FOX47 NEWS - Madison For Free

Jeff Angileri
May 7, 2008, 10:24 PM

Selwyn Swe's Top 10 Free Events In Madison:

1. Home Depot Kids Workshops


Stop by any Home Depot in the US between 9am and noon on the first Saturday of the month to create your own wood project. Each child gets their own kid-sized orange Home Depot smock just like the ones worn by the Home Depot people. The projects usually involve a bit of hammering, glueing and decorating. All tools and safety equipment is provided for you. In the end, you get to take home your project, your smock, and an official pin to commemorate your project. Each month bring your smock back to the store to do the next project and add another pin!

This is a great parent-child project for kids 8 and under. If you have more than 2 kids the role of the parent helper can get a bit challenging, but there are usually enough Home Depot employee helpers around to lend a hand.

2. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Kids Art Adventure

A museum of contemporary art normally doesn't scream kid-friendly, but for one Saturday a month it is the best bet in town for the age 10 and under crew. A local elementary school art teacher takes the kids through an exhibit currently on display at the museum and talks a bit about what the artist was trying to achieve. The kids then all go into a project room tucked in the back of the museum where they get to make their very own art projects inspired by the featured artist. You can tell that the leader of this program is an elementary school art teacher as she really knows how to engage the kids and make this an all around fun event!

Note that since the art teacher takes the kids on a tour of the featured exhibit to explain the inspiration for the project before they go into the art room, it is important to get there on time!

3. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art Cart
In the summertime MMoCA and MSCR team up to bring their art project to you. Art Cart is a rolling workshop that takes art projects to parks, playgrounds, community centers, and beaches throughout Madison. Art Cart EXTRA! brings the same join-in art projects to towns throughout Dane County. Both programs are appropriate for kids 6 to 11 years old; children age 5 and under are welcome, but must be accompanied by a supervising adult. Participants should “dress for a mess” in comfortable play clothes.

4. Bookstores - Barnes & Noble, Border's, University Bookstore, Avols, etc.

Most every bookstore in town hosts storytimes or other kid oriented events Not all are published online so you may need to call to get the scoop. The most notable of all the bookstores is Barnes & Noble. Both the east and west side locations have activities for toddlers and school aged kids every week that range from story times, to character visits, to book clubs-- all for free. Their online calendar let's you look for events at any location, so you can even find family friendly events when you are on the road.

5. Madison Public Library (and Monona, Evansville, Middleton, etc.).

When was the last time you checked out something other than a book from the library? Our public libraries have programs for infants, toddlers, elementary school, and teenage youth. With Madison's online system you can find and register for events weeks in advance so you can plan ahead. Also note that they now have Spanish language programs available for kids too!

6. Madison Children's Museum


The museum has an extensive calendar of events online that include multicultural, art, movement and musical enrichment. The first Sunday of every month is free family Sunday; however, you can get a one year membership for about the same cost as a single night out with the kids for pizza and a movie. In addition families who receive any form of public assistance; live in transitional, subsidized, or emergency housing; qualify for free or reduced lunch at school; or face serious illness or disabilities are eligible for a $5 membership package.

7. UW Arboretum Earth Partnership for Families
On the second Saturday of the month the UW Arboretum provides a kid-friendly program that incorporates nature hikes, stories, crafts, and activities that explore nature.On the second Sunday of the month they offer a family walk that covers nature topics of interst to younger kids. Both programs are ideal for the toddler to age 7 crew.

8. Fitchburg Summer Concert Series at McKee Farms Park


Each month all summer long McKee Farms Park hosts free live music. Set up your picnic blanket near the massive play structure and enjoy the music while playing with your kids. Similar summer concert programs are offered in Rennebohm Park by the Capital City Band (http://www.madison.com/communities/ctyband), Fireman's Park in Deforest, and at Greenway Station in Middleton (http://www.greenwayshopping.com/calendarevents.asp).

9. UW SpacePlace Saturday Science Workshop
Every Saturday at 10:00am the UW SpacePlace (located in the Villager Mall on Fish Hatchery Road) offers a science workshop for kids ages 6 - 10 years old. Learn about science in a hands on way. After the workshop take a look at the items on display including a full size satellite. The weekly schedule is available on their website.

10. Madison Public Beaches
We have some great beaches here in town where you can cool off, build sand castles, and enjoy the summer. This link will give you the full scoop.

Other free or close to free events:

Kids in the Rotunda
May 10 is the last Kids in the Rotunda event for the school year. Saturdays during the school year the Overture Center provides free kid-friendly entertainment in the Overture Center Rotunda at 9:30am, 11:00am, and 1:30pm.

Mad City Water Ski Team
Weekly free water skiing shows start up on May 25 and run through Labor Day on Lake Monona right next to Monona Terrace.

Captial Brewery Summer Concerts
You may not immediately think of a brewery and family friendly at the same time, but Captial Brewery's summer concerts in the beer garden are very family friendly. The entire area is fenced in with bushes along one side creating quite an imaginative play place for your kids. Pack a picnic, bring bug spray, and a few large plastic toys for the kids and enjoy. Note two things: there may be a cover charge for adults and in recent years it has become very popular and sometimes crowded.

Waisman Center Children's Theatre

At a cost of $2 for adults and $1 for kids, the Waisman Center Children's Theatre program is a very good deal. Enjoy plays, music or other family friendly entertainment designed to bring out the best in kids.

Small Town Festivals

You do not need to spend money on carnival rides and games to enjoy small town festivals. Many events like the Cow Chip Festival in Sauk and National Mustard Day in Mount Horeb provide fun activities, musical entertainment, and parades that are free. Pack your own lunch and enjoy some of the great things that rural Wisconsin has to offer.

October Fire Prevention Month

The fire departments in the greater Madison area do a great job of educating us on fire safety in a very fun way. The first Saturday in October traditionally is the annual fire truck parade where about 40 or 50 fire trucks parade down State Street and then park on the square to create one of the biggest interactive fire truck opportunities you will ever see. During October most fire stations have open houses where families can tour a fire station and get up close with the fire trucks.

For more free events visit www.selwyn.org

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