Looking for a way to keep your kids busy during winter break? Local camps can fill their days with activities that teach children about nature, art and science, keep them active and get them to spend a little time outdoors.
Flurries of Fun at Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st St, Brookfield, (708) 688-8000, brookfieldzoo.org
Dates: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 26 and 27 and Jan. 2 and 3
Price: $72.50 per day
Kids ages 6-12 play games, watch animals such as big cats and bison play in the snow, and work on crafts like papier-mâché. Some crafts are then stuffed with food and placed in enclosures as part of the zoo's animal enrichment program, where kids can observe how the animals interact with them. There is a different theme each day, so kids can do one or all four. "It's really getting kids excited about being at the zoo and conservation and wildlife," said Katie Edinger, supervisor of camps, overnights and family programs. "One of the fun things about winter camp is it really feels like we have the zoo to ourselves."
Winter Break Camp at the Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-8361, chicagobotanic.org
Dates: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 23, 26, 27 and 30 and Jan. 2 and 3
Price: $72 per day
This is the Chicago Botanic Garden's fifth year running camps for 5- to 8-year-olds, but this year they've added a program for kids in grades 3-5. Each day has a different theme, so kids can learn about Japanese language and culture in the Japanese garden on Dec. 26, while on Dec. 23 they'll be tracking animals in the McDonald Woods and doing art and science projects based on animal adaptations for winter. Along with spending part of each day outside, kids will also get moving when Ravinia artists lead music and dance activities. "The kids get really into it," said Amy Wells, manager of camp programs. "They just have pure fun."
Cool Science at 95th Street Center
2244 W. 95th St., Naperville, (630) 848-5000, napervilleparks.org
Date: 10 to 11 a.m. or noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 23
Kids can learn to be little detectives at this new camp. While children ages 3-5 will spend the morning hearing a story about a famous detective and learning how to record their fingerprints, the afternoon program lets 6- to 10-year-olds use forensic investigation tools to gather evidence from a "crime scene," take fingerprints, analyze writing samples and interview witnesses.
Kid Programs at the Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org
Dates: 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 30 and 31 and Jan. 2 and 3
Price: $80 per two-day session
There are plenty of ways for kids to enjoy the Arboretum depending on their age and interests. Kids in kindergarten through second grade can search for animal tracks in the snow, learn what animals do during the winter and work on crafts. Third- and fourth-graders can choose to focus on science, where they'll learn about how crystals form and what happens to plants during the winter, or try their hand at artwork in the Wintery Watercolor program. Artistic kids in grades 5-6 can learn the basics of photography or make winter-inspired 3-D art. Each two-day session has different activities, so you're welcome to sign up for both.
Winter Wonder Camp at the Woodridge Park District Community Center
2600 Center Drive, Woodridge, (630) 353-3300, woodridgeparks.org
Date: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 23-27 and Dec. 30-Jan. 3
Price: $129-$193 per week
Kids in grades 1 to 5 spend their days playing indoor sports and games and doing arts and crafts. Two field trips each week offer some extra fun, with activities including seeing "The Nutcracker" at Marriott Theatre, getting to jump around on inflatables at Monkey Joe's and going snow tubing at Villa Olivia.