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Stay Calm & Carry On

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Daylight hours grow longer and brighter. Colorful bulb flowers struggle free from their wintry graves, emerging from the clotted moist earth. Meanwhile, the melodic chorus of birdsong crescendoes, and the clicking chatter of chipmunks interrupts the tranquility of warm, sunny afternoons. It can mean only one thing: Spring has arrived.

As lovely and poetic as the sights and sounds of nature can be this time of year, the sound before dawn's early light that will send some of us out of bed like a shot will be, "I'm bored! What are we going to do today? Can I puh-lease have my iPad back? I promise to behave for a whole, entire week, puh-lease."

Yes, with spring comes the inevitable spring break.

For many parents, the next week or two represents that special Hallmark-ish time of year when they and their children embark on a family vacation to a fun-filled destination. There, youngsters will enjoy activities far more exciting than endless hours of watching Stampy Longnose and playing Minecraft videos. Families will happily drive or jet off to retreats, while bidding a fond farewell to winter and a hearty salute to spring.

But if you're like me, you'll be stuck here in Indiana working, and your child will remind you every waking hour how he, too, is stuck here with you, "bored out of my gourd"  -- with nothing to do. That is unless you map out a stay-active strategy. Right now.

And to help you, we here at SBW offer these suggestions to keep your young ones entertained and engaged in brain-synapse-sparking endeavors. Good luck and peace be with you.

Fam-tastic Days: Spring Break at the IMA from Tuesday, March 25 to Friday, March 28, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. reserve a ticket and head to the museum for short bursts of artful activities. Youngsters can make coil pots, wood sculptures, and enjoy printmaking and canvas painting. Cost is $3 per child or $5 for non-members. *Best of all, if the projects turn out, voila! You'll already have Grandma's Mother's Day gift.

Brawny, a 3-week-old Cotswold lamb, will welcome guests to the Animal Encounters Barn Thursday, the opening day of Conner Prairie's outdoor season. - JAMI STALL
  • Jami Stall
  • Brawny, a 3-week-old Cotswold lamb, will welcome guests to the Animal Encounters Barn Thursday, the opening day of Conner Prairie's outdoor season.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park's New Outdoor Season Begins. Starting March 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (but closed on Mondays) your little living-history-loving tyke can pet farm critters, dip beeswax candles and gallivant around the 1836 Prairietown or Lenape Indian camp. Nothing says springtime like the Animal Encounters Barn at Conner Prairie, with its weeks-old lambs, peeping chicks and sheep just about ready for shearing. Best of all, Farmer Kevyn teaches children amazing facts about the animals and how to properly care for and respect them (without kids even noticing the lessons). Yeah, he's that good. Also, the newly expanded and beautifully remodeled Create.Connect indoor science-based interactive activity area opens on the 27th, with two new exhibits.

Gnome Away From Home might just be the kookiest outing of your week. March 28 through April 6 (Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m.) Garfield Park Conservatory invites you to come explore and adore its extensive collection of garden gnomes from far and wide who have gathered there for a "tropical" vacation. Admission is $3 per person or $8 per family. And if you call ahead, you possibly can even bring your own gnome to vacation with its brethren there. Younger kids will likely groove on the concept, and older ones might appreciate the kitsch. Pack a picnic lunch, swing by your library for a book or two on gnomes and fairies, and enjoy full immersion into a spritely day of fun.

Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths & Mastodons at the Indiana State Museum gives your fossil-hunting, all-things-prehistoric-obsessed kids plenty of Pleistocene points of interest. Let them roam the exhibit to enjoy a host of interactive displays, and starting April 4, you can time your visit around an IMAX Theatre viewing of Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D.

There's not a bad seat in the house at the intimate 50-seat theater of Peewinkle's Puppet Studio just a couple blocks from Downtown Indy. - PEEWINKLE'S PUPPET STUDIO
  • Peewinkle's Puppet Studio
  • There's not a bad seat in the house at the intimate 50-seat theater of Peewinkle's Puppet Studio just a couple blocks from Downtown Indy.

Central Library hosts Indianapolis Opera's Inn of the Seven Dwarves March 29 at 1 p.m. (and at the same time on April 6 at the Nora Library). Geared for kids 6 to 11, this special performance is presented by members of the Indianapolis Opera. It puts a new spin on the old classic, exploring issues of acceptance, conveyed by a cranky innkeeper who runs a little bed-and-breakfast.

Additional X-chromosome activities include Peewinkle's Puppet Studio presenting Cinderella every Thursday, Friday and Saturday now through April 12. The quaint 50-seat theater uses a specially designed set with marionettes for this well-loved fairytale, along with a bit of shadow puppetry. Peewinkle's puppeteers are entertaining enough to make this girlie classic captivating for even the most fairy princess-resistant rough and tumble brothers roped into going. And for a few bucks more, kids can enjoy a post-show workshop to learn a bit about the art of puppetry.

The 13th Annual Circus Day at the Indiana Historical Society lets kids clown around on March 29. The event  is staged at the Gene & Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights include the renowned Hampel Family Circus with its jugglers, Amazing World of Animals, and the Professor Presto Magic Show. Carnival games with prizes, bouncehouse fun and the Old Time Freak Show round out the activities slated for the day. Afterward you can enjoy free admission to the Indiana Historical Society to check out the Indiana Experience exhibit.

Celebrating its 10th birthday, Dinosphere brings out the paleontologist in children and adults alike. - THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF INDIANAPOLIS
  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
  • Celebrating its 10th birthday, Dinosphere brings out the paleontologist in children and adults alike.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis knows how to bring on the happy for kids (and, in turn, parents). Now through April 6, its Dinosaur Extravaganza gives museumgoers several opps for diggin' the dinos and celebrating a decade of Dinoshpere. Along with daily birthday activities, there are various scheduled events for your Paleolithic-loving pride and joy. March 29 and 30, for example, they can meet Paleo artist, Brian Cooley, and watch as he sculpts the first-ever scientifically accurate, life-size T-Rex head reconstruction to sport feathers. Then, of course, the rest of the museum awaits exploration. 

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