We have one of those fridges that is covered with photos, magnetic business cards, Merit/Honour certificates and Chinese takeaway menus.
However, this is the current stand out item on our fridge which makes me happy everytime I get out the milk – an old photo of our daughter having a bath with all the balls from a mini “ball room” we bought for them years ago.
On the weekend, the kids were invited to a birthday party at Scitech, our local science discovery museum.
I love Scitech! And the kids do too. There are so many gadgets that kids can play with, and you don’t need to get stressed about them pressing any ol’ button like at home. In fact, I, myself find it quite liberating just being able to push any button randomly multiple times without having to worry that something will break! It’s like stress relief!
One really cool exhibit there was a robot arm that was mounted with a camera. It takes a photo of you, grabs a piece of A4 paper, places it on an easel, draws a picture of you, then drops the finished work down a chute for you to keep. The drawings were rather abstract, but it was really amazing to see something with that much fine control in action.
Scitech also has a short term themed “exhibition” and the current one is called Strike A Chord – all about music and sound production, which is right up our family’s alley. I continue to be impressed at how exciting and cool Scitech can make each exhibit. There I was being a daggy parent, trying to play chopsticks on the large Floor Piano with my daughter. Hmmmm.. I wonder why she was not too keen on it 🙂
Scitech definitely know how to run a birthday party. This party was hosted, so there was a young enthusiastic (probably uni student!) person in charge, entertaining the kids through some science experiments. He kept the kids engaged with an energy level worthy of a Hi-5 or Wiggles show. And he even kept the parents entertained. During the party food time, he kept them entertained with some fun science related tricks – I don’t think I’ve ever seen all the kids remain seated for so long during the party food time before. I think if I was in his shoes I’d be ready for a beer by the end of it! And he had 3 or 4 more parties to do that day!
The kids all got a “showbag” with some easy home experiments. So, that evening, we helped our 7yo make some “snow” and some “Psilly Snot” slime in the kitchen.
It was all good fun, especially after we added the green food colouring to it. Then she wanted to take the slime to school the next day in the “Mystery Box”. I wonder what the teacher thought 🙂
Through the Facebook network, I learnt about a concert on last week. Jazz in the Theatre – Soundtracks was a showcase put on by the WA Academy of Performing Arts last week. The poster says that various jazz and comtemporary ensembles would play a collection of hits of music from musicals.
I wanted to go, and the musicals angle interested my wifey. But what about the kids? Babysitting? It would be nice to go out to a concert, just us, no kids. But we thought it might a good concert to bring the kids to. Yes, adventurous, but it’s good to bring kids to sit down concerts to expand their horizons, learn about concert etiquette, listen to other types of music, and to experience sitting still for ~2 hours!!
Yes it can be a hard decision to bring kids to a concert. Will it be as enjoyable for the two of you?
So here’s a few ideas to help make it an enjoyable experience for the kids, and the parents too!
Ease the kids into jazz and classical concerts with more family friendly and oriented concerts. In Perth, the state symphony orchestra, WASO, and state youth music association, WAYMA, run concerts for kids. There are commentaries on what’s happening and the music chosen is more accessible and shorter and more noise/movement is tolerated by the audience. The WAYMA’s Baby Proms are a good introduction the orchestra and heaps of fun for kids – sort of like the Wiggles but for classical music!
Get the kids familiar with some of the pieces which will be performed at the concert. Maybe make a CD with some of the tunes that are on the program and play it in the car or at home. At the Jazz in the Theatre performance, many of the tunes were actually from movies, so watching those shows beforehand is good preparation.
Even better, if your child learns a musical instrument or singing, perhaps they can play easy versions of some of the concert pieces. For us, some of the songs was singing repetoire for our daughters, so this definitely kept her engaged for part of the concert.
Talk about the various instruments that will be played with your kids. Ask them to pick out which ones they like best, to describe the sounds each make during the concert, etc. At the interval, we asked the kids which person they’d like to be if they were in the concert itself.
Make it a special night out for the family! We talked about it during the week leading up to the night. On the night itself, we got the kids dressed up and said it was going to be a treat because we were letting them stay up late on a school night. We kept it positive about staying up late that one night but knew that they would probably get tired during the concert, but didn’t make a fuss about it. It was hard for them to wake up the next morning, but we accepted this.
Try more informal jazz concerts or university/college classical concerts first. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of any type of ensemble, but the more prestigious classical ensembles may attract more formal audiences who are less tolerant of fidgety kids. Plus, those type of concerts may feature longer, more difficult listening music that would be hard to entertain kids. Jazz performances are inherently more informal, which may be easier to bring kids to.
Check out the type of venue. Outdoor concerts may be easier to bring kids to than concert halls as they may allow more movement and noise.
Have backup! Bring along some quiet writing/reading activity just in case their attention really starts to wander. But only as backup! They could draw pictuers of the instruments, or a picture of what the music sounds like.
So what was it like for us? The kids were great overall, but our 9yo did get tired in the second half. They loved the Aristocats arrangement the best (actually so did I!).
After dinner on school nights, we usually ban the TV and encourage the kids to play a board game or card game of some kind. Last night was Uno, but tonight was Guess Who!
Unfortunately having a 7 year old play a 9 year old does expose differences in logic and problem solving between the ages. Guess who is an interesting game in that you need some problem solving skills to determine the best question to ask depending on what people you have left. Our 7 year old is still asking semi random questions that don’t help all the time. Like “Does your person have a moustache?” when all her remaining people have a moustache! Cute 🙂
The other hard concept that comes up in the game is the double negative? Like, “Does your person have a hat?”. “No”. This means you eliminate the people WITH hats. Our little one still gets mixed up and sometimes eliminates the opposite! One day it will click…
Each year the kids take part in some dancing exams for jazz and tap. As usual, we’re slack parents and we suddenly realised that the exam is this Monday. And… the dance costume and shoes aren’t done yet!
I’m not sure how it happened, but a few years ago, I became the allocated shoe painter.
So, while the kids were watching their movie on Friday’s movie night, I started the ritual again… anticipating the smell of newspaper, the blackness of my hands when I’m done, the smell of the paint, the joy of finding a corner of newspaper I can hold to turn the shoe upside down…