April Family Holidays & Celebrations – Week One
April 1st: April Fool’s Day
- Family activity: April Fool’s Day could be a perfect opportunity to have an Open Mic Night at home. Let each of your budding young stand-ups develop a routine and take the “stage” in your living room. Get inspired with these 75+ Hilarious Jokes for Kids.
- Read aloud: Any Amelia Bedelia book would be ideal!
- Meal idea: Super Healthy Kids website has some ideas for 12 Hilarious April Fools Day Healthy Food Fun.
- Learn more: about the history of April Fool’s Day.
April 2nd: International Children’s Book Day
- Family activity: Try having the kids write and illustrate their own short picture books.
- Outing idea: We’re always excited about promoting our favorite Twin Cities independent bookstores. Pick one of these highly kid-friendly shops to explore for the first time: RED BALLOON BOOKSHOP (St Paul), WILD RUMPUS BOOKS (Minneapolis), EXCELSIOR BAY BOOKS (Excelsior) or VALLEY BOOKSELLER (Stillwater).
- Learn more: about the origin of Children’s Book Day. Also, if you’re unable to celebrate today, save your kids bookstore outing for the last Saturday in April – Independent Bookstore Day in the Twin Cities. Skip down for further ideas.
BONUS CELEBRATION: April 2nd is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Slap together yourself a sandwich and call it celebrated. Learn more facts about the classic pairing – PB&J Day – here.
April 3rd: National Find a Rainbow Day
- Family activity: It’s a slim chance you’ll look up and find one in the sky today, but there are endless ways to create your own rainbows. Catch the right angle of sunlight with a spray from a garden hose. Get out the sidewalk chalk and decorate the driveway with some color. Try this rainbow in a jar science experiment.
- Outing idea: Our very own Gianna’s family refers to the giant ELM CREEK PARK RESERVE PLAY AREA as the “Rainbow Park” due to its multi-hued play equipment. If the weather’s nice today, try it and you’ll see what we mean.
- Read aloud: How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney.
- Meal idea: Limitless possibilities – see if you can serve a complete visible spectrum on your dinner table today. (Besides, eating a natural rainbow any day of the month is healthy!)
- Learn more: about the 12 types of rainbows on National Rainbow Day.
BONUS CELEBRATION: April 3 is also National Play Outside Day!
- Family activity: We have a list of more than 60 games to play outdoors for you. Pick one of these great outdoor activities to play together. Teach kids classics like Mother, May I?, dig out the sidewalk chalk or blow your own soap bubbles.
- Read aloud: We Were Tired of Living in a House by Lisel Moak Skorpen (if possible, look for the version illustrated by Doris Burn).
- Meal idea: How about an indoor picnic featured our favorite outdoor foods? Hey, maybe some brave soul would be willing to fire up the grill? Or maybe it will be blizzarding? Who knows in Minnesota.
- Learn more: National Play Outside Day is actually the first Saturday of every month. But during April in Minnesota, we have a 50/50 chance we’ll want to play outside.
April 4th: International Day for Mine Awareness
While you won’t find any traditional mines in the immediate Twin Cities metro, it might be a good day to look into planning a road trip to one of the fascinating historic mine sites in greater Minnesota. Or, a trip to get a birds-eye view of a working Minnesota mine in action. Our fair state is home to three iron ore range sites: the Cuyuna, Mesabi and Vermilion Ranges. There are multiple places to visit and learn more about Minnesota’s mining heritage, but here’s a quick list of three Minnesota State Parks to get you started on Mine Awareness Day (tip: the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website is a gem!):
- SOUDAN UNDERGROUND MINE STATE PARK (Tower, NE Minnesota): Typically offers family-friendly mine tours that dive a half-mine underground. Anne’s kids have enjoyed these tours though be aware, they are fairly dark. These tours will resume hopefully in summer of 2023. Until then, surface tours will be available starting May 27 and cost $5/pp.
- HILL ANNEX MINE STATE PARK (outside Grand Rapids, MN): Both Joy’s and Anne’s families have taken this open-pit mine tour, which is mostly done via bus. Joy has written about her road trip adventure hunting for fossils with her kids. Tours are no longer available.
- CUYUNA COUNTRY STATE RECREATION AREA (Crosby, MN): Best for mountain bike enthusiasts, there are trails galore that wind around crystal lakes that were once open pit mines. A paved state trail runs through the region, too. Nicki and Nate of Minnemama Adventures have written a great article about biking this region with their kids.
Here in the Twin Cities (St Paul, to be exact), the Then Now Wow exhibit at the MINNESOTA HISTORY CENTER gives visitors a hands-on taste of what it was like to blast for iron ore.
April 5th: First Contact Day
- Family activity: Give your kids a history assignment to study the history of first contact with the Vulcans and the contributions of Zefram Cochrane to science.
- Read aloud: Check out these fun Star Trek Mad Libs.
- Meal idea: Let’s just ask the Trekkers on Pinterest for their ideas!
- Learn more: about First Contact Day.
April 6th: National Tartan Day
- Family activity: Design your own family tartan (a plaid textile traditionally used to designate Scottish family clans) and crest. Use these free coloring sheets from Twinkl.com or just go free hand. Then, host a family movie night featuring Disney/Pixar’s Scottish flick Brave.
- Read aloud: Katie Morag’s Island Stories by Mairi Hedderwick.
- Meal idea: Gianna, who has traveled to Scotland, says, “You could try your hand at traditional haggis, but I prefer Shepherd’s Pie. Also, they are really invested in their mushy peas. I’m not even joking. When I was in Scotland, I could order mushy peas at most pubs.” Yum?
- Learn more: about National Tartan Day.
April 7th: National No Housework Day
- Family activity: We have to assume that if Mon & Dad aren’t constantly picking up then there will be chaos everywhere. How about a fun indoor game of The Floor Is Lava, stepping from one out-of-place item to the next?
- Read aloud: Gone is Gone by Wanda Gag (who was from New Ulm, Minnesota! We include her childhood home on our travel list of the Best Things to Do in New Ulm, Minnesota, with Kids if you need a fun day trip idea.)
- Meal idea: Skip the meal prep and dishes and order takeout from your favorite local restaurant (Door Dash will deliver from nearly 900 eateries in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area).
Did you know?
The first Thursday of April is also National Burrito Day. Locally-owned company Mostly Made shares their Burrito Bowl recipe with us and our very own Joy describes how she has this easy meal from freezer to table in 20 minutes. Did you also know that FFTC is made up of three families with twelve children collectively? We love a quick go-to meal any night of the week!
April 8th: National Zoo Lovers Day
- Family activity: Spend some time learning about your favorite animals – do a search online, watch a documentary and/or read some books.
- Outing idea: Visit either COMO ZOO for a free day out (bring along our COMO PARK ZOO SPRING CHECKLIST to make the most of a visit) or the MINNESOTA ZOO for a special treat and try to visit your favorite animal.
- Read aloud: Obviously, we need a zoo theme! There so many good books about zoos to choose from. Goodnight Gorilla, If I Ran the Zoo & The Mixed Up Chameleon should get you started. Pick one off your shelf or download one from the library. Or keep the favorite animal theme going with a book about your favorite animal – fiction or non-fiction.
- Meal idea: Penlights to Pacifiers decorates oranges like tigers and has several other great suggestions for zoo-themed food.
- Learn more: about how your Minnesota Zoo admission helps conservation.
April Family Holidays & Celebrations – Week Two
April 9th is Easter Sunday in 2023
Our GIANT LIST of TWIN CITIES EASTER EGG HUNTS & EVENTS is just the thing to reach for if you’re in search of a fun family outing today. If you’re more interested in a DIY Easter, we’ve got ideas and tips for egg hunts, dyeing and decorating eggs, and custom-stuffed baskets.
April 9th: Name Yourself Day
- Family activity: Play “A My Name Is…”. This is a favorite car game for our family. If you have not played this game before, these are the instructions: 1) The first player takes the letter A and fills in the blank with words that begin with that letter, chanting, “A, my name is _____________. My best friend’s name is _______. We come from ______________ and we like _______________!” 2) The next player takes the letter B and you move on through the alphabet until your reach the letter Z.
- Read aloud: Pragmatic Mom has created a list of books about names.
- Meal idea: Make whatever you’d like but let your family come up with a creative name for the dish!
April 10th: National Farm Animal Day
- Family activity: You can use our Where To Find the Minnesota Farm Babies article to search out a good place to observe farm animals today. Our pick for easier viewing may be the DODGE NATURE CENTER & FARM where there is no charge to wander the trails and likely view animals at this working farm in the city.
April 10th is also National Siblings Day
- Family activity: Play “Siblings Trivia”. Collect and write 5 facts about each sibling. Then, Mom or Dad plays Game Host by reading the questions aloud and quizzing the kids. See how well they know each other!
- Outing idea: Clifton E French was born April 10, 1918. Visit FRENCH REGIONAL PARK in Plymouth in his honor. Your kids will go nuts for all the climbing nets – and invite them to bring their siblings, of course.
- Read aloud: Big Little Brother by Kevin Kling (bonus: local author).
- Learn more: about National Siblings Day. Anything we can do to help siblings appreciate each other is a win for the family.
April 11th: National Submarine Day (also International Louie Louie Day)
- Family activity: Break out the classic family game Battleship and find the subs! Listen to Louie Louie on repeat while you play. It adds a new level of competition!
- Read aloud: Yellow Submarine by The Beatles (a kids’ picture books version). Introduce the kids to the tune and sing along as a family. Plus, that way you can replace Louie Louie in your head with Yellow Submarine, which is a slight improvement.
- Meal idea: Make-your-own Jimmy John’s sub sandwiches. Joy’s family buys just the bread for 50 cents a loaf at her local JJ’s and tops it with whatever they happen to have in the kitchen. Stir up homemade lemonade or iced tea, add a family-size bag of chips and pretend you’re on a picnic.
- Learn more: about National Submarine Day, named to commemorate American’s first purchase of a commissioned sub. Learn why today is Louie Louie Day here.
April 12th: Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (yum)
- Read aloud: Who Moved My Cheese? for Kids by Spencer Johnson. This is a great book to introduce the concept for accepting the things we can’t change in life and making the best of what is.
- Meal idea: Grilled cheese sandwiches, obviously, with maybe some tomato soup on the side? Kids will be pleased and adults, if you’re craving a grown-up version, this pot roast grilled cheese recipe from Dining With Alice sounds delish.
April 13th: Scrabble Day
- Family activity: Our very own Anne says, “I quit playing Scrabble when my husband beat me for the 40th time in a row and my ego could take no more. But you might have a great time playing as a family.” Joy’s family really likes playing a pass-and-play game with a free app on the iPad. Other ideas for family word games our kids enjoy: Bananagrams (for kids learning to spell) or Quiddler (a word card game).
- Meal idea: Serve a classic can of Campbell’s alphabet soup and try to spell words out of your bowl. We have tweens who still find this amusing.
- Learn more: about National Scrabble Day.
April 14th: Look up at the Sky Day
- Family activity: Base your day’s activity on the weather. If the weather is clear, try stargazing and picking out the constellations. This online planetarium might help. If the sky brings clouds, learn about the different types and how they form. My kids created these cloud-finders at a local park; you could easily design your own.
- Outing idea: Interested in a real planetarium show? The BELL MUSEUM offers shows Wed-Sun for $6-$8/pp (museum not included but can be added on). The Bell also occasionally offers free stargazing programs, so check their events calendar if you’re interested in catching one.
- Read aloud: Anne loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs as a kid and loved sharing it with her own children.
- Meal idea: If the book whets your appetite, serve meatballs for dinner with a side of mashed potatoes and a jello sunset for dessert.
- Learn more: about Look Up at the Sky Day.
April 15th: World Art Day
- Family activity: We have some world-class art museums right here in the Twin Cities. Nervous about taking young children? Both the WALKER ART CENTER & MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART have days that are admission-free and cater to families. Nice weather? Have a run around the MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN. Or maybe go craft cozy at home? We’ve got a big list of Arts & Crafts for Kids to choose from.
- Read aloud: Leonardo daVinci for Kids: His Life & Ideas by Janis Herbert.
- Meal idea: Normally we wouldn’t encourage playing with your food, but these 11 Food Art Ideas for Kids from Pure Wow would make adorable exceptions today.
- Learn more: about World Art Day – also Leonardo’s daVinci’s birthday.
April Family Celebrations – Week Three
April 16th: Save the Elephant Day
- Read aloud: Joy’s favorite elephant book is Elmer by David McKee.
- Family activity: After the story, make patchwork elephants and stage your own Elmer’s Day Parade. Download your own Elmer Day pack here. Disney+ currently has an elephant documentary streaming.
- Meal idea: Add some elephant ears to dessert.
- Learn more: about Save the Elephant Day.
April 17th: International Haiku Poetry Day
- Family activity: Let’s write haikus today! Who doesn’t love writing haikus? (Apparently Anne & Gianna who assigned this day to Joy.) Haikus are simple. Write 3 lines: 5 syllables, then new line 7 syllables, then new line 5 syllables. Don’t rhyme, but make each word count (get our your thesaurus). Traditionally, haikus are about nature but you can write about anything you want.
- Read aloud: Read each family’s member’s poem(s) aloud when you are done.
- Learn more: about International Haiku Poetry Day.
April 18th: International Juggler’s Day
- Family activity: Try your hand at learning to juggle in honor of his holiday. Start with three scarves (or similar, lightweight material) and see if you can work your way up to balls. You can find a lot of tutorials on YouTube.
- Read aloud: Clown of God by Tomie dePaoloa or the Juggling Pug by Sean Bryan.
- Learn more: about International Juggler’s Day.
April 19th: National Garlic Day
- Family activity: Start or add to your kitchen scrap garden. Garlic is one of those cool plants you can easily grow from scraps in your window sill. Martha Stewart shows us how to do it here.
- Outing idea: We don’t have a great garlic-themed outing, but Carl W. Kroening was born today in 1928. Visit the KROENING INTERPRETIVE CENTER in NORTH MISSISSIPPI REGIONAL PARK today.
- Read aloud: Read or watch the Jewish folktale – Onions & Garlic.
- Meal idea: Anne’s family is not shy about adding garlic to meals at home: “We all love a good head of cauliflower roaster with olive oil and garlic. Spaghetti with garlic bread. Or, a salute to one of my favorite foods at the Minnesota State Fair, try garlic french fries. You might want to skip the goodnight kisses, though.”
- Learn more: about National Garlic Day.
Patriot’s Day (annually, third Monday of April)
- Family activity: Patriot’s Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, near Boston, in 1775. The city hosts your own mini-marathon or races at a local park.
- Read aloud: The Boston-set Make Way For Ducklings is a sweet choice to read aloud with younger kids. Older kids might be ready to be introduced to The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, a poem.
- Meal idea: Hit up your favorite fish ‘n chips joint or fry some up at home with a side of Boston baked beans.
- Learn more: about Patriot’s Day.
April 21st: Kindergarten Day
- Family activity: What’s the best part of kindergarten? Show & Tell! Everyone can show and tell something about their day at dinner tonight.
- Read aloud: Depending on the age range, Robert Fulghum’s essay All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten or Junie B Jones and the Stupid, Smelly Bus.
- Meal idea: Chicken nuggets, broccoli dinosaur trees, mac & cheese and juice or milk.
- Learn more: Today is the birthday of Friedrich Frobel, who founded the first kindergarten.
April 22nd: Earth Day
- Family activity: Spend a half-hour together cleaning up your own backyard or neighborhood. While out, collect some natural objects to make a collage.
- Outing idea: We’ve got several events on our list of FAMILY EARTH DAY CELEBRATIONS IN THE TWIN CITIES that would make a fun outing with kids to teach stewardship.
- Read aloud: The Earth Book by Todd Parr.
- Learn more: about the roots of Earth Day.
April Family Celebrations – Week Four
April 23rd – Composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Birthday
- Family activity: Enjoy a version of Prokofiev’s Peter and Wolf. There are several good video versions as well as audio versions. Maestro Classics offers a CD/Download version that includes the music, narration and educational extras.
- Read aloud: Maestro suggests picking another animal story, like a Beatrix Potter story (you can download most of these for FREE for your Kindle) and choosing instruments to represent each of the characters in the same style as Peter and the Wolf. Find more details on the Maestro Classics website curriculum page.
- Learn more: Learn more about Sergei Prokofiev on Classics for Kids.
April 25th: World Penguin Day
- Family activity: Movie night: Watch March of the Penguins or Happy Feet.
- Outing idea: Visit the Penguins at Como Zoo
- Read aloud: Ella & Penguin Stick Together by Megan Maynor (bonus: local author) is a great read for younger kids. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a charming classic some of us parents grew up with that might be fun to start with our own brood.
- Meal idea: Eat like a penguin with a seafood night.
- Learn more: about World Penguin Day.
April 26th: National Pretzel Day
- Family activity: Play a family game of Twister.
- Read aloud: Pretzel by Margret & H. A. Rey (the authors of Curious George).
- Meal idea: Burgers on a pretzel bun.
- Learn more: Learn more about the history of the pretzel here.
April 27th: Tell a Story Day
- Family activity: Brightly offers 6 storytelling games you could play around the table during dinner.
- Read aloud: Skip the read aloud and just tell stories tonight.
- Find storytelling tips here.
April 28th: Great Poetry Reading Day
- Family activity: The Young Poets Network has suggestions for 5 poetry games plus more ideas in the comments.
- Read aloud: Obviously pick your favorite poetry book or search a topic on the Poetry Foundation’s website to pick a poem of the day.
- Meal idea: We were at a loss for this, but Cadry’s Kitchen has you covered.
April 29th: National Arbor Day
We list some Twin Cities Arbor Day events HERE if you feel up to a festival with the family.
- Family activity: Joy comments, “I don’t know how easy it actually is to grow a Bonsai from a pinecone, but I really want to try it! It would make a great center to a fairy garden.”
- Outing idea: Visit the MAPLE GROVE ARBORETUM. There is a self-guided tree tour you might be interested in taking. There is also a self-guided Tree Trek at INDIAN MOUNDS REGIONAL PARK in St Paul. Enjoy a mile hike around the park that leads you to 28 different types of trees. Find this and other ideas in our article, Twin Cities Quests and Treasure Hunts for Families.
- Read aloud: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. If you think The Lorax is a bit of a downer, follow it with The Tin Forest by Helen Ward. I kind of think of it as the sequel to the Lorax.
- Meal idea: What can you make with fruit, nuts and sap from trees? Pancakes!
- Learn more: about Arbor Day.
Last Saturday in April – International Sculpture Day
- Family Fun: Play Advancing Statues. In this game, the person who is It faces away from the other players on the opposite side of the room or yard. While It person counts to 10, the other players may move forward. Once It reaches 10, he turns as fast as he can. If he catches anyone moving, they go back to start. The first person to reach It is the new It.
- Outing Idea: Visits one of these super cool sculpture parks in Minnesota. Pictured below is a photo of our visit to FRANCONIA SCULPTURE PARK near Taylors Falls. Fun family day trip idea and FREE (minus the gas)!
- Read Aloud: 13 Sculptures Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel
- Learn More: about International Sculpture Day.
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