Spring is (finally) in bloom, and with it cones a rejuvenated verve to get out of the house and be active. No doubt your kids have a case of cabin fever after the long winter, and there are plenty of activities to keep them entertained. The best part is that the fun is also educational, so you can feel good about squiring the fam around town.
KinderCare is dedicated to promoting an educational learning environment filled with fun and creativity. You can rest easy knowing that your kiddos are in a great place where they’re cultivating social and academic skills that will aid them now and for many years to come as they become doctors, lawyers, teachers and parents.
1). Ferris Bueller knew what he was doing. The Art Institute of Chicago is a palace of kid-friendly eye candy. And since it offers free admission for those under 14, it’s the perfect spot for families. Enjoy art-making activities, exhibitions, games and more. The Lions Trail Family Tour is a special audio guide designed for kids ages five to 10, and it’s an engaging way to tour the museum with little ones in tow.
2). Who doesn’t love a good butterfly? No one, that’s who. The Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, located inside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, features upwards of 1,000 butterflies fluttering around on any given day. Not only is the 2,700-square-foot greenhouse a marvel to gawk at, but hands-on exhibits allow curious minds to discover more about butterfly lifecycles, survival techniques and migration.
3). Navy Pier is a veritable playground for folks of all ages, but your kids will be particularly infatuated by the Chicago Children’s Museum, one of the most visited children’s museums in the world. Here, playing and learning entwine, which means your tots get to dig for dinosaur bones, pretend they’re a firefighter and bounce around — all while learning about history, science, art and lots more. The newest museum addition is Tinkering Lab, an exhibit that teaches kids about mechanics and technology by letting them play safely with tools.
4). Fun isn’t just found on ground level. Venture 1,353 feet up to the top of Willis Tower and take part in the myriad of kids’ activities on the Skydeck. The scavenger hunt is a fun way to teach your kids about Chicago and the notable destinations that are viewable from the top of the tower. There are also downloadable quizzes and coloring pages, and if your clan isn’t afraid of heights, you can even step out on the glass balcony that extends from the 103rd floor.
5). Through hands-on classes and activities, Kids Science Labs is equal parts educational and fun, and your kids are bound to be more excited about it than school. The concept is to engage natural curiosities in fun ways, teaching things like why the sky is blue and what makes television work. The venue also hosts birthday parties and seasonal camps.
6). If your kids are Sporty Spices, then introduce them to Lil’ Kickers, a soccer program aimed at youngsters 18 months to nine years. Through fun, non-competitive activities, the program is designed not only to teach kids soccer, but to use the team-oriented sport to teach kids about life. Being able to kick a ball around is an added bonus.
7). Smack dab in the heart of picturesque Hyde Park is the Museum of Science and Industry, a wonderland of fun and excitement for kids of all ages. The sprawling museum is always brimming with hands-on exhibits, events and lots more. There’s something for every child, whether they’re into bikes, trains, animals, weather, space or just about anything else.
8). Running April 10 through May 26 at The Ruth Page Center for Arts, The Elephant & The Whale is a majestic and poignant tale that not only depicts two of the largest mammals on Earth, but teaches about friendship and conquering adversity. Through audio demonstrations, paintings, shadow puppets and singing, a four-person cast enthralls young audiences.
9). Got a burgeoning chef at home? If your kids are curious about cooking but don’t want to settle for an Easy Bake Oven, take them to The Kids’ Table, a place where children get to learn about cooking. The Kids’ Table offers various specialized classes for kids, with instructors on hand to help guide them through the process. Using child-sized cooking utensils, kids get to dice their ingredients, cook and eat, all while learning about different cuisines, nutrition and other fun food facts. They’ll be ready for Top Chef in no time.
10). We’d be remiss to mention the triumvirate of museums that comprise Museum Campus. One of the most notable destinations for families in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum are chock full of splendor for the whole family. Each institution lets your kids learn about the world from a different perspective, while simultaneously dazzling them with interactive exhibits and otherworldly sights (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen beluga whales swimming two feet away from you).
How do you throw in a little education with your weekend adventures?
— Matt Kirouac
Photos: Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago, Willis Tower Skydeck, Lil’ Kickers, and The Kids’ Table