best-of-0709
Image: Cheryl Klotz

Polly-Glot Tots teaches preschoolers Japanese vocab and songs.

Family

Japanese Language Classes
POLLY
-GLOT TOTS
owner Tanya Knudsen teaches the French “easy immersion” classes she holds at community centers on both sides of Lake Washington, but her Japanese students are under the gentle tutelage of Mai ­DeBlieck. A trained preschool instructor, ­DeBlieck sweetly guides her preschool-age pupils (and their parents) through “Konnichiwa,” a Japanese greeting song; explores vocab using toy trucks and boats; then proceeds through an arts-and-crafts session and a Japanese version of Simon Says. Saucer-eyed and a little overwhelmed, her very small students don’t always let on how much they’re picking up, but you can feel the learning in the air. Polly-Glot Tots, www.pollyglottots.com

Asian Art Activity Room
Kids tend to behave at the art museum only when bribed with future gift shop bounty, but boredom isn’t part of the bargain at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In SAAM’s stimulus-stuffed HIMMELMAN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE ROOM, little people bend bright origami paper into cranes, dress up in shiny hanbok—traditional Korean robes—and make dragon marionettes dance behind a curtain of red chinoiserie. You can use the gift shop to get them to leave. Himmelman Educational Resource Room, Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E Prospect St, Capitol Hill, 206-654-3100; www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/visitsaam.asp

Japanese Tea Ceremony
Since 1981, Seattle’s branch of the URASENKE FOUNDATION has served up the spirituality and artistry of chado—Japan’s centuries-old formal tea ceremony—and as legal-beverage-consumption rituals go, it’s the closest you can get to sipping spiritual enlightenment from a cup. Kimono-garbed hosts whisk matcha green tea in a delicately choreographed presentation meant to quiet the soul and open a channel to higher consciousness. It’s a formal gathering—held weekly from February through November—so leave the jeans and sweatshirts at home. And reserve your tatami mat early: The tiny tearoom seats only 10. Urasenke Foundation, Washington Park Arboretum’s Japanese Garden, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd E, 206-684-4725; www.urasenkeseattle.org

English Tearoom
Ever since celebrating Mother’s Day at a teahouse 12 years ago, the Hale family—Dean, Susan, and their two daughters—dreamed of opening their own. By the time they were ready to make ELIZABETH AND ALEXANDER’S ENGLISH TEA ROOM a reality, daughter Sarah had married a Brit named Simon. (“Elizabeth and Alexander” comes from the couple’s middle names. “It sounded a lot more British than ‘Dean and Sue’s,’” says the patriarch.) With son-in-law as consultant, the Hales recreated a typical UK tearoom—chintzy china, cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches, and a room named after Winston Churchill—where families could snack on homemade crumpets, tartlets, and what may be the best scones in Seattle. (Ask for lemon curd.) Elizabeth and Alexander’s English Tea Room, 23808 Bothell Everett Hwy, Bothell, 425-489-9210; www.e-a-englishtearoom.com

Global Culture for Kids
Puppets, storytelling, West African drumming: Every week since 2007, THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM has invited well-traveled performers to swing through on Cultural Sundays and teach youngsters a thing or two about the world’s wide web of arts and entertainment. It’s an under-10 educational party, but parents are welcome—because even if your gray matter is a little, well, grayer, you’re never too old to learn something new. The Children’s Museum, 305 Harrison St, seattle center, 206-441-1768; www.thechildrensmuseum.org

Spanish Variety Show
Inspired by Latin American folktales, CAPA DE CUENTOS follows protagonist Clarita on a search for the soul of her deceased grandfather. Along the way she meets three people—a campesino, an artisan, and a florist—who teach her how to “feel close to someone even when they’re not physically here,” says Elspeth Savani, who created this bilingual children’s play with her husband David Trejo. Staged at libraries around King County all summer long, the multimedia performance employs guitars, percussion, singing, acting, and puppets. “You can be monolingual and understand it,” says Savani. “We use dialogue tricks, with characters asking questions that recap what the previous speaker said.” Capa de Cuentos, www.elspethsavani.com/Calendar.htm

Korean Tae Kwon Do for Kids
Call it a history of nonviolence: Grandmaster Jae Hun Kim studied under the founding father of modern tae kwon do, helped build the United States Taekwondo Union (now USA Taekwondo), and coached the U.S. national team in 1979. So who better to make mini martial artists out of Seattle’s tykes? Open since 2005, the JAE H. KIM TAE KWON DO INSTITUTE teaches the character-building virtue of an indomitable spirit and preaches the power of a killer roundhouse kick. But with a great riding-stance punch comes great responsibility: All young students (adult classes are also available) must promise to use their new butt-kicking skills for good, not evil. Jae H. Kim Tae Kwon Do, 1900 N 45th St, Wallingford, 206-632-2535; www.tkd-seattle.com

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