School breaks usually mean theme parks like Ocean Park are overwhelmed with kids and their families. But not with this year’s extended break.
The education bureau announced a week ago the school closure will be extended until at least Easter amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
And Ocean Park has also been closed since January 26 until further notice for the same reasons.
The outbreak has kept most kids home.
To help cope with this, the park has introduced a new education channel on YouTube to let young children learn about animals and nature through a variety of entertaining content and approaches, serving as an alternative form of education during the break from school.
Redd’s Nature Play Party channel offers videos uploaded weekly featuring Redd, a red panda among Ocean Park’s mascots Whiskers & Friends who is an inventor and the most creative among the squad.
By sharing Redd’s findings through videos exploring different corners of the park and discovering the secrets of nature, the channel targets kindergarten and lower primary school students and aims to help deepen their understanding of the ecosystem and environmental conservation issues. Moreover, it also suggests some fun parent-child activities to pass the time stuck at home.
“We understand that ever since the class suspension was put in place, parents and schools have been making huge efforts to ensure the learning progress, as well as physical and mental well-being of children will not be affected,” said Josephine Woo, the park’s executive director of education and special projects.
“Ocean Park is always closely connected to the local school community,” she added.
The channel has three series of educational content for kids to learn like they do at school.
Play With Nature aims to stimulate curiosity and guide children to make full use of their five senses to explore and discover nature’s mysteries.
In the ongoing series, which features the park’s new resident capybara – a rodent native to South America – children will get to know all about the animal through explanations and demonstrations, with topics ranging from why their hairs are coarse and sparse to how caregivers feed them.
Move & Dance sees the Whiskers & Friends characters demonstrate gymnastics and dance routines. Its debut episode Whiskers Express & the Miraculous Journey encourages children to sing and dance along the high-spirited music by following the moves of the mascots and performing staff.
The Art And Crafts Workshops series stimulate children’s creativity and enables them to learn about animals through making their own animal-themed arts and crafts.
Capybara Playing Hide and Seek, the first episode in the series, provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to fold a capybaras hide-and-seek craft.
Supported by the Tourism Commission, the channel will allow children to relax and benefit from diverse learning experiences in the comfort of their home, Woo said.
“We also encourage parents to watch the videos together with their children to further foster parent-child relationships,” she said.
(This article was published at The Standard on March 3, 2020: Education: Channeling kids’ energies )