Don’t spend the winter indoors, hiding from the cold. Hit the road with your kids to learn, play and grow together as a family. We promise: your time will be so fun-ducational that you’ll be making up words to describe it.
Encourage little Jacques Costeaus in training to explore the depths at Biomes Marine Biology Center. The privately run aquarium has a touch tank, undersea education and fun programming, like the February 25 class on squid dissection (trust me, for the science minded among us, that actually does sound like fun). There’s also a weekly story time in Ruby’s Play Center. 6640 Post Road, North Kingstown. 885-4690.
Channel your inner Dorothy Hamill – while you explain to your kids who Dorothy Hamill even is – at the Boss Arena at URI. Don’t worry if you haven’t skated since you were your kid’s age - the weekly public skate sessions welcome all shapes, sizes and skill levels. They offer lessons for little ones who are a little wobbly on the ice. There are also public figure skate sessions - and while sequins aren’t exactly required, we’re not going to discourage you. 1 Keaney Road, Kingston.
The Providence Children’s Film Festival is back for its sixth year, featuring 18 feature films, over 50 short films and fun workshops, all taking place over February vacation, from February 12-22. The movies are selected by kids for kids, and collaborations with the RISD Museum, and the Providence Public and Providence Community Libraries ensure that everyone can see films, regardless of their ability to pay admission. In addition to family friendly flicks showing at Brown, RISD and Wheeler School, the festival is bringing back the Youth Filmmaker Showcase to screen works made by kids.
The year was 1987. There you were, hair slicked with Aqua Net, sweat bands on your forehead and wrists, lime green leg warmers on top of magenta tights, rolling around the skating rink to your heart’s content. Oh wait, that was Olivia Newton John. Still, indulge in a little bit of retro glory (without embarrassing your kids too much) at Narragansett Ocean Club. The expansive roller skating rink has a snack bar, video games, and, best of all, swirling neon lights so you can pretend, just for a second, that you’re back in Xanadu. 30 South Pier Road, Narragansett. 783-1711.
Without that messy ear thing, that is. The Jamestown Arts Center offers education in all things artistic for all ages, from drop in sessions - like the February 8 Paper Marbling Valentine’s Day Workshop for ages 6-10 to four-session Creative Movement lessons for ages 2.5-5. During winter break, the JAC is of- fering two camps: the February Vacation Art Start Camp is for ages 3-5, and focuses on creative exploration and play; the February Vacation Creative Arts Camp for ages 6-10 gives kids lessons in painting, printmaking, crafting and more. 18 Valley Street, Jamestown. 560-0979.
Strap the kids in the minivan and head to the City by the Sea for the Newport Winter Festival’s Children’s Fair, February 15-16. Recharge their batteries as live performances, arts and crafts, and a reptile showcase are offered at the annual two-day event held at the Newport Hyatt. Or, on February 18, win the Parent of the Year Award for taking them to the Princess Party at OceanCliff. Frozen sisters Elsa and Anna host this dress-up party complete with frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf.
If your kids have too much pent up energy right now from their tough vacation schedule of sleeping in and not getting out excess energy during gym class, let them climb the walls at Rock Spot Climbing Gym. The indoor rock climbing facility in Peace Dale has after school programs and, for the bourgeoning Spideys among them, Team Rock Spot, a serious club that focuses on conditioning and training. During February vacation, Rock Spot is offering half and full day Base Camp, which, as they say, is about “climbing, games, adventure and fun!” 1174 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown. 789-SPOT.
Fine art appreciation is a learned skill, and one you don’t necessarily associate with early education. The RISD Museum makes it easy to start your kids on the path to cultural enlightenment early, with their family programming. The museum offers a Young Explorers Guide to engage kids with the art, and tips for parents on how to talk to little ones about learning to express their artistic opinions. Tours for Tots are interactive themed tours for families with kids age three and up, including story time and gallery activities. Art enrichment classes like See and Sketch and Open Studio are offered for slightly older kids. 20 North Main Street, Providence. 454-6500.
At Claygound, your kids can have all the fun of working with clay, and none of the mess will be in your kitchen. The DIY studio offers open sessions for pottery painting and glass fusing (and they do all of the cleanup). Camp Clayground, during February break, is for ages 5 and up and focuses on clay painting, mosaics, painting and drawing. 5600 Post Road, East Greenwich. 884-4888.
Congratulations. You’ve made it to the midpoint of winter break, and you’re still somewhat sane. Time to celebrate with a morning manicure for you, and a mini treatment from SpaTerre’s Prince and Princess Menu for them. From My First Massage to the Twinkle Toes Pedicure, your children are sure to love the royal treatment. Reservations recommended. At the Hotel Viking, 1 Bellevue Ave., Newport. 847-3300.
It’s Winter Wonder Days at Roger Williams Park Zoo. While the giraffes might be dreaming of the Savannah and keeping indoors during colder weather, many animals like red pandas, snow leopards and camels are thriving in it. But, there’s lots more to do at the Zoo for the littlest guests, like the Zoo Explorers program, which offers hands-on learning, PreSchool Adventures and the Rock and Roar! concert series for toddlers and up. Older kids will enjoy the ZooCamp, a weeklong zoology adventure during February vacation. Admission is half price through February. Program fees vary. 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence. 941-4998.
When was the last time you had some good old fashioned fun at a bowling alley? Think about it: the clatter of pins being knocked down, the pinging of video games in the background, the howls of defeat when your kids land more strikes than you... magic. Spend some QT together at a lane near you this winter break. Alley Katz Bowling Center in Westerly offers specials all week long, including $0.99 games on Friday afternoons and Sunday Family Packs that include lane and shoe rental, pizza and soda. Old Mountain Lanes in Wake- field offers Cosmic Rock & Bowl on Friday and Saturday nights. Alley Katz: 116 Granite Street, Westerly. 596-7474. Old Mountain Lanes: 756 Kingstown Road, Wakefield. 783-5511.
Sure, a hike through the woods or along the coast is pleasant during the warmer months. But believe it or not, those same woods exist during the other 10 months of the year, those months when you’re saying “it’s too cold to be outside, we’ll go next summer.” Outdoor exploration in the winter has its merits, not the least of which is that cold-weather animals are much easier to spot when their habitats aren’t so crowded with noisy hikers. The W. Alton Jones Environmental Education Center offers a February vacation day camp for little explorers, age 8-13. The campus has 2,300 acres of forest, lakes and farmland to explore and learn about the environment. Activities include animal tracking, tapping trees for maple syrup and, of course, warming up around the campfire with s’mores. 401 Victory Highway, West Greenwich. 874-8200.
The Red Sox might be a few months away from spring training, but you can still cowboy up – the real way – by learning horseback riding at Old Coach Farm in Charlestown. The all-season horseback riding facility offers lessons in riding, jumping and trail rides. 410 Old Coach Road, Charlestown. 783-6555.
The Providence Children’s Museum is a fun place to spend an afternoon on any day of the week. Their new exhibit, Water Ways, is a water play environ- ment that allows kids to send items into vortexes, transform water into mist, sculpt ice and form fountains. During February vacation, there’s something special happening every day. Children’s storyteller and singer Keith Munslow performs on Monday, February 16, followed by the Hoopoe Show, Imagination Playground, Wingmasters, Paper Caper and Skygazers throughout the week. Closed Mondays, except during school vacation. 100 South Street, Providence. 273-5437.
We’re sure little Johnny and Susie are the world’s sweetest kids already - but sweeten them up a little bit more with a Sweets for Your Sweeties baking class at Petite Chef. The after-school class, offered three times in early February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, teaches kids how to bake heart-shaped cookie bou- quets. (Psst, dads, this will melt mom’s heart faster than you can say chocolate chip.) Petite Chef also offers other cooking classes for little chefs, and baking birthday parties. 160 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick.
Don’t drive all the way into Boston to see a hockey game when we’ve got all the excitement of the AHL right in Providence. On February 6 and 8, the Providence Bruins are offering Family Games. Just $20 gets you a ticket, a hot dog and a soda. Sticking around to meet the players afterwards? Priceless. 1 La Salle Square, Providence.
The Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show returns from February 19-22. This year’s theme is Garden Adventures, and there’s a new Kids Adventure Zone to engage little ones in learning about the environment. Featured attractions include the Roger Williams Park Zoo Zoomobile, Save the Bay’s marine touch tank, Norman Bird Sanctuary’s puppet show and the Audubon Soceity’s owl presentations. $7-$19. Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence. 253-0246.
Don’t wait for the next snowstorm (which we will hopefully never have) to go sliding down hills. Take the family to Yawgoo Valley Ski Area in Exeter. The Ski Area is open with fresh snow no matter what the sky has brought us. Yawgoo offers ski lessons, and a February vacation program with ski (5+) and snowboard (7+) lessons, or a ski-only kinderclass for ages 2.5-4. For the clumsier kids (and kids at heart - no judgement) among us, there’s really fun snow tubing that lets you sit down and minimize your risk of falling. Ski Area: 160 Yawgoo Valley Road, Exeter. 294-3802; Snow Tubing: 220 Yawgoo Valley Road, Exeter. 295-2276.
Are your kids still serenading you with the soundtrack to Frozen? Take another one for the team and bring the munchkins to the Greenwich Odeum on February 7 to watch the Disney hit on the big screen complete with sing-a- long lyrics (as if your kids really need them). Your little ticket holders will also receive a goody bag filled with treats to use throughout the whole movie. And that’s not the best part. Snow sisters Elsa and Anna will lead the kids in song all throughout the movie with accompanying magic, photos and a meet and greet. $10 kids; $12 adults. 11:30am & 3pm. 59 Main Street, East Greenwich. 885-4000.
A kid-friendly activity at a vineyard? You’re not dreaming. Greenvale Vineyards offers the 15th annual Live Jazz For Kids on February 19. One of the many events in the Newport Winter Festival lineup, the performance promises to put a whimsical spin on jazz standards and kids classics, leaving your kids cultured and entertained. 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth. 847-3777.
Are your kids always jumping on (and jumping off) things? It’s time to unleash their inner gymnasts, and expend some of that pent-up winter energy in positive, constructive ways. Ways that involve floor mats, trained professionals and lots of padding. Aim High Academy in East Greenwich offers a School’s Out Camp during February vacation, with morning, afternoon or full- day sessions for ages 3-12. When they get home, they’ll be so tired that they won’t even have the energy to pick on each other. 3355 South County Trail, East Greenwich. 886-7287.
Make a trek into the big city for the Providence Rink at the Alex and Ani City Center. Got two left skates? Don’t worry. They offer refresher lessons, and penguin skate aids for little ones who are a little wobbly on the ice. Monday afternoons (excluding vacation weeks) are FUNday Mondays!, where admission for children under 12 is just $2. 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence. 331-5544.
Add a dash of locavore to the dreaded lunchbox routine. Local veggies, fruits, meats and artisan provisions are all for the ready at the Aquidneck Growers Winter Market. You’ll love the fresh variety, and they’ll love to handpick their snacks. Win, win. 10am-2pm at Newport Vineyards. 909 East Main Rd., Middletown. 848-0099.
We kid, we kid. Because if you’re competing with your toddler, you need a time out... especially if your toddler is winning. See who’s got the better moves on Wednesday mornings at Baby Dance Class at Busy Bodies Studio in Wakefield. The dance studio also offers monthly Kids Nights Out, where kids have a fun night of dance and activities while parents have a nice, quiet dinner in the middle of a crowded restaurant. 12 High Street, Wakefield. 789-5900.
You’ve done enough waiting on your kids over the years. It’s time to put them to work in the kitchen. Foster future Top Chef contestants at Newport Cooks, a private cooking school for kids and adults. February programming includes I Love to Cook! What’s for Dinner (ages 5-8) on February 3, which is a lesson in making seafood dinners, and I Love to Bake! (ages 9-13) on February 4, where they’ll learn the basics of French desserts. If you’d rather join in the fun, there’s an adult & kid pasta making workshop on February 8. 796 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown. 293-0740.
There’s no better way to learn discipline, self-control and self-defense than by learning martial arts – and no way to look cooler than to land a sweet crane kick on the mat. There’s no shortage of martial arts options in South County. Here are a couple of them:
At Mastery Martial Arts in East Greenwich “we envision a world where every human being, especially a child, has a place to develop their mental, physical, emotional and social skills to live life to the fullest.” Classes for Little Dragons happen daily after school, and beginner instruction for teens is also available. 517 Main Street, East Greenwich. 888-627-8379.
Narragansett Bay Budokai in North Kingstown offers classes in Karate, Yoga, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu, Kickboxing and Circuit Training. They do frequent events to have fun and raise money for charity, and their fun clubs like the Black Belt Club keep kids motivated in a positive way. 671 Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown. 294-2800.
Dave Arundel of Arundel’s Academy of Martial Arts in Wakefield has been a life- long student and instructor, and recently left his day job to “retire” as a full-time martial arts instructor. Arundel’s offers instruction in Kempo/Kenpo, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Tae Kwon Do for kids and adults. 130 Kersey Road, Wakefield. 789-8273