Sometimes I look at our growing Family Fun Calendar and get overwhelmed. Realistically, I want to stick to one (occasionally two) family outings a weekend. But there is so much to choose from. This is where I’ve found my library card comes in handy. If I look ahead and get books or other media related to the upcoming outings, I can get a feel for which ones will be the most enjoyable without getting into a rut. Even when we choose not to attend something, we learn a little more about it and feel a little less like we missed out.
Note: Because our readership covers several libraries. Links are to our Amazon affiliate page. Unless otherwise stated, these items are available through the MELSA Library system and, if your own library doesn’t carry it, it can be obtained through inter-library loan.
1. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Stages Theatre has turned this toddler book into an all-ages play running from January 22nd through February 15th. Will this book be a one your child wants read over and over? It couldn’t hurt to order it and find out. There are more Bear books by Karma Wilson if you enjoy this one. She also offers some fun Bear printables on her website. You can get a preview of the play at the Mall of America‘s Toddler Tuesday on January 26th.
2. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Every year, Children’s Theatre Company seems to bring another classic children’s book to life. This year they picked a favorite by Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day is a Before Five In A Row book, so there are plenty of activities to be found online to go with this book (like this Pinterest Board). The Red Balloon will be hosting CTC for a Snowy Day Story Time on February 6th, and our climate is currently offering us a little bit of the real thing.
The Eric Carle Exhibit at Minnesota Children’s Museum opens February 6th. This seems like a great excuse to re-familiarize ourselves with his books. The exhibit concentrates on the Very books, but he has so many other beloved books, why stop there? As with the Snowy Day, there is no end to the projects we can find online to extend the fun. Here’s a batch to get started from Toddler Approved.
4. The Frog Bride by Antonia Barber and Virginia Lee
Children’s Theatre Company‘s performance of The Frog Bride runs from January 12th through February 28th. This play is recommended for Grades 3+ and lap passes are not available. The book by Antonia Barber is a beautifully illustrated version recommended for ages 6 to 10. If you are having fun with this and still want more, you can download this Study Guide from the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. It offers several pages of activities and discussion starters to go with the story.
5. Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy
This is an adult book, but I found nothing objectionable in it other than a difficult social subject. This recounting by the author of the summer she spent homeless with her two children is a mild introduction to the problems of homelessness. Just Before Sleep is a made-for-stage story intended for upper grade school through middle school. It is being performed by Youth Performance Company from January 29th through February 14th. The combination of the book and play would be a good conversation starter for kids who may not otherwise encounter this reality.
6. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [Audio CD] by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Okay, I know Martin Luther King Day is in January, but I didn’t think of this article in December and Black History Month is February, so I’m still recommending this book. This is another adult book that I believe would be great to share with older grade school children. There is a text version, but in this case you want the audio version. Having been born after his death, Martin Luther King was just an historical figure to me until I listened to this audio book of his actual speeches. It brings him to life in a way that a history book just never will. If you plan to attend any of the MLK celebrations around town in January, this would be a great way to introduce Dr. King or follow up your outing.
Steppingstone Theatre premiered Ruby! The Story of Ruby Bridges in 2012 and is bringing it back for their 2015-16 season from February 5th through 28th. Through My Eyes is Ruby Bridges own book written for Scholastic. She has also written another beginner reader book. Both are available through the library. The movie has an after school special feel to it, but it still made me cry and feel for this little girl who was no older than my own 6-year-0ld and not looking for a battle. You can get this movie through the library; and its also available (in poor quality) on YouTube. Steppingstone offers this Enrichment Guide to extend your conversations.
The Broadway version of Disney’s Newsies will come to the Orpheum from February 9th through 14th. Tickets start at $39. Whether or not you plan to take your family, you can download the Study Guide to learn a little more about the environment of turn-of-the-century New York. This movie is available in its entirety on YouTube, but, like Ruby Bridges, its poor quality. Hennepin County Library currently has 13 copies and none were checked out when I checked on it.
Carpenter Nature Center‘s annual Masters of the Sky celebration is February 27th and 28th. Not that you would probably need to build excitement for seeing raptors up close, but you could. This seems like a good reason to order one of my kids’ favorite books, Owl Moon and an Owl documentary like, Owl Power. If you take advantage of Bookflix through your local library, you can find Owl Moon on there, along with suggestions for more exploration.
12. Emma by Jane Austen
Emma is recommended for Age 12+, but I think if you are reading out loud, you could go a little younger. It would be fun to mix with the Minneapolis Institute of Art‘s exhibit, Living Rooms | The Jane Austen Reading Room (runs through June). If Emma seems a bit too ambitious, Jane Austen Expert Sarah Emsley has created a list of books to share with kids of all ages and has a link to her Pinterest board of ideas for activities. My favorite of the book options is The Beautifull Cassandra, written by Jane Austen and illustrated by Juliet McMasters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the book through the MELSA system. It is available to read online on the Jane Austen Society of North America‘s Website.
There are two current exhibits that focus on photography which kids could enjoy a little more if they considered themselves photographers. Walker Art Center‘s exhibit, Ordinary Pictures, which focuses on the art of stock photography, opens February 27th and runs through October 9th. The Minnesota History Center is currently showing,“What Brings Us Together” Mazinaakizige American Indian Teen Photography Project. This project brought together six American Indian teenagers to learn about and create digital photography. It closes February 21st. Maybe after viewing these exhibits and reading the book, they’ll want to create their own exhibit.
15. Janice VanCleave’s Engineering for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun by Janice VanCleave
The following weekend, on February 27th, The Works hosts Tech Fest. Keep the STEAM going with a little engineering and technology.
The nice thing about this book for me, as a parent, is that watercolors are cheap. You can see the author in the video below. She isn’t using anything fancy. This means your little artist can be prolific on a dollar store budget. In case they don’t believe that watercolors are real art materials, you can take them to see The Watercolor Worlds of Lars Lerin at the American Swedish Institute. The exhibit starts January 23rd and runs through May 22nd.
I’m amazed that this documentary is only available at one library in the MELSA system. It is hands down the best nature film I have ever watched, and I was sad when I couldn’t stream it on Netflix anymore. It’s worth getting on a waiting list for. Microcosmos would pair well with Bell Museum of Natural History‘s current exhibit, Expanded in Sites: The Tremendous Beauty of Small Wonders. This exhibit runs through March 5th.
18 & 19. The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola and/or The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
On January 30th The Weisman Art Museum will open a new Exhibit, Clouds, Temporarily Visible; and on February 17th, they will host a talk by author Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. I think it would be fun to study clouds together and take a trip to the Weisman to view cloud art.
20. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The movie version of this Newbery Honor Book is coming out in theaters on February. I don’t like to see a movie based on a book without reading the book first.