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This year Halloween falls on the last Sunday of the month and for any parents struggling with costume ideas for their children, this article provides some options.

October is well and truly in swing and spooky season is upon us! Coming up with Halloween ideas for our kids can sometimes be a tricky and tedious process. The following is a list of potential possibilities with accompanying visuals for any parents needing assistance.

  1. The Classics

Halloween fantasy originals such as witches, zombies, ghosts and even skeletons or demons are always a solid choice. There are so many possibilities!

Kids in line in costumes

Two kids in Halloween costumes

 

  1. The Incredibles

This is an option for the whole family! Dressing up as Disney Pixar’s favourite superheroes, The Incredibles. Violet, Dash, Mr and Mrs Incredible and even Jack-Jack for the babies.

Family dressed as The Incredibles

  1. Favourite Pop Star

There are so many different possibilities for this one! Each child can pick their favourite artist and then go from there.

Group dressed as Spice GirlsTwo singers

  1. Favourite Athlete

In the same vein, but for our sporty kids, there are so many different team, sport and player options.

Kid in football uniform

Two kids playing tennis

  1. Foods

A chance for kids to show off their favourite foods. Sushi, fries, fruits or vegetables, tacos or even toast!

Family dressed as food

  1. Marvel Superheroes

These are always a popular choice as there is an option for everyone! Iron Man, Black Widow, the Hulk, Captain Marvel and so many more.

Marvel superheroes

Kids dressed in Marvel costume

  1. Fairies and Princesses

Always a classic fairies or princesses are a fun, colourful and softer option for Halloween. This is less spooky and more cutesy.

Kid dressed in fairy costumes

Kid dressed in princess costume

  1. Animals

Another one that has so many options – zoo animals, farm animals, wild animals or domestic animals! All the way from cats to lions.

Kids dressed in animal costumes

  1. Demon and Angel

This is an option for siblings and friends to show off their true colours! Demons and angels don’t have to be in pairs, there could be a whole group or just one!

Kids dressed as an angel and a demon

Halloween is on Sunday the 31st of October 2021.

Creative and Cheap Ideas to Keep the Children Entertained at Home 

 

 

With school back in session, you may have run out of ideas to do with your kids, and due to last year,  maybe on a strict budget.
Well, here is a list of fun, creative, and fantastic ideas that are cheap, can be done in the comfort of your own home, that is sure to entertain the whole family!

Have an indoor picnic:

This is perfect for those scorching hot days when you don’t want to leave air-conditioned comfort or for those days when it is pouring outside. To make this activity a bit more unique, why not come up with a small menu that the kids can help out with.

Make a Fort:
Forts can be made out of just about everything, but if you want to get real creative try using cardboard boxes. The kids could draw on the of the cardboard boxes to replicate a castle or a garden.

Have a movie night:
Put sleeping bags in front of the television and cook microwave popcorn and hot chocolate. You can put on a marathon of movies like those from Disney or Christmas movies that the whole family will love.

Make your own Playdoh:
Making your own playdoh is always a great option as some store-bought play-doh may have toxic ingredients if accidentally eaten.  However, this particular recipe is safe and nontoxic!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour.
½ cup of salt.
2 tablespoon of cream of tartar.
1 ¼ cup of boiling water.
1 ½ tablespoon of canola oil.
Sandwich bags.
Food colouring.

Directions:

Step 1:
In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
Then, add the oil and boiling water to the mix.
Step 2:
With a spoon mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Once mixed thoroughly, and the mixture is warm (not hot), mix by hand.
Roll the playdough a few times on a flat surface using both hands (like pizza or bread though), until thoroughly mixed and soft.
Step 3:
Divide the playdough into 4 equal parts.
Press an indentation in the centre of each piece.
Step 4:
Place a few drops of food colouring in the indentations you made on each dough batch.
One by one, roll each playdough batch until the colour is thoroughly mixed into the playdough.

Scavenger Hunt:
Scavenger Hunts are an excellent and creative idea to entertain the kids at home. You can hide a few toys in the sandpit and send your kids on a hunt to find them. You could even go around the house and put together a list of items that are around the house and send the kids to find them. This is definitely a great indoor and outdoor activity, depending on the weather.

Build Something:
Building with blocks and Legos sparks the children’s imagination as well as their motor skills. You and the kids can come up with something to build, and you can have a competition trying to develop that idea.  A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

Video Game Competition:
Have a competition with your child on their gaming console (Wii, Nintendo etc.). You can split the family into teams (girls vs boys; parents vs kids). This helps the children know what healthy competition is and how to deal with their emotions if they lose.

Play Dress Up:
Kids love to dress up as their favourited character, favourited princess, and even their parents. Maybe pick an outfit out of your closet and dress them up as if you were going to work. It will be fun for them and a cute picture for saving.

Dance Party:
Put on some of your child’s favourited music and dance with them. You can teach them dance moves that you learned from your parents. This can be anywhere from the waltz to the electric slide.

Learn to Juggle:
Try to learn how to juggle together. It will be fun to learn a new skill together and maybe a hobby you two can continue to learn and practice.

Paper Airplane Competition:
Make paper aeroplanes and see who has the one that can fly the furthest. There are many different plane design to follow, and you can test which one is the best option.

Create a Puppet Show:
Creating a puppet show will let the kids come up with the design of the puppets as well as the storyline of the puppet show. This can also include what the set, lighting, and script will be.

Backyard Picnic:
Pack up a healthy lunch or leftover. Grab a blanket and some pillows and set up a spot in the yard. While eating, you can set up an outdoor movie viewing of your favourite family film, or you can bring out books and read a chapter out loud to the whole family.

 

Bord Box Ideas:


Get the kids to decorate an empty tissue box. Write on pieces of paper various activities. This could include everything from playing a board game, reading a book, Skyping or calling a friend or watching a movie, to a chore like cleaning their room or washing the car. This tissue box then becomes the ‘I’m bored box’. If the kids say they don’t have anything to do, get them to choose a piece of paper from the box with a suggestion that they have to complete.



Educational:

Crash Course Kids

Crash Course Kids is a bi-weekly show educational Youtube from the producers of Crash courses all about grade school science, so if you have a science excited kid then this is sure to interest them.

 

Adventure Academy

This is a website is virtual games that incorporate learning into the. The kids can have fun but are mentally stimulated at the same time.

 



Virtual field trips for kids that like to learn:

Virtual field trips are fun and educational, and now you have the option to go places while in the comfort of your own home.

Google Arts and Culture Program:

This is an online program through Google that allows users to view images and videos of artworks and cultural artefacts from different museums from around the world.

Great Barrier Reef:

Now that Google has launched Google Street View, you can take a virtual dive of different Great Barrier Reef Dive Sites.

International Space Station:

This involves a live stream of the International Space Station that shows crews on duty, Earth views available from space and even audio conversations between the crew and mission control.


Arts and Craft:

Sensory activities differ from other types of play as the emphasis on the senses amplifies the activity. Sensory play is any activity that activates one or multiple senses, and all kinds of play have the potential to become a sensory activity.

Edible Fish Small World Sensory Play:

Materials:

Two Blue Jelly packages.

Colourful and edible fish.

Jumbo tweezers or any other fine motor tool.

Container.

Directions:

Follow the directions on the back of the jelly box.

Once the jelly is set, cut the jelly into cubes but leave it relatively untouched so the children can squish it up and create their own ocean all themselves. This is an excellent way to work in more fine motor practice.

Now it is time to add the fish. This is especially fun for a toddler as they love poking and squishing things, so burying the fish in the gelatin is loads of fun for them.

For older kids who are ready for more of a fine motor challenge, you can use tongs or tweezers for kids to go “fishing”. Those little fish are slippery, so it’s quite the task to catch them.

You  can extend the learning in this edible fish small world sensory play a bit more by:

  • incorporating counting as kids add or remove the fish from the sensory bin
  • working on sorting and having kids sort the fish by colour
  • practising patterning with the fish

And when you’re done have a refreshing squish snack!

 

DIY Snow globe:
Select a focal point object to use in your simple DIY snow globe jar.  It is helpful to have several sizes of jars available. Perhaps save a variety of types and sizes of jars before doing this craft. Clear glassworks the best. Use hot-glue to glue the focal point object to the centre of the lid of your jar. You may glue down other small things to the top such as pebbles or beads as long as they are not close to the edge where they would be in the way of being able to screw the lid onto the jar. Fill the jar halfway full of distilled water. Squirt in some clear glue and stir it into the water. This will thicken the water and cause the glitter to fall more slowly when the kids shake the snow globe. The more glue you use, the thicker the water will become. For extra fun, add some glitter. When you are content with the amount of water in your jar, screw the lid tightly onto the jar. The focal point object should fit nicely inside. You can glue the lid on if you’re concerned the kids will try to open it later.

Active:

Leapfrog
Many of us played leapfrog as kids and could play for hours. This is a great idea to play outdoors and will definitely tire the kids out. You can make it even harder to add more people to the line-up.


Hot lava:
Hot lava is a game that everyone should know. The object of the game is to jump or climb on anything that is not the floor when anyone says, “The Floor is Lava”. This one works best indoors but can be quite creative when playing outside. You can even go as far as setting up an obstacle course that everyone has to follow.


Circuits:
This can be set up outside and can have several stations where the kids have to do a particular exercise at each place. When the time runs out, then they would have to switch to the next one until they complete the course. This one will definitely tire them out and may even get them to take an afternoon nap.


Red light, green light:
Well, everyone knows this game. One person is the caller, and they will either yell red light or green light. Red means stop and freeze, and the green light means to go forward. The first person to get to the caller wins. It is a great way to get their heart rate going.


Science Experiments:

Skittles rainbow:

 



Supplies needed:
· Plate
· Warm water
· Skittles (Try different colours and flavours!)

Directions:
Grab your plate and organise the Skittles in a circle around the edge of the container. Kids can try different colour patterns each time they do the experiment.
Gently pour water in the centre of the plate. Warm water works better than cold. Make sure there is enough water to go past the Skittles while filling the container.
Wait and watch the Skittles colours move towards the centre of the plate with beautiful rainbow streaks.
That is it. It is so quick and easy!

Elephant toothpaste:

 


Supplies Needed:

A clean 473 ml plastic soda or water bottle.
A 20-volume hydrogen peroxide.
1 tablespoon of dry yeast.
3 tablespoons of warm water.
Liquid dish soap.
Food colouring.
Small cup.
Funnel.
Safety goggles.
Adult supervision.

Directions:

Use the funnel to carefully pour ½ cup of the hydrogen peroxide liquid into the bottle.
Add about 10 drops of your favourited food colouring into the bottle and mix the bottle around.
In the separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for around 30 seconds.
Use the funnel to pour the yeast-water mixture into the bottle and watch the fun begin.

Disappearing Eggshell:

 


Take a raw egg and put it in a cup.
You should see bubbles collect around the shell (a sign that a chemical reaction is taking place).
Leave for 4 to 5 days.
Go to observe.
You should now be able to see shell residue in the vinegar and the yolk whole in the egg white. If you still see white residue on the egg, you can rub this off lightly with your finger. I tried to lift the whole egg out of the vinegar but broke the membrane, but it is possible to lift it out whole.

Craft:

Bread and peanut butter bird feeder:

What you will need is bread, peanut butter, cookie cutters, birdseed and twine or string. First, we started by placing slices of bread on a cutting board. Next, you will put the cookie cutter on the centre of the bread, then had my daughter push down. You might have to help your child push the cookie cutter all the way through the bread, depending on how old your child is. After we cut out the shapes, I poked a small hole at the top of each cut out using a paper straw. This is where the twine will go through, so you can hang your feeders outside. Next, we let the cut-outs dry on the cutting board overnight. This allows the bread to harden. I flipped the bread over just once so that both sides of the bread would harden evenly. Once the bread has set, use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter on to the bread. After you have spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread cut-outs, roll the bread in birdseed until completely coated. I had to use the paper straw again to remove any peanut butter and birdseed that got inside the holes. Next, cut a piece of twine and tie in a knot.

Mason jar aquariums:

 



Supplies:

You will need a mason jar with a lid, blue food colouring, filtered water (tap is fine but come out a little cloudier). For extra fun, you can also get aquarium figurines, plastic plants, or rocks.

Step 1:

Add rocks, plants to the mason jar

Step 2:

Fill with water and add plastic sea creatures.

Step 3:

Add blue food colouring until you are satisfied with the colour.

Step 4:

Add glittering only if you want.

Step 5:

If you add glitter to make sure to add a few drops of glycerine if you want the water to flow more slowly.

Step 6:

Screw lid shut (at this point you can glue the lid with hot glue if you would like)

Step 7:

Gently swirl to see your sea creatures swim!

Cooking/Baking:

Get in the kitchen! Get the kids to help make brownies, decorate biscuits or for the festive season, make and decorate a gingerbread house. This is an excellent idea with the holidays fast approaching!


Frozen Yogurt Bark:

This recipe is not only quick but healthy and fun to make.

 



Ingredients:

Yoghurt of any kind, but plain will work best.
Sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.

Instructions:

Spread a layer of yoghurt onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
Top with the sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.
Freeze until firm, then crack into pieces.
Eat quickly, the bark melts fast.

4 Ingredients Energy Oatmeal Balls:

Ingredients:

3  cups of quick oats

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 chocolate chips

Directions:

Step 1:

Combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2:

Roll into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Then either eat right away or put back into the fridge for later. 




Don’t worry about your kids becoming bored on the weekends because you can make memories in Melbourne with our Activity Guide. We’ve done all the hard work searching for ideas – so all you need to do is decide where to go first!

IN THE CITY:

The CBD offers a variety of interesting and exciting activities all year round. Check out what’s happening now:

  • IMAX is releasing an exclusive documentary SEA LIONS: LIFE BY A WHISKER 3D.Narrated by award-winning actor Sam Neill, this classic coming-of-age story tells the tale of Otto, a young Australian Sea Lion pup, and the Marine Park Ranger dedicated to saving her species. Presented in immersive 3D, the movie features stunning footage of the uninhabited wilderness of the Great Australian Bight and to the lush kelp forests off the Californian coast. Visit https://imaxmelbourne.com.au/ for more.
  • Looking for an exciting and educational day out? Take your family to one of Melbourne’s three biggest zoos where they can meet all sorts of animals! With everything from lions, to giraffes and Australian bush animals you’ll be sure to have a fun day out. Plus, don’t miss the new Dino Lab where your little ones can explore the giant dinosaurs and learn about their extinction. Visit Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Zoo. Go to https://www.zoo.org.au/
  • Ride the Scenic Railway around the perimeter of Luna Park where you can catch the view of St Kilda beach or enjoy the range of children’s rides on offer. If you’re more of a thrill seeker, have a go on the Enterprise or Supernova to get your heart racing! Visit https://lunapark.com.au/
  • Catch the best views of the city on the Melbourne Star. The giant ferris wheel takes you 120 metres into the sky to see 360 degree views of the busy port, city gardens and streets and views towards Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges. Go to https://melbournestar.com/
  • Walk amongst creatures of the deep at the Melbourne Aquarium. With everything from sharks to seahorses to the Mega Croc, you are guaranteed a fun day out. Plus, don’t miss the Ice Age 4D Cinema! Go to https://www.visitsealife.com/melbourne/

  • If your kids are interested in science, then Scienceworks is a must! With loads of live shows and self-guided activities, your kids will be sure to discover something new! Check out the new show Colour Uncovered! to learn about how and why we see colour or stop by one of the Planetarium shows! Go to https://museumsvictoria.com.au/scienceworks/
  • Discover the rare and beautiful plants in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne. Jump on a bus tour to explore the gardens or visit the new Arid Garden which is over 100 years in the making! Visit https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/
  • Take a stroll down Hosier Lane to admire the artwork of some of Melbourne’s most talented graffiti artists.
  • Discover fresh produce and speciality shops at the Queen Victoria Market. Located on Queen St in the CBD, browse through hundreds of stalls covering 17 acres!

REGIONAL VICTORIA:

Looking to get out of the city for a day? Go for a drive through the beautiful countryside of Victoria where you will stumble upon a number of activities to entertain your family.

  • Summer is here, it’s the perfect time to be with your family and friends making the most of the warm summer evenings – immerse yourself in a magical world of myth and make believe!  Be captivated by a show of world class knights jousting on war horses – as you sip on a cold beer and all enjoy wood fired pizzas together. This summer’s ALL STAR program includes our favourite characters from Alice in wonderland, the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White rabbit! Robin Hood and his crew will be defending the kingdom against the nasty Sheriff! Rapunzel and her Prince will plan an escape from the evil witch’s tower! And do not forget to meet our dragons and the brave knights who compete for the title in our world-famous Championship Joust! Go to: https://www.kryalcastle.com.au

  • Your Mornington Peninsula adventure starts here, at the top of Arthurs Seat. Hit the ground running with our ground-based adventure activities – all included with General Admission! Experience the all-new Sky Scramble as well as our garden mazes, stunning formal gardens & boardwalks, Canopy Walk, epic Tube Slides & giant brainteaser puzzles! Embark on an exciting eco-adventure and get your adrenaline pumping with our exhilarating Grand Tree Surfing course. For the little climbers, our Nippers Tree Surfing course is suitable for ages 4 & up. We highly recommend pre-booking to avoid any disappointment. Visit our website for more information and to book your tickets! www.enchantedadventure.com.au

  • Fancy a ride on a century old steam railway? The Puffing Billy takes you on a 25km journey through the Dandenong Ranges, providing a relaxing day out with fantastic photographic opportunities. Pack a picnic and bring your family along for an enjoyable visit just one hour out of Melbourne. Go to https://puffingbilly.com.au/

  • The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery offers a delightful day of fun with hands on chocolate making classes, a showroom featuring thousands of chocolate products and daily tasting sessions! Don’t forget the landscaped gardens and an orchard, where you can go for a stroll while enjoying a treat from the café. Visit https://www.gorci.com.au/

  • Take a drive along the Great Ocean Road to see the famous Twelve Apostles and the beautiful Loch Ard Gorge. Continue along to reach the Great Otway National Park to enjoy a day of adventure.
  • Spend a relaxing day at the Peninsula Hot Springs where you can immerse yourself in the Bath House or relax in the private baths. Seeking a bit of R&R? Indulge in a spa treatment or massage. Visit https://www.peninsulahotsprings.com/

  • Located at the foot of the Grampians, Halls Gap Zoo is Victoria’s largest regional zoo with over 160 species of animals to keep you entertained all day. Experience a close encounter with cheetahs and red pandas or visit the endangered Tasmanian Devil! With over 600 individual animals to check out, you are guaranteed a day of fun! Go to https://hallsgapzoo.com.au/

The Australian Ballet School presents:

SUMMER SEASON 2018 – La Sylphide & Other Works

Enter a world of romance and refinement as The Australian Ballet School presents its highly anticipated end of year performance.

Featuring over 100 students, the program of classical and contemporary works will transport audiences to a realm of artistry and emotion. This season is the result of a year of exploration, learning and inspiring dedication by the talented students, and a unique experience not to be missed.

The Summer Showcase program features:

Wolfgang Dance, choreographed by Simon Dow using Mozart’s wonderful, well-loved first movement Allegro from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Waltz from Birthday Celebration, choreographed by Mark Annear, was created for The Australian Ballet School’s 40th Anniversary Gala in 2004 and highlights the flow and beauty of the classical ballet technique.

Heart Strings with choreography by Contemporary Teacher and Resident Choreographer, Margaret Wilson and performed by Level 6 students, is a suite of short dances, each with its own characteristics. The piece depicts “the group” and its dynamics whilst coinciding with one person’s search for identity and belonging.

La Sylphide, choreography after August Bournonville, is an adaptation of an 1832 French ballet of the same name. The original work showcased the technique of the great ballerina Maria Taglioni and announced a new Romantic era of dance.

In La Sylphide, the human realm of a small Scottish community – evoked by folk songs in Herman Løvenskiold’s score – meets a spiritual realm, with James, a classic Romantic hero, bewitched by a beautiful and otherworldly sylph.

The matinee performances have two additional pieces – Character Dance and Haydn Symphonywith After School students.

Character Dance choreography by Christine Vavladellis. Character class is an integral part of a dancer’s training and development. There are many examples of character dances within full length ballets, not to mention adaptations of character dances for ballet which include the national dances of Hungary, Russia, Poland, Italy and Spain; csárdás, mazurka, tarantella, flamenco, etc. Some of the obvious benefits of character dance training are the variety of different musical rhythms and syncopations, flexibility and strength, and stamina development.

Haydn Symphony choreography by Paul Knoblochis inspired by the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, considered the most prolific and prominent composer of the classical period. Driven by the dynamic melody of the score, Paul Knobloch found a way to replicate the music through movement, challenging the dancers to move faster, sharper and with great clarity, at times almost matching each note heard with a movement phrase or step.

Informed by meaningful history and motivated by the exciting possibilities of the future of dance in Australia and abroad, The Australian Ballet School is committed to achieving exceptional student outcomes to produce dancers of the highest calibre for their parent company, The Australian Ballet and companies around the world.

In a unique, nurturing culture that embraces creativity, artistic expression and passion, the School continues to advance the art of ballet, produce dancers with a distinctive Australian style, balancing technique and artistry with educational needs and holistic care, training teachers and developing the artistic leaders of the future.

SUMMER SEASON 2018 EVENT DETAILS

Performances: 

  • 7.30pm  Friday 7 December
  • 1.30pm Saturday 8 December
  • 7.30pm Saturday 8 December

Venue: 

  • Arts Centre Melbourne Playhouse – 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Bookings:

Feminism is a loaded word in today’s society yet it’s crucial to approach it as ‘gender equality’ to your kids before they hear it as anything else.

Below are 6 tips for raising little feminists who believe in the diverse representation of women and uniform rights for all.

1. Start a conversation

First of all, sit your kids down and open with the direct line, “Have you ever heard of feminism?” If they are young, chances are they haven’t and you can start with a clean canvas. But if they have, let them say what they think. Then direct them towards the ideals of gender equality, such as anybody’s right to voice an opinion regardless of sex or be open to the same job promotions if they are doing well at work. Ask, “But isn’t this a lot like what feminism aims to do?” And voilà. You have your starting point.

2. Give it a clear definition

Make sure your kids understand that feminism is not ‘man-hating’. It means the economic, social, political and personal equality between boys and girls. This means they will be paid the same for the identical job, possess the same opportunities to pursue different interests and share the same right for their bodies to be respected. It means freedom to discover and express personal identities without limitations like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘ladies don’t do that’.

http://www.offspringmagazine.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/little-smiles-in-girls-fashion_4460x4460.jpg

3. Show real-life examples of sexism

An inevitable part of parenting is heightening your child’s awareness of our society and its many problems. Try starting small with fictitious examples such as, “If Bob picks two apples and Jane picks two apples, don’t you think they should be paid the same?” Or, “Bob likes playing with toy trucks. Jane likes it too. Do you think they should play together?” Then expand these to real-life examples your child has experienced or possibly will in the future

4. Be a role model

Use your own home to teach real gender equality – nothing impacts your child more than their personal environment. Share household chores between different sexes of the family, like having dad cook and mum do the dishes. Let everybody have a fair say during discussions, such as whereabouts the family’s next vacation should take place. Practice empathy during situations of conflict to highlight how everyone’s opinion is valid and valuable.

5. Defy stereotypes

Choosing your own clothes, hairstyle or the colour of your bedroom is a kind of empowerment crucial for self-confidence. Defy stereotypes by letting your son have longer hair or your daughter wear shorts. Promote positive body image and show them to respect how other children choose to express themselves by only saying stuff they would want to hear themselves and not touching others without permission.

6. Monitor their entertainment

Finally, be aware of possible sexist values embedded in everything your child is watching or reading. Do not underestimate this! In Thomas the Tank Engine, depictions of female trains often fall along the lines of, “Wise and older Edward always had good advice for Emily, who really is a very nice engine but who can be a bit bossy.” Instead, choose books and family movies that have a healthy depiction of both male and female heroes such as Disney favourites Frozen and Moana or TV show The Legend of Korra.

 

Most children delight in taking part in some sort of performing art, whether it is dance, drama or music, but did you know it is good for their wellbeing? And there is plenty you can do to harbour your child’s enthusiasm without the need to enrol them in formal classes.

The driving force behind many parent’s desire to encourage their offspring in performing arts isn’t to create starlets of the future or precocious brats, it is about stimulating the body and mind and the wrath of emotional, social and educational paybacks including;

Confidence – Performing in front of an audience whether it be parents or peers will help a child get comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone; allow them to make mistakes and learn from them and give them a voice to speak up for themselves.

Team workThrough the arts, children work together, share responsibility as well as accept responsibility, problem solve, experience empathy for others and learn to compromise to achieve a common goal. By learning collaboration kids begin to see their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role. It is also a great way to make new friends with similar interests.

Perseverance – Learning an instrument or dance requires practice, patience and persistence. On the journey to success children learn that receiving constructive feedback is a regular part of any arts instruction with a goal to improve skills, not personal attacks, which will prove a vital skill in later life. Once completed, the sense of accomplishment will drive perseverance in the next endeavour.

Concentration The ability to listen, retain and contribute involves a great deal of focus. The ability to concentrate for extended periods in an artistic setting will not only assist when it comes to school work, it will also encourage creative thinking and help a child be able to think on their feet and ‘outside of the box’.

The link between performing arts and improved educational performance is astounding, dating as far back as ancient Greek philosopher Plato who said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but more importantly music for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

With so many benefits, how can we most effectively engage our children in these activities?

Dance is active and a great way to improve fitness, body awareness, motor skills, strength, posture and flexibility.

“Dance, laughter and exercise trigger the release of endorphins which help reduce stress, prevent illness and relieve pain. It is proven that people who exercise are happier, and that goes for children as well,” former fitness instructor and founder of the Happy Feet Fitness program Donna McColl told Offspring.

Her program delivered primarily through child care facilities to around 10,000, 2-5 year olds in Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and launching into New South Wales this year, was designed to entertain and inspire kids to make positive, healthy choices for themselves through dance, puppetry, magic and song.

“There is nothing more important than our children’s health, well-being and happiness. Nothing more valuable than their sense of spirit.” McColl says.

Dancing has recognised social and psychological advantages to a child’s development from problem solving and critical thinking to developing resilience and empathy for others. Another wonderful attribute of dance is its suitability to a wide range of ages, interests and abilities. Many dance schools offer classes from toddlers to adults.

“Dance can cross all social and cultural barriers,” McColl says.

Dance classes focused on enjoyment and movement are perfect for younger children where technique, routines and costumes are not so important. For older children looking for more structure and the opportunity to become involved in concerts, there are so many options including:

  • ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, acrobatics, cheerleading and hip hop.

Talk to your child about their interests, visit a few studios and observe a class or two and ask about trial options. Local dance schools will often advertise in parenting and local papers or can be found online listed according to  locality.

Bring it into your home:

Your little one doesn’t need to attend a formal dance class to start moving, there are plenty of free online tutorials to follow, computer games specifically designed to get you dancing in your lounge room. Or just put on some music and jump around!

Drama puts children in exciting, funny, thought provoking and interesting circumstances to expand their view of the world and the people within it. It is not just limited to stage shows but encompasses circus acts, illusions, puppetry and theatre sports.

“Not every child that takes drama will become a famous actor, but they will walk away with the tools to speak in public and speak up for themselves. They don’t have to be the best, they just have to be involved,” Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) Executive Director Bronwyn Edinger says.

There is a healing power in drama. Edinger describes the success of an initiative by the Bell Shakespeare theatre company, which she is a former General Manager, of providing theatrical opportunities to those of social and geographic disadvantage, including remote indigenous communities and juvenile detention facilities, who would otherwise not experience the power and magic of Shakespeare or live theatre.

“The programs, like drama itself, are designed to develop life skills including decision-making, empathy, conflict resolution and self-confidence. After taking part in the program there is a notable improvement in behaviour and school attendance, interest in education and feelings of self worth,” Edinger says.

Drama, like dance, is suitable to a range of ages and abilities from three years through to adults. Many primary and high schools offer a drama program and some local youth centres provide opportunities to be involved in regular theatrical productions. Otherwise, ask for recommendations of a good drama club.

Bring it into your home:

  • Set up a box of dress-ups and props to help children create imaginative scenarios, include a large sheet to use as the stage curtain.
  • Create your very own sock puppets.
  • Instead of simply reading a story with your child, why not role play and act it out?

Music educator and conductor Richard Gill believes physical education and arts education should book-end the Australian curriculum, with music being at the forefront, as early as possible in the life of a child.

Research indicates that the earlier music is included in a child’s development, the better. This does not need to be limited to structured lessons. You can sing with your child at home, play music and expose your child to live performances.

“The impact this type of education would have on children, with respect to creative thinking, imaginative problem solving, resulting in classrooms full of engaged and interested minds with the capacity to think, perceive, analyse and act upon ideas, would turn the educational decline on its head,” he said during a speech to the Collegiate of Specialist Music Educators.

Vicki King, Artistic Director at the Australian School of Performing Arts, says, “The educational value placed on music and song seems less of a priority in Australian schools compared to some European countries, which is a great shame. And sadly, parent’s singing to their children from infancy appears to have also declined somewhat in the past 20 years. Life seems so much busier, plus lots of people don’t have the confidence to sing even if it is at home with their child.

“You don’t need to be a wonderful singer or musician to share music with a child, unstructured musical play is so important because that is where children’s inspiration will come to life because they aren’t having to sit and learn the notes, they are simply enjoying the experience.”

Your child doesn’t have to be a prodigy musician to get involved either, King suggests a group participation activity such as a choir or a band is a great place to start a child as it removes the pressure and stresses associated with solo performances.

“For many of our senior students the Australian Girls Choir provide a beacon of light in their otherwise chaotic lives. A place to park their brain for a while and ignore homework and the politics of home and school life. Music gives them enormous stress relief, comradery and confidence,” King told Offspring.

Finding a teacher

Word-of-mouth is always a great way to start looking for a teacher is any art form. Check with your child’s primary school to see if they offer a music. Check the qualifications of the teachers and find out costs, expectations and ensure they match your child’s desires, some will be more casual and others will expect participation in examinations and recitals. Ask for a free trial class and the ability to hire instruments before committing.

Bring it into your home:

  • Have the radio or CD playing during the day instead of the TV. It will encourage you and your child to sing and dance along.
  • Construct your own musical instruments such as shakers, drums and cymbals from pots and pans, household and craft items.

Choosing an instrument:

Most formal music lessons start between the ages of five to nine, group classes are recommended for younger children. The Forte School of Music gives these ages and instruments as a guide:

  • The piano is highly recommended as a child’s first instrument, it can be played as soon as a child can reach the keys and has enough strength to press them down. Recommended age: 5+
  • The recorder is a common choice in a school setting. It is cheap, children can play it easily and it provides a good introduction to making music. Recommended age: 5+
  • Stringed instruments often come in smaller sizes specifically for kids. Some children can handle a violin from the age of four. Recommended age: 5+ (violin); 9+ (viola and cello)
  • Other wind and brass instruments should not be attempted before your child’s permanent teeth come in because of the pressure on the teeth when they are played, the actual size of the instrument, the lip strength required and the “puff” needed to make a noise. Recommended age: 8+ (flute, clarinet); 9+ (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, french horn)
  • Drum and guitars tend to be a big favourite among kids. Recommended age: 7+
  • Singing is something that can be enjoyed at all ages, but it is best not to start learning formally until 9+ years.

Not keen on the spotlight?

Performing isn’t for everyone so don’t push too hard, there are other ways to expose your child to the wonders of the art form:

  • A trip to the circus – there is nothing quite as awe inspiring as aerial acrobatics;
  • A dance performance – seeing classical ballet at the theatre or a local dance school’s concert is a lively and colourful experience;
  • A balloon twisting,  puppet or magic show; the illusions will captivate your child’s imagination and open them to the possibilities within performing arts. Activities like these are easy to create at home and occasionally local councils and libraries run demonstrations or workshops.
  • A concert – there are many touring music acts specifically designed for young ones especially around school holiday times; or
  • Local community events – whether it is the local choir, carolling, a drama production or a idol contest there are often opportunities to see an array of performances in your own community.