Locals make learning fun over the long, hot summer

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With plenty of time off, the summer holiday a great opportunity to learn new skills for life. This is a sponsored post.

SCHOOL’S out for the year and the long, hot summer holidays beckon. With plenty of time off, it’s a great opportunity to learn new skills for life, whether it’s learning a new language, playing with Lego, gaining drama and performance skills, exploring history, getting up close to birds or taking in some of the best kids’ theatre shows of the season.

This week “CityNews” speaks with locals who make learning fun.

Toby Gosling-Dunlop, 10, as Loki and Harper Scott, nine, as Thor. Photo: Greg Gould

Kirsty empowers kids through theatre

DRAMA holiday programs provide a great introduction to theatre and are also ideal for performers who want to develop skills intensively, says owner and founder of Budding Theatre, Kirsty Budding. 

Kirsty says Budding Theatre provides high-quality, themed holiday programs (and term courses) which encourage creativity, confidence and practical skill development and culminates in a performance for family and friends. 

“Kids and teens love our theatre courses because we respond to the characters they want to play, the stories they love and the themes they are passionate about,” she says.

“If a young performer wants to play Thor, I write their role as Thor and provide range in the role for them to develop acting skills.”

Kirsty says the holiday program themes for this holiday are “The Greatest Showman”, “Comedy, Magic and Musicals”, “Harry Potter Parody” and “DC versus Marvel!”. 

“The level of input from performers varies; for established works or my own plays [where] I write the scripts,” Kirsty says. 

“For themed courses like ‘DC versus Marvel!’ or parody courses like ‘Harry Potter Parody’, performers bring their own ideas with them and I synthesise those ideas to write a new play.”

Kirsty says her programs use engaging themes to connect with young performers, foster teamwork, creative collaboration, confidence and self-esteem building.

“I enjoy seeing young performers feel empowered in their roles and develop a love of performing even if they were initially shy,” Kirsty says.

Playing Field Studio, 2 Kingsley Street, Acton. Email submissions@buddingtheatre.com or call 6153 0007.

Lego program builds on creativity

A LEGO brick-building school holiday program will keep children entertained, engaged and away from screens, says Bricks 4 Kidz director Mark Jeffries. 

Each session is structured and themed, says Mark who co-runs the business with his wife Mary. 

“We create several stations and rotate the kids through each one,” he says. 

“It could be normal Lego bricks with our Bricks 4 Kidz instructions, motorised models, 3D models, free play where the kids can make whatever they want, or Lego mosaics of favourite superheroes, games characters and movie heroes.”

The days are screen-free, Mark says, with a focus on creativity, thinking, problem solving and working collaboratively.

The holiday programs will be held at four locations these holidays including Belconnen and Hughes from January 7-31, Forde from January 13-17, and Gungahlin from January 20-23.

Mark says the school holiday activities are designed for kids ages five to 11 and are staffed by trained Bricks 4 Kidz instructors.

Overall, Bricks 4 Kids say their programs provide a great atmosphere for students to build unique creations and have loads of fun using Lego bricks. 

“Building models provides opportunities for problem-solving and helps kids develop an appreciation for how things work… in a non-competitive atmosphere,” say Bricks 4 Kids. 

Bricks 4 Kidz, 125/99 Eastern Valley Way, Belconnen. Call 0422 083883 or visit bricks4kidz.com.au

‘Spectacular’ shows for the whole family

THE Canberra Theatre Centre has entertainment for the whole family over the holidays, says the theatre’s assistant marketing manager and media buyer, Joe Gleeson.

“Before Christmas we have the amazing Cirque Stratosphere,” he says.

“It’s a spectacular new circus set in a futuristic space-age utopia, featuring gravity-defying acts from a troupe of Olympic-standard acrobats and gymnasts.”

In Cirque Stratosphere, Joe says audiences will witness impressive stunts on roller skates, death-defying acrobatics on a Russian bar – where the performer is thrown in the air by two partners holding the bar – sky-high contortions in the aerial sphere and the Russian swing-to-swing.

From December 17-19 Joe says The Wiggles will be at the Playhouse in their new “Party Time! Big Show!”, with Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony being joined by Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword, Henry the Octopus and Wags the Dog, new wiggly friend Shirley Shawn the Unicorn, as well as Santa Claus and dancing reindeers. 

And, created for children aged three and up, the Storytime Ballet is presenting a brand-new production of “The Nutcracker” from January 16-18.

Joe says it features a colourful cast of characters in a spellbinding, magical adventure that kids will love. 

Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Civic. Call 6275 2700 or visit canberratheatrecentre.com.au 

Free exhibitions let kids be spies

CHILDREN will be able to see genuine spy equipment and hear the stories of real intelligence officers at the National Archives of Australia this summer, says curator Emily Catt. 

The stories of spies can be stranger than fiction and the archives’ new exhibition “Spy: Espionage in Australia” reveals the personal experiences of secret agents and the history of espionage and counter-espionage in Australia.

“We’re offering two interactive family trails for kids, one for five to eight-year-olds and another for older kids aged eight to 12,” Emily says. 

“Kids can play the part of a secret agent in the trail and test their skills at codebreaking and reading invisible ink. 

“The exhibition is free and the trails are self-guided so no bookings are needed.”

There is genuine spy equipment on display, as well as surveillance images and candid interviews with ASIO officers. 

Also, Café Constitution has re-opened, Emily says, located in the gorgeous heritage-listed building in Parkes offering a unique dining experience by local operators TreeEightyThree.

National Archives of Australia, Kings Avenue, Parkes. Call 6212 3600 or visit naa.gov.au

The fun of learning French

A FRENCH school holiday program is a great way to learn and have fun at the same time, says Nancy Waites, community engagement manager at the Alliance Française de Canberra.

Offering holiday programs for all ages, Alliance Française has classes for three years old up to teenagers and adults. 

“We welcome all ages and abilities and our teachers are skilled at teaching different levels in one class,” Nancy says.

“We are passionate about teaching French to everyone.”

The holiday program has a focus on fun, with plenty of games, songs and cooking, according to Nancy, who says children also come away from the program having learned something. 

“Games like Twister are great for learning colours and we’ll also learn a simple song or performance that we put on for parents,” says Nancy. 

“We make madeleines, small sponge cakes with a shell-like shape, which we dip in chocolate, or other gâteaux

“The kids learn a lot and it’s also a fantastic way for those who do French at school to immerse in the language again before term starts again.”

And, Nancy says all programs are run by native and experienced French teachers. 

Alliance Française de Canberra, 66 McCaughey Street, Turner. Call 6257 6696 or visit afcanberra.com.au 

Archive has unmissable events for gamers

GAMING fans won’t want to miss out on the special events happening at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), says an NFSA spokesperson.

Older kids aged 15 and over can attend the NFSA’s “Friday Lates” event, “Local Heroes of Gaming”, from 6.30pm, Friday, January 17, hear from Canberra gaming legends, and learn the history and aesthetic of the Game Boy. 

“Indie Game: The Movie”, a documentary about making video games, will be showing in the Arc Cinema, too. 

The Game Masters exhibition will be open daily from 10am-4pm until March 9 with school holiday family passes now available, with unlimited attendance during the summer holidays, and a “Pay What You Can Day” on December 21.

Christmas films “Home Alone”, “Die Hard” and the Frank Capra classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be showing from December 20-21, each one with a festive surprise.

And then Pixar films, which showcase the heroic power of kids, will be screening movies such as “Coco”, “Brave”, “Happy Feet”, “Up!”, “The Incredibles”, “The Neverending Story”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, “Matilda” and “Where the Wild Things Are”. $8 per movie but under-threes are free.

Play-test new and in-development games made by Canberra locals, and hear from NFSA experts about the challenges raised by archiving games in “Gaming: The Next Level”, on Friday, December 13. Tickets are $25/$20 and available online.

National Film and Sound Archive, McCoy Circuit, Acton. Call 6248 2000, email enquiries@nfsa.gov.au or visit nfsa.gov.au 

Enjoy the best of birds

GET up close and personal with a range of birds at the Canberra Walk-in Aviary.

The aviary is a 1000sqm planted walk-in enclosure that has more than 500 birds from about 65 different species from Australia and the world.

“The aviary is great fun for all ages. You have the chance to get up close and personal with a range of birds,” says Mick Logan, owner and manager of the aviary.

“While not all birds will interact with you, you get the chance to observe, up close, species of birds that otherwise would be hard to see in the wild.

“We give you a small plate of food and a tub of mealworms and you can wander around and feed the birds.”

Mick says that people are welcome to take photos of the birds.

“Providing the weather is fine you can have a great time feeding the birds or just observing our feathered friends,” Mick says.

The aviary is operating its summer trading hours of 10am-5pm, with the last admission at 4.30pm. It will be open every day, including public holidays, except Christmas Day. 

Canberra Walk-in Aviary, Federation Square, O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls. Call 6230 2044 or visit canberrawalkinaviary.com.au

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