We’re holding our breath right along with you that Chicago Public Schools will be back in session soon in the safest way possible. While we wait for announcements, we’ll help you prepare for worst-case scenario that classes will be canceled for the remainder of the week. Whether you’re looking for creative ideas to keep them entertained, moving and learning at home, or need a virtual or in-person camp option, we’ve rounded up the best ideas we’ve seen. We’ll keep adding to the list as new options pop up, so bookmark the story and check back in.
Camps & Classes
Stay Active at Home with Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District is offering 50 different free at-home classes the week of Jan. 10. to keep kids moving. No registration is required.
Sign Kids Up for In-Person Cooking Camp
When you find yourself with random days off from school, The Kids' Table has you covered with full-day camps that offer the perfect mix of cooking, eating and play. Kids spend half their day in the kitchen chopping, grating and rolling their way to delicious dishes with the guidance of chef instructors. The rest of the day is reserved for a craft, a movie or some good old 'ole fashion play. As a side note, they also offer one-hour virtual cooking classes for kids up to age 14.
Creative + Movement Day Camp at BASH xyz
Make a Day of it Camp at Wishcraft
Wishcraft in Lakeview offers kids a place to get creative when last-minute Covid closures occur. Class is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with early drop-off options. Beware, they fill up fast!
Art Class with Mr. Dave Music
Mr. Dave Music is offering Art + Sound: Paint to the Music class for ages 3-6 on Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-4:35 p.m. This open-ended art experience with Noodle Art Studio utilizes paint in innovative ways to allow kids to interpret art in a way that feels authentic to them.
Get Outside & Move
Take a Walk in Awe at Morton Arboretum
Five massive outdoor sculptures created exclusively for Morton Arboretum by artist Daniel Popper rise above the natural landscapes in the Human + Nature exhibition. The 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures are installed across the 1,700-acre site and lead guests to areas they may not otherwise explore. Using thought-provoking human forms paired with elements of nature, each piece will bring attention to the deep connections between humans and nature.
Bundle Up & Figure 8
Sock skating on a wooden floor is a blast, but there's nothing like feeling the cool breeze on your face as you glide across a real ice rink. Lace up for this essential winter activity. Chicago has rinks that are free, some that are new and many offer loads of other activities in the same location. See for yourself by reading Ice, Ice Baby: Chill Places to Ice Skate in Chicago.
Take Ski or Snowboard Lessons
Get the kids outside for much-needed winter fun at Four Lakes Alpine Snowports in Lisle. From ski and snowboard private or semi-private lessons for beginners to a challenging terrain park for the most adventurous, Four Lakes is the close-by cure for your winter boredom.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Show your kids the coolness of their hometown with this scavenger hunt idea. It’ll take you to the tippy-top of the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and strolling the Chicago River to see the moveable bridges (or, view them from the warmth of your car). Best part? You can do all this in a totally safe, socially distanced way that’ll keep Covid-19 far, far away. You can download this scavenger hunt for kids here.
See Eagles at Starved Rock
How about a quick nature field trip? Starting in mid-January, thousands of eagles migrate to Starved Rock State Park and stay through March. They’re easy to spot as they soar through the sky or perch on the treetops. Bring binoculars!
Bundle Up for a Wintry Hike
We’ll admit, a Chicago winter can be tough. But, a dose of fresh air, unforgettable scenery and a chance to spy on animals in their natural habitat is a guaranteed day of wintry family fun. There are beautiful trails all around the city that'll have you lacing up your boots, strapping an infant to your back and exploring.
Connect with Chicago Children's Museum
Chicago Children's Museum created online resources to stay connected and support Chicago families. For creative ideas to keep the kids entertained and learning, visit their Recipes for Play at Home and Parenting Playbook pages. These online resources give at-home activities, video guides and well-curated content.
Tap Kohl Children's Museum of Play Ideas
Visit Kohl Children's Museum's Teaching Resources page which was created to support parents, caregivers and teachers in bringing interactive lessons to the home.
Give the Kids a Good Laugh
Plan a virtual playdate for the kids with the help of Storytown Improv. While Storytown has halted their family-favorite in-person performances, they are using the same tools that have made their Saturday performances a success to host virtual laugh sessions.
Get Help with Creativity for Indoor Activities
From crafting your own robots to writing stories, here are more than 100 activities and inside games for kids that’ll keep everyone busy.
Indulge in Good Food & Drink
Get a Sugar Fix at Jo Jo's Shake Bar
Jo Jo's Shake Bar's heated Winter Wonderland tent boasts a massive Christmas tree, oversized presents, private igloos and a red Ford pick-up truck, making it a perfect backdrop to snap a photo while you throw down one of the biggest, most-decorated milkshakes you've ever seen.
Hunt for Chicago’s Best Cup of Hot Cocoa
Make Chicago's winter a little easier to swallow with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. When Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose, it’s time to go sipping. If your kids love cocoa—or need a good introduction to it—check out local restaurants or cafes that make their own from scratch.
Intro Your Kids to a Chicago Hot Dog
Love ’em or leave ’em, hot dogs are big in Chicago, and if your kids haven’t begged for one yet, they will soon. We love the on-the-go ease (no silverware!) and colorful condiments (kids get a pass where the sacrilege of using ketchup is concerned). Grab one at a legendary local hot dog spot and turn eating into an adventure.
Employ Extra Hands
Need Help with a Sitter?
Use our list of babysitting services to find childcare help if you need a bit of help balancing school cancellations and work commitments, or just an extra set of hands.
Set Up Meal Deliveries
Check one thing off your to-do list by signing up for one of our favorite food delivery services.
— Maria Chambers