Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Dinosaurs and Concrete

School holidays have just finished here in Victoria, which for us meant that there were a lot of wonderful holiday activities designed for kids on during what would be normal school hours (you know, the hours when it's daylight and you can do something). Usually these activities are so flooded with kids and parents that the noise level is more than C can handle - or that I can handle, truth be told. But none-the-less we braved the holiday crowds to do two awesome activities. And they're both within spitting distance of each other.



Dinosaurs

At the moment there is a great big tent next to Caulfield Station (in Melbourne) that moans and screeches - it's the Dinosaur Adventures.

Our local homeschooling group organised an excursion at the school-rate (too good an opportunity to miss), and so along we went.

J took quite a bit of convincing and cuddles before she would go inside - it was dark, and had lots of strange noises. C dived right in - though I had to do some fast negotiating to keep the kids together - C wanting to race from activity to activity, J trying to escape, and then becoming completely absorbed in the activities.

The whole tent is filled with life-sized moving dinosaurs, with lovely plaques underneath describing them in detail. Alas, not a lot of reading was accomplished, because there were so many other fun activities. There were at least 4 jumping castles - all different sizes with slides and tunnels, there was a reading and story-telling centre, a craft centre for making wooden dinosaurs, and there was a great big sandpit filled with sand. The kids gravitated to that one - it had brushes and shovels for digging up the hidden dinosaur bones. They loved it!

Then it was on to excavating their own dinosaur egg out of clay. They were each given an egg, a real miniature hammer, and a chisel/screwdriver. Yes they were metal and real. I helped J, and C a little bit, and both got to jam chisels into their palms trying to extract their dinosaur (thankfully no injuries). J had fun bashing her clay egg with her hammer - and occasionally my hand if I strayed too close. It certainly had my heart racing, but the kids had a ball. It was a very well put together exhibit - I just wish we'd had more time (we were on a time-limit, alas).

Concrete

Just on the other side of the train line is Monash University, and nestled inside the University is MUMA - The Monash University Museum of Art. Concrete is their just-finished exhibition exploring how artists have used concrete. This one was organised by our local gifted association, and we had a lovely lady give our group of children a tour of the exhibition. She did a fabulous job. C was by turns fascinated and distracted (I think he thought it would be more science-oriented). The exhibition was also rather confronting - dealing with artists' responses among other things to: the forced displacement of Tasmanian aboriginals from their homes into exile; memorials to concentration camps in WWII in the former-Yugoslavia; Photographs of the concrete barriers built in Albania to stop refugee boat arrivals; ANZAC memorials to the fallen; and Japanese people made homeless by earthquakes and tsunamis. Even for this adult, it was very confronting material. The children's questions were skillfully handled, as was the explanations on the material itself.

Most of the kids loved the Lego sculptures: one that looked remarkably like a DNA sequence; and the other- an artist's impression of the library of Alexandria. There were a lot of great questions asked on how they move these Lego sculptures and preserve art works.

C's favourite artwork was of an office printer that had been deliberately aged then sprayed with concrete. Though I must admit, mine were the photos in Tunisia on the deteriorating Tatooine Star Wars sets. Well, hey, I'm a geek.
J's favourite thing was running around trying to knock over all the sculptures - she particularly wanted to jump on the large piles of paper that were set up like stepping stones...

All up, it was a thoughtful exhibit. Alas, it is now finished so we can't go back - but I'm sure there will be many more exhibits in the future!

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