→ Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers have your kid dreaming of a career as a rock star. Who knows? Maybe the CHICAGO CHILDREN’S CHOIR concert (right) at Ravinia (6/4) will help hone your little Gleek’s fantasy: Hard work and talent can bring rewards other than MTV. Plus, dinner in the park is a cinch. The Family Fun Pack includes a ticket, a box dinner, and face-painting supplies for $25 a head.
→ Maybe visual art is your troupe’s discipline of choice. On 6/5, do you . . .
OGLE THE PAVEMENT
Your sidewalk is so covered with hopscotch there isn’t a square to spare, so grab the fam and head over to Oz Park for Art Therapy Connection’s annual CHALK FESTIVAL. Marvel as professional chalk artists wow the crowd with masterpieces so realistic you’ll want to make like Mary Poppins and jump right in. When inspiration strikes, your kids can show off their own artistic abilities.
EYEBALL THE WALLS
Your progeny may be destined for greatness, but you can’t hang a patch of concrete on the fridge. Looking for something more mobile, you schlep the crew to the Art Institute’s BEHIND THE LIONS DAY. Take a guided tour through the exhibition Everyday Adventures Growing Up: Art from Picture Books before the little ones dream up their own works.
Need more fodder for budding artists? See Summer Hot List: Arts and Culture.
→ With such rampant creativity abounding, the offspring could use a more raucous outlet. Looking to trade in their easels for axes, you rush out to buy the new GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND game (RELEASED 6/8; recommended for ages 13 and up). As they butcher “American Idiot” for the hundredth time, you try not to dwell on the irony.
→ What with all your teens’ gaming and texting and tweeting, some fresh air could do them good. The Chicago History Museum’s KAYAK TRIPS, starting in JUNE on the Chicago River, sound like just the technology-free adventure they—and you—need.
For more outdoor exercises, see Summer Hot List: Sports & Recreation
Cool down postpaddle in air-conditioned comfort. Even you are a little excited for TOY STORY 3 (OUT 6/18). To infinity and—well, you get the idea.
If your tween would rather leave talking toys to the less-hormone-riddled crowd, you dig out your riot gear and elbow through the masses to catch THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE on 6/30—or, if your microadults get their way, the midnight before. Be well versed in the storied rivalry between Team Edward and Team Jacob or suffer your preteen’s scorn.
→ Sated on the multiplex, your merry band makes the short drive out to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle for a Theatre-Hike: ROBIN HOOD plays most weekends in JULY. Fidgets be gone! You sit for a 10-minute scene before trek-king to the next outdoor vignette staged in a different area of the park. After 12 scenes and 12 minitreks, the whole family is ready for bed.
→ Or let someone else do the hustling: Take your team to Toyota Park for a RED STARS GAME. Stand up and cheer for Chicago’s first ladies of soccer when they challenge the Philadelphia Independence on 7/10.
→ Speaking of independence, budding history buffs will dig the Lakewood Forest Preserve’s annual CIVIL WAR DAYS (7/10-11) in Wauconda, featuring infantry and cavalry skirmishes, artillery demos, appearances by storied generals of the North (Grant, Sherman, Custer) and the South (Lee, Jackson), plus speeches, songs, and some tales from President Lincoln and Sojourner Truth. If a large-scale battle re-enactment sounds a touch realistic for your peewee brigade, head to Wheaton on 7/30, when a birthday party saluting the World War I vet and legendary Chicago Tribune publisher COLONEL ROBERT MCCORMICK substitutes water balloons for artillery shells on the grounds of his Colonial Revival mansion, Cantigny.
→ Historical interests lean more toward the Jurassic era? Those The Land Before Time DVDs just aren’t cutting it anymore, so you check out WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, a touring spectacle of 15 life-sized über-reptiles that stomps into Allstate Arena 7/28-8/1. Watch your kid’s jaw drop as the story of the dinos’ 200-million-year dominion over Earth unfolds.
→ Researchers say birds are descended from dinosaurs, but we’ll leave that up to the science geeks (see Summer Hot List: Science Fun) to figure out. Your kids are less concerned with highflying fowl than with flying kites high at the CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN’S KITE FESTIVAL (8/7-8). There, the pro Chicago Fire Kite Team wows you with stunts and a choreographed kite ballet before your young pilots make their own kites to take home.
→ If seeing those kites aloft leaves your clan yearning to float through the clouds, caravan to Navy Pier for the second year of AEROBALLOON rides. For $15 to $25 each, you and 16 lucky companions (you brought the kids, right?) will soar 350 feet above Chicago in an anchored helium balloon. Just leave your fear of heights at home.
→ If you’d prefer something a bit more grounded, make tracks to the BROOKFIELD ZOO, where, for a cool $300, your freshly minted Junior Zookeeper will milk goats, bathe an armadillo, and traipse around areas of the Children’s Zoo off-limits to the general public. (Don’t forget to check the bottoms of all shoes before the car ride home.)
→ The crushing blow of summer’s end puts your gang in a somber mood, so on 8/23 you load them up and head to Magic Tree Bookstore’s RELEASE PARTY for MOCKINGJAY, the third book in the Hunger Games series. Let the kids party it up until the book’s official midnight release, then look the other way when they stay up until dawn to finish the story. Crisis averted? Maybe for now, but there are only 118 days left until winter break. You better start planning.
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Photography: (Chicago Children’s Choir) courtesy of Ravinia Festival, (kayak) parkerdeen/istockphoto.com Opposite: (Toy Story 3) Disney/Pixar, (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) Summit Entertainment LLC, (Kosovare Asllani of the Chicago Red Stars) courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars, (Civil War Days) Chip Williams, (goat) judwick/istockphoto.com