Sorry, parents: Hibernation is not an option. While we grown-up Chicagoans may wish we could hunker down and catch up on some sleep (or maybe Netflix) until the crocuses pop up, our littles aren’t quite as winter averse. So check out these four options for some serious play time your kids will love.
Play with your imagination
“Forts” is far from your typical theater visit: Instead of just watching the action unfold, kids can actually take part in the fun! Imaginative kids use cardboard boxes, clotheslines, sheets and other unconventional materials to build their own adventure–and adults can play right along with them. The Jan. 9, 23 and 30 performances are just for kids 18 months-4, while the rest of the DIY performances are aimed at the 5-and-up set. $12 adult/child pair; $5 additional family member. Jan. 6-Feb. 11; check website for schedule.
Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 270-1660, filamenttheatre.org
Play in the sand
When it comes to sand, you either love it or you hate it. For beach bums, that grit beneath your toes feels downright heavenly and transports you to a place far from Chiberia. That’s the beauty of Kiddy Club, an indoor playspace that features an oversized sandbox (filled with non-toxic, safe play sand), where kids can dig, build and play to their hearts’ content. There’s also an indoor playground, dance floor and an infant and toddler area for all the sand haters out there.
$10-$14. 4314 E. New York St., Aurora. (630) 229-6247, kiddy-club.com
Play in the mud
The ground outside might be frozen solid, but the mud at Kids Clay Room in Lincoln Park makes for perfectly messy fun. The MLK Day Clay Camp is a great chance to get some dirt under your nails. Kids 5 and up will use different techniques and fun tools to create their own unique projects. Looking for a more regularly scheduled muddy mess? Saturday drop-in sessions are available on a weekly basis ($30).
$50. 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 15. 2646 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (773) 416-4511, kidsclayroom.com
Play in the cold
As hard as it is to believe, some people actually like the snow (three guesses where we fall on that question). But Morton Arboretum is watching out for winter enthusiasts with frosty fun every day through March. Materials are provided in the uber popular Children’s Garden for Winter Play activities like snow painting and fort building. But be sure to bundle them up before heading outside!
Free with arboretum admission. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org