No school over winter break is cool. . . until cabin fever takes hold, that is. Whether your kiddo is an athlete, a thespian, a nature nut, a chef or a little bit of all of the above, we have the lowdown on can’t-miss winter break camp shenanigans.

photo: Di Lewis via pexels.com

The Kids’ Table
Cold winter days are synonymous with hibernating and staying cozy by the warmth of the stove. Extend that tradition to the kids with hands-on cooking classes that are the perfect mix of cooking, eating and play. Campers spend about half their day in the kitchen chopping, grating and rolling their way to delicious meals they can replicate for you at home (bonus!). The rest of the day is spent on food-themed crafts and games, nature walks, park play, movie time and more.

Held Dec. 26-Jan. 4
The Kids’ Table
2337 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
Online: kids-table.com

Second City
Have a budding comedian tickling your funny bone daily? Sign ‘em up for classes led by some of Chicago’s funniest folks. In the Improv & Clowning class, students learn to think on their feet, build self-confidence and creativity—and wear a clown nose sometimes. Improv & Stand Up helps students develop their jokes and delivery. The littles can even get in on the giggles with Mini Camp, which introduces them to the concepts of improv, storytelling, clowning and theater crafts.  Be prepared for a winter break full of laughs after this camp!

Held Dec. 26-28 & Jan. 2-4
Second City Training Center
1608 N. Wells, Old Town
312-664-3959
Online: secondcity.com

emerald-city-winter-campsphoto: Emerald City Theatre Company

Emerald City Theatre 
Emerald City Theatre’s drop-in camps are always bursting with imaginative fun and creative play for budding thespians. Themes this year include Frozen Fairytales, Winter Luau, Holiday at Hogwarts, Oz Musicals and more.

Held Dec. 27-Jan. 4
Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave., Lakeview
Online: emeraldcitytheatre.com

Kids STEM Studio
If you have a kid, we’re pretty sure Minecraft is a word in your daily vocab. Keep those brains moving this winter break by incorporating this kid favorite into a STEM-ulating camp. Campers learn the mechanics of conquering the survival world by crafting, farming, taming animals and basic redstone engineering, which includes working with the electricity substance of Minecraft. They’ll also dabble in hands-on engineering learning about buoyancy, building air and mechanical powered machines and developing electrical gadgets with simple circles. As a cool bonus, campers get to take home their creations.

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Held Dec. 26-Jan. 4
Kids STEM Studio
770 W. Gladys Ave., Greektown

Held Jan. 2-Jan. 4
Kids STEM Studio
4124 Dempster St., Evanston
Online: kidsstemstudio.com

Science Night Out: Glow-in-the-Dark Science

The Laboratory
No winter break slide happening on your watch . . . let the kids spend the day dabbling in robotics engineering with The Laboratory’s popular one-day immersive program. Kids will design and build a cutting-edge robot and then teach it to spin, slither, walk or drive in a Brickworld of their own creation.

Held Jan. 2-Jan. 4
The Laboratory
2349 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
Online: thelaboratorychi.org

The Little Gym
If they’re going to bounce off the walls this winter, they might as well do it at a safe, padded gym with instructors that teach valuable skills. Camps here are high-energy fun with gymnastics, games and crafts at the three-hour Winter Wonderland and Winter Camping camps. It’s easy to work around nap schedules with both morning and afternoon sessions being offered.

Held Dec. 26-28
The Little Gym
3216 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
Online: thelittlegym.com/ChicagoIL

photo: Codeverse

Codeverse
Introduce yourself to a relative newcomer to Chicago by sending the kids to Codeverse, the first fully interactive, hackable classroom for students with state-of-the-art technology, such as 3D printers, Sphero Balls, a 20-ft high def TV wall, virtual reality headsets, robotic arms and drones. Your kids will be taught programming using a kid-friendly coding language, KidScript.

Held Jan. 2-4
Codeverse
819 W. Eastman St., Lincoln Park
55 S. Main St., Ste. 230, Naperville
Online: codeverse.com

Windy City Fieldhouse
Sign up for one day or every day of this sports camp that even has free childcare between sessions. Active kiddos will tire themselves out with either a dedicated soccer skills camp or a multi-sport camp that includes practicing skills for football, baseball, kickball, hockey and basketball. Little ones (ages 3-5) are introduced to soccer, basketball, t-ball, football and kickball while also learning about good sportsmanship (and who couldn’t use that lesson?).

Held Dec. 17-Jan. 4
Windy City Fieldhouse
2367 W. Logan Blvd., Lincoln Park
Online: windycityfieldhouse.com

lincoln-park-zoo-campphoto: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo
With the opportunity to pick one day or every day, the Zoo’s camp has both variety and flexibility. This year’s camp offers kids the opportunity to explore the wild world of animal opposites, from big giraffes and small ants to cold-thriving polar bears and heat-focused reptiles!

Held Dec. 27-Jan. 4
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Online: lpzoo.org

Bulls/Sox Academy
Whether you have a baseball fanatic, basketball enthusiast or both, these three-day pro sports-affiliated camps get your little athlete ready for the season. Choose from baseball, basketball or a combination camp where coaches work with kids on fundamentals and fine tuning key skills.

Held Dec. 26-28
6200 River Bend Dr., Lisle
536 East Ave., La Grange
Online: bullssoxacademy.com

Peggy Notebaert
Nature doesn’t take a break in the winter, and neither does camp at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum! They love to teach and learn about nature in all weather—even snow! Campers ages 4 to 11 can join the Museum for one to four fun-filled days of child-led outdoor play, science activities, live animal encounters and more!

Held Dec. 31-Jan. 4
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr., Lincoln Park
Online: naturemuseum.org

actors-gym-campphoto: The Actors Gymnasium

The Actors Gymnasium 
Juggle, tumble and dance your way through winter break. Budding circus performers learn to walk the tight wire, fly on the trapeze, walk on stilts and more at this energy-boosting camp. As well as being physically fun and challenging, this camp is good for increasing courage and self-esteem.

Held Jan. 2-4
927 Noyes St., Evanston
847-328-2795
Online: actorsgymnasium.org

Chicago Botanic Garden
This indoor/outdoor camp gives little botanists the chance to explore the garden in winter. Kids will investigate weather, explore seasonal adaptations of plants and animals and dabble in art. Plus, all campers enjoy a trip to the Botanic Garden’s holiday favorite, the Wonderland Express holiday train display.

Held Dec. 26-28 & Jan. 2-4
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
847-835-5440
Online: chicagobotanic.org

— Maria Chambers