Diggin’ dinos is easy in Chicago

There’s no doubt about it—kids dig dinos. The fascination starts early, thanks in part to TV’s Barney, and continues well into adulthood for archeologists and paleontologists. To give your kids a close-up look at these prehistoric creatures, check out these local places that offer everything from a giant T. Rex to a musical filled with oversized dino puppets.

Chicago’s Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, 312-922-9410) is home to Sue, the world’s largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the Crown Family PlayLab, kids use authentic tools to dig out bones, clean and measure them, then compare their finds to known facts for identification. Babies can even join the fun with plush puppets and giant wall magnets.

For families willing to head west, Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History (737 N. Main St., 815-965-3433) is another awesome dinosaur adventure. Kids will enjoy the fact that Burpee’s most popular fossils, Jane the T. Rex and Homer the Triceratops, are actually juvenile dinosaurs.

Burpee Museum even helps families take their learning on the road with Family Fossil Field Trips to a local quarry. All ages dig together and everyone gets to keep what they find. You can find more information at burpee.org. Also, visit visit jane.com for a host of fun Jane-centered kids’ activities.

For a different way to view dinos, check out"The Mammoth Follies,” a musical featuring giant dinosaur puppets at the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University. The show is at 11 a.m. Oct. 18 and costs $10.50-$15. Visit centertickets.net or call (708) 235-2222.

Younger kids will enjoy Dino Day at the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, 9600 E. Shore Drive, where they can learn more about dinosaurs and make a dino craft. The program, free with paid museum admission, will be held Oct. 15. Call (708) 423-6709 or visit the Web site at cmoaklawn.org for more information.

And last, but certainly not least, head to Evanston for a visit to the Prehistoric Life Museum and Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop. A free fossil museum on the lower level features the largest dinosaur egg in the world, along with plenty of other bones and fossils. The first floor is filled with small fossils just the right size for kids to buy as they start their own collection of bones. The shop is located at 704 Main St., (847) 866-7374 or visit davesdowntoearthrockshop.com.

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