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OLD WAYS : A Program of Summer Workshops Takes You Back to Days of Great-Grandma

June 25, 1992|CORINNE FLOCKEN | Corinne Flocken is a free-lance writer who regularly covers Kid Stuff for The Times Orange County Edition.

This ever happen at your house? You knock yourself out preparing one of those big, damn-the-grocery-bill family dinners hoping to spark some of that magical, intergenerational bonding those folks in the Kodak ads seem to enjoy so much.

But somewhere between the pot roast and Aunt Lila's Famous Shortcake, reality sets in. As soon as great-grandma starts reminiscing, your kids recall a pressing date with the VCR and beat a quick retreat to the living room.

It probably won't completely bridge your family's generation gap, but a series of summer programs at the Discovery Museum of Orange County may give your kids a better grip on great-grandma's day with hands-on introductions to old-fashioned fun.

Beginning Wednesday and continuing weekly through Aug. 26, the Summer Creativity Workshops will cover topics ranging from kite construction and flying to simple magic. They're open to children aged 5 to 12.

Activities will take place at sites throughout the museum's 11-acre facility in southwest Santa Ana, including the museum's centerpiece, the H. Clay Kellogg House, a fully restored 1898 Victorian mansion, and the neighboring 1899 carriage bar. (The museum, by the way, is open for public tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, beginning July 1, on Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m.)

According to museum program director Nancy Robbins, children may, depending on the workshop they choose, find themselves picking lemons and herbs in the citrus grove and gardens for homemade lemonade, or lingering in the Kellogg House boudoir to view samples of antique needlework. (See box on Page 12 for a full list of the workshops).

The museum's large collection of period clothing will help inspire creative play in a theater class ("The Kellogg Kid Players," Aug. 12) and children can learn to tell time using a reproduction of an antique sundial in a weather-crafting and kite-flying class (Aug. 5).

To enhance the historical flavor, and to keep the fees low (each five-hour session is $10), children will use simple materials, just like those great-grandma may have had around the house.

"The late Victorian era was a very thrifty time," Robbins noted. "People made use of what they had on hand. We'll incorporate that by using plain, recycled things like torn rags and newsprint.

"You definitely won't see a lot of Mylar here," she added with a laugh.

Michale Rovnow kicks off the series Wednesday with "The Wonderful World of Magic and Clowning." A member of the Society of American Magicians and a past instructor of children's magic classes at Chapman University, Rovnow will focus on sleight-of-hand similar to that practiced by Victorian-era magicians, and will introduce children to popular clowning styles of that time.

"The world of magic was really blossoming around the turn of the century, and the circus was a very influential form of entertainment," Robbins noted. "We'll try to give kids a feeling for that."

Participants will learn elementary magic tricks, create their own magic props, and experiment with juggling and clown makeup.

Each session, no matter what the topic, will include similar opportunities for hands-on learning, as well as a craft project, games and other activities, Robbins said. Participants should bring their own lunches; the museum will provide homemade lemonade. Groups will be subdivided by age to allow more interaction between students and instructors.

Although their focus may be on the past, the Summer Creativity Workshops serve a uniquely 1990s purpose, said Robbins.

"One of the things we've found in speaking with parents is that, whether it's because they have other children or they work (outside the home), there are so many things they no longer have time to do with their children, things like cooking, baking and kite-flying.

"The workshops give the children creative, inventive opportunities and it gives parents a chance to expose their kids to some of childhood's most valuable experiences."

What: The Summer Creativity Workshops.

When: Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Aug. 26. See box on Page 12 for schedule.

Where: The Discovery Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (I-405) Freeway, exit at Fairview Road, drive north to Harvard Street and turn left.

Wherewithal: Each workshop costs $10. (Museum members receive a $2.50 discount. The family membership fee is $50 and includes yearlong admission to the museum and a quarterly newsletter.)

Where to call: (714) 540-0404.

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