November 13, 2008

Get out there and play

Although it seems early for holiday lights and festivals, there are only 40 shopping days until Christmas, so it never hurts to get your family into the holiday spirit. Celebrating its 75th year, the Museum of Science and Industry will unveil on Friday this year’s exhibition of Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light with more than 50 bedecked trees featuring cultures from across the globe. The tree trimming tradition began in 1942 as an acknowledgement to American allies during World War II on United Nations Day. To celebrate holiday traditions around the world the trees—including a new Bulgaria tree—are decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities. The central 45-foot tree, which sits in the museum’s rotunda, is decorated to reflect the 75 years of exhibits the museum has hosted. Before you go, download the free“Trees and Traditions” podcast on the museum’s Web site to learn all about the different customs each tree reflects. Holidays of Light is in its 12th year at the museum and celebrates other multicultural holidays including the Chinese New Year, Diwali and St. Lucia Day. During the weekends ethnic groups will perform, including the Thistle and Heather Highland Dancers and the Ukrainian Children’s Choir. The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light run through Jan. 4 and are free with general admission. General admission is , seniors and kids 3-11. Museum admission is free on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The museum is closed on Christmas. Hours are daily from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call (773) 684-1414 or visit the Web site,

Sweet tickets

Each week for the next three weeks, we will award two Chicago Parent readers a family five-pack of tickets to the Adler Planetarium. The tickets include general museum admission and admission to the sky show,“One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.” The sky show, based on characters from“Sesame Street,” joins Big Bird, Elmo and their Chinese friend, Hu Hu Zhu, on a journey to discover the North Star, the Big Dipper, the sun and the moon. To read Chicago Parent’s coverage of“One World, One Sky,” visit For more information, visit To win, visit our discussion board.

Get out there and play some more

Your kids don’t have to be the next Einstein to enjoy all of the science- and math-themed activities available this weekend from Science Chicago, the world’s largest science celebration. Science Chicago is an ongoing event that ends in August 2009 and works with more than 100 local academic, scientific, corporate and nonprofit institutions to provide hands-on learning and science tours to build enthusiasm in the pursuit of science.You’ll have plenty of learning opportunities with more than 14 science and math driven events Friday, 25 events Saturday and 11 on Sunday. Events vary from Human Brain Imaging to Exploring Ape Behaviors and Natural Gas Innovations to Cranes and Conversations. The activities are scattered across Chicago. Most of the events require reservations and have maximum attendance numbers. At time of publication, many of these events were still available. Other events are ongoing, with no required reservations.Many of the Science Chicago events are free or low cost. A complete calendar of events and a blog from biochemist and science director Rabiah Mayas as well as at-home experiments are available on the Web site. For more information, visit

Get out there and give

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start driving home the idea of giving to others. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m. this Friday, The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation of Chicago will team up with Warner Bros. Pictures to co-host a holiday toy drive in celebration of the motion picture release of“Four Christmases” Nov. 26. During the toy drop, the local improv and comedy theater group, pH Productions, will perform family-friendly carols and comedy. In dropping off a new, unwrapped toy to the Water Tower Pumping Station, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, you’ll not only have a chance to give, you might also receive tickets to see a special advance screening of“Four Christmases.” The first 100 people to donate a toy will have a chance to win tickets.“Four Christmases” stars Reese Witherspoon and Chicagoan Vince Vaughn and is rated PG-13. A limited supply of T-shirts are being given to children who bring toys. For more film information, visit

Piece of the prize

This week, one lucky Chicago Parent reader will win a Sprig Toys Adventure Series. The battery-free toys are made from recycled material, called Sprigwood. But just because there aren’t batteries doesn’t mean there are no bells or whistles to thrill. The vehicles are powered by pushing and pumping, triggering an internal generator that turns on lights and sounds. The series retails for 0 and comes with the Discover Rig, Rally Racer and Baja Scout as well as five Adventure Guide characters, Cap Faraday, Rudi Tootin, Miki Flinders, Violet Rio and Edmund Peak. Each Adventure Guide comes with its own special audio sounds that are activated when the guide is seated in the driver’s seat of the Discovery Rig. For more information, visit To win, visit our discussion board.

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