11 ways to keep your kids entertained (and you sane) during February vacation

There’s more to school break than sitting in front of the TV.

The Museum of Science’s Triceratops “Cliff.” —David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

With local schools on February vacation this week, you might be wondering what you can do with your kids. The city’s got you covered with an abundance of (mostly free) events, from swim lessons to a Star Wars party. Here are some highlights to keep your children occupied all week long.

Museum of Science extended hours Teach your kids even when they’re off of school with the Museum of Science’s extended hours. The museum is staying open an extra two hours a night and offering all the favorite options, including IMAX films, planetarium shows, the butterfly garden, and drop-in activities, like an archeology laboratory, which allows kids to see what unearthed objects can reveal about the people they once belonged to. (Monday, February 15 to Saturday, February 20; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; Museum of Science; $20+)


PreZOOdential Election Opening Get your kids involved in politics (kind of) by taking them to the Franklin Park Zoo so they can vote for “President of the Zoo.’’ Your children get to choose between a condor, a lion, a tiger, a cow, a gorilla, and a sloth to reign over the zoo for the next four years. (Monday, February 15 to Friday, February 20; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; Franklin Park Zoo; free with admission)

Fort Building Week Instead of tearing all the cushions off your couch so your kids can build a fort, just take them to the Boston Children’s Museum for a fort-building extravaganza. The museum will have fabric, cardboard, tables, chairs, and other materials at the ready. It’s totally educational, too—serious engineering skills are needed to construct the perfect fort, right? (Monday, February 15 to Saturday, February 20; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; Boston Children’s Museum; free with admission)

Free Ice Skating Highland Street Foundation is allowing skaters to hit the Frog Pond ice rink for free during February vacation as part of Winter Camp 2016. Plus, when you take your children for a twirl, they’ll have the chance to see guest appearances by Wally the Green Monster, Curious George, and more. Secure a spot now—tickets are first come, first serve. (Monday, February 15 to Friday, February 19; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; Boston Common Frog Pond; free)


Swim for Safety The Foundation for Boston Centers for Youth & Families is offering free beginner swim lessons for adults and kids age 4 and up during February school vacation.T Twelve (indoor!) pools across Boston will offer a variety of classes throughout the week to get your family ready for the water. See the full schedule here. (Tuesday, February 16 to Saturday, February 20; various times and locations; free)

Cooking Club Rather than sitting your children in front of an episode of MasterChef Junior, why not let them try out their own kitchen skills? Boston Public Library’s Dudley branch is offering a Cooking Club to teach 12- to 18-year-olds how to cook and meal plan. Plus, everyone gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor afterward. (Wednesday, February 16; 3 p.m.; BPL Dudley; free)

Disco Bowling It’s a bit chilly to play outdoors, so the BPL is bringing backyard games into the Copley branch. Kids ages 5 and up can bowl, hopscotch, and more. Your children won’t have to worry about being shushed at the library for this event. (Wednesday, February 17; 3 p.m.; BPL Dudley; free)

Dr. Can-Do Science Experiments Your kids can still get an education over school break with this BPL event sponsored by The Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library. Young ones ages 4 to 10 can take part in hands-on science experiments at the Faneuil branch. (Wednesday, February 17; 2 p.m.; BPL Faneuil; free)

Children’s Winter Festival The weather will (slightly) warm up just in time for the Children’s Winter Festival at the Boston Common. Here, kids can slide down Snowzilla, a three-story inflatable tube slide, and step into SnowGlobe Live!, a 15-foot snow globe perfect for family photos. (Thursday, February 18; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Boston Common; free)


Update: This post has been updated to reflect the change in date for the Children’s Winter Festival due to the weather.

Snowzilla at the Children’s Winter Festival.

Star Wars Party You won’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away for this event — just to the Honan Allston BPL, where kids can make their own Star Wars-themed crafts, test their movie knowledge with trivia, and search the branch for BB-8. All ages are invited, and refreshments will be served. (Thursday, February 18; 3 p.m.; BPL Honan Allston; free)

DIY Nail Art Let your kids’ creativity flourish with this nail art event at the BPL’s East Boston branch. Anyone aged 6 and up can come and deck out their nails. The library will provide the polish—your kids just have to bring their imaginations (and nails, of course). (Friday, February 19; 2 p.m.; BPL East Boston; free)

See more BPL February vacation options here, and all Boston Centers for Youth & Families events here.

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