Getting to Know the Genius Behind Disneyland


When her lolo and lola told her that we were celebrating her fifth birthday party in Disneyland, the Energizer Bunny was ecstatic! She started counting down months prior to our trip. She viewed and reviewed our photos from a previous visit. I knew she was really psyched, though, when she casually mentioned that we “study”  Disneyland.

Taking her cue from a Disneyland map that she got, I thought that we could just do some mapping skills to get ready for our trip.  Mariel suggested though that we get to know Walt Disney, the genius who had this vision of “the happiest place on earth.” I am so thankful that she did because our two weeks with Walt Disney made us appreciate our Disneyland vacation even more!


The Book


We anchored all our lesson topics on this wonderful biography chapter book by Whitney Stewart that I found in Fully Booked. Part of a series of biography books for children, it is simple enough for young kids to understand, without sacrificing content. In fact, the anecdotes are comparable to another Bible-thick biography book that I borrowed from my dad.

The Energizer Bunny was also thrilled to see funny caricatures of Walt throughout the book. We read a chapter or two at a time and then expounded on topics that was relevant to our family and our trip.



Walter Elias Disney, we learned, was the fourth of five children. He once lived in a farm in the town of Marceline, Missouri, which was the inspiration for Main Street, USA in all the Disneyland parks.

Using Melissa and Doug farm stickers, we made a farm scene and tried to imagine what it was like to live in a farm. The Energizer Bunny dictated a story about her farm picture, which I wrote on paper.



Disney was also very fond of trains, which is why Disneyland parks have trains around them. We read some simple facts about the trains in Hong Kong Disneyland (their names, colors, and cars) so we were quite excited to ride in it. Unfortunately, the trains were out of service during our visit.

Just the same, we had fun learning about different kinds of train cars and singing and dancing to our Kindermusik songs about trains. We also enjoyed reading, “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper, chanting the motto about perseverance (“I think I can, I think I can”).


Wall Drawings

Even as a young boy, Walt enjoyed drawing the most. Once, he and his younger sister Ruth found black tar in the backyard and thought it was paint. They were said to have drawn on the white walls of their home, much to their mother’s anger.  It is said that these first documented drawings of Walt can still be seen in his home.

Knowing how kids would love to draw on walls, too, I invited the Energizer Bunny to write on our garage wall using chalk. Weeks after, she still tells the story of how she drew on the walls, just like Disney.

Animation and the most famous mouse in history

What is a study about Walt Disney without the study of the history of animation? We spent a lot of time in this topic mainly because we really enjoyed taking a ride back in time to explore how cartoons were made and watching cartoons of old.

YouTube is an amazing resource for old videos, including original videos of Charlie Chaplin, which the Energizer Bunny found surprisingly funny, and was Walt Disney’s model for Mickey Mouse (big feet, shoes pointed out). Original Mickey Mouse clips, namely Plane Crazy (Mickey’s debut, and which was a big flop initially!) and Steamboat Willie (which made a dent in the animation scene as the first cartoon with sound and made Mickey and Walt Disney stars) can also be viewed there, as well as other Disney originals.

We compared the differences between the original and modern-day Mickey, from his looks to his character traits. Other noteworthy videos when studying Disney are Walt introducing Three Little Pigs,  Three Little Pigs from the Silly Symphony series, which was one of the first colored cartoons, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first ever full-feature cartoon.

Watching Plane Crazy, the first ever Mickey Mouse cartoon

Aside from viewing these interesting clips that paved the way for modern animation, we also made our very own cartoon. Energizer Bunny’s dad gamely made a flipbook about a boy playing with a ball. The Energizer Bunny saw how many drawings were needed to make this simple cartoon, making us appreciate Walter Disney’s genius even more.

As an apt ending to our discovery of animation’s history, we visited the Art of Animation gallery in Disneyland, which had all the movies that we enjoyed during our study; there was  also a flipbook of the original drawings of Cinderella. The most interesting part, however, was seeing the Zoetrope with the characters of Toy Story.  Watching it come to life was just plain amazing!



After Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney’s creative efforts were channeled into making an amusement park that the entire family could enjoy. He envisioned a clean place with rides and trains (of course!) where children and adult alike would be happy.

While Roy, his brother and business partner, was not quite sure how Walt Disney would pull off financing such a big project, the dream became a reality as the Disneyland parks that we now know and enjoy.


Roller Coasters

The Energizer Bunny and I took a look at the different lands and scenes that we would see in the park. We listed down the rides that she wanted to go to. We also explored how roller coasters work using a piece of tube and a small bead.

Her dad, who is in charge of science in our home, showed her how these rides were powered by sheer energy and gravity. We put loops in the tube and experimented on the correct angle and height for the bead to completed the “ride”.

Roller coaster experiment

Energizer Bunny waiting for the “roller coaster car” to complete the ride

To culminate our unit study, we put together a lapbook, which also serves as our album of the trip. A Mickey Mouse folder from our hotel room served as a perfect home for all our printables, lists, drawings, and pictures (as soon I get them printed).

Train cars printable from, Notebooking page created from template, Mickey Mouse template from

Towards the end of our trip, the Energizer Bunny casually asked me what I liked the most in Energizer-Bunny-land. I asked her what I would see there. “Rides and all my friends, of course, ” she replied. “And a museum too. A Walt Disney museum.”

And this, I think, sums up our take-away from one of our most enjoyable lessons – that Walter E. Disney was a great man who made his dreams and his visions come true.



The Legend of the Candy Cane

the legend of the candy cane

I used to see candy canes during Christmas time and wondered what it had to do with Christmas. I thought it was just another piece of commercialism and was, frankly, quite annoyed with it. It’s just sweet candy, right?

But that’s until I got hold of a copy of Lori Walburg’s The Legend of the Candy Cane. In the story, a little girl befriends a newcomer in town who is building a candy store.

the legend of the candy cane

As their friendship grows, the man tells her the story behind the candy cane – that it looks like a shepherd’s staff when right side up, but like a “J” for Jesus when it’s upside down. The red and white stripes have meaning too: red for the blood of Jesus and white for His sinless nature.

An Internet search brought my attention to a nice poem about it that goes like this:

the legend of the candy cane


Gift Idea and Free Download

If you’re having a hard time thinking of inexpensive and meaningful gifts for your child’s friends or classmates, how about some candy canes with a print out of the poem? You can download our printable gift tags for free here (big) and here (small).

It’s still candy, and the legend is still a legend, but at least, the candy cane now has a real Christmas connection… at least in our hearts!


Make magic!

Mariel Uyquiengco

Mathematics of Late Parenthood: Make Everyday Count

late parenthood

“Can I raise my child well? Can I face all the changes and challenges of motherhood?”

These were some of the questions that might have indirectly influenced my decision to delay my parenting journey. Being responsible for another one’s life sounded so tough and challenging for me.  Raising a child was definitely not on our to-do list during our early years as a couple.

I even remembered my standard answer when friends would ask me if I was already pregnant. I would always say, “Not yet. Darating tayo d’yan.”

I couldn’t determine what led me to have a sudden change of heart. Was I just being pressured because almost all my friends were dealing with preschool woes while I was still stuck with the same old issues? Or maybe I was also afraid of that biological clock quickly ticking away leaving me childless for the rest of my life?

I thought about these questions intently until I realized that it was my dearest husband and love of my life that gave me that positive longing to finally wish to be a mother.

He didn’t erase all my fears and questions but he made me feel that I am not alone in facing this great responsibility. This was enough for me to face parenthood with an open heart and mind. We will raise a happy child together.


When is the “perfect time”?

Just when we thought it was the perfect time for us to have a child, we had to struggle with APAS (Antiphospholipid Antibodies Syndrome), an autoimmune condition where my antibodies reject the life forming inside me. Life really has a unique way of showing our weaknesses and strengths at the same time.

It was one of the lowest points in our lives but also the best time for us to show our strength and courage as a couple.  Experiencing two miscarriages was devastating yet these trying moments gave us a certain hope that one day we will finally have our precious baby in our arms.

The perfect time came a few months before I turned 35.  We held our precious son in May 2011.


Mathematics of Late Parenthood

Let’s do some math. How old will my child be when I turn 50? He will be 15 and hopefully he will still find his mom “cool” enough to listen as he shares his first crushes and teenage problems with me.

Calculating our age gap may have been one of the “side effects” of late parenthood on me.   I have to face the reality that having children later in life also means lesser years together. So, instead of being afraid of this undeniable truth, I have to face this with a hopeful and happy heart.

A few days after my 38th birthday last September, I formulated my 3 #MakeEveryDayCount goals that I hope can stop me from adding and finding our age difference but make me multiply our happy times together as a family.

1)   Strive to be healthy all the time.

My son will always be my inspiration as I strive to be healthy. I need to be more focused and serious about having a healthy lifestyle (eating the right food and doing regular exercises). Every can of soda or bar of chocolate that I take increases my chances of getting diabetes early and therefore, cutting off healthy years I can spend with my son and family.

2)   Share your life story to your child.

I plan to share my life passions, advocacies, my closest friends and their children to my child as early as possible.  I want him to remember me not only from what we did together but also from what stories I shared with him.

I am amazed at how my siblings can still vividly recall all the stories my father told them. I learned a lot about my Tatay’s past jobs, friends and even his principles in life from their stories. I always thank them for making our Tatay’s memories and presence alive in our family.

Hopefully, this goal will also inspire me to make my life more meaningful and create more happy memories with my son.

3)   Build a library for your child.

This goal does not only mean collecting books for our children.  Building a library also means sharing more stories together and passing on life’s lessons to your children.

We live a simple life. Our love for life, others and learning are the only treasures we can give to our son. We hope that he will keep all our memories in his heart and mind. When the time comes for him to have his own children, he will share to them how we enjoyed reading and made every night memorable with our bedtime stories.


late parenthoodNadia is a blogger and social activist. She writes about her journey as a mother and advocacies in her blog, Nanay’s Trip. She also finds time to co-manage Maestro Rio Shop, a small digital printing business.