Make+Tell Camp: A Class of Numbers

October 15, 2018

March 12th, 2018

Day 1: Create & Imagine

In our inaugural Make+Tell Camp, we were so inspired by the dynamic personalities of the 12 children who came together to create characters, story and sound effects.

The children were challenged to think out-of-the-box when tasked to create characters from their favorite numbers and in doing so, children removed numbers from their practical application to generate new concepts.

“7-11,” said Kylie, drawing inspiration from her favorite shop. She then proceeded to draw 2 stick figures holding hands and explained that they were friends. Other children came up with numbers that represented the ages of their older siblings or their birthdays. For some like Victoria and Kayden, “100” was an obvious choice because it was a big and long number, while Benjamin picked “1,000,000” for the same reason.

Children construct new understanding based on prior experiences, so instead of measuring “right and wrong” in this instance, we help make children’s thinking visible so that they will be encouraged to extend their existing knowledge to build new concepts.

Materials are like words. The richer your design vocabulary, the more distinctive the design solutions you can express. We left out various materials that children could pick and use to design their number characters. In the absence of instructional teaching, children had full control over what they wanted to use and how to use it.

We observed the children supporting one another, helping their peers solve problems. “How to open this?” asks Victoria holding out the glitter glue. “I’ll show you,” replies Ethan who proceeded to twist open the cap.

Social-emotional skills are crucial in a child’s development as it helps children persist on challenging tasks, to effectively seek help when they need it and to be thoughtful in their actions.

March 13th, 2018

Day 2: Working Together


The child is a member of the family and a community rather than an isolated individual, and learns through interaction with peers, adults, objects and symbols. We believe that the ability to collaborate is an important skill that cannot be taught through rote learning. By working together, a child is practicing how to communicate and listen to others which in turn leads to the development of empathy, mutual respect and the willingness to share.

We divided the children into groups of 6 based on our observations of the relationships formed on the first day and the personalities of the children. Children came together to share details about the characters they created on Day 1 and to come up with a story and backdrop.

In one group, children build on each other’s ideas, and everyone had something to say, so our facilitator encouraged the children to come up with a solution that would make everyone happy. Children then assigned themselves to create the various part of the backdrop.


The conversations that ensued as the children worked together were invaluable. Victoria was upset that Zhuo Ying and Adele had painted a big part of the backdrop leaving her with no space. When our facilitator explained the collaborative nature of the project, Zhuo Ying flipped the paper that she and Adele have been working on over and invited Victoria to paint on the blank side.

As children enter various stages, they are bound to encounter challenges and conflicts. As parents, we can’t always be there to protect them. Beyond meeting the academic standards, it is also imperative to provide children with the opportunity to navigate problems and cope with their emotions.

"When the right circumstances present itself, we at TDL seize the moment and give children the time and space, so that they can learn to work it out among themselves." 

March 14th, 2018

Day 3: Sound, Story & Action

Musical and rhythmic intelligence is one of the intelligence modalities developed by Howard Gardner who argues that we should not single out certain human abilities as intelligence and others not. Indeed, children have cognitive abilities and the traditional standards of assessment can be challenging for those who do not cope well with the system.


Sound design and audio effects are crucial in any film, TV or stage production. It is an art, and when done well, draws you into the story and stirs emotions without leaving a trace. It is an important tool of communication and as we see in babies, using sound can bridge understanding in the absence of words.

We had the children use rhythm to communicate the different parts of a story. “How can we make the sound of rain?” asked our facilitator. “Maybe we can use our knuckles,” suggested Ethan. Children proceeded to explore the different intensity of rain by tapping the floor with their fingers, banging on the floor with their palms and feet.

Different instruments were laid out for children to explore and children tend to pick out those they were familiar with. They were then encouraged to use the instruments to visualize the story they came up within their groups.


Bells were used to express emergencies, a faster tempo usually indicates a sense of urgency, and bouts of laughter signified a happy ending. While children were tasked to create a story, it is through this process that allowed children to forge relationships, take turns to listen to each other, extend help to a friend in need and share knowledge uninhibitedly with one another.

At TDL, we care about the process, and we are able to achieve that with the small adult to child ratio. We want to make every child feel valued and heard so that they can focus on developing the critical skills that will see them through school and well into adulthood.

TDL celebrates imagination and the natural flow of creativity, and it is our central philosophy to inspire children and provide them with outlets to express themselves however they wish to. As opposed to the constraints most learning institutions have in allowing creative collaboration and individuality to occur, TDL is open-ended and offers something different from the rest.

We want to harness the power of storytelling in the future, for marketing, technology, or entertainment -- because the ability to think in stories will be uniquely human. --Joanne Peh
We always choose to work with the children, to collaborate and bounce ideas off their creative minds

"You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper." -Dr Edward De Bono