10 ideas for staving off kids’ boredom over the holiday break

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

It’s Day Three of winter break and already choruses of “I’m so bored” are sounding loudly and often. It’s too cold for the kids to play outside for very long, you’ve run out of appropriate G and PG-rated movies to see and there’s only so much bowling and ice skating they – or you – can endure.

Relax parents. Beyond the usual things to do with your kids over the next two weeks are 10 other ideas you may want to consider:

1. For more than 45 years, Bob Kramer Marionnettes have been entertaining audiences with creative, energetic puppetry. Prior to each show, audience members can see the puppet-making process firsthand (1,500 hours of labor per puppet) and the amazing variety of detailed costumes. “The Magic Wish,” which plays through Jan. 2, celebrates the joy of the holiday season with a visit to the North Pole to meet Tad, the head elf. With lots of music and many surprises, this holiday gem is sure to tickle the child in everyone. The theater is located at 4143 Laclede Avenue. For more information, call 314-531-3313 or go to www.kramersmarionnettes.com.

2. In keeping with the traditional Jewish Christmas Eve – Chinese food and a movie – consider enjoying both at United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road in Creve Coeur. The synagogue is hosting a Shabbat Service at 5 p.m. Dec. 24 followed by “Chinese, Cinema & Community Service” beginning at 6. Two movies will be shown – “The Kids Are Alright” for adults and “Marmaduke” for kids. The community service project will benefit the Jewish Food Pantry. The cost is $10 per adult, $6 for children ages 4-10 and free for children 3 and under. For dinner reservations, please R.S.V.P. as soon as possible to Cori Neidenberg at 314-469-0700 or [email protected].

3. Parents who have allowed their children to cook know the best part of Dierbergs School of Cooking classes for kids is that there is no clean-up involved, at least not for parents. The school has several classes with openings at its various locations on Dec. 29, including a pizza making class for children in grades 2-5 and a “game night fun foods class” for kids in grades 5-8. For more information, go to www.dierbergs.com.

4. JCC Camps: Both J locations are running day camps for kindergarteners through 5th graders Dec. 23, 24, 27-31 and Jan. 3 – 4. The Creve Coeur/Staenberg location is sold out Dec. 28 and 30th but as of this writing, there is availability the rest of the time and even more availability at the Chesterfield/Fox location. Camp goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes swimming, with extended care available. The cost is $35 per day for J members, $45 for non-members and $5 for before care, from 7-9 a.m., and $10 for after-care from 3-6 p.m. A pre-kindergarten program for children 4 and 5 years old is also being offered. For more information, contact Sara Jones at 314-442-3431 (Fox) or Patrick Fox at 314-442-3198 (Staenberg) or go to www.jccstl.com and click on “youth and family” and then “vacation days and school breaks.”

5. Craft Alliance is offering a variety of holiday camps at its Delmar Loop location for kids between the ages of 4 and 15. Topics range from pottery making to stained glass to metal arts to creating mosaics. Camps, which are available from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31, meet for three hours all five days in either the morning or afternoon, or can be combined to create a full day. In those cases, campers can bring a sack lunch and eat on campus. Detailed camp descriptions and registration are available at www.craftalliance.org. The cost of a half-day camp is roughly $149.

6. The Saint Louis Science Center is offering “Holidazed Camps” for kids in grades 1-6. Topics include the weather, lasers, magnets, paleontology, food science and more. Available from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, the camps take place for three hours in the morning or afternoon, but can be combined to create a full-day experience and extended care is available. Call Jill at 314-289-4439 for information or to register, or go to www.slsc.org for more information. The cost of a half-day camp is $30 ($25 for members) with extended care for $15.

7. Several local gymnastics facilities are also offering camps during winter break. Both St. Louis Spirits Gymnastics Club in Sunset Hills (www.spiritsgym.com) and the Little Gym of St. Louis in south St. Louis County (www.thelittlegym.com) have holiday camps Dec. 27-30 while Team Central Gymnastics in Maryland Heights has day camps Dec. 23 and the week of Dec. 27 to Dec. 31. For more information about that camp, call 314-291-0101.

8. YMCA Camp Lakewood at the Trout Lodge in Potosi, Mo., is offering an overnight camp for kids ages 7 to 12 from Dec. 27 to 30. Camps will feature both indoor and outdoor activities and a chance to spend time with kids their own age. For more information, call Camp Registrar Holly Shoults at 314-241-9622, ext. 113, or Camp Program Director Brad Smith at 314-241-9622, ext. 121. Or visit www.ymcaoftheozarks.org

9. Visit Faust Park in Chesterfield for a puppet show and complimentary ride on the St. Louis Carousel Dec. 29 and Dec. 30. The half-hour show takes place at 9:30 a.m. both days. Tickets are $5 a person in advance and $6 a person at the door and can be purchased by calling 314-615-8383 or at the St. Louis Carousel Gift Shop.

10. Splurge for a show at the Fox Theatre preceded by lunch or followed by dinner in Grand Center. Showing through Dec. 29 is “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” an original musical extravaganza filled with spectacle, imagination and whimsical dreams. Ornaments come to life as costumed characters and perform astonishing feats, several of which feature dangling from a 24-foot tall magical tree. Tickets range from $69 to $25 and there are several matinee options. Kid-friendly dining suggestions in or near Grand Center include South City Diner, the Fountain on Locust and the King and I. Or you can head downtown to the legendary Crown Candy Kitchen for a chocolate-banana malt and the best egg-salad sandwich this side of the Mississippi.

Got some good ideas of things to do with the kids over winter break? Feel free to post them as a comment to this story.