Spring into action

10 things to do with your kids this season

Moms get back into shape with their little ones at Baby Boot Camp.

Moms get back into shape with their little ones at Baby Boot Camp.

Photo By amy beck

Spring is here, and with it comes warmer temperatures, increased energy, the urge to get outside and, of course, the changeable Nevada weather. If you’re looking for some fun activities the whole family can enjoy this season, here are a few suggestions. From outdoor events for those warm days and indoor arts and educational activities for windy, cool spring days, there is something for every age group and interest.

Scaly beasts

Dragons and Dinos at the Wilbur D. May Center in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park brings to life the days when dinosaurs and dragons were real. The exhibition offers a look at prehistoric life in the Great Basin, including some creatures that still live in the area. In addition to a robotic pterodactyl, T-rex, stegosaurus, and Chinese parade dragon, there are interactive areas, such as an enchanted forest where children can put on costumes, create puppet shows, and get creative at the coloring table. Rooms that recreate a European court and an Asian empirical court demonstrates the history of beliefs about dragons. The exhibit illustrates the connection between dinosaur bones and how myths and beliefs about dragons came to be. Special tours called “A Walk Through Time” are also available throughout the duration of the exhibit.

Wilbur D. May Museum, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra Street, Reno. Exhibit open through June 12. $8 adults, $7 children under 18 and seniors 62 and over. 823-6500, www.washoecountyparks.com

Work your baby bootie

If you’re a new mother, or even if you have toddlers, and you’re looking to get back in shape after having kids, Baby Boot Camp’s Stroller Fitness class is a great way to do just that. Stroller Fitness is offered year-round by both Baby Boot Camp franchises in Reno. Kristen Whittemore, who owns the Northwest Reno franchise, says it’s a chance for moms (and dads) to work out with their baby and meet other parents. It will save you from having to find a babysitter—perhaps worth more than the price of the class—and you get to spend time with your kids while getting in a workout. The only requirement is that your kids must fit into a stroller. Classes are 60 minutes long and combine a variety of cardio and strengthening exercises. And, if it’s nice weather after class, parents often meet at the park for a picnic, where the kids can get to know each other and hang out.

Baby Boot Camp Stroller Fitness classes are held at Neil Road Recreation Center, 3925 Neil Road, and at Northeast Community Center, 1301 Valley Road, during various times each week. Payment plans also vary, with drop-in classes for $15 up to unlimited classes for $65 a month. First class is free. Learn more at www.babybootcamp.com.

Spread your wings

Spring is an ideal time to get outdoors and observe nature. After the long winter, the Great Basin is teeming with activity, and the Spring Wings Bird Festival in Fallon offers a perfect opportunity for an up-close look at it. An educational experience for the entire family, the Spring Wings Festival includes activities such as the kick-off event, “Raptor Rapture,” where you can observe live owls and hawks and enjoy an interactive program on birds of prey that incorporates natural history and live music. The festival also has multiple tours scheduled over the weekend-long event, including “Meander the Marsh by Kayak,” which is suitable for children 10-14 years old accompanied by an adult, and “Birding Hot Spots,” which is geared for all levels of birders. Space is limited, so reserve early. To end the festival, you can watch as rehabilitated raptors are returned to the wild.

Spring Wings is held May 13-15, with events and tour vans leaving from Oats Park Arts Center, 151 E. Park St., Fallon. Prices vary. Learn more and reserve tour seats at www.springwings.org.

Take me to the River

The River School Farm, located at the edge of the Truckee River in West Reno, offers outdoor special events and educational opportunities for families. This spring, some of the family-oriented workshops and festivities include Music Together & Local Egg Hunt and a creative dance class for kids.

Explore the gardens and outdoor sculpture at the River School, where they regularly teach gardening workshops (check the calendar for other kid-related activities). The egg hunt starts at 11a.m on Saturday, April 16. The Creative Dance Class for Children, taught by Anna Stern, is for kids ages 4-9. It gives kids the chance to experience the movement of dance in their own creative way. Classes are Saturday, April 9, and Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and combine dance, music, nature and spoken word.

River School Farm, 7777 White Fir Street. For classes, prices and more information, visit www.riverschool.info.

Get artsy

Bea Roxas, 7, fills out a scavenger hunt sheet at the Wilbur D. May museum <i>Dragons and Dinos</i> exhibit.

Photo By amy beck

The Nevada Museum of Art has a free family program the last Sunday of every month. The program, hands/ON!, includes an interactive tour of current museum exhibits and a related art project that kids can take home with them. Kids of all ages can experience the art and create something inspired by what they see in the galleries. On Sunday, April 24, families tour the exhibit, Leo Villareal: Animating Light and make kaleidoscopes. (Disclosure: The writer teaches art classes with the museum’s E.L. Cord Museum School.)

Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., 329-3333. Free. For details visit www.nevadaart.org.

Love your mama

Nevada Econet’s annual Earth Day event is always a welcome place for kids and families. This year’s event, to be held May 1 at Idlewild Park, will feature a kids’ tent with a variety of hands-on activities. It will be coordinated by R.E.A.L. (Responsibility. Earth. Art. Learning.), a local teacher-initiated collective that uses art, problem-solving and organic gardening to reach out to kids. Children can paint the covers of take-home gardening journals with paints made from fruits and veggies, plant seeds to take home, build and race solar cars, and learn about worms. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful will also be teaching kids how to make paper out of recycled materials. There are volunteer options for high school students, as well (contact <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,115,116,97,102,102,64,110,101,118,97,100,97,101,99,111,110,101,116,46,111,114,103,34,62,115,116,97,102,102,64,110,101,118,97,100,97,101,99,111,110,101,116,46,111,114,103,60,47,97,62)) } </script>).

Earth Day will be held May 1 at Idlewild Park, 1900 Idlewild Drive, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Learn more at www.nevadaeconet.org.

Lit lovers

Sure, Washoe County Library is open all the time, not just in the spring. But, on top of having regularly scheduled reading times for kids and a Great Movie Series, the library also has a ton of special events and presentations that are family-friendly. On Wednesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., the Northwest Reno Library will have a special presentation, “Kahurangi.” It tells the story of the migration of the Maori people from Hawaii to Polynesia to New Zealand, featuring songs, dances, and stories from many islands.

Another special event from Nevada Humanities brings characters from the Civil War to life with various Chatauqua presentations. On Wednesday, May 4, at 5:30 p.m., William Lloyd Garrision with Doug Mishler will be at the South Valleys Library, and on Saturday, May 7 at noon, Ulysses S. Grant with Frank Mullen will be at the Sparks Library.

Check the Kid Events calendar for more events and details at Washoe County Library’s various locations. Free. www.washoecounty.us/library/kids_events.html

Talk trash

The 2011 Great Truckee Meadows Community Cleanup is part of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s Open Space Cleanups. Last year, more than 500 volunteers removed 81 tons of trash and invasive weeds throughout the Truckee Meadows area. It’s a great event for the whole family—especially older kids, as it requires some hard work. There are various sites to volunteer, with different requirements and terrain, including Oxbow Nature Study Area, Sun Valley, Eagle Canyon, and Hunter Creek Reservoir. A volunteer appreciation picnic follows the cleanup—a nice way to wrap up a morning of satisfying work.

Held Saturday, May 7 from 8:30 am to noon. Free. Learn more and sign up to volunteer by calling 851-5185, or visit www.ktmb.org.

Get adventurous

REI’s Family Adventure Program is an easy way to find local family-friendly hiking and bike trails. The website resource lets you search for hikes and bike rides in the Reno area, download and print a Kids’ Adventure Journal, and offers tips for safe outdoors activities. The hikes and bike trails tend to be on the easy side, making them ideal for smaller children or casual afternoon activities. For a nearby hike with well-marked trails, try the Huffaker Hills Trails hike. It’s an easy 2.5 mile roundtrip with views of the Sierra and the city. Parking is free, and there are restrooms at the trailhead. Reno REI is also hosting a Family Outdoor Adventures & Safety Fair on May 21 at Idlewild Park. You can visit booths featuring outdoor recreation and wildlife and enjoy a campfire style barbecue.

The Family Outdoor Adventures & Safety Fair is Saturday, May 21, from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. at Idlewild Park’s California Building. $7 if register by April 29 or $10 day-of. www.rei.com/family-adventure. The REI Family Adventure Program can be accessed at www.rei.com/stores/67.

Look to the stars

Full-Dome films and planetarium shows are an engaging way to spend a cooler spring day, or any day, really. Through May 30, the Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center features three from which to choose. For elementary-school children, “The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket” offers a close-up look at the solar system. “Black Holes” explores the phenomena of one of the greatest celestial enigmas, and “Wild Ocean” focuses on migrations in the oceans of South Africa. Also, the first Friday of each month at 6 p.m. is the Live SkyTonight Star Talk, which features a guest astronomer talking about what is happening in the sky that evening. The multi-media presentation is followed by a free telescope viewing.

Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center, 1650 N. Virginia St. $6 adults, $4 children. Learn more at http://planetarium.unr.nevada.edu.