by DEBBIE GILBERT
Does your daughter dream of being the next Shannon Lucid? Is your son determined to be the first to set foot on Mars? Here's something they'll love: Mini Space Camps for ages 8 to 12, offered by the Memphis Space Center at Christian Brothers University. Parents and their children work together to learn about space science and space travel, and the approach is always lively. Activities include model rocketry, making a comet, toys in space, simulating a Mars launch, and acting out a scale model of the solar system. The mini camps (abbreviated versions of the successful Summer Space Camp program) will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on four Saturdays: October 5th and 19th, and November 9th and 23rd. Tuition and all materials for one parent and one child is $60. For more information, call 272-7934.
Beginning October 5th, Playhouse on the Square (726-4656) is offering a series of Pay-What-You-Can Matinees, affordable arts programs for children. This Saturday at 10:30 a.m., the deaf theatre troupe Show of Hands will present a show for hearing audiences that demonstrates how deaf people communicate and teaches kids some simple sign language.
Maybe your youngsters have a yen to get onstage. If so, take them to the Lucile Ewing Children's Theatre auditions, where roles will be cast for a holiday production. They need actors ages 6 through 18. Audition times are 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, October 4th and 5th. For information, call 452-3968.
Looking for something the whole family can do together? You've got plenty of options this weekend. The Pink Palace Crafts Fair in Audubon Park (Thursday through Sunday) offers a plethora of kid-pleasers, including magicians, puppet shows, and storytellers, plus face painting, sand art, spin art, and more. All this, and homemade doughnuts, too. As Homer Simpson says, "Mmm." The Black Family Reunion Celebration in Overton Park (Saturday and Sunday) has all kinds of free events promoting family togetherness and community pride. And on Sunday, in St. Peter Village at the corner of Poplar and McLean, there's the first-ever Catholic Family Reunion Festival, which features children's activities, among other things (there will also be Macarena lessons, but we can't recommend them ÷ do you want to encourage your kid to be annoying?).
The insurance company Mutual of Omaha has helped millions of kids learn about animals through its long-running TV series Wild Kingdom. But since educators have decided that kids learn better by doing stuff rather than sitting in front of the tube, Mutual of Omaha is sponsoring another venture: a hands-on teaching system called Zoo Trek, which will be at the Memphis Zoo this Thursday, October 3rd, through Sunday, October 6th.
The idea behind Zoo Trek is to guide children toward making their own discoveries about animals, science, and the environment. At 16 sites throughout the zoo, there will be interactive learning stations offering activities and games for kids to try.
For example, at the waterfowl exhibit, kids are invited to observe flamingos up close and figure out how the birds are able to eat and drink with their heads upside-down. On a growth chart located under the Primate Canyon entrance arch, they can measure their height and then compare their own stature to that of various endangered species and dinosaurs. A tie-dye activity at the farm exhibit shows kids how we use natural dyes extracted from plants. And a station called "Which Biome is Your Home?," located near the reptile house, demonstrates how each animal is adapted to a certain type of environment.
The Zoo Trek stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The event is free with regular zoo admission. For more information, call 725-3407.
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