Managing Mr. Scrooge
The day Alden Vasquez decided "I couldn’t act" turned out to be a good day for The Goodman Theatre and its annual performance of "A Christmas Carol." The 51-year-old Chicagoan has been the stage manager for the production for 15 years.
What do you and your kids like to do in the winter?
"We try to go to the Oak Park Conservatory and the one in Chicago (Garfield Park Conservatory) is fun because we can just hop on the L. We love being on the train."
Help your kids give others a hand
Volunteering as a family makes a wonderful holiday tradition, but finding the best experience for your family might take some planning. Susan Norris, vice president of the volunteer center at chicagovolunteer.net, offers these tips:
If you live in the Chicagoland area, chances are you think you know the best educational kid-friendly attractions.
Create a family menorah
Every year we drive ourselves crazy trying to make the holidays special for our kids. We hit jam-packed malls looking for the latest, greatest toys, cook too much food and host too many parties. But what will our kids remember when the flurry of food and festivities is done?
Stories in the snow
Mix three people, one vision and a hunk of snow measuring 6-foot by 6-foot by 10-foot and over four days in January whimsical and serious works of art appear right before your eyes.
Ready to make like a polar bear and enjoy the cold weather on a winter island surrounded by water? Then dig out snowsuits, winter hats and gloves and bring the kids to Chicago’s Northerly Island for Polar Adventure Days.
The tools of the trade
Your kids will be ‘ew-ing,’ ‘oh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ as they view an iron lung, amputation saws and the "bone crusher," which was once used to break the bones of patients.
Museum free days
Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Taking it to the streets
Everybody knows those big burly bikers are really softies at heart. Especially on Dec. 2, when they hook dolls, games and toy cars to their motorcycles and parade down Western Avenue to deliver toys for needy kids.
Kids learn heritage through dance
Inspired by a middle school’s cultural days, a group of Darien parents borrowed a video from the library on Philippine dancing and decided to teach their kids the dance of their homeland.
Those boys can dance
Run. Throw. Catch. Tap? That’s right. Boys should now consider dance a valid athletic option. Despite its reputation as a "girl’s activity," dance classes are a healthy extracurricular activity, offering numerous benefits to boys, including improved athletic skills.
Peek behind the curtain
Although going to the opera sounds like an adult-only activity, the Student Backstage Tours with the Lyric Opera of Chicago are definitely kid friendly.
Jump right in
Jumping rope used to be a solitary sport—rhythmic and just a tad repetitive. No longer. Limp ropes swing into perfectly paired arches with the Illinois Double Dutch League where kids jump with hands, feet and everything they’ve got.
Play that packs more than a punch
What’s a good way to teach discipline? How about letting your kids throw left hooks and 13-punch combinations at their friends? With the Chicago Park District’s boxing program, kids train hard and play hard as they learn about commitment, discipline and confidence.
Take a walk on the wild side
Wild animals in need of a helping hand find a home at Willowbrook Wildlife Center.
Cold blood, warm hearts
When you enter Jim Nesci’s basement reptile museum, take care to look at more than just the animals in the glass-encased cages.
Bring on the glitter and glue
‘The mess and fun wrapped up in one" is one way owner Kathy Kent describes the Creative Learning Art Studio for Kids.
Fighting fire with fire safety
If your kid’s dream is to become a firefighter, why not let them sit behind the wheel of a fire engine and go on a search-and-rescue mission? Believe it or not, you can do just that.
Paddling with the manatees
Head to Daytona Beach, Fla., and chances are the only nature experience you’re seeking is the opportunity to lie back on the hard-as-concrete, sun-drenched beach while the kids splash in the water.
Kids can be spies in nation’s capitol
When I asked him if he wanted to go to Washington, D.C., his face brightened, his smile grew and he said "Can we go to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing?" Right then I knew this was not going to be a typical trip to D.C.
A dinosaur museum sized right for kids
Looking for a "just right" size museum, which will hold the interest of small children, bigger kids and adults, too? Drive a few miles north of the Illinois state line to Kenosha, Wis., and you’ll find just what you’re looking for. The Dinosaur Discovery Museum is kid-friendly, and it’s free.
Water fun in winter
Each January, my 5-year-old starts asking, "When are we going to Moose Mountain Falls?"
There really is more than corn in Indiana
Sharks, a carousel, a giant pig and Chihuly.