Five things to do at this year’s Chicago Flower & Garden Show

At first glance, flower shows and kids might not have a whole lot in common. But the Chicago Flower& Garden Show has all kinds of reasons to give the annual event a second look. Here are five to start:

Go electric

If You Go

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

  • 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
  • March 12-20
  • weekend, weekend; kids
  • chicagoflower.com

The vibrant entranceway to the show, dubbed the Electric Garden, is practically made for extra-saturated selfies. The four bright gardens feature flowers everywhere you look – including above your heads. And if you need to take a break from all the flower power, colorful bean bags (or chairs for the grownups) beckon.

Wild out

Brookfield Zoo is bringing its animal know-how to the show this year. Check out the stunning 11-foot peacock, 33-foot snake, and a butterfly with a 14-foot wingspan, then snap a picture with a kissworthy orangutan. On weekends, animal ambassadors stop by to say hello – we made friends with a southern tamadua (aka anteater).

Learn some STEAM

British International School of Chicago transports its STEAM Classroom to the Kids’ Activity Garden every day. Kids can design and build a biodegradable pot, dissect flowers, take part in an art project, or learn about symmetry in plants. And yes, all the activities relate to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math – but that can be our little secret.

Get diggin’

Obviously, the funnest (is that a word?) part of gardening is getting dirty. Indulge that grubby instinct in the Kids’ Activity Garden, where Nicor Gas sets up camp on the weekends (noon-3 p.m.). Kids can don a hard hat and vest and act as “Junior Excavators,” marking underground pipelines and digging for “fossils,” while also learning natural gas safety tips.

Swing for spring

Chicago’s March weather is, in a word, unpredictable. So for those days the playground is just out of the question, there’s the playset, complete with ladders, tunnels, slides and even a climbing wall. There’s a good chance your stir-crazy kiddos won’t ever want to leave.

Other kids’ activities to check out: An insect petting zoo with the University of Illinois Master Gardeners; agricultural activities sponsored by the Cook County Farm Bureau; and garden crafts from Kohl Children’s Museum.

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