From Snakes to Skates, Some Topics Never Die


The old saying, "Yesterday's newspaper is only good for wrapping fish," is not always true.

Some news stays news.

The person who invented the refrigerator magnet certainly had noticed that people clip and save news items for future consideration.

So was there any news reported in this year's For Kids column that will continue to attract interest in 1997? Topics such as schools, skating (on ice or boards or in-line), screens (TV or computer) and even snakes stay in the minds of many young people year in and year out.

Here are a few updates on activities in the county that might continue to interest kids in your household. We include phone numbers and addresses, so go ahead and post them on the fridge.



Meetings of the Southwestern Herpetologists Society take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the North Hollywood Recreational Center, 11430 Chandler Blvd., (818) 764-6124 or (818) 367-0864. After this column pointed out that children might enjoy attending the society's annual two-day reptile show in October, the organizers reported that mobs of kids dragged their parents to the event. The adults may have cringed, but no one fainted.

Another weekly herpetological event takes place at 1 p.m. Saturdays at Placerita Canyon Nature Center. Naturalists beckon visitors to "come see snakes, tortoises [and other animals] up close and personal while learning about their lifestyle and behavior." The center is at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. For more information, call (805) 259-7721.



Most parents are proud when their children announce they want to go to college. And then comes the shocking discovery: the cost of a university education.

The beginning of the year is one of the regular times when families should begin dealing with the issue. To get scholarship and loan money, kids should sit down with their parents and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Get the FAFSA form from a school counselor or by calling (800) 4-FED AID. You can't mail it in until Jan. 1, but you should do so way before the March deadline. Experts say early applicants have a better chance of getting the funding they seek.



A fast-growing skating sport for kids in the Valley is ice hockey team play. A Beginners' Youth Hockey League for kids of all ages competes at Pickwick Ice Center, 1001 Riverside Drive, Burbank, (818) 846-0035. For the more advanced player, there's the California Golden Bears, a traveling youth hockey team program, which plays at rinks throughout the area. For more information, call (818) 840-6858.



Computers and televisions offer flickering, seductive windows on other worlds. They thrill parents when kids watch "Sesame Street" or play educational software, but become major headaches when kids are found mimicking Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or downloading Doom games.

For computer families, a nifty way to get kids on the right path in cyberspace is to hand them the Internet Kids Yellow Pages, a $19.95 book similar to the phone book.

This Osborne/McGraw-Hill publication is available at Ventura County bookstores or by calling (800) 262-4729. It's a fun read (check out the stuff on geckos, for instance) and may provide a degree of reassurance to parents who fear there's nothing but naughty stuff on the Web.

The contents are kept up to date via the Internet by the book's author, Jean Polly,

For families trying to find and stick to a healthy TV habit (no, that's not a contradiction), there's Better Viewing, at $9.97 a bargain of a magazine. It comes out bimonthly and gives detailed advance notice of shows worth watching, which is especially useful to kids who have mastered the trick of using the TV for fun and picking up information they can use on competitive tests such as the SAT. Call (800) 216-2225 for subscription information.

Concerning the TV ratings, a topic often raised in this column in 1996, Valley parents and kids will have the opportunity to observe a public debate next month. Kids--the presumed party at risk from TV depictions of violence, sex and obscene language--were never invited to the table when the new ratings were discussed. You may be interested in what a crew of feisty, flinty-eyed 11-year-olds thinks about the TV and cable industries' plan to let parents automatically prevent viewing of certain TV shows via an electronic gizmo called the V-chip.

Oakwood School in North Hollywood will hold two debates among its eighth-graders at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Jan. 23. Both sessions are open to the public. David Silverberg, a social science teacher in charge of the event, says: "I think kids have better judgment [about TV] than their parents. The debates should lead to discussions that should rightly be taking place in the family living room in 1997."

Oakwood School is at 11600 Magnolia Blvd. For information, call Silverberg at (818) 752-4400.

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