Three of our top calendar picks for family fun this month.
Your kids’ chicken-scratch handwriting might occasionally resemble the images etched into the walls of the pyramids, but at Introduction to Hieroglyphs, they’ll see what real rudimentary writing looked like. Kids 9-12 can learn the basics of the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system, as well as how to read some of the key symbols. Afterward, they can create their own Egyptian-inspired code (hopefully one that mom and dad know how to crack). $10, $5 member. 1-3 p.m. Jan. 23. Oriental Institute Museum, 1155 E. 58th St., Chicago. (773) 702-9514.
We know at least one little boy who wants to be a ninja detective when he grows up, so this year’s Japan Fest, with the theme “Ninjas and Geishas,” is sure to be a hit. Say “konnichiwa” to an afternoon of fun, where families can practice using chopsticks, try their hand at calligraphy, experience martial arts and learn a few Japanese phrases, plus try on a kimono or ninja costume to really get in a cultural frame of mind. Free. Noon-4 p.m. Jan. 30. Oak Park and River Forest High School, 201 N. Scoville Ave., Oak Park. (708) 434-3386.
Stateside, king cake is traditionally served during the lead-up to Mardi Gras, but in France, it’s a dessert that’s whipped up to celebrate the Festival of Epiphany. This tasty treat, known as a “Galette des Rois,” is just as welcome in Chicago as Paris. Create your own version of the flaky delicacy at the Family Cooking Class, where kids 7-10 learn that you don’t have to be the second coming of Julia Child to mix up some French delights. Noon-2 p.m. Jan. 9. $35 parent/child pair; $50 family of four. Alliance Francaise de Chicago, 810 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 337-1070.