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The 12 best things to do with kids in January

Cubs Convention
Photograph courtesy of Cubs Convention Cubs Convention

1. That's Weird, Grandma
The Barrel of Monkeys troupe conducts writing workshops with CPS grade school students during the day and then transforms those stories into skits and songs for all to enjoy. (Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave. Jan 2 at 8pm. Jan 8–29: Sun at 2pm. $12, kids under 12 $6.)

2. "Brick by Brick"
Time is running out to catch the imaginative LEGO exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry where kids are able to view large-scale models and experiment with hands-on opportunities to learn about science and architecture with a lot of fun mixed in. (Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Dr. Through Feb 5: 9:30am–4pm daily. $27–$45; kids $18–$32.)

3. Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum
Squeeze in a few more holiday adventures with a stroll through the mile-long path to admire dancing lights set to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's recording of The Nutcracker at this scenic holiday tradition. (Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Rte 53, Lisle, IL. Through Jan 2: Daily at 5pm. $7–$22.)

4. Ice skating
It's officially skating season in Chicago, so lace up your skates and hit the rink at nearly a dozen indoor and outdoor spots around the city. (Various locations across the city.)

5. The Other Cinderella
Black Ensemble Theater founder Jackie Taylor takes on the classic tale with new magical touches. (Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N Clark St. Jan 5 at 7:30pm; Jan 6 at 8pm; Jan 7 at 3 and 8pm; Jan 8 at 3pm. $55–$65.)

6. Winter WonderFest
Enjoy all of the best winter activities indoors at Navy Pier's annual holiday carnival. (Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave. Through Jan 8: Mon–Thu 10am–8pm; Fri, Sat 10am–10pm; Sun 10am–7pm. General admission $10; activity tickets $25.)

7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
The whole Peanuts gang is back onstage in Emerald City Theatre's production to remind us all about the true meaning of Christmas. (Broadway Playhouse, 175 E Chestnut St. Jan 7, 8 at 10am. $18–$39.)

8. The Magic Flute
This opera is widely regarded as a good introduction for first-timers of all ages, as the fairy tale follows a prince who sets out on a journey to rescue a maiden while fending off the evil Queen of the Night. (Civic Opera House, 20 N Wacker Dr. Jan 6, 14, 17, 27 at 7:30pm; Jan 8, 12, 22, 25 at 2pm. $20–$329.)

9. Cubs Convention
Root, root, root for the Cubbies hot off their World Series win at this year's convention. Fans of all ages can join the celebration where they can interact with players, coaches and alumni, while attending Q&A sessions and checking out interactive exhibits. (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 E North Water St. Jan 13–15. $65.)

10. Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
While not all of the festival is family-friendly, performances like Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic and The Magic City are great for the kids. (Jan 19–29, various locations, times and prices, check website for details.)

11. Chinese New Year Celebration at the Art Institute
This mid-afternoon event includes a special performance by the National Peking Opera Company. (Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave. Jan 28 at 1pm. Free with museum admission.)

12. Chinese New Year Kickoff Celebration
Kick off the celebrations for the Year of the Rooster with a festive display of Chinese dance, music, and martial arts. (Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington St. Jan 30 at noon. Free.)

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