Tis true, Chicago summers are the bomb. And while it’s nice to ditch the school-time schedule, sometimes the days are long and it’s hard to find fun new ways to fill the calendar without blasting the budget. Lucky for you, the nanny or the grandparents (whoever happens to be on kid duty), we did a bit of research and found ways to keep the kids moving, learning, laughing and happy every weekday. Read on and start loading up your Palm Pilot (you still have one of those, right?) with to-dos.

photo: Adler Planetarium

Monday, Monday . . . so good to us!

Young Explorer's MondayCalling all curious explorers! Children and their families can try stellar hands-on activities like flying a kite, hear stories under the stars, and more. Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus; Monday, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Baby & Me. Parents, grandparents and caregivers are invited to a weekly group aimed at helping adjust to a new baby. A nurse representative will be on-hand to answer questions and facilitate discussions. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Monday, 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.

Music-Free Monday. Start your week off with jumps at Airtastic’s Music FREE Mondays. They turn off the music to remove extra noise that can be bothersome for some children. Airtastic, 850 S. Frontenac St., Aurora; Monday, 10 a.m. 

Preschool Story Time. Walk into the pages of a book with interactive storytelling led by expert museum staff. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Monday, 11 a.m.

Shadow Puppet Story TimeCozy up for a story with Bill and his trusty sidekick who puts on an amazingly shadowy performance. Wonder Works Children's Museum, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Monday, 11 a.m.

Bells in the Garden. Enjoy an enchanting performance of carillon bells, and even try your hand at ringing them yourself. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe; Monday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thru Labor Day)

Movies on the Lake. Prepare your blankets, lawn chairs and capes as the Pier presents “the summer of superheroes,” a showing of D.C. and Marvel film favorites during their Water Flicks series. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville; Monday, 6:30 p.m. (Thru August 12)

That's Weird Grandma: Fantastic Beasts and the Stories About Them. Meet the strange and wonderful creatures created by Barrel of Monkeys' students in Fantastic Beasts and the Stories About ThemNeo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Andersonville; Monday, 8 p.m. (Thru August 24)

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photo: Play Logan Square

Toe Tingling Fun on Tuesday

Little PlaytimesThe tiniest LEGO® fans are invited to join in for fun and learning featuring educational activities during a time the Center is open exclusively for them. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago, 601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-noon.

Piertastic Tuesday. Every Tuesday this summer, from Jun. 11-Sep. 3, Chicago Children's Museum is offering 2-for-1 general admissions. Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Thru September 3)

Wiggleworms. The acclaimed Wiggleworms program is making Gallagher Way an absolute must-go-to. Start your morning with the catchy tunes and tons of fun that's synonomous with Wiggleworms. Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field, 3635 N. Clark St., Lakeview; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Thru September 24)

Story Time Mixed with a Smidgen of PlayThis unique children’s toy store has a great selection of books amongst their toys because they understand story time is play time! Play, 3109 W. Logan Blvd., Logan Square; Tuesday, 11 a.m.

Eat Free at Hofbrauahus. Bring the kids hungry and they can eat for free while you indulge in traditional german faire. Hofbrauhaus Chicago, 5500 Park Place, Rosemont; Tuesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Kitchen Creations. Junior chefs are invited every other Tuesday to Kitchen Creations, featuring farm-to-table food prep and nutritious eating. Your kids will transform a variety of ingredients into healthy snacks, salads and more. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Every other Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. (Thru September 24)

Tinkering Tuesdays. This every-other Tuesday program encourages children to do what they do best: let their curiosity soar. They get to explore the world of engineering by building machines and creating processes, and then discover what happens when they make changes. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Every other Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Toddler Time with Miss Dawn-Marie. Dawn-Marie's Toddler Jam is a place for kids to let loose and parents to connect with one another. From the typical toddler tunes to toddlerized mainstream music, there’s something to appeal to the pickiest of tastes. Black Dog Gelato, 859 N. Damen, West Town; Tuesday, 3 p.m.-4 p.m.

Special Needs Day. Sky High Sports turns off the music, dims the lights and dials down the distractions for the comfort of guests who need a bit of calm. Sky High Sports, 6424 Howard St., Niles & 2244 Corporate Ln., Naperville; Tuesday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Big Band. Watch the sun set over Smith Fountain as you listen to anything from big band to swing to bluegrass tunes as part of the Summer Evening series. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; Tuesday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thru Labor Day)

Get over the hump Wednesday

Get Silly with Mr. Singer. Sway along to a joyful jamboree featuring animal songs and dances for wee ones. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park; Wednesday, 9:15 a.m. & 10 a.m.

Story Time at Volumes BookcafePop into this book café for storytime with the ridiculously fun owner, a former pre-K teacher, Miss Kimberly. Volumes Book Cafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park; Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Tunes with Mr. Drew. Mr. Drew will showcase his guitar, drum and singing skills to take your kids on a musical adventure, followed by instrument exploration. Tiny Tunes Studio, 69th E. 16th St., Near Southside; Wednesday, 10:15 a.m.-11 a.m.

Story Times at Women & Children First. This femme-focused bookstore hosts a morning of singing, dancing and silliness. Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., Andersonville; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m.

Paint Covered WednesdaysKids use a variety of paints, methods and canvases as they learn to express their stories, to create new things and expand their understanding of the world around them. Wonder Works, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Story Time at Barnes & Noble. Chi-town tots are invited to a free storytime in the kiddy section. Making the offer even sweeter, it's sometimes accompanied by various treats from the café. Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster Ave., Lincoln Park; Wednesday, 11 a.m.

Science Sleuths. Watch your kids morph into scientists as they study evidence, make predictions and test their hypotheses. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

A K-3 Storytime. Walk into the pages of a book with interactive storytelling led by expert museum staff. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.

Dancin' Sprouts. The garden invites their youngest visitors for an evening of live music with their Dancin' Sprouts series during Summer Evenings programming. Chicago Botanic Garden, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Wednesday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thru Labor Day)

3D Fireworks Cruise. Enjoy a stunning getaway right in the city with Mercury Cruises' midweek Chicago fireworks cruises, departing Wednesdays every week during the summer months. Mercury Cruises, 112 E. Wacker Dr., The Loop; Wednesday, 8:15 p.m.

photo: 57th Street Books

Thursdays . . . almost to the weekend!

Sing with Mr. Dave. Imbued with themes of love, learning, positivity and activity, Mr. Dave revs up the fun-o-meter with unbeatable beats, melodic elements and poetic rhymes. Lincoln Commons, 2345 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park; Thursday, 10 a.m.

Sewing WorkshopLet Wonder Works' sewing master teach your kids the basics, with hands-on projects that are the perfect intro to sewing. Wonder Works Children's Museum, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Thursday, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Music Jam . Have your books with a side of musical jam at Play. Play, 3109 W. Logan Blvd., Logan Square; Thursday, 11 a.m. (Thru August 29)

Music in the Park. Celebrate summer with the Rockin' in the Park free summer concert series. The weekly concerts feature cover band music, food and beverage tents and a musical fireworks display. Parkway Bank Park, 5001 Park Place, Rosemont; Thursday, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. (Thru August 29)

Music Time with Mr. SamNot only will your kids have the time of their lives, Mr. Sam's energetic and engaging performances leave them also feeling super special. Tiny Tunes Studio, 69 E. 16th St., Near Southside; Thursday, 12:15 p.m.-1 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.-5:15 p.m.

Theatre GamesThrough a variety of creative dramatic exercises, kids will enhance motor skills, problem-solving, listening and speaking skills, following directions and building confidence. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Thursday, 1:30 p.m.

Toying with Tech. Introduce kids to the exciting world of technology in a way that’s developmentally appropriate with themes that change monthly. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Every other Thursday, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Play Late. Enjoy a discounted night wandering three floors of play, discovery and imagination. Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier; Thursday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

Dance in the Garden. Your dancing shoes will get a workout when you kick it up a notch with high-energy dance beats. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; Thursday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thru Labor Day)

Family Night. Head to the Children’s Garden for after-hours fun with live music, kid-friendly fare and entertainment. Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL-53, Lisle; Thursday, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. (Thru August 15)

Yahoo! Friday Fun!

Get Silly with Mr. Singer. Sway along to a joyful jamboree featuring animal songs and dances for wee ones. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park. Friday, 9:15 a.m. & 10 a.m.

Shadow Puppet Story TimeCozy up for a story with Bill and his trusty sidekick who puts on an amazingly shadowy performance. Wonder Works Children's Museum, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Math Counts. Introduce your kids to the wonderful world of math in a fun, informative way with Math Counts. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Friday, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Kid Fitness. Kids are invited to enjoy a complimentary bounce house, carnival games, a variety of sports and giant Connect Four. Lincoln Common, 2345 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park; Friday, 3 p.m.

Zoo Summer Nights. Families are treated to roaming entertainers, live music on the kid’s stage, close-up animal encounters and a laser light show, all surrounded by the intrigues of the zoo. Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield; Friday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thru August 10)

photo: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Activities that happen on the daily

Fantastic Bug Encounters. Discover how bugs’ incredible adaptations are changing the world through interactives, larger-than-life models and a bug zoo where visitors will be able to see (and even hold) live bugs. The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus; Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Troll Takeover. Something special has emerged from the woods, meadows and vast open spaces. . . unusual creatures, each made of reclaimed wood and measuring 15- to 20-feet-tall. Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL-53, Lisle; Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Brick Safari. Brookfield Zoo's temporary exhibit, Brick Safari, features more than 40 life-size animal sculptures created from millions of LEGO bricks. Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd. Brookfield; Daily, 10 a.m.

Art Adventures. Kohl Children's Museum invites you to create together with your child in guided art activities based on monthly themes. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Daily, 10 a.m.-noon & 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Model Railroad Garden. Experience the delightful sights and sounds of miniature trains traversing high and low tunnels, across bridges and around buildings. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Meet the Discovery SquadBe on the lookout for the men and women in black to take a peek behind the curtain and learn about the vast collections in the vaults. The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. Museum Campus. Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Fitness for All. Teach the kids how to get and stay healthy at Fitness for All. Whether it’s an opportunity to build endurance, stretch muscles, build gross motor skills, Kohl Children's Museum will help put the active in interactive. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Daily, 10 a.m.-noon. 

Garden Buddies. Visit Habitat Park to learn about seeds, weeds, worms, fruits, vegetables and the joys of digging in the dirt. Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Daily, 10 a.m.-noon.

Bixbee Imagination Station. Take the littles to see this experiential popup and retail shop featuring an immersive, interactive experience for kids and the kid in you. North Avenue Collection, 915 W. North Ave,, Lincoln Park; Daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Free Summer Movie Escape. Make summer more fun, and a bit cheaper, with Free Kids Movie Escape where guests can see movies at no charge. CMX Market Cinema, 4999 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie; Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. (Thru August 1)

Discounted Summer Bowling. Beat the heat this summer and bring the family in for a game of bowling, where kids can bowl for just $3/hour. Pinstripes, 435 E. Illinois, Streeterville; Daily, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

— Maria Chambers

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