Explore UT, An Academic Wonderland!

 Monday, March 2, 2015


On Saturday, March 7, 2015, families are invited to Explore UT, the annual open house at the University of Texas at Austin, to take part in science and engineering experiments, plus art, history, communication, business, law, and other activities
--nearly 400 in all--and expand their horizons about college and careers.

Explore UT is FREE and open to everyone. Activities are designed for all students K-12, including Gifted and Talented, STEM, AVID, and CIS. No registration for individuals is required. Just go to the activities of your choice!

Sample Activities:

  • Space Olympics: Clear up common misconceptions about space
  • Control Theory: Find out where math and engineering intersect
  • The Immune System: Learn how the body defends against disease
  • Oil and Gas Drilling: Use a model pump-jack
  • Radar Gun: Test how fast a tennis ball travels after you throw it
  • Robots: Watch humanoid robots play soccer
  • Nanotechnology: Learn about the promise of nano scale manufacturing
  • Texas Advanced Computing Center: Find out how supercomputers are powering discoveries around the globe
  • Japanese Culture: Test your knowledge of Hello Kitty, Godzilla, and more
  • Journalism: Interview a newsmaker in a mock press conference
  • Literature and Film: Learn about the origin of the superhero
  • Theatre: See University students perform scenes from Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” 
  • Music: Listen to the Liberal Arts Honors Music Ensemble perform jazz, classical, and bluegrass
  • Trial of Goldilocks: Watch University law students prove the guilt or innocence of this storybook character
At the end of the day, march with the Longhorn Band. Start on the practice field and end up at the Tower to sing “The Eyes of Texas” and get in the class photo.

Get details on these and other activities on the Explore UT website. Click here for the Schedule of Activities. You can also read about Special Attractions.


Bonus free museums:

On Saturday, March 7, you can also visit The LBJ Library, Texas Memorial Museum, and the Blanton Museum of Art for free! (Click on those links to see all of the special activities the Museums have planned!)

Rain plan: 

Neither rain nor cold can dampen the spirit of Explore UT and will not interfere in making March 7 a great day on The University of Texas at Austin campus. Regardless of the weather, most events will remain in their same location. However, some events have designated alternate locations in case of inclement weather. These locations are indicated in parentheses in the event schedule. Circumstances may cause the delay of some outdoor events. They will resume as weather permits.

Explore UT map (click to enlarge):

Parking:

The university will be a center of activity on Explore UT weekend, but there are many places to park free of charge in and around the campus.

Free parking will be available in the following UT parking garages:
  • San Jacinto Garage (SJG) San Jacinto Boulevard north of 24th Street (Free parking until 4:30 p.m.).
  • Twenty Seventh Street Garage (TSG) University Avenue and 27th Street.
  • Speedway Garage (SWG) Speedway and 27th Streets.
  • AT&T Conference Center Garage (ATT) West 20th Street.
  • Brazos Garage (BRG) MLK Boulevard and Brazos Street.
Please note that UT lots #38 and #39, which normally offer free parking for the LBJ Library, will be unavailable during Explore UT. 

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Celebration of Urban Birds


Join the Austin Nature & Science Center for a celebration of urban birds on Saturday, March 7, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Enjoy free activities for the entire family, including live bird demonstrations, expert lectures, kids’ bird drawing, hands-on crafts and activities, a bird scavenger hunt and more!

Schedule of Activities:
  • 10:15 a.m .& 11:15 a.m. Beginner Bird Walk & Tour  
  • 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Live Bird Comparison  
  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Kids’ Bird Drawing Activity  
  • 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. Bird of Prey Exhibit Tour
Ongoing Activities:
  • Making a Bird Feast  
  • Great Migration Challenge  
  • 10 minute Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Count  
  • Urban Bird Scavenger Hunt Activity  
  • Eat Like a Bird Activity
For more information, visit the City of Austin website.

Austin Nature & Science Center
2389 Stratford Dr.
Austin, TX 78746

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Registration Open for Free Rodeo Rumble


Want to enjoy a free morning at Rodeo Austin?  Sign your child up to participate in the Rodeo Rumble Kid's 1K Fun Run on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

Rodeo Rumble is a free event for children age 12 and under. Held in Luedecke Arena the first Saturday of the Fair and Rodeo, Rodeo Rumble offers kids the chance to race on the dirt where the cowboys and cowgirls will compete each evening. Runners will receive a custom back number for the race and a cowbell and treats (usually Blue Bell ice cream) for finishing the course.

The 2015 Rodeo Rumble will be held on Saturday, March 14th. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. and the first heat of runners takes off at 9:30 a.m. 
Register your child here.



My boys ran in the Rodeo Rumble last year and then we stuck around to explore Rodeo Austin. The kids visited livestock, spent some time in the Kidstown petting zoo, watched pig races, and rode around the pedal tractor maze. All free!  As a heads up, though, the carnival opens at 11 a.m. on March 14 and those rides are not free. 

For more information, visit the Rodeo Austin Calendar.

Travis County Expo Center
9100 Decker Lake Road

Austin, TX 78724

You may also be interested in the free Cowboy Breakfast at the Long Center that will kick off Rodeo Austin on March 6, 2015 at 6 a.m. 

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Free Cowboy Breakfast at the Long Center


The 2015 Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo will kick off with a free Cowboy Breakfast at the Long Center on Friday, March 6th at 6 a.m. 

Rise and shine to enjoy a super-sized Texas breakfast of free pancakes, authentic chuck wagon biscuits and more! There will be fun for all ages with western-themed entertainment, live music and two-stepping lessons!

For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

Long Center
701 W Riverside Dr

Austin, TX 78704

You may also be interested in FREE registration for the Rodeo Rumble Kid's 1K Fun Run

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Top 5 FREE Weekday Events (Mar 2-6, 2015)

 Sunday, March 1, 2015


  1. Texas Independence Day Celebration in the Capitol Rotunda - Monday, March 2 at Noon. FREE! Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin.
  2. Dr. Seuss Storytime & Birthday Party - Monday, March 2 at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a special dual language storytime, followed by a party at 6:45 for Dr. Seuss’s birthday with snacks, games, crafts and more. This is the first of four FREE Seuss X Seuss West events happening this week. FREE! APL - University Hills Branch, 4721 Loyola Ln, Austin.
  3. IHOP National Pancake Day - Tuesday, March 3. IHOP restaurants across the country will celebrate National Pancake Day by giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes. No purchase is necessary and each member of your party can order a free short stack - even the kids. There is a limit of one free short stack (3 pancakes) per guest. The offer is valid at participating restaurants for dine-in only while supplies last and is not valid with any other offer, special coupon or discount. FREE but in return for the pancakes, guests will be asked to consider leaving a donation for local charities. Give your local IHOP a call to confirm hours and details of their participation.
  4. LEGO Mini Model Build - Tuesday, March 3 at 5:00 p.m. Learn how to build a cool LEGO Mini Robot and take it home – for FREE! One per child. Event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only. Quantities are limited to approximately 250 per store and offer is good while supplies last only. Arrive early if possible as there will be a line. LEGO Store, Barton Creek Square, 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin.
  5. Cowboy Breakfast - Friday, March 6 at 6:00 a.m. This super-sized Texas breakfast kicks off the Fair and Rodeo. Enjoy pancakes, authentic chuck wagon biscuits, and more. Featuring western-themed entertainment, live music, and two-stepping lessons, the Cowboy Breakfast is fun for all ages. FREE! The Long Center, 701 West Riverside Dr, Austin.
For many more free weekday events, check out What's Up? Weekly!

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What's Up? Weekly (Mar 2-6, 2015)


Wondering what's up around Austin this week? Here are some of the exciting events featured on our Free Fun Calendar!

Happening All Week

William Barret Travis "Victory or Death Letter" on Display - Monday, March 2 - Friday, March 6 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. One day into the bombardment of the Alamo, the 26-year-old commander of the makeshift fortress, William Barret Travis, addressed a letter “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the world.” Dated February 24th, 1836, “The Travis Letter” has become the single most revered and studied document in Texas history. The iconic letter will be on display for 12 days, through 
March 6, 2015, symbolically representing the lengthy siege fought by the defenders of the Alamo. FREE! Texas State Library & Archives Commission HQ, 1201 Brazos St, Austin.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Monday, March 2 - Friday, March 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Exhibit is open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.) The Ransom Center celebrates 150 years of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with an exhibition for the curious and curiouser of all ages. Learn about Lewis Carroll and the real Alice who inspired his story. See one of the few surviving copies of the first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Discover the rich array of personal and literary references that Carroll incorporated throughout Alice. Explore the surprising transformations of Alice and her story as they have traveled through time and across continents. Follow the White Rabbit's path through the exhibition, have a tea party, or watch a 1933 paper filmstrip that has been carefully treated by Ransom Center conservators. The Center's vast collections offer a new look at a story that has delighted generations and inspired artists from Salvador DalĂ­ to Walt Disney. Read about Katey's experience here. FREE! Harry Ransom Center, 300 W 21st St, Austin.

Monday

Memorial Service for the Veterans of the Texas Revolution - Monday, March 2 at 9:00 a.m. Members of Celebrate Texas and the Texian Legacy Association welcome the public to attend their annual memorial service. Dr. Jesus F. de la Teja from Texas State University will be the guest speaker. Reenactors in period dress will fire a musket volley to honor the Great State of Texas and the men and women who made her so. FREE! Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota St, Austin.

Baby Bloomers - Monday, March 2 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. Baby Bloomers is an opportunity for children ages 0-3 and their families to experience the Thinkery together in an environment focused on early learners. Guided activities like Storytime, Sing-alongs, and Little Explorers Lab time are designed to engage our youngest visitors in fun learning and investigation. Cost: Members $2.50 each / Non-Members $4.50 each. All people attending, regardless of age, must purchase a ticket. Purchase a ticket online as limited walk-up tickets will be available. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave, Austin.

Signing Storytime (Round Rock) - Monday, March 2 at 10:00 a.m. Join the Baby Signing Time revolution. This class is geared toward children 0-5 years and their parents. Amy from the Signing Connection will lead this storytime that incorporates classic children's books to help you learn basic American Sign Language signs. FREE! Kaleidoscope Toys, 110 N IH 35, Ste 375, Round Rock.

Mr. Will's Music Class for Kids (Bee Cave) - Monday, March 2 at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Will is back in action with his weekly kid's music class. Arrive early to get a seat. FREE! Whole Foods Bee Cave, 12601 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave.

Storytime with Dr. Candra - Monday, March 2 at 11:00 a.m. Dr. Candra will captivate your children with stories, songs, dances, and games. FREE! Brilliant Sky Toys and Books, 701 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Ste D-480, Austin.

Texas Independence Day Celebration in the Capitol Rotunda - Monday, March 2 at Noon. FREE! Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin.

Texas Independence Day Celebration - Monday, March 2 from 1-4:00 p.m. FREE! Brush Square Park, 411 E 5th St, Austin. Canceled.

ADA 25th Birthday Family Fun Fest (RSVP) - Monday, March 2 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 25 this year. Celebrate during the Family Fun Festival and explore the ADA "Road to Freedom" Legacy Tour Bus, a "rolling history museum" that is traveling the country. There will be food, live music, a small animal petting zoo, face painting, games for the kids, and more. FREE! RSVP is requested here. Disability Rights Texas, 2222 W Braker Ln, Austin.

Dr. Seuss Storytime & Birthday Party - Monday, March 2 at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a special dual language storytime, followed by a party for Dr. Seuss’s birthday with snacks, games, crafts and more. FREE! APL - University Hills Branch, 4721 Loyola Ln, Austin.

Sound in Sculpture - Monday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m., 7:15 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. This is the premiere performance of compositions by UT students inspired by sculptures on loan to Bass Concert Hall through the Landmarks public art collection. Students from the Butler School of Music will perform original works next to the sculptures that inspired them as the audience moves throughout the Bass Concert Hall lobby. FREE! Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr, Austin.

Evening Storytime (Round Rock) – Monday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. This pajama-friendly reading activity is a fun combination of books, fingerplays, songs, and a short film for preschool children ages 3 to 6. FREE! Round Rock Public Library, 216 E Main St, Round Rock.


Read Across America Day - Monday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. Join this special event celebrating Read Across America Day. Participate in storytime and activities featuring Dr. Seuss favorites Oh, the Places You'll Go!, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. FREE! Barnes & Noble Arboretum, Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley, Barnes & Noble La Frontera (Round Rock) and Barnes & Noble Lakeline (Cedar Park).

Tuesday


IHOP National Pancake Day - Tuesday, March 3. IHOP restaurants across the country will celebrate National Pancake Day by giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes. No purchase is necessary and each member of your party can order a free short stack - even the kids. There is a limit of one free short stack (3 pancakes) per guest. The offer is valid at participating restaurants for dine-in only while supplies last and is not valid with any other offer, special coupon or discount. FREE but in return for the pancakes, guests will be asked to consider leaving a donation for local charities. Give your local IHOP a call to confirm hours and details of their participation.

Storytime and Crafts - Tuesday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m. Kids ages 2-5 will hear a new story each week. After the book, they'll do crafts related to the story. Parental supervision is requested. FREE! Whole Foods Domain, 11920 Domain Dr, Austin.

Free Admission to Laguna Gloria - Tuesday, March 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. FREE! Read about Heidi's experience at Laguna Gloria here. The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria, 3809 West 35th St, Austin.

French Legation Museum Children's Storytime - Tuesday, March 3 at 10:00 a.m. Gather on the French Legation Museum grounds for Children’s Story Time--an exciting 30 minutes of reading and play. Feel free to bring snacks, blankets, and your imagination. FREE! French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos St, Austin.

Chicken Big, A Puppet Show - Tuesday, March 3 at 10:15 p.m. Bawk! It’s an elephant! It’s an umbrella! No, it’s a ... chicken?! Join Literature LIVE! to see how the chickens in this coop make room for a giant new friend in a less-than-traditional puppet show production of Austin author Keith Graves’ wonderful book Chicken Big. Recommended for ages 4 and up. FREE! APL - Carver Branch, 1161 Angelina St, Austin.

Dr. Seuss Storytime - Tuesday, March 3 at 10:30 a.m. The Cat in the Hat then exclaimed, "Dr. Seuss is 111!" Without Dr. Seuss none of us would have ever marveled at a Truffula Tree, dodged a tweetle beetle puddle battle, or even heard a Who. To celebrate over 100 years with cats in hats and foxes in socks(es), BookPeople is hosting a Seusstastical storytime. Please don your most impressive hat and join the festivities. FREE! BookPeople, 603 N Lamar, Austin.

Chinese Bilingual Storytime (Round Rock) - Tuesday, March 3 at 10:30 a.m. This program, geared for ages 3 and up, celebrates Chinese culture with stories, fingerplays, and songs in both English and Mandarin. FREE! Round Rock Public Library, 216 E Main St, Round Rock.

Mommy and Me Yoga - Tuesday, March 3 at 11:00 a.m. Come have fun and get strong with mommy. This first FREE class kicks off a weekly series. All ages welcome. Toybrary, 7817 Rockwood Ln, #101, Austin.

ADA 25th Anniversary Texas Trailblazer Event (RSVP) - Tuesday, March 3 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will turn 25 this year and a big anniversary deserves a big celebration. The ADA "Road to Freedom" Legacy Tour Bus will be outside for viewing and inside, DRTx and several other organizations will host a free luncheon that includes special guest speaker Lex Frieden, a Texan and one of the main authors of the legislation. The event includes a unique vintage photography exhibit by Tom Olin depicting memorable scenes from the disability rights movement. The event will also honor Texas Trailblazers--past, present, and future--who’ve played key roles in the creation, passage, and advancement of the ADA. The event is FREE but please RSVP here to receive a box lunch. Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 N Congress Ave, Austin.

Music with Mr. Will – Tuesday, March 3 at 11:30 a.m. Rock out with local children’s singer, “Mr. Will” Dupuy. FREE! Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, 701 S Capital of Texas Hwy Suite D-480, Austin.

Homeschool Gaming Group (Cedar Park)
- Tuesday, March 3 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Homeschoolers ages 7+ are invited to get together and game. Play Minecraft, Roblox, World of Warcraft, and more. The library will provide an Xbox, Wii U, and some laptops, but participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops, tablets, and devices as well. FREE! Cedar Park Library, 550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park.

Book Club for Littles - Tuesday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. This new book club is exclusively for beginning readers ages 4-8. The group will choose an E Fic book for the day. The librarian will begin reading the book, then pass it to a child who wants to read aloud. After everyone who wants a turn to read gets one, and the book is finished, the group will discuss the story. Snacks provided. FREE! APL - Windsor Park Branch, 5833 Westminster Dr, Austin.

Storysign Storytime - Tuesday, March 3 at 4:00 p.m. Sign language storytime for deaf and hearing families of all ages. All ages are welcome to enjoy stories, songs, plus a craft activity. FREE! APL - Old Quarry Branch, 7051 Village Center Dr, Austin.

Discovery! Board Games - Tuesday, March 3 at 4:30 p.m. The Discovery hands on program explores all sorts of different topics, including science, literature, technology, and more. This week, kids in 3rd grade through middle school can play board games with their friends. FREE! Laura's Library, 9411 Bee Cave Rd, Austin.

LEGO Mini Model Build - Tuesday, March 3 at 5:00 p.m. Learn how to build a cool LEGO Mini Robot and take it home – for FREE! One per child. Event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only. Quantities are limited to approximately 250 per store and offer is good while supplies last only. Arrive early if possible as there will be a line. LEGO Store, Barton Creek Square, 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin.

Lego Lab - Tuesday, March 3 at 5:00 p.m. With LEGO, you can build anything you can imagine and tell any story you can dream up. Come to the Lego Lab to hear, see, make, and create different stories, all while building with LEGOs provided by the Library. Recommended for ages 5 and up. FREE! APL - Ruiz Branch, 1600 Grove Blvd, Austin.

Family Laughter Yoga - Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. During this fun and invigorating session adults and children will laugh, clap, play, breathe deeply, and stretch their bodies gently. FREE! Laura's Library, 9411 Bee Cave Rd, Austin.

Community Cinema: The Homestretch - Tuesday, March 3 from 7-9:00 p.m. Join the Austin Public Library and local PBS affiliate KLRU-TV for Community Cinema, a series screening films from the PBS series Independent Lens. After the film, lively discussions bring citizens and organizations together to encourage dialogue and action around important and timely social issues. In The Homestretch, three homeless teens brave Chicago winters, high school pressures, and life on the streets to build a brighter future. Against all odds, they recover from a life of abandonment to create new, surprising definitions of home. FREE! APL - Windsor Park Branch, 5833 Westminster Dr, Austin.

Wednesday

Whole Foods Kids Club - Wednesday, March 4 at 9:00 a.m. Join Tina for a great story and crafts for the kids. FREE! Whole Foods Arbor Trails, 4301 W William Cannon, Austin.

Ms. Staci Storytime - Wednesday, March 4 at 10:30 a.m. Ms. Staci will read some of her favorite stories and sing some of your favorite songs. Kids, don't forget your dancing shoes. FREE! BookPeople, 603 N Lamar, Austin.

ARTSreach: Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads - Wednesday, March 4 at 11:00 a.m. Drywater Gulch has a toad problem. Not the hop-down-your-britches, croaking-all-night toad kind of problem. The thievin', hootin' and hollerin', steal-your-gold never-say-thank-you outlaw toad kind of problem. Then hope rides into town. Sheriff Ryan might only be seven years old, and he might not know much about shooting and roping, but he knows a lot about dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. And it turns out that knowing a thing or two about paleontology can come in handy when it comes to hoodwinking and rounding up a few no-good bandits. FREE! APL - Howson Branch, 2500 Exposition Blvd, Austin.

Story Time with CJ the Explorer - Wednesday, March 4 at 12:30 p.m. Enjoy the play zone before and after the reading. FREE! All Things Kids @ The Domain, 3220 Feathergrass Ct, Austin.

Lego Lab - Wednesday, March 4 at 3:00 p.m. With LEGO, you can build anything you can imagine and tell any story you can dream up. Come to the Lego Lab to hear, see, make, and create different stories, all while building with LEGOs provided by the Library. Recommended for ages 5 and up. FREE! APL - Southeast Branch, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin.

Chicken Big, A Puppet Show - Wednesday, March 4 at 3:30 p.m. Bawk! It’s an elephant! It’s an umbrella! No, it’s a ... chicken?! Join Literature LIVE! to see how the chickens in this coop make room for a giant new friend in a less-than-traditional puppet show production of Austin author Keith Graves’ wonderful book Chicken Big. Recommended for ages 4 and up. FREE! APL - North Village Branch, 2505 Steck Ave, Austin.

Construction Zone - Wednesday, March 4 at 3:30 p.m. Hear a story and build stuff. Recommended for ages 5-10. FREE! APL - Faulk Central Library, 800 Guadalupe St, Austin.

Community Night - Wednesday, March 4 from 4-8:00 p.m. At the Thinkery, science and families play side by side. Every Wednesday the museum stays open late for families to discover new ideas and learn together. Cost: Admission is by donation only, with a suggested $1 donation. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave, Austin.

Krispy Kreme Family Night - Wednesday, March 4 from 6-8:00 p.m. Kids can decorate one FREE doughnut each, plus enjoy crafts, balloons, paper hats, coloring sheets and more. Krispy Kreme, 701 E Stassney Ln and 12586 Research Blvd, Austin.

Texas Radio Live - Wednesday, March 4 from 6-8:00 p.m. Texas Radio Live brings you the very best Texas music with performances from Texas musicians. This week, hear Christine Albert and The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. FREE, but donations to support the KDRP Radio Mission are appreciated. Read about Catherine's experience here. Guero's Oak Garden, 1412 S Congress Ave, Austin.

Music on Main Street (Round Rock) - Wednesday, March 4 from 6-8:00 p.m. Kicking off the 2015 Muisc on Main Street series will be the La Mona Loca. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and the entire family. Visit the variety of dining options on Main Street or pack a picnic basket to enjoy the evening of fun and music. Food vendors will be on site. FREE! Prete Main Street Plaza, 221 E Main St, Round Rock.

Night Crafters - Wednesday, March 4 from 6-8:30 p.m. Learn how to make a rich variety of fun, functional, seasonal, and holiday-related crafts. Recommended for ages 17 and up. FREE! APL - Manchaca Road Branch, 5500 Manchaca Rd, Austin.

Start a Lorax Garden - Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. Plant seeds and take home vegetable plants for your garden. FREE! APL - University Hills Branch, 4721 Loyola Ln, Austin.

Thursday

Free Admission to The Blanton - Thursday, March 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. FREE! Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E MLK Jr Blvd, Austin.

Hola, Hola! - Thursday, March 5 at 10:30 a.m. Ann Benson, expert in bilingual education, will teach you how to effectively use books as a tool to teach your child Spanish. Each parent will learn to read a Spanish book to their child and take it home for Spanish reinforcement. For parents and their children ages 0-5. FREE! Laura's Library, 9411 Bee Cave Rd, Austin.

ARTSreach: Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads - Thursday, March 5 at 11:00 a.m. Drywater Gulch has a toad problem. Not the hop-down-your-britches, croaking-all-night toad kind of problem. The thievin', hootin' and hollerin', steal-your-gold never-say-thank-you outlaw toad kind of problem. Then hope rides into town. Sheriff Ryan might only be seven years old, and he might not know much about shooting and roping, but he knows a lot about dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. And it turns out that knowing a thing or two about paleontology can come in handy when it comes to hoodwinking and rounding up a few no-good bandits. FREE! APL - Manchaca Road Branch, 5500 Manchaca Rd, Austin.

Free Noon Concert - Thursday, March 5 at Noon. Take a 30-minute lunchtime break to hear a violin concert by Jessica Mathaes, concertmaster of Austin Symphony Orchestra. FREE! Central Presbyterian Church, 200 E 8th St, Austin.

Explorers Club (Cedar Park) - Thursday, March 5 at 3:30 p.m. Each Thursday, kids in grades K-5 meet to explore a set of rotating programs. This week, it’s Crafty Kids. FREE! Cedar Park Library, 550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park.

Making Literacy Accessible: StorySign Storytime - Thursday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. This storytime will feature an American Sign Language storyteller, signed and vocal songs and fingerplays, and a craft activity. FREE! APL - Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 S Fifth St, Austin.

Starry Nights at Girlstart (RSVP) - Thursday, March 5 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Girlstart's Mini-Planetarium is a unique space for families to explore astronomy. March’s Starry Night will feature Lunar presentation. All ages welcome. FREE but RSVP is required here. Girlstart, 1400 W Anderson Lane, Austin.

Movie Night: Big Hero 6 (Pflugerville) - Thursday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a FREE screening of Big Hero 6. Snacks and drinks will be provided while they last. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Rated PG. Pflugerville Public Library, 1008 W Pflugerville St, Pflugerville.

Upcycle This! - Thursday, March 5 from 6-8:00 p.m. Drop-in for this fun crafting workshop. Bring something to work on or participate in this month’s upcycled craft. All supplies provided, just bring your imagination. FREE! Recycled Reads, 5335 Burnet Rd, Austin.

Pajama Storytime - Thursday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Feel free to wear pajamas to this family storytime featuring stories, songs, rhymes, games, crafts, and other activities. Children of all ages welcome. Seating is limited; please arrive a few minutes early to gain entrance. FREE! APL - Manchaca Road Branch, 5500 Manchaca Rd, Austin.

Friday

Cowboy Breakfast - Friday, March 6 at 6:00 a.m. This super-sized Texas breakfast kicks off the Fair and Rodeo. Enjoy pancakes, authentic chuck wagon biscuits, and more. Featuring western-themed entertainment, live music, and two-stepping lessons, the Cowboy Breakfast is fun for all ages. FREE! The Long Center, 701 West Riverside Dr, Austin.

Yoga Story Time (RSVP) – Friday, March 6 at 9:30 a.m. Join in a Story Time Yoga adventure where participants will stretch, read, and breathe. All ages are welcome. RSVP requested here. FREE! The Little Yoga House, 1211 Parkway, Austin.

Fun Fridays – Friday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m. Sing! Dance! Play! Fun Fridays are a fun musical and entertainment hour featuring local Austin musicians. Complimentary refreshments will be served. FREE! Millie & Mox, 5145 North FM 620, Ste B110, Austin. Update: Fun Fridays have been discontinued.

Story Time with Princess CJ - Friday, March 6 at 12:30 p.m. Enjoy the play zone before and after the reading. FREE! All Things Kids @The Domain, 3220 Feathergrass Ct, Austin.

Chicken Big, A Puppet Show - Friday, March 6 at 2:00 p.m. Bawk! It’s an elephant! It’s an umbrella! No, it’s a ... chicken?! Join Literature LIVE! to see how the chickens in this coop make room for a giant new friend in a less-than-traditional puppet show production of Austin author Keith Graves’ wonderful book Chicken Big. Recommended for ages 4 and up. FREE! APL - Willie Mae Kirk Branch, 3101 Oak Springs Dr, Austin.

Lego Lab - Friday, March 6 at 4:00 p.m. With LEGO, you can build anything you can imagine and tell any story you can dream up. Come to the Lego Lab to hear, see, make, and create different stories, all while building with LEGOs provided by the Library. Recommended for ages 5 and up. FREE! APL - North Village Branch, 2505 Steck Ave, Austin.

Zilker Backyard Jam - Friday, March 6 from 5:30-9:00 p.m. This is family event will feature live music from the nuclear chicken wings, Electric Milk, Bouldin Bobkats, and The Blacklands. There will be food vendors, face painting, and more. This is BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket) and BYOP (Bring Your own Picnic) event, but food will be available for purchase from Rockin' Tomato and Flavorlicious. FREE but donations are welcomed for Zilker Elementary's awesome Music Department. Zilker Elementary Cafeteria, 1900 Bluebonnet Lane, Austin.

First Friday Block Party - Friday, March 6 from 6-9:00 p.m. Spend some quality time with friends and neighbors during this evening of samples, music, drinks, and charity. 1% of all sales will benefit the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas. On top of that, save 10% on local Texas produce and feel great about shopping local. Entertainment provided by Untouched Poetry, plus drinks, food, chair massages, and books. FREE! in.gredients, 2610 Manor Road, Austin.

Amreeka Film Screening - Friday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. Cannes award-winning film about a proud Palestinian Christian mother and her teenage son in a small Indiana town. Opening remarks by Dr. Susan Mays, LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. Free popcorn. Additional food and beverage available for purchase. FREE! Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Rd, Austin.

First-Friday Film Series: DamNation - Friday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. This award-winning and powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers spring back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature. A post-film Q&A will occur with Mike Thompson, veteran sales representative at Patagonia; Jennifer Walker, water resources coordinator at Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter; Madison Jechow, former associate general counsel at LCRA. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the film starts at 7 pm. FREE! Wildflower Church, 1314 E Oltorf St, Austin.

Check out the Free Fun Calendar for even more ways to fill your week with fun.



In her life before kids, Emily held jobs as a zookeeper, a middle school teacher, and a tour bus driver in the wilds of Montana--not one of which prepared her for the adventures of motherhood. Now she’s living the good life in Austin with her husband, two sons and a Great Dane. When she’s not off gallivanting with her boys, you might find Emily baking up a mean batch of cupcakes, recalling obscure 80s song lyrics, or dreaming of peace and quiet.

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Giveaway: Family-Friendly Improv at Friday Night Live

 Saturday, February 28, 2015

When my now-big kids were little, they loved Flying Theater Machine, the improv comedy troupe that performs silly shows each week at The Hideout Theatre. We used to head downtown on Sunday afternoons to watch wildly imaginative fairy tales spin out of control, thanks to the (mis)direction of the young audience. My kids would yell out crazy suggestions and dissolve into giggles watching their ideas come to life onstage.

But, those littles have grown and the last time we attended a Flying Theater Machine show my middle schooler felt a bit out of place as the oldest in a mostly elementary-age crowd.  I was bummed to think my older kids may have aged out of the family-friendly improv scene. 


Enter Friday Night Live, a brand new comedy show at Austin's Park 'n' Pizza.  Billed as a friendly comedic competition similar to Whose Line is it Anyway? the fast-paced, interactive show is put on by the Comedy Spartans, an improv troupe that now calls Austin's Park home. 

I wanted to give this new show a whirl, but wondered:
  • Would my kids be disappointed if I took them to Austin's Park for a show and didn't let them play laser tag while there?
  • Who were these Comedy Spartans? Would their show actually be funny?
  • Would the content really be appropriate for kids or would I regret taking my 8-year-old?
I decided to set my reservations aside (when I read that a Friday Night Live ticket includes dinner), braved the cold, and took my three oldest kids to the show on Friday. Fast forward to later that evening. My 12-year-old said, "I'd give that show a three-word review: It was awesome."



And it was. Even the 14-year-old said so (which is big!). We laughed, we shouted suggestions, we got volunteered by our children to go up onstage (ahem), and we laughed some more. It felt like we were all playing a big, rowdy game in somebody's living room. Except, you know, it was Austin's Park's living room.


Here's how my concerns panned out: 
  • I told my kids before we left that we weren't going to Austin's Park for the rides and they were okay with it. If you want to arrive earlier than 7 p.m., when the doors open for Friday Night Live (and dinner), you can choose to pay extra for the attractions.
  • It turns out Comedy Spartans are not just a bunch of amateur yahoos. (They are professional yahoos!) Members of the troupe used to be part of a ComedySportz team and have recently rebranded. You can find Comedy Spartans on Facebook here
  • The show was appropriate for my 8-year-old. In fact, in commitment to keeping Friday Night Live suitable for all ages, the show's referee will call a "brown bag" foul if one of the comedians steps out of bounds, and the offender will be forced to apologize to the audience. The audience gets to decide if they accept the apology or not. (There's also a groaner foul that can be called, if a joke is just too too bad.) 
Friday Night Live with the Comedy Spartans happens every Friday night (excluding March 20, 2015) at Austin's Park. Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $9.95 per person and include Austin's Park's all-you-can-eat dinner buffet and drinks (until 8 p.m.). Beer and wine are available for sale.

My kids enjoyed Friday Night Live so much, I asked the folks at Austin's Park if I could give away some tickets!  So here you go, a chance to win 5 tickets to the show on Friday, March 13, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. (a $50 value). To enter, simply fill out the form below. One winner will be selected at random on Sunday, March 8, 2015 and notified by email. Sweepstakes Official Rules.

If you can't see the entry form, please visit the original post to enter.  



For more information, visit the Austin's Park 'n' Pizza website.

Austin's Park
16231 IH-35 

Pflugerville, Texas
(512) 670-9600

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Weekend Top 10 FREE Events (Feb 27 - Mar 1)

 Friday, February 27, 2015


  1. People's Gallery Opening Reception - Friday, February 27 from 6-9 p.m. Celebrate Austin's creative talents in this exhibition featuring artworks by over 100 artists and special exhibits from United Way for Greater Austin, AISD Creative Learning Initiative students, and Art in Public Places. There will be a special musical performance by One Ounce Opera. FREE! Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin.
  2. Texas Independence Day Parade - Saturday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. The parade begins at the Congress Avenue Bridge and heads up Congress Avenue towards the Capitol. See street closures here. Congress Avenue, Austin.
  3. Big Top Pee Wee - Saturday, February 28 at 11 a.m. Children age 3 and up and their families are invited to attend a free Alamo Kid's Club screening of Big Top Pee Wee (1988). Toy Joy will be on hand with free toys and games! This screening is absolutely FREE, but tickets are distributed at the Box Office on a first come, first served basis. Arrive early to ensure you get seats. This movie is rated PG. Showtimes are subject to change, so be sure to check the Alamo Drafthouse website to verify details before heading out. Alamo South Lamar, 1120 S Lamar Blvd., Austin.
  4. UMLAUF Family Day - Saturday, February 28, from 12-4 p.m. Enjoy FREE admission, kite-making, yoga (12:30 p.m.), story time (1 p.m.), music by Armstrong Community Music School (2:30 p.m.), and sculpture safaris all day long. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin.
  5. 2ND Street Soundcheck - Saturday, February 28, from 1-8 p.m. This FREE music and street festival will feature 12 bands on two main stages, including headliner Ben Kweller. Music fans will also have access to 10 in-store performances at five downtown stores and restaurants. 2nd Street District, (2nd Street between Colorado & San Antonio Streets), Austin.
  6. African American Community Heritage Festival - Saturday, February 28, from 1-5 p.m. With a purposeful objective to raise scholarship funds for Huston-Tillotson University, Texas' oldest Historical Black College, AACHF offers a family-friendly extravaganza filled with games, live music, food vendors, interactive and educational activities for children, and a variety of artistic performances. Admission is FREE! Huston-Tillotson University, 900 East Chicon Street, Austin.
  7. Zilker Kite Festival - Sunday, March 1, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Rain date is March 8.) One of Austin's most beloved outdoor activities is the annual Kite Festival, which takes place at Zilker Park. Make sure to read Catherine's tips if you plan to go. Barton Springs Road will be closed from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Get driving and parking info here. Be sure to check for weather updates on Facebook, the website, or the hotline: 512-448-KITE (5483). FREE! Zilker Park, Austin.
  8. Landmarks Public Art Tour - Sunday, March 1 at 11 a.m. Venture down the rabbit hole with Landmarks on a docent-led tour of public art on campus. Explore the nonsensical and the curious, and ponder some of the unanswerable questions surrounding contemporary works of art. The tour will conclude at the Harry Ransom Center where the exhibition Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will be on view with a docent-led tour at noon. Rain or shine. FREE! Meet at 11 a.m. at Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Figure on a Trunk in front of Bass Concert Hall near 23rd Street and Robert Dedman Drive, Austin. 
  9. Free First Sundays: Texas Independence Day - Sunday, March 1, 12-5 p.m. Celebrate Texas' storied past and exciting future through performances, live music, hands-on activities, food, and a Texas-sized attempt to set a world record! Discover more about famous Texas personalities as costumed interpreters stroll through the crowd telling stories, debunking myths and posing for photos. Come dressed like a Texas Hero and help set a World Record! FREE! Bullock Museum, 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin.
  10. Community Art Sundays - Sunday, March 1, from 1-4 p.m. Free Fun in Austin is a proud sponsor of these monthly events, which feature active workshops, interactive art experiences and performances. The theme for March's event is food, and Creative Action is partnering with the Sustainable Food Center to offer activities for all ages including gardening, still life drawing and family recipes to celebrate the history and culture of our food. Oh, and there will be tastings and treats, too! FREE! Center for Creative Action, 2921 E. 17th St. Bldg B (located at the MLK Jr. Light Rail Station), Austin.
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Austin Diaper Bank Needs Your Help!



Hey, Free Fun in Austin readers — Austin Diaper Bank needs your help!

Diaper need is real. Diapers are expensive and federal assistance programs, such as SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and WIC, do not cover diapers. Disposable diapers are typically a requirement of most childcare centers, making them a necessity for working parents. Parents are forced to make hard decisions with limited resources. 

This CNN article, Cost of diapers a big problem for poor moms, inspired local mother Dr. Beverly Hamilton to found Austin Diaper Bank, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing diapers to Austin families in need to strengthen the community as a whole. Dr. Hamilton shares some numbers with us:
  • In Travis County, 26% of all children under 18 live in poverty (household income of below $24,000 a year). 
  • Based on 2012 US Census Bureau data, Austin Diaper Bank estimates that nearly 12,000 babies and toddlers are in a diaper need situation.
  • 50% of all single mother households live below the poverty line.
  • Austin has the second highest rate of suburban poverty growth of US cities.
Other than the holiday season, the only time that Austin Diaper Bank makes a push for fundraising is during Amplify Austin, a 24-hour period of giving to local non-profits meeting critical needs in the Austin areaThis year, Amplify Austin is happening from 6 PM on Thursday, March 5, to 6 PM on Friday, March 6, 2015. Last year, Amplify Austin raised over $5 million for Austin nonprofits, and this year's goal is $7 million, all for great causes that are right here in our area.

Inside at Austin Diaper Bank
Austin Diaper Bank's goal in 2014 was to get its own space — and they were able to make that happen, due to the great response from the community. They raised $4,000 and signed a lease on a small but very important office of 400 sq. ft. This space has allowed Austin Diaper Bank to gather nearly 100,000 diapers in 2014 alone, and they are proud to have served over 25 agencies and nearly 2,000 people — all with volunteers in this tiny space. As you can see, it's mighty full!

Austin Diaper Bank's goal for Amplify Austin in 2015 is to grow the bank by raising enough money ($9,000) to double their operating space. If they reach their goal, they will have enough room to safely store more diapers, allow more volunteers to work, and double the number of people they serve. 2,000 more people in Central Texas will be able to get the help they desperately need.



That's why Austin Diaper Bank is asking members in the community who can afford to give: Give generously to end a silent crisis that is utterly preventable with just a bit of money and effort. Diaper need in Austin can be crushed with kindness.
  • Donating money is easy — just click here. You can schedule your gift now (set it and forget it!) or give a gift during the live event on March 5 – 6. 
  • Helping Austin Diaper Bank fundraise is very helpful — click here to find out how. Austin Diaper Bank will even craft the messages for you, so you can just cut and paste. 
  • Sharing through social media is so important — it spreads the word throughout our community. Here's the Austin Diaper Bank Facebook page.
  • Austin Diaper Bank also has some great events planned to celebrate Amplify Austin — click here to check them out, or scroll down to view the list of events. There will be five events within 24 hours!
Consider taking your giving to the next level by having your business give, provide matching funds or sponsor one of the Austin Diaper Bank events!

Donating diapers
Austin Diaper Bank's Amplify Austin events:

Thursday, March 5, 2015:

10:00 AM – noon
Come play with baby and give to a good cause. Happy Family foods will also be in attendance with samples to try.

3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Come play for a good cause! Cotton candy and pizza plus admission for only $5. Donations requested. Snapology of Austin will also be there with LEGO!

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Friday, March 6, 2015:

7:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Come volunteer for 15–30 minutes (or just say hi) and grab a quick bite to eat before starting your workday. Bring your donation of diapers or dollars to make a baby's day brighter!

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
TCBY is donating 20% of their sales for the day to Austin Diaper Bank. To celebrate, Austin Diaper Bank will giving out balloons and other freebies with their friends from Snapology.

Dr. Hamilton says, "Thank you, Austin, for all your support and kindness. The relief and joy in the eyes of the mothers we help is worth every minute we spend on this cause."

To learn more about Austin Diaper Bank, click here.



Catherine A. Morris is a romance novelist, freelance writer, musician and jogger living in southwest Austin, Texas. Of course, her main passion and pastime is caring for her two toddlers, Pearl and Zephyr, who make Catherine and her husband laugh (and cry) on a daily basis. They also give Catherine plenty of good reasons to seek out free, fun activities to keep everyone alive, engaged and happy from one moment to the next.

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