Raccoon Alley 

Kids' orchestra plays Andean music

SAT 4/19

Four years ago, Lydia Mills was working in the after-school program at Berkwood Hedge School, and brought in panpipes and other Latin-American instruments for the kids to play. The students loved it, and soon she had 25 first- and second-graders signed up for an after-school class. The children learned to sing Andean songs and to play panpipes, tarka (an Andean recorder), drums, cowbells, and other percussion instruments. They named the group Los Mapaches, or the Raccoons, after Mills' favorite animal. "I do a lot of research," she explains. "The songs are mostly Andean, but they also come from Mexico and throughout Latin America. I also write some of my own songs." Now aged ten to twelve, Los Mapaches perform their first family concert at La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-2568) this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Kids in the audience will be invited to join in and try indigenous instruments. Los Mapaches have also just recorded their first CD, which will be on sale at the concert. -- Sarah Cahill

WED 4/16

Dreamaway Camp

Worried that Junior's playing too much Sims Online? Afraid little Emily won't know how to communicate in anything other than binary or brute force? Have them spend a week with Rebecca Thomas at Roleplay Summer Camp. Scientist and former middle school teacher Thomas has been leading Bay Area ten- to fifteen-year-olds through her imaginary world, Abantey, since 1989. During the weeklong sessions, kids learn to work together and to make the most of their characters' skills and physical abilities, limbering up their imaginations and math, science, and problem-solving skills. The sessions cost $200 each, and take place in the lower attic of Dr. Comics and Mr. Games, 4014 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Registration began the first week of April, so hurry and call 510-654-3582 or visit www.roleplay-workshop.com to sign up. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 4/19

WHAT, NO BUNNY?

Hint for kids eager to find as many eggs as possible at Saturday's Eggster Hunt & Learning Festival on the UC Berkeley campus: If it's not green, it's probably not grass, so therefore it's an egg! The search for cleverly hidden colored eggs isn't the only thing happening at the all-day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine) event held on the Strawberry Creek Lawn in front of the Valley Life Sciences Building. (See www.berkeley.edu for a campus map.) There are performances, arts and crafts, and games -- all free. And the money raised from "sponsored eggs" goes to Bay Area children's agencies. -- Kelly Vance

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