I'm one of those parents who likes to take my kids to every festival, fair, concert, puppet show, parade, party, museum exhibit, book signing, trade show, and wine tasting in town—if there's a crafts table and maybe a balloon-animal guy, we're there.
Despite what I'd like people to think, this is not because I'm a super-extra-awesome dad, but because I learned early on that a parent's worst enemy is a bored kid. Bored kids become cranky kids and cranky kids make weekends terrible. And we're blessed with two boys, wonderful in so many ways (kind, smart, handsome-like-their-dad, etc.), but with very short attention spans. I hear friends tell stories about how their kids can color for hours or how they get so focused on a lego project that you hear nothing for hours except the heavy mouth breathing that comes with intense concentration. Not my guys. They can play guitar, dress-up, legos, color, take a nap, and eat lunch, all inside of 10 minutes. And so, our mantra has long been, "keep 'em busy."
I've grown pretty adept at scouring the web, newspapers, magazine, and various newsletters for stuff to do, and I figured I'd share this skill. So, in what I hope will become a weekly feature on the blog, I offer a few ways to keep 'em busy this weekend...
Port Discovery Children's Museum—one of our favorite places in town—is having a "Littles Day" on Saturday, geared specifically for kids under 5. With a puppet show and music by the Kindersinger, a clown doing both magic and animal balloons, and a visit from Pets on Wheels, this one is right in our wheelhouse. It would only be better if they somehow managed to add a hayride (I LOVE hayrides.)
There's a lot going on at the city and county libraries this weekend, including game days, movie nights, story times, etc. The Walbrook and Central branches each have cool events, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, to mark the forthcoming Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Despite the chilly air, there's lots of cool nature stuff too, including an animal-tracking hike at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon and a festival of snakes at the Howard County Conservatory.
For older kids (13 and up), the student-run Not Another Shakespeare Company presents Worthy Fools/Ignoble Nobels: A Showcase, a program of short scenes and monologues from Shakespeare's plays designed to get young people interested in his work, at the Theater Project.
Of course, there are always the perrenially great-for-kids activities, including the Walters Art Museum, which, besides the great, often kid-friendly exhibits, has a fantastic play area on the lower level with lots of dress up stuff, puppets, puzzles, and an art room where there are facilitators to help you and are kids make great projects (we made an "ice king" last weekend) and bonus: FREE; Also, the Marlyland Science Center ($3 off admission before noon on Saturdays, plus the weekly egg-drop contest), Port Discovery Children's Museum, The Zoo (still open—check out the pic of zebras in the snow (!) on their website), two Storyville locations (we LOVE Storyville), The American Visionary Art Museum (also with kid-friendly exhibits, and the treehouse/sculpture out back if it's not too cold), the various nature centers and conservancies (Oregon Ridge, Irvine, Howard County), and—of course!— the Aquarium.