Sunday, February 22, 2009

Advent calendars and the Children's Theatre

Last December we bought for Avril a chocolate advent calendar at Trader Joe's.  In case you've never had one, an advent calendar has a small window for each day in December until Christmas and under each door there may be something hidden – in our case a small chocolate.  The calendar was a big hit.  Avril loved counting the days and to our surprise she showed a big discipline, never wanting to eat more than one chocolate a day and remembering which day would come next.

The second part to background of yesterday's story is that we live close to the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre and that theatre has a series of shows called Second Saturday Participation Plays.  As you can guess from the name, on the second Saturday of every month, there's a children's play in which audience participates in the story with the actors.  The idea is great even if, as in our case, your child is a bit shy and usually opts for sitting next to the parent rather than participating.

So, now the story that is the reason for this post:  Yesterday, Avril and I went for a stroll and we were walking at some point from the big tree that a few days ago fell down in the storm to the zoo.  As we were walking past the Children's Theatre, I asked Avril: "We came here to watch some plays.  Do you remember what story we watched?"  Avril's response was "No.  You tell me!"  For a while I tried to get her to tell me the name of the story but eventually I gave up knowing that she either really forgot or had her own reasons for not wanting to tell me the name of the story.  So, I said "we watched Jack and the Beanstalk".  Avril's response blew me away.  She said: "Yes, and on that day I opened the chocolate number 13".  As she said this, I didn't remember when exactly we went to see the play but after I got home I checked and Avril's recollection was perfect: we watched Jack and the Beanstalk on December 13.  I am still impressed with this.  I mean... Avril wasn't even three on December 13 and that performance was over two months ago!

I guess that the moral of the story (other than the fact that people can remember random things) is that tying in new skills like counting days into every day activities that children enjoy can be very effective.  So, all those things like counting how many Toyotas there are in the preschool's parking lot may have many unpredictable benefits.

I would like to end with a longer plug for children theatres in general and the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre with its many programs including Second Saturday Participation Plays.  You have to make sure that you go the plays appropriate for the age because sitting through a long performance is hard for toddlers but if everything works out, they are great fun.  Here's the list of Second Saturday Participation Plays this season:
  • Cinderella, November 8 – 10:30am and 12:30pm
  • Jack and the Beanstalk, December 13 – 10:30am and 12:30pm
  • Beauty and the Beast, January 10 – 10:30am and 12:30pm
  • Little Red Riding Hood, March 14 – 10:30am and 12:30pm
  • The Tortoise and the Hare, April 11 – 10:30am and 12:30pm
  • Snow White, May 9 – 10:30am and; 12:30pm
There's only one downside of the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre I can think of: it is very popular and the shows tend to be sold out weeks in advance.  We haven't yet planned any trip there long enough in advance, so we have to show up early to be near the top of the waiting list for returned tickets.

1 comment:

Michał Cierniak said...

One of the annoying things about the Palo Alto City web site is that their links keep changing end old URLs to not redirect to new ones. The current link to Second Saturday Participation Plays is here but I bet that this link will change soon too.