Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Kids Are Home. Now What?

White Christmas 2009

When your mom has to leave for work at 7:30 and the bus doesn't come until 8, and she doesn't trust you in the house for fear you'll burn the house down or tie the cat to the ceiling fan or worse, you have no choice but to wait outside for the school bus.

Thanks to just about every school in the Tulsa area, no child will have to wait outside in temperatures cold enough to, literally, freeze his fingers and toes.

If your kids are home tomorrow, or even for the rest of the week, that doesn't mean you have to stare at each other from across the room for the next two days. Instead, bundle up - meaning, thermal underwear, layered outer clothing, heavy coats, hats, gloves, scarves and, if you're cool like my kid, a hatscarfmuff - and head out on the town and spend some quality time together.

I know what you're thinking. What exactly is there to do in Tulsa on a weekday, anyway?

View The Kids Are Home. Now What? in a larger map

I'm glad you asked. I have a few ideas.

Purple Glaze, 3303 S. Peoria Ave. and 6528 E. 91st Street. What's more fun than making a mess with your kids? Making a mess with your kids that you don't have to clean up, duh. Head to Purple Glaze to pick out your favorite ceramic. Spend the afternoon painting or tiling it, just the way you like. Leave it behind until after the weekend and, voila, a one-of-a-kind commemoration of the day it was too cool for school. Hours are 11am-9pm Thursday and Friday, with the Brookside location staying open until 10pm Friday night. Studio fee is $6; pottery prices include the ceramic, paints, glaze and firing.

Bounce U, 8922 S. Memorial Drive. I'm a former kid these days, but even I can't get enough of a good, old-fashioned Jupiter Jump. Help the kids work out their snow day wiggles by setting them loose on a variety of inflatable structures. Just don't forget to bring extra socks. Admission is $6.95 per child. There's not much in terms of hours tomorrow - open bounce is 1:30-3pm - but with more schools canceling Friday classes, there's likely to be another bounce then, too.

Oklahoma Aquarium, 300 Aquarium Drive in Jenks. Come on in, kids, the water's fine. With nearly 200 exhibits and thousands of fresh and salt water species (don't forget about the mammals), all completely and totally indoors, there's an entire day's worth of fun at the aquarium down by the river. Hours are 10am-6pm. Admission is $13.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids 3-12, free for kids 2 and under.

Tulsa Children's Museum, Tulsa Historical Society, 2445 S. Peoria Ave. If the kids are still home on Friday, load 'em up and head to Midtown to check out TCM's first semi-permanent exhibit, Your House, My House. Tulsa children will have an opportunity to fish from a house in Malaysia, prepare dinner from a house in Fiji and become mini architects as they design their own house with a drafting table, computer programs and examples of houses throughout Tulsa’s history. Hours are 10am-4pm on Friday. And guess what - it's free.

Hardesty Regional Library

Any Tulsa Library. There's no bad time for a trip to the library (except for maybe on the way to the delivery room), but there's just something especially magical about the library on cold, blustery days. Tulsa's library locations are chock full of books, of course, but there are also shelves full of music, movies, magazines, newspapers from across the country, maps and, yes, more to peruse, and plenty of cozy nooks good for sorting your plunder. Know what could be extra fun? Hit the movie section on your way out, have the kids pick a few (our latest library movie rentals have been Bolt and Cars - there's not much at Redbox that you can't get at our libraries) and go home for a movie and popcorn party. Or, if you're teaching your kids how to find books in the library, start a scavenger hunt while you plop down next to a window with the latest copy of People. It all works.

Kaleidoscope Children's Museum, 6202 S. Sheridan Road. If you couldn't get your kids not to touch delicate pieces of art to save your life, Kaleidoscope just might be the place for you. It's a hands-on kind of museum, with plenty of encouragement for your kids to do some learning about art and science. Who said a day off from school has to mean a day off from learning? Hours are 10am-3pm. Admission is $5, and kids under 2 get in free.

Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum

Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum, 9 E. Broadway Street in Sand Springs. Peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, cheese and fries, kids and toys - they all go together. Rather than take the kids to the mall while they're out of school for yet more action figures, why not head to Sand Springs Museum for its latest exhibit, Classic Toys? It features a variety of original and reproduction toys popular with children born between 1945 and 1980. It's high time your kids knew about the fixtures of your childhood. Hours are 10am-5pm. Admission is free.

Philbrook Museum Gardens

Philbrook Museum, 2727 S. Rockford Ave. The museum is open, but you might want to stay out of the famous Philbrook gardens. Even so, there's tons to see at this Italiante villa-cum-art museum. And guess what? Kids under 18 get in free. Here's what to see while you're there. Hours Thursday are 10am-8pm and on Friday 10am-5pm. Admission is $7.50 for adults.

Gilcrease Museum, 1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road. One free-of-charge, world-class museum experience not enough for the kids this week? Head for the (Osage) hills and hit up Gilcrease Museum, a treasure trove of American art and history - in fact, it's the largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West anywhere. Hours are 10am-5pm. Admission is $8 for adults.

Gardner's Used Books and Comics

Gardner's Used Books, 4221 S. Mingo Road. Have I mentioned that I love this place? Yes? Well, I'm going to say it again. This is one of our favorite spots when the weather doesn't permit our craziness outdoors. There's plenty of space for young kids to toddle, tons of books, music, comics and toys to keep older kids busy, and no one really cares if your brood gets a little rambunctious. Plus, there are two great restaurants right next door, including Gatsby's Grill. Yum.

Dilly Deli, 2nd and Elgin

Lunch. If while you're out and about when those little tummies start to growl, feel free to use my short list of indie lunch spots that are welcoming to young kids and their families (several of these even offer toys to keep the kids happy while the food's a cookin'): Joe Mommas downtown (complete with old-school video games); Cosmo Cafe on Brookside; Elote Cafe & Catering; Brewburger; Crusty Croissant; Dilly Deli; Kupcakz (maybe for dessert - or, if you're like me, maybe for lunch); The Brook (both Midtown and South); and Hideaway Pizza.

What are you and the kids planning to do together tomorrow?

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