Tim Kennedy

Tim is an elementary school teacher who gets to spend the endless days of summer with his two sons. He strives to have at least one "adventure" with them every day during this time. It breaks up the monotony, and keeps his boys from resorting to erosion experiments with the hose in the back yard. Tim shares his free or low-cost daily adventure ideas here.

Family adventures: Creepy-crawly exhibition, Jane Yolen and Trains & Tots

Posted by: Tim Kennedy under Family, Entertainment, Family activities, Family Fun Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:31 AM

Even if you're sticking close to home during spring break this year, you can still explore some exotic locales. Here are a few things happening in the Twin Cities that might transport you to far-away places.

Monday, March 30: Thailand and Malaysia

Minnesota bugs are relatively innocuous. Our climate insures that they never really get too "meaty," and not many of them can kill you. But poisonous bugs tend to be pretty, so we generally end up with small, dreary critters in our neck of the woods. This is definitely not the case at the Creepy Crawly Exhibit at the Textile Center. This installation features big and colorful bugs, mostly from Thailand and Malaysia, pinned to the walls to evoke textile patterns and wallpaper. The show is free and open until May 16 from 10 am-7 pm M-Th, and 10 am-5 pm on Friday and Saturday. Don't worry, the website states that the artist, Jennifer Angus, is an insect advocate so I'm confidant no crawlies were harmed in the making of this art.

Tuesday, March 31: Sweden

IKEA started as a small furniture company in southern Sweden. Now they promise a "fun children's activity" every Tuesday at 1:30 pm, and kids 12 and under can get a free meal all day long with no purchase necessary! Now, I have no idea what this fun children's activity might be, so it's a bit of a gamble. Maybe this counts a detour to Vegas? At worst, we'll get a free plate of Swedish meatballs and the fun activity is trying to find our way out of the store without following the marked path. The best case scenario is that I refurnish my home office for $17.98. I'll take that bet. At 7 pm tonight, author Jane Yolen will present and sign books at the Red Balloon Bookshop. Her book, Owl Moon, is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, April 1: Seattle

James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway stretched all the way from St. Paul to Seattle. This railroad was so important economically that Hill was nicknamed "The Empire Builder," but his mighty engines of prosperity had trouble turning around on their own. That's where roundhouses came in. A roundhouse had a rotating platform that could turn an engine around or direct it toward a maintenance bay. The Jackson Street Roundhouse no longer serves this purpose, but it does host a Tots & Trains event today from 10am to noon. It's a little pricey at $10 for adults, $8 for kids 5-15 and $5 for 2-4 year-olds, but in addition to the displays they offer a play area, craft, story, snack and coffee. You might want to check out the video on their site before going to provide some context for what you'll see.     

Daily Adventures: Candlelight & Ice, Sing-a-Long Sound of Music, Victorian Christmas and Belly Dancing

Posted by: Tim Kennedy under Family, Entertainment, Family activities, Family Fun Updated: January 2, 2015 - 3:21 PM

Tuesday, December 30

Is there anything that feels cooler than really getting your spin on at the rollerskating rink? You feel like you're  flying, swooping in and out of air traffic, the air gently rustling your finely feathered hair . . . Sorry, I think I flashed back to the mid 80's there for a second. Believe it or not, there is something even cooler than this, though. Getting your spin on at the rollerskating rink . . . while wearing a cape! That's right, it's Super Hero Day at the Roller Garden from Noon to 4 pm! Admission is $6 each - bring your own blades if you can to save yourself another $3 for skate rental. It's also Winter Fun Day at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with both indoor and outdoor activities planned all day until 4 pm. Muppets Most Wanted is the free Toddler Flick at MOA at 11:30 am, and the Minnesota History Center is free from 5-8 pm tonight.

Wednesday, December 31

I really only remember a handful of New Year's Eves that I've experienced. I clearly remember the year we partied like it was 1999 because, well, it was. We hosted a party and, unbeknownst to us, one of our friends sneaked to the basement. At midnight he threw the master switch on our fuse box to simulate a Y2K power disaster. Haha. Other memorable NYE's have involved a walk around Wood Lake Nature Center they call Candlelight and Ice. Now, this is what we've done the last couple of years, so maybe it has more to do with proximity than anything else. But I'm thinking it might be the glow of the luminaries lighting the way, the bonfire on frozen Wood Lake, the marshmallow roasting and the hot cocoa around the roaring fire in the visitor's center that stick in my mind. Candlelight and Ice runs from 6-9 pm and costs $4 if you're not a member.

Thursday, January 1 

I've mentioned before that Riverview Theater is the best theater in town. It opened in 1948 and retains the vintage look of a 1956 remodel, it has the best popcorn out there, and movies are normally only $3! Today the Riverview is hosting The Sing-a-Long Sound of Music at 3 pm. Think of a cross between karaoke and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7.50 for kids under 12, and should be purchased in advance. You'll get a bag of props to use while singing, and if you come in costume you might win a prize. Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2

Speaking of The Sound of Music, pizza and cookies are a few of our favorite things. We've become big fans of wood-fired pizza, and today we're going to enjoy wood-fired cookies as well at A Victorian Christmas at the Ramsey House. Today through Sunday, when you call on the Alexander Ramsey house, you'll step back in time 140 years to experience a Victorian-era holiday reception. Reserve your spot for the one-hour tour by calling 651-296-8760. Admission is $11 for adults, $7 for kids 6 and up. Minnesota Historical Society members get $3 off each ticket. 

Saturday, January 3

The holidays are once again in the rear-view mirror, but they might be hanging around my waist for a while longer. I'm afraid I may have given new meaning to the term "belly dancing" this year - my belly is now just sort of dancing on its own. If you'd like to give real belly dancing a try, check out Zenon Dance School's Winter Open House today. The free open house runs 10 am - 4 pm, with classes for kids ending at noon. An adventurous soul might also want to give "Inversion Dance" a shot at 2 pm. I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds like a guaranteed muscle pull to me. I'll just keep working to perfect my belly dancing.

Daily Adventures: Gingerbread Houses, Earthly Daydreams and Trivia Ninjas

Posted by: Tim Kennedy under Family, Entertainment, Family activities, Family Fun Updated: December 27, 2014 - 11:38 AM

Monday, December 22

Apparently gingerbread has been around a long time, like since years had only three digits, and gingerbread men date back to the 1500's and Queen Elizabeth I. The gingerbread house is a relatively new phenomenon then, becoming popular with the publication of Grimm's Fairly Tales in 1812. One of these fairly tales, as you probably know, is Hansel and Gretel, a tale in which the title characters stumble upon a gingerbread house in the woods. The French version of this story, The Lost Children, involves a sawhorse in the escape scene. Eww. I think I'll stick to gingerbread houses. Children ages 4-10 can make their own gingerbread house at the Roseville Library from 1-3 pm today for free, while supplies last. Maybe wait to make your own sawhorse until you get home.

Friday, December 26

I'm guessing returning gifts is not really what you want to do today. Why not wait a day or two to send back your new Cozy Pod and instead head to the "Birthplace of Minnesota?" Stillwater is a destination unto itself, a picturesque little town nestled into the St. Croix River Valley and currently all lit up like a Christmas tree, but it never hurts to have an actual destination. With that in mind, consider checking out the Earthly Daydreams Photography Exhibit at the Lakeview Hospital Art Gallery. This show offers "hand toned Gelatin Silver Prints," which sound delicious. On your way down the hill, stop off at ArtReach St. Croix to view Horses and Bees and Bears, a multimedia showcase of four St. Croix Valley artists. Both exhibits are free. Once you've had your fill of fine art, continue on to Main Street and stop at the Freight House, an old train depot turned restaurant and bar. The friendly staff and historic setting will wrap a very pretty bow on your Stillwater visit.

Saturday, December 27

What's the allure of trivia? I mean, by definition, trivia are pieces of information with little value. So why are we so excited when we know the only large mammal with ultraviolet vision? Whatever the reason we do love trivia, and you can be a family trivia ninja at the Shoreview Library for free today from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Register a team of up to six people at 651-486-2309. The event page promises that "snacks and fun will also be provided," so we've got that going for us. If you'd rather hang outdoors, there is a drop-in animal track program from 1-4 pm today at Eastman Nature Center and a snowflake program at Maplewood Nature Center from 1-3 pm. The large mammal with ultraviolet vision is the reindeer, by the way. Reindeer are also known as caribou, just in case you ever come across that bit of trivia. 

Daily adventures for 'MEA' weekend

Posted by: Tim Kennedy under Family, Entertainment, Family activities, Family Fun Updated: October 16, 2014 - 2:51 PM

I've often likened teaching to canoeing. We drop our canoes into a lazy river come summertime and spend weeks rowing gently down the stream. When the calendar turns to August we notice a subtle change in the current. The water moves more swiftly, our paddling becomes more purposeful. Then Workshop Week arrives. The excitement of this time makes our pulse quicken, and we grip the oars a little tighter because we know the white-water rapids of the school year are dead ahead.

And then comes the first day of school. There's no stopping now! We row furiously to stay the course. Water sprays over the bow and the vessel lists dangerously to one side and then the other, but we paddle on because, if we don't, we'll lose our bearings and the river will swallow us. And then, before we notice it really, the tumult subsides and we get a few moments to catch our breath before encountering the next set of rapids.

These quiet moments, in my metaphor, are MEA Weekend. It's the first opportunity during the school year for students and teachers alike to take a step back and recharge, be that at the professional conference held in St. Paul, or at a cabin on the St. Croix. In case you're sticking around the Twin Cities this weekend, here some free or low-cost things you can do as a family before embarking on the next leg of your journey. 

Available Every Day Over MEA Weekend

Try geocaching for free at one of Minnesota's Demo Parks. A $5 day pass will admit you into the State Park. Everything else is provided.

The Walker Art Center is celebrating 75 years on this earth during Walktoberfest. Admission and activities are free Thursday-Sunday.

PAWS to Read with an Animal is an opportunity to curl up and read with a therapy animal at a local library. Animals will be at the Sumner Library Thursday from 5:30-7 pm, Saturday at both the North Regional Library from noon-1:30 pm and the Nokomis Library from 2:30-4:30 pm, and Sunday from 1-2:30 pm at the St. Louis Park Library.

The Foshay Museum and Observation Deck

The Foshay Museum and Observation Deck

See the city from a totally different perspective at the Foshay Museum and Observation Deck. Adults pay $8 for the view, youths are $5 and kids 12 and under are free. The deck is open 10 am-6 pm Thursday through Saturday and 11 am-5 pm Sunday.  

Thursday, October 16

Kids 8 and up can take a free Beginner Archery class from 10 am-noon at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center brings an owl, hawk, falcon and a bald eagle to the Minneapolis Central Library today at 10 am.

After meeting the birds of prey at the library, step onto Nicollet Mall for the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

Hennepin County Libraries have partnered with ArtStart to offer kids in grades K-6 "Junk Paleontology" from 10:30 to noon in Brooklyn Center, and "Rube Goldberg Marble Machines" from 1 to 2:30 pm in St. Louis Park. For those in grades 7-12, there's a Comic Strips class in Hopkins from 2-4 pm. If Opera is more your thing, visit Opera Viva! at the Nokomis Library at 6:30 pm.

You can tour the Landmark Center from 11 am-noon or the Star Tribune printing facility at 2 or 4 pm. Star Tribune tours must be scheduled ahead of time at tours@startribune.com or by calling (612) 673-4636.

The Minnesota History Center hosts a fun exhibit titled, "Toys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's." There is also History HiJinx, a robot-themed craft program, today and tomorrow from 11 am-3 pm. Admission to the center is $11 for adults and $6 for kids 6 and older, but a $75 household membership will gain you admission here and 25 other historic locations around the state for the next year.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is free after 4:30 pm today. Kids 12 and under are always free, but this will save you $12 for each adult. Downloadable self-guided children's adventures are available here.

Friday, October 17

You can tour the Star Tribune printing facility at 9 am or 2 pm. Star Tribune tours must be scheduled ahead of time at tours@startribune.com or by calling (612) 673-4636.

Hennepin County Libraries have partnered with ArtStart to offer kids in grades K-6 "Junk Paleontology" from 10:30 to noon in Rogers. For those in grades 7-12, there's Non-Traditional Comic Arts in Minnetonka from 10 am-noon, or Comic Strips class in Brooklyn Park from 3-5 pm.

The Minnesota History Center hosts a fun exhibit titled, "Toys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's." There is also History HiJinx, a robot-themed craft program, today from 11 am-3 pm. Admission to the center is $11 for adults and $6 for kids 6 and older, but a $75 household membership will gain you admission here and 25 other historic locations around the state for the next year.

Check out a Gopher Softball exhibition game vs. Concordia-St. Paul today. Games will be played at 5 and 7 pm at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium just east of Dinkytown. Before or after the game, stop by Annie's Parlour for a burger and malt.

Saturday, October 18

Help staff at the Lowry Nature Center safely capture, study, band and release birds from 9 am-noon.

Tour the Star Tribune printing facility at 9 am. Star Tribune tours must be scheduled ahead of time at tours@startribune.com or by calling (612) 673-4636.

There's free pumpkin painting at the Minneapolis Farmers Market all day today, or at least until the pumpkins run out.

Drop in to the Tamarack Nature Center in St. Paul between 10 am and noon to check out Worms at Work. "Discovery Hosts" will be on hand to guide your visit through numerous hands-on stations.

Catch a "Childish Film" at Fall Frolics at the Minneapolis Central Library from 10 am-noon. You are invited to come in costume and enjoy a unique film, art activities and a complimentary snack.

Maybe you've seen the seed art in the Agriculture Building at the State Fair? Try it for yourself at See-D Mosaic at the Linden Hills Library today from 11 am-12:30 pm

The Arboretum's Amazing Hedge Maze

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers "Fantastic Foliage" activites in their Learning Center today and tomorrow from noon-4 pm. Adults $12, kids 12 and under are always free. 

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden presents Magnificent Mushrooms from 1-2 pm. You will learn about the structure of mushrooms and learn to ID some common varieties. That way you can avoid ones that make you really big or really small.

A Weisguide will lead you on a free tour of the Weisman Art Museum, located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, from 1-2 pm today. Topics will include current exhibits as well as information about one of the most unique buildings in the Twin Cities.

The Works has teamed up with Hennepin County Libraries to offer STEM Exploration Day at the Franklin Library from 2-4 pm today! Create a sound sandwich, experiment with rainbow glasses and build a bridge. You had me at sandwich. 

Rainbow Crow is a Lenape story that asks, "How far would you go for the good of the community?" Hopefully you'd go as far as Steppingstone Theater to see this story come to life onstage. This is a pay-what-you-can performance from 3-5 pm, with a suggested donation of at least $5.

The four teams that make up Minnesota Roller Girls battle each other tonight in a mini tournament titled, "Fresh Meat." Despite the name, I am assured by one of the roller girls that this is indeed a family-friendly event. Doors to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium open at 6:30 pm, roller derby starts at 7:30 pm. The first 200 fans get a free t-shirt. Tickets range from $13-18 for ages 10 and up and benefit the Ronald McDonald House and the Ann Bancroft Foundation.

The Gopher Women's Soccer team takes on the Wisconsin Badgers at 7 pm at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on the St. Paul Campus. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for youth.

Sunday, October 19

The Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul is free today from 9 am-5 pm.

There will be a free Wood Turning Demonstration at the Landmark Center from noon-1 pm today in the Gallery of Wood Art. I'm guessing there's more to this than flipping a log over on the fire.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers "Fantastic Foliage" activites in their Learning Center today from noon-4 pm. Adults $12, kids 12 and under are always free. 

History is on display for free today at the Bell Museum of Natural History. The Bell is open today from noon-5 pm.

A Weisguide will lead you on a free tour of the Weisman Art Museum, located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, from 1-2 pm today. Topics will include current exhibits as well as information about one of the most unique buildings in the Twin Cities.

Bats are the topic at the Carl Kroening Interpretive Center from 1-3 pm, and Minnesota Trees star at the Richardson Nature Center from 3-4 pm during Free Family Fun Day. That's today!

The Works has teamed up with Hennepin County Libraries to offer STEM Exploration Day at the Rockford Road Library from 2-4 pm today! Create a sound sandwich, experiment with rainbow glasses and build a bridge. You had me at sandwich. 

The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden presents a free tour of the Quaking Bog from 3-4 pm.

For more ideas, click on "Older Posts." Many previous blog entries are available year-round. Have a great weekend!!

Follow on Twitter @AColdOmaha

Daily Adventures: Big Stone Mini Golf, Lock & Dam #1, Llama Stories and Internet Cat Video Festival

Posted by: Tim Kennedy under Family, Entertainment, Family activities, Family Fun Updated: August 13, 2014 - 1:12 PM
Mixing art with mini golf? It works for Big Stone!

Mixing art with mini golf? It works for Big Stone!

Monday, August 11

Big Stone Mini Golf looks like it has it all. You want putt-putt? Check. Feel like a sculpture garden? They've got that too. You'd like to pet some farm animals? As you wish. Feel like roasting marshmallows or playing Checkers? Go for it! Apparently, it's even a hot spot for professional graduation and engagement photos. OK, there's no evidence of a bouncy house on site, so I guess they don't have it all, but it sounds pretty unique. I found the website difficult to navigate but, near as I can tell, Big Stone is open daily from 11 am until sundown, and costs $7 for each child and $8 for adults. The reviews I've read make it sound like it's worth the money and the drive to Minnetrista. As Sheryll from Boca Raton, FL wrote on YELP, it's "The most funnest place in the world!"

Tuesday, August 12

In 1925 Henry Ford built a plant in St. Paul on the banks of the Mississippi. A drop in the river at this spot allowed for the construction of a hydroelectric plant to supply the requisite power for assembling his Model T's. Construction on Lock & Dam #1 had also been completed on the Minneapolis side of these falls just eight years earlier. A self-guided tour of this Lock & Dam affords views of the Ford Dam, Ford Bridge and the power plant. If you're lucky, a ship will come through one of the locks while you're on the observation deck. Unfortunately, you won't be able to see the plant as it once was. The last Ranger pickup truck rolled off the line three years ago, and the Ford plant is currently under demolition.

Fingerplays about llamas? I gotta see this.

Fingerplays about llamas? I gotta see this.

Wednesday, August 13

Normally an invitation to enjoy stories, songs and something called "fingerplays" wouldn't hold my attention for very long, but I think these fingerplays are going to be about llamas. I find llamas kind of fascinating, and not just because they are one of the few things that rhyme with pajamas (along with Obamas, commas, and mamas), but I still don't really want to sing about them. Here's the hook: As a part of all this llama drama (there's another one!) the Excelsior Library is going to have LIVE LLAMAS at Manor Park in Shorewood at 10:30 today! I don't know if we'll be able to pet one, but there's sure to be some photo ops. It might even inspire a llama diorama (Boom goes the dynamite!). Afterward, indulge in an ice cream cone on the lakeshore in Excelsior or take a ride on the Excelsior Streetcar Line

Thursday, August 14

The Walker Museum hosts the 3rd Annual Internet Cat Video Festival tonight for free. YouTube videos of cats are irresistible as it is, but watching them as a communal experience borders on transcendental. Maybe that's overstating it a bit, but I bet it's like watching fireworks except that instead of oohs and aahs you hear lots of aawws! The videos roll at dusk, but the event runs from 6-10 pm with live music, face painting and an animated photo booth available before the cats take center stage. Much in the same way that everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, everyone's a cat person on this night.

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