Saturday Morning Story Time, 10 and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays through June 9, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 936-1400, www.brooksidegardens.org, free. Think your little ones see too much of the pavement playground? Then take them out for a morning of nature, where they can pop a squat in real live green grass and listen to a story. Each week is a different seasonal book about nature, followed by a hands-on craft. Maybe you can throw back a couple pages of your own reading material while the kids are occupied.
Breakfast with the Panamanian Golden Frogs, 8:30-10 a.m. June 2-3, Maryland Zoo, 2507 Druid Hill Park, (443) 552-5276, www.marylandzoo.org. $30, members $20, kids 2 and under $5, includes admission. Feast on a big old breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes, fruit, croissants, orange juice, and coffee while you learn about the rare golden frogs from Panama. You will literally be eating breakfast while you look at them up close. There will be other reptiles and amphibians to look at while you eat, but the focus is on the froggies because they are facing imminent extinction in the wild due to a fungal disease. Wonder if anyone will dare make a frog legs joke at breakfast?
Mount Vernon Children's Park Summer Saturday Fun, 10 a.m. June 2 and 23, July 14 and 28, Aug. 4, Mount Vernon Children's Park, northeast corner of Madison and Calvert streets, www.mountvernonchildrenspark.org, free. This small but very city park just for kids hosts special events through the summer including the local Black Cherry Puppet Theater June 2; magician Brian Curry June 23; and Bunjo Butler, the West African Talkin' Drum July 14. And after you hit these first three Saturdays, you'll be hooked into going to the last two so we're gonna keep you guessing.
Eastern Woodland Indian Camp, 10 a.m.-noon, June 18-22, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1477, www.brooksidegardens.org. Your kid will be the first to know all about the Brookside's newly themed Woodland Indian Garden after attending this camp, and maybe start appreciating luxuries like grocery stores when they learn how Native Americans used to hunt and gather their food.
Bay Wildlife Science Camp, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 18-22 and June 25-29, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 600 Discovery Lane, Grasonville, (410) 827-6694, www.cbec-wtna.org. Sign your little ones up to get their feet wet and hands dirty in Maryland's marshlands in the name of learning. They're going to explore the bay through the eyes of its dragonflies and river otters, so be sure not to dress them in their Sunday best.
Kids Fest, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 23, 4th and Pine St., Hamburg, Pa., (610) 562-3106, www.hamburgpa.com, free. Get them to drop the video game controllers and shut off the TV and set free some of that youthful energy by taking the kids downtown--you know if you happen to be up north. Hopefully the clowns, games, and craft tables will keep them so busy that they won't ask you for money. Don't forget to let them get their bounce-on in the moonbounce if you want them to fall asleep in the car on the way home. Nighty night.
Budding Artists, June 25-29, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton,(301) 962-1477, www.brooksidegardens.org. Children will learn how to express themselves through drawing, collages, and painting while getting fresh air in the garden. Chances are pretty good that they will create some frame-worthy pieces in this camp.
Zing--Science that Spins, Bounces and Flies, June 30 through the end of the year, Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Road, Reading Pa., (610) 371-5850, www.readingpublicmuseum.org, $5-$7. Considering all those times you tell your children "look but don't touch," wouldn't you say they deserve a day where they can grope, strike, tap, and twiddle anything their little hearts desire? Since you can't do that just everywhere, take them here and let them show you the principles of sound or the transfer of energy with simple machines designed for interactive learning.
Sensational Summer Science Camps, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., four sessions running July 9-Aug. 3, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 528-5400, www.mdsci.org, $105-$390. A variety of full day and half-day programs for children and families. Children ages 4-13 can choose from an assortment of camps that explore such topics as dinosaurs, space, and all the icky-sticky functions of the human body. Lots of hands-on experiments, costume parades, and dance parties equals major fun times.
Sharkfest, July 14, Calvert Marine Museum, 14150 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, (410) 362-2042, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com, $2-$7. Touch the sandpaper skin of a living shark without losing an arm in Doug Poole's live shark pool. Have your picture taken in the jaws of a giant megalodon shark skeleton and find a 20 million-year-old shark tooth in the discovery room. Being that your kids are too young to know the movie Jaws, you might find yourself more terrified than them. It's okay.
Butterfly Camp, Aug, 13-17, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1477, www.brooksidegardens.org. It simply sounds beautiful, doesn't it? With this camp, your children are going to bring you home cute pictures they made of butterflies and probably impress you by knowing the names of them.
Downtown Sailing Center, Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1425 Key Highway, (410) 727-2884, www.downtownsailing.org, for ages 8-16. Was your child's first word "starboard"? Do they have any interest in sailing at all, or possibly you just want to spark their interest? Anyway you slice it, it's pretty neat to know about such a sophisticated sport, not to mention how cute little ones look in khakis and boat shoes. Sailor hat optional--depends on how easygoing your kid is.
Frontier Town, Route 611, Ocean City, (410) 641-0880, www.frontiertown.com. A fun-filled vacation to Ocean City can add up and break the bank fast. Camp out under the stars five minutes from O.C. in Frontier Town, and the water park is free. When your family is pruned to the max, it's on to the theme park with 20 percent off the ticket price. Gosh mommy, you're so smart.
Funland Family Fun Center, 24450 Garrett Highway, McHenry, (301) 387-6168, free. This is where you get your fun on. With go carts, waterfalls, bumper cars, a climbing wall, and a brand spanking new miniature golf course. Lots of exhausting entertainment, hopefully minus the spanking.
Garden Maze at Luray Caverns, 970 U.S. Highway 211 West Luray, Va., (540) 743-6551, www.luraycaverns.com. Set your kids free in the Maze Craze: a surreal world of disarray where the trees are eight feet tall, enhanced with a misting fog and 40 crossroads where they make or break their chance at escape. Everyone's safety is a promise with a no-panic policy and an elevated platform to provide relief to anyone hopelessly lost. So what's at the end of the maze? We honestly don't know, and we're dying to find out.
Irvine Nature Center, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson, (410) 484-2413, www.explorenature.org. Not much nature to share with the impressionable folk in the city, huh? Give your kids the greatest gift: outdoor adventures with dirt and bugs. You just can't trust the mud pies in the city.
Little Picasso School of Visual Arts,1331 Rockville Pike, Rockville, (301) 294-3600, www.littlepicassoart.com. Now who would complain if their child grew up to be the next Picasso--you know, minus the crazy? Absolutely no one, and it's never too early to design a portfolio for their future college admission.
Paramount's Kings Dominion, 1600 Theme Park Way, Doswell, Va., (804) 876-5000, www.kingsdominion.com. After taking your kids on the Berserker, Anaconda, Flight of Fear, Rebel Yell, and Drop Zone Stunt Tower and their brains are all stirred up, ask them if they will start cleaning their room every weekend and they will probably say yes.
Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, 311 Third St., Annapolis, (410) 263-0002, www.chesapeakepirates.com. Avast ye! Are your sprogs ready for International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Don't let them hornswaggle their way through summertime. All hands pack a sack o' their things, and climb onto the poop deck. A day o' adventure is waitin'.
Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, www.portdiscovery.org. Speaking from experience, this place is exhausting. There is a never-ending roster of things to do and nothing beats slipping in a little education with their fun. This summer brings with it a new partnership with the American Heart Association so kids can learn how to make tasty treats that are good for the ticker and a lifetime of healthy ticking.
Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave., Mitchelsville, (301) 249-1500, www.sixflags.com. Do you have a mini thrill seeker on your hands? Feed the need with rides that fly, spin, and, when they're ready, flip. When your bottoms start sticking to all the vinyl seats, then it's time to hit the waves in the water park. Why in the heck isn't there a patron saint for a short line or a short wait? There should be--how about St. Six Flags?
Velocity Sports Performance, 1427 Clarkview Road, Suite 300, (410) 583-9235, www.velocitysp.com. Training programs for any age, gender and skill level. Teach your mini-mes how to set mini goals and accomplish them with flying colors. So dads, this is where you can ensure a spot on future varsity teams for your son. Or daughter, hello.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201