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Photograph: Max HermanFestival de la Villita

The 13 best things to do with kids in September

Written by
Laura Rote

It’s back to school this month for the kiddos, but never fear, the fun’s not over yet. September brings us the opening of corn mazes as well as plenty of fun weekend events, from music, dancing and theater to a book fair and a 5K. Make room in your hectic schedules for some of our favorite kid-centric events.

1. LEGOLAND Discovery Center’s Pirate Adventure Weekend. Ahoy, mateys! The kids can take on pirates and maybe even walk the plank as part of this special weekend at LEGOLAND Discovery Center. They can build their very own LEGO buccaneer ships and participate in a pirate scavenger hunt. Kids dressed like pirates will receive a free Captain Brickbeard LEGO brick. (LEGOLAND Discover Center, 601 N Martingale Rd, Schaumburg, Sept. 2–5, 9am. $19)

2. Festival de la Villita. Celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain with Mexican food, music and dancing in Little Village. Everyone will love visiting the many colorful vendors and taking a spin on one of the carnival rides that line the streets. Oh, and did we mention there’s a parade? (2600 S Kostner Ave, Sept 9–11. Free)

3. Dance classes at Duet Dance Studio. Kids ages 7–12 are invited to sign up for free ballroom and Latin dance classes during this special open house event from Duet Dance Studio, which started with an adult ballroom dance program and launched a kids’ program in the summer of 2015. Doors open at 1, with Latin dance at 1:15pm, ballroom dance at 2pm and open dancing at 2:40pm. (Duet Dance Studio, 2412 W North Ave, Sept 10, 1-3pm. Free)

4. Play ’N 90. This popular interactive series will demand your complete attention, as families with children ages 5–12 create their own performance in just 90 minutes. Led by Chicago-based actor, artist and educator Paul Whitehouse and other teaching artists, participants work as a team to imagine a setting, characters, costumes and story line and perform for their fellow attendees. How can you not have fun? (Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn St, Sept 10 & 24, Oct 8 & 22. Children free, adults $5)

5. ZooRunRun for the Conservation Fund. Athletic young'uns and the whole family alike will like this event for a good cause. Lace up your running shoes for a 5K run/walk while helping endangered species and enjoy free zoo admission, all in one day. The run, presented by Aquafina and Gatorade, is set entirely within Brookfield Zoo. Participants run or walk past lemurs, white pelicans, giraffes and endangered black rhinos before reaching lions, tigers, and snow leopards at the finish line. (Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St, Sept. 11, 8:30am. $35)

6. The 30th Annual Children’s Book Fair. The Children's Book Fair celebrates 30 years with dozens of local booksellers and community groups. Local author Janet Nolan will sign copies of her book, Seven and a Half Tons of Steel, during the event. (Nichols Park, 1355 E 53rd St, Sept. 11, 11am–5pm. Free) 

7. Fall Fest featuring Miss Jamie From the Farm. Celebrate the new school year at the second annual Fall Fest, where the whole family can play seasonal games and the kids can have their faces painted, enjoy snacks and catch a 3pm concert by Miss Jamie. RSVP requested. (Children’s Lighthouse North Center Chicago, 2600 W Irving Park Rd, Sept 11, 2pm. Free)

8. Reprise. This family-friendly production tells the story of what happened after Ms. Harriet Vittum gave a violin to a young boy and told him to return it when he was done—and he did, 80 years later, to Northwestern Settlement. Find out what he did with the instrument during all those years in this limited two-show engagement. (Vittum Theater, 1012 N Noble St, Sept. 16 at 7pm & Sept 17 at 4 and 7:30pm. $12–$17.)

9. World’s Smallest Block Party. You’re in for a full day of family fun at this tiny block party for the little ones. Activities will include kids' yoga, storytelling in Spanish and Mandarin and music from noon to 5pm, though the festival continues from 11am–9pm. (St. Teresa de Avilia, 1037 W Armitage Ave, Sept 17, 11am–9pm. Free)

10. The 606 Walk + Peace Picnic with Juicebox Concerts. The Juicebox Concert Series travels to the 606 to help kick off the World Music Festival’s special walk and peace picnic. Start the day with a little crafting, making T-shirts, peace signs and even musical instruments from 11am–12:30pm. Afterward, participants will be invited to walk the 606, ending with a picnic and concert that celebrates sounds from all over the world. (The 606, Beginning at Milwaukee/Leavitt Park, N Milwaukee Ave & N Leavitt St., Sept 18, 11am–6pm. Free)

11. Rogers Park Harvest. Put the kids on a free hayride for an unforgettable fall outing in Rogers Park at this annual event. Enjoy refreshments and family games while you’re at it. (Willye B. White Park, 1610 W Howard St., Sept 24, 1pm. Free)

12. Passport Europe Festival. Learn about foreign countries when you travel to Europe without ever leaving Illinois at this festival. You’ll have the opportunity to listen to German fairy tales, try authentic European cuisine and even see an oompah band and a flamenco-style ensemble. (Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Rte 53, Lisle, Sept 24 & 25, 10am–4pm. Included in arboretum admission)

13 Fairy Tale Ball. All ages will get a thrill out of the mermaids, dragons, knights, princesses, balloons and bubbles at this enchanting event for all ages. The library will be transformed into a storybook land, and each child in attendance will get to take home a free book. Costumes are encouraged. (Berwyn Public Library, 2701 Harlem Ave, Berwyn, Sept 30, 6–8pm. Free)

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