Learn to love the long weekend again

Wait, the kids are off school again? They were just off for two weeks, during which time you exhausted your list of creative activities to keep them from killing each other and safeguard your sanity.

Not to worry. We’re here with a one-day survival guide, loaded with ways to keep your kids entertained on Monday. Learn to love the long weekend again.

Celebrate the day

Are you the kind of parent that never likes to miss a teaching moment? Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and there’s plenty to learn about the civil rights leader.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Bring your family to the Chicago History Museum for a celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The program begins at 10:30 a.m. with “Dr. King, an Educated Man,” presented by the Roots Theatre Ensemble. At 12:30, the Chicago Chamber Choir will perform a tribute, followed by LaRoyce Hawkins re-enacting “I Have a Dream” at 1:45 p.m. Kids’ craft activities will happen throughout the day.

Admission: Free, no reservations required. For more information, click here, and for hours and location, visit our Resource page.

What Does It Mean, Dr. King?

Take a journey back in time and learn about freedom through interactive theater and songs with this exhibit at the Chicago Children’s Museum. Jan. 18 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Jan. 18. Regular admission fee applies. Find out more information on our Resource page.

Get crafty

Sponge Stamping

If you’re feeling adventurous enough to let your kids paint, this idea is a good creative outlet. Plus, the end result makes for great wrapping paper and the sponges are reusable for future Monday-ins.

You’ll need: cheap kitchen sponges, scissors, paint, paper

Use the kitchen sponges that are flat and dried out. Cut out a variety of shapes before the sponges get wet and expand. Some ideas include: heart, star, triangle or diamond. Then turn the kids loose with the sponges to create sponge stamp paintings.

Mardi Gras Eye Mask

January can be a tough month to slog through, so look ahead to Feb. 16, when this festive celebration swings into town. With this craft, you’ll be all ready to host your own masquerade ball.

You’ll need: thin cardboard (empty cereal boxes are perfect), scissors, mask template, glue and decorations (glitter, feathers, etc.).

Print out a basic mask template. You can find plain or themed masks at Free Fun Finds. Trace the template onto the cardboard and cut it out. Decorate any way you want and let the mask dry completely. Then staple a drinking straw or glue a craft stick onto one side of the mask to make a handle.

Valentine’s Day box: Get a head start on the February holiday by making the classroom valentine collector. It’s easy, fun, and there’s no better way to blast the winter blues than by putting love in the air.

You’ll need: cardboard box (oatmeal box, shoe box, etc.), scissors, glue, Valentine decorations-construction paper, markers and whatever else you can find!

Out and about

What is a Monday off if not, really, another Sunday? So push your usual weekend fun a day and you might find these Chicago hot spots a little less crowded. Here are a few special recommendations, but for more events, head on over to ourCalendar.

Places to Play

Venture outside to head right back indoors at some of Chicago’s best indoor play venues. Let your kids burn off some energy while you relax with that magazine that’s been sitting on your end table for two weeks. Try Day Frog or Little Monkey Business, or if you want to grab a cup of coffee with friends, head to Nibbles Play Cafe.

Shedd Aquarium

Take advantage of the free community discount week, which runs from Jan. 16-21. Find more information, including hours and admission prices, on our Resource page.

Go the movies

“The Spy Next Door” premieres this weekend, starring Jackie Chan as a former CIA superspy who takes on his toughest assignment to date: looking after his girlfriend’s three kids.

Snow Much Fun!

Winter activities are even better when you can do them indoors. At the Chicago Children’s Museum, you can skate in your socks at the indoor “ice skating” rink, dress up a snowman and build a fort with “ice” blocks. Free with museum admission. Learn more here

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