separate theme parks: the main Legoland theme park and the Legoland water park.
There are several different lands in the main theme park:
Land of Adventure
LEGO Ninjago World
There are plenty of rides of rides and attractions for kids above 3 years old, and 80 cm and taller.
Lots of kids, including pre-teens, enjoy the Driving School and Junior Driving School, where you can have fun learning how to drive. These are for kids aged 3-13 years, and able to reach the pedals and steering wheel.
The Boating School, where you get to steer battery-powered boats, seems to be a popular choice. The queue is always long! This may be because kids from the age of 1 can enjoy these rides.
Rides and Thrills
While Legoland is great for younger kids, it is not really for those expecting wild heart-thumping roller coasters.
Riders seeking adrenaline-pumping thrills can head straight to LEGO Technic and get on the Project X ride which has a steep drop and jerky turns. However, it has been reported that Project X will be turned into an exciting Lego virtual reality roller coaster in November.
There are also two roller coasters at LEGO Kingdoms which my teenage child enjoyed. The Dragon’s Apprentice is for younger kids of at least 4 years old, and The Dragon has slightly more exhilarating twists and turns.
My 2-year old, on the other hand, loved the Observation Tower the best as you get to ride to the top and see panoramic views of Legoland.
Escaping from the heat
One thing about the park is that it can get super hot, and there is not much shade in terms of trees. But if you need to seek refuge from the heat, or when it starts to rain, there are many places to do so.
Legoland has a number of indoor attractions including LEGO Studios which screens 4D movies, and City Stage with characters performing live shows. There is also LEGO Mindstorms where you can build robots, Build & Test where you can test your building skills against earthquakes, and LEGO Academy with various workshops, to name a few.
Do note that some children may not enjoy a few of the dimly-lit indoor attractions. My toddler could not wait to get out of the Star Wars Miniland and Ninjago ride.
For mums who wish to nurse, pump or change their kids’ diapers, there is a baby care room in Imagination Land. The room also has cots if your little ones have simply had enough of it all.
There are not that many rides which under 3s can go on, but they can take the Duplo Express, which is a small train located in Duplo Playtown. The playtown is a covered playground area where kids can run around and let off some steam.
The Miniland is my favourite part of the park with models of Asian cities and landmarks.
On to the water park!
There are plenty here for all types of visitors. Those who simply want to relax can go to the Build-A-Raft River when you ride on a raft down the lazy river.
Little tikes can enjoy themselves at the Duplo Splash Safari water playground with shorter and safer slides. Older kids can have more thrills and spills at the bigger ones.
For diaper changes and feeds, the water park has a baby care centre next to the lockers and changing rooms after the entrance.
Visitors can choose to go to either park or both. As it can rain, especially during the monsoon season, if you are planning to visit both parks in one day, Legoland recommends that you head to the waterpark first, and then visit the main theme park in the afternoon.
There are various ticket prices, packages and promotions available. Prices start from RM84 for a one-day ticket to the water park for 3-11 year olds and senior citizens. There is also a Legoland Hotel, with several different room themes.
All in all?
My kids loved the place. We have now been to Legoland several times, but in my daughter’s words: “Everyday is a different experience.”
What we like: My teenage daughter loved the Dragon rollercoaster. My toddler loved the Duplo Express and Legoland Express train rides as well as the Observation Tower.
What could be improved? The food. The pasta was a little undercooked. The park also tends to get really hot. There could be more trees, especially at the car park.
Food can be a bit pricey in the theme park, you can opt to eat at the various F&B outlets at the Medini Mall just outside the park. We usually bring our own water bottles too.
Also, most visitors turn right at The Beginning and start at LEGO City and work their way towards the end, at LEGO Technic. My teenage daughter prefers to turn left to start at LEGO Technic. This way, you avoid the crowds and get to go on the more ‘adult’ rides first, if that is your thing.
For the water park, if you intend to get in the water, do bring proper swim wear, as the park rules do not allow normal attire such as t-shirts and jeans. In case you forget to pack your swim wear and towel, these are sold at the retail outlet. Don’t forget your toiletries!
By Hazlin Hassan
Hazlin Hassan is a freelance writer who spent 12 years in the news industry, first as a TV journalist and then a foreign correspondent. From writing about politics, she now focuses on the more important things in life: dirty diapers and never-ending hospital appointments.