Top 10 April events for Chicago families

Step into spring this month with plenty of fun outdoors, new museum exhibits and more.

Earth Day Celebrations around Chicago

Are you ready to go a little green? It’s the month to celebrate the earth, and there are fun, family-friendly events all throughout Chicagoland.

National Robotics Week

Guests can interact with a number of robots including PARO, the furry baby seal therapy robot, and Sphero, the speedy robotic ball guests can control with an app. Demonstrations from university, after-school and hobbyist robotics teams will also take place. Robots designed by Chicago-area student and amateur teams will be on display, and guests can watch a live robotics competition. Other activities include make-your-own robot antenna, discover your robot name, and more.

Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art’s Día del Niño Health Walk & Family Festival

This free family festival is filled with interactive games, art activities, performances, wellness screenings and fitness. At 8 a.m., take the two-mile walk from the museum to the UIC Forum. Visit website for more information.

ReptileFest features hundreds of animals for visitors totouch, hold and look at. Experts are on hand to answer questionsabout reptiles and amphibians.


ReptileFest features hundreds of animals for visitors to touch, see, and hold. No animals are for sale. It’s a family-oriented event with lots of activities for kids. Experts are on hand to answer questions about reptiles and amphibians.

Laura Doherty CD Release Party

Celebrate the release of Laura’s third kids’ CD, In a Heartbeat.Laura and her band will play every song on the album and theaudience will see favorite characters, Domingo the Flamingo andJazzasaurus, appear as puppets. After the show, Laura signsCDs and meets fans.

This new outdoor exhibit opens April 27. Shedd staffmembers guide guests through the 15-minute touch experience, whileproviding interesting facts about stingrays, including informationabout how choosingsustainable seafoodprotects stingrays inglobal waters.

Stingray touch at Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium plans special stingray experience

There is nothing quite like the feel of a stingray glidingacross your fingertips and this spring, Shedd Aquarium will givemore Chicago families the chance to experience it first-hand in aspecial outdoor exhibit featuring about 40 cownose rays and yellowrays.

Stingray Touch opens April 27 in a tent on the aquarium’s southterrace.

“Shedd has a long history of caring for several species of raysthroughout our 83-year history, and they have always mesmerized ourguests. We wanted to nurture that natural interest by bringing theawe and beauty of these animals to them in an up-close andeducational way,” President and CEO Ted A. Beattie says in a newsrelease announcing the exhibit.

“Dipping your hand in the water, and running your fingers acrossthe slippery soft wing of a ray is an incredible experience.Stingray Touch creates the opportunity to learn about rays and gainan appreciation for our oceans and ecosystems through a meaningfulconnection with these animals,” he says.

The rays will be housed in an 18,000-gallon, 2 ½-foot deep pool.Visitors will get a 15-minute touch experience while Shedd staffshares information about the stingrays and the need to consume onlysustainable seafood to protect marine animals.

The exhibit runs until fall, weather permitting. Watch for more
information in the coming weeks.

Trees! An Arbor Day Art Workshop

Learn to appreciate the special parts of a tree and then learnto draw those parts – the leaves, the trunk, the branches and thebark. Sheila Cohen is creative artist and designer of IshkabibbleDesign Studio, and teaches art for children and design for adultsat Monart Drawing Studio.

The largest gluten free expo in the nation comes to SchaumburgApril 20-21, with almost 200 vendors. Families can try samples andeven buy products directly from vendors.

Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo

Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo coming to Chicago area this April

Last week I was named Babble’s Top 100 Food Mom Blogs in 2013. I really don’t want to
call myself this self-proclaimed “foodie” but I am.

I guess you can even say I am a “picky” eater too. This means Irarely touch foods that are bad for me. I am an “everything inmoderation” kind of gal. I do eat some form of chocolate daily andmy choice of fast food is my green smoothie that I whip in myVitamix.

Guten free has becoming a new food “trend” but I’ve been eatingthis way for over seven years now. I suffered from weeklymigraines, acid-reflux, fatigue, digestive issues, bloating,moodiness, and my libido was not there as it should havebeen. I was just tired of feeling tired and I wasn’t even 30 yearsold yet.

Someone suggested I go see this naturopathic medical doctor. Iwas approaching 30 and I wanted to get healthy before starting myfamily. After running her scan on me, she suggested a gluten, soyand dairy free diet. I followed her orders and began to feel betterwithin a month. Migraines, gone. Acid-reflux meds, done. Energylevels up and yes even got my mojo back. She told me not to starttrying for my family yet but when I went back 10 months later shesaid things were looking good and she gave me her blessing. Ninemonths later I had my daughter.

Being gluten-free seven years ago was not very exciting. I feltlike I was starving when I first went on the “diet.” Bread was likecardboard and pastries were dry. There were a few good things outthere, but I didn’t feel like eating cookies each time I wanted asweet treat. So I atereal food all of the time and reinventedmyself in the kitchen.

Five years ago, local mom JenCafferty felt the same way. She and her family were diagnosed
with gluten allergies. She didn’t mind cooking differently, but it
was finding treats for her kids that was challenging. As any food
allergy mom knows all too well, it is to help your kids feel

But what if there was an expo where you can sample all of thegluten free foods first before you bought them? I can’t tell youhow many times I bought something only to throw it out.

Jen began the Gluten Free andAllergen Free Expo recognizing this need to bring gluten free
and allergy free treats into the mouths of families. It also gives
companies an opportunity to showcase their products. She has the
largest gluten free expo in the nation, with almost 200 vendors,
many of which will sell their products right on the spot. This year
I am an official blogger for the expo, so be sure to follow me for the
latest and greatest in gluten and allergy free foods.

I have sampled so much that I have my favorites andrecommendations that I make to families I work with who are lookingto make a transition for health reasons. Whether their child fallson the spectrum or someone is struggling with infertility it isgreat knowing which products are going to suit their needs, budgetsand health program personally.

This year the expo is in Schaumburg on April 20-21. Please bewarned if you decide to go, NO strollers are allowed on Saturday.The crowds are that big, yes they are!

Wondering if the expo is for you? Check out my 5 reasons you should attend the Gluten Free and AllergenFree Expo for more info. This is a must-attend if you or
your loved ones suffers from food allergies or food sensitivities.
My best advice, take one bite of the sample and toss it. If you
can’t make up your mind in that first bite, then it is probably not
worth it.

For more health, food, fitness and cooking tips head on over tomy

This new exhibit, opening April 6, uses interactiveelements to help kids understand the links between prehistoriccreatures and animals of today.

Dinosaurs Alive! at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo’s Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit brings the prehistoric to life

Watch a video of some of the dinos at the bottom of thisarticle.

Dinosaurs and the animals at BrookfieldZoo may not seem to go together, but an exhibit that opens
Saturday at the zoo will help visitors understand the link between
prehistoric and modern animals.

Dinosaurs Alive! features a winding trail through the zoo with24 life-size animatronic prehistoric creatures that roar, move andthrash their tails. Shantungosaurus-the largest dinosaur to walk ontwo legs-stands at more than 20 feet tall and 50 feet long. Inaddition, the exhibit has a tent filled with the most recentpaleontological findings that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Thedino dig in the tent area lets kids dig through sand to find thebones buried below.

“We’re incorporating feathered dinosaurs, so visitors canunderstand the link between modern day birds,” says Andre Copeland,interpretive programs manager at the zoo. “The feathered dinosaursare going to be in a 5,000-square-foot tent and within this tent,there will be fossils to see, raptor talons, fossils that proveddinosaurs actually had feathers, and information on how scientistsfind this out.”

And, while the exhibits are educational, there’s also an elementof fun mixed in, Copeland says.

“We kind of spoofed how you might see dinosaurs if they werestill alive and in some of the tabloids, how TMZ or Discovery Kidsmight report this,” he says. “The factual information will besound, but these message points might connect more with teens andyoung adults.”

Although the dinos are large and the roars loud, the exhibitisn’t scary and should appeal to even young children.

Kite Fly

Fly kites, make bubbles and enjoy a special treat. Forthose who do not have a kite, learn how to make one.

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