Roominate kits, the you-build-it dollhouses developed by two female Stanford engineers, are the focus of a four-week class that kicks off Sunday, February 24 (1–3pm) at the Ukrainian Village Children’s Center. Leading the workshop, which is geared toward girls 6 and up, are the two crafty women bloggers behind miniature- and dollhouse-blog Small World Land. The Roominate kits are designed to encourage kids to use math and engineering skills, as well as their creativity, to design a room or a storefront. The girls call all the shots, from building custom furniture to learning how to use the kit’s motorized parts to craft cool accoutrements like fans, turntables or revolving plates of cupcakes—anything they can dream up. Parents must email email@example.com to register at least two weeks in advance. Sundays, Feb 24–Mar 17; 1–3pm. $110 (includes kit). Ukrainian Village Children Center, 918 N Damen Ave.
As our photographer put it, this may be the cutest photo shoot ever. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum held its first-ever family Valentine's Day dance, and it looks as though there was possibly too much dancing? Keep clicking through, because the dance moves got more spectacular as the night went on. It's humbling to see photos of people who are better dancers and are better dressed than I've ever been, and they're all under five years old.
- I have to admit, when a good friend of mine had a baby, she started a "style blog," for her son (she'd been doing one for herself for a couple years. The posts had pictures of her baby, a brief discussion of how she picked out the outfit, and where she bought the clothes and for how much. I couldn't look at it. It just felt…wrong. Apparently, baby style blogs are a thing, but I'm not the only one who feels weird about it.
- I don't have a daughter, but if I did, this is obviously how I would put together her ponytail. Put together her ponytail? Give her a ponytail? Shape her hair into a ponytail? I have no idea.
- I'm not sure what to make of this story of a six-year-old girl, who is developing into a little racist. I'm not sure that we can just chalk up her behavior to simple attention-desiring. I'd be curious if there are various ways this kid has been made to feel privileged, and then had that privilege threatened.
- This is an interesting essay about how fatherhood is viewed around the world, excerpted from the Kindling Quarterly.
- Reddit user afdlips has created a new meme for the century: small dads. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: dads photoshopped to half their size in family portraits. It's weirdly entertaining.
Since we told you about the House Theatre's show, The Magnificents, some have wondered whether it's right for kids. It is indeed, with loads of magic designed by Dennis Watkins, the play's writer and star. Last year, when the House Theatre staged Death and Harry Houdini, we had Watkins in our offices to show off some of his magic chops. Check out the video above, and then if your kid's into magic, check out the show, too.
If your kid's way into cars, then he or she will almost certainly be enchanted by the big show happening this weekend. And if this slideshow is any indication, there is no shortage of race cars for young speed demons, this year.
Nope, we're not talking about the Chicago Auto Show, which may be fun, but can't be called "important," by any means. On Sunday, the Chicago Volunteer Expo sets up shop at the Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum. More than 50 organizations who marshal volunteer help toward a greater good will be handing out information, including 826Chicago, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Alliance for the Great Lake, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Howard Brown, City Year, Openlands, Jobs for Youth and more. It's important to note that the expo has opportunities for both kids and adults—and for kids and adults together–so it's a good opportunity for the whole family to get involved.
Also on Sunday is the Neighborhood Parents Network's Developmental Differences Resource Fair in the Gordon Tech gymnasium. The expo will bring together loads of organizations who provide services for families with specific needs, including developmental delays (ie: speech, motor skills), sensory processing disorder, autism, ADD/ADHD, PDD-NOS, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, Down Syndrome, and physical disabilities. The fair will also have several workshops, though registration is limited.
The Chicago Volunteer Expo takes place 10am–4pm on Sunday, February 10 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N Cannon Dr. The Developmental Differences Resource Fair takes place 10am–3pm on Sunday at Gordon Tech High School, 3633 N California Ave.
As a follow-up to last year’s impressive remount of Dennis Watkins’s early work , the House revisits Watkins’s equally magic-infused 2007 piece about a small-scale traveling circus that takes in a new ward (Tommy Rapley) over the objections of the sickly magician proprietor (Watkins). The production isn’t much of a play, though maybe it’s not trying to be. As author, Watkins has improved on his earlier iteration; for instance, he makes the magician’s wife (Tien Doman) a full-fledged character rather than the gibberish-talking nag of the original. Yet no one onstage (including Jeff Trainor as a strongman, Lucy Carapetyan as a flirty aerial artist and Michael E. Smith as the company clown) has what you could call a character arc. Still, as a semi-narrative framework for Watkins’s mind-boggling old-school magic tricks, The Magnificents earns its title.
The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre. By Dennis Watkins. Dir. Nathan Allen. With Watkins, Tien Doman, Tommy Rapley. 2hrs; one intermission.
Take note musicians: If you need a dance crew for your next video, you're best off visiting the local elementary school. Toronto hip-hop collective Notes to Self found that out when video director Benjamin Hart Young visited his sister's school to read to the kids, and was inspired to have the students take over the shoot for Notes to Self's new single, "Skylight," a positive track that makes it pretty difficult to resist dancing. The point is: The song and the video are awesome, as are the kids. I've watched it now half a dozen times, and the kid shimmying at the 0:40 mark pretty much kills me each time through.