Free Family Fun!: TWIN CITIES ARTS : COMMUNITY : CULTURE — w/ kids

The Jump Jam Double Dutch Challenge Finals are on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at theOxford/Jimmy Lee Recreation Center in Saint Paul.  Besides watching the finalists jump, your family can participate in free activities, including:

  • Double Dutch Lessons
  • Community Resource Fair with Games & Prizes
  • Zumba Dance Lessons
  • Jump Jam Photo Wall
  • Meet the Regions Therapy Dogs

Jump Rope Family Fun At Home

If you have fun watching the jump rope activities and want to try it as a family activity, Three Fat Chicks On A Diet has Three Fun Family Jump Rope Exercises you can try. I also came across this article on A Childhood List on how to make a jump rope out of plastic bags.  I haven’t tried this project yet and have my doubts about whether the final product would be heavy enough to work well, but all I have to lose are some plastic grocery bags, so I really thing we’ll try this one.  It makes a really pretty jump rope.


Now through September 7th, Rondo Library is exhibiting The Alphabet Place by Amy Unger.  This interactive exhibit is a collections of photographs displaying the alphabet taken from letters in the Central Corridor of St Paul.  I’m excited to share this exhibit with my family.  Its a great way to do an activity that is geared toward our two-year-old without boring the rest of the family.  The rest of us will enjoy the creative photography while he enjoys his new-found enjoyment of the alphabet.

Alphabet Fun With The Family

This exhibit reminds me so much of one of my favorite Sesame Street videos.  Do you remember this one?

After watching the video together, I think we’ll try our own alphabet scavenger hunt either with our cell phone cameras or, if we want to make it more interactive, we could do alphabet rubbings.  Scholastic has directions for anOutdoor Art-Rub.  Adding the alphabet dimension just makes is a little more focused.

Later, for dinner, I think it could be a great soup night.  We can make alphabet soup and alphabet shaped bread sticks.



Irish Fair starts tomorrow at 3 p.m. and ends Sunday 5 p.m.  Admission is free, butparking is a pain, so come ready to pay for that or to walk quite a ways.  Every year it gets a little harder to find affordable parking.  Irish Fair encourages biking to the event and offers free bike racks with locks.

Once you get there, there is almost no end to the entertainment, shops and vendor options.  We usually come with a plan to watch at least one specific band, but it’s the type of event we can just show up for and get lucky too.


Irish Fair does not allow food or beverages to be brought in.  This is a long day for us and the food can be amazing, so we will budget some money for food. To balance things, we also like to cook a fish and chips dinner before going.  It makes it easier to not blow our whole grocery budget on one night out.

I expect this day to wear us out, so our at-home family fun will consist of a movie.  To keep the Irish theme, we can choose War of the Buttons (some non-sexual nudity) or possibly Darby O’Gill and the Little People.  Either of these movies would engage the children and still be entertaining for us adults.

We are completely in love  with Franconia Sculpture Park this year.  Something about its mix of wide open spaces, amazing sculptures and creative play areas is just incredibly relaxing.  It’s the place we go to just be a family and forget about all the things that are making life stressful right now.  It’s a little bit of a road-trip, just past Shafer, but it is totally worth it.  If you plan to go, check out their directions page for traffic advisories.
We have also been enjoying their band choices for the concert series. This weekend’s concert is Kid’s Night featuring The Undergroove.  Earlier in the day see Randy the Frog Guy and and magician Normanzo the Great.


The concession stands at Franconia are pretty reasonably priced and they help pay for the park, which is always free and open to the public.  However, if that’s not in your budget, it’s also a great place to bring a family picnic.

There is so much to do.  We try to arrive early for play time and leave a little time to explore our way back to the car.  Most of the sculptures are meant to be touched and even climbed on.  If they are not, they are labeled with bright yellow signs.




Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Brickmania will be hosting its monthly open house.  The thing I really love about Brickmania Open Houses over other Lego events is that Brickmania is a store for adult Lego enthusiasts.  This makes it more of a family event than a kid event.  The open houses feature a play area with bricks for building, a race car ramp, and other creative activities — so children will be entertained; but there are also two large, running train displays and a selection of guest displays.

Although I continue to strive for my unrealized dream of less toys and more family time, blocks are not something I’m willing to give up. Instead, I’d like them to be the center of more family times.

I think I’ve already mentioned the book Floor Games by H.G. Wells.  In this very short book, Wells describes the type of toys he and his sons played with and some of the imagination games they played.  It became the basis for a type of child therapy, called Sandplay, but I enjoy it for the parenting inspiration it provides — a little reminder to to stop and play with my kids.  If you are interested in reading it, you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg or in audio version from Books Should Be Free.

The Twin Cities Polish Festival is this weekend.  This is your families chance to immerse themselves “all things Polish”.

The event planners encourage you to bring a blanket, take a seat on the lawn along the Old Main Street in Minneapolis, visit with friends, watch outstanding musical and dance entertainment, enjoy traditional foods and beverages, and just simply have fun! There is a children’s area and stage, but really, any of the entertainment will probably be fun for the whole family.

The Children’s Stage Highlights

Little Stars Theater Workshopfrom Chicago which promotes the Polish language through theater.  Their shows are similar to musicals.

Jim Krzewski, aka Spoon Man Jim Cruise is part goofball entertainer, part faith-filled spiritual guy.  He has an audience sing-a-long competition. He creates a Mountain Band out of members of the audience. You may also see him play forks and knives. In addition, if that is still not enough, everyone has an opportunity to get “SPOONED.”


Although they are not nearly as good, I’ll buy my pierogies in the freezer section, but I’ve linked to a recipe in case you care to try them.  This year, we are going to try this recipe from Two Kids Cooking for Roasted Red Cabbage and Polish Sausage.  Yes, it looks a little yucky in the picture. I’m hoping the kids helping part will override the purple food part.  I’m this recipe could be made with green cabbage, too, but I like red cabbage a little better, so my kids are going to have to try it.

Here is a link for some Polish games, too.  Some are more family appropriate than others.  The game of Salonowiec involves whacking each other on the back.  In fact one picture I found of it involved whacking with a paddle.  Other sites described it as “tapping”.  I’m certain with my siblings it would have escalated to whacking pretty quickly.  My niece suggested this could be played like the game up Thumbs Up Seven Up and just have someone push down the “it” player’s thumb.



The first weekend of August  is a great weekend to bring art alive for the family.  Minneapolis is hosting three art fairs – Loring Park Art Festival, Powderhorn Art Fair and Uptown Art Fair – plus its Free First Saturday at the Walker.  This could be a hurried, hot, “don’t touch”, miserable experience for the whole family, but it doesn’t have to be.  We can slow down; remember we can’t see everything; avoid the booths with breakables and bring a variety of snacks and beverages.  I think we’ll bring a little money for ice-cream, too.


Red Stag Block Party Sunday

The Red Stag Block Party is Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  I’m very excited about this years line-up, which includes Jack Klatt & the Cat Swingers with Dakota Dave Hull, Romantica, Chastity Brown, Mayda, The Honeydogs, Kill the Vultures, Rogue Valley, All Tomorrow’s Petty, Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater, Epitome No Question, and MC Foxy Tann.

This event is Free and will be outside rain or shine.

Zero Waste At Home

This is another Zero Waste Event. I did a little research to learn how an event qualifies as Zero Waste.  It appears to be up to the individual venues to make that call.  I think it would be fun to declare our family a Zero Waste Family — maybe only for a day or a week — just to see if there are new ways we can reduce.

I’m a huge advocate of making toys from trash, recycling and items around the house.  Not only do kids learn how to be more resourceful, but after I’ve stepped on it for the umpteenth time, I can toss it back where it came from with no guilt.  The kids know that if we made it once, we can make it again.  I LOVE this idea from the Daily Anarchist (pictured on the above). I almost bought a toy like this.  Then I was wondering if it would be any cheaper or better made from PVC piping, but I like this idea best.  When we are done, the newspaper can be recycled and we don’t have to store it.  Plus, its free; I can bring home old newspapers from work for a few days if necessary..

I love this little toy plane from pbsparents:

Quick and Easy Toy Planes!

I love this little toy plane from pbsparents:

Quick and Easy Toy Planes!

On Saturday from noon to 8:00 p.m., Seward Co-op will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a party at East River Flats Park.  Everyone is welcome at this free event. (There will be food and beverages for sale and some of the activities arenot free.)

Music Includes:

12:30 p.m. Fiddles on Fire is comprised of musicians between the ages of 10 and 12 years old. The young fiddlers perform a selection of folk tune from the American, Irish and Swedish traditions.

1:30 p.m. The Bunny Clogs is Shel Silverstein-meets-Prince surreal dance fun. Founder Adam Levy’s Bunny Clogs is music for kids of all ages.

3 p.m. The Brass Messengers were born out of the annual In the Heart of the Beast MayDay Parade. Their music is “anything that fits in the twisted brass tubing, from originals to ‘covers’ from around the globe, as long as it makes a joyful noise.”

4:30 p.m. Malamanya is a six-member Minneapolis-based band comprised of a diverse group of musicians who share a mutual respect and enthusiasm for traditional rhythms and melodies of Latin American and Caribbean music.

6:15 p.m. Willie Murphy has been writing, performing, recording and producing blues/R&B music for more than 30 years. Murphy and his band are famous for their unique blending of blues, R&B, jazz, funk, reggae, and rock.

Extending the Family Fun

This would be a fun time to explore Seward Co-op with your kids and make a dinner together at home afterwards.  If you need some inspiration, they have a recipe section on their website.


Cheer on your favorite athletes as they go for gold in London!


Still looking for something to do with the family this weekend?  Start here.