• Vivian Teo

10 must-knows before embarking on Andsoforth Junior's Around the World in 80 days kids' workshop

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Both kids and adults will be impressed by the beautiful settings and engaging crew at Andsoforth Junior's Around the World in 80 Days immersive children's book workshop.

I actually hadn't heard of Andsoforth Junior's Around the World in 80 days children's book workshop until I saw friends post about their visits in IG recently. From the pictures and videos we've seen, it looks most impressive and I must say, we weren't disappointed after our visit.

The immersive workshop in Singapore consists of replicas and reimagined places from Jules Verne's famous book like a ship travelling from Egypt to Bombay, a jungle in Kolkata and a train from Hong Kong, while facilitators engage participants with fun details from the book and hands-on activities.

We had planned the trip as an end-of-exam surprise for the kids, so they didn't quite know what to expect. I'm happy to say at the end of the trip, both kids and adults were duly entertained and impressed. So here's what to expect and ten things to know before you go:

1) What do you actually do there?

The 75-minute workshop consist of visiting five rooms that are replicas/reimagined settings of the book. You spend about 15 minutes in each room where facilitators would engage participants with details from the book and in some hands-on activities.

This starts off with an old theatre in London where our facilitator dressed as protagonist, Phileas Fogg, introduced us to the story and had the children 'purchasing' tickets from a theatre ticketing booth.

Buying tickets at a London theatre

Then we went onboard The Mongolia, a ship Fogg had travelled in during his journey, where we learned about sailing in the olden days and how to tie special knots with ropes.

Onboard The Mongolia!

Next, we went to a jungle in Kolkata and the kids had the chance to make an elephant craft.

In a jungle in Kolkata

We went onboard a train next, and this has to be our favourite among the sets given how luxurious and realistic the train looked with its red velvet seats, and moving scenery. We heard about how Fix, a detective who mistook Foggs for a bank robber, had almost foiled Fogg's trip while the kids got to draw secret messages on postcards.

In a train in Hong Kong

Next, we visited a coal mine in Japan and heard about how miners worked, while the kids got to do some shading with charcoal.

In a coal mine in Japan

The exit out of the coal mine was most exciting - we pulled ourselves out on a minecart.

Pulling ourselves out in a minecart

The impressive sets were really the highlight of the workshop for us. Both kids and adults ooh-ed and aah-ed when we arrived in each room and everyone found it extremely exciting when the facilitators had the children looking for secret passages that would take us to the next setting. The rooms are very well designed, especially how they are linked through secret passages. The kids definitely enjoyed the element of surprise when we went through the secret 'tunnels' to the next room.

Found the secret passage!

2) Are the activities suitable for young children?

The children's workshop is recommended for kids age 3-10. I had thought some of the activities like shading, drawing on postcards and tying knots were too simple for my kids (age 8 and 10) but it's understandable given that the activities had to cater for younger children too and there were time limits for staying in each room so the activities couldn't be too complicated. That said, my kids said they enjoyed most of the activities especially the elephant craft where they made a puppet elephant with a paper bag and stickers (see last pic for elephant craft).

Learning to tie knots

3) Are there opportunities for photo ops?

You actually won't be able to linger around after each session to take photos given that there is a time limit to the workshop in each room but there is the opportunity to do so while your kids are busy with the activities or if they had already finished their activities and there is a bit of extra time, like we got to take pictures with the elephant in the jungle, posters at the theatre and got some wefies in the train.

Wefie in the train

4) Do I have to read the book before I go?

You don't have to but on hindsight I think we might have a better appreciation of the details and settings if we did. Though we hadn't read the book before the trip, we were still engaged by the enthusiastic performances of the facilitators and thereafter, our kids said they would like to read the book. The workshop is a also good way to pique their interest and introduce the book to them.

5) Do I have to go with my kids?

I think the impressive sets are good enough reason for the adults to visit too. The activities and crafts are more catered for the children so the parents in our group were really just helping the kids or taking pictures. A parent/adult is required to accompany children 7 and below but for kids older than that, I believe they would be fine on their own as they are well taken care of and guided by the staff, especially since each session has a maximum of ten pax.

6) Given COVID-19, is it safe?

The usual precautions like face masks and Safe Entry requirements apply. I felt everyone was well spaced out in each room given that each session is capped at a maximum of ten. Hand sanitisers are also available in each room and facilitators would remind everyone to sanitise their hands. So we definitely felt safe when visiting.

7) How much does it cost?

Tickets are at $48 per pax and pre-booking via Andsoforth's website is required due to capacity limit. There is also a booking fee of $5 per pax so the ticket is essentially $53 per pax. It's not the cheapest but seeing the lovely settings, performances of the crew and limited capacity of ten per session, I think the pricing is justified. If you want to save a little, just one parent accompanying the kids would do as like I said, the staff do guide the participants and the activities are considered simple for children on the higher end of the recommended children age group.

8) How far ahead should I book?

The event is held over weekends till the end of this year. There are quite a few sessions per Saturday/Sunday. We actually booked two days before our session and were able to secure spots for our family of four, but I think one reason is also because the event just started not long ago and not many know about it yet. If you have a preferred day and timing, it's better to book early as each session only accommodates ten and a few weekends were sold out already, the last we checked.

9) Where is the event located and is there parking?

It's located on the top floor of 16 Lorong Ampas in a rather shabby looking industrial building called GS Building in the Balestier area. The building exterior may be a little off-putting but trust me, the workshop venue is nothing like it. There is free outdoor parking inside the compound and some URA parking by the roadside. As the workshops are held during the weekends which means the shops at the building are mostly closed, we didn't have a problem parking within the compound

10) What time to arrive and anything else to note?

The organisers recommend that you arrive 15 minutes before your session for registration, temperature check and safe entry. But these only took less than five minutes for us and we waited for ten minutes outside sweating despite there being a fan (it was a hot day!). So I think arriving 5-10 minutes before your session would suffice. Also, the air-con is mighty strong in there, so your kid may need a cardigan or want to wear long pants or jeans to the venue!

The modest gift shop at the end (also see our elephant craft in papa's hand)

Andsoforth Junior's children's book workshop is an interesting and engaging experience worth considering for the kids this school holiday, especially since most of us wouldn't be travelling this school holiday yet want to give kids something memorable to enjoy this holiday. We'll definitely be looking forward to more of such experiences with Andsoforth - hopefully with different books - in the future!

Disclaimer: We paid for our tickets, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.

©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.


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