Como Zoo: Lions, tigers, and bears – oh my! This is a perfect outing on a nice day! On Lil’ Explorers Thursdays they have storytime, up close encounters with plants and animals, and other kid-centered activities. Had enough of the animals? Take your kids to Como Town (not free). The conservatory also hosts free music events throughout the year, such as Music Under Glass in winter.
Saturday Live!: If you’re getting a late start to your Saturday or are looking for some indoor fun for your children, check out Saturday Live at the George Latimer library in downtown Saint Paul. The events vary by week and include such things as magic tricks, storytelling, puppet shows, acrobatics, animals, and concerts. My kids have enjoyed them all. The children’s area has puzzles, art projects, and other little wonders. This branch has a program where you can check out themed backpacks filled with several books. My daughter loves backpacks and now her new obsession is library backpacks.
Storytimes: Gosh, there are a lot of storytimes in the Twin Cities. Check out the sppl.org or the hclib.org web site to see what is on offer at the various libraries. There are some baby, toddler, and preschool storytimes and language-specific storytimes in Spanish, Karen, Hmong, Oromo, Somali, and Mandarin, among others. Bookstores and toy stores also have some great storytimes. Some of our favorites are Red Balloon, Wild Rumpus, and Choo Choo Bob’s.
SmArt Pass: If you have a library card, then take advantage of this great program. It allows you to get free tickets for art events around the Twin Cities. We’ve taken our daughter to theater productions and the Firefighters Hall and Museum. So far she has loved all the events, and we love taking her.
Target Free Family Music (Saint Paul Orchestra): What a fantastic program! There are actors, dancers, and musicians to entertain and educate your kids. A recent production was set in New Orleans and explored the music of Wynton Marsalis and Stravinsky. The family concerts are geared toward children age 6 and above, and though my kids would have enjoyed more slapstick moments and jazzier high-energy dance, my 20-month-old daughter was captivated for much of the show. SPCO also has a Start the Music! program designed for children age 3-6 and an Explorchestra program for older children. New this year, children (age 6-17) can attend unlimited SPCO concerts for FREE. Unbelievable! They write, “we believe our music has the power to inspire, challenge, move and uplift and that everyone, including young people, deserves the opportunity to enjoy transformational performances.” Amen, and thank you.
Home Depot Kids Workshop (on the first Saturday of the month): This program is fantastic and well-organized. As soon as you arrive at the workshop, you’re given a certificate and pin, an apron, and the project of the week. There are tools, paint, and whatever else you need to complete the projects. The projects vary by week. We’ve made a butterfly house, bird house, wooden helicopter with decals, and a rain gauge. It’s a great hands-on way to bond with the kids. Lakeshore Learning also has a free craft day for the kids.
Wee Wednesdays at Midtown Global Market: Need a dose of culture and a place for your kids to shake and shimmy? Head on down to Global Market on Wednesdays (and Friday evenings) for musical performances and more. Afterward, you can pick up lunch or goodies. Free parking in the parking ramp with a purchase.