Places and resources in your neighborhood

Activities for families and kids


South suburban resource guide

The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn 9600 E. Shore Dr., Oak Lawn (708) 423-6709 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. Kids have fun with weekly storytelling activities. Board games day 1 p.m., April 15. Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Call ahead for daily updates. Admission: $3.50, $3 ages 1-16, free under 1.

Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center 20000 Western Ave., Olympia Fields (708) 481-2330 Ages: Families This recreational center offers a variety of hiking trails and nature-based activities. Events: Recycle Regatta, for ages 7 and older, 10-11:30 a.m. April 22. For ages 7 and older. Make boats out of recycled objects and then race them to win prizes. All materials provided. Admission: $10 residents, $15 nonresidents.

Jerald S. Galowich YMCA 749 Houbolt Rd., Joliet (815) 744-3939 Ages: Families and kids ages 4-10 (recommended) Along with fitness programs for both adults and kids, this Y holds family nights one Friday each month. Call for more activities and admission.

Lake Katherine Nature Preserve 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights (708) 361-1873 Ages: Families This nature preserve has 3½ miles of trails. For families in the south suburbs, it’s one of the best places to enjoy nature. 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 nature preserve is open daily dawn to dusk.

Tinley Park Public Library 7851 Timber Dr., Tinley Park (708) 532-0160 Local public libraries can be a great resource for family activities. Events: Family Pajamarama, for ages 2 to 7 with a parent/guardian, 7-7:45 p.m. April 7. Berenstein Bear will make an appearance at this pajama party. Movies at the Library for ages 8 to 11, 6:30 p.m. April 19. Come watch "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit." Activities are available only for families with valid Tinley Park or Orland Hills library cards. Call to register. Admission: Free.

Support for parents

Chicago Area Families for Adoption (CAFFA) 1212 S. Naper Blvd., Ste. 119, Naperville (630) 585-4680 CAFFA provides information, support, networking opportunities and activities for adoptive parents and parents interested in adopting. Informational meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month. Call or e-mail 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. $5, free for low-income families. Call Mary Ellen McLoughlin, (708) 351-TOYS, to schedule a session. Good Shepherd’s Respite Service provides professional baby-sitters 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.

Governor’s State Smart Start Program 1 University Pkwy., University Park (708) 235-7330 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 are just some of the programs Smart Start offers. Call for details.

Mothers and More P.O. Box 31, Elmhurst (630) 941-3553 for the national group (815) 828-0618 local 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.) Annual membership: $45.

Parent and Child Education Society (PACES) P.O. Box 13, Lombard (630) 835-4111 PACES offers support for parents of children from birth to age 5 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, free members. For infant play groups in Palos Heights, Orland Park, Frankfort and neighboring communities e-mail Dawn Mack,

Parents Anonymous of Chicago and Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network 10046 S. Western Ave., Chicago (773) 429-9307 Free parent support groups meet weekly to discuss all types of parenting issues. Calumet City offers chapters for teen parents and Spanish speakers. Free childcare is provided. For more information or to find a meeting in your area, call Tonya Gaddis, (773) 429-9326.

South Suburban Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Riverdale (call for exact location) (708) 308-3849 Grandparents raising grandchildren from birth to age 18 are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, joys and frustrations at this support group. Refreshments are served and free childcare is provided. 10 a.m.-noon, Mondays. Call: Merna Watkins, (708) 308-3849, for the location.

University of Illinois Extension 5527 Miller Circle Dr., Matteson (708) 720-7520 Family Life Extension Educators teach free courses on family issues throughout the year. Free admission. Call Giesela Grumbach or Betty Barsley-Marra.

Young Single Parents Inc. (708) 802-0804 Young Single Parents Inc. provides instant networks for divorced, separated, widowed or unwed parents. Call to register for all events and fees. Includes a south chapter and a new southwest chapter just forming in Orland Park.

Kids Eat Chicago

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