Activities for families and kids Barber and Oberwortmann Horticultural Center 227 N. Gougar Rd., Joliet (815) 741-7278 www.jolietpark.org Ages: Families
Adjacent to the Bird Haven Greenhouse in Pilcher Park, the horticultural center features a multi-purpose room, resource center, kitchen, gift shop and a covered deck. Events: Bring mom to a special Mother’s Day Brunch from 10-11 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m. Afterwards, take a stroll among the flowers. Admission: $20, $11 kids 4-12, free 3 and under.
The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn 9600 E. Shore Dr., Oak Lawn (708) 423-6709 www.cmoaklawn.org Ages: 2-10 (recommended)
This favorite spot has water tables, kite flying and a puppet playhouse. Events: "Teaching with Tales," 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesdays. May Day basket making on May 6. Free admission for everyone, especially moms, on May 13. National Backyard Games week May 24-27, come play hopscotch and jump rope outside. Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Call ahead for daily updates. Admission: $3.50, $3 ages 1-16, free under 1.
C.W. Avery Family YMCA 15120 Wallin Dr., Plainfield (815) 267-8600 www.jolietymca.org
Galowich Family YMCA 749 Houbolt Rd., Joliet (815) 744-3939
Smith Family YMCA 1350 S. Briggs St., Joliet (815) 726-3939 Ages: Families
All three YMCAs feature an indoor pool, a gymnasium and fitness equipment, as well as special classes and swimming instruction all year. Purchase a membership or pay a daily fee. Once a month, each Y hosts a family night. Events at the Plainfield Y: Snorkeling for kids 6-14 is available from noon to 1 p.m. May 13; $60, $50 for members. From 6:30-8:30 p.m. on May 19, bring your kids to a "fun in the sun" themed night. The Y will provide pool activities, games, arts and crafts and snacks. Also, from 4-5:30 p.m. on May 19, sign up for the water polo clinic for ages 6-14. The class costs $20 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Call for more activities.
Gymboree Learning Center 9255 W. 159th St., Orland Hills (708) 364-0309
The learning center has 45 pieces of specially designed, child-sized equipment. The center offers parent-child classes that aim to develop the whole child. Events: Decorate a planting pot and fill it with flowers at the Mother’s Day springtime theme party from 3:30-5 p.m. on May 13. A light snack and refreshment will be served. For kids 14 months-5 years. $2, $20 per child. Preview the parent-infant program and participate in sensory exploration, infant massage, and visual and auditory skill development at 2 p.m. on May 13 and 20. Appointment required. Free. Learn the benefits of using baby sign language at this workshop. The class includes a parent kit with products to help you start signing. 7-8:30 p.m. on May 17 and 2-3:30 p.m. May 20. Register before May 16. Birth-3. $50, $10 per additional adult in the same family.
Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center 20000 Western Ave., Olympia Fields (708) 481-2330 www.ironsoaks.com Ages: Families
This recreational center offers a variety of hiking trails and nature-based activities. Events: Native plant sale on May 13 will include wild petunias, tall bell flowers and butterfly weeds. Admission: Free.
Joliet Area Historical Museum 204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet (815) 723-5201 www.jolietmuseum.org Ages: Families
Bring the past to life through interactive displays at this museum. Events: Mom gets in free on Mother’s Day, and everyone gets in free from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 20, International Museum Day. To celebrate, the museum will offer face painting, Hula Hoop games and photo opportunities. While you’re there, you can check out the special exhibit, "Sideshow Stoppers," a display of 19th and 20th century circus prints and posters. Admission: $5, $4 students and seniors, $3 kids 4-7, free 3 and under.
Lake Katherine Nature Centerand Botanic Gardens 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights (708) 361-1873 www.palosheights.org/lake/ Ages: Families
This nature preserve has 3½ miles of trails. The Frank Passarelli Nature Center is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. The preserve is open daily dawn to dusk. Events: Eight special programs for kids and families are available in May. The "May Hayride and Campfire" is at 7 p.m. May 19. $8. During the "Baby Animals" class, participants take a walk in search of baby ducks and geese, hear stories, make a craft and sing songs. 10 a.m. May 20 and 25, and 10:30 a.m. May 26. Call ahead for details on the other programs and to sign up in advance. $4, $3 residents.
Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve 23144 W. Renwick Rd., Plainfield (815) 436-1274 (815) 727 8700 (after hours) www.fpdwc.org Ages: Families
The preserve is open from 8 a.m.-noon, starting May 6. The program guides offer insight about the five species of birds that nest at the lake. Events: Starting May 3, view hundreds of nesting pairs of birds raising their chicks at Lake Renwick. Educational programs led by naturalists are offered from 10-11 a.m. every Wednesday. Admission: Free.
Lions Community Center 1 W. Manor Dr., New Lenox (815) 485-3584 www.newlenoxparks.org Ages: Families
This main building for the New Lenox Park District houses classes, offices and is the place to register for activities. Events: Make a special gift for Mom from 9-10 a.m. on May 13. Each child creates a special gift to put in a decorated bag. Register by May 5. Admission: $16.
McCarthy Park 16801 S. 80th Ave., Tinley Park (708) 342-4200 www.tinleyparkdistrict.org Ages: Families
This park has five professional batting cages and an 18-hole miniature golf course. Events: Ride the safety course and register your bike at the annual bike rodeo from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 6 in the McCarthy Park parking lot. Admission: Free.
Moraine Valley Community College 9000 W. College Pkwy., Palos Hills (708) 974-5500 (box office) www.morainevalley.edu Ages: Families
Events: Go on a jungle adventure with the Alphabet Soup’s production of Rudyard Kipling’s "The Jungle Book" at the Dorothy Menker Theater at 11 a.m. May 13. Admission: $8, $6 for kids.
Oak Lawn Ice Arena 9320 S. Kenton Ave., Oak Lawn (708) 857-5173 www.olparks.com Ages: Families
Events: The spring skating show from 6-9 p.m. on May 19 is an exhibition of Oak Lawn skaters in Learn To Skate classes. Admission is free. Open skate hours are 8:30-10 p.m. Friday, and 1:30-2:50 p.m. Sunday. $6, $5 for kids. $2.50 skate rental.
Perry Farm Park 459 N. Kennedy Dr., Bourbonnais (815) 933-9905 www.btpd.org Ages: Families
This 170-acre park has four miles of walking trails. Events: Treat your furry friend to "Dog Day" from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 21. Includes a doggy costume contest, treat hunt, obstacle course and dog supplies vendors. Check the park district Web site for various kids classes and programs. Admission: $1.
Pilcher Park Nature Center 227 N. Gougar Rd., Joliet (815) 741-7278 www.jolietpark.org Ages: Families
The nature center offers miles of scenic trails, playground areas and picnic spots. Events: Wear your wings when you come to the "Fairy Festival" from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on May 6. Participants will go on a fairy flower walk, discover fairy food and make enchanted crafts such as a magic wand. Admission: $4
Rialto Square Theatre 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet (815) 726-6600 www.rialtosquare.com Ages: 2-5
Events: "Dora the Explorer Live! Dora’s Pirate Adventure" at 4 and 7 p.m. May 12. Admission: $15.50-$42.50.
Stony Creek Golf Course 5850 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn (708) 857-2433 www.olparks.org
Events: Sign up for a free 15-minute lesson with a professional golfer during Play Golf America’s Free Lesson Month. All ages. Call for specific dates and times. Reservations are required. Also, kids ages 8-12 can participate in the youth skills challenge during the Stony Creek open house at 1 p.m. May 13. No registration necessary, but bring your own equipment. Winners qualify to go to the sectional level, finalists will go to the PGA championship. Admission: Free.
Tinley Park Public Library 7851 Timber Dr., Tinley Park (708) 532-0160 www.tplibrary.org
Local public libraries can be a great resource for family activities. Events: "Make It For Mom," from 7-7:45 p.m. May 8, lets kids ages 5-7 make a present for mom. "Moms and Tots Special" for ages 2-4, stories, songs and a treat to celebrate Mother’s Day, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. May 9. Play with wolf pups from the Big Run Wolf Ranch from 7-8 p.m. May 10. At 7 p.m. May 11, kids can invite their parents to a special program. "Family Pajamarama" from 7-7:45 p.m. May 12 for ages 2-7 and their parents. Author Kevin Luthardt visits to talk about his books, his ideas and his drawing style with 5- to 11-year-olds at 7 p.m. May 18. Activities are available only for families with valid Tinley Park or Orland Hills library cards. Call in advance to register. Admission: Free.
Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center 8125 W. 171st St., Tinley Park (708) 342-4200 www.tinleyparkdistrict.org Ages: 5-10
The rec center features an indoor track and basketball court. Events: Decorate your bike at home, and show it off in the parade at the bike decorating contest from 10-11 a.m. May 13. Judging will take place during the parade. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in each age group. Admission: $11. $7 residents.
Support for parents
Chicago Area Families for Adoption (CAFFA) 1212 S. Naper Blvd., Ste. 119, Naperville (630) 585-4680 www.caffa.org
CAFFA provides information, support, networking opportunities and activities for adoptive parents and parents interested in adopting. Informational meetings are held monthly. Call or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Annual membership is $40 and includes a monthly newsletter, e-mail updates and discounted events.
Good Shepherd Center for Exceptional Children 17314 Kedzie Ave., Hazel Crest (708) 335-0020, (708) 351-TOYS
Parents can arrange for trained Lekotek staff to visit their home with a therapeutic toy library adapted specifically to meet their child’s needs. Call Mary Ellen McLoughlin, (708) 351-TOYS, to schedule a session. Good Shepherd’s Respite Service provides professional caretakers trained to handle disabled children. Contact Dawn Dixon, (708) 335-0020, ext. 22. Other services include an integrated preschool for ages 3 and under and an autism lending library. $5 donation requested, scholarships are available.
Governors State Smart Start Program 1 University Pkwy., University Park (708) 235-7330 www.govst.edu/sas/t_hb.asp?id=2978
Smart Start is dedicated to keeping families connected and giving children a strong foundation through fun and educational events. Parent-child play groups, family activities and early childhood classes available. Call for details.
Mothers and More Crest Hill Library 1298 Theodore St., Crest Hill (630) 941-3553 for the national group (815) 828-0618 local www.mothersandmore.org www.jolietmothersandmore.com
This nonprofit group works to improve the lives of mothers by offering support, education and advocacy. South suburban moms meet at Crest Hill Library Community Room. 6:45-8:45 p.m. the first Monday and third Wednesday of each month. (No children please.) This month’s seminars are on organization and time management on May 1, and crafting with your kids on May 17. Annual membership: $45.
Parent and Child Education and Support Organization (PACES) P.O. Box 13, Lombard (630) 835-4111 www.pacesmoms.com
PACES offers support for parents of children from birth-5 years through play groups, parenting seminars, workshops, babysitting co-ops and social outings. Annual membership: $32. The south suburban branch meets the third Tuesday of each month at Life Church in Palos Heights. Childcare is provided. Call Victoria Hamel, (708) 598-9415, to register. $2 meeting fee for non members, free for members. From 5-7:30 p.m. on May 6 PACES is hosting a toddler barn dance at Arabian Knights, 6526 Clarendon Hills Rd., Willowbrook. All ages. $10, $8 members. Free, 1 and under.
South Suburban Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Riverdale Community Resource Center 13725 S. Wabash Ave., Riverdale (708) 841-7054
Grandparents raising grandchildren from birth to age 18 are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, joys and frustrations at this support group. Refreshments and free childcare provided. 10 a.m.-noon, Mondays. Specialized parenting skills training is also available for grandparents and other second-time parents. Call Merna Watkins at (708) 308-3849 for more information.
University of Illinois Extension 5527 Miller Circle Dr., Suite C, Matteson (708) 720-7520 http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/cooksouth/kids.html
Family Life Extension Educators teach no-cost or low-cost courses on family issues throughout the year. Call for admission information. Ask for Giesela Grumbach or Betty Barsley-Marra.
Young Single Parents Inc. 16050 Centennial Circle, Tinley Park (708) 293-0051 www.youngsingleparents.org
Young Single Parents Inc. provides instant networks for divorced, separated, widowed or unwed parents. The group meets at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and additional adult and family activities are available each month. Events: Fishing Trip Picnic at Tampier Lake, 131st Street and Wolf Road, Tinley Park, noon, May 21. Call Linda to register and for more information. Admission: $5 per family.