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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.

 

Friday
Mar282014

Weekend Spotlight Plus Spring Break Ideas

I'm getting this posted late in the week, so in addition to highlights of the weekend ahead, I've included some special weekday events, in case your children are on spring break. As always, consult the Go West Calendar for more events that might better fit your family's budget, interests or schedule.
  • EARTH HOUR: The city of Batavia is celebrating Earth Hour in the dark -- at the Eastside Community Center. This is a free event, taking place on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 pm. There will be games in the dark, live music, storytelling, yoga, a drum circle, painting with light portraits and a chance to look at the stars. Find more info here
  • NEW THEATER: In the last year, the Geneva Park District took over a performance space on State Street in downtown Geneva and christened it "Playhouse 38." This weekend, the new park district theater program will be performing "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr." with local kids. Performances are 7 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 each and are available at Sunset Community Center. For ticket info, call 630-232-4542. 
  • FREE MOVIES: Goodrich Quality Theaters offers "Free Spring Movies" on weekends every year. This weekend, "Monsters vs. Aliens" 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.
  • SENSORY-FRIENDLY FILMS: The AMC Sensory Friendly Film Series features movies shown with lights up and sound down, with audience members free to get up and walk, dance, shout or sing. This weekend, "Muppets Most Wanted" will be shown at 10 a.m. at the Naperville 16, Yorktown 17 in Lombard and AMC South Barrington 30. Regular matinee prices apply. 

SPRING BREAK WEEKDAY FUN:

If your kids are on spring break the week of March 31, here are some ideas on how to stay busy:

  • FARM ACTIVITIES: Kline Creek Farm is offering a "Spring Break Spruce Up" on Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in which your family can help prepare the kitchen garden, clean the animal pens, repair fences and spruce up around the farm.
  • GET FIT: The West Chicago Public Library's "Tottercize" program on Monday at 10 a.m. is designed to encourage you to share some physical activities with your child. You may learn new yoga poses, dance to tunes or work on motor skills. Aimed at children ages 2 through 6 and their caregivers. 
  • GET WET: Goldfish Swim School in St. Charles offers an open family swim session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m. (along with Friday and Sunday evenings.) The cost is $5 per person for a max of $15 per family.
  • RUBY SLIPPERS: The classic movie being shown on Monday as part of "Classic Movie Mondays" at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora is "The Wizard of Oz." The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $1.
  • DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS: Brookfield Zoo is a fun place to visit, even if the weather is cold. The animals are often more active, anyway, and there are plenty of buildings to warm up in. 
  • GO BOWLING: Pinstripes in South Barrington and Oak Brook offers "Mom & Tot Bowling" from 10 a.m. to noon every weekday. All children bowl for $5 each, caregivers bowl for free. 
  • LIBRARY FUN: The Geneva Public Library has a week's worth of "School's Out" programming, including a "Find the Pigeon" game, a "Build with Legos" session and a couple of drop-in craft opportunities. You'll find info on the Go West Calendar. 
Wednesday
Mar262014

Early Literacy Activities Calendar for April 2014

Thanks to the wonderful folks in the Youth Services Department of the West Chicago Public Library for sharing their Early Literacy Activities Calendar with us each month. Here's a bunch of easy, creative ideas for how during the month of April you can encourage an early love of reading in your child. 

April 1: Name four things that rhyme with "bunny."

April 2: Fiesta de Cuentos Storytime at 4:30 p.m. at the West Chicago Public Library.

April 3: Take a nature walk together, talking about what you see.

April 4: Read a book about feelings.

April 5: Suggest that your child move like different animals.

April 6: Blue week: Look for things that are blue this week.

April 7: Have your child draw a picture while you prepare dinner.

April 8: Read a favorite book.

April 9: Find things around the house that begin with the letter "M."

April 10: Have your child pick out something blue to wear today.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar212014

Weekend Spotlight: Fun on the Farm, Beauty and the Beast and More

Are you ready for the first weekend of spring? 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.
  • FARM FUN: Peck Farm Park in Geneva is hosting "Heritage Day" on Saturday. This is a free event where you can enjoy candle dipping, butter making, cow milking, crafts, lawn games, wool spinning and basket weaving demos, sheep herding, and more.  Plus, if weather permits enjoy FREE hayrides in the prarie! Great for all ages!
  • NEW THEATER: In the last year, the Geneva Park District took over a performance space on State Street in downtown Geneva and christened it "Playhouse 38." This weekend, the new park district theater program will be performing "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr." with local kids. Performances are 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 each and are available at Sunset Community Center. For ticket info, call 630-232-4542. The production will be performed next weekend, too. 
  • FREE MOVIES: Goodrich Quality Theaters offers "Free Spring Movies" on weekends every year. This weekend, "Madagascar" 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.
  • BABY LIVESTOCK: Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago invites your family to visit for its "Lambing" program this weekend. You'll be able to see the season's new lambs, some as they're being born, and learn about the role livestock played on an 1890s farm. Admission to the farm is free; it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Outbuildings, including the sheepfold, close at 4:30 p.m. (Note that a Go West reader advises wearing boots and rain slickers and clothes that can get dirty!)
  • FREE & FUN ART: If you're free on Sunday afternoonAwesome 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
Mar182014

Spring Guide 2014: Lambs at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago

I've gone on record saying how much I love Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. How could you not? It's got charm, it's got history, it is open year-round, you can drop by whenever fits your family and it's free!

Photo courtesy of Kline Creek Farm.

Kline Creek Farm, which started as a log-cabin homestead in the 1830s, is part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. It’s a living-history farm that seeks to depict everyday life as it was on that actual farm but also hundreds of similar farms in DuPage County in the 1890s. 

Of course family farms in the 1890s had animals, so at Kline Creek you can see horses, sheep, cattle and chickens.

Right now, you can also see newborn lambs that have joined the flock of Southdown sheep. Several more ewes are expected to give birth over the coming weeks.

Visitors may see the lambs and talk with staff and volunteers about their care during the farm’s normal hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Outbuildings, including the sheepfold, close at 4:30 p.m. (The farm is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)

“Sometimes mom can do everything on her own, but our staff and volunteers are at the ready this time of year to intervene if needed for a successful birth,” says Keith McClow, manager of Kline Creek Farm. “We’re always ready to share the historical perspective with visitors, too, so they learn how lambs provide income for farmers and what it takes to raise them.”
The flock will take center stage during the “Sheep Shearing” weekend April 26 and 27. 
So plan a trip to Kline Creek Farm one nice day this spring. You won't regret it!