All in one
IF YOU have children between five and 13 and dream of finding a single place that can offer the full range of activities -- open-air, sports, arts, scouting, science, entertainment and even elementary agricultural tasks -- then the Suzanne Mubarak Children's Museum in Heliopolis is for you.
The 13-feddan garden attached to the museum is the venue for a rich annual summer programme of children's activities.
Running from June to the end of August, the programme offers children the opportunity to learn about farming, various arts and crafts, Pharaonic Egypt, a number of different industries, birds and animals, cooking, and computer skills. Kids also have the chance to practice sports such as football, handball, basketball, volleyball and speedball on a number of well-designed courts.
The well-kept garden is not just for decoration, but is used to teach youngsters about nature and the preservation of the environment. The garden is distinguished by the diversity of its natural botanical and zoological life, which includes many varied species of plants, palm trees, birds, animals and insects.
This summer's programme consists of three courses, each of which lasts for three weeks: 7 June to 3 July; 5 July to the end of the month; and 2 to 28 August. Each course runs from 9.30am to 3pm over three days each week.
The content of each course is different, so that kids may take more than one in a row without getting bored. The museum takes a maximum of 350 children at a time, and they are divided into ten groups which are given different names and wear different coloured T-shirts.
An intensive two-week course will also be held on a daily basis over the period from 30 August to 11 September.
On all these courses, children will be exposed to different types of art, such as painting in oil or watercolour, and on glass, drawing with charcoal, collage and carpentry. This year, new sections are being introduced, including a Pharaonic art component, in which kids will learn to draw on papyrus and make papyrus boats, as well as designing Pharaonic cloth using stencils.
There is also a new textile section, where children will make small carpets using mini-looms by first observing an experienced worker, before trying to imitate him with the help of their professionally-trained teachers.
In another open-air class, you can see children using wood, hammers and nails to create miniature chairs, boats and airplanes. This is the carpentry section, which likewise opened just this year.
A big exhibition will be held at the end of the programme, to show off the works made by children who attended courses at the museum over the previous three months.
As well as cultivating the arts, the programme also caters for kids who have a taste for plants and agriculture. There is a special agriculture course on which children will learn to recognise different plant species, and how to plant a flower in a pot, along with the use of different methods of irrigation and different kinds of fertilisers. The grounds are also home to two greenhouses: one for ornamental plants, and the other for vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers.
The science centre is a favourite with children who have scientific inclinations. It houses displays of mummified birds and reptiles alongside plastic human skeletons which are used to teach the names and functions of the different parts of the human body.
A new section has been added to that centre recently, where children can learn how to make perfumes and study different fragrances, how they are mixed and how essences are made.
Field trips to various ancient and modern sites around Cairo are also on the programme. On Fridays, there are outings to such entertainments as the Lion Garden on the Cairo-Alexandria road, Snow City, the October Panorama and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
On Monday and Wednesday evenings, the museum opens its garden to all children, whether they are enrolled in the summer programme or not, so that they can take part in the scouting camp which runs from 5pm to 10pm.
Monday is reserved for kids from five to eight years old. On these nights, they learn how to erect a tent, make a fire, and hunt frogs. They are also taught how to deal with certain dangers they may encounter at home.
Wednesdays, on the other hand, are for the nine to 13 age group. In addition to learning how to put out fires, the older children are also shown how to do first aid and how to save a person who is drowning in a swimming pool.
At the end of each day's camp, there is a party with cultural events and competitions, as well as other entertainments.
Fees for one course are LE230. Air-conditioned buses provide transport for LE80 from Heliopolis and Nasr City and for LE100 from Dokki and Mohandessin.
For more information, contact the Suzanne Mubarak Children's Museum on 6424246 or 6399915.