If you have a sneaking suspicion that the kids on your list will be getting some construction toys for Christmas, the La Habra Children's Museum's current offering may inspire them to new creative heights.
In the museum's "The Great American Construction Toy Exhibit," kids begin by sitting at drawing boards to see what architects do for a living. They'll have a chance to draw with architects' tools and see how computers are used to design buildings. Then it's on to see how contractors work. They can don hard hats and goggles, work with carpenter and mason tools, study blueprints and see model homes.
Once they've got a strong foundation, children are invited to put their new knowledge to practice with piles of Legos, Tinkertoys, Waffle Blocks, Brio, Ramagon, Create-It and Little Tykes Super Blocks. For inspiration, there are some elaborate toy constructions already made, and photos of famous structures such as the pyramids and the Empire State Building. Children can put together buildings from just one kind of toy or mix to their hearts' content. For the youngest kids who may be tempted to swallow a one-module Lego, there's a special section of oversized construction toys.
The museum, which is housed in a lovingly restored 1923 Union Pacific railroad depot, also has many permanent exhibits to explore. Touchable, stuffed wild animals fill the nature walk area in the depot's old waiting room. An extensive model train exhibit fills the old baggage room.
The museum is in Portola Park at 301 S. Euclid St., La Habra, (714) 526-2227, ext. 271, and is open Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $1.50 for adults, $1 for kids. The construction toy exhibit runs through Jan. 17. Portola Park has tables and lawn areas for picnic lunches. There are also several fast food outlets nearby, along Beach, Whittier and Harbor Boulevards.
Las Posadas--Olvera Street's annual posadas have become a tradition for many families who enjoy the simple, non-razzle-dazzle of the evening. Visitors begin gathering at 7 p.m. in front of the historic Avila Adobe to hear holiday singing. At 8 p.m. the actual candlelight procession starts with the street's merchants and their families singing their way from store to store asking for shelter for the holy family. Visitors may join in the walk. Afterward, everyone adjourns to the plaza area for a rousing pinata-breaking, a remarkably well-organized event considering the hundreds of candy-crazy kids waiting for the moment of truth. Olvera Street's restaurants are open for dinner and snacks--and a chance to get out of the cold. Posadas will be held tonight through Christmas Eve. Free. Call (213) 687-4344.
National Christmas Cat Championships--Close to 1,000 cats are expected to purr and preen their way to prizes at this huge international cat show. Some come from as far away as Mexico and Japan to compete. It's sponsored by the Cat Fanciers Assn. and the Boy Scouts, who will be competing for merit badges in animal care. There'll be purebred cats and kittens for sale, not-so-purebred ones for adoption. It all takes place today and Sunday at the Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, (714) 763-0003). The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and suggested donation is $4 for adults, $2 for kids.
Kids' Nutcracker Suite--This version of the Christmas classic is by children as well as for children. The performers are all students at the Anita Newman School of Dance, with star pupils taking center stage for solos. This free event, sponsored by West Hollywood Parks and Recreation Department, takes place 2 p.m. Sunday at Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park, 1200 N. Vista St., Hollywood. (213) 467-8007.
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