3 Chicago events to rack up kids’ cool points

September means back to school, the best time to make classmates green with envy over summer adventures. Kid’s list a little lackluster? You’ve got plenty of time to check out these impressive events–sure to collect some serious playground cred.

“Unhinged” at the Chicago Sinfonietta

If “the symphony” conjures up images of stuffy and blue-haired patrons, prepare to be surprised by what the Chicago Sinfonietta has in store for your family with “Unhinged.” Anderson& Roe, classmates at Juilliard and deemed “the most dynamic piano duo of this generation,” have been blowing up the Billboard Classical Charts and YouTube channels alike with their Emmy-nominated style which combines Coldplay, Gershwin, Michael Jackson and more. And for two nights, they’ll team up with lauded piano prodigy Clayton Stephenson for a wild ride of two keyboards (including a floor one!) being played by six hands. Planning on bringing children with music in their blood–and wiggly hands? During pre-show and intermission, the audience is welcome to play every last instrument in sight.

September 17 and 19, 2016

JourneyMaker at the Art Institute of Chicago

Your kids have never before explored the Art Institute quite like this; the new JourneyMaker exhibit lets kid (or kid-at-heart) visitors create highly customizable, highly fun tours throughout the museum. Located in the Modern Wing’s David and Marilyn Fatt Vitale Family Room (and soon to be available online), the JourneyMaker touch screens start visitors off with their choice of eight museum adventures: Strange and Wild Creatures; Superheroes; Time Travelers; Let’s Play; Wild Style; Museum Sleepover; Lines; Shapes and Colors; and Extreme and Extraordinary. Fun prompts along the way help choose specific works of art to seek out and, armed with a printed-out, personalized guide, patrons are let loose to explore, play and create.

Repeat visitors? With eight story lines and over 200 works of art featured from the museum’s global collection, a whopping 260,000 different journeys can be made–with nary the excuse to say “been there, done that.”

Kids Fringe at the Chicago Fringe Festival

Fans of the Chicago Fringe Festival (which, really, should be everybody), will be thrilled for the newest addition to this two week extravaganza; three kid-friendly shows on each Saturday and Sunday of the run. Punch and Judy aficionados will love the returning FoolSize Theatre performances, while kids raised on Chicago’s particular brand of comedy are in for a treat, too. Barrel of Monkeys’ kid-written, grownup-performed sketch gold “That’s Weird, Grandma” will be featured, as well as Ashley Roberson’s part fairytale remix, part How-To Guide “Once Upon a Zombie Apocalypse.” Each weekend will provide a huge amount of free workshops and activities as well, ranging from science experiments, to a parade, to craft-making galore. There’s even a Starlight Café Open Mic–which will come in mighty handy once your kid is inspired into giving a career in the arts a go.

Runs through September 13, 2016

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