Barber and Oberwortmann Horticultural Center 227 N. Gougar Rd., Joliet (815) 741-7278 www.jolietpark.org
Fall Paw Fest will be held 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 1. The event kicks off with a two-mile dog walk in Pilcher Park. All dogs must be on leashes, with current vaccinations. After the walk, kids can watch animal demonstrations and contests in the park. Registration for the dog walk starts at 8:30 a.m. Fee for the dog walk is $25. Sponsor sheets and registration are available by calling the Will County Humane Society at (815) 741-0695, or the horticultural center at (815) 741-7278 ext. 104.
Bronzeville Children's Museum Evergreen Plaza Shopping Center Corner of 96th Street and Western Avenue Chicago (708) 636-9504 www.bronzevillechildrensmuseum.com
Be sure to catch the Happy Hauntings Halloween Film Festival, 1 p.m. Oct. 31. Each child receives a Halloween treat. Kids 3-9. Free.
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
All three YMCAs feature an indoor pool, a gymnasium, fitness equipment, special classes and year-round swimming instruction for families. Purchase a membership or pay a daily fee. Upcoming events include a hayride and movie under the stars, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Galowich location. Game night, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Smith location. Pool time adventures run 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Galowich location and 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Smith location. Call for hours and admission prices.
Frankfort Country Market Oak and Kansas streets, Frankfort www.frankfortcountrymarket.org
This open-air market along the bike path in downtown Frankfort features kid activities in the Munchkin Market from noon-2 p.m. Munchkin Market is for supervised children ages 3-8 and is free. The market runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. every Sunday through Oct. 15.
Grassroots Homeschoolers St. Paul's Lutheran Church6203 W. Vollmer Rd., Matteson (708) 672-5229 www.grassrootshomeschoolers.com
This group offers social support and an educational program for homeschooling families. Noon-2:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 18. Bring a lunch. For more information, call Laura at (708) 672-5229 or Arlene at (708) 720-1637.
Homewood Public Library 17917 Dixie Hwy., Homewood (708) 798-0121 www.homewoodlibrary.org
Check out the reading program, Patch Club (runs through May 2007). Stop by the youth services desk to register and find out how you can earn patches. Monthly raffle drawings will be held Oct. 2, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. Tot time storyhour is a lap-sit program for 2- to 3-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, until Oct. 25. Parents must accompany children. Preschool storyhour is designed for ages 3-5. Runs 9:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday until Oct. 25, and 6:30 p.m. Thursday until Oct. 26. Other story hours are available; call for more information.
Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center 2453 Vollmer Rd., Olympia Fields (708) 481-2330 www.ironsoaks.com
Search for pumpkins on the trails during the Woodland Pumpkin Hunt and then bring them back to paint, 2-4 p.m. Oct 8, 9-11 a.m. and noon-2 p.m. Oct. 9. Strollers are not recommended on the hike. $15 per child/pumpkin, $11 residents. Make a scarecrow during the Prairie Scarecrow Contest, 1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Supplies are included. Registration required for all events. Meet in the parking lot on Vollmer Road.
Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights (708) 361-1873 www.palosheights.org/lake
This nature preserve has 3.5 miles of trails. The Frank Passarelli Nature Center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. The preserve is open dawn to dusk daily.
Lion's Community Center 1 W. Manor Dr., New Lenox (815) 485-3584 www.newlenoxparks.org
Come to the Halloween carnival, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 28. Parade and costume contest will be held at noon at the Performing Arts Pavilion. Event includes carnival rides. All-day, unlimited-ride wristbands available for $20. Call (815) 485-1737 for more information.
Matteson Public Library 801 S. School St., Matteson (708) 748-4431 ext. 13 www.matteson.lib.il.us
The Matteson Public Library offers story hours for all ages. Right Start Stories for ages 3 and under is 10:30-11 a.m. Tuesday, starting Oct. 3. Pre-K Tale Time for 3- to 5-year olds is 10:30-11 a.m. Thursday, starting Oct. 5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No registration is required. Free.
For kids 3-10, join in the fun at Columbus Day Tale Time, 10:30-11 a.m. Oct. 9. Kids ages 7-11 can come to "Grossology" to get in the mood for Halloween, 2-3 p.m. Oct. 21. Registration is required. Free.
Oak Lawn Park District 4625 W. 110th St., Oak Lawn (708) 857-2200 www.olparks.com
Kids ages 3-10 can join in the fun at Spookview Halloween Happening, 3-7 p.m. Oct. 21. Features ghoulish games, crafts, spook scare stations, creature feature movies and freaky food. A Halloween costume parade starts at 2:45 p.m. Kids who want to march in the parade should arrive at 2:30 p.m. Weather permitting, there will be ghost stories around the campfire at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Activity fees range from 50 cents to $2.
Perry Farm Park 459 N. Kennedy Dr., Bourbonnais (815) 933-9905 www.btpd.org
A Day in Sleepy Hollow, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 14, features a costume contest, Halloween egg hunt, hayrides, a storyteller and more. $6 per person. Families.
Pilcher Park Nature Center 2501 Highland Park Dr., Joliet (815) 741-7277
Take hikes, make leaf creatures or join in music workshops, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 14. Families. Free. Spend an evening around the campfire enjoying classic tales and folk legends. Then take a night hike through the woods. 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Families. $5.
Plainfield Public Library 705 N. Illinois St., Plainfield (815) 436-6639 www.plainfield.lib.il.us
Professional storyteller Leanne Johnson tells tales about Christopher Columbus as a boy and other stories, 11 a.m.-noon Oct. 6. Free. Families. Registration required.
The Children's Museum of Oak Lawn 9600 E. Shore Dr., Oak Lawn (708) 423-6709 www.cmoaklawn.org
Enjoy autumn crafts and activities, food, music and games at the Harvest Home Festival, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 7. Children can wear costumes to the museum's Halloween party, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 21. Kids can trick-or-treat along the holiday hike, 10 a.m. Oct. 28. The hike will go from the museum to the site of its new location. This is a fundraiser for the new museum, so children get sponsors to participate. Call for more information or for the museum's regular hours and admission. Events are recommended for ages 2-10.
Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center 8125 W. 171st St., Tinley Park (708) 342-4200 www.tinleyparkdistrict.org
Enjoy games, crafts, treats and storytelling for ages 2-3, 11 a.m.-noon Oct. 13. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $15, $10 residents. Celebrate Halloween with crafts, treats and games, 4-5 p.m. (ages 3-4) and 5:15-6:15 p.m. (ages 5-7) Oct. 13. $15, $10 residents. Haunted Halloween Happenings, featuring games, ghost stories, face painting, a creepy candy walk and a haunted house, takes place noon-3 p.m. Oct. 28. Participants receive a free Halloween bag, taffy apple and prizes. Costumes are optional. Ages 12 and under. Free.
Fossil Ridge Public Library District 386 W. Kennedy Rd., Braidwood (815) 458-2187 www.fossilridge.org
Storytime for children ages 3-5 is available 6-6:30 p.m. Monday and 9:15-9:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Support for parents
Chicago Area Families for Adoption 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. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (8697)
Parents can arrange for trained Lekotek staff to visit their home with a therapeutic toy library to meet their child's needs. A $5 donation is requested and scholarships are available. Call Mary Ellen McLoughlin or Dawn Dixon to schedule a session. Good Shepherd's Respite Service provides professional caretakers trained to handle disabled children. Services include an integrated preschool for ages 3 and under and an autism lending library.
Governors State Smart Start Program 1 University Pkwy., University Park (708) 235-7330 www.govst.edu/sas/t_hb.asp?id=2978
The Smart Start program is dedicated to keeping families connected and giving children a strong foundation through educational events. Smart Start offers parent-child play groups, family activities and early childhood classes. There are openings in the half-day and full-day pre-kindergarten programs for the fall. Call for a monthly calendar of events for parent/child activities.
Mothers and More Crest Hill Library 1298 Theodore St., Crest Hill (630) 941-3553 (national) (815) 828-0618 (Joliet chapter) www.mothersandmore.org www.jolietmothersandmore.com
This nonprofit group provides a nationwide network of local chapters working to improve the lives of mothers by offering support, education and advocacy. South suburban moms can meet with the Joliet chapter in the Crest Hill Library Community Room, 6:45-8:45 p.m., the first Thursday and third Wednesday of each month. No children, please. The chapter also offers Moms' Nights Out, a book club, a cooking club and children's activities. Annual membership is $45.
Parent and Child Education and Support Organization P.O. Box 13, Lombard (630) 835-4111 www.pacesmoms.com
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 is $32. The south suburban branch meets at the Life Church, 6600 W. 127th St., in Palos Heights. Childcare is provided. Call for meeting times.
Parents Anonymous of Chicago and Uhlich Children's Advantage Network 10046 S. Western Ave., Chicago (773) 429-9316 www.parentsanonymous.org www.ucanchicago.org
Parents Anonymous is the nation's oldest child abuse prevention organization, dedicated to the tradition of compassion, renewal and innovation. Free parent support groups meet weekly to discuss a variety of parenting issues. Calumet City offers chapters for teen parents and Spanish speakers. Free childcare is provided. To find a meeting in your area, call Tonya Gaddis at (773) 429-9316 or e-mail email@example.com.
South Suburban Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Riverdale Community Resource Center 13725 S. Wabash Ave., Riverdale (708) 841-7054
Every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon, grandparents raising grandchildren from birth to age 18 are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, joys and frustrations at this support group meeting. Refreshments are served. Free childcare is provided. Specialized training is available for grandparents and second-time parents. Call Myrna Watkins-Thompson at (708) 308-3849.
University of Illinois Extension 4801 Southwick Dr., Ste. 100, Matteson (708) 720-7520, (708) 481-0111 web.extension.uiuc.edu/cook/kids.html
Family Life Extension Educators teach no-cost or low-cost noncredit courses on family issues throughout the year. Past classes have addressed couples' relationships, family communication and parenting themes. Call Giesela or Betty for details on events.
Young Single Parents Inc. South Chapter, Centennial Lanes 16050 Centennial Circle, Tinley Park (708) 802-0804 Southwest Chapter, Koppermill Bar and Grill Corner of Wolf Road and 159th Street Orland Park
Young Single Parents Inc. is a support and social organization for divorced, separated, widowed or never-been-married parents between 21 and 50 years old. It offers weekly club nights and various family events throughout the month. For more information, check the Web site at www.youngsingleparents.org.