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February 7, 2013

VACATION BOREDOM BUSTERS

Enrich your children's lives with an array of activities outside the schoolroom

February vacation is just around the corner, ready to unleash all that pent up winter energy children are bottling up inside on their unsuspecting parents.

Instead of just letting your kids bounce off the walls for a week, or stare themselves into oblivion in front of the TV or iPad, take a look around the Merrimack Valley and beyond for fun, exciting, and (shh!) educational activities for the whole family.

Whether your kids love art, animals, or the great outdoors, there are plenty of February vacation hot-spots ready for them to explore.

FOR BUDDING ARTISTS

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a full schedule of Family Week events running Feb. 18 to 22 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with hours extended to 8 p.m. Wednesday. In addition to half-hour long, kid-friendly tours and story hours, children can help visiting artist Rachel Shuman Armentano create a collaborative art installation.

There are also drop-in, hands-on art-making activities throughout the week, such as creation of a ripped-paper collage and optical illusions.

During New Hamsphire’s school vacation week from Feb. 25 to March 1, more artistic activities are planned at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. On the schedule are special story times and the opportunity to create works of art inspired by the Lethal Beauty, the museum’s new exhibition of Samurai weapons and armor.

For more hands-on activities, visit the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, where vacation week class activities include making musical instruments out of clay, building robots, and developing photos in a darkroom.

FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

Visiting the zoo is great all by itself, but how many kids have a chance to be a guest at a gorilla’s birthday party?

That’s exactly what visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston will have a chance to do if they visit during Massachusetts school vacation. Little Joe, a western lowland gorilla who lives at the zoo is celebrating his 20th birthday Feb. 18. The indoor gorilla exhibit will be decorated for the birthday festivities, and gorillas will get special treats. Plus, guests will be able to sign a giant birthday card for Little Joe.

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