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Monday
Apr142014

Great Parks! Hawks Hollow Nature Playground in Geneva

Park Name & Location: Hawks Hollow Nature Playground, located on the grounds of the Peck Farm Interpretive Center, 4038 Kaneville Road in Geneva. Phone: 630-262-822. The farm is located west of Randall Road, at the corner of Kaneville and Peck roads. 

About: Hawks Hollow, which just opened in the fall of 2013, is designed to engage children in environmental learning. The play area features eight interactive learning stations featuring native bird, tree and bug species. There are a child-sized bird nest and beaver lodge, log beam balance course, mud wall canvas a wood stage, log seating, musical instruments, a pulley system and optic scopes for bird-watching. A multi-level treehouse has a spiral slide, climbing cargo nets and a "tree-top eagles nest overlook." There also water features in the warmer months -- a splash area and water in a "creek" that can be manipulated by building structures, moving rocks, etc. 

Hawks Hollow is located at Peck Farm Interpretative Center. Photo by Tara Burghart.

Amenities: Peck Farm Interpretive Center has bathrooms in its nearby Orientation Barn, as well as a visitor's center, observation silo, a 19-acre wetland and miles of nature and bike trails. You can download a map here.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr102014

Weekend Spotlight: Fine Arts in Maple Park, Sensory-Friendly Films & More

Here are some of the highlights over the next few days. As always, consult the Go West Calendar for more events that might better fit your family's budget, interests or schedule.
  • FINE ARTS FESTIVAL: The 15th annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival is this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Kaneland High School in Maple Park. This free festival is designed to allow the community to experience professional visual and performing artists. The lineup this year includes music, dance and workshops, plus special art experiences and storytimes for younger children. There's also a performance of "James and the Giant Peach" at noon in the auditorium. More info here
  • EASTER CRAFTS: The Little White School Museum in Oswego is hosting an "Easter Make & Take" on both Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Children ages 3 and up are invited to make a special paper bonnet and decorations that will add color to your celebration. This is a free event and registration isn't required, but the museum appreciates a call ahead for planning purposes to 630-554-2999. Kids must attend with an adult. 
  • FREE MOVIES: Goodrich Quality Theaters offers "Free Spring Movies" on weekends every year. This weekend, "Rango" will be shown 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the Randall 15 IMAX in Batavia and the Kendall 10 in Oswego. More info here.
  • EASTER EGG HUNTS: There are at least 10 Easter Egg Hunts (including a Helicopter Egg Drop and a traditional Egg Roll) this weekend. Most are drop-in, but several require registration. Details here
  • SENSORY-FRIENDLY FILMS: Goodrich Quality Theaters also has its "Lights Up, Sound Down" series this week for families with children with sensory issues. The animated movie 'Rio 2" will be shown on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Kendall 10 in Oswego and the Randall 15 in Batavia. Regular matinee prices apply.
Monday
Apr072014

Spring Guide 2014: Easter Egg Hunts in Chicago's Western Suburbs

Here's a list, in chronological order, of Easter Egg Hunts, Easter Egg Rolls and even an Easter Egg Drop in Chicago's far western suburbs! Note that several of these do require advance registration. Know of others that should be listed here? Please add in the comments!

Saturday April 12

ELBURN: The Elburn Lions Club sponsors an Easter Breakfast & Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12. The "all you can eat" pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.is $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 through 11. The egg hunt is free, and starts at 9 a.m. with registration at Elburn Lions Park, with the egg hunt at 10 a.m. 

NORTH AURORA: The 4th annual Mooseheart Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Saturday, April 12, on the school stadium's turf. This is a free event, open to toddlers through 8 years old. Gates open at 10 a.m. and the hunt is scheduled for 11 a.m. Other activities scheduled to take place through 1 p.m. include pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting and bounce houses. The Easter Bunny will be available for visits, too. 

Photo by vanherdehaage on Flickr.

GENEVA: The Geneva Park District sponsors a free egg hunt at the Stephen Persinger Recreation Center at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 12. There are 5,000 eggs; the hunt is divided into two age groups: Ages 4 and under and 5 and up. Arrive early because parking is limited - this is a VERY popular event, and the hunt is over quite quickly. Event is held rain or shine.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr042014

Weekend Spotlight: SciTech, Puss in Boots, Thumbelina and More

Here are some of the highlights over the next few days. As always, consult the Go West Calendar for more events that might better fit your family's budget, interests or schedule.
  • FIRST FRIDAYS: Downtown Aurora hosts a "First Fridays" every month featuring art, music, food, community and more. As part of this month's activities, SciTech Hands On Museum will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can enjoy "creation stations" and the art of science throughout the museum. Admission is free, as it is for all First Friday events.  
  • FREE MOVIES: Goodrich Quality Theaters offers "Free Spring Movies" on weekends every year. This weekend, "Puss in Boots" will be shown 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the Randall 15 IMAX in Batavia and the Kendall 10 in Oswego. More info here.
  • KIDS WORKSHOP: The monthly Home Depot Kids Workshop is this Saturday at stores in locations including Geneva, Aurora, Bartlett, Naperville and South Elgin. This is a free, hands-on workshop, designed for kids ages 5 through 12, offered from 9 a.m. to noon. In addition to the newly constructed project kid, each child receives an orange apron, a commemorative pin and certificate of achievement. This month, the project is a birdbath/birdfeeder, inspired by the upcoming movie "Rio 2."
  • KIDS THEATER: Steel Beam Theater is opening its production of "Tiny Thumbelina" this weekend in St. Charles. This is part of the "Children's Stage," featuring young actors from around the western suburbs. Ticket are $15 for adults, $10 for students. Showtimes this weekend are on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., with more times available in coming weeks. 
  • FREE & FUN ART: If you're free on Sunday afternoon, Awesome Art Afternoons at Water Street Studios' locations in Batavia and St. Charles are always a good bet. It's a free opportunity, every Sunday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., for you and your kids to drop in and make some art. Best for children ages 3 and up, and they need to be accompanied by an adult.
Tuesday
Apr012014

An Interview With Alex Tyler of Goldfish Swim School in St. Charles

The snow has finally melted, Easter is just a few weeks away, and many park districts have their early-bird swim passes on sale now. So it is definitely time to start thinking about summer, swimming and water safety.

I'm so pleased to have Goldfish Swim School of St. Charles as one of my sponsors. Goldfish Swim School offers state-of-the-art aquatic facilities dedicated entirely to indoor swim classes and programs for children ages 4 months and up. The St. Charles school is located at 3455 Legacy Boulevard, just east of Kirk Road and south of Route 64. You can follow its Facebook page to keep up to date on news and events, and the school's "family open swims" (open to the general public) are included on the Go West Calendar.

Next week, I'll share with you a video tour of the beautiful facility, along with footage of the enthusiastic Goldfish teachers interacting with their students. But first, I wanted to let owner Alex Tyler answer a few questions about the Goldfish philosophy and why he thinks swimming lessons are so important for young children.