sparkconThis weekend is SparkCon, a mixture of all sorts of creative expression, from Programming to Painting to Poetry.

SparkCon is for all ages (but not everything is for every age), and kids have their own Kids Zone at Hargett and Fayetteville as well as a City Design workshop for budding city planners. (Our City, Your Design: Design a City Workshop for Kids).

But SparkCon is a lot of fun to just walk around, watch the street artists, join a drum circle, or enjoy a short pop-up theater performance.

Browse the comprehensive schedule at Thu-Sun 9/12-9/15.

The picture is from a previous SparkCon. I also wrote an article about SparkCon last year.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention


There are theaters, there are puppeteers, and then there is Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Located more on the eclectic fringe of the Triangle’s performing arts scene, and based in Saxapahaw, Paperhand Puppet is nevertheless a stable, long-running operation, and has been producing shows for over a decade now. Like last year, Paperhand is taking their show from the main location in Chapel Hill to the Art Museum here in Raleigh for the last weekend. Starting today, they perform for three nights at 7pm. A pre-show concert starts around 6:20pm.

Paperhand tells fantastic tales with fantastic puppets. This year’s show is called Invisible Earth. In their own words, “The great unfolding mystery of the Invisible Earth is upon us!  Featuring the Dance of Domestication and a cast of goats, chickens, pigs and trilobites.

Tickets are $17 for adults, kids under 6 are free.

The picture is an older photo of a Paperhand Puppet Intervention show by digitalpapercuts, used under the CC-BY license.

Last call for outdoor pools

Chavis Pool is already closed, and Lake Johnson and Ridge Road will do so in a few days. But the good news is that annual maintenance at Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center is over, and despite the hot weather, we can start the winter season, at least from a pool perspective.

Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center with water slide, river, vortex, toddler area, volleyball and basketball

Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center with water slide, river, vortex, toddler area, volleyball and basketball

Back to School Safety Event (Sat 9-12)

Many kids head back to school next week, some of the for the first time. To learn and re-learn all the traffic safety topics, head out to Leesville School where the Back to School Safety Day will be hosted. From Bike Rodeo, to Traffic Safety, to Helmet Fitting, to Air Quality Safety, everything will be there, even food trucks.

August 24, from 9a-12p.
Leesville Road Schools, 8401 Leesville Road, Raleigh, NC 27613

Bike Rodeo_22

Photo by USAG Vicenza.

Curious George or the Lorax? (tonight or Sunday)

We’re going through an intense Curious George phase at our house, so this caught my attention: Curious George himself will visit Barnes & Noble in Cary tonight, and read on of his books with the kids.

George is scheduled to appear at 7pm at the Cary Commons Barnes & Noble. There will be stories and photo ops.


If you are more a Dr. Seuss family, you’ll get your turn on Sunday. Note, however, that you need to register today at 919-3874342. At Harris Lake County Park, the Lorax will show the kids some Truffula Trees (strangely similar to our common Longleaf Pines), and take the kids on a hayride. This is $5/family.

curious george

Curious George by youngdoo, used under the CC BY-NC license.

Kick-off to Kindergarten (Sat 9-5)

A big milestone is approaching for many in the coming weeks: The First Day of Kindergarten. While many children are used to a day-time setting away from home, Kindergarten with its structure, rules and even homework will still be vastly different.

To help with preparing for this transition, Marbles devotes an entire day to future Kindergarten kids, with playful exposure to the new things: There is school bus time, a pretend cafeteria and, well, even recess needs to be practiced!

There are some activities available all day long, and some that follow a schedule; check Marbles’ website for details.

This is all offered for free to all families who are currently preparing for this big step.

Marbles kick-off to kindergarten

Pogo restaurant at Marbles open

There are many good reasons to go to Marbles, and there is now one more: Pogo, Marbles’ new restaurant. opened yesterday and is located between Marbles and the IMAX, the place previously occupied by a sandwich chain restaurant.

Pogo’s tagline is “fresh from NC farms”, as it focuses on locally grown food. Ample choices for kids, as you would expect at Marbles, but look at that: French Wine! Micro Drafts! Since Pogo also caters to the IMAX audience, parents don’t need to stick with soda or bottled water. But on the food side as well, choice like shellfish ceviche or the thai chicken salad should satisfy all palates. Kids selections are broad, as you would expect at Marbles, from PB&J to hot dog and beyond.

Dinosaurs at the science museum and at the zoo

Two ongoing exhibits focus on dinosaurs, and are welcome fillers to the light summer schedule. Beyond the common theme of “Dinosaurs”, the two exhibits couldn’t be more different:

First off, there is “Dinosaurs in Motion” right here in downtown Raleigh. While this is hosted at the Science Museum, its approach is more artistic than scientific: The dinosaurs are large kinetic metal “sculptures inspired by actual fossils”. However, that doesn’t mean that the exhibit is any less impressive or interesting. As kinetic sculptor John Payne and creator of the dinosaurs says, “an exhibit like this is an alternative form of education”. The aim is not accurate physical representation, but a more visceral experience of these mighty beings, that reaches us on a emotional, personal level. On that note, with the giant, moving sculptures and the light and sound effects, it can be overwhelming for little kids or otherwise sensitive visitors. Here is a video and interview of the artist in the studio, which gives you a good idea about these sculptures. Dinosaurs in Motion is open from May 18 – September 8, 2013.

The second choice is the Dinosaurs Exhibit at the NC Zoo. I’m sure many innocent youngins have asked “Why are there no dinosaurs at the Zoo?”, and the NC Zoo replied “Good question!” The dinosaurs at the zoo are more lifelike, at least according to general (and evolving) assumptions. These animatrionic creations reminiscent of Jurassic Park have come a long way since Disney first came up with the concept in the 1960s. To get a good preview of what to expect at the NC Zoo, the video below shows the exhibit of the same manufacturer at a different zoo. The Dinosaurs are at the NC Zoo from April 1 – October 31, 2013. (If you’ve seen the exhibit in 2012, there are new and different dinosaurs this time around.)

Independence Day 2013

Next weekend we’ll celebrate Independence Day, and the Daddy Weekly will take a week off. Here an overview of the best kid-friendly event centered around the holiday. Most of these are annual fixtures, so choose what you like best and go to the next one in the following years.

The big flagship event is “The Works” downtown on Fayetteville Street and in the Amphitheater; if you remember, the problem last year was the fireworks were not well visible due to all the skyscrapers blocking the view, not a problem we usually have in Raleigh. The City promised to do better this year.

A smaller and more historically inclined event is the July-4th celebration at the Joel Lane House, from 11a-4p.

Finally, if 4th-of-July means “family time at the park” to you, head over to Cary where an Independence Day Old Time Celebration takes place in Bond Park from 8-3. (A similar event is hosted at the State Capitol from 12-4.)

Beyond that, Durham has the Festival for the Eno, and every town from Carrboro to Wake Forest has its own event.


Medieval Fair at the NC Museum of Art (Sun 5/5)

The Art Museum does a flashback to Medieval Times this Sunday afternoon, with knights, minstrels and, of course, artists. The crafts workshops (Artist Guilds) are hands-on, probably mostly for elementary to middle-school aged kids, but many other activities are suitable for all ages, like the juggler’s show or wandering minstrels (“Thunder and Spice” are pictured above).

Relatively short, the event only lasts three hours (from 1p-4p on Sunday), but it is free, and you can always extent it with a stroll through the beautiful museum park.

All_smiling-(c)-Thunder-AndImage (c) Thunder and Spice. They will be performing as traveling minstrels at the medieval fair.