Sem break – and APEC Week – ideas

Tessa Mauricio-Arriola

Tessa Mauricio-Arriola

The semestral break is upon us again as October is too quickly reaching its end. And as always, this is an especially tricky time for parents to keep their children busy. The vacay is too short for enrollment in special activities, yet too long to allow little ones to be glued to the boob tube or their pads and tabs at home.

Without meaning to add to the “what-to-do” conundrum for the coming days, it may also be wise to remember that we’re sort of getting two sem breaks this year, what with another stretch of no classes waiting in the wings come APEC Week in November. Just so nobody maxes out ideas in one go.

Nevertheless, don’t let panic get the better of you in thinking up activities for your children. The T-Zone promises to help as much as possible. After all, some good planning and a little imagination is all you need to keep your beloved brood entertained in the coming days.

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If your children are between the ages of four and 14, and you haven’t taken them to KidZania Manila, then now is the time to do so.

As most every- one knows by now, KidZania is an educational indoor play city, which allows children to explore the real world by working a variety of jobs in real deal companies and settings.

Say ‘cheeseburger!’ Children learn how to make a McDonald’s classic at the burger shop in KidZania Manila

Say ‘cheeseburger!’ Children learn how to make a McDonald’s classic at the burger shop in KidZania Manila

The newest attraction there, as The T Zone’s own little rascals experienced, is the McDonald’s Burger Shop, which features a kid-sized kitchen where visitors can make the iconic McDonald’s Cheeseburger themselves. And take note, there’s no skipping any step at this McDonald’s branch, for the young fast food employees are completely briefed for the task ahead.

The first step is demonstrating hygienic food handling with handwashing, and gearing up with an apron, hairnet and food safe gloves before heading off to the work stations. Once there, the children get to put together an honest to goodness McDonalds Cheeseburger made from 100-percent pure beef patty, a slice of American cheese, tangy pickles, minced onions, ketchup, mustard, and perfectly baked buns. They then wrap the layers of goodness in that famous yellow and orange wax paper, all ready to serve.

What the kids follow is the same procedure that real crew members use in preparing the McDonald’s Cheeseburger every day, across 460-plus branches around the Philippines. And The T Zone guarantees, it looks and tastes exactly the same.

“Making a McDonald’s Cheeseburger is an exciting activity in itself, but the real treat for kids and their parents is the experience and values learned while doing the activity. Together with KidZania, our hope is for kids to learn and appreciate the importance of hard work and responsibility, at the same time building their social skills and self-confidence,” said McDonald’s Philippines President and CEO Kenneth Yang at the KidZania “branch” opening.

Teacher Dyali Justo of Adarna House encourages parents to read stories to their children in an interactive way

Teacher Dyali Justo of Adarna House encourages parents to read stories to their children in an interactive way

“KidZania Manila is a place where kids can do big things and let their creativity run free,” added Maricel Pangilinan Arenas, State Governor for KidZania Philippines. “Here, they get to experience how a community operates, discover different careers, and learn while having fun by working closely with real-world brands that they know and love, like McDonald’s.”

Every visit to KidZania runs for four hours, where children can explore real life jobs and situations, and become whatever they wish to be within the city. The experience is both exciting for children to have and for their parents to see, and something that is sure to last them revved up for days.

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Now if you haven’t got the time to take your kids to play places like KidZania in the next few days, here is a fun idea to do at home any time during the break and beyond.

This particular suggestion stems from a panic attack brought about by The T-Zone’s eldest, who told his Grade 2 teacher that his mom “makes really good stories.” Forgetting to add the phrase, “for the newspaper,” this precocious seven-year-old effectively got his mom a story-telling stint for “Literacy Day” in his school.

With no clue as to what a “5-minute Bold Beginning” should be like, much less a “20-minute Mighty Middle” and a “15-minute Excellent Ending,” The T-Zone hurried off to the Filipino story book haven that is Adarna Publishing in Scout Torillo, Quezon City to seek the help of their story-telling experts.

Extremely gracious and generous with her time was the energetic Teacher Dyali (pronounced “Jolly”) Justo, who picked the perfect book for The T-Zone, complete with a demo on how to do the three-part task.

Giving a quick lesson on the importance of book choice, voicing, expressions and body movements during a story-telling session, Teacher Dyali recommended an interactive type of reading, which she says will help children nurture an interest for reading.

“You don’t want to raise a ‘screen-ager’,” she cleverly declared. “That’s a teenager who only gets information from TV or the Internet. But without actually showing your kids how fun it is to read books, you’ll never get them to do so.”

According to Teacher Dyali, all parents need to do is to get an age-appropriate book for their children, and engage them throughout reading the story by asking questions in between pages, and putting in all sorts of adlibs to make a narrative more interesting and fun for the whole family.

“Culturally, we aren’t the bedtime story kind of people; but in general, makuwento ang mga Pilipino, so that’s what we should do in story-telling. Read a book to children in a way that is lively and chatty, as we would in everyday conversations. You’ll see that your children will respond more to this type of story-telling, rather than the ‘Lola Basya’ setup where all you’ll ask them to do is listen.”

At Adarna, wonderful titles written by Filipinos for Filipino children are aplenty, and cost less than P100.

“It’s an inexpensive way to spend quality time with your children,” Teacher Dyali, who regularly holds story-telling workshops for parent groups, students of education both at Adarna and by appointment at schools, parties, and other events, rightly said.

Surprisingly, as The T-Zone discovered, it’s quite fun to do, and appreciated more by children, instead of the supposedly customary bedtime story.

If you need help on what to do, organize a mommy group and head over to Adarna for a session with Teacher Dyali. Not only will you make your kids happy by bringing books to life, but you’ll also find out that there’s a capable story-teller in you.

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KidZania Manila is located at Park Triangle, Bonfacio Global City, and is open daily. For more information, log on to

Adarna House is located at Scout Torillo corner Scout Fernandez in Quezon City. For more information, log on to or email


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