Summertime and the learning is easy…

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EVEN though school’s out for the year, it doesn’t mean learning stops. Canberra has some great offerings over the long, summer, which will entertain and educate children and adults these holidays.

Here’s a look at some of the best in summer school temptations…

The National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Drawn In’ program

Gallery has lots for families to enjoy

NOT only is the National Portrait Gallery a great place to stay cool over the summer while enjoying its stunning views, its manager of learning programs, Krysia Kitch says there’s a range of activities for families.

“Some have a cost attached but three of the programs are free,” she says.

“We’ll have a family space called ‘Face Lab’. The idea is there will be lots of opportunities to investigate your own face or other people’s faces in quirky ways.

“It includes a little library corner and there’s lots of drawing and activities.”

Reflecting on the gallery’s ideas of portraiture and identity Krysia says people can expect a lot of unusual mirrors and a lot of fun.

“We also have ‘Drawn In’ on December 26 as an alternative to going shopping for sales,” she says.

“Come and chill out and listen to ‘Humbug’, which is a band. There will also be drawing materials available.”

The third free family activity offered by the National Portrait Gallery over the holidays is “Head Hunt”.

“Families are given an iPad and set off into the gallery to explore the portraits in the collection through a series of prompts and instructions,” she says.

And, while story time, on January 3 and 30 isn’t free, it only costs $7 and Krysia says it’s an opportunity to come and listen to a story and then do a lot of creative making.

National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes. Call 6102 7000, email or visit

“Cook and the Pacific” at the National Library of Australia until February 10

National Library open for exploration!

THE National Library of Australia is inviting Canberrans to explore its exhibitions and holiday activities this summer.

“The National Library of Australia’s major exhibition ‘Cook and the Pacific’ revisits the extraordinary Pacific voyages of Capt James Cook, between 1768 and 1780,” says exhibition curator Dr Susannah Helman.

“It brings together objects from international and Australian collections: rarely seen handwritten voyage journals, spectacular objects, exquisite portraits and much more.”

Keeping to the theme of Cook, the library’s school-holiday activity “Summer WordPlay” involves a range of fun activities and games that explore the library and “Cook and the Pacific”.

From December 22 to February 3 the library invites families to drop in to read stories from the Dreaming, explore the science of Cook’s voyages and create their own story of adventure at the “WordPlay” room for children aged four and over.

At 11.30am, January 24, the library is charging $2 a child (EFTPOS payment only) for its “Summer Storytime”, where children can share their love of reading and stories with some exciting and heart-warming tales from the ACT Storytellers Guild.

Then, at 1pm on the same day, the library will show a free screening of “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” in the theatre.

National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra. Call 6262 1111, email or visit

Art workshops will keep kids busy

FROM animal bones to jugglers, Lavender Art Studios has a range of exciting workshops to entertain children aged five to 13 these holidays.

“At Lavender Art Studios, we will, once again, unearth our very large collection of especially collected animal bones,” says art studio manager Elita Mackay.

Starting January 21, Elita says students will explore native American tribes and their connection with nature and the environment through drawing, painting and sculpting tribal life such as sacred animals, symbols, totem poles, shields and canoes.

Then, in week two, Elita says Lavender Art Studios will present a fantastical human circus art experience.

“The young artists will have the opportunity to create pictures, sculpt and make prints of clowns, hoopers, jugglers, trapeze acts and musicians to name just a few,” she says.

“The colourful excitement of a circus in action will help flair the creative pieces this summer at Lavender Art Studios.

“We also offer a very dynamic visual arts program during school terms for eight to 19-year-olds.

Lavender Art Studios, first floor, 42 Townshend Street, Phillip. Call 6292 6339, email or visit

An Alliance Francaise kindergarten class

Summer camps where the accent is on fun and French

LOCATED in Turner, Alliance Francaise Canberra has all-immersive workshops and holiday camps for all ages this summer, says deputy director Anais Garrigues.

For children aged three to 11, Anais says Alliance Francaise’s holiday camps are a combination of learning and fun through French-based activities such as craft, cooking, singing and games.

“The idea is to make them enjoy learning French and learn without knowing they are learning,” she says.

“They will be surrounded by French staff all day and will have to practice every day.

“We want to give them a glimpse of the experience a kid can have during a holiday camp in France.”

For teenagers at a beginner or intermediate level, or children who are advanced or bilingual, Anais says Alliance Francaise runs intensive courses.

“They will be doing activities to strengthen their writing skills, comprehension and fluency,” she says.

“For our children’s intensive program, they will create their own newspaper and the second week they will be writing their own fairytales.

“We will also be running a class of a new type, ‘Mystères à l’Alliance’.

“It is not a traditional French class, but a big-scale roleplay where our students (adults and teens) will get to play detectives and solve a mystery.

“For adults, we offer three hours of class per day for four days for three weeks.

“We also offer conversation classes and one-week-long workshops with various themes such as gastronomy, current affairs and fashion.”

Alliance Francaise Canberra, 66 McCaughey Street, Turner. Call 6257 6696, email or visit

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