10 things to remember when back-to-school shopping

Lukas Parra, 8, hands Kaitlyn Bradley, 12, a folder as they check off one more school supply. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN
Lukas Parra, 8, hands Kaitlyn Bradley, 12, a folder as they check off one more school supply. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Today we offer our back-to-school shopping guide as well as a list of things to not forget to do before school starts and the best way to improve your school.  More back-to-school tips can be found at Austin360.com/backtoschool.

Here are 10 more tips to consider when you’re out shopping:

  1. Go early. That means not the week before school starts. It also means early in the morning on a weekday when stores are fully stocked and not crowded.
  2. Shop other areas of the store. When the back-to-school aisle gets congested, head to the regular office supplies aisle. It’s less crowded and you can knock a bunch off items your list away from the crowds.
  3. Your time is money. You can save money by shopping many stores, or you can save on gas and time by choosing one big store. If you just need a couple of easy items, skip the crowds and go to a smaller store like a drug store or a dollar store.
  4. Anticipate needs. Think about what supplies you will need at home the entire school year. Stock up during sales on basics like pencils and notebook paper for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers before they get their official lists. Ask parents of a kid one grade older than yours what their child needed last year.
  5. Shop for value not just price. Remember, a cheap backpack won’t last the whole year. A thin T-shirt isn’t worth the $4 after the first hole.
  6. Bigger isn’t better. Back-to-school specials might make the 10-pack of pencils less expensive than the 30-pack or the two-pack of glue sticks a better value than the eight-pack.
  7. Use coupons and store deals wisely. Before you go, look online to see what specials are out there, but don’t get suckered into store deals. The 5 percent you save at one store might not be enough to overcome to great prices at another store.
  8. Tax-free weekend (Aug. 5-7) isn’t always the best. You’ll be fighting crowds and sometimes the 8.25 percent you save isn’t as much as the 10-, 20-, 30-percent off deals that happen at the end of the back-to-school season.
  9. Don’t bring the kids. For basics that will be shared with the whole class or are standard items, go it alone. Bringing the kids means more opportunities for unnecessary items to get into your basket.
  10. Do bring the kids, but set a budget. For personal items like backpacks and clothes, let kids pick them out, but set a limit of how much you are willing to spend. For a really smart lesson, bring the $30 cash you have allotted for a backpack and lunch box, or the $200 for new clothes, and let your child figure it out. When the money is gone, it’s gone.

Share your shopping tips with us by posting a comment on this story. Happy school shopping and don’t forget to enjoy the summer before it’s done. 

‘Batman’ and more fun things to do with kids this weekend

Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin, the Boy Wonder) rely on their wits and their Batmobile to keep the streets of Gotham City safe in "Batman."
Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin, the Boy Wonder) rely on their wits and their Batmobile to keep the streets of Gotham City safe in “Batman.”

Who do your kids think Batman is? Ben Affleck? George Clooney? Val Kilmer? Or Michael Keaton? If they don’t know the Adam West Batman, it’s time for an introduction. Paramount Theatre is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Batman: The Movie,” with a screening 1 p.m. Saturday.  The Batmobile will be there a will Batman and Catwoman and Voodoo Doughnuts, plus giveaways from Toy Joy. Tickets are $10, $6 for kids. Purchase tickets at www.austintheatre.org

If Batman’s not your thing, there’s still a lot to do this weekend. Here are some ideas:


Friday Flutters. Search for butterflies and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the insectary. 7 p.m. Friday. $10 adult, $5 children. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.

Texas Museum of Science & Technology Star Party. Look at the stars in the parking lot. 8-10 p.m. Friday. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org.

Will Dupuy. 2 p.m. Friday, University Hills Branch, Austin Public Library.


Summer Stock Austin: “The Addams Family.” 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 2 p.m. Saturday. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. “The Steadfast Soldier.” A new musical from The Biscuit Brothers. 2 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m Friday-Saturday $17 adults, $12 children and seniors. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.


The Minions are back in the summer family film "Minions." Universal Pictures
The Minions are back in “Minions.” Universal Pictures

“Mary Poppins.” See everyone’s favorite nanny come to life. $29-$79. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 4. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.

“Shrek The Musical.” Zilker Summer Musical is back. Free. 8:15 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Aug. 13. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

The Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp. “Horton Hears a Who!” 10 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Village. “Babe,” 10:55 a.m. Friday-Saturday, Lakeline. Minions,” 10:25 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane.  Reserve tickets for $1-$3 donation online. drafthouse.com.


National Dance Day at Ballet Austin. Try out a new dance class. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. $10-$22. 501 W. Third St.balletaustin.org/dance-fitness/national-dance-day.

Kids Kraft program on Saturday afternoons for kids in kindergarten through second grade. Mixed Up Media, 10 a.m. Saturday. $15. Umlauf Sculpture Garden. umlaufsculpture.org.

The new Harry Potter book comes out July 31.
The new Harry Potter book comes out July 31.

BookPeople event: “Harry Potter & the Cursed Child” Midnight Release Party. 10 a.m. Saturday. Story times: Austin Summer Musical, 11:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com.

Barnes & Noble event: Harry Potter Countdown to Midnight Party. 8 p.m. Saturday, all locations.

Crowe’s Nest Farm visits. 2 p.m. Saturday, Yarborough Branch, Austin Public Library.


Saturday and Sunday

Thinkery. Fizz, Bang, Pop! Play with science and make noise. For ages 4-7, 11:15 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday $8 child, $8 adult. Exploring Explosions. For ages 8 and older. 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8 child, $8 adult. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Thinkeryaustin.org.


Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park. Hear the music of Big Band. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Long Center City Terrace, 701 W. Riverside Drive. austinsymphony.org.

Back to Hogwarts! Noon, every Sunday in August, Faulk Central Library.


What can you do to support your school? Help the principal

Judy Knotts was the principal at St. Gabriel's Catholic School and St. Michael's Catholic Academy.
Judy Knotts was the principal at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy.

Judy Knotts, who served as principal for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, has decades of experience leading schools. She served on the board at the Principals’ Center at Harvard and was a consultant to schools for 15 years. Statesman readers might know her for the wise religion columns she writes, mostly on the topic of homelessness, which appear in the Saturday Austin360 section.

Knotts, who is now retired, has written “The Principal’s Chair: Who Sits There Matters, A Secret to School Success.” ($12.99, CreateSpace) The book is written for principals, whether they are in their first year of being a principal, starting at a new school and have had a long career at the same school. It’s essentially a manual of what to do and what not to do.

Knotts, who did her doctoral dissertation on which new organizations make it five years and which ones do not, found the same truth about which schools were successful and which ones were not. It’s all about the person leading the organization or school and whether they are supported.

“Success all depended on the principal,” she says. “It didn’t matter whether they are low income or high income (schools).” It also didn’t matter which country they were in, she says.

When schools weren’t succeeding, they often had principals who were going through the motions or working to take the pay check and going home. They were people without passion or unethical people, or they could even be well-intentioned people who didn’t have the right training.

"The Principal's Chair," by Judy Knotts
“The Principal’s Chair,” by Judy Knotts

As school begins, parents often worry about which teachers their children will get, but really they should be thinking about who is leading the school. Good principals make teachers better, Knotts says. Like the way teachers help children grow, the principal’s job is growing adults (teachers), Knotts says.

“Teachers clearly are important, but ask any teacher what drives excellence, it’s if the principal is creating a culture, a community of care.” Knotts says. “If (teachers) are supported and cared for, they can do their work, then they perform the best.”

Teachers will “do their best work with a gifted principal or they will leave,” she says.

Education is everyone’s business, Knotts says, “We all have a role to play.” Supporting the principal as a parent is a great way.

Knotts would love to have parents hand principals her book to give them better training, but parents also can help by creating a better relationships with them by following these tips:

  • Notice when good things happen and let the principal know. Principals often only hear complaints, not praise. Positive feedback helps create a more positive environment.
  • Don’t constantly complain. When parents constantly complain, principals don’t know whether this time it’s a serious complaint.
  • Take problems or concerns to the teacher first instead of right to the principal. It raises red flag when parents skip a couple steps. It says: ‘They think they are more important than everyone else,” she says. Even if the problem is the teacher, start with the teacher. You want to build a collaborative relationship for the whole year. If that doesn’t work, then you can work your way up to the assistant principal and then principal.
  • If you do need to talk to the principal, make an appointment first and let the principal or the school secretary know what the appointment is about. It gives the principal time to do the research and makes your meeting together more effective.
  • Volunteer at the school. Even if you work full-time, there are smaller jobs you can do. “We love those parents, and it’s human nature to want to help them out,” Knotts says.
  • Be involved in your child’s education, but not too much. Know when the science project is due without doing it.
  • Don’t complain about teacher assignments. “Your child is not going to have the perfect teacher ever year,” Knotts says.  It’s just one year, and while you might not think that the teacher is the ideal teacher for your child, you want your child to have experience with a lot of different leadership styles over the course of their school career. A difficult or strict teacher can help them learn, too, as will the ultra-relaxed teacher. (If you do need to request a teacher change, read how to do it.)
  • Be optimistic about this school year with your child, even if you don’t feel optimistic. Try not to put fear in their minds by bringing up your own worries about things that might or might not happen. “I know you’re going to have a great year,” she says, is a great thing to say.

Knotts says she doesn’t miss waking up at 6 a.m. to be out the door by 6:20 a.m. totally engaged, but she does miss growing teachers. “Schools are wonderful, organic communities where people grow,” she says. “If works it’s a wonderful environment.”


Are you a “Bad Mom” or a “Good Mom”? New movie has us thinking

The movie “Bad Moms,” which comes out tomorrow (read my review here), divides up moms into two kinds: Good Moms and Bad Moms.

Mila Kunis’ character Amy says that with all the expectations placed on moms it’s impossible to be a good mom today. “So let’s be bad moms.”

Here’s basically how these two categories get divided up:

Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo in a scene from, "Bad Moms." (STX Productions)
Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo in a scene from, “Bad Moms.” (STX Productions)

Good Moms represented by Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and Co.

  • Make her profession motherhood
  • Lead the PTA with strict authority
  • Are never late
  • Never have anything go wrong with them (at least not in public)
  • Surround themselves only with like-minded moms
  • Judge other moms who don’t live up to their standards
  • Always have breakfast, lunch and dinner made
  • Do their children’s homework for them
  • Overschedule their children
  • Control all aspects of the school, including extra curriculars like sports teams
  • Make it to every child-centered event
  • Never would give their child anything with preservatives or allergens like wheat, dairy, peanuts or eggs
  • Never have time for themselves
  • Never spend quality time with their children
  • Are supportive, subserviant wives
  • Use black mail and threats to help their children get ahead
  • Bully other moms, teachers and students
  • Have no moral guidelines for themselves, but plenty for others
  • Would never let loose
  • Drive the SUV or minivan
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in a scene from, "Bad Moms." (Michele K. Short/STX Productions)
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in a scene from, “Bad Moms.” (Michele K. Short/STX Productions)

Bad Moms represented by Amy (Mila Kunis) and Co.

  • Have a career
  • Don’t take any @#$% at work or at home
  • Are always running late
  • Have things go wrong in life like a sick dog or a spilled coffee
  • Make friends with different types of women
  • Don’t judge other moms (unless those moms go all judge-y on them)
  • Let their children figure out how to make breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Don’t do their children’s homework
  • Don’t over schedule their children
  • Don’t intervene when the coach doesn’t put their child in
  • Don’t always make it to every child-centered event
  • Show up at the bake sale with store-bought, preservative-loaded baked goods
  • Take time for themselves
  • Take time for one-on-one dates with their children
  • Stand up to spouses that aren’t sharing the parenting
  • Let their children fight their own battles
  • Try to get along with everyone (except the anointed Good Moms, who could get along with them?)
  • Have strong moral guidelines
  • Drink, sometimes too much
  • Drive the seat belt-free red vintage convertible

Being a Bad Mom seems a lot better deal (except the drinking too much and the no-seat belt convertible).

Of course, “Bad Moms” should never be your guide.

There are many things in this movie that most moms would never do:

Destroy a grocery store late at night on a drunken binge

Drink and drive

Repeatedly go out at night, leaving their children …. where are the children?

Bring home a guy before the divorce papers are even considered

Not have seat belts for themselves or their children

Not show up at work and then be surprised when you get fired


When shopping the girls’ or boys’ department doesn’t fit your kid, try Clothes Without Limits

Back to school shopping is tough, but if you have a daughter who walks into the girls’ department at any department store or big box store in Austin and wants to run away at the sight of everything pink and purple and ruffled all over, what are you to do? And if you have a son that doesn’t want to wear another blue or red shirt with a truck or superhero on it, what do you do then?

Sharon Choksi, left, had trouble finding clothes for her daughter Maya, right, and started Girls Will Be clothing line. Credit: Susan Beth Photography
Sharon Choksi, left, had trouble finding clothes for her daughter Maya, right, and started Girls Will Be clothing line.
Credit: Susan Beth Photography

Girls Will Be, the Austin-based company that launched a line of T-shirts for the non-girly girl in 2013 and has expanded to shorts that aren’t tight or Daisy Dukes, has teamed up with other like-minded clothing lines. Clothes Without Limits represents 13 clothing lines that seek to answer the question, “Yes, but what about my daughter (or son)?” when it comes to clothes.

“We all started our businesses because the clothes that we saw out there are limited, and we all started our companies because they didn’t support our children’s interests,” says Girls Will Be co-founder and Austin mom Sharon Choksi.

The Clothes Without Limits site, clotheswithoutlimits.com, lets you shop its different lines all in one place. There you’ll find items like:

Dresses with mathmatical symbols on them, $19.99 from Svaha

Dresses with skulls and crossbones, $39 from Princess Awesome

T-shirts that say “Pink” in blue writing and “Blue” in pink writing, $19.99 from Quirkie Kids

A T-shirt with a girl on a bike with wheels made of atoms riding far from the castle and the word “Discover,” $22.50 from Orange Clever

Girls Will Be chemistry T-shirt. Credit: Elizabeth McGuire
Girls Will Be chemistry T-shirt. Credit: Elizabeth McGuire

A shirt with “I Will Be Me” written in periodic table elements, $24 from Girls Will Be

Leggings with construction trucks on them, $25 from Mitz Apparel and Accessories

Shirts that read “Half of the T. rexes are Girls,” $22 from Jill and Jack Kids 

Robot long-sleeved T-shirts that read “Let’s be Friends,” $21.99 from Jessy & Jack.

“Forget Princess. Call me President” T-shirts, $25 from Handsome in Pink

“Brains = Beauty” T-shirt, $24 from Clever Belle

Rocket ship dresses, $38.50 from Budding Stem

“I’m a Cat Guy” T-shirts, $26 from Free to be Kids

A pink body suit with a construction digger on it, $25.95 from Baby Blastoff

Clothes Without Limits is trying to bring awareness that “clothes are sending negative messages to our kids,” Choksi

"Forget Princess, Call Me President," from Handsome in Pink. Credit: Michelle Cardoso
“Forget Princess, Call Me President,” from Handsome in Pink. Credit: Michelle Cardoso

says. Just as parents and the media got behind the idea that there is no such thing as “gender appropriate” toys, Clothes Without Limits would like to have the same conversation about clothes.

The toy discussion has seen great strides recently. Retailer Target removed its gender-specific signs in its toy departments last year, toy brands like GoldieBlox and Roominate brought new engineering toys to the market, and the public outcry over the action figure for new “Star Wars” heroine Rey not being on the shelves caused #WhereIsRey to go viral and get Rey figures into stores. The same discussion needs to be had for clothes, Choksi says.

Clothes instantly tell the world about your child, she says. If your daughter shows up on the first day of school wearing a pink shirt with a Disney princess on it, everyone will assume she’s a “girly girl,” which might not be her personality at all. It might just be what you could find in the girls’ department. But, if she shows up wearing a shirt with a dinosaur or an atom on it, everyone will know she loves science.

“How do you interact with a child? It’s based on what they are wearing,” Choksi says. “‘Look at your pretty outfit,’ that’s what they hear all the time. They don’t hear anything else. I’d love to change that message where what they love teachers and other parents recognize them for.”

Choksi does see a few small changes happening. Lands’ End offered T-shirts to promoting girls’ interest in space, and after

Dinosaur dress from Princess Awesome.
Dinosaur dress from Princess Awesome.

positive social media response, it now has at least one or two items per season promoting girls’ Science Technology Engineer and Math interests. Online retailer Mini Boden offered a girl’s swimsuit with dinosaurs on it, and after a big response, it now offers dinosaur dresses and adventure T-shirts for girls. Choksi also recently saw girls’ shorts that were longer and would work with school dress code in her local Dick’s Sporting Goods, but often girls, and women, too, still have to head to the boys’ or men’s sections to try to find longer shorts and not-as-tight T-shirts.

The fit of girls’ clothing is a big deal and a big reason why Choksi started Girls Will Be. Age-appropriate girls’ clothes is also a big deal. “Over time, people are pushing adult fashions younger and younger,” she says. Parents, though must be buying them or the big retailers wouldn’t be offering them, she says. What’s not clear is whether parents are buying these clothes because their girls want them or because they can’t find anything

 Jill and Jack Kids' owl T-shirt. Credit Monte Simeonidis Attard
Jill and Jack Kids’ owl T-shirt. Credit: Monte Simeonidis Attard

else. If you don’t want that for your daughter, write to big companies and ask for something better, or support smaller companies that are offering clothes that are appropriate and fit your daughter, she says.

That’s what Clothes Without Limits and its companies are trying to do. “Send your kids a few different messages of what they can like and what is OK to like,” she says.

Find more Back to School tips at austin360.com/backtoschool.


10 fun things to do with kids in Austin before school starts

Less than four weeks until school. Egad! Already?

Earlier in the summer we offered Camp Austin 360, with a things to do this summer. You can read that story at specials.mystatesman.com/camp-austin360. Now, I offer you 10 things to do with the kids before summer ends.

1. Dip into natural watering holes. This summer, there’s water in the lakes, the creeks, the rivers and the swimming holes. We love dipping into Hamilton Pool, splashing around in Barton Creek and floating the Guadalupe River. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, and, often, life jackets.
2. Try out a new park or hiking trail.
Go early or go late — don’t go in the middle of the day — but summer is a great time to step outside your neighborhood park. We’re a fan of Mayfield Park for its peacocks and trails, Inks Lake State Park for its views and Lake Park in the Mueller neighborhood for its playground.

The Austin Zoo puts on Boo at the Zoo next month. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
See the bears at the Austin Zoo. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

3. Head to a cave. There’s nothing cooler (amazing-wise) and cooler (temperature-wise) than a Central Texas cave in summer. Start at Inner Space Cavern for beginners and work your way up to Cave Without a Name.

4. Head to an animal park. Try out the relatively new Texas Reptile Zoo in Bastrop, but we also love the kitsch of the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, the safari of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, and the closeness of the Austin Zoo and the Capital of Texas Zoo.

5. Hit a museum. Summer is a great time to be in a museum. Hooray, air-conditioning!

The Bullock Museum has these events coming up: Storytime Mondays: Texas Animals, 11 a.m. Aug. 1; Summer Memories, 11 a.m. Aug. 8. Wednesday Workshops: Create a Fossil, 11 a.m. Aug. 3; Nature Writing, 11 a.m. Aug. 10. Discovery Fridays: Native Mammals, 11 a.m., Aug. 5; Exciting Artifacts, 11 a.m. Aug. 12. Summer Free Family Film Series: “A Cat in Parts,” 2 p.m. Aug. 6 and “The Secret of Nimh,” 2 p.m. Aug. 20.

The Thinkery offers these weekend workshops next month: “Silly Science.” For 12-24 months, 9:45 a.m. Aug. 6. $20 one child and adult. For 24-36 months, 10:45 a.m. Aug. 6, $20 one child and adult. “Tracking Termites.” For ages 4-7. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Aug6-7, 20-21. $8 per person. “Simple Stitches.” For ages 4-7. Create a stuffed animal. 12:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. “Polymear Wearables.” For ages 8 and older. 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Thinkeryaustin.org.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden has Family Day noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 14. Enjoy yoga, story time, sculpting and more for free. The Kids Kraft program on Saturday afternoons for kids in kindergarten through second grade. Shadow Sculptures, 10 a.m. Aug. 6; and Mad Mobiles, 10 a.m. Aug. 13. $15.  umlaufsculpture.org.

The Contemporary Austin’s Families Create! program is free. Make ice paintings.. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 13. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org.

Texas Museum of Science & Technology Star Party happens every Friday in August from 8-10 p.m. Science Saturday will explore the science of flavor with Amy’s Ice Creams. 4-6 p.m. Aug. 27. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org.

Kyle G. Stephens as Shrek and Sara Burke as Fiona star in "Shrek the Musical" at Zilker Hillside Theatre through Aug. 13. (Photo credit to Dave Keslick, courtesy of Zilker Theatre Productions)
Kyle G. Stephens as Shrek and Sara Burke as Fiona star in “Shrek the Musical” at Zilker Hillside Theatre through Aug. 13.
(Photo credit to Dave Keslick, courtesy of Zilker Theatre Productions)

6. See a musical. Summer Stock Austin has three shows: “The Addams Family.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, Aug. 5-6, 10, 12-13. 2 p.m. Aug. 7. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. “The Steadfast Soldier.” A new musical from The Biscuit Brothers. 10 a.m Aug. 5-6, Aug. 8-10, Aug. 12-13. $17 adults, $12 children and seniors. “Carnival.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3-4, 7, 9 and 11. 2 p.m. Aug. 6, 11-13. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.

See “Shrek The Musical” under the stars at Zilker Summer Musical.. Free. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, through Aug. 13. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

“Mary Poppins” flies onto the stage at Zach Theatre. $29-$79. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 4. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.

Head to jolly old England for “Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s Wedding.” Sherwood Forest Faire presents this play. 11 a.m. Aug. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; 8 p.m. Aug. 13. $12 adults, $8 children. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org.

7. Go to a circus. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings “Circus Xtreme” to the Erwin Center, Aug. 24-28. It’s the first time the circus will be here without elephants.

8. See a movie. The Paramount’s summer movie series includes “Aladdin,” 1 p.m. Aug. 6. “Jurassic Park” 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 and 2 p.m. Aug. 7. “Annie,” 1 p.m. Aug. 14. “Mary Poppins,” 1 p.m. Aug. 20. $10 adults, $5 kids. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org.

The Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp is showing “Babe,” 10:55 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Lakeline. “Minions,” 10:25 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Slaughter Lane. “The Karate Kid,” 10:20 a.m. Aug. 5, 145_Group Clown Alex Irina_010:25 a.m. Aug. 6-11, Slaughter Lane. “The Dark Crystal,” Aug. 12-18, Slaughter Lane. “The Lego Movie,” 10 a.m. Aug. 19-25, Slaughter Lane. “Horton Hears a Who,” 11 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Village. “Shaun the Sheep,” 11 a.m. Aug. 5-11, Village. Reserve tickets for $1-$3 donation online. drafthouse.com.

Regal Summer Movie Express has 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays shows at Westgate Stadium 11. “The Croods” and “The Lorax,” Aug. 2-3. Tickets are $1. regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse offers $1 movies Monday through Thursday at Round Rock 8 and Cedar Park. “Shaun the Sheep,” Aug. 1-4. “Max,” Aug. 8-11. cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse.


9. Eat ice cream. The Austin Ice Cream Festival is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 13. $15. Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. austinicecreamfestival.com Find other ice cream sundae ideas with our list of favorites. 

10. Find new reading material. Hit your Austin Public Library branch, where this month Literature Live! presents “Puppet Olympics,” you can learn about fish in Texas and visit with animals from Crowe’s Nest farms, hear Echo and the Bats and Positive RePrecussions, see Gusto the Great and explore Hogwarts again.

At BookPeople this month, Carnival of Books will celebrate all things books for all ages. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 13. 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com


When back to school clothes shopping is a bore, try KidBox

KidBox sends you six or seven pieces for $98.
KidBox sends you six or seven pieces for $98.

Some kids love back to school shopping. Other kids would rather eat spinach. Like the popular adult versions, KidBox skips the store and delivers clothes to you. You set what your child’s size is and what he or she likes. Then after the box arrives, you keep what you want and send back the rest or exchange for a different size. KidBox has sizes for girls sizes 2T-14 and boys sizes 2T-16.

Each box has six to seven clothing items and costs $98. If you keep the box, KidBox donates a new outfit to a kid in need.

KidBox will send you a box five times a year, but you can unjoin or skip a box, or change size and style preferences. KidBox doesn’t have any fees or shipping costs, just the price of what you buy. kidbox.com

Now you can summon up crafts like Harry Potter with new book


Unofficial Guide to Crafting the World of Harry PotterIn time for the eighth, sort of, Harry Potter book “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which will be released at midnight Sunday, comes “The Unofficial Guide to Crafting the World of Harry Potter.” ($17.99, Adams Media)

With no help from J.K. Rowling, author Jamie Harrington takes some of the elements of the books and creates crafts. Inside you can make tie-die shirts in the colors of the Hogwarts houses, a golden snitch necklace and lightening scar earrings, a spell book journal, a monster “Book of Monsters” tablet cover, and pencil wands, butterbeer lip balm and potion lotion and more.


Countdown to the new Harry Potter … who is excited?

The new Harry Potter book comes out July 31.
The new Harry Potter book comes out July 31.

The much anticipated “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” comes out at midnight on July 31. Like previous Harry Potter books, Austin booksellers are hosting events the night before as a countdown to the release. Find our list of events here.

This new book, really isn’t a book in the tradition of the first seven books. It’s actually the script of a play that is opening in London on July 30. The play is set 19 years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Will your kids read it or has the time of Harry Potter passed?

This new generation of children who are ripe for Harry Potter books have grown up with not just the books, but also the movies. At my house, we have bought or have borrowed all seven books. I remember spending my maternity leave with my 15-year-old son starting the series and then not being able to wait for the next one and the next one.

My kids, however, have had the first book read to them in elementary school. They have not read any of them themselves. I put the books in their rooms, by their bedsides, in their hands, but to no avail.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" began the book and movie series.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” began the book and movie series.

Why? As soon they were old enough for the books, they also had the movies. They’ve seen every one of the movies multiple times. When given the choice between reading the books and seeing the movies, they chose movies every time.

It strikes me that we might have a generation of kids that won’t line up to get this new book. They will wait for the movie.

Instead, the line to get the book next Saturday will be filled with people in their 20s and 30s, who read the books as kids as they came out, and people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who read them to their children.

I hope I am wrong.

Are your kids excited for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”? Take our poll.

And if you’re looking for other Harry Potter-like series to get into the hands of your children, read our list from local librarians and booksellers.


Shop for school and help Austin kids with Tea Collection pop-up shop

16FALL1_L_G02_04 16FALL1_L_G03_02Tea Collection is introducing its Japan-influenced kids styles to Austin audiences with a pop-up shop July 28-July 31. Tea also will give gift bags to the first 200 customers.

The clothier offers sizes for babies to 12 years old. Prices range from $22.50 for a shirt to $99 for a complete outfit.

Tea will give 20 percent of sales back to local nonprofit organizations and schools: Caritas of Austin, Thinkery, Camp Fire Central Texas, Ridgetop 16FALL1_L_B01_01 16FALL1_L_B02_02Elementary School Amigos (PTA), Any Baby Can, Common Threads, Well Aware, Khabele School, Beyond the Grade, and Viva Becker Elementary.

Tea is also providing many kid activities through the weekend including origami making, bubble wands with Handzies, science demonstrations by the Thinkery, musicians Staci Gray and Mr. Will, yoga by the Little Yoga House, Japanese cooking with Foodie Kids and story times with the Japanese-American Society.

It’s all happening 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday-July 30 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 31 at Toms Roasting Co., 1401 Congress Ave. teacollection.com

Here’s the full schedule:
Thursday, July 28
9 a.m-8 p.m.
Al Day: Temporary Tatos with NatureTots
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Story Time with Tea
2–3 p.m.: Coloring with May Designs
3–4 p.m.: Q&A with Tea Co-Founder Leigh Rawdon
4–5 p.m.: Origami with Tea
5–7 p.m.: Launch Party (Invite Only)
Friday, July 29
9 a.m-8 p.m.
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Science Demo with Thinkery
2–3 p.m. Story Time with Tea
3–4 p.m.: Origami with Tea
4–5 p.m.: Musical Guest Staci Gray
5–6 p.m.: Back-to-School Style Tips
Saturday, July 30
9 a.m-8 p.m.
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Coloring with May Designs
2–4 p.m.: Musical Guest Mr. Will
4–5 p.m.: Origami with Tea
5–6 p.m.: Back-to-School Style Tips
Sunday, July 31
9 a.m-7 p.m.
10 a.m.–11 a.m..: Family Yoga (ages 4+) Led by The Little Yoga House
11 a.m.–Noon: Story Time with The Japanese-American Society
Noon–1  p.m.: Japanese Coking Class with Foodie Kids
1–5 p.m.: Tea Casting Call