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Worldly Ways

Studying a culture a day is goal of arts camp at Kidseum, one of several spring breaks.


So what if the neighbors are winging off to Hawaii or Cancun for spring break? While they're running up their Visas, your kids can embark on a round-the-world junket through the Bowers Kidseum in Santa Ana, sampling an international array of art, music, games and crafts.

They won't come back with a great tan, but they will get a broadening and, by all indications, enjoyable peek into world cultures.

Kidseum's new spring arts camp, for youngsters 6 to 11, is a three-hour journey into the cultures of Western Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and beyond. Sessions--Monday through April 9 and April 13-16--feature cool, interactive stuff, exploring a culture each day.

Sessions are led by Kidseum staff and volunteers, with a ratio of one adult to 10 or so children, said Kidseum senior instructor Maria Tinajero. Registration is available on a one-day basis at $15, or for $60 for the week.

Programs will be held in Kidseum's gallery, which includes a storytelling room, an art lab, a costume area and a variety of hands-on stations. At least one day each week will include a docent-lead tour of an exhibit at Kidseum's big brother, the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art.

Kidseum has operated a summer art camp for several years with good results, Tinajero said. The spring program will follow a similar format. Youngsters start each session with an overview of that day's culture, including group discussion and a chance to view and handle artifacts from that region, then they move on to a craft project using recycled materials.

Snacks, provided by the museum, will carry on the theme when possible, followed by a traditional game or dance. Tinajero hopes to add some form of ethnic adornment such as body-painting or face-painting.

Although children should come away with a lot of information, the learning environment is much freer than a typical classroom. There are no pop quizzes, and teachers encourage kids to speak out.

"We don't lecture," said Tinajero. "We encourage discussion [because] it helps kids relate the culture we're studying to things they can relate to. . . .

"It's great when a kid gets all excited and wants to tell about when he went to a pow-wow or something," she continued, adding that youngsters occasionally share family stories about their own cultural heritage. "It's like a big share day; it's a way they can connect with something new."

Other county venues also offer ways to keep kids on their artistic toes through spring break. The Irvine Fine Arts Center's spring arts camp includes experiences in the visual, performing and even culinary arts, led by the center's teaching staff.

When inspiration's wanted (and the weather gods are willing), the whole crew bops out to adjacent Heritage Park to soak up sunshine and revive the creative juices with games or dancing.

There are half-day sessions (9 a.m.-noon or 1-5 p.m.), full-day (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) or extended-day (7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.).

Ocean breezes may help stir kids' creative juices at Art on the Beach, the Huntington Beach Art Center's spring day camp. Youngsters 7 to 12 dabble in a variety of artistic endeavors, including architecture, photography, mask-making and printmaking. They'll also be introduced to world cultures through music, food, stories and crafts and take a field trip to an Orange County art museum and gallery. A jaunt to the beach is planned, weather permitting.

Sessions are 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 1:30-5 p.m. Extended care is available.

* Spring arts camp runs Monday-April 9 and April 13-16 at the Bowers Kidseum, 1802 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Sessions are $15 per day. Advance registration suggested. (714) 480-1520.

* Spring arts camp will be held April 13-17 at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave. Prices range from $75 to $149. Advance registration is required. (714) 724-6880.

* Art on the Beach runs April 13 through 17 at the Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St. $90; discounts for HBAC members. Reservations required. (714) 374-1650.


SEASON OF EGGZELLENCE: What's in your Easter basket? Dyed eggs? Jellybeans? One of those gooey chocolate eggs filled with faux yolk and white?

At the Santa Ana Zoo, you'll find a nest full of uncommon (and inedible) eggs at the annual Spring SpEGGtacular. Visitors can put their mitts on teensy-tiny hummingbird eggs up to grapefruit-sized ostrich eggs that take two little hands to heft, all the while learning how the critters that lay them house and nurture their elliptical offspring.

The family event, presented by the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo, also features information stations scattered through the zoo's 10 acres of exhibits, plus face-painting, seed-planting and a chance to make a natty chapeau from recycled stuff.

No egg hunt, but kids who complete the circuit of educational exhibits can score treats . . . and we're not talking monkey biscuits.

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