Whatever curiosity did to the cat, it is ultimately good for children. Being curious is what enables them to learn and grow the skills to become functioning adults. Here are a few fun ways to help satisfy their craving for new knowledge by exposing them to new challenges.
Discover the ways of the ancients | Cape Town
A mix of culture, fresh outdoor air and a bit of exercise is the reward for children who join one of the bike tours for youngsters at !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre near Yzerfontein, about 70 km north of Cape Town. The centre, with its enfolding nature reserve, is set up to keep alive the traditions and heritage of the Cape’s original people. While there are immersive museum exhibits and hikes for anyone to participate in, this mountain biking excursion is specifically for pre-teens. The tour includes a bow-and-arrow-making workshop (they’ll even collect the materials they need from the environment), and they’ll learn about animal tracking and how to shoot those bows (non-lethally, of course!).
Grootwater Farm, R27, Yzerfontein
022 492 2998
Breathe under water | Cape Town
Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium offers a number of scuba diving courses that children as young as ten can participate in. A closely-supervised PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course means that with a half-day’s training, young (and older) beginner divers will be able to dive in the Aquarium’s I&J Ocean Exhibit, and – if comfortable with that – are better prepared to progress to the more comprehensive Open Water Dive Course, which makes way for scuba diving in the ocean. If slipping into a wetsuit and breathing under water isn’t on the cards, the Aquarium also has fascinating behind-the-scenes tours, giving insight into how the back-of-house works. There is also a penguin experience, Tuesdays to Sundays, when visitors aged eight and up can meet all the rockhopper penguins on the roof of the Kelp Forest Exhibit.
Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
021 418 3823
Become a rock star | Cape Town
On the potential downside, you may end up with a drummer in the family, which could mean a permanent end to the peace and tranquillity of your home. On the upside, your kids may discover a talent for belting out pop tunes and chart-topping ballads, all while kick-starting a career in showbiz. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the School of Rock Claremont is several steps up from singing in the shower. The school offers courses, workshops as well as instrument training to rockstar hopefuls – with talented practising musicians doing the teaching. Children aged three through 17 are welcome, and the Rock 101 programme is designed to give top-notch training to youngsters aged eight to 13 in a mix of styles and genres such as rock, R&B, soul and funk.
24 Protea Road, Newlands
021 671 9580
Learn to feed yourself | Cape Town
Stir Crazy Cooking offers a vast array of kitchen-readiness classes and workshops, including specialised children’s classes, where fun is to be had and the recipes are manageable and teach youngsters how to make some of their favourite tried-and-tested snacks and meals, from some easy-peasy cheesy pizza spirals and choc chip muffins, to a grown-up-sounding salmon and Parmesan pasta dish. You may just end up getting a four-course breakfast in bed on your next birthday!
Children’s classes: R450
14 West Quay Road, V&A Waterfront 021 501 0695
Become an urban ninja | Joburg
At the Jozi X adventure centre, there are loads of different activities for pure fun and games, but it’s also a great training ground for the urban ‘sport’ of parkour, which is a method of moving through the cityscape – or any environment for that matter – with the stealth, athleticism and stamina (and quick-as-lightening silence) of a ninja. There’s a training ground with blocks, huge tyres, grass and a variety of levels to train and learn new tricks. Many consider parkour not as a sport but an art form, requiring synergy between mind and body as a chosen terrain is navigated and explored with imagination and creativity.
Corner of Main and Sloane streets Bryanston
082 456 2358
Go back in time | Durban
Museums may be considered passé by many, but there are still a few Victorian-style places packed with weird, wonderful and, frankly, outlandish exhibits that can make children wide-eyed with wonder and amusement. The Durban Natural Science Museum is over 100 years old and amid the collection of dusty stuffed animals, there is a T-Rex model, in all its life-size glory, an Egyptian mummy and the skeleton (or most of one) of a dodo. The Kwanunu insect arcade is a hit with lovers of goggas, and who can’t fail to take delight at the sight of a fossilised egg of the long-extinct elephant bird, the biggest bird that ever existed? It’s not exactly Night at the Museum (although there are occasional museum sleep-overs), but it is a free-to-see museum. Plus, children will get a kick out of the three-dimensionality of what’s here, compared with the flatness of their device screens.
City Hall, 234 Smith Street
031 311 2256
Words by Keith Bain
Photography: Courtesy Images