Parents know all about the summer challenge: Prying kids' butts off couches and their hands from joysticks. To accomplish such a monumental task, though, you've got to find alternative entertainment -- and if stealthy educational value is built in, so much the better. Storyteller Edwin Negrón uses handmade shadow puppets and an overhead projector to tell Caribbean folk stories about cool stuff such as kings, spiders and skulls. Kids get to use a map to identify specific areas in the region where the tales originated, learn Spanish phrases and try their hand at making their own shadow puppets.
Negrón will rivet the kids with his tales about the Laughing Skull of Santa Domingo (Dominican Republic), the traveling araña (spider) on a quest for food (Cuba) and the San Juan king who wants to touch the moon (Puerto Rico). 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 26. Children's Room, Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney. For information, call 832-393-1313. Free. -- Greg Barr
Children can learn an important survival skill courtesy of Ms. Frizzle and Scholastic's Magic School Bus: If it's too hot outside, just imagine it's winter! (Here in Houston, you'd also have to imagine you're in Denver.) Kids can cool off by making a water hat and creating a snowstorm picture using cotton balls. Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27. Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138. $5. -- Troy Schulze
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A child who loves animals is less likely to grow up and become a serial killer. So send Mini-You to the Houston SPCA's Critter Camp, where he can learn about animal issues, play with furry specimens and partake in crafts, games and activities. The next session takes place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 28, through Friday, August 1. 900 Portway Drive. For information, call 713-869-7722 or visit www.hspca.org. $200. -- Cathy Matusow