With two more hectares added, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens now takes pole position as the largest children’s garden in Asia.
Yet, what matters is not its size. But that the four-hectare large Children’s Garden is a safe, self-contained sanctuary created especially for our urbanite kids to stop and play, and consider the world of plants and ecosystems in one convenient location.
Highlights of Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden’s New Extension
Situated on the left side of the entrance, the new extension includes attractions and educational programmes for children up to 14 years old, up from 12 years old previously.
Four new zones have been carved out, to help children witness firsthand the ecology of plants through nature play and learn about the different eco-systems: Farm, Forest, Stream, and Orchard.
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What stands out best for children in this new extension would be the flying fox where they can mimic the colugo and other forest gliders.
The thoughtful inclusion of a wheelchair trampoline and cajons for autistic children makes this an inclusive garden for all children.
The Original Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
First established in 2007 as Asia’s first Garden dedicated to children, the charm of the original Garden remains. With its popular water play area, sandpit, swinging suspension bridge and tree house, this section stays prominent as the fun part of the Garden set amidst nature for the young adventure seekers.
There are now two main additions to the original section of the Gardens.
The most obvious one is an elevated walkway that cuts above the car park entrance. Enjoy the zig-zag stroll, but do not be fooled. This bridge leads only to a sheltered area, marked as a Nature Play Area on the map.
However, if a path is created, this area goes around the back of the car park and leads one to the Forest Zone at the new extension.
Near the popular Suspension Bridge, four large classrooms have been renovated and look set to support the activities to be conducted in the extension.
Different Eco-Systems in Four New Zones at the Garden’s New Extension
1. Farm Zone
A well-grown vegetable plot with neat labels greets you as you enter the new extension. At the Farm Garden within the Farm Zone, children get up close and personal with the different fruits and leafy vegetables.
This is a great space indeed for educating our young ones that our fruits and veggies don’t originate from the supermarket.
At the Farm House, diagrams show us where our food comes from and how food is transported. Children can also learn about growing their own food and how to reduce food waste by making compost.
Edibles grown here include plants we use in our cooking, like chilli, sweet potato and chives. Less commonly known plants include the Butter Fruit, a relative of the common persimmon.
From the Farm Zone, take the path up the bridge to get to the Forest Zone. You will catch a glimpse of the Eco-Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens, as you stand above the 10-minute-long path leading to Botanic Gardens MRT station.
The same bridge leads you past part of the Orchard Zone, to the adventure highlight within the Forest Zone.
2. Forest Zone
At the Forest Zone, the children learn about the forests and their inhabitants. But, of course, their attention will be immediately drawn to the sight of the Flying Fox, where they get to fly to the forest floor, and the elevated swing rope bridge linking to the tall tree houses amidst the giant banyan tree.
Timber logs are strategically placed in an area leading to the rope bridge, to help improve balance and psychomotor skills in children.
There is also a small sand pit with a nest swing to let children experience nestle and sway away like baby birds.
This zone stands out with its inclusive play equipment for children with special needs. The wheelchair trampoline lets wheelchair users enjoy the fun of trampolines.
Besides serving as seats for tired parents, the metal cajons are placed to encourage percussion play. They also help children on the autism spectrum to focus through the repetitive nature of learning a tune.
3. Stream Zone
Moving on to the Stream Zone, children can spot plant and animal species that make their home in the stream with clever adaptations.
Plants found along the stream include the Putat, which also resides in swamp forests, and the Simpoh Air, a shrub with large leaves and flowers that grows along forest edges and swampy grounds.
4. Orchard Zone
At the Orchard Zone, a deck has been neatly set aside to showcase how our favourite beverages come from cocoa, tea and coffee plants.
Get back on the overhead bridge to enjoy the canopy of trees up close, including the tree with fake mangosteens.
Food for Tots
As it is quite a walk in the Gardens for little legs, check out the new café suitably named Food for Tots, located on the left of the main entrance. Brought to you by the same folks who run the now-closed Food for Thought, at Singapore Botanic Gardens, this café has a fun children’s corner and food especially for little ones.
How To Get To Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Address: 481 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259769
Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm daily (closed on Mondays except when Monday falls on a designated public holiday)
Admission: Free. Designed for children aged 14 and below. Children aged 12 and below must be accompanied by an adult. Adults are permitted entry only if accompanying a child.