Head east, young man
Even if your spring break plans don’t include international travel, you can still get a taste of the first-class life thanks to exhibits focused on China.
Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog – Discovery Center Museum
At the Field Museum’s traveling exhibit, “China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors,” meet 10 of Qin Shihuangdi’s famous terracotta warriors, who are making a rare North American stop. You’ll also peek into the past, learning about the ruler who built the first Great Wall and unified China’s many warring states. And while the warriors may have lost some of their vivid coloring, modern replicas demonstrate what they looked like more than 2,000 years ago. Through Jan. 8.
For a taste of modern-day China, DuPage Children’s Museum is the place to be. “Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China” shows what life is like for four kids in the Zhejiang Province, from going to school and practicing instruments to helping out around the house. Kids can write Chinese characters, try their hand at Chinese Chess and dress up like they’re performing Chinese opera—all without a single stamp in their passport. Through May 29.
Build it beautiful
Face it: your house is already overrun with Legos, blocks and Magnatiles, so you might as well turn that built-in interest into an opportunity to learn something at these exhibits.
When you stop by Museum of Science& Industry’s “Brick by Brick” exhibit, you’ll be wowed by the 60-foot Golden Gate Bridge made entirely of Lego (not to mention the working rollercoaster, International Space Station, Cinderella’s Castle …). While the highlights of the exhibit are the structures built by a Lego Certified Professional, amateurs can get in on the action by testing their work against an earthquake, racing vehicles in a derby, and increasing STEM skills by the minute. Through Feb. 20.
This winter, Kohl Children’s Museum brought back its popular “Build It!” exhibit, but with a few upgrades. Kids can build with literally dozens of different types of blocks, then see what type of shadows they cast, learn how light affects different materials, and test their architectural creations against earthquakes and other forces.
The exhibit returns annually so parents can watch their child progress through different stages of block play. You won’t see that in a baby book! Through April 26.
Make a new best friend
Your kids might constantly be asking for a pet, but you know in your heart that they’re not quite ready (or maybe it’s you who’s unsure?). Explore the world of pet ownership with hands-on exhibits just for kids.
Get the empathy process started at Chicago Children’s Museum’s “Pets Unleashed,” where little ones begin to learn how to take care of furry (or feathered!) friends. Kids can brush, feed, bathe and care for stuffed animals, or role play as the pet. And on Saturdays, The Anti-Cruelty Society brings along some dogs and guinea pigs your tots can befriend. Through May 1.
Technically, he’s already best friends with Emily Elizabeth, but that doesn’t mean this Big Red Dog isn’t open to expanding his social circle. Rockford’s Discovery Center Museum is welcoming “Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog,” a traveling exhibit based on the beloved books and TV show. Kids can fill Clifford’s dog bowl with bones, work in Birdwell Island’s fish& chips shop and—best of all!—slide down his big red tail. Through May 15.