by Melody and Keri
With the flurry of present wrapping and cookie baking that is life right now, it might be easy to forget that once the presents are opened the kids will still be on Christmas vacation.
For many school districts Winter Break is structured a little differently this year. Our district still has the typical two weeks off, but since the Holidays come on Tuesdays this year, a good chunk of Christmas break falls after New Year’s Day.
Last year, most students returned to school on January 2, 2012. This time around students will report back on January 7, 2013.
Translation: Mom (or Dad) needs to plan ahead to keep kids busy.
Even if you only have five minutes right now to sketch out your plans, it will save you from headaches in the future. Many popular activities and events sell out.
Get your idea juices flowing with the items listed below and then head over to our bulging event calendar for plenty of other holiday events or check out our Indoor Play Guide and newly published Winter Sports Guide.
NOTE: Businesses may change or cancel events at a moment’s notice. It is your responsibility to call ahead and verify details.
- Head to downtown Sparta on Christmas Eve for Horse-drawn trolley rides
- Take in a show! Shrek the Musical plays December 23 at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center and Broadway Grand Rapids’ Beauty and the Beast is at DeVos Performance Hall with numerous performances starting December 26.
- Register now to bring the kids to Byron Center’s Winter Break Zoo Day. Kids will see the John Ball traveling zoo and make animal crafts. Dec 27, 10am-12pm.
- Celebrate New Year’s Early Eve at the Children’s Museum! Dec 31, 6-8pm.
- Check out the Ice Sculpting Competition in Holland on Jan 4 and 5.
- The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s annual showing of the Holiday Magic Laser Light Show will be playing throughout break.
- Ages 8-12 can come out and learn some winter survival techniques, including proper attire, fire and shelter building during the class: Winter Survival at Blandford Nature Center. Jan 2, 9am-1pm.
- Drive around and look at Christmas lights using our interactive map.
- Snowflake Break! at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is back again this year from December 26, 2012 through January 6, 2013. There will be activities, crafts and games for families, as well as the museum exhibits, find the elf game, and the planetarium show.
- Breton Village Mall has a wonderful train display that is open during mall hours (free) and Santa visits on occasion as well.
- See the trains and trees while taking in the exhibit Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World at Meijer Gardens
- Check out All Day with the Arts at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. With a variety of offerings designed for young visitors and family members of all ages, All Day with the Arts includes hands-on art projects in our education center, kid-friendly tours, and sketching in the galleries. Saturdays 10am-3pm. Free with museum admission.
- Paint with the family! Most of the Brush Studio Family Days are Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Check out their calendar for the featured Family Day paintings. $30 for children under twelve years old.
- Get crafty with the family! Drop-in Art at the Kroc Center offers a variety of unique arts and crafts projects each week. All supplies will be provided along with professional instruction. Projects will include a diverse range of artistic mediums including paper, paint, and sculpture. Wednesdays 6:45-7:45pm.
- Thursday evening is Family Night at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum from 5-8pm with $1.50 admission per person, ages 1 year and above.
- Get the family out of the house and attend a Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey Game! Visit their website for game details. Attend on New Years’ Eve and save money by getting a Fan 4 Pack, stick around after the game for the world’s largest post-game indoor fireworks show, and bring your skates to the rink and take to the ice after the game!
- The Critter Barn’s Live Nativity in Zeeland.
- The Kroc Center is offering a number of Christmas events and activities for the family, including free Christmas movie nights.
- Be sure to check out The Mud Room– they have lots to offer, including $5 studio specials and family specials! And don’t miss Camp Mud classes where kids can explore glass fusing, clay sculpture, and the potters wheel. Classes are offered for ages 7+, and also for ages 4-6 with adult supervision. Pre-registration and payment required.
- Get moving with Open Gym at GRGymnastics or Open Play Gym at Gymboree Play and Music.
- And be sure to check out Munch-n-Move at GRGymnastics every Monday and Tuesday from 12-2pm. Just pack your child’s lunch and bring them to GRG for safe, fun, organized activities and gymnastics!
- Griff’s Icehouse offers Lunch Time Open Skate.
- Head over to Java Gym for Toddler Tuesdays and Kids’ Meal Deal. Come move and groove to Mr. Picklehead’s famous Dilly Songs and enjoy stories and snack time in the soft gym.
- Stay active with Friday Fitness Funshops at MVP Sportsplex. Participants swim, tumble, complete a project and have a snack. Pre-registration is required at least 24 hours in advance. Sibling discounts available.
- Open Swim opportunities abound! Check out our event calendar to find a location near you.
- Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshops. Free! Every other Saturday at 10am. Registration opens a few weeks before each clinic’s date.
- Home Depot’s Kids Workshops. Free How-To Workshop for kids ages 5-12. First Saturday of each month at all Home Depot Stores.
- Drop-in Craft Time at the KDL. Jan 3 at 2pm.
- Moms and daughters- come and make jewelry and hair accessories at the Pearl Cuff Workshop! Jan 12 at 1:30pm. $2 materials fee. All children must attend with an adult. RSVP required.
- Chess Anyone? Drop-in chess at the library! All skill levels welcome. Thursdays at 4pm.
- Head to your local library! There are tons of storytimes to take advantage of–or check out Story Time with a Twist for your active little ones. There are plenty of library activities over break, too, including opportunities to Make Sparkly Winter Slime, watch a free movie, see a magic show or take part in Teen Iron Chef! Check the grkids.com event calendar for locations and times near you.
- Mini Camp at MVP Sportsplex For boys and girls 3-6 years old. Activities include swimming, sports, games, arts and crafts. Register online at www.mvpsportsclubs.com. Dec 26-28, Jan 2-4, 9am-1pm.
- Sports Camp Full Day at MVP Sportsplex For children 6-11 years old. Activities include swimming, sports, games, arts and crafts. Register online at www.mvpsportsclubs.com. Dec 26-28, Jan 2-4, 9am-3pm.
- Mid City Winter Break Fun Club Boys and girls ages 5-12 years. Activities include swimming, gym games, build snowmen & forts, snow archery, sledding, arts & crafts. Dec 26-28, 31, Jan 2-4, 9am-5pm. Call 855.9622 to sign up.
- Christmas Break Day Camp at the Kroc Center Kids ages 5-12 will enjoy swimming, arts & crafts, games, sports and Bible lessons. Sibling discounts available. Dec 26-28, and Jan 2-4, 9am-4pm.
- Day Camp at GR Gymnastics A full day of gymnastics, games and activities. Find out more information and register online at GRGymnastics.com or call 975.2992. Dec 27 and Jan 3, 9am-4pm.
- Winter Camp Kids-n-Paws. This three day mini camp will feature animal interactions, presentations, crafts, games and snacks. Jan 2-4, 9am-12:30pm.
Let us know how you will keep your kids busy over break.