It doesn’t have to break the bank to entertain the family away from home in the Twin Cities! You’ll find July’s seasonal and ongoing events and activities listed here that all cost $5-$6 or less per person to attend. For more ideas on budget and FREE family outings, check our Family Fun Calendar or hop over to our Free Twin Cities July Family Events & Activities page. Read More
Nature Playgrounds are a growing trend for good reason; scientists keep finding connections between nature to child development and well-being.
It used to be, according to my children, that in order for a park to be authentic, it needed at least a slide and a set of swings. I was less enthusiastic about taking them to places like state parks simply because I felt I’d have to go the extra mile to “prove” that playing and exploring in a natural environment could be just as fun as clambering around a commercially manufactured jungle gym. Don’t get me wrong – the local playgrounds can be a lot of fun, too. And some are really inventive! But I have to say that I get a deeper satisfaction from watching them play in a more natural setting: digging, figuring out how to climb that tree, following paths, building forts. They become immersed in tossing rocks into the water, scouting frogs, collecting wildflowers. They also gradually forget that “playing at the park” requires a plastic treehouse.
So here’s what I find really cool: incorporating natural elements into new playground designs seems to be the trend. More places are popping up where kids get the opportunity to interact with the landscape and, perhaps, develop a greater appreciation for it. Here are
seven places I’ve discovered that have those goals in mind:
How will you be celebrating Mom this Mother’s Day? If your plans include time spent together, here are some ideas around town to make her day extra special.
We also have some simple DIY gifts and cards the kids can make.
MOTHER’S DAY EVENTS – FREE FOR THE FAMILY
Earth Day Network’s first Earth Day was in 1970. It’s continuing mission — “to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations.”
For us, it’s a chance to teach our children about good stewardship of our planet, while getting out and enjoying the long-awaited spring. I think the spring thing may be why the Twin Cities Metro does not skimp on Earth Day activities and events. We have a sampling of Earth Day family events to get out with your kids and celebrate our environment this month.
Thanks to this month’s sponsor Rockin’ Jump! Check them out at FFTC’s Rockin’ Party on April 15.
Click here for more Rockin' Party InformationClick here for more information.
March is maple syrup month in Minnesota, and with an abundance of nature centers around the Twin Cities, we have ample opportunities to learn about and participate in the maple syruping process. Maple syrup events usually contain one or more of the following activities: tapping the maple trees, collecting the sap, boiling it into syrup, and the best part — according to my kids, anyway — a sample of the finished product.
Click through for a list of upcoming maple syrup events across the Twin Cities Metro. Read More
The novelty of back-to-school has worn off, the excitement of Halloween parties have wrapped up, and it’s still weeks until Thanksgiving break. And so we’re left with…November. But take heart, there’s plenty of free and budget family entertainment going on this month; you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. Here are 12 ideas to get you started:
Wednesday Wiggles @ Straightline Dance Fitness
34 13th Ave NE, Suite 104, Minneapolis
When: Ongoing Wednesdays starting Nov. 4 • 10-11am
Details: Join Straightline Dance Fitness every Wednesday for a playdate in their open studio. Balls, ribbons, mats, scarves, dress up clothes, and music provided.
Get Out For Nature Play!
When: Thursday, Nov. 5 • 10-11:15am
Cost: $3/pp plus tax
Details: Head outside and look for the ways nature is changing and preparing for winter. This program is designed for 2-5 year olds who are accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 25 • 1-2pm
Details: Explore, discover, and play in your local park. Meet families interested in getting their children outdoors. Wear appropriate clothes and shoes.
ExploraTots @ Phalen Lakeside Activities Center
1530 Phalen Dr, St Paul
When: Wednesday, Nov. 11 • 10-11:30am
Details: Join other families for outdoor adventures with a different theme each month! Search for clues that animals have left behind, enjoy hands-on activities and story times, and get up-close looks at treasures from our naturalist’s backpack. It’s a great way to get outside with your child and learn about the natural world and get inspired with ideas to take home.
Nature Play: Green Time @ Phalen Lakeside Activities Center
1530 Phalen Dr, St Paul
When: Thursday, Nov. 19 • 10-11:30am
Details: Swap screen time for green time! Meet up with other families for unstructured nature play. Drop-ins are welcome.
When: Nov. 5 and ongoing Thursdays through April 28, 2016 • 10am-noon
Details: The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week through April 2016. Donations appreciated.
When: Sunday, Nov. 8 • 1-3pm
Details: Drop in for art projects, explore the grounds, the sculptures, and the current gallery exhibit.
When: Nov. 10 and every second Tuesday of the month following • Noon-1pm
Details: Bring a lunch to Landmark Center in St. Paul and enjoy a sampling of the Saint Paul City Ballet training and Company repertoire. Excerpts from Clara’s Dream:from the Nutcracker with audience participation will be performed Nov. 10. Great for budding ballerinas!
When: Friday, Nov. 20 • 5-7:30pm
Details: Hosted by Doing Good Together, a variety of family-appropriate service projects will be available to participate in. DTG is a proud participant of Family Fun Twin Cities’ Great Give Back Challenge!
When: Sunday, Nov. 22 • 4pm
Cost: Pay what you can, but note these accessible tickets are only available through the box office by calling 952-979-1111.
Details: Aimed at making theater accessible to all families, take advantage of this special pay-what-you-can offer and enjoy this classic Christmas tale presented by the young actors of Stages Theatre Co.
Volunteer with FFTC @ Feed My Starving Children
401 93rd Ave NW, Coon Rapids
Time: Monday, Nov. 23 • Noon-2pm
Details: Pack meals with Feed My Starving Children. When the following link becomes live, you can reserve your space to join in!
Holidazzle begins @ Loring Park
1382 Willow Street, Minneapolis
When: Begins Friday, Nov. 27 • 5-9m
Cost: Free admission this year!
Details: Holidazzle has moved to Loring Park this year, is offering free admission to all, and there will be vendors, activities, food, and fireworks for all. Holidazzle will run Thurs-Sun from 5-9pm on Thursdays & Fridays and 11am-9pm Saturdays & Sundays through Dec. 20, 2015.
No matter how long we’ve been residents of the Twin Cities it seems there’s always some hidden fun out there we haven’t discovered yet. Our family, for instance, hadn’t made the trip out to Carver Park Reserve in Victoria until last year when we decided to make an afternoon of it at the historic Grimm Farm Open House and the Lowry Nature Center. That’s just one of the ideas we’ve got on this weekend’s free family events list – as always, check our extensive Family Fun Calendar for more. Happy exploring!
SATURDAY, JUNE 27
Grimm Farmhouse Open House
@ Grimm Farm Historic Site, Carver Park Reserve
7025 Victoria Dr, Victoria, 55386
Details: Step back in time for a few hours at the historic home of Wendelin Grimm and his family. My kids have done this event and enjoyed the old-fashioned porch and lawn games, and the peek into daily life inside the farmhouse. Leave time to explore the Lowry Nature Center (also located within Carver Park Reserve) and its nature playground.
Saturday Puppet Shows for Kids w/ In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre
@ Calhoun Square
3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, 55408
Time: Shows at 10am & 11:30am
Details: Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre is bringing Saturday shows to Calhoun Square every Saturday in June & July. This Saturday’s show is based on There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and the first 45 kids between shows will get to participate in a make-and-take activity.
Minneapolis Movies in the Parks: We Bought a Zoo
@ Kenwood Park
2101 Franklin Ave W, Minneapolis, 55405
Time: Starts at 8:30pm
Details: Not limited to Saturday nights (we chose this one because it’s rated PG), Minneapolis Movies in the Parks run every night except Sundays through August 29th. You can find the complete list of parks and the featured movies for 2015 here.
Details: Celebrate what would have been Gilda Radner’s 69th birthday at her namesake club, an organization dedicated to supporting those impacted by cancer. Activities include family yoga, comedy theater, cupcake decorating, kids crafts, games and more.
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Fun with the Science of Bubbles
@ Wood Lake Nature Center
6710 Lakeshore Dr, Richfield, 55423
Ages: Ideal for kids ages 4-10 but all ages are welcome
Details: Join kiddywampus for an afternoon of exploring the science of bubbles. Discover how animals use bubbles and explore Wood Lake Nature Center in search of them.
It’s a quiet weekend here in the Twin Cities, but there are still some great opportunities for some free family outings: A St. Paul exhibit about everyone’s favorite Wizard; a family-friendly concert in Minneapolis and several great options to enjoy Three Rivers Parks — both indoors and outdoors. Looking for something different? Check out our FREE CALENDAR for more options.
ONGOING:Harry Potter Exhibit Metropolitan State University Library, First Floor, 645 E 7th St., St. Paul, MN 55106 (Same Building as the Dayton’s Bluff Library) January 13, 2014 – February 23, 2014 Monday – Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Friday 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
This exhibit is kind of a grown-up look at the Harry Potter series. It explores the Harry Potter books through the eyes of a scholar and looks at how it is rooted in Renaissance science (including alchemy, philosophy and astrology), and the ethical questions that affected both Harry Potter’s world and the world of the historical thinkers of the 15th and 16th centuries. This exhibit probably isn’t for your kids if they are only mild fans. But, if you have a child who has read all the books, you may both enjoy the exhibit on your own levels. If you want more information about the exhibit, visit the Harry Potters World website. Image Credit: Metropolitan State University Library.
FRIDAY:Family Friday Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake Street, Suite G10, Minneapolis, MN 55407 Every Friday Night; 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Midtown Global Market starts out every weekend with Family Fridays. Each week features music and free family-friendly activities. This week, The Roe Family Singers — one of my favorite local bands — will be the featured musical group. You can check out a sample of their music below. The Roe Family Singers is one of those bands that is in regular rotation on our grown up online radio station (SiaNet Radio if you are interested in independent music), but also makes great family car music, too. It’s appealing to adults and kids alike. Image Credit: Roe Family Singers – The Owl and the Bat and the Bumblebee Album Cover.
As I’m finishing this article, the snow is piling up and the temperature is dropping enough that we are pretty much guaranteed to still have most of it on Sunday. Whether that thought fills you with joy or dread, Three Rivers Park District has something to entertain your family on a Sunday afternoon. These programs are free and open to all ages.
Sunday, February 23, from 1-3 p.m., at Kroening Interpretive Center, in North Mississippi Regional Park, Minneapolis. Learn about the predators and prey of Minnesota. Who is going to eat lunch and who will be lunch?!
Sunday, February 23, from 2-3 p.m., at Silverwood Park, St. Anthony. Tour the current gallery show and discover more about the artists who contribute work to the park. Then take an artist-led walk to explore the park’s sculptures. Image Credit: Three Rivers Park District – Walk With An Artist.
Sunday, February 23, from 12:30-2 p.m., at Lowry Nature Center, in Carver Park Reserve, Victoria. Explore the forest while building shelters with sticks, logs, and snow! Experiment to see what protects you and the animals best.
Sunday, February 23, from 3-4 p.m., at Richardson Nature Center, in Hyland Lake Park Reserve, Bloomington. This weekly drop-in program explores a different topic each week through hands-on activities that everyone can enjoy at their own pace. This week try to match animal pelts to the corresponding skull.
Address:7025 Victoria Drive (Lowry Nature Center), Victoria, MN 55386
Directions Free and All Ages
Every Saturday this summer, you and your family can visit the restored 1870s house and fields of the Grimm Farmhouse. Wendelin and Julianna Grimm were German immigrants whose work transformed the Upper Midwest into America’s dairy belt. On your visit, you can experience the work and play of a late 1800s Minnesota farm.
The Grimms immigrated to Minnesota in 1859. (This was the year after Minnesota became a state and two years after Laura Ingalls Wilder died(just to give you a timeline). They brought along Alfalfa seeds from Germany and, over time, developed the first winter-hardy alfalfa in North America. Today, Grimm Alfalfa is the source of all modern varieties of alfalfa grown in the U.S.
This would be a great outing to mix a project and a recipe with. I think I would like to hit up the co-op on the ride home to buy our own alfalfa for sandwiches and alfalfa seeds for sprouting. Recipe, Interrupted has directions for sprouting alfalfa with kids. The really cool thing about this project is that it takes less than a week to see results. Before your kids can forget about the outing, you will have made your own alfalfa.