Thank You Steve, the Improv Dog

Colde Town Theater - What's the Story, Steve?

After getting the school year started for Sparkles (1st grade) and Buttercup (Pre-K), I was especially excited to see Steve, the improv dog. After the errands, forms, shopping and early morning wake-ups, I needed Steve to make me laugh.

Have you ever seen 5 and 6-year-olds play t-ball? When Noel played, there wasn’t much baseball going on. Mostly, the kids were learning to wait their turn to bat or learning where to stand on the field. Noel was learning how to stay focused on the batter, so she wouldn’t get hit by the ball. Most of the coaching wasn’t about offense or defense, it was about how to contain yourself and play by the rules. Elementary school was more of the same, training the kids to be orderly and quiet and compliant.

I’m OK with that.

Because this prepares them for the real world. When my kids get jobs one day, they need to know how not to do cartwheels in the office, cut in line for coffee or hit their boss with their teddy bear.  They need to be able to sit through a boring meeting, do work they don’t really want to do and, once again, play by the rules.

But I don’t want ONLY that.

I want them also to run around in circles, make funny faces and say their crazy ideas out loud. I want the boundaries and structure to loosen up so they can be creative and spontaneous. I want them to enter the space where the rules don’t exist yet and have them figure out what should happen next.

That is why I need Steve. He is a dog. He is also the star of “What’s the Story, Steve?”, a production of Move Your Tale. Move Your Tale is an improv troupe directed by Kristin Henn, made of several adults and one dog. They do classes, camps and shows for kids and adults. The Saturday morning version of “What’s Your Story, Steve?” is just for kids and the kids get to make suggestions and join the performers on stage. Steve performs during the show, with the help of an off-stage translator. You can stay after the show for an all-ages improv class or you can take an age-specific improv classes during the week.

I know. Improv has its rules too. But when I tried to get a picture of my girls during the all-ages class, it was nearly impossible. They were running in circles, making funny faces and saying their crazy ideas out loud. It felt like the opposite of sitting in a desk in a neat row looking straight ahead. The rules were more relaxed and they got to be creative and spontaneous.

Thank you, Steve, for making me laugh last Saturday. We’ll see you again soon!

What’s Your Story, Steve?” at ColdTowne Theater

4803 Airport Blvd, (512) 814-TOWN

Most Saturday mornings at 10:00am, check the “What’s Your Story, Steve” link above to verify before you head out.

Move Your Tale classes, camps and shows

Top Five Activities at Laguna Gloria’s Second Saturday for Families

Growing Up Austin - Laguna Gloria

I can’t decide which of the many parts of Second Saturdays For Families at Austin Museum of Art’s Laguna Gloria location (11-3, $10 per family) is the best, there is so much to choose from.

5. Arts-and-crafts – It isn’t your everyday arts-and-crafts when the project’s theme is influenced by the current art exhibit and a professional artist is there to share ideas. This Saturday, June 9, the kids will build dancing wire sculptures and learn about balance, parts of the body and the way they fit together.

4. Move Your Body – Now and then, there is a free yoga-type class for the kids, so you can exercise your body and your mind. This Saturday, Miss Joan, with Creative Dance Adventures, will lead a dance class at 1pm.

Growing Up Austin - Laguna Gloria

3. Move Your Mind – The Laguna Gloria museum is perfect for kids because there is art indoors and out and it is right-sized for their attention span.

Growing Up Austin - Laguna Gloria

2. Hike the trails – You can walk the pretty trails behind the museum, through the trees and along the shore of Lake Austin. Sometimes you will even find an art piece hidden within the trees.

1. See the birds – Walk a few steps East and you’ll be in Mayfield Park where you can see pretty gardens and real-live peacocks.

Growing Up Austin - Laguna Gloria

My girls and I enjoyed all of this the other day, but after all that, they had the idea to play Duck-Duck-Goose on the front lawn. I didn’t know you could play Duck-Duck-Goose with only three people, but I imagine you can do a lot of things, if you don’t get caught up in the details.

I enjoyed doing both with my girls that day, the fancy art and the silly running in circles. If this sounds like fun, check it out this Saturday. Also check out for more ideas on Seeing Art and Doing Art with your kids.


The Texas State Capitol for Toddlers

There are so may great things about Austin, it almost doesn’t seem fair that we also get to be the Capitol of Texas. The Texas State Capitol building was first built in 1888 and it had significant renovations and extensions in the 1990s.

Top 5 reasons why my little girls like the Texas State Capitol:

1. The rotunda is round and tall, in layers, up to a domed ceiling, which makes them run in circles with their arms spread wide open.

2. There are lots of stairs that are fun to climb up and down.

3. Besides the stairs, there are the elevators, and they take you underground which is a little scary, but exciting at the same time.

4. When you walk in the hallways underground, you can see bushes above you, through windows in the ceiling, when everyone knows bushes are supposed to be on the ground and how is it possible that there is dirt ABOVE your head?

5. If you stop by the Sergeant-at-Arms office (2W7), the staff will give you a free sticker.

Top 5 reasons why I like the Texas State Capitol:

1. The building is air-conditioned and heated, out of the rain, open generous hours and free. (That is five reasons in one.)

2. The building’s classic architecture if beautiful. (Buildings are art too, so I included the Capitol in, here.)

3. The experience is art and exercise in one, with all the stairs and long underground hallways.

4. It is a good experience when extended family is in town. People of every age will find something different to see and think about.

5. Our country’s democracy is messy and difficult and frustrating, but I am amazed like-a-little-kid that democracy is only a few hundred years old and I get to live in the country that invented it. In my small ways that my girls might not understand at all, I try to share this enthusiasm with them.

When my girls are older and have a longer attention span, we’ll take the official self-guided or guided tour.

One important thing to know – in the rotunda, on the upper floors, where you can walk around the circular dome, the railings are historically accurate. This means they don’t meet current safety standards. The rails are far enough apart that a kid can get through. If your toddlers are monkey-like, you will need to stay very close to them or don’t go to the upper floors of the rotunda.

I hope you get to enjoy the Texas State Capitol with your kids!