With a pleasant year-round climate, and a virtually endless list of fun places to go, San Antonio offers a wide array of outstanding family activities. So much the better because, according to a study conducted on behalf of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation some twelve years ago, many parents and educational policy leaders believe an important need exists to increase the availability of high-quality learning opportunities.
In fact, many parents use after school, summer and weekend programs to broaden their children’s life experiences outside the core academics of the classroom.
Museums to Explore
The San Antonio Children’s Museum, the DoSeum (www.thedoseum.org) and McKenna Children’s Museum (www.mckenna.org) in New Braunfels, will quickly become favorites of the 2 -10 set, with hands-on learning and themed activities. Every month and every week hold special themes and events for the youngsters.
Newcomers to the San Antonio metro area should check in promptly with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Institute of Texan Cultures (www.texancultures.utsa.edu) downtown near HemisFair Park. The Institute presents exhibits on the more than twenty ethnic and cultural groups that settled in Texas. Hands-on exhibits, puppet theater shows and a mix of temporary and permanent displays tell the story of the state’s earliest settlers thorugh its present-day concerns.
Children can learn and explore at the Witte Museum (www.wittemuseum.org) where, among a broad array of activities, the H-E-B Science Treehouse offers hands-on fun and painless lessons in history and science.
Fine and Performing Arts
The McNay Art Museum (www.mcnayart.org) hosts Family Days preceding hands-on activities and entertainment for young and old, such as painting, printmaking, sculpting, music, acting, and storytelling. Family days, which are held one Sunday afternoon per month, are typically held in celebration of an exhibit or theme.
The San Antonio Museum of Art (www.samuseum.org) features Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, as well as works from Asia and Latin American. A family day is held once a month.
The Southwest School of Art (www.swschool.org) downtown offers classes for young children and teens year-round. Summer art camps explore a wide range of media and themes and classes on Saturdays can provide motivation to further one’s pleasurable interest.
Artpace (www.artpace.org) sponsors Camp Artpace for young artists, as well as annual events such as Chalk it Up, which allows children to express themselves with sidewalk art on Houston St once a year.
Say Si (www.saysi.org) offers arts education for elementary through college age students in the visual and media arts. ALAS, SaySi’s theatre program, provides students interested in the performing arts with opportunities to develop their skills in acting, directing, playwriting, technical theatre and stage management.
A local children’s theatre serves up a tasty mix of productions and classes for building thespians: Magik Theatre (www.magiktheatre.org) produces plays based on children’s literature, offers summer camps for children and teens, an acting and creativity academy, and school workshops.
Among the musical organizations catering to children are the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio (www.childrenschorussa.org), which offers programs from early childhood through teenage years. Young singers rehearse throughout the year and present a variety of programs and concerts. Texas Children’s Choir (www.texaschildrenschoir.org), a community choir of the greater San Antonio area that trains and equips children to provide quality choral music. And Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (www.yosa.org) is open to youngsters following auditions. Five ensembles offer opportunities to rehearse a wide range of musical styles and perform in public concerts.
Stargazers will want to check out the Scobee Planetarium (www.sacscobee.org) on the San Antonio College campus, open Friday evenings for the general public. Summer camp registration is open through the Alamo Colleges Marketplace.
To learn more about the area’s plants, the San Antonio Botanical Garden (www.sabot.org) offers themed sections within its pleasant grounds, including a rose area and a garden for the blind. The Little Sprouts program is open to 3 – 4 year olds for weekly story times, crafts and other activities.
Sports Fan Cheer
If your children are athletically inclined, the best place to locate information on a wide variety of sports and fitness programs is the Kids Sports Network (www.sasports.org ) It promotes quality non-school sports and fitness for children between the ages of 3 – 19. The website includes information and links to virtually every youth sports program in the city, including the YMCA, the City Parks and Recreation Department, CYO, Boys and Girls Club, and various other organizations and clubs offering soccer, football, baseball, softball basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading.
For Your Amusement
The San Antonio Zoo (www.sazoo.org), is located in Brackenridge Park. With an outstanding “collection” of animals, look for kids’ camps and special events throughout the year, many tied into seasonal activities and holidays.
Making a Connection
The Carver Community Cultural Center (www.thecarver.org) emphasizes multiculturalism and diversity through classes and programs for youth, including hand-drumming, hip-hop, ceramics, theater, and visual arts. Their Family series of concerts brings top performers to San Antonio.
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center www.guadalupeculturalarts.org) presents a wide range of programming related to Chicano, Latino and indigenous cultures, including year-round classes for youth in music, visual arts, dance, theater, media arts, and literature.
The Barshop Jewish Community Center (www.jccsanantonio.org) sponsors numerous programs in children’s sports, dance, karate, crafts, and more.