February School Vacation Week: A Survival Guide for Parents

Here are fun ways to keep your kids occupied while Boston public schools are closed next week.


Presidents’ Day at the John F. Kennedy Museum. (Photo via John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum)

It’s one thing to entertain your children on Presidents’ Day, but the next week, Boston public schools are off for the week, and the kids couldn’t be more excited. You, however, are terrified.

At least during the summer you can take them to the park, but when it’s freezing outside, it’s up to you to keep the children entertained. We’ve rounded up all of the ways you can keep your kids busy all week long. From educating them on Presidents’ Day to entertaining them with games and crafts (what kid wouldn’t want to build the leaning tower of Jenga?) to keeping them fit and active, there are plenty of February School Vacation Week events throughout Boston to keep them out of your hair.



Old South Meeting House

Photo via Old South Meeting House/Facebook

Old South Meeting House

How many kids does it take to screw in a light bulb? Only one (hopefully), but discovering electricity was a different story. At Old South Meeting House, your children can channel their inner Benjamin Franklin to test their understanding of electricity and more.

Included with admission, free for Boston residents 18 and younger with accompanying adult, Feb. 18-22, Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St., 617-482-6439, oldsouthmeetinghouse.org

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Your child could hear directly from Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant (well, re-enacted versions of them, at least) at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Family Festival Day. While the kids make Lincoln top hats and origami sailboats, you can listen to the Harvard “Din and Tonics” sing Kennedy campaign songs and hits from throughout history. The museum will also offer other events throughout the week.

Included with admission, $2 off coupon, Feb. 16-23, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, 617-514-1600, jfklibrary.org

Paul Revere House

You may have a hard time getting your kids to do their chores, but this weekend, let the Paul Revere House teach them about the chores that families like the Revere’s would have to do. Children will also get to search for toys that the Revere family kids would play with when their chores were completed. You could even try out popular colonial games at “Revere Family at Work.”

$4.50, Feb. 20 and 22, reservations required, The Paul Revere House, 19 North Square, 617-523-2338, paulreverehouse.org

Old State House

Take a trip back 200 years with John Rowe and Betsey Cummings, who will be returning to the Old State House for an interactive look back at the Revolution.

Included with admission, Feb. 18 and 22, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Old State House, 206 Washington St., 617-720-1713, bostonhistory.org



MassArt students

MassArt student Jamie Moore helps families explore their creativity as 2010’s spring Family Day. (Photo via Massachusetts College of Art and Design)

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

With guided activities by students focusing on the exhibits Passing Time and Graphic Advocacy, your family can partake in crafts and open dialogue about art at the school.

Free, Feb. 23, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Massachusetts College of Art and Design, 621 Huntington Ave., 617-879-7000, massart.edu


With many ways to get your children to think more creatively, MFA events throughout the week will channel your kids’ energy into art on canvas (rather than art on your home walls). Each activity has the objective of getting children to look at different aspects of art-making. Special classes are also available during the week for a separate fee.

Children free all week, classes from $30, Feb. 18-22, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., 617-267-9300, mfa.org


In the Bank of America Art Lab, kids can round out their visit to the museum by participating in the new discovery kits and banner activity.

Included with admission, Feb. 19-21, Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., 617-478-3100, icaboston.org

Boston Lyric Opera and Wheelock Family Theater

If your kids want to do more than see art and are too old to be entertained by the craft workshops at these museums, sign them up for a week with the Opera and Dramatic Performance Workshops for Teens sponsored by the Boston Lyric Opera at the Wheelock Family Theater.

Ages 12-16, $400, Feb. 18-22, Wheelock Family Theater, 200 The Riverway, 617-879-2147, blo.org


Games & Science


Your children can see robots like KISMET at the MIT Museum. (Photo via MIT Museum/Facebook)

MIT Museum

MIT is taking advantage of the intersection of National Engineers Week and School Vacation Week with their engineering programs at the museum. Watch engineering demonstrations and challenges from MIT students and companies, or register your teen for one of the special workshops offered during the week. They can test their hands at robotics, learn about the intersection of science and photography, and much more. This is perfect for those teens who need a more engaging school vacation week.

Programs included with admission, workshops $10, Feb. 18-22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum, Building N51, 265 Massachusetts Ave., 617-253-5927, mit.edu/museums

Museum of Science

You can keep your kids at the Museum of Science even longer during February School Vacation Week. Let them see at that last dinosaur! Another IMAX movie—why not? You’ve got an extra two hours this week!

Feb. 16-23, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m., Museum of Science, 1 Museum of Science Driveway, 617-723-2500, mos.org

Peabody Essex Museum

If your kids are gamers, no need to let them sit in front of the TV for hours playing video games. Take them to the Peabody Essex Museum where they can play countless games, construct a Jenga tower taller than they are, and see a live yo-yo performance with the museum’s School Vacation Week event, “Game Time!”

Included with admission, Feb. 18-21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500, www.pem.org

Larz Anderson Auto Museum

Calling all speed-racers! With race cars, arts and crafts, and racing activities, “Vroom! Vroom!” at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum will keep your kids entertained all day long.

Free with admission, Feb. 19-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Larz Anderson Auto Museum, 15 Newton St., 617-522-6547, larzanderson.org



2011 Hotel Commonwealth Bedtime Stories

Children listened to stories at last year’s Bedtime Stories event at Hotel Commonwealth. (Photo via Hotel Commonwealth/Facebook)

Hotel Commonwealth Bedtime Stories

What better way than a pajama party to round out School Vacation Week? Have your kids hop into their PJs and head over to Hotel Commonwealth, where they can warm up with a make-your-own hot chocolate bar, listen to stories and performances from ReadBoston, and even hang out with Curious George. Though this event is free, whatever donation you make to ReadBoston will be matched by Hotel Commonwealth. Upgrade the night with the “Hotel for Kids” package from $229 a night, complete with a special pancake breakfast and welcome backpack.

Free, Feb. 22 (Hotel for Kids Package available Feb. 23), Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Ave., 617-933-5000, hotelcommonwealth.com

Brattle Theater

This event will draw in parents and kids alike, with traditional Bugs Bunny fare at the theater and amped up laughs with “Fantastic Fritz,” celebrating the rest of the Looney bunch for Friz Freleng’s 100th birthday, and finishing with “Looney Tunes Revue,” bringing all new surprises to the annual event. That’s all, folks!

$6.75-9.75 each (matinee, $6.75-7.75), Feb. 15-23, Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle St., 617-876-6837, brattlefilm.org

Franklin Park Zoo

When we’re freezing every time we step outside, all we can dream of is paradise. You can visit the Tropics right here in Boston at Franklin Park Zoo during February School Vacation Week and get your taste of the warmer things in life. You can even celebrate with “Little Joe” on Presidents’ Day. Guests can sign a birthday card for this gorilla’s 20th birthday on February 18, and the first 200 visitors will get a slice of cake to celebrate.

Included with admission, Feb. 18, 10:30 a.m., Franklin Park Zoo, 1 Franklin Park Road, 617-541-5466, zoonewengland.org



Boston Common Frog Pond

Photo via Boston Common Frog Pond/Facebook

Frog Pond

Though your children may not want to kick a soccer ball around in the backyard while there is snow on the ground, the Frog Pond in Boston Common is a great place to get your kids off the couch even when it’s cold outside. For School Vacation Week, Boston Centers for Youth and Families will be offering free ice skating if you reserve a spot.

Free, Feb. 21-24, Boston Common Frog Pond, 84 Beacon St., 617-635-2120, cityofboston.gov

Boston University: Fitness and Recreation Center

With many different activities for children of all ages, you can leave your kids at the BU Rec Center for the day while you head off to work. Whether they love to paint, want to monkey up a rock wall, or would rather kick around a soccer ball, they will definitely be occupied during these sessions.

Grades K-8, $225-275, Feb. 19-22, Boston University Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave., 617-353-5942, bu.edu/fitrec