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Gimme a break!

10 fun --- and educational --- ways to keep the kids busy on their week off


Look at them, just sitting there, with their filthy mitts and kissable cheeks. Oh, sure, it seemed like a good idea --- "Let's have a baby!" --- but as time marches on they're eating your food, watching your TV, and interrupting your precious slumber with their early mornings and late nights. Now your kids have a whole week off from whatever it is that they do, and they expect to be entertained. You could just drop them off at the mall or the multiplex, but that's too easy. For your consideration, what follows are a number of break-week activities for all budgets that should keep their minds and bodies engaged.

Braddock Bay Raptor Research (423 Manitou Beach Road, Hilton) celebrates the hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls that inhabit our skies with their 18th Annual Bird of Prey Week, running April 15-23. The first weekend features hawk watching and banding, and weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. kids can enjoy nature crafts, storytime, and visits from a different live raptor every day. BOP Week culminates with International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the games and activities of Hawkout! from9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, complete with a visit from --- get ready for it --- The Incredible Hawk. All events are free and a full schedule is available at www.bbrr.org, or call 321-1616.

YMCA Splash Week is April 17 through 21, and folks are invited to sign up for free introductory swim lessons and water safety instruction at the six area YMCA branches with pool facilities, including the Carlson Metrocenter Y on East Main Street, the Northwest branch in Greece, and the Bay View facility in Webster. Registration deadline for Splash Week is Friday, April 14, so click on www.rochesterymca.org, stop in at your preferred participating branch, or give them a call at 546-5500.

Theatre Young Kids Enjoy (TYKEs) presents The No Show, which stars Doug Berky as a guy who happens upon on an empty stage after the actor fails to show up. Fortunately, all of the missing actor's props are there, allowing the passing buffoon to indulge in mask, mime, and circus antics. But there's only one performance of The No Show --- which is recommended for everyone over the age 4 --- and it occurs at the School of the Arts, 45 Prince Street, at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 20. Tickets are $10. Call 723-0680 for more information, or e-mail them at tykes@rochester.rr.com.

Musical Fun is the theme of the school-break activities at StrongMuseum, 1 Manhattan Square, with daily concerts, instrument-making activities, and storytelling. Children can join a jam session using unusual instruments like rain sticks and washboards, or make their own instruments from everyday objects. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for ages 2-17. Visit Strong Museum on the web at www.strongmuseum.org or call them at 263-2700.

RochesterMuseum and ScienceCenter, 657 East Avenue, explores the science behind superpowers in Superhero Science, with activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Kids can dress up as their favorite superhero and participate in hands-on experiments, fly above the ground on a hovercraft, and learn the real science behind invisibility. And look for a new giant-screen film opening Saturday, April 15, at RMSC'sStrasenburgh Planetarium called Amazing Journeys, in which viewers travel with butterflies, whales, zebras, and more as they make their migratory trips. Shows are Saturdays at 2, 4, and 8 p.m., Sundays at 1, 2, and 4 p.m., with special shows during break week at 11 a.m., 2 and 4 p.m. Admission to either RMSC or the planetarium is $8 for adults and $6 for ages 3-18, with a discount combined admission rate available. Visit www.rmsc.org for more information, or call them at 271-1880.

Many of our local libraries feature break activities, so stop by your neighborhood branch and see what's cooking (or, rather, reading). A few highlights include the Dolls' Spring Tea Party at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, at Penfield Public Library (1985 Baird Road, 340-8720, www.penfieldlibrary.org); Fold Me A Poem at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19, at Pittsford Community Library (24 State Street, 248-6275, www.townofpittsford.com); and Comics!at1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, at Webster Public Library (980 Ridge Road, 872-7075, www.websterlibrary.org). These events are free, but call the individual libraries to register.

Kids ages 7-13 have the opportunity to attend ArtDay School during break week at MemorialArtGallery, 500 East Avenue. From 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 17 to 21, class participants can study sculpture, drawing, painting and dyeing, all with a nature theme. Fees will run you $53 per day or $230 for the entire week. Visit www.mag.rochester.edu for registration forms, or call 473-7720.

Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St. Paul Street, is offering a Spring Break Camp, with five one-day workshops boasting titles such as "Beaks, Feet & Feathers," "Fantastic Forest," and "Build It To Survive." Open to students in grades 3-5, each workshop is available in the half-day format (9 a.m.-noon) for $30 ($110 for the entire week) or the full-day format (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) for $45 ($180 for the week). Register at www.senecaparkzoo.org or call 336-7213.

Vacation Exploration gets underway Tuesday, April 18, and goes through Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the GeneseeCountryVillage and Museum, Flint Hill Road, Mumford. Each day has a different focus, whether it be arts, language, science, or celebrations. Ages 5-13 are welcome to participate at a price of $40 per day or $180 for the week. Registration is required and can be accomplished by calling 538-6822 or visiting www.gcv.org.

If you've exhausted all your local options and the kids still need something to keep them occupied, consider packing up the family car and road-tripping to the various museums and science centers in the region. Head southwest for the Sciencenter (601 First Street, Ithaca, (607) 272-0600) and Corning Museum of Glass (One Museum Way, Corning, (800) 732-6845). Down Syracuse way the Museum of Science & Technology (500 South Franklin Street, Syracuse, (315) 425-9068) is currently featuring Coral Reef Adventure on its IMAX screen and a climbing maze for kids. And Explore & More (300 Gleed Avenue, EastAurora, (716) 655-5131) has a host of break-week activities, including cave-painting and make-your-own bird's nest days.

Consult our Family Valued column as well as the calendar listings for even more ways to trick your kids into learning during their week off. They'll never know what hit 'em.

Flicks for the kids

April is “The Month of the Young Child,” and the Rochester Association for the Education of Young Children is sponsoring a free traveling children’s film festival entitled Through the Eyes of a Child that will stop at various libraries and childcare organizations around town throughout the month. The idea behind the festival is to provide quality entertainment for children as well as provide parents with strategies to make positive choices regarding the popular programming available to their kids.

The festival is made up of short films selected from the High Falls Film Festival archives and divided into programs aimed at younger children (4 to 5 years old) and older kids (ages 6 to 11). There’s a bit of overlap between the two programs, however, with a few of the best films deemed appropriate for both age groups, such as Looking Good, a charming short about a persuasive little girl and her preoccupied daddy, and The Great Guinea Adventure, some silly stop-motion featuring a gaggle of clay guinea pigs enjoying their day. And anyone who has ever tried to convince their folks how badly they need a puppy will appreciate I Want A Dog, an animated piece in which a young girl pleads her case in very inventive ways. Check our calendar or visit www.raeyc.org for the screening schedule, or call the Children’s Institute at 295-1000.

Break week finds the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue, getting in on the festival action as well, with a program of shorts --- including a Laurel and Hardy silent comedy and the Bugs Bunny classic What’s Opera, Doc? --- at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, and Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches, with Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch and creature effects by the late, great Jim Henson, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. Admission to the Dryden screenings is $2.

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