Keep an eye out for this month’s hot fashion: caps and gowns. As other parents experience the joy of seeing their kids graduate (while trying not to think about tuition bills), we still have some playtime left with ours. But it’s never to early to think about graduation — that is, moving your kids from one interest to the next.
May is full of events and festivals that can get your early learners discovering a new activity. Send them off into the future, where they’ll be smarter, braver, more active and scholarship-friendly.
May 4: Free Comic Book Day
The Man of Steel. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Your kids probably have no idea they started out as inked drawings on paneled pages. Comic books remain widely read and still serve as the starting place for many of the characters your kids know. Free Comic Book Day is a great way to introduce your kids to comics.
Five Austin shops — Junior’s Comics, Tribe Comics and Games, Austin Books and Comics, Dragon’s Lair Comics and Capstone Comics — will be giving away free comics and hosting some fantasy-themed events. Stop in these locally owned businesses and see what old favorites and new heroes will be inevitably making their way to your Netflix queue.
May 4: Zach Theater presents The Little Mermaid
Nope. There are no Caribbean crabs to be found in this production. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is the original tale of the mermaid that wants to be human lacks the chatty sidekicks and musical numbers found in Disney’s version. Zach Theater breathes new life into this classic tale, incorporating projection techniques and theatrical technology to tell this timeless tale. It can be scary for those under six, so use caution if you choose to bring your kids “Under da seaaaa.” Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.
May 5: Pecan Street Festival
Sure, your kids could start a lemonade stand in order to learn about money. But, this is Austin, a place where creative people flourish by making a living off of selling their art. If your little ones have a knack for painting, jewelry or wrought-iron sculpture (odd, but not out of the question), take them to the Pecan Street Festival to see creative commerce in action. Sixth Street becomes family-friendly and art-centric twice a year during the Pecan Street Festival.
Have them look at the one-of-a-kind items crafted by local Austinites to give them a better understanding of money. Ah... with lots of food vendors, petting zoos and small kiddie rides, be sure to bring a few extra dollars. No child can resist the siren’s call to an inflatable bounce house.
May 11: Wake Up Your Weird
They’re nothing more than fabric, yet puppets have an air of magic that no iPad app can match. We grew up with Jim Henson and his legacy continues with projects our kids know, like Sesame Street. One of those puppeteers, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (the performer behind Abby Cadabby) is bringing her own show Wake Up Your Weird to the Scottish Rite Theater. The show stars Lolly Lardpop, a little girl who is bullied by other kids. Using her imaginary friends, she learns how to “rethink her thinking” and finds the power of becoming okay with who she is.
The show becomes an audience participation event, where singing, dancing and silliness is strongly encouraged. With a serious message wrapped up in a creative, puppet-heavy performance, Wake Up Your Weird is a fun time for imaginative kids, and maybe us adults that grew up with Kermit and pals.
May 19: Scooby-Doo! Live Musical Mysteries
By most accounts, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are the worst detectives imaginable. After thousands of cases, they simply can’t realize that the first person they meet is always the guy that did it. Still, those meddling kids keep at it, and Scooby-Doo and pals have been sleuthing since 1969. If your kids frequent the televised explorations of the Mystery Machine, then make plans to see Scooby-Doo! Live! Musical Mysteries at the Frank Erwin Center. Promising laughs, special effects and musical numbers, Scooby fans will have a spook-tacular good time. Bonus: No Scrappy Doo!
May 19: Viva Streets!
Before you know it, summer break is here. Now’s a good time to think about things your kids could do besides watch television. Take to Sixth Street for Viva Streets, an entire street festival dedicated to active activities. With almost two miles of car-free street, you can walk, bike, skateboard or roller blade at your leisure. Free activities include yoga, Zumba, dancing, rock wall climbing, spinning classes, healthy food demonstrations and plenty of other off-the-couch activities.
It’s surprising that this active-friendly festival is just beginning to get noticed in Austin. With any luck, this one-day event will get jumpstart your kids' active summer days.