The Big Barn Knows….
Being the wonderful child care center we are we realize many parents feel guilty about the time they are away from their children. I know that family time is hard to come by on the weekends with everything else a parent has to do. Please remember family time doesn’t have to take a whole day.
There are many things families can do together that take less time and don’t cost money. There is nothing better than spending time with the family, except spending time with the family for free!
There are many activities and places you can go that are free, so you can feel even better about doing them. Some of the activities you can do at home. Remember it is not about where you go but what you do and who you do it with.
One of my favorite activities is cooking with my children. Make carrot cake or banana bread with your children, then go and give some to the neighbors. This promotes early reading, early math and sharing.
Making a scarecrow is another one my daughter loved to do. All you need is an old pair of pants, long sleeve shirt, shoes, a hat, some hay, some pins, gloves, newspaper and a bag or plastic pumpkin. Pin the clothing together and tie some string around the top of the shirt.
Start stuffing paper in the arms, legs and stomach. Draw a face on the bag and stuff that too. At the ends of the sleeves and pants stuff some straw, sticking out a bit to make it look good. Sit it in a chair or on the ground. Put on the shoes, hat, and gloves. Have fun!
Don’t forget the old time favorite of raking leaves and jumping in them or having a leaf fight!
Places to Go!
There are many places to go in Chicago and the suburbs that are free or have free days. Free play gets a whole new meaning at Navy Pier’s Chicago Children’s Museum (700 E. Grand Ave., 312-527-1000) which lets you in for no charge on Thursday nights from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm and on the first Sunday of every month.
Lincoln Park Zoo may seem to be an obvious choice, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. The city of Chicago is home to one of the few free zoos in the U.S. Plus almost all wildlife exhibits are stroller accessible. (Don’t miss the outstanding Regenstein Center for African Apes.) The only thing you will have to pay for is parking which starts at $20, so take public transportation.
You can expose your child to music, dance and theater performances in a kid-friendly setting (meaning that sitting on the floor, wandering around, and noshing on Goldfish crackers are all permitted) at the Juicebox Series, hosted by the City of Chicago. Free performances are held every other Friday at the Chicago Cultural Center and every other Saturday at the Garfield Park Conservatory, September-May.
For more free programming this summer, check out the City of Chicago’s Millennium Park website.
Uptown’s Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. This 15-acre birders paradise is home to migrant songbirds during fall and spring migration seasons (best times to visit are April through May and August through October).
The meadow, beach, dune and path to the Lake Michigan pier are so scenic that it’s a great day out, whether or not the kids want to bust out the binoculars. Another great place to go to in Chicago is the Museums. I know I said free, but there are many free days at the museums; check out museumfreedays.com for the list of free days. Bring a picnic lunch for a totally free day!
Not up for going downtown? That’s okay – go to Spring Valley Nature center in Schaumburg or The Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington, IL 60010 Phone:(847) 381-6592. The Crabtree Nature Center has many free events planned and list them on their site.
Don’t forget to gather some leaves, acorns, and other cool nature stuff on your walk. Bring these items home to make an awesome center piece or collage.
Last but not least is Cantigny Park in Wheaton. There are beautiful grounds to walk around and best of all tanks to climb on!